2:00PM Water Cooler 6/24/2019

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Patient readers, as Yves approaches escape velocity from New York this week, I will be taking on more posting duties, and so Water Cooler may appear at odd times; and today is one of those days. After I finish a post on the gig economy, I’ll return, probably after 4:00. –lambert UPDATE Make that 5:00.

In the mean time, here is a conversation starter:

UPDATE The evil Norway maple in front of the house came down during a squall the day before yesterday — falling at the exact angle where it would cause no damage, except to the internet connection — and I had to deal with the tree guy this afternoon. So I am afraid you will have to content yourselves with some pictures of the cat:

The cat seems to be expecting something. I will return in full force tomorrow.

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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 (PM):

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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.

165 comments

  1. kareninca

    So, I have three anecdotes. Please don’t shoot the messenger. They are presented strictly as anecdotes.

    I have an acquaintance who is an 70ish Catholic ethnic dude. I have one of those by marriage on the East Coast who is a Fox news fan, but this guy is in the Bay Area and he is a liberal. So are the other older Catholic dudes he hangs out with. He told me they are all Doris Day Catholics (I had to look that up); that they are very liberal on economic issues. But – they abhor abortion. They oppose abortion and they oppose the death penalty. However, so far they have choked and voted Democratic; they made their peace with voting for politicians who supported Roe. But now – they believe that the Democratic party supports the right to abortion up to the moment of birth. And they will not vote for a presidential candidate who holds that position. They will simply not vote.

    I just visited my relatives in New England. I chatted with family friends; a couple; they are both about 30 y.o. and they have two kids. She is a school teacher and he is a prison guard (not by choice; it is a job with a good pension). They are strongly pro-union and eagerly voted for Hillary; they were horrified by Trump when I talked with them last year. But this time around they did not complain about Trump. They guy basically said that he thought both parties were in the pockets of donors. And the woman spoke at length about how unjust it would be to forgive college loans. She had been accepted to a costly private college, but decided not to go, and instead went to a community college to start and then a state college. Because she carefully calculated what she could afford to pay back. And then she spent years paying it back. So she was very, very upset at the idea that other people would get to have something she had desperately wanted but didn’t get, without any cost to them.

    I also got up to Maine. I have a relative up there in his 30s; he works as a chef in a fancy tourist restaurant on the shore. He is very upset with Trump because it is now hard to hire undocumented people to work in the restaurant. He himself is very well paid as a chef; he thinks that the two undocumented workers they have are great and work very hard for almost nothing and that that reduces his own work load. So he wants there to be more of them.

    Reply
    1. Fiery Hunt

      Thanks for this…I think it hits right at who we are as a nation. We’re not a checklist of issues or identies, we’re people with experiences, hopes, dreams. I’m with the teacher and I’m certainly not thrilled by Bernie’s college debt plan. It’s worse than Warren’s.

      But in the end, I think Sanders is being consistent to his beliefs and I like his values. People vs. Profit.

      Isn’t that really the answer to the split America? Good values held to with integrity.
      I think the 3 separate factions described above could accept someone on the opposite side of issues if it were presented from a place of ethics instead of the disingenuous panderings of donor serving politicians

      Reply
      1. aj

        Making other people’s lives better doesn’t make yours worse. I too went to a state school and paid off 100% of my loans years ago. Do I wish that I could have taken advantage of loan forgiveness? You bet I do. Do I still think it should be a thing going forward? Absolutely. I encourage you to kindly rethink your opinion and make sure that it is not being driven by jealously or spite. Too many people think we can’t move forward because it doesn’t benefit them personally.

        Reply
      2. Olga

        “I’m with the teacher…”
        I must say I find such positions utterly baffling. Why do people have them? Is that a result of viewing oneself as totally disconnected from the society at large? Whatever happened to “workers of the world, unite!”? It does not seem to occur to this teacher (or FH) that maybe their kids could benefit from a change? Or their cousins… or the neighbours? There is no solidarity among the US working class, only resentment. I guess no gilets jaunes in the land of the free!

        Reply
          1. jeremyharrison

            And those who chose to go to an affordable college rather than an expensive one should be paid the difference.

            And those who chose not to go to college because they needed to work to support themselves and/or family members should be given the equivalent of 4 years’ tuition at Harvard.

            Let’s keep the logic train going….

            Reply
            1. Joe Well

              Harvard has some of the most generous financial aid of any college in the US, and that is broadly true of the most selective colleges.

              The big problem is that their admissions are biased in favor of the affluent, not that they are admitting students and then those students can’t pay.

              Reply
              1. jeremyharrison

                Harvard, Schmarvard…whatevah….

                Point is, if someone borrowed money and received something of value in return, if you’re gonna cancel their debt, following Lambert’s “fairness doctrine” of rebating the costs of a college degree to those who paid for it, we must extend that to giving $$$$ to people who chose a college they could afford (and perhaps got degrees that aren’t as valuable as a result), and we must give a LOT of $$$$ to people who, for whatever reason, didn’t go to college and didn’t get that thing of value.

                We could follow this train of logic a long, long, way.

                I don’t recommend that we do.

                Reply
                1. Lambert Strether Post author

                  It’s a debt jubilee. It’s not a requirement that every injustice in society be unravelled. (Though I must say that the logic that says that because every justice cannot be redressed, no injustice must be redressed escapes me.)

                  Reply
            2. Joe Well

              How about we also nationalize admissions at selective colleges so they can’t continue on being country clubs with lecture halls? Won’t the shadenfreude help heal a lot of old wounds?

              Reply
            3. Lambert Strether Post author

              > Let’s keep the logic train going….

              The logic chain stops when the debt jubilee ends. It has nothing to do with the fruits (as it were) of the debt. Why would it?

              Reply
          2. EricT

            Tax credits for paid off student debt, debt forgiveness for those who still have current outstanding school loans. The IRS treats the forgiven student debt as a paid off debt not as income. Tax credits for paid off debt spread over 10 tax return years. Refundable or non-refundable is a toss up.

            Reply
        1. Fiery Hunt

          Giving recent students a gift of up to $250,000…”Making other people’s lives better doesn’t make yours worse.” …absolutely does hurt me. I have to compete with young college grads for HOUSING. Give them a debt forgiveness and they have a huge advantage over me.

          I’d be willing to bet my hat (and I love my hat!) that those who don’t have issues with college loan debt forgiveness already are set. Got houses, etc.

          You’re not being altruist if it doesn’t cost you anything.
          For lots of us, it does cost us.

          Reply
          1. The Rev Kev

            If this thread keeps up, soon we will be talking about Reparations for ex-students! I wonder why it is that education cannot be ever seen as a long-term investment that a country makes in its own people. A country of peasants raises the GDP by nearly zip but a country which actively encourages higher education gives you a workforce that is capable of landing people on the moon again and again.

            Reply
          2. nonesuch

            I’m fine with college loan debt forgiveness and I don’t have a home. My wife, son, and I live in a one-bedroom apartment that we can afford only because we’ve been there 20 years.

