2:00PM Water Cooler 5/7/2020

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


At reader request, I’ve added this daily chart:

The data is the John Hopkins CSSE data. Here is the site. I have changed to a logarithmic scale for US States and territories.

As you can see, “Default view is now new cases/day” which changes the graph, more optimistically, and perhaps more accurately. I can change this back to “Total Confirmed Cases” if readers prefer.

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See Vice, “How to Read the Coronavirus Graphs“:

Quantities that grow exponentially, when depicted on a linear scale, look like curves that bend sharply upward, with the curve getting constantly steeper. On a log scale, exponentially growing values can be depicted with straight diagonal lines.

That’s the beauty of plotting things on log scales. Plots are meant to make things easy to understand, and we humans are much more adept at understanding linear, straight-line behavior. Log plots enable us to grasp exponential behavior by transferring the complexity of constantly steepening curves into the simplicity of an exponentially increasing scale.

On a log scale, we want to constantly be making the line more and more horizontal. The general concept of “flattening” is still a good one, but it’s never going to curve down. And so what we should be looking, and hoping for is a trend toward horizontal.


“But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature?” –James Madison, Federalist 51

“They had one weapon left and both knew it: treachery.” –Frank Herbert, Dune

“They had learned nothing, and forgotten nothing.” –Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord

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Biden (D)(1): “A Fair Examination of the Allegations Against Joe Biden Can Strengthen the #MeToo Movement” [The New Yorker]. Takes awhile to arrive at the main point, which is: “What these open calculations reveal is that #MeToo can countenance the balancing of sexual misconduct against other evils, and the vindication of alleged victims against other goods…. And if #MeToo shows mercy to Biden the candidate when he most needs it, he incurs a great political debt that he can repay as President Biden. This practical reasoning is certainly a break from the idea that the only options are that an accused person is either innocent or banished.” • I believe that in the Catholic tradition, this would be called casuistry. And I never want to hear any criticism about evangelicals being hypocrites for supporting Trump ever again.

UPDATE Biden (D)(2): “Joe Biden Could Sexually Harass Someone In The Middle Of Fifth Avenue” [The American Conservative]. • Tone aside, what’s the difference between this headline from TAC and the above tortured reasoning in The New Yorker?

UPDATE Biden (D)(3): “Believe Tara Reade or Joe Biden? Voters are split.” [WaPo]. Handy chart:

Well, the Democrats can win by appealing only to their outraged base and a sliver of suburban Republicans. Nothing to worry about

Biden (D)(4): “How ‘Never Trumpers’ Crashed The Democratic Party” [FiveThirtyEight]. “When Sanders did well in the early primaries and seemed like he could win the Democratic nomination, ‘Never Trump’ conservatives turned into a ‘Never Bernie’ coalition. The ‘Never Trumpers’ argument — that Sanders couldn’t win the general election, in part because anti-Trump Republicans (like themselves) wouldn’t vote for him– was compelling, particularly for a Democratic Party obsessed with beating Trump. And the “Never Trumpers” were already in the ideal positions to make these arguments and reach Democratic Party elites and primary voters — the web pages of The Atlantic, The New York Times and The Washington Post and on MSNBC. [Tim Miller, a prominent “Never Trump” activist who worked on Sen. John McCain and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush’s presidential campaigns], in an anti-Trump publication called The Bulwark, described how he and other Republicans had failed to mobilize effectively against Trump in the 2016 GOP primary and laid out a step-by-step guide for how Democrats could avoid the same fate. (The piece was widely circulated on Twitter.)… Never Trump” conservatives were thrilled with Biden’s victories on Super Tuesday — and think they played a part in it. “One group that really mattered in the primaries were the high-information voters, the people who watch MSNBC, listen to ‘The Daily,'” said Miller, referring to a popular New York Times podcast. “A lot of these people went from Harris to Warren to Buttigieg and finally landed on Biden. For these voters, it was all an assessment of who could defeat Trump. For them, we [“Never Trumpers”] have a unique experience and insight.” • It’s amusing to think of MSNBC viewers as “high information,” but let that pass. What’s really remarkable is that the Never Trumpers “unique experience and insight” consists in losing. So naturally, the Democrat Establishment would elevate them. And a sliver of Republicans has more influence than 30%-40% of the Democrat electorate (who comprise the future of the party, if you believe the demographics).

Biden (D)(5): “Biden Feels Heat From Left to Drop Larry Summers as an Adviser” [Bloomberg]. “More than two dozen progressive groups asked Joe Biden on Wednesday to remove former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers from his campaign and to promise not to include him in any future Biden administration.” • “Two dozen.” There’s your problem.

Biden (D)(6): “Joe Biden’s Invisible Pandemic Expert” [Edward-Isaac Dovere, The Atlantic]. The lead: “You’d have to be paying pretty close attention to know that one of Joe Biden’s top advisers is the person who spearheaded America’s response to the last major public-health crisis and ran the last major economic recovery.” That advisor being Ronald Klain. The lead is the last mention of Klain’s role in “the last major economic recovery.” Odd. Anyhow, a useful portrait of a sort of Democrat James Baker.

Cuomo (D)(1): “Cuomo Won’t Back Down On Medicaid Cuts—Even If It Means Spurning Billions In Coronavirus Aid” [Gothamist[. “Cuomo has made it clear that he is determined to cut Medicaid in the midst of a massive public health crisis—even if it means risking federal funds designated to provide relief. New York stood to gain up to $6.7 billion through the federal legislation Schumer helped pass (that’s if the intervention program lasts a full year) but only under the condition that it didn’t put any new restrictions on Medicaid eligibility. Asked on Sunday if he will try to access any of the funding, Cuomo said it was out of the question. ‘We can’t,’ he said. ;The way they wrote the law, we can’t. You can’t do what you can’t do.’ But the governor’s position has perplexed some lawmakers and public health experts, who say all he would have to do is delay implementation of some of his proposed Medicaid reforms.”

UPDATE Sanders (D)(1): “The Democratic Socialist Constituency” [The Organizer]. “The electoral left in the United States boasts its strongest position in at least a century, if not ever, due in large part to the Sanders campaign. Sanders’s successes and failures illuminate a clear path toward mobilizing a majoritarian working-class coalition to shift the balance of power between capital and labor. The past five years have achieved vastly more electoral success for the left than a century of attempts at building a competitive third party or achieving realignment. An unprecedented number of Americans—25 to 30 percent of the major left-of-center party—mobilized around a message and program of class-struggle. The Sanders campaign was able to define politics on class terms: society is divided between workers who labor, the “99 percent,” and the “1 percent” who profit off the labor of workers. There are, however, huge structural barriers against the left. The 2020 campaign revealed the depth of this opposition and the tactics the capitalist class will use to ensure the left’s defeat. This analysis finds that these structural barriers were primarily responsible for the fate of the Sanders campaign, to the extent that tactical decisions alone would have been unlikely to have changed the outcome.” • One structural barrier, I think, was the contraction between a working class “movement” and a political campaign, with the latter partly dependent on mercenaries and staffers who entered politics through the door marked “identity politics.” It seems to me that a permament, self-funded, dues-paying apparatus with a fixed and simple platform is the way forward, to cut the mercs and resumé builders out of the equation entirely. Whether that can be created without a Sanders figure at the head remains to be seen. (Also, euthanize the NGOs.)

UPDATE Sanders (D)(2): “Build Your Own Machine” [Discourse Blog]. “Take over your local party apparatus, or build an alternative to it. Build your own machine to take out the one that doesn’t work anymore…. In some ways, taking control of the unions, whether locally or nationally, is more immediately pressing than winning elections…. Finally, progressives have to unite in some way…. On their own, these groups find themselves competing with each other for the attention of politicians. As a singular unit, they can drag the politicians who need their support towards the right position. All of this isn’t just about winning elections. It’s about giving working people a voice in the political process.” • The NGOs compete with each other by design. That is their purpose.

UPDATE Sanders (D)(3): Note the source:

And the proposed #5 would account for Sanders seeming a bit disspirited.

Trump (D)(1):

Well, the Biden campaign is full of plucky rebels, so no problemo.

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UPDATE It’s frustrating to know that tens of trillions of dollars are being shuffled about, presumably to remake “the economy,” and yet there’s no coverage of it:

Sure, Trump gave the Democrats the middle finger. As he does. Why didn’t they take his arm off up to the shoulder?

UPDATE “The coronavirus is invading the battleground states” [Greg Sargent, WaPo]. “William Frey of the Brookings Institution, who is one of the country’s best-known demographers, has been tracking the spread of the novel coronavirus by county each week. The last time we checked in on Frey’s data, he had found that the virus had spread into outer-suburban and small-metro counties, and counties carried by Donald Trump in 2016. That undermined the conventional wisdom that the coronavirus has been almost entirely the scourge of Democratic-leaning urban areas. Frey’s new top-line finding is that since March 29 — that is, in the past five weeks — some 1,103 counties across the country have newly achieved what Frey calls “high-covid status,” and 813 of them voted for Trump in 2016, while 290 voted for Hillary Clinton.” • Thanks, Mario. Good job:

(Sargent, with “scourge of” does not seem to be clear on the idea that pandemics spread.)

