Now’s not the time to disengage… Or is it?

Like a good number of you reading this now, I’ve been tempted to stop engaging with certain people this election season. Given the unprecedented level of vitriol, and the sheer number of lies being bandied about, it’s a tempting proposition to just cut people off. It’s completely understandable, I think that people, with the election now just four weeks away, want to start erecting walls in hopes of keeping the madness at bay. I’ve considered unfriending several people in my network, even friends and family members. Thankfully, as of right now, I’ve been able to resist the temptation, though. I haven’t yet taken to Facebook to yell, “If, after everything that’s come to light over the past several months, you still can’t see Trump for the misogynstic, racist, mentally unstable, power hungry hate monger that he is, I don’t want to see you, or hear from you, ever again.”

Every day, though, it seems that more and more people are taking to social media to do just that… to announce publicly that they’re not only aggressively disengaging from those with opposing views online, but have every intention to carry it over into the real, face-to-face world as well.

A few days ago, in a Ypsi Facebook group, someone suggested that we, the members of this community who can see the Republican candidate for what he truly is, stop frequenting a certain store because the owner had been observed putting a Trump sign in her front yard. And, just now, I saw that a business owner in Ann Arbor has gone public with an online request that his friends come out and tell him whether or not they intend to vote for Trump, as he wants to know that those who he ‘socializes with, invests in, does business with, and supports’ essentially share his values. And I get it. At some point you need to let people know that, if they indulge in antisocial behavior, there will be ramifications. If the neighbor next door gets a swastika tattoo on his neck, you’re well within your rights not to ask him over for the neighborhood barbecue. With that said, though, I think, once you start talking about loyalty oaths, you’re getting into some tricky, inherently un-democratic territory… Interestingly, as I was thinking about all of this last night, and wondering where I might draw the line for myself, I received the following note from a reader of this site.

dontgiveup

While clearly a conservative, the fellow who sent the above note, I’m pretty sure, was never one of our more aggressively far right readers. At least I don’t remember him ever being rude about his beliefs, or unreasonable in the conversations that he had here. But, even so, I think it’s a good, extremely timely, reminder that some folks on the right really are open to the possibility of change. So, as tempted as I may be to just give up on the so-called “basket of deplorables” who comprise the Trump base, I think I’m going to try to keep engaging for a while longer. And I’m going to try my best to actually listen, and not just reflexively throw out the “He’s a racist, and you must be one too” card when confronted by those who, for whatever reason, are staying loyal to the reality television personality at the top of the GOP ticket. I’ve admittedly been doing a poor job of that lately, and I’m going to try to do better. Or at least that’s what I’m telling myself now. Of course that may change on Saturday, when I’m going to be joined on the radio by Scott Hagerstrom, the Trump Pence Michigan State Campaign Director.

So, were do you stand on this? Are you still engaging, or have you given up on the idea that meaningful discussion can still be had? Are you still open for good, honest, respectful debate, or have you decided to just excommunicate all of those with whom you disagree? Do you think that Trump so egregious a candidate that his followers are beyond redemption? And, if you are keeping lines of communication open, at what point do you decide that enough’s enough?

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541 Comments

  1. Bob
    Posted October 11, 2016 at 9:52 pm | Permalink

    I’m finding my pro-Clinton friends equally insufferable. The level of Trump mockery with some of them is so off the charts. I personally don’t find anything funny about him anymore. And it isn’t over. I’m not convinced Hillary has enough genuine support to actually get all of her people to the polls. Who the fuck is actually passionate about Hillary? Besides Jean Heney?

  2. Posted October 12, 2016 at 12:18 am | Permalink

    More liberals need to move to the center as well.

  3. James Williams
    Posted October 12, 2016 at 1:38 am | Permalink

    Trump’s base are people who feel that they are losing out on the future.

    White Americans experienced a period from 1948-198? where jobs were plentiful, and you could have a great life with only a high-school degree.

    So, it’s not surprising that they are cranky. I think their ire is directed at the wrong groups, and that Trump does not really have any solutions for them, but he is the only person to address what they see as important issues.

  4. Posted October 12, 2016 at 2:05 am | Permalink

    “White Americans experienced a period from 1948-198? where jobs were plentiful, and you could have a great life with only a high-school degree.”

    198? Try the mid sixties. The 70s and 80s were miserable for jobs, which was one of the reasons that Reagan got elected.

    Not sure why people believe that protectionism and closed borders are going to bring back the imagine past of my grandfather (and I’m 47).

    Honestly, I’m tired of people’s selective revisionism of history. Those days were simply an anomaly. It’s a rash generalization, but for most people, if you are losing out in 2016, it’s your own fault. Waiting for government to get you that cushy job your grandfather supposedly had is just silly. It won’t happen.

    Sanders ran on that platform and it was fantasy.

  5. Jcp2
    Posted October 12, 2016 at 6:03 am | Permalink

    Unless you are Ted Kazinski, you have to engage, just don’t talk politics. At least 2/5 people will be voting for the other side. Life goes on.

  6. anonymous
    Posted October 12, 2016 at 6:26 am | Permalink

    “More liberals need to move to the center as well.” Are you serious? The whole party has been drifting right since the passage of the New Deal. Please tell me you’re joking, Dr. Professor Dirt Bag.

  7. Posted October 12, 2016 at 6:32 am | Permalink

    Mark (because we all know that you post as “anonymous” here among other pseudonyms),

    Yes, I am serious.

    I had to finally stop looking at Facebook because the people around me are so far left, that they seem to live in their own reality.

    Liberals love to get smug about “facts” but tend to believe (or want to believe) some extremely wacky shit because, politics.

  8. anonymous
    Posted October 12, 2016 at 8:11 am | Permalink

    The suggestion that I’m Mark makes my skin crawl, but thank you for the response, Dr. Professor Dirt Bag. FWIW, I agree with you that people on the left need to “give up on the whacky shit.” That’s not the same, however, as saying that they need to become less liberal, which is what you said. The two are not the same. Yes, by all means, people on the left should stop with the conspiracy theories. That’s not the same, however, as saying that they should become come conservative. People on the left need to more aggressively push public education, social services and union membership, not gravitate more toward authoritarianism and deregulation.

  9. maryd
    Posted October 12, 2016 at 8:12 am | Permalink

    I am for Hillary and I have been from the start. SO are many people I know. They will come out of the weeds Nov. 8th.
    We have a choice between one true evil and a progressive who has spent her entire career working for liberal causes and progress for America. Bernie Sanders told his California delegation that if they withhold their votes from Hillary Clinton that they will have to look their own children in the face and explain a Trump presidency.
    I am so with her. I have been from the moment she declared this time around. I have always admired and watched what she was up to. I would trust her with my own grandchildren.

  10. kjc
    Posted October 12, 2016 at 8:38 am | Permalink

    peter, be original.

    Kathy Miller, who is white and chair of the Republican nominee’s campaign in Mahoning County, made the remarks during a taped interview with the Guardian’s Anywhere but Washington series of election videos. ” If you’re black and you haven’t been successful in the last 50 years, it’s your own fault. You’ve had every opportunity. You’ve had the same schools everybody else went to. You had benefits to go to college that white kids didn’t have. You had all the advantages and didn’t take advantage of it. It’s not our fault, certainly.”

  11. maryd
    Posted October 12, 2016 at 9:00 am | Permalink

    As far as engaging with others…its a mixed bag, between being called nasty names ala trump or just deciding to agree to disagree. Flipping between unfollowing long time friends before the primaries and then again after…hardly engagement. I’m more bothered by progressives who are into conspiracy then the trumpites, who are beyond the pale I’m afraid.

  12. Susan
    Posted October 12, 2016 at 9:16 am | Permalink

    I’m not Jean Henry and I am passionate about Hillary. She is the closest fit to my world view. But the struggle isn’t over. She’s going to have a very tough term because SEXISM and misogyny. Not unlike Obama’s GOP blockade because RACISM. Hers may be more difficult because people like me would like to push her further to the left because CLIMATE CHANGE and PEACE, and education, and citizen’s united, and so much more. She’s going to be operating under so much pressure. I really hope all these different ‘to the left’ interests can truly be ‘stronger together.’ So, no, Mark, I think this discourse is so needed right now, and will be even more important after the election. Citizens need to keep the pressure on our elected officials, and become more engaged. With each other as well. So strap in, this shift is going to be a rough ride.

  13. Posted October 12, 2016 at 9:18 am | Permalink

    I simply stated an opinion, but, as always, I am sorry I offended you kjc.

    I hope you are well.

  14. Posted October 12, 2016 at 9:23 am | Permalink

    I do not disagree that there are tangible barriers to African-Americans succeeding in the United States. It was not my intent to dispute that fact.

    However, African-Americans make up only a tiny fraction of people who are getting behind Donald Trump. The people behind Donald Trump are largely people who feel they aren’t as successful as they should be, and wax nostalgic for a time that may or may not have existed.

    There is little that government can do to help those people, given that it already favors them.

    Again, I’m sorry kjc. I recognize that you dislike me greatly but I wish you well.

  15. Jean Henry
    Posted October 12, 2016 at 9:23 am | Permalink

    Responding to Bob, since he name checked me (incorrectly).
    I just engaged in a FB thread with people from my hometown, from Up North, and even from Ann Arbor and none feel free to brandish a Hillary sign for fear of reprisal. My parents back home put up Obama signs at the end of their lane and those were shot at, removed, torn up, but they did not feel personally threatened. (It’s gun country, people have guns and use them, it doesn’t normally feel threatening.) This year is different. This year they are laying low. When I asked my mom why, she started rambling about how the farm lane to the house only has one way in and out.

    I know there are many people passionate about Hillary. Most are not as loud-mouthed as me about it. I took relentless heat for my liberal political position growing up; I’m ok with taking heat for my anti-sexism position now. I have people, almost all women, thanking me every day in private for my open support of Clinton. Every day. Even now, many don’t feel comfortable expressing their enthusiastic support for her in A2/Ypsi. The atmosphere of suppression is intense. That’s coming from left and right. People don;t want to be insulted. They just want to go about their days in peace. Textbook suppression. I guess we could all be making it up, right? Bitches be crazy.

    That kind of response is precisely why women don’t tend to express enthusiastic support. We know how to keep our mouths shut. We have all learned how to do that.

    I predict Nov 8th many men will not vote at all, and women will use the privacy of the ballot box to express their enthusiasm by voting in unprecedented numbers for HRC. Then maybe you’ll see that they care about this election and adore and respect their candidate. Or maybe you’ll have another narrative about how it’s just that Trump was so bad…

    I could be wrong. There is always the risk of being wrong when expressing what one thinks. I’m ok with that. That’s kind of the point. I wish more people felt their was no consequence to expressing their beliefs and experience. I wish we could all do so without engendering personal attacks.

    For Mark– I do think over-coming political segregation is now as important as overcoming other forms of segregation. It’s critical to a functional democracy. I think political divisiveness is why we are gridlocked and dysfunctional governmentally. I think it’s as significant a factor as big money on our current political quagmire– and very easily played to by politicians of all persuasions. We have to overcome intolerance of other political views by the right and by the left. We all have that work to do, not just the right. Not everyone on the right is racist and ignorant. Their candidate is. But not all of them. The letter you received demonstrates that.

    I appreciate this post very much.

  16. Dan Gillotte
    Posted October 12, 2016 at 9:25 am | Permalink

    I’m seriously debating this. Loved ones strongly backing Trump still. I could even stand tepid support but fervent defense of this asshat by family and old friends is upsetting.

  17. Posted October 12, 2016 at 9:28 am | Permalink

    Evangelical Christians passionately backing Trump is incredibly confusing.

    I get why they might vote for him, I but I don’t get them liking him.

  18. Teacher Patti
    Posted October 12, 2016 at 9:43 am | Permalink

    I don’t see the point of engaging because it doesn’t do anything but piss me off. I majored in debate in college, was a TA, wrote my senior thesis on it–but what we do today (and what happens b/w candidates) isn’t a debate. No one is really thinking about the issues, it seems (I can probably include myself in that group, btw). I am reading a book written by a bitter dude who bemoans the death of big publishing (b/c he couldn’t get a deal with them–I will become this guy one day, by the way), but then he goes on to say that “images mean more than words.” I think that hits the nail on the head. I also think he could have said “image means more than words.” Trump’s “image” has captured his voters so much that this words “grab the pussy, fuckers!” mean little.

  19. Kevin Sharp
    Posted October 12, 2016 at 9:46 am | Permalink

    I haven’t yet. My finger has hovered over the button a couple of times. It’s an odd mix of wanting to keep an open dialog and “keep your enemies closer”.

  20. Thom Elliott
    Posted October 12, 2016 at 9:49 am | Permalink

    Trumpists are contemporary fascists, there is no discernable difference between the Alt Right which makes up Trump’s base and European fascism from 100 years ago. There isn’t any point in attempting to debate or engage with fascists, then as now. The Alt Right should be treated as many of our grandfathers felt compelled to treat their forerunners, with a shovel through the fascist’s face. I’m sorry if that means your uncle or parents or favorite Internet personalities would be rounded up, but there is no compromise with fascism. Even you liberals should recognize these aren’t your ordinary Republicans or conservatives, they are qualitatively different from conservatives. The Trumpists are enemies of your system of government,these not just political disagreements about how to prosecute a Republican form of representative democracy, but your enemy. Treat them like it.

  21. Jean Henry
    Posted October 12, 2016 at 10:05 am | Permalink

    From what I’ve heard from Evangelicals, they are single issue voters– abortion. They believe God has called them to this issue. They believe Trump is their flawed, sinning messenger from God. His sins are a test of their faith. They must hole to their principles. They believe this is a holy war.

    Also, they believe Hillary is worse.

    I am not kidding. The narrative of sin and forgiveness is applied selectively. But then Evangelicals have had a lot of experience with flawed leaders. And wholesale condemnation of others on purist ideological grounds

    Not so different from leftists there.

    How many Che t-shirts are out there?

  22. Lynne
    Posted October 12, 2016 at 10:06 am | Permalink

    I wont do it. People are more than their political beliefs. However, I have made use of Facebook’s “unfollow” feature so I don’t have to see their posts during election season. Interestingly, it is the Stein people who I’ve had to cut off and fwiw, the only people who have unfriended me over politics have been Green Party people.

  23. site admin
    Posted October 12, 2016 at 10:08 am | Permalink

    Speaking of women voting, did you see Nate Silver’s map of what the election would look like if just women were voting?

    https://www.facebook.com/natesilver/photos/pcb.1043108969135499/1043107115802351/?type=3&theater

  24. Jean Henry
    Posted October 12, 2016 at 10:15 am | Permalink

    I block people who are abusive. It’s not about politics. I think that’s a reasonable standard.

    From a male friend on FB, to address Bob’s point:
    “On some level, I’m afraid to express my support for Hillary, not because I’m concerned for my safety, but because I don’t have the time to get dragged into defending my decision from persons both on the left and the right, all of whom will swear until they’re blue in the face that they’re not sexist, both men and women alike. At this point, I’m really tired of the “They’re both bad choices” argument. It’s not valid. At. ALL.

    In retrospect, I think my main objection to secretary Clinton as a candidate, previously, as a Bernie supporter, boiled down to her baggage… To be fair, I think most of it and the criticism against her is untrue, but its her Sisyphean curse to carry it with her and that obviously and unfairly makes her a weaker candidate than is deserving. Because of the Atwater doctrine for the past 30 or so odd years, there’s has been so much mudslinging and slander against her that it’s difficult to distinguish fact from fiction, even amongst her ideological allies. It’s become nearly impossible to lay out her experience, accomplishments and achievements without someone, right or left, saying “but what about…” and laying out a litany of lies, disinformation and agitprop about her that they are convinced to be true.

    Fact of the matter is, she’s the strongest center left candidate that we’ve had in our lifetimes (at least in mine). Her record should be able to bring along an overwhelming coalition of democrat and moderate republican voters aligned to her cause. Regrettably, due to implicit biases against women throughout our culture, we’re left with the “They’re both bad choices” and voters reticent to express their support for her for a multitude of reasons. To that end, our media has utterly failed us in allowing sensationalism, outrage, propaganda and fear mongering to masquerade as journalism.”

  25. Frosted Flakes
    Posted October 12, 2016 at 10:30 am | Permalink

    Thom Elliot,

    I am not trying to be funny: There are people who can help you, please seek their help.

  26. Jcp2
    Posted October 12, 2016 at 10:44 am | Permalink

    When I’m asked who I support, I just say that I live in Ann Arbor and that they should look closely at my face. The questioning usually stops there and we move on to other topics.

  27. Mary Larkin
    Posted October 12, 2016 at 10:55 am | Permalink

    Yes. I’ve always also held the belief that people are more than their political beliefs, but Donald Trump has changed that for me. Political beliefs rooted in aren’t “beliefs”, they are values – and those values are absolutely incongruent with my values – and distancing myself from that seems more than appropriate.

  28. Jordan Miller
    Posted October 12, 2016 at 11:02 am | Permalink

    First, I am passionate about Hillary and I have been from the start. And I know a lot of people who are. Just because you don’t see something on your homogenized Facebook feed doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.
    Case in point, I do not have a single Trump supporter in my day-to-day life. I live in a total bubble. No one in my social networks is supporting him, and my republican friends and family members have all expressed that they are not voting for him. So this is not an issue for me. I have a couple of third-party folks and that’s about it. I know that Trump supporters exist because I believe in numbers and science. I just am never exposed to them. It bothers me.

  29. Leisa Thompson
    Posted October 12, 2016 at 12:45 pm | Permalink

    We are all human beings. We may not agree with what people say but that doesn’t mean you can’t listen. I mean step out of yourself for a moment without anger and really listen. What makes our world such an interesting place trying to understand the folks around us. More often than not, we have a lot more in common than you think.

  30. kjc
    Posted October 12, 2016 at 12:59 pm | Permalink

    not really surprising. ann arbor is an enclave (one of the least interesting things about it). the bubble is real.

  31. Posted October 12, 2016 at 1:13 pm | Permalink

    The caricature that people present of Clinton from both the right and the left is immensely inaccurate. Certainly, all Presidents have to play to the center, and this nearly always disappoints the extremes, but Clinton is the furthest left that we’ve had in a long while.

    I am sure that there will be a million “baby killer war monger capitalist” responses to this statement.

    That’s ok.

  32. Jcp2
    Posted October 12, 2016 at 2:33 pm | Permalink

    kjc,

    You’d be surprised about Ann Arbor. In 2010, Washtenaw County went 61-38 democratic for straight ticket voting, 59-37 democratic for Secretary of State, and 58-39 democratic for attorney general. It was only 50-48 democratic for governor. In the 2016 presidential primaries, sanders did unexpectedly well because many democratic voters crossed over into the republican side to vote for Cruz. Not such an enclave after all.

  33. kjc
    Posted October 12, 2016 at 2:37 pm | Permalink

    not surprised by those numbers. doesn’t make it not an enclave either.

  34. Frosted Flakes
    Posted October 12, 2016 at 2:37 pm | Permalink

    My guess would be that this blog and the comments section causes some people to move right in their views as well.

    Less engagement would probably be effective as a strategy, I am sorry to say.

  35. kjc
    Posted October 12, 2016 at 2:39 pm | Permalink

    well it’s clear that if you tell a trump supporter he or she is a racist, that person will double down. because that person doesn’t hate racism. that person hates you.

  36. Frosted Flakes
    Posted October 12, 2016 at 2:48 pm | Permalink

    Clearly.

  37. Lynne
    Posted October 12, 2016 at 3:08 pm | Permalink

    FWIW, in general negative political rhetoric doesn’t sway people as much as positive political rhetoric but what it does often do is motivate that candidates opponents to get out and vote.

  38. Eel
    Posted October 12, 2016 at 3:33 pm | Permalink

    Yes, Frosted Flake, I’m sure you’re right when you say, “My guess would be that this blog and the comments section causes some people to move right in their views as well.” You, EOS, Tater Salad and John Galt make such persuasive arguments, I wouldn’t doubt it if you’ve converted hundreds, if not thousands.

  39. Frosted Flakes
    Posted October 12, 2016 at 3:55 pm | Permalink

    Eel,

    Thanks for the compliment but the Konald J Crumps in the comments section of this blog deserve most all of the credit.

  40. alan2102
    Posted October 12, 2016 at 4:34 pm | Permalink

    Larson: “I am sure that there will be a million “baby killer war monger capitalist” responses to this statement.”

    Yes, those pesky rude complainers, all up in arms over the facts. Why don’t they just STFU?

    http://www.commondreams.org/views/2016/02/03/adding-costs-hillary-clintons-wars

  41. iRobert
    Posted October 12, 2016 at 4:47 pm | Permalink

    Distancing yourself from uncivil people should not just be something you do during divisive election seasons. However, if you want to distance yourself from people simply because you don’t like their beliefs, it’s more likely the problem is in you.

  42. alan2102
    Posted October 12, 2016 at 5:34 pm | Permalink

    Larson: “for most people, if you are losing out in 2016, it’s your own fault.”

    The perfect Republican sentiment.

    “We live in this wonderful meritocracy, you see, and ANYONE can make it! If you’re not successful then its your own damn fault and you just have to work harder, you shiftless ne’re-do-well!”

    This kind of horseshit has been spouted by Republicans, “libertarians” and assorted other reactionaries for generations… and, recently, by “liberal” Democrats. Of course it is true that anyone (any single individual) CAN make it; the issue is that everyone cannot make it. But Republicans think in individual, anecdotal terms; they don’t think in scientific, statistical terms (like what happens across whole populations). They think that way because it supports their infantile, self-satisfied worldview, and their privileged socio-economic position; whereas, scientific facts tend to challenge them. This is what underlies the ongoing partially-successful attempts to dismantle the social safety net. Next target: Social Security and Medicare. Because, after all, if you just get off your lazy ass and WORK you can MAKE IT without a HANDOUT from the government, you old loser!

    Said dismantling has the full and enthusiastic support of the Democratic Party, I might add:
    http://www.counterpunch.org/2016/09/30/the-democratic-plot-to-privatize-social-security/
    … {yawn}… what else is new? All in a day’s work for our neoliberal neo-feudal “leaders”.

    Oh by the way: There is also the matter, always unspoken, that those who “make it” usually if not always do so at the cost of serious moral (not to mention intellectual and aesthetic) compromise, especially in a corrupt, psychopathic environment like the U.S.

    a tiny bit of remedial reading:
    http://inthesetimes.com/features/listen-liberal-thomas-frank-democratic-party-elites-inequality.html

  43. Bob
    Posted October 12, 2016 at 6:00 pm | Permalink

    Jean, the main criticism of Clinton is actually very true. Namely, that she is essentially a moderate Republican. She has been most of her life. That’s my objection. What’s equally tired is the suggestion that not supporting Hillz is sexist. Many Democrats, men and women alike are so weary of her. We wish there was a better female choice. Or a better male choice. We don’t give a fuck. We will hold our noses and vote for her, or against Trump. It’s a stinky, uninspiring choice. But we will do it. We will all celebrate the election of the first female President. Long overdue. The first time I ever voted, there was a woman on the ticket. It’s long overdue. I will wake my young daughter up to watch. And then will brace myself for 4-8 years of Clinton scandals and compromised, Republicanish policy sausage grinding.

  44. Maria Sheler Edwards
    Posted October 12, 2016 at 7:39 pm | Permalink

    I’ve blocked a few beloveds on FB – mainly to preserve my real-life relationship with them. When we are physically together, there are so many aspects about our lives that we talk about. But – people get can wacky when they’re alone in front of a keyboard.

  45. Brian Sferra
    Posted October 12, 2016 at 7:39 pm | Permalink

    My own brother was rooting for Trump in March. We do not speak of it and he is 3,000 miles away. – At this point friends, are expendable. I want a country that my daughter can live in.. Good thing she is a liberal.

  46. jean henry
    Posted October 12, 2016 at 8:05 pm | Permalink

    Hillarys voting record agreed with Sanders 93% of the time. On current foreign policy scenarios they had the exact same positions (yes to drones, special forces Abd no fly zones, but no to ground war) except Sanders had some fantasy about allowing the Russians and Saudi Arabia to handle the Middke East– which was not likely to result in fewer dead bodies, but yes less US tax pare expense. I’m not sure how one gages left and right on the political spectrum but I’m pretty sure that one side doesn’t get to determine that unilaterally. I’m pretty sure the mean would be determined by the range of people actually elected. Even if one took the median or mode of the total range of political belief in our democratic country, Hillary is a liberal. Probably the most liberal dem nominee we’ve had, including Obama, because she is more forceful on issues of poverty, disability rights, health care access and yes race. (Obama is excused for basically not going there until after Ferguson; I get it.) if your definition of Liberal is based on globalism v protectionism, well then yes she’s more conservative. She’s a dedicated globalist and her work has served millions of the worlds mos poor. I would suggest that globalism v protectionism belongs on the populist v enterprise spectrum. Plenty on the right are also isolationist. The are not liberal. protectionism is anti-liberal really. I would characterize HRC as a progressive moderate. And yes, they exist. That political bent is the basis for the Scandinavian model so lauded by the left in the US. Market based economies with great civil liberties and extensive social safety nets. At any rate, if she’s a Republican in Dem clothing, why does the GOP hate her so? maybe I. Their case it’s sexism. Or maybe accepting anarrative of greed and corruption about a female candidate with no validity is evidence of implicit bias on both the left and the right. Maybe the lefts goddess fantasies of women as peacemakers is bullshit andvdenies our protective warrior natures. Maybe a woman who seeks power and won’t apologize for it is more woman than the left can handle. (Typing on a phone in the dark. Apologizing in advance for typos. )

  47. Joe M.
    Posted October 12, 2016 at 8:17 pm | Permalink

    No, I’m not petty enough to block anyone on Facebook. I did, however, make it a point to debunk any Trump truther statements an old college roommate/friend’s brother made with facts and sources. He eventually unfriended me!

    I just grind my teeth and keep shut with my old, wealthy, conservative, racist side of the family at gatherings. We have one last big hurrah left – Thanksgiving is going to be quite a site to see after Election Day.

  48. Posted October 12, 2016 at 9:18 pm | Permalink

    I think we should cancel Thanksgiving this year.

  49. Tony
    Posted October 12, 2016 at 10:47 pm | Permalink

    I have two FB friends who are openly supporting Trump. One I have had rational conversations with, the other I cannot. To answer your question directly, if I thought someone was supporting Trump because they share his values (which are despicable) then yes, I would disengage on social media and possibly in real life. I’d likely ask why they feel so much hatred. If they’re rational and misinformed, I’d engage them with facts. I’ve found very few of these people though. People I’ve engaged with publicly are the same caliber of people they put on The Daily Show and make fun of. I hate to say it but I don’t think The Daily Show edits out the Trump supporters with thoughtful answers. I think it’s s representative sample. Most of them are full on idiots with internal logical inconsistencies along with two doses of hypocrisy. Just like you have the right to own a gun doesn’t mean you should get one. If you aren’t learning to be responsible with it, you shouldn’t get one. I believe voting is the same. Unless you take the time to learn about the policy positions, voting record, experience, and character of those to choose from, you probably shouldn’t vote either. So, this gets me to my final point: Trump supporters aren’t really behaving as politically engaged voters. They’re engaging with him like you would a celebrity. So, there’s no stopping fans (because they are literally fanatics). Our only option to defeat Trump is to make sure those opposing him vote and not become lazy and apathetic. So, remember, those voting for anyone but Trump are voting on Nov 8th. Trump supporters, Trump announced, because he’s so wonderful, his supporters get extra time and vote on Nov 28th. I know you don’t trust liberals so here’s a link to prove it: https://youtu.be/Rvq78VDLp4U?t=2m00s

  50. alan2102
    Posted October 12, 2016 at 10:54 pm | Permalink

    more remedial reading:

    The Economic Policy Institute (EPI) publishes a periodically-updated report titled “The State of Working America”. The latest edition is described here:
    http://stateofworkingamerica.org/12th-edition-press-release/

    In a nutshell, American workers have been taking it on the chin for decades; inequality is growing rapidly; the middle class is being gutted; etc. These are STATISTICAL REALITIES which do not comport with the “anyone can make it!” “just work hard and play by the rules!” self-help bullshit narrative promulgated by right-wing assholes — formerly all Republicans, but now sadly including many Democrats.