            I would like to think we each have a fair shot at providing for ourselves and families. But none of this is fair, certainly not the rise of college tuition that some have put at almost 500 percent since 1985. To me, the cycle of debt this country’s policymakers have allowed must be broken and this debt relief plan is a good first step.

            Reply
          3. marym

            Sanders and Warren, to their credit, haven’t proposed student loan forgiveness in a vacuum, but along with an array of proposals. For everyone who paid their loan, or didn’t get the education they wanted, there’s still free health care even though some people died or went bankrupt because this benefit didn’t exist yet.

            If we can’t have universal benefits because someone undeserving may get free stuff, and we can’t have targeted benefits because someone deserving may miss out then what? How do we build a better world if we don’t acknowledge that we can’t right all the wrongs of the past and start righting the ones we can?

            I just don’t how we find a better way without un-evenness in any particular redistribution proposal.

            Reply
          4. JCC

            I paid for college on the pay-as-you-go plan and because of that it took me years to finally get a 4 year degree (that and traveling for a living for 12 of those initial working years after volunteering for the US Army during the period known for the worst GI Bill since WWII).

            I would have loved to finish earlier considering the fact that my pay just about doubled after graduating, 16 good earning years 50% wasted due to lack of a 4 year degree.

            But with that said, I still believe some sort of forgiveness is appropriate. And for those who took on debt since the time that both the Republicans and Democrats rewrote the Bankruptcy Act AND guaranteed tuition to both private and public and for-profit institutions, thus jacking up tuition rates, some sort/level of tax credit would help fair things out for the complainers.

            Anybody that took on, and paid off, debt prior to 1997 and the 1997 Omnibus Consolidated Appropriations Act should just grin and bear it. Between 1997 and 2005 is negotiable depending on whether the loan fell under the OCAA and the interest rate.

            ( More info on the 1997 Act during the Clinton Era is here.

            In 2003, a team of investigative reporters at U.S. News and World Report looked into what was causing some colleges to switch back to the guarantee program. Their front-page story found that much like old-time political ward bosses, the student loan industry “used money and favors, along with their friends in Congress and the Department of Education, to get what they wanted.”

            )

            But that’s just me. :-)

            Reply
            1. Spring Texan

              Yes. Such a shame things were not better for you. But, like you we STILL want to make them better for people going forward. We can’t right all wrongs but we can make things better.

              Solidarity!

              Reply
            2. Procopius

              …worst GI Bill since WWII.

              Let’s see, that would be from, what was it, 1953? Until 1965? 1968? I don’t remember when they reinstituted the GI Bill. I served in the Air Force from 1955 to 1959. No GI Bill. Then I enlisted in the Army in 1963. I think there was some kind of GI bill but you had to use it within ten years or it expired. I stayed in for the retirement and lost it. A friend of mine at Michigan State had it, but his was the Korean War version and didn’t pay very much.

              Reply
        2. Efmo

          I got a similar response regarding student loans from my sister. She worked hard and paid hers off. What she forgets is the borrowing costs for those loans as well as the cost of that education are not comparable, imo, from when she went to school (60s and 70s) to what they are since, say, the 90s on. Secondly, what even college graduates earn currently is a lot less than she earned relative to cost of living expenses over the course of her career. People (including my sister) never seem to consider that.

          Reply
          1. RMO

            A few of the boomer generation engineers who I fly gliders with were talking about how their experiences compared with millennials. Their politics vary from fairly right (for Canada’s west coast) to moderately left (one immigrated to Canada because of his feelings about the Vietnam war – he didn’t have to run as he was not likely to be drafted but has said he might well have come here if his number had come up). To my surprise every one of them recognized just how much less expensive higher education was for them, how much easier it was to get a summer job that paid well and how much more real income they had when starting out than more recent graduates. One of them actually only did three years of his EE degree and that led to a well paid career that he only recently retired from. He pointed out that now the company he worked for wouldn’t even look at an applicant for the equivalent job without a full degree. When I brought up the possibility of student loan forgiveness they unanimously thought it was something that could be a good idea. They all agreed with the idea that University should be no-charge just as K-12 education is here for that matter.

            Here in the Vancouver area of course housing costs have also contributed mightily to economic difficulties, especially for new entrants.

            Reply
        1. Fiery Hunt

          Because Bernie would cover any jackalope MBA even if he’s making $1,000,000 a year screwing up the world from Wall Street. At least Warren capped the debt and income levels.

          Reply
          1. Yves Smith

            It costs more to become a vet than get an MD, and vets make way less than MDs. So who will take care of pets?

            Architecture is another field which takes a ton of costly training yet the income opportunities aren’t remotely in line

            Reply
            1. Fiery Hunt

              My loans were for an architecture degree…I quit because the cost of the degree would never have been worth it.

              That’s why I thought Warren’s was better…if you’re making $250,000 a year as a vet or an architect, maybe you don’t need help. More likely you’re not making that so you do get some debt relief. Made more sense to me than gifts to 1%ers.

              Reply
              1. Lambert Strether Post author

                I’m sick of liberal Democrats inventing complex eligibility requirements so they can sort the deserving, as if that was their Gawd-given mission in life.

                The exact same issues crop up with ObamaCare. “What about” the people “on the bubble” who make $249,000 a year? What about people who were clever about how they treated their income for tax purposes and now miss out? How about people who made their million in a completely unrelated field, and hence shouldn’t have paid a dime?

                That’s the nice thing about universal benefits.

                Reply
                1. Fiery Hunt

                  Yeah, I get it …where’s the line, right?
                  It may stick in my craw but like I said above, i can except it if it’s coming from a place of integrity/ethics. People vs. profit. Universal benefits is much easier to defend from that standpoint. Dealing with huge debts is separate but part of the inequality that tearing the country apart. Now if we can get Wall St tamed, assets deflated, and M4A…
                  :)

                  Reply
        2. Fern

          I think it’s politically unwise due to all the natural sentiments expressed above, and also will probably will help the affluent most. In short, I think it’s a regressive measure. I’m not an expert, but I suspect that there are wiser and fairer ways to go about student debt relief.

          Reply
          1. jeremyharrison

            I also think it’s politically unwise. My sense is that Bernie just realized he has no chance, but this time he will go down kicking and screaming and having his full say without censoring himself.

            Reply
            1. JohnnySacks

              Why can’t the left have “BUILD THE WALL – MEXICO WILL PAY!”, “LOCK HER UP!” politics?

              No, instead the left begins negotiations from a pathetic starting point. Mr. ‘ROBUST PUBLIC OPTION’, ‘ALL ENTITLEMENTS ARE ON THE TABLE!” made that clear as a bell.

              No thank you, I’ll ask for lobster and be happy with the hot dogs on delivery instead of asking for hot dogs and getting cold cat food delivered.

              Reply
          2. Carey

            Can you say more about why it “..will help the affluent most..”, because
            that seems like an elite Dem talking point to me, at least at first glance.