UPDATE “Barack Obama Surprises Locked Down Chicago Teachers On Video Call” [HuffPo]. “Chicago Public Schools educators said they were “overwhelmed,” honored,” “beyond excited” and even trembling when former President Barack Obama called them to mark National Teachers Appreciation Week.” • Squeeeeeeeeee!

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Schumer, Pelosi set to unveil ‘Rooseveltian’ relief package” [The Hill]. Since there’s no mention of policy in the article, let me pull out the adjectives: “Big,” “bold,” “very strong,” “action here to help average folks,” and “Rooseveltian.” If only there had been somebody who had been advocating policies like that in the Democrat primary! And if only the Democrats had done this first, when they had some leverage, and nobody was muttering about “fiscal responsibility.” Anyhow, I hate to be too cynical, but liberal Democrats being who they are, I would bet that the bill will not be universal (“essential workers” enter by the front door, all others by the kitchen entrance), will include means testing, and be at least partially implemented through tax credits. It will also be complicated. The bill will certainly not resemble Tlaib’s proposal to give everyone relief through a card topped up on a monthly basis, and paid for by issuing The Coin. That would be Rooseveltian. From Firesign Theatre: “PORGY: Now, kids! Don’t get excited! VOICE FROM CROWD: Who’s excited?”


Stats Watch

At reader request, I added some business stats back in. Please give Econintersect click-throughs; they’re a good, old-school blog that covers more than stats. If anybody knows of other aggregators, please contact me at the email address below.

Productivity: “1Q2020 Preliminary Headline Productivity Hit By The Coronavirus” [Econintersect]. “A simple summary of the headlines for this release is that labor costs are growing significantly faster than productivity on a quarter-over-quarter and year-over-year basis – and the pandemic has caused productivity to crater…. [M]y productivity analysis… is at odds with the headline view. Doing a productivity analysis at the beginning of a major recession is a waste of time.”

Employment Situation: “02 May 2020 Initial Unemployment Claims 3,169,000 This Week” [Econintersect]. “The COVID-19 virus continues to impact the number of initial claims and its impact is also reflected in the increasing levels of insured unemployment. The pandemic has so far caused a 33,765,000 job loss…. The four-week rolling average of initial claims is 1788% higher than one year ago (versus the 2235 % higher last week) – and is higher than any historical value for this data set.”

Employment Situation: “April 2020 Job Cuts Break Single Month Record” [Econintersect]. “Job cuts announced by U.S.-based employers spiked to 671,129, the highest single-month total on record. Challenger began tracking job cut announcements in January 1993. Last month’s total was primarily due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which was cited as the reason for 633,082 job cuts.”

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Real Estate: “COVID-19 Crisis Capitalism Comes to Real Estate” [Boston Review]. “By proptech we mean technical products and platforms that have facilitated the merging of the technology and real estate industries in novel ways…. The proptech industry ballooned following the 2008 subprime mortgage crisis, when racist lending practices and government response dispossessed hundreds of thousands of mainly black and Latinx property owners. This era saw over 240,000 black residents lose their homes, erasing most of the gains made since the 1968 passing of the civil rights era Fair Housing Act. Wall Street investment firms such as Blackstone, Invitation Homes, Colony, Waypoint, and Starwood—which have all now consolidated into one mega-firm—swept in to purchase foreclosed homes at auction, ushering in the age of the corporate landlord. Today the conglomerate of Blackstone comprises the largest landowning firm globally and is the biggest landlord in the United States. Hundreds of large investment companies followed Blackstone’s lead, forming massive landlord monopolies in various cities and regions across the United States. These mega-landlords generally acquire new properties through limited partnership (LPs) and limited liability company (LLCs) shell companies, a practice that makes it difficult for tenants to know who their landlords really are, and thus serves to stymie tenant organizing and collective action.” • Ugly, ugly. I highlighted this passage because the mega-landlords tie up what I had always thought of as a loose end from the 2008 Crash, but the property tech stuff is just super-invasive and awful. Worth reading in full.

Retail: “Debt-burdened Neiman Marcus runs out of options, files to reorganize in bankruptcy” [Dallas Morning News]. “The new owners will be the lenders who are funding the bankruptcy and the funds to emerge…. In hindsight, the highly leveraged $6 billion buyout of Neiman Marcus by Ares Management LLC and the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board foretold an eventual bankruptcy filing. … Without its interest expense, which totaled more than $300 million a year, Neiman Marcus was profitable.” • “Without the tapeworm, the human host would have been nourished.”

Shipping: “Inside the ‘mind-blowing,’ ‘crazy,’ ‘insane,’ ‘ridiculous’ tanker sell-off” [American Shipper]. “One of the undercurrents on recent quarterly tanker calls was that investors might not be getting the right numbers and may be interpreting reported rates incorrectly. When a spot ‘fixture’ deal is first reported, it is ‘on subjects,’ which means the charterer has a period of time to vet the ship before ‘lifting subjects’ and closing the deal, after which it is ‘fully fixed.’ Sometimes, particularly in frothy markets, the charterer does not lift subjects and the fixture fails. The real market rate is the level of fully fixed deals, but broker reports and indices cited in the press take into account the initially reported fixtures, even the ones that fail — which can inflate the numbers during a hot market. As Ardmore Tankers CEO Anthony Gurnee said during a conference call on Tuesday, ‘The indices people are quoting and the rates shipbrokers are throwing around tend to be somewhat detached from reality. As our chartering team likes to say, it’s basically fairy dust until you actually fix it.'”

The Bezzle: “Yelp is Screwing Over Restaurants By Quietly Replacing Their Phone Numbers” [Vice]. “Even though restaurants are capable of taking orders directly—after all, both numbers are routed to the same place—Yelp is pushing customers to Grubhub-owned phone numbers in order to facilitate what Grubhub calls a ‘referral fee’ of between 15 percent and 20 percent of the order total… Yelp has historically functioned like an enhanced Yellow Pages, listing direct phone numbers for restaurants along with photos, information about the space, menus, and user reviews. But Yelp began prompting customers to call Grubhub phone numbers in October 2018 after the two companies announced a “long-term partnership.’… The commissions charged for phone orders are also frequently inaccurate because unlike with online orders, Grubhub does not actually know how much a phone order costs. It calculates its marketing commission based on the average of the last six non-phone orders.” • Why does everything Silicon Valley turn out skeevy?

Supply Chain: “Mexico’s lockdown of a swath of industries has closed many suppliers to American factories… leaving companies including auto makers and appliance sellers without a reliable supply of parts” [Wall Street Journal]. “The problem is a result of the tightly woven supply chains operating across the U.S.-Mexico border, and it’s raising tensions in both countries. U.S. companies and some states are lobbying for Mexican plants to reopen, while Mexican authorities say border factories have contributed to higher infection rates in northern Mexico.”

Supply Chain: “Gilead Sciences is trying to establish what appears to be the first global pharmaceutical supply chain aimed directly at coronavirus treatment. The California-based company is joining with other drugmakers to manufacture and sell its Covid-19 treatment remdesivir outside the U.S… farming out production of the medicine to ensure supply meets global demand” [Wall Strreet Journal]. “The company already faces challenges in producing a drug that Gilead says is relatively complex to make. The raw ingredients are sourced from suppliers around the world and Gildead says global supply chain disruptions have already made some of those materials more scarce. Gilead is looking to ease the logistical challenges in making and distributing enough remdesivir to satisfy likely high global demand. If it succeeds, the company’s effort could provide a model for how drug manufacturers could build a supply chain for a vaccine if researchers eventually reach that goal.” • I know! Let’s build a massive global supply chain!

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 41 Fear (previous close: 41 Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 47 (Neutral). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated May 7 at 12:41pm.

The Biosphere

“How Climate Change Is Contributing to Skyrocketing Rates of Infectious Disease” [ProPublica]. “There are three ways climate influences emerging diseases. Roughly 60% of new pathogens come from animals — including those pressured by diversity loss — and roughly one-third of those can be directly attributed to changes in human land use, meaning deforestation, the introduction of farming, development or resource extraction in otherwise natural settings. Vector-borne diseases — those carried by insects like mosquitoes and ticks and transferred in the blood of infected people — are also on the rise as warming weather and erratic precipitation vastly expand the geographic regions vulnerable to contagion. Climate is even bringing old viruses back from the dead, thawing zombie contagions like the anthrax released from a frozen reindeer in 2016, which can come down from the arctic and haunt us from the past.”

“AP Exclusive: US shelves detailed guide to reopening country” [Associated Press]. “The 17-page report by a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention team, titled “Guidance for Implementing the Opening Up America Again Framework,” was researched and written to help faith leaders, business owners, educators and state and local officials as they begin to reopen. It was supposed to be published last Friday, but agency scientists were told the guidance “would never see the light of day,” according to a CDC official. The official was not authorized to talk to reporters and spoke to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity…. States that directly reach out to the CDC can tap guidance that’s been prepared but that the White House has not released.” • A copy of the report is at the link.