  51. Posted October 12, 2016 at 11:39 pm | Permalink

    I disagree.

    White people in the US have it pretty good if they choose to do so. Protectionism won’t won’t solve the problems of white people in the US, nor will shouldering the burden for services on the most wealthy.

    If you are white in the US and aren’t happy with your situation, you have no one to blame but yourself.

    Pleanty of immigrants come to the US and succeed, because they have to. If anything, the biggest things keeping white people back in the US are disability checks and an unrealistic view of what their lives should be like, i.e. entitlement.

    My family is fucking poor. They are also lazy. They are also drug addicts and drunks. The are poor because they are lazy and on drugs, not because the government did this or that.

    As for inquality, that’s simply a political issue. You guys have the power on, you have cars, you have refrigerators and food in the house. Not sure why it matters what kind of car you have or how big your house is. How does Bill Gates’ choice of car impact mine? It doesn’t.

    White America, and particuarly educated white America are falling victim to an unrealistic outlook on life (i.e. entitlement). They think they should have it easy, but life is hard. The world over.

  52. Posted October 12, 2016 at 11:45 pm | Permalink

    “Larson: “for most people, if you are losing out in 2016, it’s your own fault.”
    The perfect Republican sentiment.
    “We live in this wonderful meritocracy, you see, and ANYONE can make it! If you’re not successful then its your own damn fault and you just have to work harder, you shiftless ne’re-do-well!””

    You can. I did. I come from nothing at all. Did I make it without government services? No. But I did it. A lot of people simply sit around and complain.

    I’m a fucking idiot from a trailer park, yet I got a PhD and have an income above the US median. Let me repeat, I am not in the least bit special, in fact, I am pretty sure that I am less capable than anyone on this site. Yet, again, I got a PhD from a major University.

    If a piece of shit like me can do it, anyone can do it.

  53. James Williams
    Posted October 12, 2016 at 11:54 pm | Permalink

    Dirt Bag Larsen

    “White Americans experienced a period from 1948-198? where jobs were plentiful, and you could have a great life with only a high-school degree.”
    198? Try the mid sixties. The 70s and 80s were miserable for jobs, which was one of the reasons that Reagan got elected.
    Not sure why people believe that protectionism and closed borders are going to bring back the imagine past of my grandfather (and I’m 47).”

    I am 49. The 70s sucked due to stagflation and the oil crisis, but there were still a lot of jobs around that you could get w/o a college degree. This was due to a historical anomaly- a lot of the other industrial nations got bombed to hell in WWII, and it took them a while to catch up.

    Also, I agree- the jobs aren’t coming back, and a lot of people have unrealistic expectations about them returning via tariffs/trade restrictions.

    I do disagree about poor people being poor because it’s their fault, or due to a lack of character. I grew up middle-class, and I knew plenty of lazy mopes who are now doing fairly well. I think the issue with poor communities is that ‘good behavior’ rarely nets the person any actual rewards.

  54. Posted October 13, 2016 at 12:00 am | Permalink

    “Also, I agree- the jobs aren’t coming back, and a lot of people have unrealistic expectations about them returning via tariffs/trade restrictions.”

    Those jobs were an anomaly, not the norm. Protectionism will only benefit the people at the top. Everyone else will suffer because prices will rise to high. Not sure how cutting off imports will benefit anyone at all. There will be even fewer jobs because people won’t buy anything…. because they won’t be able to afford it.

    I come from a poor white family, so I’m biased. I have no respect for poor white people. It’s a failing of mine, I admit.

    Other people have their own views.

  55. Posted October 13, 2016 at 12:25 am | Permalink

    I have even less respect for young people coming from the current middle class.

    These kids do cool and craetive stuff that people in the past just didn’t have the luxury of doing, yet still whine that 1% is keeping them down.

    They expect too much, too fast.

    It’s not to say that there aren’t problems (i.e. cost of college), but the expectations are unrealistic.

  56. Kjc
    Posted October 13, 2016 at 6:27 am | Permalink

    You have a phd and above median income and you hate the people you come from. That’s a cliche. Why should we wanna be like you?

  57. Kjc
    Posted October 13, 2016 at 6:28 am | Permalink

    Oh yes and bootstraps. Don’t forget the bootstraps.

  58. Posted October 13, 2016 at 8:32 am | Permalink

    I don’t care about bootstraps. It’s not bootstraps, it’s about making choices in life.

    If you came from where I do, you’d hate it too. Some people make it out. Others don’t. Or won’t.. but it’s a stretch to try and blame their failure on government. White people in the US have all the necessary tools to succeed or become something better then where they come from. Some choose to use those tools. Others do not.

    Is that so complicated?

  59. Bob
    Posted October 13, 2016 at 10:09 am | Permalink

    I’m just glad I took a vow not to bash Peter Larson anymore. It really would be harvest time.

  60. iRobert
    Posted October 13, 2016 at 10:29 am | Permalink

    I have met Mark a few times in person, and we have managed to keep our conversations civil. I assume that hasn’t been easy for him, and I assume nothing is. It certainly wasn’t easy for me, as most of his beliefs disgust me, and I really despise him as a person in general.

  61. iRobert
    Posted October 13, 2016 at 10:34 am | Permalink

    I get along with the online version of EOS pretty well, as he at least makes an attempt to appear remotely interested in a few of the tenants of Christianity.

    The offline version of EOS is another story, as I’m sure you would all have figured out by now.

  62. Posted October 13, 2016 at 10:45 am | Permalink

    Did you have your pool cleaned?

  63. EOS
    Posted October 13, 2016 at 12:02 pm | Permalink

    So what am I like offline? What is my age, sex, marital status, and political views? If I am so remotely different from you online, why wouldn’t you expect to get along great with me as we toss a few beers down at a local dive?

  64. Doug French
    Posted October 13, 2016 at 12:25 pm | Permalink

    I have a few extended family members who support Trump only for the SCOTUS appointments. And whenever I try to start a real discussion about him, they shut down and leave the room. They’ve compartmentalized what an awful human being he is into a box in the corner, and they dare not open the lid.

  65. Lynne
    Posted October 13, 2016 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

    While I agree to some degree about choices keeping people poor, in the sense that bad choices *can* often be a reason certain individuals are poor, I completely disagree that macroeconomic policy doesn’t have an effect. It does. When Bernie Sanders says that as a nation, we have chosen income inequality, he is right. We have through our tax code, through regulations, through education, and yes through our welfare state.

    Like it or not, we used to protect the white male working class much more than we do today. We kept women and people of color from competing with them for jobs, housing, etc. and that resulted in white men having an easier time than they otherwise would have had. This is why they are angry.

  66. Jean Henry
    Posted October 13, 2016 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

    Gosh, this was a heartening display of civil discourse across political beliefs.

    I love it when liberals use personal attacks to defend tolerance. I love it when fundamentalists use the bible to defend intolerance. What a gas!

    Despise is a really strong word. Lots of strong words were used, and more as deflection than momentum towards any salient point.

    It’s just good people and bad people, parsed different ways according to belief system.

    There really is not much of substance on this thread. I doubt anyone learned anything at all from anyone else’s point of view. Good to know I wasn’t missing much.

  67. Kit
    Posted October 13, 2016 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

    “There really is not much of substance on this thread.”

    You’ve left multiple comments here, as have others. Who exactly is to blame?

  68. Jean Henry
    Posted October 13, 2016 at 2:48 pm | Permalink

    Generally speaking, I never expect to learn much from myself. But my point was more that the friction between points of view is what generates understanding. Going towards ideas that are a stretch from one’s own. What I see here–and I don’t think this used to be the case on this blog– is people digging in deeper into their positions. People seem to believe that being wrong makes one a bad person. (It’s the corollary to being right making your a good or better person) So they feel okay about insulting the beliefs of others. You think something I don’t, so you are an idiot or a corrupted or a fool. But it seems to me the only way to approach being a decent human being is to be okay with being wrong and to listen respectfully to what others have to say. Trump gave us all permission to be assholes. Maybe we shouldn’t be. That’s what I think Mark suggested might be our way out of the political quagmire we are in. That’s not something I’m seeing in the comments. Which is just too bad.

    Quick someone call me a name.

  69. iRobert
    Posted October 13, 2016 at 2:53 pm | Permalink

    Jean, I’m joking in my posts.

  70. anonymous
    Posted October 13, 2016 at 3:14 pm | Permalink

    See also:

    “No, you’re not entitled to your opinion: The problem with “I’m entitled to my opinion” is that, all too often, it’s used to shelter beliefs that should have been abandoned. It becomes shorthand for “I can say or think whatever I like” – and by extension, continuing to argue is somehow disrespectful. And this attitude feeds, I suggest, into the false equivalence between experts and non-experts that is an increasingly pernicious feature of our public discourse…”

    http://theconversation.com/no-youre-not-entitled-to-your-opinion-9978

  71. Jean Henry
    Posted October 13, 2016 at 3:22 pm | Permalink

    iRobert That’s reassuring.
    anonymous– If the opinions expressed here were backed up more often with facts or details or even wound out into something one could call a position, well then everything would be different.

  72. alan2102
    Posted October 13, 2016 at 9:58 pm | Permalink

    Jimmy Dore is on fire!
    https://youtu.be/y0U0wGAlpgM?t=349

  73. Posted October 14, 2016 at 1:08 am | Permalink

    Americans are among the richest and most secure people in the world, and yet it still isn’t enough.

    That always astounds me.

  74. Posted October 14, 2016 at 4:04 am | Permalink

    I was thinking about inequality and how we frame it in current political discussions.

    The overall arching theme is that inequality is immoral, that the middle class don’t have enough, that their lives are too hard. They are hobbled by student loans and this and that, and are unable to achieve the levels of success that they expect, often looking back to some imagined golden age of employment that supposedly existed in the 50s and 60s, before many of us were born. Rich people prevent us from achieving those goals, though manipulation of the political system, or theft through bank loans.

    While we are free to discuss the root barriers to (white *cough*) success, what is absent are discussions of poverty. While we are happy to have discussions of race in the US, the very, very poor barely make a blip. Yes, many of these very poor people are, in fact, African American, but the Mississippi Delta, the home of the poorest of the poor of African-Americans, never appears.

    Even to moral opponents of inequality, these people do not exist. This is troubling to me.

    I am of the opinion that it matters not whether someone has more than me. If my life is decent by some basic standard, that’s enough. However, there is little evidence that simple economic inequality has cause a decline in my standard of living. Sure, if I had more money, I could buy better things, but there is no evidence that Bill Gates wealth has had any measurable impact on my caloric intake or shelter from the elements. Understand, that i’m not speaking to some very basic standard of living worldwide, but to an acceptable standard of living in a developed country like the United States.

    Middle class opponents of “inequality” are just that. Middle class. They cannot truly conceptualize the lives of the very, very poor and thus the very, very poor do not enter into their discussions. I think this ignorance of poverty is far more troubling than simple Gini measures.

    To me, inequality is not a simple moral issue, i.e. “It is wrong for you to have more resources than I do.” People who dig deeply into this simple issue will quickly find themselves lost and empty as there is little to support it. I am of the opinion that inequality is a political issue, something I believe that Bernard Sanders is aware of but some of his supporters are not. More money means more power over how laws are made, and the poor are often left out of the equation. This is obviously a problem (particularly in developing countries. Come here for a while and see how it works.) People are free to disagree with me.

    My question here is, why are Americans more distressed about the rich than the very poor? My feeling is that we should be focusing on the latter, not the former. We talk about taking money from the rich, but don’t really say much about how to improve the lives of people in the Mississippi Delta or on Native American reservations, the true hot spots of poverty. We don’t talk about helping the homeless or the mentally ill.

    All the talk is how to relieve privileged college students from having to pay for student loans, which I agree is a problem, but odd that it’s the focus of these discussions.

    I am rambling. I hope to die soon.

  75. Frosted Flakes
    Posted October 14, 2016 at 9:10 am | Permalink

    Thanks Peter. The image that comes to mind in these discussions is the Ypsilanti residents, who, if you are aware of their circumstances, are in the top 10 percent in America and probably the top 98.9 percent worldwide. Yet they feel no shame, pride actually, to hold a protest signs which read things like: “we are the 99%”.

    Fake.

  76. Lynne
    Posted October 14, 2016 at 9:40 am | Permalink

    I think it is perfectly valid to hold up a sign like “we are the 99%” when the discussion is wealth inequality in *this* country. This notion that because other countries are poorer, we shouldn’t worry about wealth inequality (or poverty) in this country is utter BS. It is like when republicans avoid implementing social welfare programs because poor people have indoor plumbing and refrigerators while so many in the world outside of the USA don’t have such luxuries.

    What is fake is the moral outrage people feign in order to discourage anyone from changing the system.

  77. Lynne
    Posted October 14, 2016 at 9:45 am | Permalink

    however, fwiw, before anyone gets on my case, I think global inequality is important too especially from a climate change point of view. The richest countries got rich on fossil fuels and it seems unfair to deny developing countries the same opportunities. And yet we must. What that means is that we really are going to need to invest globally in renewable energy. We will have to pay for and give renewable power to developing nations so that they can have the same opportunities for growth that we have had without so many fossil fuels even as we must get onto totally renewable sources of energy ourselves. This will be pretty expensive and it is going to mean that the globally rich will be the ones to foot the bill.

  78. Posted October 14, 2016 at 10:00 am | Permalink

    I guess you didn’t read my post. I was speaking about domestic poverty.

    Most Americans haven’t the faintest clue about global poverty or developing countries.

  79. alan2102
    Posted October 14, 2016 at 10:54 am | Permalink

    First, credit where it is due:
    Larson: “I have no respect for poor white people. It’s a failing of mine, I admit.”

    Yes, it sure is a failing. And it is to your credit that you recognize it. That shows a glimmer of humanity underneath the mean Republican rhetoric.

    But you’re far from being off the hook.

    Larson: “I disagree”.

    BFD. You can “disagree” with the facts about climate change, too, or the facts about vaccine efficacy. So what? What does your “disagreement” mean?

    Your personal success anecdote is worthless, except to verify that indeed anyONE can make it, which as I said before is true. The issue again is not what anyONE can do, but what whole populations can do under actual existing conditions, and in this connection the statistical facts prove you wrong.

    Some members of your family may be lazy. Such people exist, perhaps.[1] But to take the individual culpability of a few in one’s immediate experience and project it onto large classes of others, ignoring fundamental structural changes in the economy and policy that obviously impel the outcomes in question, is outrageous and inexcusable. You really believe that all ~50 MILLION of the new underclass/precariat (annual income <$20K, 45 million of them forced to resort to food stamps) are just a bunch of lazy fucks? The vast army of serfs in the developing neo-feudal order are serfs because they didn't work hard enough? It is preposterous, and an insult to the entire human race.

    It is embarrassing to think that a professor of public health (or of anything) would privilege personal anecdotes over data — and data with accompanying compelling explanatory theory, at that.

    It is embarrassing to think that a professor of public health (or of anything) would essentially deny the existence of massive social problems such as poverty, unemployment and underemployment except as reflections of personal moral failure. Almost no one is THAT ignorant and misanthropic, except a handful of the worst reactionaries, or a few characters from Dickens' novels.

    Larson: "As for inequality, that’s simply a political issue. You guys have the power on, you have cars, you have refrigerators and food in the house. Not sure why it matters what kind of car you have or how big your house is."

    "You guys"? What do "us guys" as individuals have to do with this? Are you capable of thinking outside the personal anecdote box? How did someone like you get through school — even undergrad, let alone grad?

    Inequality is not about how big your car is; it is not about minor distinctions within the (rapidly-shrinking) middle middle-class. It is about millions of people being homeless with many millions more being on the brink of homelessness within a month of losing their crappy jobs. It is about millions of people being unable to afford medicine, medical care or even fucking FOOD. It is about millions of children going hungry and living in poverty. It is about millions of people being railroaded unjustly into prison. And more millions living under the constant stress of underemployment and financial precariousness and insecurity, with consequent stress-related disease, depression and other mood disorders, predisposition to alcohol and substance abuse, and on and on.

    You call yourself a doctor of PUBLIC HEALTH? Your attitudes are antithetical to public health. Your attitudes are of the ugly Malthusian kind that encourage the dismantling of essential public health and other social safety net programs, with disastrous results. Most public health issues ARE, at core, social justice (inequality) issues, for fuck's sake. *I* have to tell *YOU* this?!

    You are a living example of why so many millions of people have become disillusioned with "experts", "professionals" and "leaders" of all kinds, since in practice they undermine the very ideals and values their professions are supposed to represent (e.g. lawyers and judges foster injustice, religious figures promote moral depravity, police encourage criminality, etc., etc.).

    Larson: "I’m a fucking idiot from a trailer park, yet I got a PhD…from a major University."

    Yes, and if your case is at all representative, it reflects shockingly on the function of major Universities. Not because you're from a trailer park — that's irrelevant — but because you're a fucking idiot. The system is supposed to screen-out fucking idiots, regardless of whether they come from trailer parks or Barton Hills.

    I wish I had been one of your professors at the U. I would have flunked your ass relentlessly, and sent you back to waiting tables at Appleby's — a fate you richly deserve.

    …………..

    1. The idea that some people are lazy is up for debate, and professional psychologists have had interesting things to say about it. It may be that there is no such thing as laziness; it may be a misanthropic myth. But I will let it pass, and assume for the sake of this discussion that there IS such thing.

  80. alan2102
    Posted October 14, 2016 at 11:19 am | Permalink

    I posted the above before refreshing the page and reading Peter’s 4:04am post — which makes good points and changes the picture somewhat. I’ll comment later, but now I have to go to work.

  81. Jean Henry
    Posted October 14, 2016 at 11:41 am | Permalink

    Thanks Pete for winding out your position. I appreciated it, even though I didn’t agree with all of it. Unfortunately, the response here was to very clearly misread your post and then fall back to personal attacks, because people disagree with your position. Our perspectives are formed via the lens of our personal experience. Dismissing the validity of someone’s personal experience is dismissing their validity. It feels personal to many. Maybe not to Pete, because he’s used to it.

    This is what political fundamentalism– like all fundamentalism– does. In the end, it dehumanizes rather than acknowledge another point of view. I’m sorry this blog has become a space that invalidates other points of view. It’s amazing how persistent that is even on a blog post about the need to listen to other points of view.

    BTW, I agree that we,as a country, should be less focused on wealth inequality and more focused on alleviating poverty and creating opportunities for social mobility. this is a distinction really about angle of approach, not the final goal. I agree because I think it would work better, not politically but policy wise. I think it would work better because poverty is less a partisan issue (see Paul Ryan recent comments) than wealth inequality. I also think that political conservatives may have something of benefit to add as watchdogs on government waste in any anti-poverty programs we implemented. (that may be too much to hope for)

    I have sat in rooms where liberal people who are in the 1% talked about the greed of the 1%. I suggested the problem was systemic; that the participants didn’t know they were harming others. I was told,”No it’s greed.” They literally did not know they met that ‘greedy’ category. They thought that somewhere some bad guy big shots were rubbling their hands together and hoarding all the money. They were good people, so they couldn’t possibly be part of the problem. If it’s a systemic issue and we are surviving and even thriving, then someone else has paid the cost indirectly.

    It seems much more positive and productive to talk about ending poverty than to talk about ending wealth inequality within a market-based economy. It’s also easier to do. We came close in the late 60’s. The programs weren’t entirely dismantled until the Reagan years. Which, not coincidentally marks the beginning of the steady increase of wealth inequality.

    The truth is wealth inequality is just a function of taxation and a corporate system that is obsessed with quarterly returns. Both are relatively easily remedied within the system and without revolution. It’s arguable that the system is showing enough distress that the necessary correction for the middle class is inevitable. I know that’s not very exciting. And guess who gets left behind when that happens? The very poor. As always.

    So isn’t the truly progressive position is really to take on the charge to remedy poverty, not wealth inequality?

    There’s a good little book called On Inequality by H.G. Frankfurt, the same guy who wrote On Bullshit. It challenged effectively a lot of my thinking on Wealth Inequality. I don;t agree with all of it, but learned a lot from reading it. I was certain of my position on wealth inequality for years because I never exposed myself to any other thinking in detail. It’s short but challenging, so if you want to confirm your political bias don’t read it.

  82. alan2102
    Posted October 14, 2016 at 11:47 am | Permalink

    Meanwhile, one quick question:
    Larson: “The overall arching [sic] theme is that inequality is immoral, that the middle class don’t have enough, that their lives are too hard.”

    Overarching theme where? With who? Not among people authentically concerned about inequality. The fact that a few million spoiled middle-class punks want to be spoiled UPPER middle-class punks doesn’t mean shit. It has NOTHING to do with the discussion about inequality. Why would anyone spend even 10 seconds listening to the complaints of spoiled middle-class punks, much less interpret their complaints as an “overarching theme”?

  83. alan2102
    Posted October 14, 2016 at 11:54 am | Permalink

    Yes, Jean, it was a very clear misreading of his very clear misanthropic Republican ravings.

  84. Lynne
    Posted October 14, 2016 at 12:53 pm | Permalink

    Re: So isn’t the truly progressive position is really to take on the charge to remedy poverty, not wealth inequality?

    It can’t think of a single policy that would help remedy poverty that wouldn’t also reduce income and wealth inequality.

    I will say that my favorite idea to remedy poverty and reduce income inequality is to have a universal basic income funded by increasing income tax rates at the top. That is about as simple of a program as there is to reduce poverty and so far real world experiments are proving positive. It turns out that the best solution to poverty is to just give people money. It is like how the solution to homelessness is to give people a place to live. Salt Lake City has found that doing so is also much cheaper than leaving people on the streets.

    Honestly, I don’t see the issues of income inequality and poverty as being all that separate. The most efficient way to deal with income equality is to take some money from the richest people and then give it to the poorest in some form (better services, good education, health care, housing and food vouchers, or just plain cash)

  85. Jean Henry
    Posted October 14, 2016 at 2:16 pm | Permalink

    Consistently, historically, efforts to help the middle class have excluded the poorest of the poor. The recent recovery from the 2008 recession is a very good example. Despite the whining of the American working class, shocked that they aren’t guaranteed upward mobility, the people most negatively impacted by the recession, the people who have still not recovered and lost lots of ground are the very poor and people of color. We can go back to the true Rosie the Riveter story as revealed on this blog. The concerns of the middle class have been addressed by both corporate bosses and the unions on the backs of the most marginalized. Redlining happened during what labor activists call the golden age.

    Ann Arbor cried for the middle class while ignoring the problems of the very poor and people of color. They want to have a public park on the library lot that will deny the affordable housing fund $5 million dollars. They hate capitalism but really do a great job of securing their property values by limiting growth and preventing development.

    It’s critical how the issue is framed. We need to put issues of poverty first. We could address income inequality just up until the point that it actually helps the most marginalized.

    Look at family planning services. We decry the limits placed on abortion services but there is not real outrage until we think it will impact use. Right now the poor are the most affected by abortion and family planning restrictions. We say we care, but we arent going to take to the streets en masse until it impacts us directly.

    “It can’t think of a single policy that would help remedy poverty that wouldn’t also reduce income and wealth inequality.” — Very True!

    But many many policies that help the middle class have not impacted poverty levels.

    And that’s my point.

    PS I have never heard a Republican talk so much about concern for poverty domestically and abroad as Pete. Maybe you got that one wrong a bit Alan2012. Or maybe you like to put anyone who disagrees with your point of view into a box named GOP and put it out on the curb. I’d suggest that’s a really shitty way to get to workable solutions in a democracy.

  86. Posted October 14, 2016 at 2:42 pm | Permalink

    I, in fact, stated that I was an idiot. That much is clear. That the University accepted me and granted me a degree is, in fact, reflective of declining standards at the University of Michigan.

    As for being a “professor,” that’s also bullshit. I am simply a paid stooge. Anyone can do my job.

    I could care less what anyone thinks about what I think about poor people. Where I come from, people are lazy. They wait for things to happen for them. They spend their money on alcohol and drugs and rotate in and out of prison. I don’t feel sorry for them. I could care fucking less what that makes me, but that’s the world I grew up in. I bet it you, Mr. 2012, grew up in it, you’d hate it too.

    As for data, you are sadly mistaken. Data can only reflect what it can accurately measure, and researchers don’t often set out to measure laziness and stupidity. Moreover, research is beholden to funders who often aren’t so enthused about speaking badly of their subjects. We come at this field with a measure of compassion, given that we are supposed to be advocating for those who have no advocate. So, of course, you won’t see studies looking at the relationship between dumbassedry and whatever public health outcome.

    Sorry, dude. It’s not that it doesn’t exist, it’s that people aren’t measuring it.

    That being said, my personal views aren’t negated by my professional mission. One can hold many different views on the same thing. Coming from and working with poor people, I am often frustrated by the stupidity out there. I can advocate for them professionally and fucking face palm all day at the silliness out there personally.

    As for Applebees, you are right. I fucking deserve it. I am a complete incapable idiot. I’ll quit this job and probably not even be able to wait tables. I’ll be lucky to be able to wash dishes. I’d drive for Uber but I have no car.

    So yeah, you’re right. I really don’t care.

  87. Posted October 14, 2016 at 2:44 pm | Permalink

    “The fact that a few million spoiled middle-class punks want to be spoiled UPPER middle-class punks doesn’t mean shit. It has NOTHING to do with the discussion about inequality. Why would anyone spend even 10 seconds listening to the complaints of spoiled middle-class punks, much less interpret their complaints as an “overarching theme”?”

    Bernard Sanders made a whole campaign out of it.

  88. Posted October 14, 2016 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

    I’m an asshole, I agree, but I think that discussions of inequality in the States focus too much on the rich and not enough on the truly victimized poor.

    I think that’s a problem. Is that shocking?

    I guess Mr. alan2012 does not.

  89. Posted October 14, 2016 at 2:56 pm | Permalink

    “But Republicans think in individual, anecdotal terms; they don’t think in scientific, statistical terms (like what happens across whole populations). ”

    This is untrue, in that this phenomenon is not restricted to Republicans or conservatives. Democrats and liberals also tend to think in anecdotal terms.

    There’s nothing wrong with this. There is nothing inherently superior about data-based conclusions over anecdotal ones. In my work, I use both. We can learn a lot from data, but, as I said before, you are restricted by what you can measure. We also learn a whole lot from peoples’ individual stories. When I do surveys, I do both. Inevitably, one informs the other and vice versa.

    I’m a fucking useless moron, but I know a lot about data collection. What you are suggesting, that certain people value data over others and that data is infallible, is simply incorrect.

    I say that with all the respect that can be given. Most people don’t realize that until they do jobs like I do.

    Ignoring the individual at the expense of the populace does *people* a great disservice.