            Maybe I’m missing something.

            Reply
          3. Lambert Strether Post author

            > probably will help the affluent most

            Universal benefits help those most below the baseline most. Personally, I don’t care if somebody up on the promenade deck gets an extra cocktail if others in steerage are saved from drowning.

            Reply
          4. Lambert Strether Post author

            > I think it’s politically unwise due to all the natural sentiments expressed above

            I think “natural” is doing a lot of work, there. That’s why I’ve been dubious about it too, as readers will remember. That’s why I — alone in the universe, apparently — think rebates for those who paid are a good idea; they solve the political problem. Some got ground up in the meatgrinder, some didn’t, and all a matter of luck, as much as anything else. So suddenly we’re going to flip the lucky into the unlucky?

            Reply
      3. jeremyharrison

        My short take:

        Your Catholic acquaintances seem to be moved by a principle of compassion – whether I disagree with their view or not. They’d make nice neighbors.

        Your New England friend seems to have a basic sense of fairness – she sacrificed and doesn’t like the idea of those who didn’t sacrifice being given a free ride. She seems to take responsibility for herself. She’d make a lovely neighbor.

        Your friend in Maine, on the other hand, sounds pretty selfish and rude. I’d hate to have him living next door to me.

        Reply
    2. sierra7

      So happy that you qualified your post with, “don’t shoot the messenger”! In particular the last paragraph….or Kapowwwwww!!!! LOL!

      Reply
    3. chuck roast

      Here is an anecdote for you.

      A few years ago the institution of a $15/hr. minimum wage was on the ballot in Portland, Maine where fancy tourist restaurants abound and chef-wars are an everyday thing. Prior to the balloting I spoke with a number of wait-staff in different eateries and always asked them right off how they viewed a $15/hr. wage. Almost universally they did not support the initiative because their boss would be both upset and hurt economically. When I followed up by pointing out that the $15/hr. wage wasn’t about hurting their boss it was about improving the circumstances of the wait and kitchen-staff they didn’t get it. The ballot initiative went down to pretty resounding defeat.

      Here was a clear-cut case where working people could have improved their economic prospects simply by voting in their own best interests, and it didn’t happen. “What’s the Matter With Maine?” I’m still depressed by the outcome of that election.

      Reply
      1. jeremyharrison

        You seem to be saying that all of these wait-staff don’t understand that $15 is more than, say, $8.

        Here’s a thought. Maybe they do.

        They just don’t like the public policy that you like.

        You’re still free to put your own personal policy into action – tip your waiter/waitress 100%, and add another 50% for the dishwashers.

        Reply
        1. The Rev Kev

          May I point out that the purpose of a tip is not to reward someone for good service. It is so the boss of where you are can pay cheaper wages to his staff. In effect, you personally are helping make up the difference of what he should be paying to what he is. Sort of like how Amazon underpays their staff so that Amazon employees have to go to the government for assistance which comes out of your pocket as a taxpayer (Bezos should thank you).

          Reply
          1. Wukchumni

            {a sign occasionally seen in Yankee eateries…}

            “Tipping is not a city in China”

            In our defense as a tipping country, we can exact revenge on poor service by leaving precisely 1 Cent, but that’s sadly as good as it gets.

            Reply
          2. jeremyharrison

            May I point out that you are free to start up your own restaurant, or invest in starting one up?

            Would any hesitancy be because you’d find it immoral to make a profit, or you’d prefer not to take such a risk?

            Reply
            1. The Rev Kev

              Some time ago there was an article her about a restaurant that abolished tipping and gave the staff good wages instead so that they could concentrate on serving the customers instead of worrying about their tips. One thing that came out of this was the discovery that a lot of tipping was not so much as rewarding good service but was enjoyed for its own sake because the tipper wanted to have power over the people serving them, particular if they were female. In other words, for a lot of people tipping is all about a power trip. The food and the service was secondary.

              Reply
              1. Wukchumni

                Here’s a typical American tipping experience…

                3 of us have 2 hamburgers & 1 grilled cheese sandwich the other day, a glass of wine & beer, and the total comes to $50.

                The food is barely ok, nothing special, the waitress trying hard.

                End result, a $10 tip, or 20%.

                It’s in our psyche to tip. I’ve only given out that Cent 3 or 4x in my life, when the awfulness of the service matched the poor quality of the tucker.

                Reply
        2. WheresOurTeddy

          This is a terrible take. The working class has been completely propagandized into thinking that any mewlings from their bosses about “we’re going to have to let people go” or “it would be a disaster” if wages went up are to be taken at face value.

          Your “feel free to be socialist by tipping more so I don’t have to” comment is unbelievably obtuse and condescending at the same time. Glad you got yours, pal.

          I once had a boss who came in the office at 10:30 in a huff. When I asked him what was wrong, he said “the contractor putting the granite countertops in my 2nd home is taking forever.”

          That is a verbatim quote. We had 8 employees. Nobody at that company made more than $28k per year besides him.

          Americans are truly terrible at knowing who their real enemy is.

          Reply
          1. JCC

            +1

            We had a CEO at one of the places I worked tell us all at a Company-wide Meeting how important it was to vote for Reagan if we wanted to keep the company successful and keep our jobs. Over the course of the next 4 years he approved about a 1.5% raise per year for us while handing himself over 300% in raises and over $1M in bonuses. Most of my fellow employees considered him a “great leader”.

            I bailed out of there as fast as I was able to do so and never regretted it for a moment. It’s too frustrating working with people who believe crap like this, for bosses like this.

            Reply
            1. Carey

              This is pretty much the story of working-class USA, in my experience in the milieu from the early 70s til now. The identification is with boss-man, not fellow workers.

              This seems changeable, especially now.

              Reply
            2. JohnnySacks

              The family owned business I worked for, 3 brothers, would have the local Mercedes dealership drive down with the latest high end models, park them out front of our office window while the brothers checked them out, then test drove them, and soon thereafter there were 3 new ones parked out front. Building Reagan GI Joe action adventure toys payed off in gold.

              Reply
          2. jeremyharrison

            Thanks for misquoting and mischaracterizing my comment (where did I say “so I don’t have to?)

            And thanks for telling me I have mine when you know nothing about me or my situation, financial or otherwise.

            Reply
          3. Lambert Strether Post author

            Ford Foundation, 2016, “American tipping is rooted in slavery—and it still hurts workers today

            When the practice [of tipping] was brought to the United States in the 19th century, the American public was deeply uncomfortable with it. Many saw tipping as undemocratic and therefore un-American. A powerful anti-tipping movement erupted, fueled by the argument that employers, not customers, should be paying workers. But American restaurants and railway companies fought particularly hard to keep tipping, because it meant they didn’t have to pay recently freed black slaves who were now employed by those industries.

            Europe eventually did away with tipping. But in America, pressure from powerful corporate interests resulted in a two-tiered wage system for tipped and non-tipped workers, institutionalizing a highly racialized system of economic exclusion. Formalized in 1938 in the first minimum wage law as part of the New Deal, this separate and unequal system stated that employers were not obligated to pay a base wage to workers whose minimum wage was met through tips.