Health Care

“Cold, Crowded, Deadly: How U.S. Meat Plants Became a Virus Breeding Ground” [Bloomberg]. “On March 25 one of [Rafael Benjamin’s] daughters gave him a face mask to wear at the plant, where he operated boxing and loading equipment near the entrance and was often the first person to greet arriving co-workers. “He was always so respectful,” a shiftmate says. Two days later, Benjamin told his kids a supervisor had ordered him to remove the mask because it was creating unnecessary fears among plant employees.” • Benjamin died, naturally. More: “The meat industry’s failure to protect its employees from the coronavirus has triggered the most serious threat to U.S. meat supplies since World War II. In recent weeks, 115 meat and poultry plants have reported Covid-19 infections in the U.S., and about 5,000 workers, 1% of the industry’s workforce, have been confirmed sick, with 20 deaths, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Outbreaks were so severe that at least 18 plants shut down…. Now it’s up to the meatpacking companies, with even less accountability than before, to adapt to the coronavirus while sustaining production and worker health. ‘It remains to be seen how we’re going to manage that dynamic between the health and emotional safety, and physical safety, of the workers in the plants and the executive order,’ David MacLennan, Cargill’s chairman and chief executive officer, told Bloomberg TV on April 28…. Trust among meatpacking workers and their communities, never high, has been shattered.” • “Emotional safety.” Well worth a read. Joe Weisenthal comments: “These details are absolutely awful.”

Groves of Academe

“Not Persuasion, But Power: Against ‘Making the Case'” [Boston Review].”For a generation or more, institutions of higher education have been actively dismantled—in many ways, transformed beyond recognition—by powerful constituencies who are actively hostile to academic values. These constituencies include conservative politicians who view widespread access to liberal arts education as a recipe for social upheaval, and business leaders who want to shunt the expense of training workers for highly technical jobs onto the university system (and ultimately the students themselves). They do not need to be told of the benefits of a liberal arts education. They have often benefited from such an education themselves and are happy to provide it for their own children—including at elite Ivy League schools that do not even have the kind of vocational programs that they recommend so fervently for everyone else. They are well aware of the potential of liberal arts degrees to produce engaged and informed citizens who can navigate an ever-changing job market with confidence and creativity. That is precisely why they want to keep a true liberal arts education as a preserve of the elite, consigning everyone else to narrowly vocational paths that teach them how best to serve those above them in the social hierarchy. The problem is not persuasion, but power—and propaganda.”

Guillotine Watch

“Pandemic Therapy for the 1 Percent: More Money, Different Problems” [Bloomberg]. “For those with several homes, many have adopted the solution of rotating among their houses by private jet…. ‘They will wait while the staff comes in to clean, get groceries, do all the housekeeping’ at one location, [therapist Ginger] Poag says. ‘They’ll wait a certain amount of time, maybe three days, with no one entering the house, then they’ll move there.’ Once bored with those surroundings, they’ll charge staff to tee up another location—the Palm Beach, Fla., house, perhaps—and repeat the process…. Sanam Hafeez’s clients are also worried about houses—although in her case, the Manhattan-based therapist is hearing more about vacation rentals. ‘One patient is neurotic that she won’t find a ‘great’ Hamptons rental, because all the prices will be sky-high because people in New York City have already decamped to the Hamptons. She is worried that the house she and her husband will be able to afford will be too modest to show her friends,” Hafeez says.” • I wonder how many freezers she wants to buy.

Class Warfare

“Labor wins big on COVID workers’ comp” [CalMatters]. “In a big win for labor unions, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed an executive order Wednesday that presumes California’s essential workers who contract COVID-19 did so on the job. The order makes it easier for employees to access workers’ compensation benefits by shifting the burden of proof to employers, who will have to prove employees did not contract COVID-19 at work in order to avoid a claim, CalMatters’ Barbara Feder Ostrov reports. Such an expansion has been estimated to cost the state workers’ compensation system billions a year. The order applies to all essential workers, not just health care workers and first responders. It lasts for two months and retroactively covers those who tested positive for coronavirus within 14 days of working after Newsom’s March 19 stay-at-home order.”=

“Independent Musician’s Union Sends Letter to Congress Demanding Aid Signed by Downtown Boys, DIIV, Speedy Ortiz, Lee Ranaldo, Thursday, Zola Jesus, Guy Picciotto & More” [mxdwn.com]. “A plethora of musicians including Downtown Boys, DIIV, Speedy Ortiz, Lee Ranaldo, Thursday, Zola Jesus and Guy Picciotto have sent a letter to congress demanding aid as an independent musicians union. Called The Union of Musicians and Allied Workers (UMAW), the letter comes in six parts, calling for an expansion of government benefits, and emergency funding for programs in need.”

“On “strasserism” and the decay of the left.” [tinkzorg]. “I write this because there are still people out there who don’t yet know that they can pick a side, who think that constantly losing and being seen as cruel jokes or craven enemies by the very people they purport to “serve” is the only alternative on offer. It’s not. You can become a chud, a strasserite, a racist, a redbrown, a nazi just like us: in short, you can simply opt to leave the professionals and managers behind, and let them fight their hopeless battle against historical obsolescence.” • Relevant, I think, to the aftermath of the Sanders campaign. A fun polemic.

“Anarchist Direct Actions: A Challenge for Law Enforcement” [Studies in Conflict & Terrorism]. From 2006, still germane. Some amusing passages on this thread:

News of the Wired

“How ‘Karen’ Became a Coronavirus Villain” [The Atlantic]. “André Brock, an associate professor at Georgia Tech who has studied Black Twitter, says Karen memes are freshly resonant now because they allow people of color the chance to indulge in dark comedy about the way the pandemic is disproportionately affecting them. In reference to another varietal of Karen, the type of suburban liberal who uses the Nextdoor app and a Ring security camera to surveil her neighbors and monitor their behavior, he called it “deeply ironic” that white women isolating in single-family homes—whose lifestyle puts them at low risk of exposure to the virus—have been getting militant about teenagers wearing face masks or judgmental about city dwellers’ inability to execute perfect social distancing.” • I believe that “Karen” was originally “Becky” on Black Twitter, and was then appropriated, as is the way. Somebody should call the manager about that.

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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 and coral 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 (astor8e):

astor8e writes: “Nice fungi in Napa, CA with a large California live oak in the background…” And a very nice sky!

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About Lambert Strether

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


    1. Tom Stone

      I’m trying to put 3 Million unemployment claims in a week in some kind of perspective.
      How many is that in “Real People”?

      1. JTMcPhee

        The first week was 6 million. Total no over 22 million. And it’s going far higher. While the Fuggers in DC delectate on their bespoke chocolate ice cream from their $24,000 freezers.

        1. Procopius

          From Lambert’s statistics, specifically from Econintersect,

          The pandemic has so far caused a 33,765,000 job loss…. The four-week rolling average of initial claims is 1788% higher than one year ago (versus the 2235 % higher last week) – and is higher than any historical value for this data set.”

          Where should I go to look for how many of those 33,765,000 claims have been approved and how many of those have received money? From a number of stories I gather it’s bad, that the states are overwhelmed, and people are finally realizing that systems designed to detect and prevent “fraud” are not well designed to protect people. Heck, that was obvious back when Biden and Bill Clinton did away with ADC and imposed the much more restrictive TANF (anybody else remember that Biden was an architect of TANF?). The Democrats seem to believe that when they passed a bill awarding a $600 a week supplement to unemployment insurance benefits the problem was solved. I see anecdotes that people who had their paperwork approved in March still have not begun to receive benefits. Is there data available?

          1. JTMcPhee

            Here’s dated information on FL, only 4% of 850,000 as of April 16 have been processed to completion, no indication of hw many have actually started to receive payment.

            And from the link,

            To help clear the backlog, DeSantis signed an executive order Thursday removing the requirement that people continue to refile every two weeks to certify they’re still unemployed to keep their benefits. DeSantis said he didn’t think the order was needed, but DEO disagreed and hadn’t waived the requirement.

            No soup for you…

            FL has been dominated by monstrous Republicans like Sick Rott, now in the US Senate, and now DeSantis, who have filled the agencies with the kinds of hateful people who just love to go along with the mean-spirited “fraud repression” cruelties that the liberals love to impose, the residue of the Clintons and the rest of the Dem establishment. The last Dem governor was a Republican — Charlie “the Wimp” Crist, who changed parties after losing to Rubio for the senate seat.

            The Dem rulers in FL are straight-up Elites and PMCs who spurn the working class and are so feckless and so clearly uninterested in taking actual power to serve the public interest that they have fumbled all the big elections (governor, federal senate and house, and FL legislature and all the elected heads of FL agencies. They do have the idol corners all staked down, god bless them. But their private club is doing just fine, thank you, with 5..04 million registered voters, to 4.79 Reps and 3.78 million “others.” Even with that bulge, they can’t win elections, for lack of both viable policy positions and lack of attractive candidates. About the only populist I see at the state level is Nikki Fried, who is the Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services, with quite a portfolio including supervising the almost 2 million concealed-carry firearm permits in our “stand your ground” state.

    2. clarky90

      “Temple Grandin: Big Meat Supply Chains Are Fragile”

      “……Big operations are extremely cost efficient. That’s why they’ve been built this way. The downside is the fragility of the supply chains, as Covid-19 proves. This pandemic is going to be a wakeup call and I expect many to become a lot more interested in more distributed local supply chains. Local production provides the opposite: it will always be more expensive because fixed costs such as labor, electricity, and water to process each pig will be higher. But a local supply chain is less prone to disruption. It also has a lower dependence on long distance trucking. During the floods in Colorado, semi-trucks had a difficult time re-supplying many stores……”

  1. zagonostra

    >National Debt Charts

    The charts posted on Wolff Street are almost impossible to comprehend. And then on top of it, to know that the majority of this debt is to prop up the wealthy and privileged elites is, as Wolff describes, nightmarish.