  90. Posted October 14, 2016 at 3:16 pm | Permalink

    “It can’t think of a single policy that would help remedy poverty that wouldn’t also reduce income and wealth inequality.
    I will say that my favorite idea to remedy poverty and reduce income inequality is to have a universal basic income funded by increasing income tax rates at the top. ”

    See this is the problem. First, we are looking at inequality between the very richest and the very poor. This is silly. Those two groups live in vastly different spaces.

    The more egregious inequality is that between the middle class the the very poor. We have seen over and over again that the middle class routinely work to exclude and hinder the progress of the poor. Look at how hard middle class America works to keep poor black kids out of their schools. Look at how hard small business owners fight to keep from having to pay their employees a living wage.

    If you want a universal basic income, it can’t come from the very wealthy. It has to come from the middle class so that they feel invested in improving the lives of everyone, not just themselves. In Scandinavia, welfare programs, including payments to poor workers to raise their incomes come from consumption and VAT taxes (something which conservatives have suggested for the US but which liberals have universally opposed.)

    The middle class hurts the bottom far more than the very rich. This is a fact. We see it every election cycle.

    I’m a useless piece of fucking trailer trash (and a fraud.) The enemy was never the rich people across town. It was always the people in the middle. Those were the people who would hurt you if given the chance.

  91. Frosted Flakes
    Posted October 14, 2016 at 5:06 pm | Permalink

    “What is fake is the moral outrage people feign in order to discourage anyone from changing the system.”

    Lynne,

    Fake is fake. No moral outrage coming from me, rather I am just stating facts plainly. It is better than nothing when people at or near the top are trying to change things within the system that might lead to more equality, but come on….A person can just as well fight for equality,while also forcing themselves to live off the median income too, right? All they have to do is donate their income that exceeds the median to a charitable cause–you know like some charity that helps poor people….Why not?

  92. Jean Henry
    Posted October 14, 2016 at 5:57 pm | Permalink

    I would amend Lynne’s statement to say “What is fake is the moral outrage people feign about income inequality and the fate of the poor in order to feel ok about themselves when all they really care about is that they don’t become poor.”
    And that is measurable by economic and racial segregation in progressive cities and towns. We measure that. No one on the left seems to care too much. Or they throw up their arms and blame those guys over there. you know, the bad guys. The GOP. The rich or– really –the more rich.

  93. Lynne
    Posted October 14, 2016 at 6:53 pm | Permalink

    Peter, I grew up among upper middle class people and I can tell you that they are just as lazy as the poor. They wait for things to happen for them and then often good things do happen for them. They spend their money on alcohol and drugs and would rotate in and out of prison except for the huge bias towards them from police and prosecutors along with access to good defense attorneys. Most people are like this. Yet most people are not poor.

    I agree that a universal basic income will have to be paid in a large part by the middle class but with a truly progressive tax scheme, the rich will pay more. And this is important because as technology advances, you will see wealth increasingly concentrated into the hands of the few, it will be necessary to move some of the wealth back down to the poor and even the middle class if we want our economy to keep running. Scandinavian relatively flat taxes work because they don’t have a lot of wealth inequality. They also have progressive income taxes but the top rate is paid by most people who earn above the median income.

  94. Lynne
    Posted October 14, 2016 at 7:04 pm | Permalink

    Frosted Flakes. It was your OPINION that protesters are fake that I objected to, fwiw. So no need to lie and say you were just stating facts. Obviously that isn’t true. I am not sure if you are having a hard time knowing the difference between fact and opinion or if you think I don’t know so you think you can get away with making such a claim but it is seriously annoying either way.

    RE: A person can just as well fight for equality,while also forcing themselves to live off the median income too, right? All they have to do is donate their income that exceeds the median to a charitable cause–you know like some charity that helps poor people….Why not?

    Sure they could but there isn’t any real reason to. It wont do much good if the goal is to reduce poverty. An individual living some biblical style poverty, while noble, will not solve the problem if the problem is systemic. In that case, you have to convince most people to donate, say by promising them heaven if they donate and threatening hell if they don’t, but I would say that that method has been tried for millennia and still we have poverty. Or you have to tax them. A rich or middle class person can work towards changing the system without needing to give up all of their own wealth individually and still be genuine in their endeavors,. That whole “we wont take you seriously until you voluntarily impoverish yourself” is just BS coming from people who are worried that their taxes might go up.

  95. Lynne
    Posted October 14, 2016 at 7:16 pm | Permalink

    Jean, I don’t think a fear of becoming poor necessarily means that one cannot also be concerned about the fate of the poor. It is normal for people to not want to be poor.

    What is measurable by the racial and economic segregation of our cities and towns? Fakeness? Some attitude of not caring about the poor? I guess that might be part of the picture but the way humans group up is way more complicated than *that*. It is true, however, that racial and economic segregation is not an issue that is high enough on the priority list for a lot of people on the left.

  96. Posted October 15, 2016 at 3:56 am | Permalink

    “Peter, I grew up among upper middle class people and I can tell you that they are just as lazy as the poor.”

    Why am I not surprised at the first part of the sentence.

    As for the second, who cares? If had enough money, I wouldn’t work either. Good for them.

    The issue is that a lot of white people love to complain, but are unwilling to do much about it, despite the entire system working in their favor.

  97. EOS
    Posted October 15, 2016 at 5:46 am | Permalink

    Lynne,
    You cannot do anything to earn your way into heaven. I wondered what your motivation was when you wrote that you get drunk and write checks to charity. There is no Biblical promise of heaven as a result of doing good works.

    Adherents of Islam believe that Allah holds a “scale” for each person and if the good works on the one side outweigh the bad works on the other, then they will be allowed into paradise, but it is Allah’s decision and one never knows for sure. I don’t suspect that you have become a Muslim, covering your body in submission to your husband, who will decide with Allah whether or not you get to paradise.

    According to the Bible, if you lived a perfect life without any sin, and gave away everything you own to the poor, you have not earned any reward. Since everything you have is a gift from God, you can’t give it back and build up a surplus. At best – you’re even. And there is no one without sin, not even one. There is nothing you can do on your own that would put God in your debt and obligate Him to allow you into heaven.

    Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” He alone paid the debt we all owe. Accept Him as Lord and Savior and you will be saved. Repent, believe, and obey. There is no other way, there are no other paths.

  98. Jcp2
    Posted October 15, 2016 at 6:00 am | Permalink

    You forgot to include Rosh Hasanah, mitzvah, and Yom Kippur.

  99. EOS
    Posted October 15, 2016 at 6:29 am | Permalink

    Jcp2,

    They can’t save you either. Not since Jesus rose from the dead. You should check out Jews for Jesus.

  100. Frosted Flakes
    Posted October 15, 2016 at 6:41 am | Permalink

    Lynne,

    The fact is that there is a huge obstacle to actually having income equality. The main obstacle being the fact that the top 50 percent of earners, almost universally, don’t really want equality. Although many top 50 percent earners in our area might say they want income equality, the fact is they choose to not practice what they preach–evidenced by their very real lifestyles–which would be impossible to afford if they chose to live at the median income level while donating their excess income.

    I don’t think it is accurate to accuse me of calling protestors, in general, “fake” people. The fact is, as I did above, if we limit the conversation to those people, who protest income inequality, but who also are on the rich side , then there is an obvious disconnect between their theoretical desires and their practice. What do you suggest we call people who say one thing and do another? Is ” hypocrite” a better word?

    Believe it or not, I am not judging anyone, rather, I am trying to plainly point out an obvious obstacle in the way of us actually having equality in the real world. Ever.

  101. EOS
    Posted October 15, 2016 at 7:02 am | Permalink

    I don’t want income equality and I am not in the top 50% of earners. I want to work to earn a living and have no desire to be rich. I don’t think the world would be better if we gave money and material things to people who willingly choose not to earn them themselves or who come up with excuses why they can’t. Charity and safety nets should be reserved for those who unfortunately lack necessities through no fault of their own.

  102. alan2102
    Posted October 15, 2016 at 7:21 am | Permalink

    Jean:
    “isn’t the truly progressive position…to remedy poverty, not wealth inequality?”

    No, because they are part of the same thing. One (poverty) is just the extreme part of the other. It is a continuum.

    Jean:
    “It seems much more positive and productive to talk about ending poverty than to talk about ending wealth inequality within a market-based economy. It’s also easier to do. We came close in the late 60’s. The programs weren’t entirely dismantled until the Reagan years. Which, not coincidentally marks the beginning of the steady increase of wealth inequality.”

    Right, it marks the beginning of the steady increase in inequality, illustrating that they are connected — essentially the same thing, just a matter of degree. To combat poverty IS to combat wealth inequality.

    Lynne: “I can’t think of a single policy that would help remedy poverty that wouldn’t also reduce income and wealth inequality.”

    Of course you can’t, because they are the same thing.

    Lynne: “my favorite idea to remedy poverty and reduce income inequality is to have a universal basic income funded by increasing income tax rates at the top. That is about as simple of a program as there is to reduce poverty and so far real world experiments are proving positive. It turns out that the best solution to poverty is to just give people money.”

    Correct. Real world experiments are proving positive.

    Jean: “the people most negatively impacted by the recession, the people who have still not recovered and lost lots of ground are the very poor and people of color.”

    Correct.

    Jean: “The concerns of the middle class have been addressed by both corporate bosses and the unions on the backs of the most marginalized.”

    Yep. And it is inexcusable.

    Jean: “It’s critical how the issue is framed. We need to put issues of poverty first. We could address income inequality just up until the point that it actually helps the most marginalized.”

    Yes, of course poverty comes first. This is not a matter of how the issue is framed. It is a matter of being authentically concerned with social justice, with inequality, which leads naturally and inevitably to concern for the most-unequal, the most-screwed — the poor. Social justice does not mean “getting more for MY little group who have somewhat less than others”. It means social justice, starting inevitably with a focus on the greatest injustice.

    That said, it is also true that concern for the most-screwed is not extricable from more general social justice concerns. We obviously need a much more just society for everyone, including the not-quite-poor kids struggling under ridiculous student loan burdens, and etc. (Loan burdens which, btw, did not exist 30 years ago; education costs have inflated wildly.) The most-screwed come first, of course, but we’re all in this. This is the authentically left or progressive view. Social justice is at the core of left thought.

    The fact that concern for the most-screwed is inextricable from more general social justice concerns does not justify narrow interest-group activism on behalf of the relatively-privileged. If the activism does not place the most-screwed FIRST, then it is inauthentic.

    I must say here that Peter has a good point about Sanders and his supporters. They were not really on the left; they had no authentic social justice concerns, and no deep critique of an unjust system. They were just tepid centrist social democrats, looking for a few somewhat-desirable tweaks. The enthusiasm for Sanders was out of proportion to his real value. Sanders was much better than anything else on offer, but that is because everything else on offer was/is so awful.

    In Sanders’ defense it could be said that at least with him there was a hazily-visible path toward improvement; with Sanders there was at least the possibility of evolving toward social justice; with Sanders the discussion of social justice would at least be on the table, somewhat. Whereas, with the alternatives (Hillary and Donald), there is no such possibility, no such path, no such discussion. Sanders truly WAS the lesser of the evils. Now, with HRC and DT, we have only horrid evils, neither being much lesser than the other.

  103. Westside
    Posted October 15, 2016 at 7:31 am | Permalink

    Hillary will take on income inequallity. Both through the inheritance tax and the Buffet rule. Those added revenues will go to help the poorest of the poor. Why would anyone be trying to move the spotlight off income inequality as one of the issues that face our great country? We can tackle climate change, racism, rape culture, poverty etc. Jusst make sure you get out and vote! And if you know anyone in a district where a house seat might flip encourage them to vote.

    And make sure you come down to Argus, the fall harvest is amazing. Have a great day!

  104. alan2102
    Posted October 15, 2016 at 7:33 am | Permalink

    Frosted Flakes: “the top 50 percent of earners, almost universally, don’t really want equality. Although many top 50 percent earners in our area might say they want income equality, the fact is they choose to not practice what they preach–evidenced by their very real lifestyles–which would be impossible to afford if they chose to live at the median income level while donating their excess income.”

    GREAT point.

    EOS: “I don’t think the world would be better if we gave money and material things to people who willingly choose not to earn them themselves or who come up with excuses why they can’t.”

    True. That’s why we need to abolish huge concentrations of wealth, which are all artificial. We are currently giving money and material things to people who willingly choose not to earn them themselves.

  105. alan2102
    Posted October 15, 2016 at 8:35 am | Permalink

    Peter: “If you want a universal basic income, it can’t come from the very wealthy. It has to come from the middle class”

    It does not have to be either/or. It could come from the wealthy, the “middle class” (actually quite rich), and the corporations. ALL of them. Recall that corporate taxes are only a fraction of what they were 50 years ago, just like personal income taxes on high-income people.

    Or we could consider ideas like public banking and debt-free money, and more generally everything under the heading of Modern Monetary Theory (MMT), as espoused by Randall Wray and others. In other words, we don’t necessarily have to think of universal basic income being funded directly from taxes on the rich, or any other party. See here for some ideas:
    http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2016/07/federal-reserve-creating-debt-free-money-nothing-americans-next-step-data-show-1000000-per-us-household-benefits-emperors-new-clothes.html

    I just wrote: “the ‘middle class’ (actually quite rich)”. The “middle class” is not the middle class. The “middle class” is RICH. An income of ~$33,000/year puts you in the top 1%, globally: http://www.globalrichlist.com

    Domestically, the LOWER middle class is defined by some as ~32-60K/year as personal income. I would call that middle-middle, in a (high cost structure) developed-world context. Anything over 60K/year is upper-middle, quite rich. Probably too rich, though it depends on prevailing (local) cost of living, number of dependents, etc. In NYC or San Francisco, with dependents, 60K/year is not rich.

  106. alan2102
    Posted October 15, 2016 at 9:06 am | Permalink

    Regarding MMT, debt-free money and related, see:

    https://ellenbrown.com
    http://neweconomicperspectives.org
    http://positivemoney.org/our-proposals
    http://itsourmoney.podbean.com
    http://moslereconomics.com

  107. Lynne
    Posted October 15, 2016 at 10:10 am | Permalink

    Frosted Flakes: No kidding that the top 50% are often quite happy throwing the bottom 50% under the bus. That isn;t what I got from what you said. It sounded more like you were saying that anyone who is not impoverished themselves is fake (or a hypocrite if you prefer) and that is utter BS.

    As for the top 50%. Well, income inequality hurts them too. You either work to eliminate poverty or you deal with the outcomes of it. Even when poverty is ghettoized and segregated, there are still social problems can creep through. For example, if we don’t make sure everyone has clean water and access to sewers, there are real diseases that occur and diseases will hit rich people too. Crime is closely correlated with poverty as well and while the victims of poor people tend to be other poor people, that isn’t always the case. Regardless, that top 50% would rather spend MORE on things like police protection than spend money getting rid of poverty.

    The good news though is that I often see young people who are in a social class that suggests they will be in the top 50% of household incomes even if they aren’t at the moment, out there protesting income inequality and working to advance a political agenda which will help the poor. You call that fake and hypocritical but I disagree. I see it as progress and a sign that the upper 50% may be coming around. I also, btw, don’t see it as hypocritical when such people also advance a political agenda that puts the burden on the top 10 or 20%. This is, as you suggest, a politically savvy move since 10-20% is a minority and you can get those who earn between 50-80% on board more easily if such a program will not crush them as much.

    Look a universal basic income is a way out far in the future idea and I readily admit that the electorate is not ready for it. However, there are things we can do now that push us in that direction and those are things you will often find greater than 50% support. For instance we could remove the cap on SS taxes so all income is taxed and then we could lower the retirement age. If we did that in combination with programs that help pay for tuition and living expenses for college students, we could get a whole lot of people out of the labor market. This plan would have the middle class invested as the middle class is already invested in Social Security. People feel ashamed to accept welfare but not ashamed to retire. They *earned* their retirement after all.

    And EOS. I hear you that you would rather work hard and earn your money. You are not alone. But what happens when there are not enough jobs to go around? Is this not what is behind a lot of the anger that is fueling this whole Trump thing? People want jobs! But the good paying solid jobs we used to have in this country are gone and they aren’t coming back.

    One way, btw, to have something similar to a basic income is to have the government hire any takers and then put them to work. Even then, I would worry that if too many people signed up, we would run out of work but so far experiments with this sort of program have been positive.

    I also completely disagree that there are no good candidates running. HRC is one of the best candidates we have ever had. She has her weaknesses and I did vote for Sanders because of them but for me, it was a nice primary because I liked them both as do a lot of people. That “we have two bad candidates” tripe suggests that the candidates are equally bad when that is less true in this election than any I have seen. As Westside said, HRC will do a lot a good in the area of income inequality which of course means that there will be help for the most impoverished among us.

  108. alan2102
    Posted October 15, 2016 at 10:30 am | Permalink

    This link proposes the general heading of “public money creation” to mean about the same as the “debt-free money” that I mentioned. It has a number of flavors: QE for the people, helicopter money (just directly giving people money, as Lynne suggested), green QE (like the GP’s Green New Deal), and others. See the table here:
    http://positivemoney.org/publications/guide-public-money-creation/

  109. alan2102
    Posted October 15, 2016 at 10:38 am | Permalink

    Lynne: “a universal basic income is a way out far in the future idea”

    Not really. Because of robotics. Robotics, self-driving cars and related technologies will be replacing jobs at a furious pace, starting about now or within the next few years. As this proceeds, unemployment will go from being a big problem (right now) to being a gigantic problem, so bad that the pressure to do something about it will be overwhelming. You can’t have many scores of millions of unemployed without revolution, civil war, or social disintegration. That’s where we are heading, ~10-15 years. Perhaps less.

  110. Lynne
    Posted October 15, 2016 at 10:46 am | Permalink

    Oh hell no. Quantitative easing used for a program as big as a universal basic income would be a disaster. We already know what happens when you pump money into an economy and that promised “million dollars per household” while almost certainly BS in the first place wouldn’t mean much if we were to experience hyperinflation. This is one reason why I am thankful beyond measure that Stein has zero chance to become president. Yikes. That kind of macroeconomic policy would be a disaster.

  111. Westside
    Posted October 15, 2016 at 11:23 am | Permalink

    Isn’t doing something about the pay gap between men and women a central tenant of HRC’s platform? Isn’t that itself an attempt to address wealth inequality? Are there really people who support HRC who don’t see a connection between wealth inequality and poverty? I’m confused.

    I don’t think anyone thinks everyone should be equal. I just believe a lot of us don’t think the system should be oriented towards helping the rich at the expense of the poor as it currently is. I thought that belief was what was responsible for the popularity of Sanders and (somewhat) Trump?

    I can’t wait to see what Hillary does. Can someone so enmeshed in the system actually change it? I hope so. And as our first female president I’m pretty sure she will.

    P.S. Ask that Trump guy tonight when we’re going to see his tax returns?

  112. Lynne
    Posted October 15, 2016 at 11:27 am | Permalink

    I think we can see a lot of good from Clinton. This is especially so if people remain engaged and put pressure on her.

  113. alan2102
    Posted October 15, 2016 at 11:47 am | Permalink

    Jean: “I have never heard a Republican talk so much about concern for poverty domestically and abroad as Pete. Maybe you got that one wrong a bit Alan2012.”

    Maybe I did. But if so, then what explains the unqualified “if I can make it, ANYONE can make it”? And similar statements, repeated several times. Such remarks deny the existence of inequality except as an expression of personal moral failing. Further, such remarks are exactly the kinds of remarks made by the worst Republican fucks.

    Yes, some of Peter’s words suggest an awareness of the problem of poverty; and yet, these do not square with “if I can make it, ANYONE can make it” (i.e. poverty does not exist except as a problem of personal choice, will to work, and perhaps positive thinking). As Peter wrote in another post: “It’s about making choices in life.” Right. Choices. It is all a matter of bad choices, personal moral failure. Structural social, economic and policy matters have nothing to do with it.

    Here’s another example, from Peter at 2:42pm:
    “Where I come from, people are lazy. They wait for things to happen for them. They spend their money on alcohol and drugs and rotate in and out of prison. I don’t feel sorry for them.”

    Uh huh. Exactly the kind of sentiment you hear from the mean Republican right. Exactly the kind of sentiment that undergirds the persistent efforts to roll-back the few social democratic and safety-net gains of the past 80 years (new deal, war on poverty, etc.).

    How Peter squares his own words, I do not know. Methinks Peter is dealing with an internal contradiction with no resolve as yet. Especially poignant that he is a doctor of PUBLIC HEALTH — poor or declining public health being one reflection of the toxic attitudes that he has expressed.

    ………….

    http://www.businessinsider.com/the-us-paradox-of-poverty-is-almost-impossible-to-escape-2014-11
    “[In the view of] conservative intellectuals and politicians… government programs could do nothing to help the poor because poverty arises from the twisted psychology of the poor themselves. By the Reagan era, it had become a cornerstone of conservative ideology that poverty is caused not by low wages or a lack of jobs and education, but by the bad attitudes and faulty lifestyles of the poor. Picking up on this theory, pundits and politicians have bemoaned the character failings and bad habits of the poor for at least the past 50 years. In their view, the poor are shiftless, irresponsible, and prone to addiction. They have too many children and fail to get married. So if they suffer from grievous material deprivation, if they run out of money between paychecks, if they do not always have food on their tables—then they have no one to blame but themselves.”

    …………..

    YO. NO ONE TO BLAME BUT THEMSELVES. They’re a bunch of lazy fucks, pissing away their lives. Not our problem. Don’t feel sorry for them. Let them drink and drug themselves to death. They deserve it, for their bad choices. Besides, all those dumb old social programs never worked and are a big waste of taxpayer money.

    Rev Malthus would be proud. He advocated ceasing any efforts to help the poor, because (he said) any such effort would only fuel their tendency procreate excessively, thereby worsening the problems. Better to “let nature take its course”: better to let them die off without any bleeding-heart liberal relief programs. Nice guy, huh? I nominate him for the Peter Larson Humanitarian Award.

  114. alan2102
    Posted October 15, 2016 at 12:28 pm | Permalink

    Lynne: “Quantitative easing used for a program as big as a universal basic income would be a disaster. We already know what happens when you pump money into an economy and that promised “million dollars per household” while almost certainly BS in the first place wouldn’t mean much if we were to experience hyperinflation.”

    That’s exactly what I used to think, for many years. Then I started reading about this whole area of public banking, debt-free money and the like. It is a big area. There are different suggestions, differing points of view, lots of intelligent people with much to say. I have not figured it all out yet; I have not come to any final conclusions. However, one thing I’ve learned is that some of the stuff I thought I knew is questionable, if not flat out wrong. I love it when that happens! Seriously, it is a good thing to get shaken up from time to time. That is what this study is doing to me. It might do the same to you, if you give it a chance.

    I used to take seriously the “hyperinflation” charge. But recently I’ve been questioning it. For one thing, why has the extreme money-creation pattern of the past number of years not resulted in hyperinflation? For another thing, I notice that the hyperinflation fear is almost invariably a big issue for people I either seriously distrust, or outright hate: right-wingers, “libertarian” anarcho-capitalist types, Austrian economists, and so on. That does not prove that it is wrong, but it does suggest that we proceed with great caution. If they embrace it, then there’s an excellent chance that it is bullshit. And indeed, empirically it does appear to be bullshit, even though it initially sounds convincing.

    You have to READ about this stuff for a while, and think about it, to come up with a quality opinion. I’m still working on it myself. Knee-jerk dismissal won’t cut it. We have to do the homework. See the links I gave. Don’t miss Steven Zarlenga’s monetary.org and links thereon. Also Ellen Brown’s Web of Debt. And other resources.

    Ellen Brown:

    http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/09/03/quantitative-easing-for-people-jeremy-corbyns-radical-proposal/
    snip
    “The Bogus Hyperinflation Threat
    Dire warnings of Zimbabwe-style hyperinflation have been leveled against quantitative easing (QE) ever since the Federal Reserve embarked on it in 2008. When the European Central Bank announced in January 2015 that it, too, would be engaging in QE – along with the US, the UK and Japan – alarmed commentators warned of currency wars, competitive beggar-thy-neighbor devaluations and hyperinflation. But QE has been going on since the late 1990s, and it hasn’t happened yet.”
    snip
    “despite repeated rounds of QE, there is still too little money chasing too many goods. The current form of QE is merely an asset swap: dollars for existing financial assets (federal securities or mortgage-backed securities). The rich are getting richer from bank bailouts and very low interest rates, but the money is not going into the real economy, which remains starved of the funds necessary to create the demand that would create jobs. To be effective for that purpose, a helicopter drop of money would need to fall directly into the wallets of consumers. Far from being “undisciplined fiscal policy,” getting some new money into the real economy is imperative for getting it moving again.”

    See also:
    http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/09/23/time-for-the-nuclear-option-raining-money-on-main-street/

  115. jean henry
    Posted October 15, 2016 at 12:42 pm | Permalink

    You’re all a bunch of scolds who are omitted to political doctrine over listening to anyone’s individual perspective and experience. I’m not saying Pete’s right. I don’t know if he is. I grew up around poor people and my mom is a adult education a literacy program coordinator. I helped her teach adults to read. I didn’t see much difference between poor people and the very wealthy people I’ve also spent time with. Some ARE fuck ups. Some are able to make their own lives. Some are smart, some are dumb. It seemed to me that people with in tact functional families have a better shot. money provides lots of chances too. But a lazy crazy addicted person can squander as many chances as they get. that’s my perspective. But I didn’t grow up poor from a f’d up family and make it out, like Pete did. And I’m betting none of you did either. So maybe your lecturing Pete or anyone of any political persuasion about what it’s like to be poor is some lefty dogma version of mansplaining. Lib-splaining? bourgeois splaining? dogma- Splaining? I don’t know but it’s smug as hell. It’s not discourse. And it’s not going to sway anyone or encourage a diversity of viewpoints. It’s going to make you all feel pretty swell. Moral certainty works like that.
    I’d like to point out that Pete is only self-critical. He rarely disses is any of you except EOS. And yet you continue to pile on to the only person with lived and professional experience around these issues. You are near desperate to dismiss him. It’s clear you hear only the parts of his posts that provoke your political outrage. You don’t hear or think beyond doctrine. You protect it from any challenge.He IS provocative. Pete’s faux humility works like a dog whistle for all your condescension. He’s pulling a reverse Kanye on you all, but instead of conceit drawing out white liberal anxiety, he’s using self-degradation to make himself a mark for your need to pummel people with whom you disagree politically. Anyone who violates liberal doctrine. Anyone who grew up around religious fundamentalism like I did can recognize the pattern. I’m glad I came back here long enough to realize why I hate this forum in spite of Mark’s good work.

  116. alan2102
    Posted October 15, 2016 at 12:43 pm | Permalink

    http://www.rebeccacosta.com/blog/dennis-kucinich-calls-for-end-to-current-debt-based-monetary-system-267.htm
    March 1, 2015
    Dennis Kucinich Calls For End To Current “Debt-Based Monetary System”

    http://www.monetary.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/153818_29-02-04-Zarlenga.pdf
    JKAU: Islamic Econ., Vol. 29 No. 2, pp: 57-73 (July 2016)
    “The Nature of Money in Modern Economy –Implications and Consequences”
    Stephen Zarlenga* and Robert Poteat**
    snip
    “6. The N.E.E.D. Act of Congressman Dennis Kucinich
    Despite the election year madness, significant progress has been made to solve the monetary/banking problem in the United States. Legislation has been carefully written and introduced into the House of Representatives in 2011 by Congressman Dennis Kucinich (Democrat of Ohio), which would effectively reform the U.S. banking and monetary system. He named it the N.E.E.D. Act (National Emergency Employment Defense Act). Its designation number in the 112th Congress was HR2990.
    The bill contains the necessary reforms called for by decades of research and centuries of experience – all the monetary reform proposals advocated by the American Monetary Institute.” … lots more details at the link…

  117. alan2102
    Posted October 15, 2016 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

    Jean: “You’re all a bunch of scolds”

    All? You mean me. I think I am the only one here who is scolding Peter.