            Reply
      2. lyman alpha blob

        I live in the area myself and haven’t been able take a solid position on it because these referenda are often not well thought out and confusing. Portland did pass an across the board $12 minimum wage a few years ago but IIRC they had to backtrack when they realized there was no provision in it for restaurant work. But the thing is Maine is one of those states that has a separate minimum for tipped workers – a few years back it was well under $5/hr. So an across the board increase really may have been a shock to the system because it was so unfair to begin with. Obviously some restaurants would have been able to absorb a wage increase better than others. If the minimum had already been say $8-9 it probably wouldn’t have been such a big deal.

        Then there was a local coffee shop I used to frequent and after the dust settled on all this I overheard the owner telling a reporter he was slashing hours due to the minimum wage increase. His people didn’t make nearly the tips someone in a high end restaurant could, that plus I hadn’t seen him personally behind the counter working in a while – he seemed content to let others do all the work for cheap once the business was a little more established. That was the last time I went there.

        There was also one area restaurant that unilaterally decided to pay a $15/hr (plus benefits I believe) starting wage to all of its staff. I believe they raised prices to cover the increased labor cost, so they made sure customers knew the deal so they wouldn’t feel obligated to tip, the fear being people would stop coming if the overall cost proved too expensive.

        The thing is this was a nice restaurant and because of the system USians have become accustomed too, getting just $15/hr was probably a big pay cut for the waiters. It may not have been the boss they were worried about. The restaurant is still in business but stopped the $15/hr policy in less than a year and I never found out why. Not sure if the employees didn’t like it, business slowed down, or maybe both.

        But rewind a quarter century or so, and I was a waiter in WA state. They had the same minimum wage for all workers, tipped or not, and they raised it to $7.50 in the mid-90s IIRC which was well above the federal minimum at the time. Of course all the restaurant owners screamed bloody murder but the restaurant industry continued to thrive nonetheless. It was not hard to make $20/hr, although with zero benefits, but most 20-somethings aren’t as worried about health care. And you could rent a decent place for $500-700/month without much problem. Those days are of course long gone.

        So after all the rambling above, I really don’t know the answer, but for starters the playing field needs to be leveled for everyone. No separate minimum wage for tipped vs. non-tipped, no huge disparities is states’ minimums, and a federal minimum that is actually a living wage that increases with the cost of living, not just once every decade or two when Congress is embarrassed enough and raises it an extra quarter.

        Reply
    4. JC Atwood

      Kareninca,

      You may be seeing the effects of television on busy people just trying to put “food on their families”, even the woman against free public college.

      Television will constantly tell her that because she did the equivalent of starve herself until she could pay off a loan with exorbitant interest, we should not ban extortionate rates for the next generation. Worse, corporate media will also tell her that she should also worry about the richest kids getting almost all the benefit of free community college. It may seem innumerate, but with enough repetition, false equivalence and very serious person truthiness, that’s what corporate media is for.

      And television is not going to teach your relative in Maine that bumping up all salaries is the only long term solution to increasing demand so you can hire enough. Divide and conquer (see neoliberals running the Dem party) really does work on a good chunk of the electorate, especially if that electorate has no union organizers telling them the news, just corporate media.

      Reply
        1. ambrit

          We here Down south are the canaries in this coal mine and I’m seeing lots of businesses shut down recently. It’s as if everyone was waiting for some ‘magic bullet’ to speed along and save them. Instead, that ‘magic bullet’ decided to do the most damage it could whilst speeding along the Main Streets of America. The country is hollowing out. The 10%ers are next to be ‘downsized.’ Then we might get some action.

          Reply
          1. Lambert Strether Post author

            Restaurants are the biggest business in my Maine college town. What I have noticed is that prices are stable, but portion sizes have gone down (and there have been ownership changes; peole getting out?

            Reply
            1. Wukchumni

              A local restaurant is now serving 1/2 hamburgers with no mention that you aren’t getting the whole enchilada in the menu.

              Reply
            2. polecat

              Restaurants are, in my opinion, over-rated, and underwhelming. Anyone, given the initiative, can prepare and cook food that’s just as good .. or better, at far less cost then eating out. To me, restaurants = convenience .. with some semblance of ambience, depending on the establishment of course. Now, I admit to patronising certain eateries, but this is rather a rare occasion for me. And, quite honestly, I can’t fathom how people can afford to eat out as much as they do ! Where do they get the quatloos to pay for it ??

              Reply
              1. ambrit

                Max out that Gold Card pardner. Then transfer the outstanding balance to the new wonder “Unobtainium Card!” and get a year at Zero! Zero! Zero! Percent Interest! (Unpaid balances at the end of the Initial Year accrue at full Hazard Rate Percentage Interest.)

                Reply
            3. ambrit

              In our half-horse University town, there looks to be a phenomenon of graduate Business Majors starting up franchise minor league food outlets as training exercises. These emporia, with names like Q’dobas, Izzos Illegal Burritos, Wharfside Seafood, Walk Ins, Ed’s Burgers, etc. spring up like mushrooms after a spring rain, flourish for a season, lose their luster and then fade away. One of the basic characteristics of these particular outlets is their higher than ‘general’ prices. That’s one aspect of the present generation of entrepreneurs I find puzzling. How many ‘well heeled’ customers are there? Especially in the Deep South? Locations like Hoover in Alabama, Mandeville in Louisiana, or Madison in Mississippi are semi isolated regions of prosperity in seas of want and, often, desperation.
              I remember the low end eateries in New Orleans. Often local places, run by locals and patronized by locals. A pretty circular economic process was at work. Now, it seems, everyone wants to get rich quick. That way lies Perdition.
              I imagine that Terry Pratchett had it figured out with his character of Cut Me Own Throat Dibbler and his many gastronomic delicacies.

              Reply
        2. Massinissa

          I googled ‘restaurant apocalypse’ and there were a few articles saying its already here. So even if it isn’t here yet it wouldnt surprise me if its coming.

          Reply
          1. marym

            If people have their loans forgiven, maybe they can eat in restaurants!!

            That’s part of Sanders’ argument, that it would be a trillion dollar stimulus to the economy.

            Reply
            1. Oregoncharles

              Yes – hadn’t seen this point previously in this thread.

              However, I think that exaggerates the stimulus; it would actually be the amount presently paid, annually, on the college debt. And it would be strung out over at least a decade.

              Reply
            2. ambrit

              For most of the people I have been interacting with recently, that “forgiven” debt load will be repurposed to basics, like rent and home food stocks. Have you looked at the prices of food basics in the supermarkets lately? The “food price shock” arising from this years crop reductions due to flooding in the mid-west hasn’t made it’s way through the supply chain yet. Next spring, watch out! That’s why Lambert’s ‘Victory Garden’ meme is going to be seen next year as prescient.