    It’s more than just a downturn. It’s the big one. The nightmare has become a reality. And waking up or looking away no longer helps.


    1. Synoia

      I believe the title on that chart is incorrect. Should it not read “Subsidies for the Wealthy”or “MIC budgeted spending?” /s

  2. Donald

    I read the Swedish Strasserite piece and was puzzled by it. I get the criticism of PMC- led socialism— that’s an old story—but he kept talking as though there was some sort of socialism led by the working class that is doing better. Is this happening in Sweden? Sanders did well in Nevada and California and poorly in other places— is Biden supposed to be less of a vehicle for PMC class interest than Sanders? Not in any part of the multiverse that I frequent.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      It’s very much Inside Baseball from left factions that regard Sanders as a compromise. But in those factions, this is an important battle.

      1. Watt4Bob

        I wouldn’t put it that way exactly.

        What I thought the piece was about is the dawning awareness that what has passed for the left in America, has finally been found to be anything but.

        And if you are still looking for the democrats to carry the standard, you’re at least standing in the way, and maybe part of the problem.

        Neither the democratic party, nor any organization consisting of members of PMC is going to do anything to further the interests of the working class, any attempt to force the issue will result in your expulsion from that organization because at their core, both groups actually look down on the working class as ‘deplorable’.

        You cannot rail about the need for socialism, all the while doing everything possible to remain in the good standing of the PMC.

        IMO, Sanders tried to do an end-around on the dems, maybe a tactical failure, but not the same as compromising.

        Warren on the other hand, tried to do exactly what the author is decrying, she tried to say she was on the people’s side, but she couldn’t give up her status within the PMC, and so compromised her supposed values in the interest of solidarity with her class.

        But I don’t think the author had individuals behavior in mind in his rant, I believe he was talking about the behavior of classes, basically explaining we’ve come to the point where we should grow up and stop expecting the faux-left, actually virtue-signaling members of the ‘upper-class‘ to champion the cause of the working-class.

        And this is where I disagree that this further factional scuffling, I think the author is pointing out that the scuffle is pointless.

        The people involved in the ‘Inside Baseball‘ the scuffle are the most useless of allies.

        In sum, and he states his case clearly, it’s time to quit believing in ‘pie in the sky bye and bye‘, and chose which side you’re on.

        And when you do, it’s going to cost you.

        1. jsn

          In the anglosphere, what passes for the left is just trying to get the communism of the rich they live under extended to themselves and their children.

          That’s how I read the article too.

        2. richard

          And when you do, it’s going to cost you
          yes. what it all comes down to, is the “left” needs to say to liberals:
          “We just don’t agree with you. For years and years you’ve said to us ‘but we’re all really after the same thing’. Well we don’t have the same goals, and you’ve proven with your actions again and again that this is true. We’re not working as rivals in the same party; your bullshit Calvinball rules have put paid to that. We belong in different parties. Goodbye.”
          This is what sanders supporters, the sanders’ campaign, and sanders himself needed to do all along. Wave goodbye and stop pretending, stop gaslighting yourself. But to do that will indeed cost you. It will reduce your “options”; choosing always does. But the option that’s left to you, admitting open conflict, was always the only road worth taking. How long will you pretend that enemies are allies?

        3. rd

          In Canada, Bernie Sanders would be a centrist. Most of the policies he espouses are in place, functioning, and are assumed to be rational in Canada. A few differences are that college and university isn’t free in Canada, its just low enough in cost that few people get significant student loans. His Medicare for All is basically Canadian healthcare that has been in palce for decades.

          1. Userfract

            Tuition costs here are only low in comparison to the ridiculous situation down south. We still have plenty of pressure from student loans with that situation getting progressively worse with US policy and thinking in this area influencing ours. Things aren’t that different in Canada, it’s just that our dominant centre-left party occasionally gets forced into doing something progressive in order to protect their left flank from a slightly more left centrist party. Neoliberal consensus reigns here and has for decades, but the public is just public-minded enough that we occasionally break off a few crumbs for ourselves. Honestly the difference maker is Quebec most of the time. Their politics tend to the progressive just a bit more than the rest of the country and that has made the difference more than once. Without them the rest of Canada would probably have a politics nearly indistinguishable from the US much of the time.

      2. Waking Up

        Thank you Lambert for posting the link to “On “strasserism” and the decay of the left.” [tinkzorg]. That was one of the best articles I have read in years. As usual, the comments here are also enlightening.

    2. Amfortas the hippie

      I’m reading it now, and wanted to remember this part:
      “The interests of the professional-managerial classes and the working classes – and, to use a non-marxist term here for a second, the internal proletariat of the West – are now diverging to the point where the differences can no longer be papered over. You cannot try to ”do both”. You have to pick a class, and live with the fact that you’ve just made an enemy out of the other class.”

      I’ve ruminated about this for a long while.
      it’s one of the reasons I actively used my acceptance into feedstore culture as “the genius weirdo who means well and thinks outside the box—but is one of us any way” to start figuring out how to talk about Bernie—and by extension, socialism, unions, universal healthcare—to rednecks who work for a living.
      Like i mentioned in another thread, the Wobblies…my favorite union, and model for unionism,itself…won’t let me be a member because i “own” this Farm. Wage Slaves Only!
      this preemptively rejects a whole lot of allies that could be brought around, if we could just get past the culture war knee jerk buttons and trigger words.
      most of the stuff i’ve read on this rather amorphous topic is cluttered with left Acedemiaspeak and jargon, and pretty much useless because of it.
      I can’t use those words in the feedstore!
      and when i mention to some of these “left” jargonists(read: PMC) that I gain traction with the ACTUAL Working Class out here in the sticks by using the language of Jesus and the Social Gospel(while not being an Xtian, myself)…I am branded as a nazi,lol.
      Maybe this will all fix itself as the Middle Class evaporates and reconstitutes at a lower material manifestation.
      The worst part of this phenomenon, of course, is the continuing insistence, by all and sundry, that the Demparty is somehow of the Left…that Biden, Hillary, etc are Lefties.
      That right there, is a masterpiece of manipulation and mindf&ckery.

      1. Amfortas the hippie

        and this!:
        “This isn’t just sentimentality speaking, by the way: the moment you get kicked out of the left and are no longer subject to all its taboos and rules, you start to realize what a golden political opportunity we live right in the middle of. The populist right is actually fairly weak – far, far weaker than our old comrades would be comfortable admitting – and their growing grip on the working class is often a function of a lack of competition rather than any noteworthy competence on their own part. Once you do away with the ballast and the social and economic neuroses of grad students and managerial aspirants, working people are actually suprisingly receptive to our message. But then again, that very openeness to a non-PMC populism from the left is why we – and they – must be dismissed as racists and idiots at every turn.”

        again, I’ve had astounding luck with even lunatic right wingers with civil war era dragoons on their hips and handlebar mustaches,lol.
        with them ending up exclaiming that canada does healthcare right!
        If one weirdo longhair in the sticks can do this, imagine what some larger organisation could do!
        thanks for this, Lambert

        1. Donald

          That part made sense to me. I follow some of the twitter battles between lefties ( purely as an observer) and no normal person would want to have anything to do with us. I think the worst people are the partisan Democratic woke radicals— that sounds contradictory but it is the best way to describe the kinds of people you find at a blog like LawyersGunsandMoney. Weird, extremely hostile bunch. But to be fair, you find some weirdly hostile angry people on every part of the Twitter left. It isn’t a circular firing squad— it’s a fractal one.

          The battle over Joe Rogan is an example. I don’t watch Rogan regularly— I have just seen a few episodes, but apparently he has a wide range of people on his show. If you can’t tolerate people who watch him, I don’t see how you can build much of a coalition. I am sure he has said stupid things, but I sort of suspect we all have said or thought stupid things at one time or another. And many of the same people who despise Rogan want us to support Joe Biden.

          1. clarky90

            Re; “…..but I sort of suspect we all have said or thought stupid things at one time or another.”

            This is the absolute beauty/power of Free Speech. As long as we can hang on to free speech, all of our other inalienable rights can be recovered.

            Over many years I have morphed from believing and acting like my lefty parents to (more) mirroring my nutty Grandma, Eliza (mom’s mom), and conservative Grandpa, Morris (dad’s dad).

            My sons are in the middle of this process, more mirroring my parents (their grands), than me! haha karma!

            I love free speech!! for my sacred cows to be spooked, my bubbles to be burst, my intellectual worlds to be upended. It has been painful…….

          2. Amfortas the hippie

            “If you can’t tolerate people who watch him, I don’t see how you can build much of a coalition”

            that’s why i abandoned alternet’s commentariat: Perfection is required.(this was circa 2016)
            I’d go on about Intersectionality that included Po White Trash and Rednecks and Sh7tkickers….and “Texans”, in general!…and there’d be 50 woke fascists going on about how those people are just the crap that needs to be flushed, and all wanna secede and wear sheets.
            Their misappropriation of “Intersectionality” into the IDPol Diversion Apparatus undoes it’s utility in building a mass movement….or just plain organising your neighbors.
            In the name of Tolerance, they are the most intolerant of people.
            That way leads to 300 million or so Parties of One….Neoliberal Liberalism! lol.
            again, Hobbsiean war of all against all as a tool of the powerful.