    Jean: “who are omitted to political doctrine over listening to anyone’s individual perspective and experience.”

    I listened to his personal experience. I believe it. I don’t doubt that some (few) people are lazy fucks. That’s not the point. What IS the point is that lazy fuckitude does not explain mass unemployment, underemployment, poverty, economic insecurity, social and medical pathologies resulting from economic insecurity, etc., etc., across large populations, though it might explain INDIVIDUAL failures. Do you understand that, Jean? Do you understand the difference between individuals and large groups?

    Jean: “Some ARE fuck ups.”

    Of course. People vary. Aptitudes vary. Personal decisions do make a difference. Some people are downright lazy fucks. (I personally know one. He has severe mental illness, but he is also a lazy fuck, as far as I can determine after decades of observation.) None of that is in question. Please read what I wrote.

    Jean: “So maybe your lecturing Pete or anyone of any political persuasion about what it’s like to be poor is some lefty dogma version of mansplaining.”

    I am not lecturing Peter or anyone about what it is like to be poor. Please read what I wrote.

    Jean: “It’s not discourse. And it’s not going to sway anyone or encourage a diversity of viewpoints.”

    Perhaps not.

    Jean: “I’d like to point out that Pete is only self-critical. He rarely disses any of you”

    That he is self-critical is a good quality of his. Seriously.

    Jean: “It’s clear you hear only the parts of his posts that provoke your political outrage.”

    I am hearing all parts of his posts, and as I said he apparently has an unresolved internal contradiction regarding the matter in question.

    If you have the inclination, you could read my words and respond to the points I made.

  118. Bob
    Posted October 15, 2016 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

    For what it’s worth, Jean’s confused ranting has surpassed Peter’s hatred of everything as a reason I mostly stay away.

  119. alan2102
    Posted October 15, 2016 at 1:43 pm | Permalink

    Jean, let me put it another way: “if I can make it, anyone can make it” is wrong, given the implicit and unavoidable (unless explicitly denied) suggestion that “anyone” means “everyone”. Of course it is literally true that anyONE can make it, as I pointed out repeatedly. Any single individual can make it. What counts however is whether whole populations can make it in the face of massive structural impediments to making it. If the context is a discussion of society-wide poverty and inequality, mentioning a personal success anecdote, or saying “if I can make it, anyone can make it” is not only not helpful, it misleads, and indeed it fosters the ugly Malthusian sentiments that I highlighted. I would say that it inevitably fosters those ugly sentiments unless it is immediately and explicitly qualified, in the general form: “If I can make it, anyone can make it, but of course I am talking about individuals, not whole populations. Whole populations in the present economic and policy context CANNOT make it, even though a few individuals might.” See? Do you understand? I ask that sincerely. If I have not made myself clear, then tell me how I can improve. I will listen non-defensively and try to improve.

  120. Posted October 15, 2016 at 3:46 pm | Permalink

    I’ve been too busy getting ready for tonight’s radio show to keep up with this thread. Will someone please remind me to come back to it tomorrow? It seems like one of those threads where I, as the person responsible for the site, should probably intervene. At least that’s the sense I get from scanning the comments.

  121. jean henry
    Posted October 15, 2016 at 6:35 pm | Permalink

    I don’t really disagree with any of your points Alan. Again it’s about angle of approach. I think Pete’s on to something when he suggests the focus should be on poverty not income inequality. they are not the same thing. Very little has been said about addressing rising poverty in the US for a very long time. Obama has hardly mentioned it in 8 years. Saying we care about it is not the same as doing something about it. We talk about income inequality because that’s a net that catches more fish. It’s an issue 99% of the population geeks affects them directly. I believe they care more about themselves than others in practice even if they believe otherwise about themselves. I have lived in Ann Arbor long enough to see that the initiatives that pass that are called progressive mostly benefit the Middle and upper classes. (The AAATA transportation bill was an exception) So I like what Pete said. You don’t. That’s fine. I’m not going to indulge your pedantic nature by diverting into a discussion of economics when you hurl insults. My point is that the commenters on this blog (not just you; read this thread) seem inclined to jump to insults of people they disagree with politically far too quickly. On that note, Bob I didn’t miss you either. And again, this post was supposed to be about the need for discourse across beliefs. Or so I had hoped.

  122. jean henry
    Posted October 15, 2016 at 7:10 pm | Permalink

    I did ask you guys to wind out your ideas. And you did. You really really did. I wish I had more to say and more time to read the mass of links, but I don’t. I’m interested in how we can restore civil discourse more than economics. I used this thread to make my point. No one cared or understood. Which is fine. I’ll keep checking in to see where this goes. And knowing me, I’ll probably read all or most of those links eventually. I know you mad an effort to communicate effectively and that’s appreciated, but we were really talking about different things for the most part.

  123. Posted October 16, 2016 at 1:46 am | Permalink

    As a white guy “if I can make it, anyone can make it” is absolutely true. There are few barriers to success for white people in the US if they work at it and use the tools available to them.

    However, what is “success?” A high income? Life satisfaction? I mean, we talk over and over about income inequality, which, as I noted before, is a real political problem, but again, given that there are a lot of people who are perfectly happy to make less than national median in respect to what they do, is it a substantive problem?

    Having been involved in music for decades, I know many, many broke ass musicians. It is what they do and who their friends are that make life worth living, not whether they make this or that amount of money.

    I truly believe that if (as a white guy) one takes advantage of the tools available to you, you can make more money than the national median, because the system is set up to do that. Some people choose not to do that. Some of those people complain about it and look to blame the world when in fact they are just fucking lazy in achieving their goals (like my fucked up familly, or just about all the people in the trailer park). Some people don’t pursue those routes because they choose to do other things or cherish other things in life.

    I am not, in any way, arguing that there are not systemic and structural barriers that keep, for example, African-Americans from succeeding. These things exist. I grew up in Mississippi and went to public schools. I can tell you they exist.

    I am however, arguing that the US is still very much full of opportunity of all kinds and that simple income is a bad way to measure it.

    As for “populations,” the reality is that entire populations won’t and shouldn’t get PhDs, nor should they all have jobs that make six figures. While I certainly think that we should increase the federal minimum wage and increase the EITC (preferably paid for by consumption or VAT taxes like the Scandinavians do. Why wait around all day for rich people?), we can’t assume that anything approaching perfect income equality will ever happen, given that some jobs are worth more than others in monetary terms, and people make different amounts of money through their lifetimes.

    While inequality in the US is higher than other individual countries, it has to be pointed out that the US is a big, big place and the largest economy in the world. We house some of the richest people in the world, many of them non-Americans, because many companies have their headquarters here. Bill Gates (who is American) is not going to relocate to Sweden and the wealthiest of Swedes might consider a move to the US so that the entire distribution becomes skewed. Certainly, a move like that would be to take advantage of tax laws, but also because since so many businesses are based here, it just makes more sense.

    It also has to be pointed out that the responsibility for dealing with inequality is not simply a federal issue. Most the States have GDPs bigger than many European Countries, yet almost none of them do simple things like provide health care or basic incomes. Any of them could. But they don’t. And you have to ask why. Sure, we can scream and yell about the 1% in Washington, but the problem starts at home, all the way down to the most local of areas. Middle class Americans do not feel that they should have to take responsibility for anyone but themselves and vote in Republican State Governors and legislatures who won’t ask it of them. This is in start contrast to European countries which are mostly tribal states beholden to themselves as a unit (even there the record is mixed.)

    The problem is not “the 1%” whatever that is. The problem is that American society is compartmentalized. This is not simply a function of political lobbying, this is embedded in our immigrant culture and there’s not a whole lot that can be done about that in the short term.

    I’m sorry to post here. My comments are useless rambling and full of holes. I don’t claim to be smart or capable.

  124. Posted October 16, 2016 at 2:11 am | Permalink

    Not that anyone at all gives a shit, but I found this interesting. Out of OECD countries, Sweden comes in second for inequality (behind the US). I have been to Sweden. Poverty is non-existent, yet inequality high, presumably because a few extremely rich people are skewing the distribution. The same is true for Finland.

    https://www.allianz.com/v_1444215837000/media/economic_research/publications/specials/en/AGWR2015_ENG.pdf

    I think that the problem is not simply inequality, but what governments do with the money they have. If Sweden is any indication, encouraging a consumption based market economy and taxing the middle class on purchases is an effective way of alleviating poverty and providing social services (very different from what Bernard Sanders was offering.)

    But who cares. I’m an asshole. I didn’t write this report and can’t vouch for the results. People are free to read it if they like. I just posted it to show that there are people out there who are seriously thinking of this issue outside of outraged populist political terms. Astonishing, I know.

  125. Posted October 16, 2016 at 6:26 am | Permalink

    “I am hearing all parts of his posts, and as I said he apparently has an unresolved internal contradiction regarding the matter in question.”

    Well, I feel the need to respond to this since it comes up a lot. Yes, given that I come from the trailer and work in the ivory tower, there will inevitably be a contradiction. I fucking hate poor white people in the US. I really do. That they Trump has opportunistically taken advantage of them is offensive, but, in fact, there are a lot of stupid and useless poor white people who hold those views. Not sure how I can like that.

    On the other hand, I may be stupid but I’m not a complete idiot. I get how structures can create the poor white people I hate so much so I view them as much as victims of greater wrongs as much as victims of themselves.

    To me, one doesn’t have to pick a side. One can recognize that both forces are at play.

    At the same time, white liberals, unfamiliar with that world in the realistic sense, attempt to coddle those who don’t need coddling, and that, in itself, is not only condescending, but works to help create policy which makes it worse (if that makes sense.) Republicans like to decry how welfare impacts black people, while ignoring how things like disability checks have enabled the laziness of white people.

    Why keep working? You can just claim your back hurts and get a check every month. Or that you’re depressed. Or something. When you should be getting off your lazy white ass and working within that system that was set up for you.

    A lot of how I view white poverty (relatively speaking. Even poor white people have it better than most of the world.) is emotional. I admit. But that doesn’t mean I don’t hold professional or scientific opinions on how the world works based on data. The point is that one doesn’t supercede the other.

    If that makes any sense. It probably doesn’t.

  126. Jcp2
    Posted October 16, 2016 at 7:13 am | Permalink

    It is quite infuriating to see 4 more years of not having a president from the group that the system is rigged in favor of, after 8 years of not having a president from the group the system is in favor of. It’s almost as bad as https://www.google.com/amp/nba.nbcsports.com/2012/09/07/how-reggie-cheryl-miller-used-to-hustle-playground-games/amp/?client=safari

  127. jean henry
    Posted October 16, 2016 at 11:30 am | Permalink

    It’s a strong indicator of the increasing intolerance and fundamentalism in our culture that the idea of holding two mutually contradictory, unresolved feelings,, ideas or perspectives at once is considered a moral and intellectual failing. Acknowledgement of paradox is seen as indicator of faultiness of perspective rather than integrity of perspective. It’s as though the entire intellectual history of the 20th century has been erased. I distrust logic. I’ve been called an enemy of it on this blog. I see it as a badge of honor.

    Also the lauded Scandinavian model has extreme income constantly inequality but little it no poverty! — How is it that that never came up during the Dem primary when Sanders camp referred to it constantly. Even the fact that they are market based free trade economies never can up. Because sanders ideas were never vetted. He was good; she was bad. So no point of contradiction could be tolerated. Because discourse is dying and we are all becoming increasingly morally righteous and stupid as a result.

  128. Posted October 16, 2016 at 11:35 am | Permalink

    Sanders was as clueless about Scandinavia as his followers are.

  129. alan2102
    Posted October 16, 2016 at 11:54 am | Permalink

    Peter: “As a white guy “if I can make it, anyone can make it” is absolutely true. There are few barriers to success for white people in the US if they work at it and use the tools available to them.”

    As I’ve said now ~18 times, you are absolutely positively RIGHT, as regards individuals. Any ONE person can make it. With enough work, plus some luck, plus an odd few other advantages, a lot of people can make it: hundreds of thousands, perhaps even a few (low single-digit) millions. But whole classes in the U.S. CANNOT make it. There are not enough good jobs, and not enough opportunities. For many years, job creation has been limited to low-pay service jobs and similar, and part-time jobs. Yes, you can start your own business, but are you familiar with the failure rate of new businesses? It is a depressing number. The reality for WHOLE CLASSES (i.e. tens and scores of millions) is that THEY CANNOT MAKE IT. They are stuck in low-pay, insecure jobs, without savings, with marginal or no medical care, vulnerable to all kinds of diseases and mental disorders, and on and on.

    Social mobility — i.e. the movement from one class (up) to another — is widely perceived to be much more likely than it actually is, in reality. Everyone WANTS to believe that “anyone can make it!” with enough hard work, positive thinking, etc. It is the American ethos of “unlimited opportunity”. But opportunity IS limited, highly, and social mobility is increasingly rare. The situation has become worse in recent decades. This is well-documented. Please look it up. Please become familiar with the relevant literature.

  130. alan2102
    Posted October 16, 2016 at 11:59 am | Permalink

    Jean: “I think Pete’s on to something when he suggests the focus should be on poverty not income inequality. they are not the same thing.”

    Inequality is a continuum, with one end being the extreme of poverty. There are all shades of grey in between. Poverty is easily the worst and as I said it merits first and most attention.

    Poverty is usually defined in absolute terms, income below certain thresholds. Those definitions are useful as far as they go, but should not blind us to the shades of grey. Many millions have an income above the official poverty line, but they are still under continual grinding economic stress that erodes health, relationships, and quality of life.

    There is also the (important!) matter of inequality *per se* — that is, relative differences, apart from absolute (income, etc.) numbers. I will discuss this in a subsequent post.

    Jean: “Very little has been said about addressing rising poverty in the US for a very long time. Obama has hardly mentioned it in 8 years. Saying we care about it is not the same as doing something about it. We talk about income inequality because that’s a net that catches more fish.”

    Yes, if only we could reasonably expect a higher level of moral and political consciousness on the part of the mass of Americans, so as to result in a mass movement on behalf of the poor and generally on behalf of all the less-privileged. Sadly, that is probably not going to happen. Americans are notoriously politically retarded and destitute of class consciousness.

    Let me cut quickly to this chase: What we can expect in the coming years — harking back to the point I made to Lynne regarding robotics and mass unemployment — is that inequality will become such a massive problem that the integrity of functioning society will come under threat. Social disintegration or civil war will become a serious possibility, or actuality. The elites will, at that point, institute either a universal basic income, or something like it, in order to avert collapse. That is what they did in the FDR years. FDR’s New Deal was the capitalist class’ response to the very real possibility of either social disintegration or socialist revolution fostered by the extreme inequality and mass deprivation of that era. FDR saved capitalism’s ass by instituting a sufficiency of social programs to maintain social order and keep the lid on revolutionary energies. (Described in detail by Gabriel Kolko; can’t remember the name of the book offhand but you can easily google it.)

    Something like that will happen again, in ~10-15 years I would guess. Robotics will displace scores of millions of jobs, resulting in mass (like MASS) unemployment, and that is not a tenable situation. The elites will be forced to respond with some kind of New Deal-like programs. Respond or ELSE. Backs to the wall.

    The only alternative (to change from above) is for a real socialist party and movement to emerge and force radical change from below, including an unseating of the elites; i.e. a real socialist revolution. That would be preferable, but I would not bet on it. America is too steeped in libertarianism, acquisitive individualism, capitalism, etc. Socialist revolution is not what Americans DO, at least not now. Back in the 1930s, before everyone got brainwashed by ~80 years of CIA anti-communist propaganda, it might have been possible. You can see the (ridiculous) residue of that propaganda in the current substance-free hysteria over Russia and Putin.

  131. alan2102
    Posted October 16, 2016 at 12:18 pm | Permalink

    One problem in this discussion has been what seems to be a failure to appreciate the corrosive effects of inequality, and the tendency to dismiss inequality concerns as nothing but the whining of privileged people who want a little more for themselves. Now, as I already wrote, there does exist a bunch of whiners who, without suffering from any serious deprivation, want a little more for themselves; i.e. a narrow, self-centered “concern” about inequality. I get that, and I don’t approve. But that does not mean that inequality (including all the shades on the continuum which ends with its extreme: poverty) is not a serious problem that is undermining the livability and decency of our society.

    I advert to the long (decades) of work by epidemiologist Richard Wilkinson, who has shown that economic inequality correlates, almost certainly causally, with much poorer health outcomes, society-wide, as well as breakdown of social cohesion, and other pathology. There is also evidence that inequality undermines democracy. (And, it can be argued that inequality is intrinsically anti-democratic.)

    In contrast, and as expected, reduced inequality results in much better health outcomes (i.e. less disease) as well as better general social health and happiness. Wilkinson’s work is described in his book “The Spirit Level: Why More Equal Societies Almost Always Do Better”, and in numerous articles which you can google up with his name and a few relevant keywords.

    Here’s one:
    https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/wired-success/201508/why-income-inequality-threatens-democracy
    “Wilkinson…argue[s] that almost every indicator of social health in wealthy societies is related to its level of economic equality… GDP and overall wealth are less significant than the gap between the rich and the poor, which is the worst in the U.S. among developed nations. “In more unequal societies, people are more out for themselves, their involvement in community life drops away,” Wilkinson says. If you live in a state or country where level of income is more equal, “you will be less likely to have mental illness and other social problems,” he argues.”

    Note well that embedded point: per capita GDP (absolute number) is less significant than the gap between rich and poor. How much everyone has in absolute terms is less important than the GAP, the relative state, the inequality. This is astonishing and counterintuitive, but there it is. Wilkinson (and now many others) have spent a lifetime researching and verifying it.

    In his repeated dismissal of inequality as a significant social problem, Peter seems to be unaware of this work. This is in highly paradoxical relation to his role as doctor of public health. All doctors of public health should be acutely aware of this phenomenon, since it appears to be one of the main drivers of collectively-disastrous health outcomes (i.e. bad public health outcomes), in addition to other social pathology.

    And by the way, correction of inequality does not have to mean absolute leveling with everyone getting precisely the same share or income — a common red herring. Correction of inequality starts with reducing or eliminating the EXTREMES, including but not limited to outright poverty. Extreme concentrations of wealth and income, and extreme lack of wealth and income, are the targets.

    Let me put it another way: I am personally in favor of inequality. Lots and lots of inequality. I think that some people — people who work harder, have more natural talents, perhaps who have better luck, etc., etc. — should have higher incomes and more wealth than others. Maybe twice as much as others. Maybe thrice as much as others. Hell, maybe even TEN TIMES as much as others. I’m talking major inequality, here! I am 100% in favor of major inequality!

    What I have a problem with is when some people have ONE HUNDRED, or ONE THOUSAND, or TEN THOUSAND times as much as others. When one person can buy Nebraska, or Berrien County, we have a ridiculous situation. No one can plausibly argue that differences of that order meaningfully represent differences in willingness to work, natural talents, etc. Differences of that order reflect not meritocracy, but the antithesis of meritocracy, and the failure of society to organize itself sanely. Differences of that order are untenable and guarantee the full array of social pathologies that Wilkinson has documented.

    Extreme inequality in the U.S. makes for a sick, crappy, degenerating society full of mentally and physically sick people. If that isn’t a big deal, then what is?

    Inequality should be a major concern of progressives. Poverty is naturally the worst of it, but is not all of it.

  132. Westside
    Posted October 16, 2016 at 12:28 pm | Permalink

    But Alan2102 , what about Scandinavia? Do you really understand Scandinavia?

  133. alan2102
    Posted October 16, 2016 at 12:39 pm | Permalink

    I wrote: “When one person can buy Nebraska, or Berrien County, we have a ridiculous situation.”

    Let’s try a better example: when one person (*cough* Ruppert Murdoch *cough*) can buy and own a major media conglomerate that is responsible for delivering news to (and inculcating opinions and values in) scores of millions of people, then we have worse than a ridiculous situation. We have a socially catastrophic situation. The insanity of the current election cycle is but one modest symptom of what might be the terminal social cancer of wildly-extreme inequality.

    At what point might doctors of public health begin to understand this?

  134. Posted October 16, 2016 at 1:00 pm | Permalink

    Well, I take issue with the idea that inequality is the single cause of human misery. My view is that, while it is important and interesting to explore the possible effects of inequality on health (or any other kind of outcome), inequality effects will vary widely in context, calling the original assumption into question.

    It’s not enough to calculate a Gini coeffecient, find some associations and consider the book closed.

    Regardless, correlation does not imply causation. Both the US and South Africa have long histories are racism and social exclusion and the US and South Africa have wide inequality and both experienced widespread crime and violence… but the root cause here was not inequality. The root cause was governance through state sponsored violence. Likewise, Sweden has high inequality but low levels of violence. Malawi also has high inequality but relatively little violence.

    Moving on, I don’t think the Rupert Murdoch example is very useful. While FOX News exists, a large number of other news organizations exist as well, as Trump so kindly lets us know on a daily basis. Though the Times is not owned by a single person, it is owned by a group of like minded people who (in the mind of Trump) are enforcing their will in the populace.

    Again, though, you are talking politics. I recognized that inequality is a political problem. I think we agree on this.

    I argued that there is no inherent moral issue with someone having more than another person, and that wealth, being a non-finite (non-static) resource, is not a zero sum game. One person having a lot of wealth does not necessarily mean that the rest have lest, when wealth can be created (and destroyed, of course). One person have a big house does not mean that my house is all that much smaller. The “inequality as a moral issue” argument seems to assume this as a basis.

  135. jean henry
    Posted October 16, 2016 at 1:01 pm | Permalink

    Alan– I’m reading all of this. You have a fixed leftist narrative. It’s not all wrong or all right like any narrative– especially political ones. Your dystopic view of the future in which robots replace humans in all labor is especially suspect. That economic prediction has been dispelled countless times. It has also not held up historically. We have been Through massive technology driven economic shifts in production and we have only increased human health, wealth and economic well being. (If we see climate change — arguably a consequence of our drive to increase production but more to my mind a symptom of our habit of resource extraction– anyway if we see climate change as a systemic warning system, it too will be addressed, maybe in time, but certainly by technological advancement not regression) I don’t disagree however that income inequality is a problem and that labor currently is increasingly pressed to produce more and more for less and less, but that also gets solved systemically eventually. Because systems can only tolerate so much imbalance without signaling the need for a restoration of balance. At least for the middle class. The economic costs of a declining middle class are apparent to those who own the means of production. The economic cost of poverty is largely ignored. They are viewed as drain (Pete got to this) and treated as such even by liberals. The poor and marginalized get left behind when economic progress happens. Historically and currently. In progressive cities more so than in conservative or moderate cities. And the only way to prevent the poor from being excluded from economic progress towards equality is to focus on poverty. We did it for a short while in the 60’s and I believe we can do it again. The middle class are an anginr in the capitalist economy. In the end, they will be served. I believe the poor Represent a drain on society precisely because they are not given the means to succeed (v the middle class who are) . The middle class is being squeezed but not oppressed. That they imagine they are tells me that the limits of progress on income inequality will be found once they have been served. That’s unacceptable to me. I’ve seen it happen too many times to believe poverty will be addressed without naming it. I don’t see how it can be addressed by demonizing the wealthy. Many of our most wealthy citizens make it their life’s work to address global poverty. Why should they be demonized and dismissed as incapable of concern for the poor. It’s the middle class who hates and denigrates the poor the second they feel they will have to share any of their wealth. Maybe now having experienced economic squeezing, they will have greater empathy. But signs are no.

  136. Posted October 16, 2016 at 1:02 pm | Permalink

    Apologies for rambling. I usually don’t make a whole lot of sense.

  137. jean henry
    Posted October 16, 2016 at 1:14 pm | Permalink

    When I worked at Zingerman’s and they were talking about raising the base wage for employees, many managers took offense at the idea because they felt they should get a comparable wage increase immediately. Which wasn’t possible. They saw the business wealth as a fixed pie– even in a group of businesses with steady annual growth. They could not see that increasing wages for the under-paid might increase productivity and eventually allow them to benefit from wage increases too. Even though this has been shown repeatedly. Most recently at Walmart. The fixed pie scenario is a scarcity mentality. It’s fear based. And fear is the real enemy of progress.

  138. stupid hick
    Posted October 16, 2016 at 1:15 pm | Permalink

    People confuse money with wealth, and IMO >99.999 people have no idea what money really is. They subscribe to primitive myths. Alan is at least on the right track.

  139. Westside
    Posted October 16, 2016 at 1:41 pm | Permalink

    Many of our most wealthy citizens make it their life’s work to address global poverty. Why should they be demonized and dismissed as incapable of concern for the poor. It’s the middle class who hates and denigrates the poor the second they feel they will have to share any of their wealth.

    Is this really what HRC and her supporters believe? I thought she, like many Democrats thought the wealthy could contribute a bit more? Maybe there’s a wing of the party that I’m not familiar with?

  140. jean henry
    Posted October 16, 2016 at 3:20 pm | Permalink

    I speak for myself not HRC. I said nothing against taxing the wealthy to benefit others. I suggested the wealthy are no more greedy than the middle class, in reality– especially when it comes to taxation. Most of the top 10% are Dems last I checked. The idea that addressing poverty should be a top priority and is not guaranteed by policy to address income inequality is not exactly anti-social safety net is it? What upsets always is when I or anyone suggests that liberals to not do enough to help the very poor or other marginalized populations, especially in cities and regions they control. I’m not saying liberals are bad people. I’m saying they aren’t good just because they believe themselves to be. Proofs in the pudding.
    Stop trying to pigeon hole people politically as if that’s the same thing as policy critique.

  141. jean henry
    Posted October 16, 2016 at 3:23 pm | Permalink

    Stupid Hick– Pete made that point earlier. He suggested that in a free society some choose paths that pay less and provide less security because it makes them happy.

  142. alan2102
    Posted October 16, 2016 at 10:09 pm | Permalink

    Westside: “Isn’t doing something about the pay gap between men and women a central tenant of HRC’s platform? Isn’t that itself an attempt to address wealth inequality?”

    No. First, it addresses income, not wealth. Second, the pay gap is a complex issue, not what it seems. It is clear that aggregate statistics on the pay gap do not reflect realities such as that women voluntarily take lower-paying jobs than men. That, in turn, could be due to sexism in some form; but that’s a different discussion and a lot harder to pin down. Where there does exist a pay gap for equal or comparable jobs, the gap is modest. Third, the whole thing is mostly a matter of privileged people being slightly less-privileged than they ought to be if things were perfectly fair. It is a good thing to champion correction of this unfairness, but let’s not get carried away in our assessment of how much it will do to address inequality. It will do very little to address inequality.

    What is needed is a large pay increase for people working low-pay jobs, including prominently, but not limited to, women. This is much more important than reducing the (slight) pay gap for upper middle class women in the professions.

    Westside: “But Alan2102 , what about Scandinavia? Do you really understand Scandinavia?”