              Reply
              1. Lambert Strether Post author

                We really do need to remember how those stock vouchers worked in Russian privatization. Otherwise, we’ll just end up laundering a few trillion through people’s pockets on its way back into the clutches of the usual suspects. The same is true for UBI.

                Reply
                1. ambrit

                  “Twenty disiyatinas and a serf!”
                  As to your point, I do agree that the more layers of separation between the resources and the end users, the less “real” value accrues to said end users.
                  The basic ability of any “market” based economic system of exchange to be corrupted makes one more and more amenable to Syndicalism.
                  Has anyone done any ‘serious’ work on social adaptation to massive catastrophes? I’ve just woken up again and am feeling too groggy to do the work. (Typical Geezer behaviour.)

                  Reply
    5. Susan Mulloy

      Thank you for these observations. The older Catholics are “Dorothy Day” guys not Doris Day. I make this correction so interested people can look up Dorothy Day and gain something from this knowledge.

      The 30’s woman against free college for all is all too human. That is why Jesus told his parable about the prodigal son. How many of us, if we are honest, feel the good son was mistreated by his dad. Also relevant is the parable about the workers who started at different times of the day and received the same wage. How fair is this! Perhaps true compassion and love requires a conversion from our all too human nature.

      Reply
      1. James Ahearne

        > … the parable about the workers who started at different times of the day and
        > received the same wage. How fair is this!

        Surely the point of this parable is that you make your own bed and then you lie in it; i.e., the workers who started in the morning voluntarily accepted the terms offered to them and have no complaint if others get a better deal. That’s basically what bothers me about student loan forgiveness. These students did not just wake up one morning and find the magic sparkle pony money in their bank accounts. They signed on the dotted line and in so doing incurred responsibility.

        Reply
        1. ambrit

          The underlying problem with such a line of reasoning is that this “deal” was presented to the proto-students in a fraudulent manner. Essentially, the argument that one is ultimately responsible for the outcomes of a crooked deal blames the victim. A complete inversion of classical ethics.

          Reply
    6. Oregoncharles

      Your anecdote about the young teacher’s reaction to college debt forgiveness makes an important political point: that reaction will be common; it has to be acknowledged and dealt with. Some of the responses, I think they’ll be above this, suggest ways to deal with it.

      But so far, all are as personal as the teacher’s. College debt is an enormous drag on the economy and on young people’s lives. Forgiving it would be a large, effective economic stimulus, at relatively little cost (since the yearly payments to the Treasury couldn’t amount to all that much). It’s even “market based,” since the recipients would be free to spend or invest their savings as they please; I think it should be pitched to conservatives in just that way.

      By the same token, it’s a matter of generational justice. The debt was imposed on the young by Boomers, like Biden, who didn’t have to indebt themselves when they went to college, or found it much easier to pay off – I did have a college loan, when I went back, but it was small – $10,000, IIRC and I was able to pay it off. It is the reason I wouldn’t do business with Chase Bank, but that’s a digression. Indebting most of a generation like that is just unforgivable, as well as bad for the economy.

      And incidentally: forgiving college debt is yet another of Jill Stein’s campaign centerpieces, like the Green New Deal (why do you think it’s called that?) And again, no one is admitting it, leaving us to go out trying to claim credit. And it’s obvious why: if you’re going to adopt the main planks of her campaign, maybe you should have voted for her in the first place.

      Reply
      1. jrs

        Yea the boomers got off easy, the millennials have it hard, and the less fortunate parts of Gen X are outright killing themselves in deaths of despair – being a disposable generation, in a collapsing economy, in a youth biased job market, that has changed drastically just in their working lifetime and all of it for the worse.

        Reply
        1. jrs

          because it’s not usually noted but all those middle aged “deaths from despair”, all Gen X. I have no idea how millenials will fare in middle age. But that is what is going on now.

          Reply
  2. Steely Glint

    Lambert, for when you return:
    https://www.juancole.com/2019/06/dismantling-government-deregulating.html

    Lambert Strether of the blog Naked Capitalism reports that the bad 737 design “yielded Boeing a profit margin of 21 percent per aircraft sold. By contrast, a “good” design, which properly incorporated better safety features, yielded a profit of 19 percent per aircraft. That doesn’t sound like that much of a decrease….But it represents a 2 percent reduction in profit margins. When you evaluate that against the fact that the 737 program accounts for nearly half of all of Boeing’s profits and [corporate financial officers] have told Wall Street that they can conjure 1 percent to 1.5 percent annual profit increases, company-wide, the actions undertaken by Boeing’s senior management begin to make sense…. Boeing wouldn’t have met its profit forecasts, which may have affected the stock

    Reply
            1. Randy

              Yes but for the “folks” that can’t see further than the next quarter you can’t expect them to see and think about death and their legacy after death.

              Reply
  3. jo6pac

    I’ll return, probably after 4:00. –lambert

    Is that 4:00 today and is it AM or PM east coast or left coast time?

    Whenever you’re ready so are we;-)

    Damm now I’ll have to do a little work until you return.

    Reply
  4. ioga

    thoughtful analysis from nancy fraser, philosophy professor at the new school, exploring linkages between neoliberalism, finance, crisis & psychology:

    http://www.publicseminar.org/2019/04/mass-psychology-of-crisis/

    …”Hegemonic crisis is about the sudden collapse of interpretive frames, value horizons, and psychic investments, all of which had previously worked together to suture gaps in the social-political universe. At this level, crisis is first and foremost about disaffiliation. It involves withdrawal from established loyalties, party memberships, and commonsense world-views. The mass psychology of hegemonic crisis consists in being set adrift, being disoriented and disconnected. It is a hard, uncomfortable place to inhabit. And it’s not in the long run sustainable. On the contrary, hegemonic crisis is necessarily lived as an interregnum, a way station en route to some new dispensation: a new worldview, a new set of affiliations, new political loyalties and existential investments.

    Hegemonic crisis is lived, in other words, as a restless search for answers to the followings sorts of questions: who are my allies, and who are my enemies? What should I believe? What can I hope for? Who am I/ what is my community? Who are my fellows?

    These questions become insistent in moments of hegemonic crisis. But the answers don’t readily consolidate. People tend, rather, to stay in an “experimental attitude” (Dewey). They try this, then that, then something else. The hallmarks are volatility and lability. We see this at the electoral level: first they vote for Brexit, then for Corbyn; first for Mélenchon, then LePen; first for Sanders, then Trump.

    I would like to see practitioners of mass-psychological analysis focus less on the seemingly unshakeable attachment of Trump’s diehard followers and more on the uncertainty, the disaffiliation, the adrift-ness and experimentalism of the broader population. That seems to me to be the most striking feature of the mass psychology of the present crisis.”

    Reply
    1. BobW

      For years I’ve been telling people not to read any more into many Trump voter’s motivation as being any deeper than someone throwing a brick through a plate glass window. Sheer anger.

      Reply
      1. PKMKII

        It’s no deeper than “Make America Great Again.” All it requires is someone to think that America was great, lost a something that made it great, and now we’re going to bring that something back. It doesn’t even have to be the same, uniform something for all Trump voters.