            1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

              It’s amazing to me that we need to start with the absolute basics of political economics with people. To explain that down through the ages since time immemorial there has been a struggle between Capital and Labor. That if your money does all your work for you, you are Capital. That if you must *work* to earn your daily bread then you are Labor.

              Capital is pretty united in their strategies and tactics. It’s a big tent and they are happy for anyone to sign on to their exceedingly simple Let’s Steal As Much As We Can From The Poor mission statement.

              But Labor? A thousand points of light all aiming in different directions. A redneck white male truck driver in Kentucky is *completely* de-oriented from a single gay black mother in Oakland. Despite their *economic interests* being in utter and complete alignment.

              Making them understand and embrace an “ideology” a la Bernie and “democratic socialism” can come later. Make sure people understand the very very basics first. Capital understands extremely well that it is “Us versus Them”. Labor must do the same.

              1. WJ

                I like this, but I want to pose an objection: the disparity in income among Labor today is so extreme as to make the category itself unhelpful. I make $80,000 a year; Fred makes $35,000 a year; Susan makes $200,000 a year. None of us makes our money via Capital. But are we really all Labor?

              2. LifelongLib

                Ok, maybe I’m misunderstanding the terms here, but when I think “working class” I automatically think a carpenter or a check out person or somebody in a factory i.e. manual worker. But by the logic of having to earn a living, a computer programmer or a poet is a worker too. Yet these mental workers (as “professionals”) get lumped into the “PMC” class. Seems to me we have to revise our ideas of what a “worker” is…

            2. WJ

              Indeed, the notion of “Intersectionality” does not serve working class politics, but the politics of PMC cultural liberals. That’s why it’s all over the media and the universities.

            3. John Anthony La Pietra

              Maybe we can do better with better word choices than intersectionality? With thanks to Lillian R. Lieber (before even Spock!), I’m going to suggest a word from mathematical logic and set theory.

              In logic, an intersection of two categories (let’s call them sets) only includes individuals in both sets. The intersection will always have fewer individuals than either of the two sets you started with (unless one set contains the other, or they’re both really the same).

              If you want to build a bigger “coalition” set, you want to include everyone who’s in either of the two starter sets. But in logic, “coalition” is not the word they use . . .

              They call it a union.

        2. jsn

          “lunatic right wingers with civil war era dragoons on their hips and handlebar mustaches”

          You’ve met my brother I see, usually between College Station and Katy, but heads out your way some times!

          Agrees about health care…

      2. Massinissa

        This is why, although I AM NOT going to vote for Trump, I think it would be better that Trump wins against Biden. There’s no chance in hell Biden will fix the problems from this depression any better than Trump would, just no way, but it would make it much more difficult for the ‘real left’ to articulate alternatives, and the failures of the Biden presidency would be blamed on the Left and create a myth of Trump being ‘stabbed in the back’ or something. If Trump owns this crisis it will become more difficult for the right to claim it was the left’s fault and, at the very least, even if ‘the right’ will not be blamed by the public for this crisis, Trump, at least, probably will. Biden defeating him might just turn him into a martyr.

        1. dcblogger

          if Trump wins the election many of us will go going to jail. ICE will be transformed into a true Gestapo. If Biden wins we will continue to drift, be we will be free to keep organizing. I live in DC, so I will vote Green with a clean conscience. But, speaking only for myself, if I lived in Ohio, PA, Michigan, etc, I would vote for Biden. Speaking only for myself.

          1. edmondo

            if Trump wins the election many of us will go going to jail. ICE will be transformed into a true Gestapo.

            Wow. Just Wow.

          2. clarky90

            I had a thought last night, while walking my local hill.

            The Dems have created a Golem! Named Joe Biden.

            “….connoting the unfinished human being before God’s eyes. The Mishnah uses the term for an uncultivated person: “Seven characteristics are in an uncultivated person….”

            The Dems have been kabbalisticaly chanting, for the last four years, special invocations; “Nepotist”, “Racist”, “Rapist”, “Vile”, “Repugnant”, “Liar”, “Xenophobe”, “Islamophobe”, “Mentally Deranged”, “Sociopath”, “un-formed………

            And Presto!, by their unlimited magik powers, the Dems have created (brought to life!) their dream- candidate/creature, Joe Biden! -a golem who embodies all of their words….

            upside down and inside out!

          3. Massinissa

            I… Didn’t expect you of all people to be succumbing to TDS.

            I feel… Mildly disappointed.

            Can you at least provide any evidence to your assertion that Trump will start throwing fringe lefties in jail?

            1. dcblogger

              Obama may have started the baby prisons, but Trump has vastly expanded them. Trump is inciting mobs with guns to storm their state capitols. I am just looking at what is happening in the ground. I am not so angry with the Democrats that I cannot see what Trump & Co. are doing.

              I campaigned for Bernie. did the best I could. came up short. But I don’t kid myself about Trump and his mob. They hate us, they want to kill us. That is what they keep saying. It would be naive to think that they will not do it.

              1. Massinissa

                Fair enough. I still disagree but respect your opinion. I apologize for accusing you of TDS.

          4. HotFlash

            Canadian here for 50+ years, but formerly Michigan, all my family is there still and I stay in touch. They are still (!!!!) ‘not sure’ about universal health care. My sis voted Bernie in the primary 2016, but Trump in the general. Full disclosure, I would have, too, because he said the wars were stupid and had not (as of then) committed any war crimes.

            She’s not a HIllary fan and refers to Bill as Bubba, voted Reagan back when. Not sure what she’s registered as now, but didn’t vote Bernie this time — despite pandemic, and as her daughter is a nurse, is not ignorant of covid. She didn’t want to talk to me a lot bout it, just got evasive … Dems have not done anything good for MI, sorry Gretchen.

            I did ask her last time we spoke whether Flint residents could drink their water yet, she said, “Well….”

            1. rowlf

              Cheese and rice! How many Canadian Americans in Michigan scamper across the border for prescription drugs and treatment? Is your family that isolated? When I was living near the People’s Republic of Ann Arbor anyone who could pull the Canadian card out of their hand played it.

              1. HotFlash

                Don’t understand your “Canadian Americans” or your “scamper”. Cross-border shopping was the rule in our small border town. Shops were better, they actually had TWO Chinese restaurants to our none, the library was *way* better, doctors were cheaper as were prescription drugs, still are, so I hear. There used to be some problems with USians obtaining fake OHIP cards, but that’s been fixed (photo and expiry date — thanks, guys). My old MI home town now has a ‘birthing center’ (reminds me of ‘farrowing creep’ since the last oby-gyn got driven out of business by lawsuit. A good friend, ex-pat of my vintage from Buffalo, told me that his uncle, a brain surgeon, told him that his clinic grossed $2 million/annum, that was in ’85, and that his malpractice insurance cost.

                Canadians chose to do it better and did. Your point?

                1. rowlf

                  Canadians have better options than US citizens. I saw it often with neighbors and coworkers who had two passports and I am sure your family in Michigan must have seen it. The only person I ever heard who had a Canadian passport complain about the Canadian healthcare system was a coworker who has US/Canadian/Israeli passports and I think that was due to anti-freier culture.

                  By the way, in the south we don’t use the metric Chinese restaurants for distance, we use the standard Waffle House which is a little longer. We used to do long range computations based on Stuckeys…

          5. Oregoncharles

            I don’t agree with the logic here, as I’ve explained before, but in practice, by the time of the election there are usually very few “swing states.” Maybe six, if that,and even fewer of the big ones.

            So I’ll take it.

      3. Watt4Bob

        when i mention to some of these “left” jargonists(read: PMC) that I gain traction with the ACTUAL Working Class out here in the sticks by using the language of Jesus and the Social Gospel(while not being an Xtian, myself)…I am branded as a nazi,lol

        I believe that’s the point the author is making, actually taking sides with the working-class will cost you your membership in the PMC.

        It’s time to choose which side you’re on, and when you do, it will cost you.

            1. Amfortas the hippie

              i obtained EP Thompson’s “Making of the English Working Class” the week before I became aware of a pandemic, in late feb.
              and i’ve found it difficult to read an actual book ever since,lol…exhaustion and chaos, etc.
              so I’m only maybe a fifth of the way into it…but he goes into great detail about this very thing.
              the initial takeaway: it takes a lot of work and education and a willingness to be punished and a tolerance for long haul and resistance to backstabbing and etc.
              it was a little easier back then to define the Classes, given lords and ladies and the long history of feudalism….but there was still the same confusion of tongues we see here: shopkeeper? how big counts? etc.
              thinking about my grandad…small sheet metal manufacturing in houston, 50’s-late 80’s. came up from nothing, from a country shop much like the one i have now.
              kept care of his people, and was upset when the unions…which he had always supported, and even been a member of, back when…went on strike.
              perhaps…just like with the whole Red-Brown alliance, and finding commonality with rednecks…”working class” must be defined subjectively.
              although i would have a hard time believing the two bankers i know(small town single branch banks) were they to express solidarity,lol.
              I’d need to see some orthopraxis(right action=”works”), rather than kind words and orthodoxy(right belief).

              as i’ve said, the PMC I know…the local petite bourgeoisie,…exhibit little class consciousness…remember, its been hammered into them that we are a classless society.
              so how could they?
              these proverbial “Karens” haven’t the means to see things that way…and, interacting with them, there’s not much thought going on at all…merely Certainty that they are Right, full stop.
              I’ve never had the opportunity to separate any of these folks from the herd like i have with feedstore workers and farmhands…too pretentious to have a beer with the likes of me, and far too satisfied and holier than thou….all virtue and status signalling to their peers, and a blind disregard for anyone below their station.
              I’ll be watching their near term descent closely, to see how they handle it…I reckon that will shed some light on all this.