    What about it? What do you think I need to understand about Scandinavia? Go ahead. Hold forth.

  143. alan2102
    Posted October 16, 2016 at 10:18 pm | Permalink

    Peter: “I take issue with the idea that inequality is the single cause of human misery.”

    Who on earth ever expressed such a preposterous idea?

    Peter: “correlation does not imply causation. Both the US and South Africa have long histories are racism and social exclusion and the US and South Africa have wide inequality and both experienced widespread crime and violence… but the root cause here was not inequality. The root cause was governance through state sponsored violence.”

    Neither Wilkinson nor me nor anyone else (that I know) ever suggested that inequality is the cause of all social problems.

  144. alan2102
    Posted October 16, 2016 at 10:44 pm | Permalink

    Jean: “Your dystopic view of the future in which robots replace humans in all labor is especially suspect. That economic prediction has been dispelled countless times.”

    Why is it dystopic? I don’t see it that way. The robotics field is making huge strides, and this will result in robots doing a shit-ton of work that used to be done by humans. Is that dystopic? Well, maybe, if those unemployed people are not taken care of, and if they cannot find other things to do. It would be easy to take care of those people in material terms, simply by organizing society along sane socialistic lines so as to share the vast new wealth generated by robotization. As for finding other things to do: that’s a bit more difficult, but it will happen. Once you start looking, it is easy to find things that need to be done. Every person in your neighborhood needs at least 3 massages per week, for example. What is “dystopic” about it is that it is happening in a capitalistic context, and the initial waves of it will cause mass uncompensated unemployment. That is, until (as I said) the pressures build and the elites are forced to take remedial wealth-distributional action. No permanent dystopia, just an uncomfortable transition.

    Jean: “We have been Through massive technology driven economic shifts in production and we have only increased human health, wealth and economic well being.”

    Right! And robotics will also increase human health, wealth and economic well-being. After a difficult transitional period.

    Jean: “The middle class is being squeezed but not oppressed.”

    “Oppressed” is surely not the word. What is happening is the middle-middle is slowly being decimated; the lower-middle (and lower) is stagnating or sinking lower, while the upper-middle (and upper) is ascending higher. Two societies, separate and highly unequal. All part of the neofeudalization process.

    Jean: “I don’t see how [poverty] can be addressed by demonizing the wealthy.”

    Who is demonizing the wealthy? Is it “demonizing” them to suggest that they should not be so wealthy?

    Jean: “Many of our most wealthy citizens make it their life’s work to address global poverty.”

    Name one.

    No, not Bill Gates. He is not addressing global poverty. He is addressing developing world health issues, not poverty.

  145. alan2102
    Posted October 16, 2016 at 10:55 pm | Permalink

    Peter: “I don’t think the Rupert Murdoch example is very useful. While FOX News exists, a large number of other news organizations exist as well, as Trump so kindly lets us know on a daily basis. Though the Times is not owned by a single person, it is owned by a group of like minded people who (in the mind of Trump) are enforcing their will in the populace.”

    Trump is right, on that point.

    The entirety of the mainstream media pushes the same neoliberal, neoconservative/warhawk, corporate line. They have different styles, of course, but the core messages are the same.

    No, there is not a “large number” of other news organizations. There are a total of SIX that control about 90% of all viewership. An oligopoly.

  146. Posted October 16, 2016 at 11:23 pm | Permalink

    There are a million news sources out there, people just choose not to look at most of them.

    Not much that can be done about that.

    Here we have more than 20 newspapers, but 90% of people only read two of them which represent opposing polital (tribal) viewpoints. Is that an “oligopoly?” No. The other papers just aren’t very good.

    Trump is just bummed that he’s not winning. Moreover, Trump advocates suppressing speech he does not like.

  147. Posted October 17, 2016 at 12:19 am | Permalink

    I definitely do not think the United States are “unlivable.” That is probably an exaggeration. Yes, of course, some things can be improved, but in the end, Americans, even poor Americans, have an incredibly high standard of living.

    Of course, liberal Americans like to fetishize Europe, and they are free to do so, but given the choice, even as a poor American, I would choose to live in the States. It is a better life, in my opinion. I found Europe quite stifling and backward. Japan is another matter.

    Regardless, comparing Europe and the States is like apples and oranges. Most of the world will never be able to live as well as Americans, not to say that all of those people are living in a war torn hell, but that Americans truly don’t appreciate how good they really have it.

    And not just in terms of material goods.

    That statement will incense people, and that’s ok, but when you’ve been a lot of places in the world, your outlook on things begins to change radically.

    Americans love to complain and whine. Whining and complaining is necessary in a democracy. The truth is, however, that most Americans have nothing to compare their situation with, outside of fairy tales passed down from their elders. We have it quite good.

    I know that makes me an asshole but, given my set of experiences, I can’t simply follow a predesigned political narrative and that had always put me at odds with people. Most folks passionate about politics demand strict adherence to the accepted political narrative (see Bernard Sanders primary bid. Talk about mono-think.)

    I will shut up since I am wrong.

  148. Posted October 17, 2016 at 12:58 am | Permalink

    I apologize for not taking a total dystopian, doom and gloom view of the United States. That will surely offend people and I’m sorry. People will view any positivity as excusing the wrongs of the US. In the past, when I have expressed positivity about the States, I have been called a racist, a classist, a Republican and an idiot, with equal frequency.

    The greatest damage of Trump (and to a lesser extent Sanders) is that he has legitimized an unfairly negative caricature of the US, to the point that they encourage the need to authoritarian solutions, which will only create new problems. It is disappointing that so conservative people feel validated by these extreme images, but discouraging that supposedly educated people buy into them (Sanders).

    My view is unpopular, and I admit that I am intellectually challenged and generally unpleasant, so, of course, my opinions are invalid. There are many people smarter than me, or at least smart enough to be able to have a forum outside of a blog from a tiny Midwestern town.

  149. Posted October 17, 2016 at 2:16 am | Permalink

    I found this:

    “In the aftermath of the loss of his first race for office, in 1964, Mr. Bush wrote a heartfelt letter to an old friend: “This mean humorless philosophy which says everybody should agree on absolutely everything is not good.” He continued, “When the word moderation becomes a dirty word we have some soul searching to do.”

    in an NYT article abou tGHW Bush. I think it is appropriate.

    Again, I am a shithead, simply copying and pasting crap I see on the internet. Anybody can do that. So I apologize.

  150. Jean Henry
    Posted October 17, 2016 at 5:50 am | Permalink

    Alan: Re: “Many of our most wealthy citizens make it their life’s work to address global poverty.”
    Name one.
    No, not Bill Gates. He is not addressing global poverty. He is addressing developing world health issues, not poverty.”

    Almost all of the largest family foundations address global poverty or the manifestations of it. https://www.fundsforngos.org/foundation-funds-for-ngos/worlds-top-ten-wealthiest-charitable-foundations/ The Gates foundation does more than global health. Please check out their scope of work. (not that global health initiatives dont help address global poverty.) The Clinton foundation doesn’t come close to making the top 10, but do good work on issues of poverty. (yeah, I opened that can of worms. It’s a great foundation.)

    Your robots projection is another manifestation of your fixed pie/scarcity mentality. It’s absurd. Jobs change. Most of us don’t work the same way our parent’s did, much less our great grandparents. But we still work. There’s always work to do. Many wish there were less.
    https://techcrunch.com/2016/05/13/robots-wont-just-take-jobs-theyll-create-them/

    Much of the bellyaching about income inequality has to do with the belief many Americans have that they deserved and can expect constant upward mobility. The only group shown not to have that as an expectation are African Americans. Because that is usually how it works out. I have some empathy for millennials who were fed a fantasy of constant upward trajectory and self-actualization. “You can do or be ANYTHING! if you just work hard enough and tick off these boxes.” Yeah, no. We cant get enough of talking about how many young Americans need live with their parents for a while in their 20’s, when that is just standard, and always has been, globally– even in Europe and other developed nations. We’re rich. We want to stay rich. And that’s a big part of why we are global assholes. But it’s not just the wealthy who are greedy. We are over consumers and under-payers and we are under taxed across the board and we are loaded up with debt from buy cheap shit made in poor places and educations we didn’t necessarily need at top dollar Universities v Community colleges and we want to blame someone– why not the people richer than we are? I’ll believe we care about global warming and the poor when we stop buying so much crap and complaining about taxes while saying we don’t have enough. Until then, I’m not prepared to say the wealthy in the US are any more greedy than the rest of us.

    I support any number of measures to address inequality– but I don’t think we will address poverty until we talk about it as a separate but related issue. I think we like to assume we are doing all we can. Or addressing inequality will fix it. And we are not.

  151. Posted October 17, 2016 at 7:31 am | Permalink

    “Alan: Re: “Many of our most wealthy citizens make it their life’s work to address global poverty.”
    Name one.
    No, not Bill Gates. He is not addressing global poverty. He is addressing developing world health issues, not poverty.””

    I am afraid the writer needs to do some research. He doesn’t even seem to know a whole lot about Gates.

  152. Jean Henry
    Posted October 17, 2016 at 9:06 am | Permalink

    Remember when the tech boom was going to bring about the 10 or 15 hour work week? We were all going to work remotely and plug into work in between weekday snowboarding and rock climbing and mountain biking jaunts. Money would be irrelevant. We could live off the sharing economy. to not buy into that preferred future showed a failure of imagination. I lived in CA in the mid 90’s when that fantasy was prominent. It was largely early middle aged white men who tried to pull it off. Most had trust funds. And lots of young people working 80 hours beneath them. They would trade free housing or air fare (really air miles) or car use to people offering them services and spiritual or other guidance, but not pay those people. Even those privileged few could not maintain the lifestyle and now work a solid 40 hour + week. It seemed like such a swell idea… The end of money is an idea only peddled by people with money. The end of work is an idea only peddled by people with privilege. Interesting that the new version of ‘the end of work’ is dystopian. Not sure which is better– to assume only predatory practices and impact or to deny any.

  153. alan2102
    Posted October 17, 2016 at 9:34 am | Permalink

    Jean: “Your robots projection is another manifestation of your fixed pie/scarcity mentality.”

    You mean the fixed pie/scarcity mentality that wrote these words? — Alan: “robotics will also increase human health, wealth and economic well-being.” I don’t know how to be more clear than that. Could you make a suggestion as to how I could be more clear?

    However, it is also true that neither robots, nor anything else foreseeable in the immediate or mid-term future, is a solution to the environmental problems caused by continual growth. Yes, robotics and other technologies will make more stuff with less toil, but we still have a serious structural problem with respect to the environmental impact of both production and consumption. Unqualified growth is not the solution.

    Peter’s “zero-sum game”, rooted in what you might call a “fixed pie/scarcity mentality”,
    is correct at any given moment in time. This is an unarguable truth. At any frozen moment in time, there is only so much of everything: money, resources, and so on. The escape from the zero-sum game is prospective: to GROW, to create more. We’ve done that for a long time, and it has indeed lifted all boats to some extent. But then we are faced with the environmental problems of continual growth given the current physical economy/structure . The developed world emits far more CO2, per capita, than its rightful share; the U.S. is especially remiss. And that is just one aspect of the environmental and resource stress caused by continual growth. For several reasons, the call for more growth — unqualified — is problematic, and potentially globally suicidal.

    Hence, Peter’s point that wealth is not a zero-sum game is correct, but it ignores the elephant-in-the-room reality of the environmental limits to growth, at least for the foreseeable future. In the distant future it is possible, by way of great technical advances, that these limits will be lifted or modified; perhaps in century. But for now, they cannot be ignored.

    We all have to adopt something of a “fixed pie/scarcity mentality”, and accept the (partial) zero-sum nature of things, if we want to have a shot at a decent future and a livable planet. It is called “living within our means”, an old axiom.

    Apart from environmental destruction, continual growth has other problems which I won’t get into here; just wanted to mention it. You can learn more at the links below, or similar ones.

    http://clubfordegrowth.org — “Degrowth is an essential economic strategy to pursue in overdeveloped countries like the United States–for the well-being of the planet, of underdeveloped populations, and, yes, even of the sick, stressed, and overweight “consumer” populations of overdeveloped countries.”

    http://steadystate.org — “Perpetual economic growth is neither possible nor desirable. Growth, especially in wealthy nations, is already causing more problems than it solves. Recession isn’t sustainable or healthy either. The positive, sustainable alternative is a steady state economy”

    http://vocabulary.degrowth.org — “We live in an era of stagnation, rapid impoverishment, rising inequalities and socio-ecological disasters. In the dominant discourse, these are effects of economic crisis, lack of growth or underdevelopment. This book argues that growth is the cause of these problems and that it has become uneconomic, ecologically unsustainable and intrinsically unjust.”

  154. alan2102
    Posted October 17, 2016 at 9:40 am | Permalink

    Peter: “I am afraid the writer needs to do some research. He doesn’t even seem to know a whole lot about Gates.”

    I know a few things. I’ve been on the B&MGates Foundation email list for many years; I actually wrote a proposal to them, years ago (it was rejected). Their focus, overwhelmingly, is health: nutrition, sanitation, vaccines, etc., etc. This is where virtually all of their grant money goes. They also have some activity in the agricultural sphere and a few other things. They talk (a little bit) about combating poverty, but I don’t see anything substantive going on in that sphere. Maybe I am wrong, but that is what I am seeing.

  155. Posted October 17, 2016 at 9:47 am | Permalink

    Well, your information may simply be out of date, or simply due the type of mailing list you are on, but the first part of your statement about wealthy people not doing anything about global poverty is simply wrong, I am sad to say.

  156. Posted October 17, 2016 at 9:48 am | Permalink

    I am not to be considered at all knowledgeable about anything, however.

    I am an ignorant fool.

  157. Jcp2
    Posted October 17, 2016 at 9:49 am | Permalink

    People like to trade something that they have for something that they want. Money makes those trades easier to do. Even in places where money has no meaning through government decree, an unofficial market will spring to life, with a generally accepted currency of exchange to serve as a proxy for economic worth. Prisons are one example. North Korea is another.

  158. alan2102
    Posted October 17, 2016 at 9:49 am | Permalink

    Jean: “Remember when the tech boom was going to bring about the 10 or 15 hour work week?”

    Yes, and it could easily have happened, if wealth had been distributed sanely. Instead, all the wealth — the benefits of the huge productivity increases of the last several decades — was sucked-up by the uppers. Ain’t capitalism grand?

    Our society is way rich enough to allow everyone to work 10-15 hour weeks and live comfortably. But we’ve organized things in such a way that the wealth funnels to the top, rather than being distributed widely.

  159. alan2102
    Posted October 17, 2016 at 10:00 am | Permalink

    Peter: “your statement about wealthy people not doing anything about global poverty is simply wrong”

    I did not say that wealthy people are not doing anything about global poverty. I said: “name one”. Literally. Name ONE. I want to see some examples. There probably ARE some wealthy people who are doing something in this area; so let’s see it. Are there a lot of them? Do they have a serious commitment? Let’s examine it, shall we?

    Unfortunately, the link that Jean gave gives almost no information about this. It is basically a list of big foundations with brief descriptions; very little about poverty. But here again, I am not saying y’all are wrong; I’m just asking for some evidence. I am prepared to be delighted by compelling evidence of a vast outpouring of philanthropic enthusiasm for fighting poverty.

  160. Posted October 17, 2016 at 10:01 am | Permalink

    “Our society is way rich enough to allow everyone to work 10-15 hour weeks and live comfortably.”

    In what way? Economies (and wealth) aren’t static. We saw wealth dry up during the financial crash, we could assume that is every single worker dropped to 10-15 hours a week, that productivity would drop rapidly, particularly in service industries. Sure, we could import more labor to make up for the short falls in dropping the number of service workers, but then we’d have an oversupply of people that require public services, straining the entire system.

    I just don’t see how this could work. Would houses only be built for 10 hours a week? Would my electrician only work ten hours a week? Teachers? Hospital workers? It would take a long time to get anything at all done.

    While teachers and hospitals are obvious problems, construction would run at such a slow place that productivity would drop immensely, causing the entire market to crash.

    I have a staff of nearly 60. If I dropped them to 10 hours a week, this project couldn not function. I could hire more people, but I don’t have the money. I would have to have four times as many people to do the job, that’s four times the salaries. The project would die and no one would be employed.

    I remember when these ideas were being floated, but I was never sure who they intended to only work 10 hours a week.

  161. Posted October 17, 2016 at 10:03 am | Permalink

    But I am an asshole. I will die soon.

  162. Posted October 17, 2016 at 10:04 am | Permalink

    “I did not say that wealthy people are not doing anything about global poverty. I said: “name one”. Literally. Name ONE. ”

    Well, then, what was your point? That the readership of this site can’t name anyone except Bill Gates?

    Odd.

  163. alan2102
    Posted October 17, 2016 at 10:18 am | Permalink

    Jean: “We’re rich. We want to stay rich. And that’s a big part of why we are global assholes. But it’s not just the wealthy who are greedy. We are over consumers and under-payers and we are under taxed across the board and we are loaded up with debt from buy cheap shit made in poor places and educations we didn’t necessarily need at top dollar Universities v Community colleges and we want to blame someone– why not the people richer than we are? I’ll believe we care about global warming and the poor when we stop buying so much crap and complaining about taxes while saying we don’t have enough. Until then, I’m not prepared to say the wealthy in the US are any more greedy than the rest of us.”

    VERY GOOD POINTS, JEAN.

    There is of course the global context, which itself has several spheres, including environmental, socio-economic, etc. Americans surely are spoiled bastards, generally, though this does not mean that we do not have serious class-related (inquality) problems within the country that ought to be addressed. It is a big complex ball of wax with multiple levels, multiple spheres, multiple angles of view, multiple conflicting priorities, mujltiple interests and values. It can be dizzying.

  164. alan2102
    Posted October 17, 2016 at 10:21 am | Permalink

    Peter: “But I am an asshole. I will die soon.”

    OK, enough with the bull-horned hyper-self-deprecation. Unless that is a truly indispensable part of your online persona.

  165. alan2102
    Posted October 17, 2016 at 10:23 am | Permalink

    Peter: “Well, then, what was your point? That the readership of this site can’t name anyone except Bill Gates?”

    ?

    We were discussing the commitment (or lack thereof) of rich people to the issue of global poverty. My questions were part of that discussion. I don’t understand YOUR point.

  166. Posted October 17, 2016 at 10:32 am | Permalink

    I assume that you are more intelligent than I am, given that you make statements with confidence and appear to have researched them thoroughly.

    I will simply have to assume that your statement asking us to name a wealthy proponent of global poverty has some greater meaning that I do not have the capacity to understand.

    I am quite limited in my ability to understand many things. I am sorry.

  167. Posted October 17, 2016 at 10:55 am | Permalink

    “Americans surely are spoiled bastards.”

    This seems to contradict of the arguments on this site, which suggest that Americans have it particularly hard due to forces beyond their control.

  168. Westside
    Posted October 17, 2016 at 10:56 am | Permalink

    http://borgenproject.org/hillary-clinton-and-the-us-fight-against-global-poverty/

    Hillary Clinton is rich and has always addressed global poverty. I’m sure she’ll do a lot more once she’s elected president.

    I was talking to someone about this thread at Argus this morning and they suggested a book called White Trash. I think I’ll walk up to the book store and get it this afternoon when the kids get out of school. It is a beautiful day!

    Where is the intervention that was promised? Do we really have to remind you?

  169. alan2102
    Posted October 17, 2016 at 10:57 am | Permalink

    Alan: “Our society is way rich enough to allow everyone to work 10-15 hour weeks and live comfortably.”

    Peter: “I just don’t see how this could work. Would houses only be built for 10 hours a week? Would my electrician only work ten hours a week? Teachers? Hospital workers? It would take a long time to get anything at all done.”

    It is already working. Houses are already being built for 10 hours a week, or 15. The average person in the U.S. only works 15 hours per week, approximately. The problem is distribution — of both work, and pay for work (i.e. distribution of the fruits of work). And I am ignoring the vast amount of useless paper-shuffling and related FIRE economy crap that (if eliminated) would further reduce the number of hours, a lot.

    There is abundant evidence that people are more productive, more effective, and happier with shorter work weeks. And there is without question plenty of wealth (real goods) to go around; hell, there is a huge backlog of unsold goods, waiting to be used. We’re drowning in manufactured goods, and housing is in a glut in most places (albeit with exceptions). The 40-hour week is a relic, many decades past its sell-by date.

    Productivity has increased phenomenally. What has not increased is sane distribution of the fruits, as well as the hours of work itself (i.e. hours of work too concentrated in 40-hour-per-week jobs). All the wealth (fruits) got funneled to the top. The statistics are clear on this.

    http://climateandcapitalism.com/2009/05/31/whats-wrong-with-a-30-hour-work-week/
    “there is something problematic with advocating a 30-hour work week at the beginning of the 21st century: a 30 hour week is not short enough! There is mushrooming unemployment amidst mountains of useless products. An hour of labor now produces more goods than has ever been the case in the history of humanity. Combining these means that there is no reason for anyone to work more than 20 hours per week.”

  170. Posted October 17, 2016 at 10:58 am | Permalink

    The William Davidson Institute is located at the University of Michigan.

  171. Posted October 17, 2016 at 10:59 am | Permalink

    One can only assume that Mr. 2012 was withholding that information with the hopes that one of us might mention it.

  172. Posted October 17, 2016 at 11:06 am | Permalink

    That does not seem to be the case, that workers are working only 15 hours a week, at least according to the data.

    http://www.bls.gov/news.release/empsit.t18.htm

  173. Posted October 17, 2016 at 11:07 am | Permalink

    I only care about anecdotes, though.

  174. alan2102
    Posted October 17, 2016 at 11:07 am | Permalink

    From the above (climateandcapitalism.com) article, reference #25 is good:

    http://www.context.org/iclib/ic37/smith/
    “many authorities…describe [massive] waste and inefficiency in insurance, law, farming, communications, medicine, defense, and other sectors of the economy. The people employed within these industries are working industriously at jobs where well over 50 percent of their labor is expended unnecessarily. Yet these people are not malingering. They are performing what they believe to be productive and socially necessary tasks. This distribution of social production through unnecessary labor is the consequence of a now-integrated system that has evolved slowly over time; I call it a waste distribution system.
    snip
    Through efficiency of technology, the industrial labor force is rapidly decreasing (witness the promised reduction of railroad employees from 1.3 million to 100,000 while freight tonnage doubles). When labor is cut from a production process, the share of production once claimed by this labor is then claimed by the owners of capital.
    Typically, a portion of that production is then claimed by nonproductive labor, such as lawyers, brokers, public relations companies and so on. As the productive labor force contracts, this non-productive segment expands.”

    A system of massive waste, as well as massive expropriation of wealth.

    “… the share of production once claimed by this labor IS THEN CLAIMED BY THE OWNERS OF CAPITAL.” Check.

  175. Posted October 17, 2016 at 11:13 am | Permalink

    I can tell you subscribe to a particular political ideology that you are very passionate about.

  176. Jean Henry
    Posted October 17, 2016 at 11:25 am | Permalink

    I keep trying to leave, but more absurdities keep being said.
    Alan! Dude. Seriously. It’s not a fixed pie.
    Yes we live on a planet with that is self-limited in resources. And that planet is signaling to us (strongly) that the established human pattern of extraction and disposal is not sustainable. Yes.

    But not all growth in production is on the extraction and dispose model. Some production and even economic activity is sustainable– meaning it’s generative not solely extracting. Renewable energy is regenerative. The damn water cycle is regenerative if we don’t fuck it up. (Amazing how we talk about limiting water use instead of preventing water pollution really) Some human activities that improve well being are also more regenerative than extracting.

    It’s not a fixed pie that can only be consumed. It’s a fixed pie that can be remade ad infinitum into more pies. That is the model nature presents to us. Human beings can survive and thrive, if we re-work how we do things. Some of that is a reduction in consumption, but not most of it. That’s not enough. Adaptation does not require an overall reduction in wealth or human well-being. Quite the opposite.

    In the past, faced with constrictions of many kinds, humans have innovated themselves out of that bind and into new ways of being. We are creatures who, given enough impetus, adapt quickly.

    That impetus is here. And we have to move quickly. We both see that. You would like government to restrict economic activity and simply redistribute resources. I believe that some of that is absolutely necessary. No one questions that. But it’s not the answer if those people simply use and extract resources too. Yep Im at ‘teach a man to fish… ‘

    I trust the markets to move faster than government to address the climate challenge (or almost any challenge). Because that’s what I’ve observed to work. Those big ugly corporations at least have climate action plans they are trying to implement. Our government cant manage that. I dont care how many climate marches there are; democratic governments don;t move fast enough. Markets profit from technological disruption. So that helps. We need technological disruption. Why? Because humans are really bad at changing their personal behavior patterns until some bright shiny new technology emerges. And I’d rather have a bright shiny new thing alter human behavior than the dictates of the state. (But I’m ok with the state (via the people) reasonably regulating the behavior of the makers of the shiny new thing.)

    Fundamental to the scarcity model you propose Alan is the hoarding response. I see that apparent in all forms of protectionism. Globalism isn’t a choice anymore. Our fate is global. I hope we stop resisting change and figure this out in time.

    I’m feverish and this likely makes no sense to anyone. Alan, you threw the ball way out to left field. But it’s a field, I worked in and studied for a long time. My conclusions came from observation, not political inclination. They surprised me. I don’t believe the system change we need is purely political any more. Or at least, I’m not prepared to wait around for it.

  177. alan2102
    Posted October 17, 2016 at 11:29 am | Permalink

    Peter: “one can only assume that Mr. 2012 was withholding that information”

    ?

    What information?

    Peter: “[it] does not seem to be the case that workers are working only 15 hours a week, at least according to the data.”

    If you take all the full-time jobs and average them out over the whole population, it comes to around 15 hours per week. Give or take. Maybe 20 hours per week would be a better figure, leaving out the very young and very old, etc. And that of course ignores the massive waste, the unnecessary work, which would bring the real figure (number of hours required to provide for everone’s real need) down to ~10 hours, 15 at the most.

    Productivity gains over the last 50 years have been fantastic. But most of the wealth got funneled to the top, plus new armies of workers doing unnecessary waste-work were created.

  178. alan2102
    Posted October 17, 2016 at 11:46 am | Permalink

    Jean: “not all growth in production is on the extraction and dispose model. Some production and even economic activity is sustainable– meaning it’s generative not solely extracting.”

    True. Not all is extractive, but most of it is, at this moment in time. That will change. It is already changing, but slowly. Generationally. We have to work from where we are at right now.

    Jean: “Some human activities that improve well being are also more regenerative than extracting.”

    Yes, of course. Nothing I said suggested otherwise.

    Jean: “It’s not a fixed pie that can only be consumed. It’s a fixed pie that can be remade ad infinitum into more pies.”

    OVER TIME, yes, all of that is possible. But we have to work from where we are at right now. At this moment in time, we have an overconsumption problem what will not be (probably will not be, if we believe the climate scientists) resolved fast enough by technical advances. That’s not the same as saying “we have a fixed pie forever! austerity now and forever! dreary deprivation now and forever!”, as you seem to be interpreting my words. But that’s not what I think. I think we have to deal from the reality of where we are at right now, even as we look ahead (a half-century, a full century) to a day when technical advances have resolved most of the problems.

    Jean: “Human beings can survive and thrive, if we re-work how we do things. Some of that is a reduction in consumption”

    YES.

    Jean: ” but not most of it. That’s not enough.”