        Reply
        1. Plenue

          That seems like a pretty deep thing to me. Liberals read it as obvious that Trump voters are nostalgic for a time they could freely call minorities spies in public. I think they’re actually mostly nostalgic for having jobs and not being drug addicts. MAGA is about a time when America wasn’t covered in boarded up buildings.

          Reply
      2. JohnnyGL

        I’m still bewildered by the idea that Trump is materially worse than 1) previous presidents and 2) the beltway crowd at large.

        The Clintons are horribly racist people. So is Biden. They’re all deeply corrupt, too.

        Also, it’s not like nothing good can ever come from a racist president. Lyndon Johnson got the Voting Rights Act and the Civil Rights Act passed. He was also a horrible, foul-mouthed racist.

        Barack Obama, not an overtly racist guy….oversaw the destruction of black homeownership and black wealth at large. Much worse, arguably, than Lyndon Johnson’s nasty habit of calling people the N-word.

        Reply
        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > I’m still bewildered by the idea that Trump is materially worse than 1) previous presidents and 2) the beltway crowd at large.

          Bush’s initiation of the War on Terror and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan plus his destruction of the Fourth Amendment were all far worse than anything Trump has ever done.

          And although Trump has not been tested as Obama was, so the comparison is not really fair, certainly Obama’s non-response to the Crash and ensuring depression also damaged the country far more than anything Trump has ever done, too. Do our liberal Democrats simply assume that war and depression are without material effects? Perhaps they do, not being materially affected by either.

          Reply
          1. drumlin woodchuckles

            The NPR Totebag Liberals’ distaste for Trump is purely a matter of Social Style Status.
            Trump offends them the way any plumber who made a billion dollars would offend them.
            ” He is just NOKD ( Not Our Kind Dear).”

            Reply
            1. Off The Street

              Those plumbers raking in bucks at triple golden time probably take their German sedans in for service to the suburban dealerships. They probably aren’t seen by the Tote-[familyblog]bag Liberals, or more likely their minions/interns who babysit such tasks, and they definitely don’t go to those other dealerships where work trucks get serviced. Oh, the horror! /s

              Reply
              1. ambrit

                Actually, the German Sedan crowd I encountered relative to construction was comprised of City Inspectors. For the sake of propriety, it was usually their wives or girlfriends who drove the Teutonic Engineering Marvels. (The ‘Golden Handshake’ was an integral part of any jobsite inspection. Naturally, said Manichaeistic greeting was not to be disclosed to the uninitiated.)
                One major reason my Dad was forced out of his City Inspectors job was his refusal to take bribes. Unfortunately for him, the City Council was possessed of a more ‘flexible’ ethos.

                Reply
            2. ambrit

              Oh man. Being a recovering Plumber, I’m here to tell you that any Plumber who makes much over a million dollars has become a businessman, or woman. Hands on working tradespeople get screwed big time when it comes to dividing up the “fruits of their labour.” The fairest owner I ever worked for was a man who started out as a hands on plumber. He remembered what it was like and understood that his men and women would work harder for him if they saw him rewarding them commensurately. His son was being groomed for the top job, but was made to work down in the ditches with the general work force several days a week. That outfit is still a going concern after over forty years. I can’t say the same about many construction related sub-contractors.

              Reply
          2. RMO

            As you say, not long ago you had a president who made abducting and torturing people to death official government policy, who shredded your Constitution with a vast spying program and who committed the “supreme war crime” of aggressive war – and there was no massive media and opposition party campaign to investigate and (at the very least!) impeach him. The Trump derangement syndrome amazes me because of just this. I’m seriously supposed to think this guy is massively more reprehensible than some previous presidents and until he came along the US was a fairyland of peace, harmony, good will to all the world and free rainbow unicorns in every yard?

            Sometimes I get so pessimistic about the future of the US I think that the last chance there was to pull the nation out of the spiral dive was when Bush ran for reelection – when he won that may have been the moment the wings came off rendering largely irrelevant what is done with the controls from that point on. I really hope I’m wrong about that.

            Reply
    2. martell

      Thanks. I think she has a good take on how the word ‘fascism’ has come to be used: a bit like yelling “Fire!” Or crying “Wolf!”

      I think the bit about hegemonic crisis could be better. She’s borrowing a concept from Gramsci, who seems to have developed it in light of a concrete example: efforts on the part of Italian linguists and politicians to make some one of the many languages (or dialects) spoken by Italians into the leading language of the newly formed nation. So, for Gramsci, hegemony has to do with a set of ideas (or, better, terms) that is the leading set among others. Marxist that he was, the leading ideas were supposed to be the ideas of the ruling class. A hegemonic crisis, then, would not necessarily be a matter of everyone suddenly falling into confusion. Going back to the linguistic example, if a leading, national language were for some reason to fail, citizens wouldn’t necessarily be rendered speechless. Much more likely, and for better or worse, they’d fall back on local dialect (or language). And this, in fact, seems to be what’s presently happening where ideas are concerned.

      Fraser, for instance, doesn’t really want to talk in terms of ‘fascism’ partly because it’s a progressive neoliberal boo! word, but also, I suspect, because she rightly doubts that it’s even all that illuminating when used as a description of current affairs. It belongs to another time. Yet she feels free to talk in terms of ‘surplus labor.’ What is that supposed to be? The term has meaning in the context of Marx’s contribution to political economy, but that theory is a dysfunctional relic of the mid 19th century, or, in a word, garbage. I’m afraid that something similar is true of words like ‘proletarian’ and ‘bourgeois,’ both of which seem to have truly described many of the inhabitants of England, France, and what eventually became Germany during much of the 19th century. I’m not convinced that either term has very much to do with how most people live today. But this is the almost dead language to which many on the left have recourse.

      Reply
      1. Carey

        Is there a word satisfactory to describe collusion between high-level ‘business’ (heh!) and governmental sectors?

        ‘Fascism’ seems to fit, to me.

        “It’s so complex!”

        Reply
      1. ambrit

        Offshore accounts, they will ring,
        Kaching, kaching, kaching,
        Kaching, kaching, kaching,
        That’s the ‘K’ way,
        That’s the ‘K’ way.

        Reply
    1. Cal2

      A Full Cleveland is purple polyester pants, white alligator shoes, a flowery silk shirt and a Pompadour
      –on a guy.

      Reply
      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        I’m willing to be persuaded otherwise, but I think that the only canonical items in The Full Cleveland are white (plastic) belt and white shoes, plus a leisure suit. Because I am modest and tasteful, I have always thought the entire ensemble would be white — except of course for the gold chain(s) round my neck.

        Reply
        1. ambrit

          Well, those gold chains are more impressive than having fiat chains notionally hung there. (I know that some will consider this a specieous argument, but, who you gonna believe?)

          Reply
          1. Bernalkid

            How will MMT deal with the resource availability for white plastic belts, polyester garments, etc. Degustibus non disputandum est.