              1. richard

                orthopraxis rather than kind words and orthodoxy
                so well said, amfortas
                I’ve often thought you could build an entire movement from that kind of idea
                taking the stylistic maxim “show not tell” and applying it to social and political action
                maybe Shut Up And Help?
                naw. I like yours best.

        1. Worm Wood

          “I believe that’s the point the author is making, actually taking sides with the working class will cost you your membership in the PMC.”

          It would be worthwhile to see a more detailed discussion of this phenomenon.

          On a psychological level, first come isolation and verbal condemnation, accompanied by an absence of social recognition leading to a gradual loss of self-confidence and a feeling that you are nuts. If you survive the depression and anger you will then feel totally powerless because there exists no political movement which adequately expresses your outrage.

          Then, when you again experience the virtue signalling of the PMC you want to, at a minimum, vomit.

      4. TMoney

        As a member of the evaporating class who lives with lots of PMCs (it’s a fixer upper), I get lots of baffled looks about supporting Bernie (“but your one of us” is implied but never said). Then I explain how much I pay for health care and how much I earn (very declasse of me) The penny nearly but never quite drops for most of them.
        I keep pointing out, if its this bad for me, how the hell is anyone lower down the scale making it. A lot of them think they are Democrats – well I suppose they are, but policies to help the poors ? Not a chance.
        The other thing I’ll note is that health care has become an issue among the next tier up too, not a big issue yet, but the deductibles are starting to scare younger lawyers with families who have to pay for health care on exchanges etc. Medicare for All resonates a bit more, with otherwise respectable members of the PMC whispering how sh*t their insurance is after a few drinks.

      5. The Rev Kev

        @ Amfortas the hippie

        About that line you quoted – “The interests of the professional-managerial classes and the working classes – and, to use a non-marxist term here for a second, the internal proletariat of the West – are now diverging to the point where the differences can no longer be papered over. You cannot try to ”do both”.

        John Michael Greer wrote an article on his now-defunct website predicting the victory of Trump over Hillary nearly a year before the fact and I never forgot it. He predicted this on the basis of the chasm between those that earned a salary the those who earned a wage with the later receiving a hammering over the decades while the former more or less kept pace. So in that quote, wouldn’t the professional-managerial classes be the salary earners and the working classes be the wage earners? When you think in such terms, so much becomes so much clearer.

        1. polecat

          Um .. if I may: his former, website – The Archdruid Report, has died .. with his current one – Ecosophia, having risen from the ashes. ‘;]

          Otherwise your comment is spot on .. HE was definately waaaay ahead of the conventional punditry/polling factotums. And in many ways he still is !

        2. Amfortas the hippie

          salary vs wage is a false dichotomy, i think.
          after all, wife the teacher gets a salary(from latin for salt that they paid the legions with)…and i suppose that technically, she’s “professional”, since she needed a degree to get there.
          but teachers have been denigrated and abused for a long time…by the “leaders”, at least…and sometimes the people get riled up, too.
          in texas, at least, if a teacher strikes, they lose their pension and teacher certification for life…hardly feels like a position of power.
          Marx made it simple: owners and not-owners…but what about…say…yeoman farmers like me?
          we’re still poor…even if not as poor as we used to be.
          what about the guy who owns a little shop somewhere. but who is hardly a Boss Man? he wouldn’t be welcome at the gala….let alone at davos.
          I don’t think there are any hard and fast lines…there’s even decent millionaires. I’ve even met a few, back when i was cooking and playing music.
          there’s no uniforms, either…except for maybe bespoke suits and white shoes.
          even the hated PMC contains decent people…if perhaps misguided and delusional….the specimens i know, both gop and wokedem, really believe the BS they parrot, and think that their team has the answer….no conscious calculations of class interest/consciousness is evident.
          our divisions have been made so multifoliate and contradictory that it’s hard to tell…which is the problem i’ve been trying to tackle, in my own way, in the feedstore.
          Like Hal(He of the pod bay doors) said above…we’re to the point of starting from scratch with politico-economic education, so withered is our polity in knowledge and spirit.
          Class Consciousness is absolutely necessary…but it ain’t gonna be easy.
          the entire great wurlitzer of division and chaos is set against us, and we are left with small time evangelism, often at considerable risk(i’ve only been strangled once since i moved out here 25 years ago, however).
          the evangelical model is how the Right came back from the wilderness, beginning in the late 60’s, and early 70’s.
          they had Big Money behind them,of course, without which they wouldn’t have been able to sell their idiotic(gr:”non-political man”) program of rapine and amorality as “God’s Plan”.
          we have the opposite…no money, but the “Good News” of an objectively better way to live together…once you get past the pavlovian triggers and tropes.

          1. Oregoncharles

            Small shopkeepers and similar are usually actually “workers” – like yeoman farmers. Just divide their earnings by the hours they put in, usually in the daily work of the store. Similarly, I technically owned a business (took on a partner after a while), but I was out there daily getting dirty and schlepping heavy objects (landscaping). Had trouble when I had a hernia. I didn’t like it when I had employees because I was doing more managing – making sure they had what they needed to work – and a lot less gardening. It’s also a hassle. Of course, all that meant I didn’t make a whole lot or build up a big business.

            Reality doesn’t lend itself to easy categories.

            And oddly, most of the Wobblies I know are actually PMC’s – they work for the university. They did try to organize a local hamburger chain; not sure how that worked out.

          2. John H

            Not a false dichotomy – as a compensation scheme, salary and wage couldn’t be more different. Pay by output vs input, two very different deals.

            1. Amfortas the hippie

              but is there an actual difference in power relations that goes, one to one, with those differences in compensation scheme?
              salaried nods along with team blue, while wage either nods along with team red, or is oblivious to the nodding altogether.
              are teachers or purchasing managers at a box company really more akin, re: class interest, to hedge fund managers than to burger flippers?

        3. ObjectiveFunction

          Yes, that was a great piece.

          Like most NCers, I don’t buy everything JMG says, but he has a lot of great thoughts, many buried in comment responses on his various blogs. A few sample corollaries here:

          The investment class, the salary class, the wage class, and the welfare class are the four great classes of modern American society.

          1. America’s postwar expansion into a global empire propelled the salary class (which is also the administrative/bureaucratic class) into its recent condition of political and cultural dominance.

          2. Every proposal enacted to help the two less prosperous classes, or to benefit the environment, or to solve some other problem, always benefits the salary class of bureaucrats, teachers, etc. even more. The more complex [looking at you, means testing!], the better!

          3. A mental monoculture accompanies the rise of any managerial elite, meritocracy or mandarinate. As the ruling caste justifies its existence by claiming to know more about the world than anybody else, it’s quite intolerant about challenges to its preferred set of ideas. [Drucker, Hopper, and others have noted this too]

          4. The educational system produces more people trained for managerial tasks than existing institutions can absorb. Clawing their way toward a sharply limited number of positions of wealth and influence you can count on getting the best, the brightest, and—above all—those who have sedulously erased from their minds any tendency to think any thought not preapproved by the conventional wisdom, which are in turn those that maintain their superiors in power. Your candidates will thus be earnest, idealistic, committed, ambitious and conformist [while those who fall off the ladder form a potential revolutionary cadre].

          5. The attempt to force everyone into the university system is partly a full employment program for academics who don’t have any marketable skills, and partly an attempt to enforce universal indoctrination into the ideology of American liberalism, which has had the universities as its central base of support for decades now.

          6. Members of the salary class borrow more money than they invest, as their incomes are steady/growing enough to make them creditworthy, and so benefit from low interest rates.

          7. When you retire from the salary class, you seek to move into one of the lower rungs of the investment class [assuming you have assets to live off].

          N.B. The profit class (entrepreneurs and proprietors whose income is profits from their own business activity – cf. Napoleon’s “nation of shopkeepers”) used to be quite prominent in Anglo-American politics and civic life, and is the ideological base of the old Republican party. But today it has virtually disappeared as a class separate from the salary class.

          [I’d add to this last point that the last numerically significant segment of the income class, what I call the “Supercab” group: independent contractors, plumbers, etc. (using truckloads of Mexicans) are hugely overrepresented at Trump rallies. And that makes sense. They’re the last believers in the old American Dream, love their independence and thus dislike both Big Gubmint red tape busybodies and swindling Big Corp suits]

    3. Massinissa

      That’s how I felt too. It offered good critique but on the other hand failed to offer any real alternatives or visions. Sort of part of what people say of Marx: His analysis of Capitalism was top tier but his views of socialism/communism were contradictory and muddled. Looks like the writer of that article was a true Marxist after all.