    No, it is not enough, but it is essential. Again, if we believe the climate scientists. If we do NOT believe them, then what the hell… let’s just continue the orgy of consumption.

    Jean: “adaptation does not require an overall reduction in wealth or human well-being.”

    YES. Especially the well-being part. We can improve well-being greatly while cutting consumption.

    You might want to read my posts twice, with an interval in between, before responding. We really don’t disagree much. You seem to be imagining that I am saying things that I am not saying.

  179. alan2102
    Posted October 17, 2016 at 11:55 am | Permalink

    “I can tell you subscribe to a particular political ideology that you are very passionate about.”

    YES, comrade Larson! On to a glorious revolution, and the dazzling new worker’s paradise — the United Soviet Socialist States of America (USSSA)!

  180. alan2102
    Posted October 17, 2016 at 12:12 pm | Permalink

    Jean: “I trust the markets to move faster than government to address the climate challenge (or almost any challenge). Because that’s what I’ve observed to work.”

    You are correct in some respects. Advances in renewable energy have moved very fast, with only modest policy (governmental) intervention. But policy can and should change. If things were put on a true cost basis, (only possible through governmental intervention, at this point), the transition to renewables could be much faster.

    Jean: “Those big ugly corporations at least have climate action plans they are trying to implement.”

    They don’t have much in the way of climate action plans, but they are good at pursuing profits, and sometimes the pursuit of profits corresponds to what needs to be done (e.g. the renewables buildout). I applaud that, as far as it goes.

    Jean: “I dont care how many climate marches there are; democratic governments don;t move fast enough. Markets profit from technological disruption. So that helps. We need technological disruption.”

    Yes, of course.

    Jean: “humans are really bad at changing their personal behavior patterns until some bright shiny new technology emerges.”

    All too true. I guess it boils down to how seriously you take the climate scientists. If you take them seriously, then personal behavior patterns must change to at least some extent, to avoid disaster if not catastrophe. If you don’t take them seriously, then it does not matter; might as well wait for the bright shiny new technology.

    I’ve been following the (lively) discussion on realclimate.org for a few years. It is helpful. You might be surprised to learn that I actually argue for your points with certain others on that forum who (I think) place too much emphasis on personal behavior change. You can’t expect people to drastically simplify, or drastically anything. It is not realistic. On the other hand, SOME change seems to be essential. Difficult problem, indeed.

  181. Jean Henry
    Posted October 17, 2016 at 12:14 pm | Permalink

    “I can tell you subscribe to a particular political ideology that you are very passionate about.” — yep. If only everyone would get with the progrom– er program.

    Alan is certain. Pete is uncertain. Jean is uncertain.∴ Alan must be right

    It’s true that it’s much easier to be or appear to be ‘right’ within a rigid ideology and to come up with solutions that make total sense within a fixed reality or a fixed pie. Being right is very appealing.

    It just have never seen any of those pat solutions work out as intended. Human behavior is not rational; it’s reactive, or, more kindly, responsive. I wish the answers were easy. Human beings gravitate to simple massages and simple solutions– This presidential election shows that. We all want a silver bullet. There is no silver bullet.

    With all our capacity for reason, we are still the only animals on the planet likely to extinguish ourselves. Reason may just be heightened capacity for self-delusion.

    It was fun (if self-indulgent) coming back here for a bit. It resembled discourse in the end, once insults (Pete’s self-assaults excepted) faded away. So maybe it sort of ties out to the intention of the original post in a round about way. Even without Mark intervening. Or mayeb we just wore out the audience.

    I know you want solutions to human suffering, Alan. I think most people do, no matter their political orientation. I just think answers developed in a political vacuum don’t work. And no, I don’t have a better answer. Not by myself anyway.

    I’m going for a meditative walk now to empty polluted thoughts. Cheers all. Keep up the good work Mark. I mean that.

  182. Jean Henry
    Posted October 17, 2016 at 12:15 pm | Permalink

    ‘massages’ was a typo, but people do gravitate to simple massages as well as messages.

  183. Posted October 17, 2016 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

    “If you take all the full-time jobs and average them out over the whole population, it comes to around 15 hours per week.”

    That sounds like forced labor.

  184. Posted October 17, 2016 at 12:18 pm | Permalink

    Mr. 2012 seems to be extremely knowledgeable and I am not.

    I am hesitant to doubt him given his passion for the subject.

  185. Posted October 17, 2016 at 12:19 pm | Permalink

    “I know you want solutions to human suffering,”

    Apparently, through forced labor.

  186. Lynne
    Posted October 17, 2016 at 12:20 pm | Permalink

    FWIW, for those who say that we have weathered technological advances in the past, I have to ask, have we? I think that the wage stagnation we have seen in the last 30 years is a result of technology. It is better communications and things like container ship technology that has allowed manufacturing to move from high cost labor areas to low cost labor areas. Add into it all the technology that directly replaces jobs, and you have problems. Income inequality being one of them and we are already seeing it. The technology tends to create better paying jobs but fewer of them and that tends to lead to a hollowing out of the middle class with both the upper class and the poverty class growing. We are going to have to think of something to do about poverty but in the context of a shrinking labor market.

    So why aren’t we working 10-15 hours a week as predicted? We could be. We probably should be. But we tend to put a lot of our identity into our work. We also have an arbitrary 40 hour work week and consider anything less to be “part time”. Tying health care to employment hurts in this area too. Most people in non-service jobs are probably already working around 10-15 hours a week even if they spend 40+ in the office. People consider working hard to be a virtue and managers often tend to evaluate employees based on superficial metrics like how many hours they are in the office over less easy to obtain metrics like the actual amount of work that gets done. That is why you have people putting in face time at the office without actually working. They get to both impress the boss and impress all their friends by exclaiming, “Oh, I am soooooo busy!” to their friends. In past jobs, I have even been known to deliberately stay late to put on a show for the boss even while being too burned out to do much actual work and in that environment, others did too. Every once in a while, I used to wonder to myself how much more would get done if people weren’t putting so much energy into pretending to work.

    At any rate, it is that desire to work hard that is the single biggest hurdle to a basic income and I get it. Working hard *is* a virtue but what are we going to do as technology changes the labor market? What are we going to do when we have more workers than jobs. What we do now, which is to call the poor the lazy and pretend that there are jobs for them when there really aren’t, doesn’t seem adequate.

  187. alan2102
    Posted October 17, 2016 at 12:28 pm | Permalink

    Alan: “Americans surely are spoiled bastards.”
    Peter: “This seems to contradict the arguments on this site, which suggest that Americans have it particularly hard due to forces beyond their control.”

    No one said that Americans “have it particularly hard”. In relative terms, globally, they have it particularly easy. But nevertheless there are gross inequality problems in America, and some Americans (quite a few; scores of millions) live rather crappy lives, and this is wholly unnecessary. At the same time, a great many Americans really are spoiled bastards.

    What a mess!

    This whole discussion (and indeed the whole world, the global problematique) is a big complex ball of wax with multiple levels, multiple spheres, multiple angles of view, multiple conflicting priorities, multiple interests and values. It can be dizzying.

    The world is altogether too complex. I want to be able to reduce everything to a few simple comforting generalizations, and let it go at that.

  188. Jean Henry
    Posted October 17, 2016 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

    Alan– I would ask you to re-read my posts as well. You aren’t seeing the critical difference

    You keep going back to the extract and dispose model as the only one possible. Even though you say otherwise.

    We don’t have time for generational shifts. I believe we change the extract/dispose model more quickly than we can limit consumption.

    You seem to conflate economic consumption of any kind with resource consumption. They are not inherently the same thing. Renewable energy consumption does not consume resources.

    fixed pie.

    Maybe Pete and I were wrong to see your points as ideologically driven. I hope so. If you look at where we have made progress on climate action, it is via new technologies. Human economic production/consumption globally and domestically has only increased. But still we did briefly though reduce domestic GHG emissions. Some countries did so brilliantly. Via technology. And market forces mostly.

  189. Lynne
    Posted October 17, 2016 at 12:32 pm | Permalink

    On a side note: My brother, who works for the GAO, just got back from Malawi and Guatemala where he has been evaluating anti-poverty programs funded by the US government. It will be interesting to read his report in the context of this discussion for sure!

  190. alan2102
    Posted October 17, 2016 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

    Peter: “Mr. 2012 seems to be extremely knowledgeable and I am not.”

    It is all faked. I am just faking it. I’ll teach you how, if you like.

  191. Posted October 17, 2016 at 12:42 pm | Permalink

    I love Malawi. A great, but troubled place.

    “This whole discussion (and indeed the whole world, the global problematique) is a big complex ball of wax with multiple levels, multiple spheres, multiple angles of view, multiple conflicting priorities, multiple interests and values. It can be dizzying.”

    In my experience (which apparently doesn’t mean a whole lot), everything is.

    Although my experience is limited and I am intellectually deficient, I am having doubts about Mr. 2012’s familiarity with the topic outside of ideological platitudes.

  192. Jean Henry
    Posted October 17, 2016 at 12:43 pm | Permalink

    Yes Lynne, we are better off now than we were 30 years ago. At least if you consider all people (globally) equal, and not some more equal than others. Globally human beings outside of war zones are doing much better than they were 30 years ago. The global poverty rate has been cut in half in 20 years (as per the Economist/World Bank) US wage stagnation is a problem that is solving itself right now. Wait for it…

    I have no interest in any solution that preferences US workers over anyone else. There are other answers.

  193. alan2102
    Posted October 17, 2016 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

    Lynne: “The technology tends to create better paying jobs but fewer of them and that tends to lead to a hollowing out of the middle class with both the upper class and the poverty class growing.”

    Is the technology to blame? Or is it the distributional structure, the economic system?

    Lynne: “So why aren’t we working 10-15 hours a week as predicted? We could be. We probably should be.”

    Yes, could and should. But that would require a sane, human-centered economic system.

    Lynne: “managers often tend to evaluate employees based on superficial metrics like how many hours they are in the office over less easy to obtain metrics like the actual amount of work that gets done. That is why you have people putting in face time at the office without actually working.”

    This is another huge problem that I did not mention, which further impacts the hours-per-week estimates. There is empirical work showing exactly what you just said: that the actual work getting done in supposed 40-hour weeks is often 20 hours or even less. Add that to all the other factors, and my estimate of 10-15 hours per week as the actual needed amount, to provide everything for everyone in an advanced OECD type country, is probably considerably too high.

    Lynne: “What are we going to do when we have more workers than jobs. What we do now, which is to call the poor the lazy and pretend that there are jobs for them when there really aren’t, doesn’t seem adequate.”

    You’re being too kind. It is not only inadequate, it is mean and misanthropic.

  194. alan2102
    Posted October 17, 2016 at 12:56 pm | Permalink

    “I am having doubts about Mr. 2012’s familiarity with the topic outside of ideological platitudes.”

    As I said, comrade Larson, it is all faked. Ideological platitudes are an important part of the fakery.

  195. alan2102
    Posted October 17, 2016 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

    Jean: “You keep going back to the extract and dispose model as the only one possible. Even though you say otherwise.”

    I don’t think I could have written any clearer than I did, Jean. I spoke of how extractivity still prevails at this moment in time, but that it is changing. I certainly never said anything like extraction/disposal is the ONLY model possible! I explicitly said otherwise. I can’t be any clearer, really, so I’ll have to just let it go.

    Jean: “We don’t have time for generational shifts.”

    That’s the point that the climate scientists are making. Do we believe them?

    Without more policy (governmental) incentives, the renewables buildout will take quite some decades (like, a generation or two). Do we have that time? How seriously do we take the climate scientists? Serious questions.

    Jean: “You seem to conflate economic consumption of any kind with resource consumption.”

    I do?! Again, I could not have expressed myself more clearly, so I’ll have to let it go.

    Jean: “Renewable energy consumption does not consume resources.”

    That’s why I am a renewables fan, and that is why I highlighted the renewables buildout in the post to which you are responding. And you think I disagree? Why?

    Jean: “we did briefly though reduce domestic GHG emissions. Some countries did so brilliantly. Via technology. And market forces mostly.”

    Yes, China has been doing a great job in some respects. However, note well that it cannot all be ascribed to technology and market forces. The Chinese government plays a huge role in planning, financing, incentivizing, and so forth.

    We need it ALL: more technology, more smart policy guiding markets, more moderation in consumption patterns. ALL. (Note to Jean: did you see the phrase “MORE TECHNOLOGY” at the beginning of that sentence? Let me repeat: WE NEED MORE TECHNOLOGY. ALAN SAYS WE NEED MORE TECHNOLOGY. All righty then.)

  196. Posted October 17, 2016 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

    “This is another huge problem that I did not mention, which further impacts the hours-per-week estimates. There is empirical work showing exactly what you just said: that the actual work getting done in supposed 40-hour weeks is often 20 hours or even less. Add that to all the other factors, and my estimate of 10-15 hours per week as the actual needed amount, to provide everything for everyone in an advanced OECD type country, is probably considerably too high.”

    Yes, forced labor to distribute work throughout the “population” and micromanagement by government to insure that businesses are truly efficient.

    Outside of government coercion, it is unclear as to how this would become a reality over all types of professions, particularly non-manufacturing jobs.

  197. Jean Henry
    Posted October 17, 2016 at 1:14 pm | Permalink

    How much labor, all kinds, does it take to change the way we fuel, produce and distribute everything?

    Plenty.

    There will be no 10 hour work weeks anytime soon. Unless humanity wants to perish from benign neglect.

    The robots are terrible at system design.

  198. Posted October 17, 2016 at 1:14 pm | Permalink

    “Yes, China has been doing a great job in some respects. However, note well that it cannot all be ascribed to technology and market forces. The Chinese government plays a huge role in planning, financing, incentivizing, and so forth.”

    Now China is a model for the United States. Authoritarianism is quite popular in the United States.

  199. Posted October 17, 2016 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

    Mr. 2012 is interesting. He seems to see the solutions to complex problems as simply having to do with a strong government. If government would just clamp down on business and individuals, our problems would be solved.

    The problem with this thinking should be obvious. but it is an unrealistic trap that many people fall into.

  200. alan2102
    Posted October 17, 2016 at 1:22 pm | Permalink

    Peter: “That sounds like forced labor.”

    Yes, comrade Larson, forced labor in the gulag system of the new USSSA. An unfortunate necessity. Must break eggs to make an omelette.

  201. alan2102
    Posted October 17, 2016 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

    Libertarians are interesting. They seem to see the solutions to complex problems as simply having to do with letting the market sector overrun the public sector, willy nilly. They think that if we just get big gubmint off our backs, all our problems would be solved. The problem with this thinking should be obvious. but it is an unrealistic trap that many people fall into.

  202. Lynne
    Posted October 17, 2016 at 1:30 pm | Permalink

    “Is the technology to blame? Or is it the distributional structure, the economic system?”

    Both really. Our structure combined with technology is having the results we are seeing now. Since stopping technology would be bad since so many wonderful things come about because of it, that leaves us the option of changing our distributional structure/economic system.

    “Yes, forced labor to distribute work throughout the “population” and micromanagement by government to insure that businesses are truly efficient.

    “Outside of government coercion, it is unclear as to how this would become a reality over all types of professions, particularly non-manufacturing jobs.”

    I am not sure what you mean by forced labor here to be honest. I can think of lots of ways to reduce the number of people in the labor market which don’t involve forcing anyone to labor in a way they would rather not. Here are some ideas for how we could achieve a society were people only work 10-15 hours a week (on average).

    1. The first thing we must do is divorce health care from employment. This is a big impediment to many who would already prefer to work part time.
    2. Adopt a universal basic income sufficient enough for people to choose not to work at all. How to do this without the people who are working not resenting those who aren’t, I am not sure. This would give people huge leverage over employers though in terms of things like working hours and conditions. It should also raise the pay of those who remain employed. Also good for employers since the truly lazy will self select themselves out of the labor market. Also those who want to have a parent at home with young children and those who need to do elder care. I could see this being huge for musicians and artists as they would be able to do their “work” without the need for an outside income. I also wonder if this might foster some entrepreneurship. Who knows what innovations we are missing out on because someone has to work 2 jobs at minimum wage to feed their family and can’t afford to quit to take the time to pursue whatever great idea they have.
    3. as a step on the way to #2 (since our country is so not ready for this), we could eliminate the cap on social security taxes and use the money to lower the retirement age.
    4. Also as a step on the way to #2, we can get young people out of the labor force by giving them free college or perhaps offer them a tour in a program like the Peace Corps or the military or some other service program
    5. Change the overtime laws and shorten the workweek for hourly employees although I will note that requiring employers to provide health care for those who work over 32 hours a week seems to have the same effect.

  203. alan2102
    Posted October 17, 2016 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

    Peter: “Now China is a model for the United States. Authoritarianism is quite popular in the United States.”

    No way could China in entirety ever be a model for the U.S. Way too different culturally and in other ways. On the other hand, there are things we can learn from them. First, there is a great deal to be learned ABOUT them. I suggest spending a day or two at http://www.inpraiseofchina.com — a long-time (~40 years) China watcher and China resident who writes extensively. Really interesting stuff. Seriously. Try it.

  204. Posted October 17, 2016 at 1:37 pm | Permalink

    I am not a Libertarian.

    As for China. No thanks.

  205. alan2102
    Posted October 17, 2016 at 1:39 pm | Permalink

    Lynne, please STOP. Everyone knows that the only alternative to the present system is Stalinist dictatorship, mass forced labor, genocide and starvation. Further, anyone who disagrees with this is hopelessly mired in pinko ideology. Period. End of conversation.

  206. Posted October 17, 2016 at 1:47 pm | Permalink

    I’m simply unsure of any other way to achieve your goals, except through force. You have no power to implement anything like that, of course, so it is of little concern.

  207. alan2102
    Posted October 17, 2016 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

    Yes, Comrade Larson, force is the only way. Democratic, consensual change is impossible.

  208. Posted October 17, 2016 at 1:57 pm | Permalink

    Not impossible, but incredibly slow.

    Democracy will get in the way of “spreading the work over the population,” however.

  209. Jean Henry
    Posted October 17, 2016 at 2:02 pm | Permalink

    I would like to point out that Pete’s suggestion that the US focus on poverty not income inequality is not exactly a libertarian positions (Alan) nor is it against any form of economic redistribution (Lynne). It simply says the focus on the 99% instead of the 14% in poverty may be effective politically but it’s unlikely to serve the most needy in the end.

    Because that’s how it has worked historically. We didn’t give a shit about the war on drugs until White middle class kids started getting hooked in big numbers.

    But the income inequality narrative is so insistent on its correctness, that it becomes impossible for people to accept any facts that disrupt the narrative. Like, say that Black income and safety and security and health improved during Bill Clinton’s presidency– and that the rate of mass incarceration decreased. No! he instituted welfare reform and the crime bill, so Black well-being as a whole.declined. And it’s his fault. Or hers. The role of the larger economy or other factors are ignored. Only the facts that feed the narrative are allowed. Fixed pie.

    Technology is not going to reduce the need for work. It may reduce the need for manual labor, somewhat. It may make physical labor less taxing on the body and improve the length of time a person is able bodied. But people like to work. When we no longer had to perform many domestic tasks like cooking for ourselves, we managed to make a lifestyle fetish of the chore. So I guess that’s not work anymore, because it’s a choice?? I certainly don’t want the government telling me what my job should be and how many hours I can work or not work. That doesn’t make me a libertarian or anti-labor.

    I once did a task that was supposed to take me a week in 4 hours, because I hated it and had other work that was more important to me. My manager didn’t send me home with the same pay, or allow me to move on to other tasks. He decided that I was gifted at reading policy and tasked me with getting 4 months work done in a week, maybe two. I quit.

    Sometimes people chill out at the office because they are working at warp speed the rest of the time and need a rest. No one lets them go home with pay. No one ever will.

    This is a silly conversation where factors that don’t confirm the inevitability of the preferred future are dismissed.

    It is however a good example of the need for multiple perspectives to weigh in on any political issue.

  210. Posted October 17, 2016 at 2:05 pm | Permalink

    I am in no way a Libertarian.

  211. alan2102
    Posted October 17, 2016 at 2:09 pm | Permalink

    Jean: “This is a silly conversation where factors that don’t confirm the inevitability of the preferred future are dismissed.”

    ?

  212. alan2102
    Posted October 17, 2016 at 2:10 pm | Permalink

    Peter: “I am in no way a Libertarian.”

    Do you have to personalize everything?

  213. alan2102
    Posted October 17, 2016 at 2:13 pm | Permalink

    Jean: “I certainly don’t want the government telling me what my job should be and how many hours I can work or not work.”

    Comrade Jean, you must submit to the will of the people, the dictatorship of the proletariat. All part of the glorious process of building the communist utopia.

  214. Jean Henry
    Posted October 17, 2016 at 2:13 pm | Permalink

    The privilege apparent in this part time work scenario being spun out is really something.

    I’m sorry I brought it up. My point in raising the example was that people doing less labor and maintaining their income level are often doing so at the cost of someone else. (like being able to buy a cheap t-shirt) Whereas if the person higher up is working hard, they can provide greater health and well being for their employees, even while drawing more pay.

    So again your fantasy solution would mostly benefit the well off at sacrifice to the less well off– or culturally marginalized. Which is what usually happens when liberals start talking about lifestyle improvements.

    This is why we need to start with the most marginalized, not the middle class in implementing reforms. They are so easily forgotten.

    That in mind, I propose we close the half the city-owned public parks in Ann Arbor and build affordable housing there. (See how quickly the privileged become greedy?)

  215. Posted October 17, 2016 at 2:13 pm | Permalink

    It was implied that I was a Libertarian. Given that, I am require to defend myself.

  216. Jean Henry
    Posted October 17, 2016 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

    Jean: “This is a silly conversation where factors that don’t confirm the inevitability of the preferred future are dismissed.” Alan: ?

    You are exhibiting confirmation bias re your robot reduced work week mad-hatter vision. Any point that suggests your vision is not strategically sound or may have inverse impacts is dismissed. Or ridiculed.

    The vision is all that matters; not the plan. The plan will take care of itself. (don;t worry about gov’t overreach. or the threat of autocratic rule– apparently that’s only possible on the right)

    This is like reliving the Bernie ‘revolution’ all over. White privileged people feeling great about themselves and their concern for the little guy while proposing solutions that will mostly benefit them.

  217. Posted October 17, 2016 at 2:26 pm | Permalink

    “This is like reliving the Bernie ‘revolution’ all over. White privileged people feeling great about themselves and their concern for the little guy while proposing solutions that will mostly benefit them.”

    lol

  218. Jean Henry
    Posted October 17, 2016 at 2:32 pm | Permalink

    Ok I’m really disengaging now. I really am. I wish I were well enough for a drink. Cheers all. Good luck with the robot future where white americans don’t have to work and take lots of vacations or maybe spend part if the year in developing nations living on the cheap. Maybe you’ll toss some of the natives some of your used clothing and feel great about yourselves..

  219. Posted October 17, 2016 at 2:38 pm | Permalink

    Did Mr. 2012 say that the robots would allow us to live in developing countries? I missed that.

    He still doesn’t see a problem with forcing people to work and that’s strange to me.

    Living in developing countries is not particularly cheap by the way.

  220. Jean Henry
    Posted October 17, 2016 at 2:40 pm | Permalink

    Glad I gave you a chuckle, Pete.

  221. Lynne
    Posted October 17, 2016 at 2:41 pm | Permalink

    Re: I’m simply unsure of any other way to achieve your goals, except through force.

    I suppose technically, someone will be forced to accept it one way or another since our republic doesn’t require unanimous support from the people. Still, I am ok with such governance in general.

    I think all of my goals can be achieved little by little over time. For instance, it really wouldn’t take much to remove the cap on Social Security and reduce the retirement age if just a few more people can be persuaded that this is a good idea. Divorcing health care from employment is more difficult but it can be done legislatively by eliminating the tax credits to employers who provide health insurance (one of many tax credits that tends to benefit the middle class so that should appeal to you) combined with a mandate that people must have insurance. Yes, some employers will still provide health insurance but over time, you would see a reduction. Is a basic income a long way off? Sure but this technology based reduction in labor is not going to happen overnight so the solution doesn’t need to either. We can take steps to get there and many of these steps are already being discussed.

    Re: It simply says the focus on the 99% instead of the 14% in poverty may be effective politically but it’s unlikely to serve the most needy in the end. </i?

    If it isn't effective politically, it isn't likely to serve those in the most need in the end either.

    The privilege apparent in this part time work scenario being spun out is really something.

    How so? I really don’t see this as something which would benefit the privileged excessively at the expense of the poor. Sure if someone high up on the food chain of our labor market works hard, they can sometimes provide better circumstances to their employees but they so seldom do that it is remarkable when a business treats its employees well. It seems to me that changing the system in order to empower workers to make their own choices about how much to work would be better.

    Re: I propose we close the half the city-owned public parks in Ann Arbor and build affordable housing there.

    Yeah, because poor people don’t enjoy parks, right? I would say that things like public parks are especially important to those with less money because they provide good healthy recreation to all citizens at low cost. And there is no reason for such a ridiculous proposal either. A better solution is to increase property density and keep the parks, speaking of an increasing amount of pie.

  222. Jean Henry
    Posted October 17, 2016 at 2:45 pm | Permalink

    No. Mr 2012 did not. I extrapolated. I was trying to imagine what millions of middle class Americans would do with their free time if under-employed. First I thought gourmet cooking and DIY, artisan crafts, but then I realized with so much free time, they would certainly take more vacations in places where they can magically get more ‘value’ for their dollar. Glad to hear it won’t work. I have a 102 temp. I may be spinning out. Or is it the room?

  223. Posted October 17, 2016 at 2:48 pm | Permalink

    Given that much free time, most people would want to work and make money. I know I would.

  224. Jean Henry
    Posted October 17, 2016 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

    Oh Lynne…

    We had a war on poverty. It was politically and socially effective. While it lasted. The 99% thing is so powerful politically, it can get drive populist mania around unqualified candidates with no workable plans. Some politically popular ideas are populist dynamite. Like say rigged elections.

    The Ann Arbor idea was joke. But given the need for afforsbale housing in last years study, if we were to take it on, given current city revenues, using city land is the only option. Also soon there wont be any poor people in A2 to use the parks excet the homeless. Been to San Francisco lately?

    as my teen would say n/m

  225. Jean Henry
    Posted October 17, 2016 at 2:55 pm | Permalink

    Pete! Didn’t you hear? They are already rich enough and well cared for by the state. They don’t need to work more and I don’t think the state will let them. To work more would be greedy.

    These captchas are challenging at this point…

  226. Posted October 17, 2016 at 3:05 pm | Permalink

    What would the punishment be for working too much?

  227. Lynne
    Posted October 17, 2016 at 3:50 pm | Permalink

    Re: “Given that much free time, most people would want to work and make money. I know I would.”

    Yep. This is one reason why I favor a solution like a universal basic income or even lowering the retirement age in SS. The idea is to get enough people out of the labor market which both increases wages and makes more jobs available. This would allow those who want to work a better chance of finding a job and a higher wage if they do get one. Alternately we could do nothing and then wait for the frustration to bubble up politically. If we do nothing, our current wage stagnation is going to get worse. Unemployment is going to get worse. People very well may want to work but the problem is that the work is not going to be available to them in the form of jobs and as a society, we should prepare for that.