            Reply
  5. Summer

    Stumbled across this on the Huffington Post:

    Young Americans Are Becoming Less Comfortable With LGBTQ People, GLAAD Finds
    “It’s the second year in a row that acceptance among young adults has dropped, signaling “a looming social crisis in discrimination,” according to one pollster.”

    Mayor Pete may have more unexpected challenges. Not sure of the polls entire methodology…

    The older people are trending as more accepting.
    What a switcheroo if the trend continues.

    Reply
    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      Perhaps the Youngers are becoming aware of the Log Mansion Republicans’ hostile indifference to the problems that mass quantities of Youngers are having with college debt and so forth?

      Reply
    2. Cal2

      the Generation Z in the “liberal” Bay Area that I have spoken to in any length are rather conservative, in reaction to having been brainwashed by clumsy leftists in school settings. So now they mock political correctness.
      Some of them are so far right they almost have become Left. When they hit voting age, it’s going to be interesting.

      Watch a video by 14 year old Soph , as an example.

      Reply
      1. Carey

        I’m not certain, but my impression is that the young are (finally) realizing that they’ve been put into competition in very much a zero-sum game.

        I hope so (re: the realization, not the horrible, late-capitalist game).

        Reply
    3. Plenue

      For the T part of that, I can say that for me transactivists have done a far better job at pushing me away from their cause than any bigot ever could. I side with the TERFs now (in fact there’s nothing very radical about most of them, but hey, good job punching left, LGBT crew!).

      Reply
      1. Summer

        TERF = Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminist.

        I had to look that up.
        Now I’m thinking about that poll another way. What if they weren’t sure what the pollsters were asking with all the new lingo?

        Reply
      2. Savedbyirony

        Please do not use that term. It is a slur and it completely obscures the fact that fundamentally what such mislabeled people are saying is that females and males are biologically different and that many of the societal disadvantages females faces are based on their particular reproductive biology; and that “gender” is about social stereotyping (much of which the trans activists seek to promote NOT break down).

        Trans should not even be group in with homosexuals. Many are not homosexual, yet within lesbian communities there most certain are males who are trans gender who try to bring great pressure on females for sex.

        Reply
        1. Plenue

          Oh, I agree completely. I should have put it in quotations.

          We now have the absurd spectacle of the people who actually do distinguish between sex and gender being maligned as ‘biological essentialists’.

          ‘TERF’ is the new ‘feminazi’, only now it’s being used by people who consider themselves feminists. Talk about a coup for the right; their meme has now been internalized by those who claim to be on the left.

          Spend any time hanging around places where these trans critical feminists meet, and a word you’ll see crop up frequently is ‘misogyny’. ‘Hatred of women’ might seem to be overstating it at first, but the sheer amount of violent vitriol trans activists hurl at XX females is staggering. Death and rape threats are completely normal. “Death to TERFs” is a ubiquitous stock phrase.

          Actual biological women and girls are once again being thrown under the bus. The berating of lesbians for not wanting to date/have sex with XY people is especially maddening, so we get absurdities like this https://www.wweek.com/culture/2016/11/30/who-crushed-the-lesbian-bars-a-new-minefield-of-sexual-politics/

          But I think far more damaging is cases like this https://www.feministcurrent.com/2019/03/20/discontinuation-of-grant-to-vancouver-rape-relief-shows-trans-activism-is-an-attack-on-women/

          So now we have concrete material benefits being stripped away from women in the name of ‘inclusivity’. Now shelters that can’t even fully adequately serve females are expected to serve transwomen as well? And punished when they don’t. And of course XX women are expected to accept this intrusion, to sacrifice their own literal safespaces (gee, why would raped and otherwise abused women want a place they could be assured was male free? What a mystery!) at the alter of the Y chromosome.

          The spectacle of identity politics eating itself alive is not a pleasant one.

          Reply
          1. Savedbyirony

            I can personally attest to acts of physical and property violence against females attempting to meet in private socially on their own property, acts of male genital exposure in front of both child age and adult females which should be prosecuted as such, and threats of rape and death to some females by trans activists. NOT activists who want to see the diminishing of social stereotyping based on one’s sex, but males who want access to ALL social spaces.

            Reply
        2. Lambert Strether Post author

          > females and males are biologically different and that many of the societal disadvantages females faces are based on their particular reproductive biology

          Will Charles Darwin please pick up the nearest courtesy phone?

          Reply
  6. meeps

    Calling Colorado health care advocates and activists:

    There is an event this coming Friday in Denver that might interest those of you who’d like to take the pulse of the single-payer movement. As it happens, this week is one of the rare occasions I’ll be out of town or I’d attend and report back here myself.

    The Colorado Foundation for Universal Healthcare was the group that worked to get ColoradoCare, Colorado’s state-level “single-payer” Amendment 69 on the ballot in 2016. It did not pass. The Amendment would have utilized ACA section 1332 waivers to create a single, state plan to provide medical, dental, and mental health care to Colorado residents.

    Watching candidate Warren crawfish on the topic of Medicare For All, and seeing that she seems inclined toward state plans and section 1332 waivers, it’s worth scrutinizing the rebirth of this strategy. I volunteered on the Amendment 69 campaign despite my assessment that an improved and expanded version of Medicare for All must ultimately be passed at the Federal level to succeed in the long-term.

    If I could ask candidate Warren a question about her crawfishing, it’d be to explain why she thinks a patchwork of state plans (think of the states that declined Federal funding for Medicaid expansion under the ACA) would result in better, more equal, or more cost-effective health care plans than one comprehensive plan paid-for (not administered!) at the Federal level. I suspect the reason is to stitch around the ACA edges because a political band-aid is easier to administer than a cure.

    Here’s the link:

    http://www.couniversalhealth.org/yesimprovedhealthcarelowercost/

    Reply
    1. Cal2

      This just exemplifies the need for standardized language:

      “Medicare For All, National Healthcare, Single Payer, Universal Healthcare, The Public Option”

      The more complicated and disparate the terms, the harder it is for us do demand “it” with one common voice.

      All the Democrats should agree on a common term to use and either work for it, or not, so we can judge them accordingly.

      Chris, next post, I hear you. Just be glad he wan’t in California, he’d have competition from
      “undocumented” “Youth”, given full medical coverage at taxpayer expense until they were 26.

      Reply
      1. meeps

        Thank you, Cal2, and I agree with you about the need for clear terminology. Working on that campaign brought me into contact with a huge number of people who didn’t know that Obamacare and the ACA were one-and-the-same, let alone that Obamacare was Romneycare or Heritagecare. Quite a few people still think Obamacare is universal.

        Reply
  7. ChrisPacific

    Field work report. I had a conversation (online), mostly listening, with a guy who intends to abandon the Democrats for Trump in 2020.