      1. Robert Hahl

        This statement is both a critique and an idea about what-is-to-be-done all in one sentence:

        “It is however a basic political truth that a worker’s movement consisting of people who are angry at the prospect of social and economic ”demotion” – in other words, people who are fighting against the cruel fate of having to become workers – cannot ever succeed.”

      2. barefoot charley

        I was stimulated by thoughts like this:

        Classes have class interests, and so the idea that you could have a political movement – the left – that was well and truly dominated by one class, yet still wholly committed to the class interests of another class, but also just too bumbling and out of touch to ever do a good job of looking out for the class it supposedly ”really” cares about is, to put it extremely mildly, a dubious idea. It is much more likely that a political movement dominated by one class will also be more or less entirely dedicated to pursuing the class interests of that class

        Which suggest that the working class’s real problem is that the PMC doesn’t and can’t represent it. But they are the nurseries of the Left that drives workers in droves rightward, towards those who affect to better understand them and their needs.

        And his solution for once is expressible: “we are the ghosts of socialism past.” The working class must have its own socialist party advocating for its own interests (and the middle-class socialists can kiss their ass). Now that’s analysis! A wordy but worthy essay.

      3. Donald

        It was too oversimplified. Sanders really did do well with some working class people, like in Nevada. So somebody did something right there. But he failed in other places.

        I’d rather see an analysis that got into the weeds about where he succeeded and where he failed, but the majority of the analyses I have seen have been too general or from people trying to draw some grand moral. Heck, I could write that sort of thing.

    4. Jessica

      If we must pick between the PMC left and the working class, I am with the working class. However, that alone feels just too simple.
      Work for non-PMC socialism is good, but it will also help to figure out what is going on in greater detail.
      1) Non-alignment between those fighting as proletarians and those fighting against becoming proletarians is not new. It was a feature of the labor movement in the US from its birth and through the Gilded Age and to some extent continues to show up in tensions between craft unions and industrial unions. Even the reactionary aspects of construction unions during the anti-war movement.
      2) The PMC left is not only fighting to avoid proletarianization. It is also jockeying for position within the PMC. Much of identity politics involves using victim status to gain social capital, which is then used to gain position within the PMC. A way has to be found to call this out and at the same time support the valid claims that idpol folks so often misappropriate. Labeling this process accurately is a first step.
      3) The current system, for all its many incapacities, is utterly brilliant at getting people to convert universal claims into particularist claims and particularist claims into personal careerist claims. This is not new. See how the German Social-Democratic Party failed to fight against the launching of WW1 and how after the war, it aligned with the Frei Korp (the Nazis before they became Nazis) to crush the Sparticists. Any new structure would be best to be ready beforehand to prevent this.
      4) The PMC is the enemy of the working class now but it is also the fulfillment of working class dreams and working class struggles. “We work in mines and factories so that our children don’t have to.” I am not clear how, but surely this matters. Perhaps it makes working class politics much vulnerable to PMC hijacking.

      1. Amfortas the hippie

        Re:#3: it is brilliant. I often find myself in awe of the Mind^uck…it’s overwhelming success in remaking humans into cogs and “enterprises”…and especially how they managed to make a proto-socialist carpenter into a moneylender extraordinaire.

        Re#4: That is a very important thing to include in any such rumination.
        take China: when the Bosses saw fit to send our physical plant over there, it was expected that the Chinese(etc) Peasants would be content to remain Chinese Peasants.
        This, it turns out, was a giant miscalculation.

    5. Nancy Boyd

      it’s important because, on the left, any materialist analysis is met with charges of fascism and in fact female materialist leftists have actually faced violence over this issue in England and Canada, and Angela Nagle was treated unbelievably badly for her materialist analysis of the effects of unlimited immigration on the working class. The PMC is deeply invested in a left that privileges subjectivity over material reality and that can be nothing but individualist, which ultimately serves neoliberalism.

      The left has been or allowed itself to be shunted into a neoliberal roach motel via identity politics and the primacy of PMC demands.

      Yes, in the UK there is some sort of socialism led by the working class, or trying to make itself known: it’s called Blue Labour — culturally conservative (which doesn’t mean the same thing in the UK as it would in the US) and economically radical. The charge, naturally, is that Blue Labour, though rooted in trades unionism, are fascists.

      1. Anarcissie

        I rather liked the Strasserite article, but in a mean way; intend to bother liberals and proggies with it. But as a constructive proposition, I find its ideas of class and ‘the Left’ don’t correspond with the phenomena I observe. First, I would define the working class as anyone who has to work (be employed) for a living, and those who depend on such persons or are attached to them. Thus, much of the PMC, in spite of its credentials and bicycle-riding*, is still a part of the working class and suffers from the pressures that are put upon workers. The working class is, in fact, pretty large and diverse and different segments of it have different views of their interests, which in fact materially differ even from the point of view of those atop ivory towers. (This may not be true of Sweden or UK; I’m going on what I see around me.) Without resolving the ambiguities of the notion of the working class, it will hardly be possible for a party or movement to locate its interests and desires in ‘the working class’. As for ‘the Left’, I was unable to discern exactly what the author was talking about there, either. My ignorance may reflect my parochial American perspective.

        * Kissing up and kicking down.

  3. Phacops

    Oooooh. I love today’s plant. Shaggy mane mushrooms (Coprinus comatus) are so easy to identify, and when young, are delicious. A favorite of foragers.

    1. Tom67

      They look like”Tintlinge” as they are called in German. They are delicious indeed when young but then turn into some sort of black fluid. Therefore they are called “Tintlinge” in German as “Tinte” means ink. Indeed they used to make ink out of them and one way of judging the age of a manuscript is by analysing whether these particular mushrooms were used to makethe ink. By the way: I just fry them but that is sort of unsatisfactory. Doyou have a better recipe? Sorry, Lambert this is completely off topic. Hope the question is ok.

  4. fresno dan


    On Tuesday, my friend Jane Coaston at Vox emailed me a link to a 36 second video clip showing in graphic detail the killing in Brunswick, Georgia, of a young black man named Ahmaud Arbery. Jane wanted to know what I thought. I’ve watched the video. I’ve watched it again. I’ve read the police report, the prosecutor’s explanation of his decision not to seek an arrest warrant, and the relevant excerpts of 911 calls reported in local media. I’m ready to tell you what I think.

    Ahmaud Arbery’s killers should be arrested and tried for murder.
    I agree. You have to read the entire article, and its hard not to believe that this would have seen the light of day if it were not for the video tape of the incident being revealed.

    1. Wukchumni

      For what it’s worth dept:

      A friend who was a law enforcement officer @ Sequoia NP, went to FLETC (Federal Law Enforcement Training Center) near Brunswick, Ga. to have his chip inserted,

      He’s quite an observant type, and reckoned that the crime rate of the area was 2x to 3x that of here in Tulare County if not more, no matter what the ‘official’ statistics said. He couldn’t believe how out of control the place was.

    2. marym

      josie duffy rice @jduffyrice
      The DA that charged this black woman for felony voter fraud and took her to trial TWICE is the same DA that chose NOT to arrest the McMichaels for murdering Ahmaud Arbery, despite seeing the video of his death.
      10:11 AM · May 7, 2020

      “It began…when a black woman named Diewanna Robinson went to cast her ballot. Ms. Robinson, then 21, had never voted before and didn’t know how to operate the electronic voting machine, reported Buzzfeed…Ms. Robinson would later testify that Ms. Pearson informed her where the card went in the machine and told her to “just go through and make my own selections on who I wanted to vote for.” Ms. Pearson walked away before Ms. Robinson started voting.

      …Ms. Pearson navigated two trials, two defense counsels, three dropped charges and one hung jury. Finally, in late February, after a 20-minute jury deliberation, she was acquitted of all charges. Six years after her brief interaction with Ms. Robinson, she was finally free.”

    3. The Rev Kev

      Man, I read about that yesterday. It was so f’ed up. Some guys heard about a crime, saw a black guy running down the street, grabbed their guns, jumped into their truck to hunt him down because of course he had to be the one. Meanwhile this black guy going for a run turns around and see guns with rifles going after him. This was just murder, plain and simpler and those guys should have gone straight to prison.

  5. Synoia

    Cauistry – (Collins) Casuistry is the use of clever arguments to persuade or trick people. |

    Thank you for the new word in my vocabulary, I would have previously call the argument “specious,” before a few beers, and something much stronger after.

    1. chuck roast

      Oh…my goodness! I’m heading for the fainting couch!
      ..and dominus vobisum.

    2. ewmayer

      I would have previously call the argument “specious” — and you would have been correct, since casuistry a.k.a. sophistry is the employment of specious reasoning.

      Cf. On The Origin of Specious. (OK, I’ll stop. :)

  6. zagonostra

    >BAR-Glen Ford

    Remember those folks over there at MSNBC who gave Nina Turner a hard time for using the word “oligarch” and Jason Johnson, the putative face of African Americans, who jumped in to challenged Turner on whether the term was apt to describe Bloomberg? The paragraph by Glen Ford below makes the reason crystal clear. Oligarchy/plutocracy/corporatacracy are all more apt than Democracy to describe what this country has become.