    Re: “We had a war on poverty. It was politically and socially effective. While it lasted. The 99% thing is so powerful politically, it can get drive populist mania around unqualified candidates with no workable plans”

    It obviously wasn’t politically effective or at least not for very long. Welfare is just as powerful politically. Basically people are for it if they perceive that it is going to people wo are like them and opposed to it if they feel it is benefiting people not in their “in-group”. This is the challenge of all programs and is exactly why framing the issue as the 99% might actually be beneficial in that programs which benefit everyone are more likely to be adopted even if they happen to benefit the poor more in terms of relative benefit.

    Re: “Been to San Francisco lately?” Not in the last 2 years but when I was there, it was obvious to me that the parks were an especially important resource for folks, especially homeless people who often were sleeping in them. Interesting that you should bring up that city though. It is a city where the middle class has been all but pushed out so you are left with extremes of wealth and the whole bay area has problems with that in terms of getting needed middle class workers into the area.

    Re: “What would the punishment be for working too much?” Oh the usual. Time away from one’s family. Guilt at memes about how many people regret working so hard when they are on their death beds. If a whole group wants to work too much, the punishment would be that some people would do all the work leaving lots of people who want to work with no work to do. No formal punishment of course.

  228. jean henry
    Posted October 17, 2016 at 4:07 pm | Permalink

    Lynn– the poor were pushed out first. The homeless are there because there are no regional housing resources for them anywhere. Abd rich SanFranciscans love to toss a little coin their way.And yes the middle class and upper middle class have been pushed out of SF too. Because they limited growth to ‘preserve neighborhood character’ loosened rent control, tore down public housing for swank developments etc etc. none of that has to do with wealth inequality. All of that has to do with progressive people believing they are concerned for the ‘right’ things while only protecting and preserving the assets that help them grow their wealth. In the most progressive city in America.

    They’re too busy imagining a 10 hour work week and other lifestyle innovations to notice.

    My great grandmother helped establish SamFrancisco’s public park system. She’d be horrified by her city now.

  229. Lynne
    Posted October 17, 2016 at 4:33 pm | Permalink

    Honestly, I don’t think most people really understand the implications of limiting growth to preserve neighborhood character or for other reasons. I recently got into an argument with someone about the new high rises in Ann Arbor. They thought that the high rises are the cause of the high rents in town. Sometimes people do things that they think will be helpful but which are not. I am not sure that calling them selfish privileged assholes is helpful although I suppose I can understand the impulse :)

    Yes, we should look to the Bay Area since similar forces are at play in Ann Arbor and yes you are correct that privileged people, and especially those who live in places like SF and AA where they pretty much are surrounded by people similarly privileged, are ignorant about the concerns of the poor. However, I wonder how things like social media might be helping or hurting. Are we exposed to poor people more? I don’t know. I know that growing up, I was exposed to a lot of poor people and now, less so even in Ypsi. I acknowledge that I may be lacking perspective in that area although I have seen NOTHING which suggests to me that you are in a better position than I am. You seem white, educated, and at least as privileged as I am.

    I admit that it is true that people of privilege have more time to think of things like how our society is going to deal with the impending labor surplus crisis. I don’t understand why it matters if the good ideas come from privileged people or less privileged people as long as such programs serve everyone. I don’t even understand why you object to such programs being given political weight by making them appeal to the middle class.

  230. jean henry
    Posted October 17, 2016 at 5:07 pm | Permalink

    It’s very clear to me that no one proposing a ten hour work week has ever owned a business. Not because they would want to work staff more hours, but because they would know that businesses can not stay in place or they stagnate and die. They have to grow. Patrgonoa tried a no growth model and abandoned it. They are now engaged in a plan for smart natural growth that allows them to continuously improve their company. Which in their case means shrinking their footprint, doing more for natural preservation and improving worker conditions. In order to run a smart and decent business one has the work hard. Really hard. The more successful a business is the more work is required at the today and elsewhere. A successful well run innovative and generous business is a beautiful thing. It can never happen with a 10 hour work week for anyone in a company at a professional level. And you know the robots will be doing all the labor. The second a 10 hour work week was implemented businesses would fall apart. The idea that income can be passive; Or that businesses are fixed states; Or succeed on their own at a plateau is so odd I can’t imagine who could believe it honestly.
    and Pete I was right, working more than 10 hours would be seen as greedy. You’d b taking work from others who need it in the fixed pie. Just like those foreigners are taking our work. You know the ones abroad (Sanders) or at home (Trump).

  231. jean henry
    Posted October 17, 2016 at 5:28 pm | Permalink

    Good workable ideas come from the input and engagement a diversity of people, especially the people most affected. They don’t come from smart people operating in a political and social vacuum. That’s the central tenet behind democracy. It seems very few people on the far left or right lately had to forge and implement compromise solutions. They seem short on the concept of democracy and believe participatory democracy is only about getting their perspective heard.
    I’m well educated, Lynn. I grew up in a working class right wing community with back to the land parents when that wasn’t cool. My mom grew up very wealthy. I have worked in the food business for 30 years. I’ve done lots of manual labor including ranch work and truck driving. By choice.. I chose to be working class and my income says I am. But I know my privilege. I own my house in AA. My friends with similar incomes do not. And they are being pushed out. I know a lot of homeless people in town and some of the richest people in town. I don’t know what it’s like to be poor but I try to understand. I have many friends who struggle in poverty, on disability, etc. and many who have made it out. I give a shit. I try not too segregate myself from any kind of person. I try too go towards people who are different than me. I listen to them. I’ve had a rich life as a result. I’m pleased I was able to choose it for myself.

  232. jean henry
    Posted October 17, 2016 at 5:36 pm | Permalink

    Everything Lynn and Alan have said is premised on the idea of the end of work. There won’t be enough work to go around. They refuse to question that premise, even though it’s an absurdity. This idea that we have reached a point where there will be and can be no more growth. But it’s not a fixed pie…

    I’m so confused.

  233. jean henry
    Posted October 17, 2016 at 5:51 pm | Permalink

    Lynn– if you look at income segregation for San Francisco, it looks like there isn’t any. Why? Because there are almost no poor people left with housing. When my mom grew up there were lots of very rich and very poor people in SF. it was a city famous for being the most diverse in the country. Not any more. But income inequality is down according to the data. So there’s that. No one cared about the poor on the tech boom90’s when I lived there. I watched each neighborhood get taken over by young ambitious people. No one takes about income inequality until there was no more room for young educated people and artists to move in or stay. They did not care about who they displaced until people like them were displaced. I left because they were destroying a place a loved. I didn’t want to raise my kid in a place so removed from everyday reality

  234. Posted October 17, 2016 at 11:06 pm | Permalink

    “It’s very clear to me that no one proposing a ten hour work week has ever owned a business.”

    Like I said, I have a staff of nearly 60. If, one day, I was required to only let them work 10 hours a week, I would have to increase my staff by four times and thus my labor expenses four times. As labor costs make up nearly 70% of the budget, one can easily see that the project would no longer cease to function as it currently is since the budgtary requirements would be far more than that which we currently have.

    And, no, robots cannot perform the job my staff does.

    People calling for ten hour weeks seem to think that all jobs are in manufacturing. They must not like to get bogged down in the details.

    It’s not that I don’t think that people should think about it, but if one is going to spend time thinking about labor issues, starting from something practical might make more sense than simply creating fairy tales to make oneself feel good.

  235. Posted October 17, 2016 at 11:20 pm | Permalink

    “This is one reason why I favor a solution like a universal basic income or even lowering the retirement age in SS. The idea is to get enough people out of the labor market which both increases wages and makes more jobs available.”

    I’d still work, probably under the table. One never has enough money. There are a lot of people like me. Truthfully, most people are like me. Believe it or not, most people like making money through work.

    “If a whole group wants to work too much, the punishment would be that some people would do all the work leaving lots of people who want to work with no work to do.”

    I’m still scratching my head. Work isn’t a finite resource. Work (like wealth) can be created or destroyed. As people become more numerous and wealthy, the number of jobs also becomes more numerous, The converse is true as well, creating a cycle of wealth creation and job creation. The problem in the States has not been that there isn’t enough work, it’s that wages haven’t kept up with inflation, a complex issue that a ten hour work week would simply make worse.

    You know, automation and NAFTA happened and there was barely any effect on unemployment. The crash increased unemployment, but now we’re back again, so I’m not sure what people are talking about. There has always been work, because people like to work and like to buy things, and there are people who sell and make things for people to buy them, and hire people to do it for them. It’s pretty simple. This idea that work is an ever rarer commodity is just preposterous.

    All of this sounds like what people were talking about when NAFTA was signed. Note that their predictions of massive unemployment didn’t come true. No one could have predicted that wages wouldn’t keep up, but, again, that likely has more to do with the finance sector than NAFTA or automation. Even without NAFTA, wages would still likely be stagnant.

  236. Posted October 17, 2016 at 11:44 pm | Permalink

    I’m sorry for responding to this thread. I shouldn’t as I have nothing constructive to say.

    Apologies.

  237. stupid hick
    Posted October 18, 2016 at 12:23 am | Permalink

    Pete and Jean, I think Alan is mostly right about the economy. If you haven’t heard of “Modern Monetary Theory”, which he referred to earlier, read the wikipedia page. Funny thing is, it’s not really a theory, it’s description of reality. Money really isn’t what most people think it is. Take the red pill.

  238. stupid hick
    Posted October 18, 2016 at 12:29 am | Permalink

    Pete, FYI, BLM statistics only count hours worked by people who are employed

  239. Posted October 18, 2016 at 12:32 am | Permalink

    I am not sure why you have included my name there. I have said nothing at all about monetary policy.

  240. Posted October 18, 2016 at 12:58 am | Permalink

    “Pete, FYI, BLM statistics only count hours worked by people who are employed”

    Of course they do. He is assuming the average (among all people) work week is 15 hours. The data indicates that among people who do work, they tend to work somewhere close to full time, many by choice. Working a 40 hour week isn’t some insult to human rights. Many people want to work that much, and some jobs demand it.

    Mr. 2012 is oddly suggesting that we “spread the work over the population” assuming that people are like machines that we can just set to work when we want them too, and dial them back when we want them to. We can easily force them to work so that we can reduce the workload for others, and then force those that do want to work to restrict their work hours so that we don’t run out of work and prevent greed. Very odd.

    Like many people who espouse simple plans to deal with complex problems, Mr. 2012 and Lynne (from the “upper class”) seem hesitant to consider what people might actually want.

    As aside, I have a friend who considers current society to be tyrannical, in that it denies people the time to do things that are “creative.” I countered that the fact that people have to work for a living in the US is not a violation of human rights and that he disregards that some people might be creative in their work.

    The latter was troubling. He presents his views as being an advocate of “workers” but doesn’t seem all that interested in hearing what workers have to say. Sure, a lot of people hate their jobs but a lot of people don’t.

    It is worth noting, if we are going to talk about data, that the vast majority of American express satisfaction in their lives. An onerous system that forces some to work, while compelling others not to would quickly destroy that satisfaction.

    But, who cares?

  241. Jcp2
    Posted October 18, 2016 at 2:23 am | Permalink

    While it may be true that the amount of “effort” expended in any given day of “work” may take only a fraction of the total time spent there, the exact moment that the “effort” is needed can be unpredictable. A salesperson can only make a sale when potential clients are available. A fireman can only respond to actual fires. A nurse can only provide care when a patient needs it. A chef can only prepare meals for diners in the restaurant. Part of the compensation for an employee from an employer is to ensure the availability of the employee to perform certain tasks in a reliable and consistent manner. If it helps, think of your “nonproductive” time on the job as a retainer.

  242. Posted October 18, 2016 at 2:38 am | Permalink

    Taxis sit around a lot, but if they don’t show up to work, they don’t get paid.

    I guess we need to make laws that require people to use taxis only at predetermined times to maximize efficiency.

  243. Jean Henry
    Posted October 18, 2016 at 5:13 am | Permalink

    It’s a crack pot theory. Amazing how sidelined one can get trying to address those with real world examples. The idea that job creation and job loss is part of the larger economy and not a static state is just conveniently, and bafflingly, excluded. There are a million holes in the theory. So many it seems plausible to some– like a lot of political ideas that are out there. We love easy answers. A perfect illustration has been made of why a few people should not try to solve problems for the many, even when (or especially when) hey imagine themselves more clever than others. Good solutions and smooth implementation derive from the participation in decision making of the many. There was a great thing on MI radio yesterday about the necessity of respectful listening to other people’s perspectives across political difference. I think that assumed people wouldn’t hold on so tightly to terrible unworkable ideas. Or maybe the woman interviewed had tremendous patience. Maybe it works better IRL. Maybe if there were more acceptance of differing opinions, people would not cling so tightly. I don’t know. I know governance in a land of ‘always righters’ is a nightmare. My fever broke and I am happy to be able to work today. Cant wait to get started.

  244. Posted October 18, 2016 at 5:25 am | Permalink

    Remember all of the “peak oil” predictions? Or “the Population Bomb?”

    Both of which failed to recognize changes in technology over time. I think they seriously assumed that the world would be the same in 2016 as in the 1960s and 70s.

    It’s the same level of thinking as people who view wealth (or jobs) as some zero sum game where everything is fixed forever.

    Humans have a real hard time thinking dynamically. They tend to focus on that which they can see or visualize at that moment. They also tend to think in linear terms, assuming B follows A and ignoring the though B follows A it also influences A over time, also impacting B.

    This is great for creating alarmist rhetoric because that’s all that a lot of people can normally imagine.

    The ideas on labor in this thread are simply to easy to break apart with a few very important real life examples, like taxis. Or EMT workers. Or teachers. Or Presidents of the United States. On these the proponents of this 10 hour work week (“spread the work over the population,” i.e. forced labor and unreasonably coercive labor conditions) idea are silent.

  245. Posted October 18, 2016 at 5:32 am | Permalink

    Speaking of crackpot ideas, I’m reading the Wikipedia page for “the Population Bomb.”

    This is some really out there stuff.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Population_Bomb

    “countries would be divided into categories based on their abilities to feed themselves going forward. Countries with sufficient programmes in place to limit population growth, and the ability to become self-sufficient in the future would continue to receive food aid. Countries, for example India, which were “so far behind in the population-food game that there is no hope that our food aid will see them through to self-sufficiency” would have their food aid eliminated. Ehrlich argued that this was the only realistic strategy in the long-term. Ehrlich applauds the Paddocks’ “courage and foresight” in proposing such a solution”

    “Ehrlich floats the idea of adding “temporary sterilants” to the water supply or staple foods. However, he rejects the idea as unpractical due to “criminal inadequacy of biomedical research in this area.””

    “He proposes a powerful Department of Population and Environment which “should be set up with the power to take whatever steps are necessary to establish a reasonable population size in the United States and to put an end to the steady deterioration of our environment.””

    Good thing no one listened to this guy.

  246. jean henry
    Posted October 18, 2016 at 8:36 am | Permalink

    I was subject to a lot of peak oil lectures when I started learning about environmental sustainability for work. I heard the same lecture at conferences, by city staff, and by Ross Erb profs (who at least were questioned on assumptions). The whole thing was a leftist dystopian fantasy circle jerk. And yes it was wrong. Very very wrong. And you won’t hear any lectures in universities about how they got it so wrong. Because climate action is a politicized issue and so inviolable. I believe very strongly in the need for climate action. I think enough evidence is on to act. But climate numbers and emissions numbers will always be wonky. They should not be relied upon to make predictions– especially predictions posed as facts. We should be able to act without relying on scare tactics and moral certainty. They should teach a class at universities on being wrong. We should all be making a study of how we get stuff wrong, so we are less susceptible to either utopian or dystopian bullshit. So we can as creatures once again move past lymbic responses to contemporary events.

  247. jean henry
    Posted October 18, 2016 at 8:40 am | Permalink

    *limbic
    So many phone typos. Can’t easily correct on my phone. apologies to anyone bothering to read this garbage for frequent misspellings and autocorrect word salads

  248. alan2102
    Posted October 18, 2016 at 9:47 am | Permalink

    jean: “It’s very clear to me that no one proposing a ten hour work week has ever owned a business.”

    Why do you have to be so literal-minded? No one “proposed a ten hour work week” as such. And no one suggested that shorter work weeks, or a set number of hours, be imposed from above by some iron-fisted authority.

    The point was that the actual labor required, across the entire society, to provide all needed goods and services to everyone, is much less than 40 hours per week for everyone. In other words, we are as a society quite rich, in terms of how much of our labor is actually required (not much) to maintain production of all needed goods and services. The problem is that there are distributional problems both with respect to hours of labor and the fruits of labor.

    The implications of this, if true, (and it is true), are profound.

    How remedies might actually might work out in practice would vary. It is not necessarily about working 10 hour weeks, although in some contexts that might work just fine. It could mean working 40 hour weeks, and then having the option of long sabbaticals at intervals. It could mean a universal basic income, allowing some people not to “work” (i.e. engage directly in work for pay) at all, and pursue their arts or crafts or whatever pleases them, while others collect the UBI and work in addition, because they are ambitious to make more money and/or because they are driven in other ways. It could mean a job guarantee, which naturally would not have to be exercised uniformly by everyone at all times; i.e. one would have the option to work, and then not work, and then work again (“work” here meaning work-for-pay).

    Implementations would be varying and context-dependent. Here’s a short outline:

    https://b.3cdn.net/nefoundation/f49406d81b9ed9c977_p1m6ibgje.pdf
    “Achieving shorter working hours.
    Conditions necessary for successfully reducing paid working hours include reducing hours gradually over a number of years in line with annual wage increments; changing the way work is managed to discourage overtime; providing active training to combat skills shortages and to help long-term unemployed return to the labour force; managing employers’ costs to reward rather than penalise taking on extra staff; ensuring more stable and equal distribution of earnings; introducing regulations to standardise hours that also promote flexible arrangements to suit employees, such as job sharing, extended care leave and sabbaticals; and offering more and better protection for the self-employed against the effects of low pay, long hours, and job insecurity.”

    That’s a few ideas. There will be others.

    “The second a 10 hour work week was implemented businesses would fall apart.”

    Let’s please leave aside the silly red herring of uniform 10 hour work weeks for everyone, (which no one has suggested, or would suggest), and proceed to a discussion of the underlying theory, starting with the 40 hour week as presumed/received norm.

    There’s nothing magically necessary and efficacious about 40 hour work weeks. 40 hour weeks are arbitrary, an artifact of late modern culture. At one time, 80 hour work weeks were the norm, and perhaps at that time some people thought that “the second a 40 hour work week is implemented businesses will fall apart”. Clinging to 40 hour weeks is a sort of irrational idolatry, based on nothing.

    Let’s say that I suggested a 38 hour work week instead of 40. Would you say that the second a 38 hour week were implemented businesses would fall apart? No, of course you would not say that, because that is ridiculous. OK, so how about a 36 hour week? Or a 34 hour week? And so on. At what point do businesses (magically) fall apart because work weeks are too short? 36 hours? 33.4 hours? 29.5 hours? It is a stupid question because the premise is stupid. There is no set point at which businesses fall apart. Maybe businesses often fail because the work week is 40 and not 44.3 hours per week. Have you considered that? No, you have not, because that idea is idiotic. Just as is the idea that 40 hours is the magical sweet spot to which we must all cleave.

    Work needs to get done, and humans are smart enough to figure out how to get it done. There is no set number of hours per week with magical powers to make enterprises succeed or fail. In some situations, 40 hour weeks, (or 60 hour weeks), might be necessary for effective execution of the job in question. But there’s no reason that those working such long hours must work those long hours forever, year in, year out, without relief. There will also be people who WANT to work those long hours, because they love the work. That’s fine, too, provided that it does not leave others unemployed and/or without income.

  249. alan2102
    Posted October 18, 2016 at 9:53 am | Permalink

    Jean: “Everything Lynn and Alan have said is premised on the idea of the end of work [i.e. jobs –alan]. There won’t be enough work [read: decent jobs –alan] to go around. They refuse to question that premise, even though it’s an absurdity.”

    What you call an “absurdity” is a slowly-unfolding (over the last couple generations), continuing (for the next generation at least) reality, and a well-documented one. I can’t do your reading for you. You’ll have to do it yourself.

    Jean: “This idea that we have reached a point where there will be and can be no more growth. But it’s not a fixed pie… I’m so confused.”

    I can understand the confusion, if we leave “growth” undefined. Also, you seem to be fixated on this “fixed pie” idea. I explained in detail my view on this, above. Check it out. Search for the word “fixed” in my posts.

  250. alan2102
    Posted October 18, 2016 at 9:58 am | Permalink

    Peter: “Mr. 2012 is oddly suggesting that we “spread the work over the population” assuming that people are like machines that we can just set to work when we want them too, and dial them back when we want them to. We can easily force them to work so that we can reduce the workload for others, and then force those that do want to work to restrict their work hours so that we don’t run out of work and prevent greed. Very odd.”

    Odd indeed that you would interpret the general point, regarding how much labor is actually required to produce all needed goods and services, as a recommendation to immediately and unilaterally (and stupidly) institute an authoritarian program to FORCE people to work or not work certain hours, etc. Is there something in this for you? I mean, does such an idiotic interpretation have a benefit for you? Does it make you feel good, or something?

    Gigantic productivity gains over the last half-century, reflecting a huge increase in the productive forces, has left us with a world awash in goods (and even services), with a corresponding collapse in the actual human labor (measured in hours, or days, or whatever) required to produce those goods and services. This is a monumental fact, which is intensifying with each passing year. The discussion about hours-per-week is just one angle, one way to represent this fact and discuss it.

    What, specifically, should be done about it is a big subject. In essence, we are talking about how to organize society sanely, as opposed to the current order which is rather insane (disconnected from reality). An immediate authoritarian reduction of the work-week is of course idiotic, and intelligent participants in the discussion would never suggest such a thing.

  251. alan2102
    Posted October 18, 2016 at 10:06 am | Permalink

    At this link, Randall Wray ( prominent exponent of Modern Monetary Theory or MMT that I mentioned above) argues against universal basic income and similar, and FOR a job guarantee at a living wage:
    http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2014/12/randy-wray-answer-unemployment-problem-jobs.html

    He provides a different angle of view, and an alternative prescription, for the basic problem of distribution and equity in relation to the monumental fact (mentioned above) of just how wealthy our society has become. It is obvious that the current order is insane as well as unjust, and that something has to be done to reorganize things; the question of course is *what*, and there’s much to discuss about that, without any perfectly clear-cut answers as yet.

    Wray takes progressives to task in a challenging way. I enjoyed it.

    Wray makes some great points, such as:

    “There is no better anti-poverty program than jobs for those who want to work. Offering a job is a hand-up not a hand-out. Working promotes community. It allows for shared prosperity. We all benefit when everyone works. It is consistent with American values…. We need policies consistent with American values of work, initiative, self-sufficiency, and productivity. We need policies that promote community-building.”

    Excellent point. The peculiarities of American culture must be accounted for, and in this light perhaps his job-guarantee proposal makes the most sense for the U.S.

    He also makes the excellent point that a job-guarantee program could garner support from both sides of the political spectrum, unlike universal basic income and similar. Political realities should always be part of the discussion, though perhaps should not completely dominate it.

    The problem(s) at issue are difficult and multi-faceted, and call for intelligent discussion. There’s no room for idiocy like Stalinistic imposition of 15-hour work weeks — which of course no one here suggested, nor would anyone ever suggest it.

    BTW, nakedcapitalism.com is a great blog with many fascinating discussions. Sometimes the comments below the posts are better than the posts.

  252. alan2102
    Posted October 18, 2016 at 10:08 am | Permalink

    stupid hick: “If you haven’t heard of “Modern Monetary Theory”…read the wikipedia page. Funny thing is, it’s not really a theory, it’s description of reality.”

    Thank you.

    Yes, reality is a major problem, as it refracts through the anti-reality of some existing paradigms.

  253. alan2102
    Posted October 18, 2016 at 10:11 am | Permalink

    Peter: “automation and NAFTA happened and there was barely any effect on unemployment. The crash increased unemployment, but now we’re back again”

    Not quite. Huge numbers of jobs have been created, yes — low-pay, no-benefit part-time and other jobs. Hence the unemployment stats from the BLS look good. But the situation in reality is bad. (There’s that nasty reality, again. Pardon.)

    Also, BLS does not count discouraged or “marginally attached” workers, i.e. people who have given up looking for work, usually because they cannot find anything. Great way to do statistics, huh? Just DON’T COUNT all the ones who would cause your numbers to reflect an unpleasant reality. (There’s that nasty reality again. Pardon.)

    Automation and NAFTA happened, and there has been a steady decimation of the middle-middle and lower-middle that depended on decent-paying manufacturing jobs. And, as a result of that, we’ve seen a dramatic increase in social pathology of all kinds, culminating in excess deaths of many hundreds of thousands working-class people. (There’s that nasty public health angle, again. Pardon.) Excess deaths: search for Angus and Deaton.

    http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2016/01/white-working-class-poverty/424341/
    “in the late ’90s … the number of manufacturing jobs in the U.S. dropped dramatically. Intensified by free-trade deals such as NAFTA, the hollowing-out of American industry then was much greater, in terms of the absolute number of jobs lost, than what the country experienced during its first wave of deindustrialization.”

    But actually, the hollowing-out started much earlier:

    http://www.basicincome.com/basic_rifkin.htm
    “The father of cybernetics, Norbert Weiner, became so fearful of the high-tech future he and his colleagues were creating that he wrote an extraordinary letter to Walter Reuther, president of the United Auto Workers, pleading for an audience. He warned Reuther that the cybernetic revolution “will undoubtedly lead to the factory without employees…and the unemployment produced by such plants can only be disastrous,” and promised Reuther his full backing and personal loyalty in any concerted national campaign by organized labour to address the issue.
    Reuther was initially sympathetic and began to faintly echo Weiner’s concerns before congressional committees and in public addresses. Despite all of the public rhetoric, however, organized labour proved far more conciliatory behind closed doors in the collective bargaining process. Fearful of being branded as modern-day Luddites and obstacles to progress, unions for the most part capitulated to management on the issues surrounding automation.
    While the unions were correct in their belief that automation would shrink the ranks of the unskilled labour force, they grossly overestimated how many high-skilled jobs would be created by the new technologies. They failed to grasp the central dynamic of the automation revolution –management’s single-minded determination to replace workers with machines wherever possible, and, by so doing, reduce labour costs, increase quality control, and improve profit margins.”

  254. alan2102
    Posted October 18, 2016 at 10:13 am | Permalink

    Peter: “What would the punishment be for working too much?”

    Severe indeed, comrade Larson, severe indeed! Some have recommended 20 years in the arctic circle on starvation rations. But I think that is too charitable.

  255. alan2102
    Posted October 18, 2016 at 10:17 am | Permalink

    Peter: “…people who view wealth (or jobs) as some zero sum game where everything is fixed forever.”

    Where can I find someone — anyone — who views things that way?

  256. Lynne
    Posted October 18, 2016 at 10:22 am | Permalink

    OK I give up! Jean and Peter have unpacked too much bullshit for me to address. But I think you guys are as idiotic as you think I am, fwiw.