    He is angry about Obama and ACA, specifically Obama’s lie about how you can keep your current plan if you like it. He was on an affordable policy that became unavailable after ACA, was quoted a premium 10 times higher when he tried to go via the exchanges. He decided he couldn’t afford health insurance as a result, then experienced a medical event of some kind and was hospitalized (“I spent 8 hours dying in hospital”). He was served a 6 figure bill for this, eventually dropped when he threatened legal action, and I got the sense that the lack of insurance resulted in some care issues at the time, although he didn’t go into detail. He was also left with some permanent impairment.

    At around the time he was in hospital, a couple of black kids committed an unarmed robbery and were shot by police, ending up seriously injured. The local Democrat community turned out in force to protest this, and successfully got the kids’ medical care paid for (unclear whether this was through pressure on hospitals/insurers or a fundraising effort). The way he told the story, all this was happening during his medical event, the kids ended up triaged ahead of him, and his Democrat colleagues were out protesting on their behalf “while I was dying in hospital.”

    This seems to have been a defining event for him (this is part of why details are hard to assess, because it’s clearly a much-told story and has morphed into a kind of allegory). He is angry about it. Actually ‘angry’ doesn’t quite cover it – ‘incandescent’ might be a better word. He is completely over IdPol and advocacy for minority/disadvantaged groups as a result. He utterly rejects the Democrat thesis on this (“they have no problems, they are all solved”). He sounds a lot like the stereotypical ‘racist’ Trump supporter when he talks about this, but I think it’s just that his medical experience holds such emotional power for him that it’s eclipsed any nuance, empathy, or ability to rationally consider or care about other people’s problems. The Democrats pretended to be for people like him, but they lied to him and abandoned him, then told him he was privileged and selfish and it was his own fault. They betrayed him and he is utterly done with them, to the point where even Bernie Sanders and M4A hold no appeal (“it will be another disaster just like ACA”).

    He is under few illusions about Trump, but feels that a party that is transparently for greed and self-interest is preferable to one that claims to be about righting wrongs but is selectively blind to injustices (including yours) and then lectures you if you challenge them. He wants the old health plan back that he used to have, and thinks if ACA is repealed he will get it (I have my doubts). I don’t think there is much chance that he will change his mind. Trump will do what he does, which is to seek out everybody’s hidden sources of pain and resentment (“eight hours dying in hospital”) and acknowledge and validate them. Democrats will tell him he is wrong and call him a racist (and do tell him that, every day).

    Reply
    1. anon in so cal

      Yet, the Democratic Party is also “transparently for greed and self-interest.” In select cases, Democrats do concern themselves about “righting wrongs.” But do Democrats attempt to “right wrongs” in any kind of systematic manner for whole classes of non-elite individuals? Obama chose to help Wall Street at the same time that he chose to deny relief to the homeowners who were the victims of Wall Street bankers.

      Reply
    2. Carey

      The problem, or one of them, is the the Dem elite are *fine with* that person’s mcVoting for Trump!. Ask me about my four-hour, $7700 ER visit, where I didn’t see a doctor until
      the last five-or-so minutes, for which I received an $880 out-of-network bill…

      Herding us down the cattle-chute to the slaughterhouse, bipartisan™ style.

      Reply
    3. jeremyharrison

      Oh, yes. I’m sure that in the minds of many, this former Democrat was a full-on racist all along, that under his veneer of progressivism, he was unconsciously aching to get out there and do some lynchin’.

      It just took a little stress to unveil his true self.

      I’m sure he enjoys their lectures these days.

      Reply
      1. anEnt

        The reason the left eats itself these days is that it is split between entitled self-actualizers (idpol) and those lower on the hierarchy of needs. The self-actualizers have no ethics or morals (else they would have the empathy to lift the needy up to be self-actualizers as well) but project their lack onto any who oppose them. Meanwhile they are happy to consign the rest of their party to oblivion. Power structures are happy with this, and embrace it because it costs them but little. This is, I think, what Lambert meant by “peak idpol” for government agencies involving themselves cynically in idpol holidays like pride day.

        Their opposition to trump is also opportunistic and insincere given that trump merely extrapolated from past presidents, especially Obama.

        Reply
  8. Janie

    Jaime O’Neill had a full-on rant posted yesterday on Smirkingchimp.com about children on the border and “enough, Goddamnit.” Best rant ever – check it out. (Sorry. Can’t get link to link.)

    Reply
    1. Terry Humphrey

      It is ironic that South Carolina whites are among the most radically right and South Carolina blacks the most conservative left.

      Reply
      1. Cal2

        Terry,
        Think they will judge the content of Kamala’s character and her track record, or just the color of her skin?

        Kamala The Cop

        Kamala mocks criminal justice reform
        https://twitter.com/walkerbragman/status/1089974205284798464?lang=en

        Arresting poor parents
        https://www.latimes.com/politics/la-na-pol-kamala-harris-truancy-20190417-story.html

        “Time after time, when progressives urged her to embrace criminal justice reforms as a district attorney and then the state’s attorney general, Ms. Harris opposed them or stayed silent. Most troubling, Ms. Harris fought tooth and nail to uphold wrongful convictions that had been secured through official misconduct that included evidence tampering, false testimony and the suppression of crucial information by prosecutors.”

        “As San Francisco’s district attorney from 2004 to 2011. Ms. Harris was criticized in 2010 for withholding information about a police laboratory technician who had been accused of “intentionally sabotaging” her work and stealing drugs from the lab. After a memo surfaced showing that Ms. Harris’s deputies knew about the technician’s wrongdoing and recent conviction, but failed to alert defense lawyers, a judge condemned Ms. Harris’s indifference to the systemic violation of the defendants’ constitutional rights.”

        https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/17/opinion/kamala-harris-criminal-justice.html

        Nothing much for the Rightists to like, except that her name on any ticket guarantees Trump’s easy re-election.

        Reply
        1. Carey

          Harris has no real base, other than the very Few who’re trying to prop her up.

          “Vote for me, ’cause I’ll make your life worse!”

          Mmm

          Reply
  9. lyman alpha blob

    Congratulations on the death of your Norway maple! If it was anything like the ones in my yard its demise was well deserved. I can barely grow anything else in my yard anymore because of the insidious, incessant creep of their all-consuming root systems. Unfortunately the trunks are just across the property line so I can’t whack them completely, but there was a very propitious lightning strike that took down a good piece of one a few years ago. I pray to Zeus for more every thunder storm.

    Reply
  10. Carey

    Cracks me up how the cat virtually always has a “what!?” look on its face…
    Admirable, in these times, I’d say.

    Reply
    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Perhaps I was too oblique when I wrote “The cat seems to be expecting something.”

      What the cat is expecting from its staff is dinner. Hence the look, which translates to “Where the hell is it?”

      Reply
  11. Carey

    An aside: that Desmond Dekker video that Lambert posted yesterday was the most
    enlivening thing I’ve seen in awhile. Thanks

    Reply
    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Old school reggae — after ska (no swing) and before globalization/Dancehall — is just the best.

      Here’s another one, for Mr. Market stans:

      Holy moley, the bass-line!

      Reply

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