    From the oligarchs’ perspective, the unfolding crisis has no moral or ideological downside at all, since their prime mission over the past 40 years has been to force the planetary working class to compete for jobs with no benefits, no workplace protections and standards, ever-dwindling wages and zero employer obligations to the laborer. With the complicity of both corporate parties, periodic crises speed up this diabolical process, as in the aftermath of the 2008 meltdown, Austerity has nothing to do with containing the overall cost of government, but is solely designed to deprive working people of social supports so that, in desperation, they will accept any “gig” that is offered. The oligarchs conspire – that’s the correct word — to reduce the working class to permanent precarity. That’s their American – and global – Dream


    1. Big Tap

      Good! Now let the prosecutions begin. Comey, Brennan, Clapper, Strzok, McCabe, Saint Mueller, and Rosenstein. If you try to kill the king and don’t succeed watch out.

  7. Lark

    The Democrats didn’t propose a big “Rooseveltian” package earlier because they don’t want to pass one. This way they get to propose and get attention and so on without risking actually doing anything against their class interests. They’re just riding the coattails of the Republicans and hoping no one notices. Anyone reasonably intelligent and sincere in fighting the pandemic would have been taking action since late February. The big-name Democrats have the same death-centric cull-the-poor mentality as the Republicans but the nature of their base means they can’t say it out loud.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      So we can expect Pelosi and Schumer to lead a class on how to tell the difference between Chinese and Japanese and complain about Trump lumping everyone together.

    1. MLTPB

      As someone pointed out the other days, there various degrees of lockdown.

      In NZ, it was not possible get a burger.

      Whereever we are on the lockdown scale now, if we relax, we worry. That is, if we were tougher than we are, and we wanted to relax to where we are at right down, people would worry. But we rarely* hear people say we worry about our current degree of lockdown.

      *not never.

      1. marcyincny

        Here in upstate NY I just had a conversation with my neighbor who didn’t need me to tell him we blew it. He’s very aware Cuomo’s “Pause” was wholly insufficient and now two months later it’s too late for a second chance. After an upstate winter people are too eager to get out and about.

  8. dcblogger

    Eric Sheptock, DC’s best known homeless advocate, is in quarantine because someone he came into contact with got coronavirus. Sheptock had a full time job before shut down, 20 minutes in is a discussion of getting housing in DC. This is a great channel for homeless issues and poverty in DC

  9. Otis B Driftwood

    Anyone else wonder where erstwhile champion of abused women, Ronan Farrow, has been on the Tara Reade issue?

    Another #MeToo hypocrite?

    1. barefoot charley

      Reade told Taibbi’s partner Halper I think that he ignored her first several attempts to reach out but “now he’s talking to me.” That was more than a week ago.

  10. FreeMarketApologist

    “Two dozen.” There’s your problem.

    Oh, two dozen could be effective, if they’re linked to enough contribution dollars. I’m sure these two dozen didn’t represent enough income to the campaign.

    A lot would be clarified if the news properly cited the influences: “20 million dollars of campaign contributions requested that Joe Biden continue to let Larry Summers snuggle up to him… …The reporter was unable to attribute the exact source of funds.”

    1. Jim

      That “explainer” does more to display everything wrong with identity politics, than anything else. It even takes a swipe at Julie Bindel, a steadfast fighter for women’s rights – who is thus hated by UK identitarians and gender ideologues. One would be well advised to read Julie Bindel in her own words, rather than this guy.

  11. Pelham

    Light dawns on marble head: I’m getting the idea that the various pandemic bailout measures that we’re told in various ways are intended to broadly support the economy, small businesses and consumers, etc. are instead intentionally — and urgently — being channeled to only the biggest players as a kind of wall-and-moat system.

    They appear to be solidifying and securing their strongholds as they brace for a possible onslaught from the 99%, or 90%, whose strength in turn is being sapped by the threat of homelessness, mounting debt and compromised diets, not to mention forced exposure to COVID-19.

  12. Badman Tim

    Hey Lambert,

    The quoted blurb for the Boston Review article about higher education and dismantling the liberal arts is nowhere to be found in the article itself. Could that have been an edit or is this a different link?

    Thank you for all that you do!

    1. Massinissa

      This is only barely related to your point, but I’m going to share it here anyway because its similar enough.

      The other day I saw an advertisement for some college on youtube. In the ad, a woman said she got a degree in Analytics, which she said gave her career working for some company, and that career allowed her to

      “provide insights to leadership”

      Hearing that phrase I burst out laughing and couldn’t contain it. That phrasing was just so absolutely absurd. Among other things, that isn’t how real people talk. No real person would say that, its a phrase so carefully constructed by PR types. “So what kind of work do you do?” “Oh, I produce charts that help provide insight to leadership.”

      1. ObjectiveFunction

        Ha, but that’s as good a summary as any of my own PMC career.

        How well you do for yourself with symbolic analysis of course is really a function of:

        (a) is the Insight supporting the decision Leadership wants to make anyway [Dilbert]? or is it creating a FUD? (Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt)

        (b) who’s delivering the Insight, and why should Leadership trust them? (cuz Credentials, good hair, words but not too many words, etc.)

        (Yet my earnings passed my genius engineer dad’s peak lifetime earnings 3 years out of B-school. Like most genius engineers, he tended to FUD far more than was good for him. I don’t say this to brag, it’s horrible. But in the words of PMCHerself: “that’s what they offered, shrug”)

  13. DJG

    Lambert, Lambert, Lambert, mon vieux:

    Your observation:
    Sure, Trump gave the Democrats the middle finger. As he does. Why didn’t they take his arm off up to the shoulder?

    Because they were at home directing Maria the dial-a-maid in how to pack the freezer with $11-a-pint gelato.

    Now, I’m not bloody-minded, but I am compiling a list >>

  14. The Rev Kev

    ‘I believe that “Karen” was originally “Becky” on Black Twitter, and was then appropriated, as is the way. Somebody should call the manager about that.’

    You have a wicked wit about you. I like it.

  15. Jeff N

    wow, it won’t be long before Illinois passes New York on the new-style chart.
    Illinois has already passed New Jersey on it.

  16. marym

    “6,000 Frontline Caregivers Were Prepared to Strike at 64 Facilities for Hazard Pay, Paid Time Off and Crucial Resources to Safeguard the Health and Well-Being of Both Workers and Residents

    CHICAGO—Frontline nursing home workers who were poised to start a historic strike on Friday have reached a tentative agreement with nursing home owners for a two-year contract with significant wins that will help safeguard both workers and residents through the current pandemic and beyond.

    The agreement impacts over 10,000 members of SEIU Healthcare who provide care to residents at the 100+ nursing homes of the Illinois Association of Health Care Facilities.”


  17. richard

    Okay, here is my new idea:
    Tax real estate sales in Seattle to pay for free public school lunches. The tax would be written (somehow) to take that % entirely from the bankers/loaners end. Nowhere else.
    Now, aside from the obvious, vehement enemies such a proposal would create, are there any other obvious obstacles that I’m not thinking of?
    I can think of at least one big thing in its favor; if you accomplish it, it will be far less likely to ever get taken away than some means-tested “more support for the free and reduced lunch program”.
    I tried presenting the idea to one of the two remaining candidates for SEA president last night, in this Zoom type meeting, but had tech issues that made communicating difficult, and only managed to blow her mind. She struck me as very much of that sjw crew whose schema is entirely made up of “disproportionality”, but I may be unfair about that. I could only take about 20 minute before fleeing, the lunch bomb-throwing anarchist in the room.

  18. HotFlash

    UPDATE Biden (D)(2): “Joe Biden Could Sexually Harass Someone In The Middle Of Fifth Avenue” [The American Conservative]. • Tone aside, what’s the difference between this headline from TAC and the above tortured reasoning in The New Yorker?

    Well, I tried to read it, and I agreed as far as I got, but my conclusion was, as it often is, “Pundits gotta pund.”

    1. John Anthony La Pietra

      Didn’t someone get off a crack some while back about a compliment being the smallest known denomination of coin?

      OTOH, those who are in a position to increase the pay of nurses could do that AND recognize their heroism.

  19. JTMcPhee

    As to MSNBC and “information,” there’s data quantity, then there’s data quality.

  20. VietnamVet

    The pandemic has exposed all the fault lines in the West: Oligarchs, Managerial Class, Precariat and the Unfortunate. Worse, the US and UK are failed states. The Free Trade Western Empire existed to transfer wealth to the rich by extracting profits from making everything more fragile through deregulation, corruption, forever wars, off-shoring, just in time logistics, immigration, exploitation and privatization. America is now broken. A near 9/11 casualty event every day, most Americans with no income, food and goods supply disruptions. These are too hard to ignore. What is shocking is that the technocrats and politicians, the 10%, simply do not see it. This must be fixed fast; free healthcare, government jobs and income, universal testing, contact tracing, and safe quarantine sites; right now.

    Instead, nothing. States reopening. Donald Trump’s election or not will be a traumatic event. Democrats are no alternative. How to kick start the fix? If nothing is done except transfer trillions of dollars to billionaires, unrest and the deaths of millions of North Americans are assured. No matter what happens, Wall Street as a safe haven for flight capital is done. The US dollar is contaminated with the Wuhan Coronavirus.

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