  257. alan2102
    Posted October 18, 2016 at 10:28 am | Permalink

    BTW, Jean, I read your techcrunch.com link on automation and jobs. But I found this comment after the article to be more insightful than the article itself:

    https://techcrunch.com/2016/05/13/robots-wont-just-take-jobs-theyll-create-them/
    Andrew Dundas · University of South Florida
    They ignore that the Great Depression was the result of farm workers jobs being automated, when there were no labor laws, and no social safety nets for displaced workers. They ignore the government’s part in assisting in the transition of workers into new careers, with food, housing, and education. They don’t discuss how the increases in productivity by automation in some markets is rarely distributed back throughout the economy with lower prices today. If a company automates first in their marketplace they just reap more profits. Automation is a leading cause of the extreme wealth gap that exists today.
    While new jobs will form, it’s unlikely they will form at the same rate as jobs disappear. They use examples from the past centuries, but it wasn’t until the 1970’s that the “Great Decoupling” happened. Productivity decoupled from the labor markets. Since then companies across the whole economy have been able to increase production and profit, while reducing the volume of labor. The fundamental economic principles of our economy were built on the relationship of productivity and labor.
    The other problem with old examples is that robots and computers today are much more capable and complex. They can analyze stocks and trade quicker than stock brokers. Both parties support a tax on “speculation” which is targeted at the quick trading machines dominating the stock market. The computer Watson just diagnosed a woman when doctors had failed, it saved her life. I have no doubt there will be a large volume of unemployment soon. In some communities there already is 30% unemployment, and in our current economy there aren’t jobs for most people in these communities.”
    The point I always like to make is that we have a highly productive society, which is becoming ever more productive with less effort; we can produce the basic needs of a ever growing population with little effort. People will still want to work and lead productive lives; that’s important for humanity. So, we need an economy that distributes the gains in productivity so that everyone’s basic needs are met. Without redistribution the economy will be stagnant, with most of the gains in productivity from automation hoarded. Robots will free us up to live better lives, with more enjoyable jobs, but only if we engineer the proper economy for the futute.
    Like · Reply · Aug 9, 2016 2:19pm

    ……………………..

    worth a repeat:

    “we have a highly productive society, which is becoming ever more productive with less effort; we can produce the basic needs of an ever growing population with little effort”

    Yep. Technology is wonderful. Now if only we can get the distribution stuff solved.

  258. alan2102
    Posted October 18, 2016 at 10:32 am | Permalink

    Lynne: “OK I give up! Jean and Peter have unpacked too much bullshit for me to address.”

    An understandable response; I felt that way myself. But we must struggle on to defeat the forces of reaction, comrade Lynne.

  259. Jcp2
    Posted October 18, 2016 at 10:46 am | Permalink

    Funny thing about solving distribution problems, comrade Alan. First you must solve greed and fear. I, for one, welcome our new robot overlords.

  260. alan2102
    Posted October 18, 2016 at 10:53 am | Permalink

    Interesting historical bit re basic income guarantee:

    http://www.basicincome.com/basic_rifkin.htm
    “Although liberal and conservative economists differed in their reason for supporting a guaranteed annual income, the growing interest in the idea led President Lyndon Johnson to establish a National Commission on Guaranteed Incomes in 1967. After two years of hearings and studies, the commission, made up of business leaders, representatives of organized labour, and other prominent Americans, issued their report. Commission members were unanimous in their support of a guaranteed annual income. The report stated that “Unemployment or underemployment among the poor are often due to forces that cannot be controlled by the poor themselves. For many of the poor, the desire to work is strong but the opportunities are not…Even if the existing welfare and related programs are improved, they are incapable of assuring that all Americans receive an adequate income. We have therefore recommended the adoption of a new program of income supplementation for all Americans in need.”
    The report was largely ignored. “

  261. Jcp2
    Posted October 18, 2016 at 11:11 am | Permalink

    That quotation was truncated. Here is the rest of the thought. “Many Americans, and most politicians, found it difficult to accept the notion of providing people a guaranteed income because they believed it would seriously undermine the work ethic and produce a generation of Americans unwilling to work at all. ”

    Like I mentioned already, comrade Alan, distribution problems are limited by human nature. That can and will change, but not by dictate.

  262. alan2102
    Posted October 18, 2016 at 11:37 am | Permalink

    More history:

    http://web.arizona.edu/~vas/459/isittime.htm
    “From the‘30s through the‘50s, the notion that we would soon all work fewer hours was simply generally assumed. In 1956 even conservative Vice President Richard Nixon predicted that all Americans would be working a four-day week in the “not too distant future.” …. These were not necessarily naive delusions, but reasonable projections of known trends. Between 1840 and 1940, work hours declined in every decade. From 1900 to 1940 the average work week for all manufacturing industries fell by 35 percent. In 1933 there was even a bill, known as the “Thirty-Hour Work Week Bill,” which would have established 30 hours as the standard work week.”

    ……………..

    In spite of many decades of progress (reduction of working hours), we’ve now gotten stuck at 40 hours — for the last ~80 years — as though there were something sacrosanct about it, and in spite of the fabulous productivity gains since then.

    Well, maybe everyone realized that the moment we dip below 40 hours, mass business bankruptcies would inevitably follow. lol

  263. alan2102
    Posted October 18, 2016 at 11:53 am | Permalink

    Jcp2: “That quotation was truncated. Here is the rest of the thought. “Many Americans, and most politicians, found it difficult to accept the notion of providing people a guaranteed income because they believed it would seriously undermine the work ethic and produce a generation of Americans unwilling to work at all.”

    Yes, lots of people think that guaranteed income would have an adverse moral impact on people, sap the will to work, etc. That can be handily empirically refuted; i.e. it is not true.

    You did a bit of quote-truncation yourself, there, Sir Jcp2. The passage that you quoted is followed by THIS: “While the commission’s recommendations languished, the federal government did carry out a number of pilot projects to test the viability of providing a guaranteed annual income. To its surprise, the government found that it did not appreciably reduce the incentive to work, as many politicians had feared.”

    There has been a bunch of other work demonstrating the same thing. Guaranteed incomes do NOT result in people working less or becoming lazy.

    But nevertheless, what people believe (regardless of the facts) plays a big role in this, I grant. The political palatability/possibility issue. I highlighted this issue above, in the post about Wray’s job guarantee writeup. As Wray writes: “We need policies consistent with American values of work, initiative, self-sufficiency, and productivity”, and guaranteed incomes are not all that consistent with same. I like the idea of a guaranteed income, but prevailing attitudes in the U.S. might render it politically impossible. We’ll see. The proposal has never been fully aired-out.

    I don’t see what this has to do with “human nature” (whatever that means).

  264. alan2102
    Posted October 18, 2016 at 12:26 pm | Permalink

    Peter: “The ideas on labor in this thread are simply to easy to break apart with a few very important real life examples, like taxis. Or EMT workers. Or teachers. Or Presidents of the United States. On these the proponents of this 10 hour work week (“spread the work over the population,” i.e. forced labor and unreasonably coercive labor conditions) idea are silent.”

    Yeah, completely silent, leaving aside the minor pedantic detail that there never were any such proponents. I am such a pedant. It is inexcusable.

  265. Westside
    Posted October 18, 2016 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

    So, were do you stand on this? Are you still engaging, or have you given up on the idea that meaningful discussion can still be had?

  266. alan2102
    Posted October 18, 2016 at 1:08 pm | Permalink

    Jean: “people doing less labor and maintaining their income level are often doing so at the cost of someone else.”

    It appears that the opposite is true. People doing more labor (longer working hours) are doing so at the cost of someone else. Shorter working hours, in contrast, benefit everyone.

    [I am trying the “blockquote” html tag here; see if it works…]

    http://www.globalresearch.ca/neoliberalism-and-the-end-of-shorter-work-hours/28860

    Neoliberalism and the End of Shorter Work Hours

    By Christoph Hermann

    Global Research, January 02, 2014

    While in previous crises shorter work hours were discussed as a measure to combat growing unemployment, an astonishing feature of the current economic downturn from 2007 on was that work time reductions were nowhere on the political agenda. Not even in France and Germany, the champions of shorter work hours, both introducing a partial 35-hour week in the face of high unemployment in the 1980s and 1990s, was this the case. This is the more remarkable as temporary short-time working applied during the crisis in several European countries actually proved that shorter hours are a viable tool to prevent unemployment (even if still leaving mounting inequalities from capitalism still in place).[1]

    snip

    The erosion of collective work time standards was partly caused by employer offensives against trade unions and collective bargaining and by the adoption of anti-trade union legislation. However, trade unions themselves indirectly supported the transformation when they sacrificed shorter hours as part of concession bargaining, or accepted that work hours are negotiated on the company level rather than the sector level. With the acceptance of longer hours, even as temporary exception, trade unions surrendered to the logic of competition bargaining and at least implicitly acknowledged that longer hours can save employment.

    Yet longer hours fueled unemployment rather than solving it. As a result the power of the trade union movement further deteriorated, leaving workers even more vulnerable to the demands of capital.

    snip

    Because they are not dependent on local costs of living, shorter hours can be – and should be – an international demand shared by workers in different countries (as shown by the original eight-hour day movement). By distributing available work amongst a larger number of workers, shorter hours not only benefit trade union members but also those without a job. This was, indeed, an important motive in the historical struggle for shorter work hours.

    Shorter work-time gives people the opportunity to start to think about and experiment with alternative, non-capitalist and more democratic modes of living. Some workers who reduce their hours as part of short-time working during the crisis, for example, do not want to go back to full-time work.

    Further, reduced work-time makes it easier to distribute paid and unpaid work more evenly between the genders. Not by accident, Swedish feminists demanded for the introduction of a general 30-hour week in the 1970s. Shorter work hours are crucial to re-form the capacity of the working-class movement to confront capital and to build a more equal and ecological sustainable society.

  267. Jcp2
    Posted October 18, 2016 at 1:08 pm | Permalink

    Comrade Alan, if humans always said what they believed, and believed what they said, we would already be where you want us to be. However, humans can be emotional beings, selfish and altruistic, greedy and fearful. You mentioned already that certain things may be politically impossible at this time. But what is politics but one expression of these feelings? As are ethics, economics, and theology. Live a good and decent life and treat the people you meet as well as you can. In the end we are all dead to this world; if we are fortunate our ideals will persist past our earthly existence in those that we have interacted with.

  268. alan2102
    Posted October 18, 2016 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

    Westside: “So, were do you stand on this? Are you still engaging, or have you given up on the idea that meaningful discussion can still be had?”

    Are you talking to me? I’ve made it clear where I stand. Just look up thread. If there is any unclarity, please advise. I will correct it.

  269. Westside
    Posted October 18, 2016 at 1:13 pm | Permalink

    I miss EOS.

  270. alan2102
    Posted October 18, 2016 at 1:13 pm | Permalink

    Jcp2: “if humans always said what they believed, and believed what they said, we would already be where you want us to be. However, humans can be emotional beings, selfish and altruistic, greedy and fearful. You mentioned already that certain things may be politically impossible at this time. But what is politics but one expression of these feelings?”

    Yes, true. And your point is…?

  271. Jcp2
    Posted October 18, 2016 at 1:38 pm | Permalink

    You asked me what human nature had to do with a universal basic income and/or guaranteed employment with reduced hours and/or equitable distribution of produced wealth, as all of these socioeconomic initiatives are theoretically sound, with some showing promise in limited demonstrations. My response is that although I agree in principle with these proposed solutions, I do not know if they are the only solutions, or the best solutions, only that they are not currently practical solutions because these solutions require a fundamental change in societal norms, which in turn are based on prevailing individual behaviors and expectations.

  272. jean henry
    Posted October 18, 2016 at 1:48 pm | Permalink

    A guaranteed minimum income was first proposed in 1939 under Huey Long’s share our wealth program. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Share_Our_Wealth
    The end result was social security– a compromise safety net.
    I’m not crazy about giving money to people who don’t need it, even when they pay into the fund. I support a social security benefits cap too. I spent some time in Eastern Europe immediately after the Velvet Revolution, and was in Prague the day they switched to a Currency tied to the dollar. I know people stuck on the disability system struggling to get out– in spite of the benefits they receive. My sister had British friends trapped in the dole. It really sobered me to the idea of handing out money on an ongoing basis to those without need.
    The idea that govt hand outs creates dependency is not completely unfounded. I’ve seen it. That doesn’t mean give supprt is unnecessary. Just that free money isn’t as great as it seems. Most people are thrilled to get off of welfare.

  273. jean henry
    Posted October 18, 2016 at 2:14 pm | Permalink

    This idea that people working longer hours don’t create the opportunity for other people to get work (i.e. Create employment) is completely and demonstrably wrong. It is also the basis for all sorts of xenophobic nonsense and all forms of protectionism.

    The anti-globalist movement was right about the possibility of overreach but very wrong about the economic impact. World wide poverty cut in half! US employment impact is neutral overall, in spite of the recession. Wage stagnation is no due to underemployment but a financial sector out of whack trying to meet unrealistic and foolhardy quarterly profit expectations. It’s an easy fix. The system is out of balance and will self correct. The economy needs a beefy middle class. The finance sector knows that now.

    There will be no 10 hour work week. It’s an absurdity.the only reason to continue talking about it is to point up how this inability to see the economic picture as dynamic feeds into a lot of bad think (esp protectionism) on the left and the right. The scarcity mentality creates greed and selfishness. I feel a need to point up again that the 10 hour work week if implemented (even with a guaranteed) would hamstring the poor from any economic mobility. But if this thread has made anything clear, it’s that the needs and concerns of the poor are easily disregarded– even by the most diehard ‘progressives.’

  274. alan2102
    Posted October 18, 2016 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

    Jcp2: OK. I still don’t know what “human nature” has to do with it.

    I don’t know that the proposals on the table are “not currently practical”. That remains to be seen. First they have to be widely discussed; then we can FIND OUT whether or not they are practical, politically. It starts with a discussion, and most people are open to discussion of novel ideas. The ignorant knee-jerk reactions of some of the discussants above do not represent the typical behavior of everyone, everywhere. Smart, open-minded people do exist, in considerable numbers.

    As pointed out in previous posts, many of these proposals have been given limited public attention, and the response so far has been receptive. Skeptics from the business community, for example, when exposed to a full airing-out of the concept of guaranteed income, conclude in favor of it (amazingly!). Reduction of working hours has been proposed many times and it has been instituted in some Euro countries. What we can conclude from limited experience is that there would likely be more public acceptance than rejection of some of these proposals, if they were given a full hearing. Though as I said, regarding the U.S. in particular, we have cultural peculiarities that make the acceptance of some suggestions (like Wray’s job guarantee) more likely than acceptance of others (income guarantee). But the bottom line is that we have to FIND OUT. There is little basis for judging in advance of experience, concluding pessimistically that any creative and novel proposal will be rejected. We have to try, and find out.

  275. alan2102
    Posted October 18, 2016 at 2:37 pm | Permalink

    Jean: “World wide poverty cut in half!”

    Yes, I was high on that statistic myself, and then I started reading a bit deeper. It seems that the World Bank’s portrayal of things is not 100% unbiased and reliable. Shocking, that.

    Jean: “US employment impact is neutral overall, in spite of the recession.”

    See posts above.

    Jean: “There will be no 10 hour work week.”

    See posts above.

    No one ever suggested a 10 hour work week, so why you bring it up is anyone’s guess.

    Jean: “if this thread has made anything clear, it’s that the needs and concerns of the poor are easily disregarded– even by the most diehard ‘progressives.’”

    If this thread has made anything clear, it is that some discussants have a very hard time paying attention to the words to which they are supposedly responding.

  276. Jcp2
    Posted October 18, 2016 at 3:04 pm | Permalink

    https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2016/06/the-meaningless-politics-of-liberal-democracies/486089/

    I would imagine that UBI would not be a great hit with this quarter of the worlds population.

  277. alan2102
    Posted October 18, 2016 at 3:30 pm | Permalink

    Jcp2: “I would imagine that UBI would not be a great hit with this quarter of the worlds population.” [“this quarter” = the Muslims, right?]

    Why do you imagine that? Why do you imagine that Muslims would not be receptive to socialistic or social-democratic ideas?

    Take one example: Gaddafi, the Muslim leader of a Muslim nation, was a socialist (made clear in his “Green Book” published in the 70s) and was instrumental in instituting free housing, free education, free medical care, free electrical power, and numerous other social-democratic types of social supports in Libya — easily equivalent to a UBI. Citizens were also credited directly with a portion of the proceeds from oil sales; that IS a UBI of a sort. Of course, that was before Hillary et al bombed the shit out of Libya, reducing much of it to rubble. (Can’t have any pinko socialists running around creating societies that take care of their people, now can we?) Regardless, here was a Muslim nation that had either a UBI or something comparable to it, or exceeding it.

    So again, tell me why you imagine that UBI or similar would be unacceptable to Muslims?

  278. Jcp2
    Posted October 18, 2016 at 5:15 pm | Permalink

    Comrade Alan, I was under the impression that you wished to achieve your goals with the consent of the people, that you were not in favor of an authoritarian government that dictated citizen behavior, that you believed in the democratic process. However, your example of Libya under Gaddafi as to what wonders can be achieved when a single person puts his mind to it seems to be contrary to this viewpoint. I would say that this is perhaps the least persuasive argument one could choose to advance your social agenda to the general citizenry in this country.

  279. alan2102
    Posted October 18, 2016 at 10:41 pm | Permalink

    Jcp, your comment was: “I would imagine that UBI would not be a great hit with this quarter of the worlds population”, i.e. Muslims. You imply that there is something about the Islamic faith that would lead to rejection of social democracy or UBI.

    I gave you an example of how a Muslim nation embraced UBI or the equivalent. Whether or not Gaddafi was an authoritarian is beside the point (i.e. the point that you raised, pertaining to whether or not Muslims would cleave to social democracy). A Muslim nation embraced UBI-like social democratic programs, and they were not prisoners. They were all free to go, but they did not go because they liked it pretty well, and for good reason. Libya, before Gaddafi was killed and before we bombed the shit out of it and reduced it to chaos, was one of the richest and best places to live in Africa. Gaddafi was an asshole in some ways, and in other ways a great leader. Mixed bag.

    My comment was not intended to “advance a social agenda” in the U.S. My comment was intended to reply to what you wrote.

  280. Posted October 18, 2016 at 10:49 pm | Permalink

    First Trump, then China, now Qaddafhi.

    There is a pattern here.

  281. Westside
    Posted October 18, 2016 at 11:01 pm | Permalink

    http://listenliberal.com

    I guess they were right. The Democratic Party is now for the intellectual and financial elite. I apologize for questioning you’re insulting of poor whites and the middle class. I never got the memo. Apparently that is the party line these days.

  282. Posted October 18, 2016 at 11:01 pm | Permalink

    “Yes, I was high on that statistic myself, and then I started reading a bit deeper. It seems that the World Bank’s portrayal of things is not 100% unbiased and reliable. Shocking, that.”

    I live here and part of my work is to keep track of peoples’ socio-economic wellbeing. Things are getting a lot better here on the continent incredibly quickly.

    But, please, continue with the praise of Qaddafhi.

    In general, giveaways around here are just means of quelling dissent to allow the privileged to keep siphoning money wherever they can.

    Regardless, I’m not sure how “free stuff” is a mark of good governance. By that measure, Hugo Chavez was a great leader. “Free stuff” based on commodities is a pretty unsustainable model, great when prices are high, but terrible when they drop.

    A lot of people around the world would take less money (“free stuff”) to not live under a despot. In general, humans, particularly those not well liked by others, like the idea of self-determination, political rights, debate and free expression.

  283. stupid hick
    Posted October 18, 2016 at 11:13 pm | Permalink

    Alan makes a plausible observation that in the USA everyone’s basic needs could be taken care of, and everyone who wants to work could have a job, and there would still be plenty of privilege left over for the rich. It might be true, so why not talk about that instead of yelling “commie”?

  284. Posted October 19, 2016 at 12:28 am | Permalink

    I never called Mr. 2012 a communist.

    I do, however, believe that he doesn’t know a whole lot about authoritarian regimes.

    About fifteen years ago it became the vogue among development people to argue that authoritarianism was necessary at some stage of development based on results mostly from Asia. What they didn’t do, however, is talk to people who lived under authoritarian regimes and actively excused and enabled some of the worst despots around the world. Mr. 2012 is echoing some of those arguments.

    Living currently in a country which spent more than two decades under a dictator and hearing peoples’ stories, I take issue with his rosy picture of authoritarian regimes around the world.

  285. Posted October 19, 2016 at 1:42 am | Permalink

    Fine. So you people think that I am attacking Mr. 2012 unfairly. I would remind everyone that Mr. 2012 has never been exactly friendly to me. I am sure that he will admit this.

    I do not think I have been unfair to Mr. 2012 and if I have, I am sorry. I tend to be insensitive. It is one of my many major failings.

    Aside from that, I understand that Mr. 2012 believes that what he suggests is necessary to providing for the welfare of whatever citizenry/residency. However, there is a balance to be drawn between the welfare of the populace and the rights of the individual, a balance he either is not aware of, or chooses to ignore. His example of Muammar Gaddafiwas especially telling (he seems to overlook who killed him and the numerous assassination attempts against him despite his financial favors to his supporters).

    Not that anything I say at all matter, governments have to strike a balance between providing for the populace and protecting individual rights, that latter of which Mr. 2012 is silent on. It was clear that in Libya, many people felt disenfranchised from the leadership of MG. These people apparently don’t matter (because “free stuff”) and I find that interesting.

  286. Posted October 19, 2016 at 1:49 am | Permalink

    It is interesting that domestically, American liberals tend to claim to support the powerless and marginalized (whether in practice this is true or not is debatable), but internationally, they tend to favor despots who oppress and marginalize.

    I find that disconnect very interesting.

  287. Jean Henry
    Posted October 19, 2016 at 3:44 am | Permalink

    “Whether or not Gaddafi was an authoritarian is beside the point (i.e. the point that you raised, pertaining to whether or not Muslims would cleave to social democracy).”

    That’s amazing.

    Everyone in Libya were happy as clams until mean Hillary ‘bombed the shit out of them.’

    Unbelievable.
    http://www.juancole.com/2011/08/top-ten-myths-about-the-libya-war.html

    Whether or not we can take resources and redistribute them and everyone would be better off is beside the point. I’m all for greater balance (I even would support reparations) but this total redistribution of assets and labor fantasy is really fucked up.

    If the point was to make some point about fairness, then none of this plausibility discussion is necessary.

    If the point is to really wind out this idea (and I asked for that which I regret, because a bad idea has only become exponentially worse, but Mr 2012 persists doggedly) then I think we all need to imagine that the progrom begins with us. I’d like 20% of your resources right now. I’d like to completely disrupt your life, the business you work for or own, and the same for everyone else in the country, because in the end it will be more fair. Liquidate 20 – 40% of your assets now. The entire economy will fall to pieces. But you know the finance sector already did that, so why cant we?

    We will all be extremely poor and the economy domestically and globally will spiral into free fall, but you know, it will be worth it. Now. Everyone fall in line.

    It’s true people will suffer and they may even rebel violently, but the State will make it clear to anyone who cares that we are doing great, that the people are happy. (And if you’re not happy, we’re coming for you.)

  288. Posted October 19, 2016 at 4:45 am | Permalink

    ”the State will make it clear to anyone who cares that we are doing great, that the people are happy.”

    An aside (and relevant to Libya), it amazing how information from the United States is treated as complete lies, but information out of authoritarian regimes is accepted without question.

    I, too, thought that Ethiopia was a shining star in the region, until I started talking to people who worked there. They all pointed out that the state controls information rabidly. Bad news isn’t reported, so the results is… no bad news!

    When people talk about how wonderful Gaddafi was, on the one hand, sure, I’m sure a lot of people got fed and went to school, but since we never hear from the people who were disappeared who dared oppose him or from the rural tribes he oppressed (who had no outlet and obviously no international advocate to speak for them), of course he looks great.

    Kids here too young to remember Moi often wear Gadaffi shirts like people in the west wear Che shirts, because they are too young to remember the torture chambers, the lack of access to information and the secret police. It is telling that the older generation don’t have much love for Gadaffi. They mostly thought he was North Africa (which has NOTHING to do with Sub Saharan Africa) buffoon.

    People in Kenya who remember Moi would gladly do without public services to not be spied upon or disappeared when they make jokes in a bar.

    So, while I’m sympathetic to the idea that a government provides services, expanding government control is not a good tradeoff to get it. Sure, it is admirable that Gadaffi ran his government without debts (but he had oil) and invested in public services for some people (his friends or at least the people he wanted to stifle through favors), but at what cost.

    Mr. 2012s suggestions here are impractical. That he has no power to implement them is relieving. His sympathy for authoritarian governments is troubling. One has to assume he has no experience with any of them or anyone from them.

    I would implore him to get educated.

    Of course, he is going to come back at me with obscenities and insults, claim that I don7t understand his true intent, call my PhD into question and be shocked that an individual like me could say such stupid things like I do.

    Fair enough. Between Mr. 2012, Bob and kjc, I should be used to it all by now.

  289. stupid hick
    Posted October 19, 2016 at 6:44 am | Permalink

    I’m not here to defend Alan. I think the implications of MMT are interesting. As I said earlier, I don’t think most people understand what money really is, which may be why some posters can only conceive Alan must be advocating confiscating and redistributing property. Money does not have to be dug out of the ground, it is constantly “printed” to support policy goals. The question is what goals should it serve.

  290. Jean Henry
    Posted October 19, 2016 at 8:01 am | Permalink

    So is Alan the Chair of the Federal Reserve? Because that’s the only way he could implement quantitative easing or the printing of any money. I’m sure the legislature or the Executive branch would love to print money rather than raise revenue, but those powers are separated… for a reason. The currencies of the world are still tied to the dollar. Thank god it’s separated to the limited degree it is from political pressures and shenanigans.

    Stupid Hick you keep saying we don’t know what money is, without expanding. Please explain how MMT has any relevance to policy solutions for economic inequality. And please leave out Quantitative Easing, because that’s not possible via any elected office or combination thereof. In spite of what Jill Stein thinks.

  291. Jean Henry
    Posted October 19, 2016 at 9:24 am | Permalink

    “MMT over-simplifies the challenges of attaining non-inflationary full employment by ignoring the dilemmas posed by Phillips curve analysis; the dilemmas associated with maintaining real and financial sector stability; and the dilemmas confronting open economies. Its policy recommendations also rest on over-simplistic analysis that takes little account of political economy difficulties, and its interest rate policy recommendation would likely generate instability.”

    http://www.thomaspalley.com/docs/articles/macro_theory/mmt.pdf

    Is it time to disengage?
    Yes, I think it has be shown to be so.
    Elaborately. Extravagantly.
    .

  292. alan2102
    Posted October 19, 2016 at 9:47 am | Permalink

    Peter: “His example of Muammar Gaddafi was especially telling (he seems to overlook who killed him and the numerous assassination attempts against him despite his financial favors to his supporters).

    Your selective reading/listening is especially telling.

    I said that “Gaddafi WAS IN SOME WAYS AN ASSHOLE”. How is it possible to be any clearer? It isn’t. But Peter listens selectively, to bolster… well, I don’t know, I guess the mainstream narrative that (in this case) Gaddafi was NOTHING BUT an asshole, hence murdering him and bombing his country to bits was justifiable. Gads.

    Gaddafi: “governments have to strike a balance between providing for the populace and protecting individual rights”

    Yes, of course they do.

    Peter: ” that latter of which Mr. 2012 is silent on.”

    What part of “Gaddafi WAS IN SOME WAYS AN ASSHOLE” do you not understand?

    Peter: “Mr. 2012s … sympathy for authoritarian governments is troubling”

    What part of “Gaddafi WAS IN SOME WAYS AN ASSHOLE” do you not understand?

    Peter: “It was clear that in Libya, many people felt disenfranchised from the leadership of MG”

    Yes, of course. Gaddafi WAS IN SOME WAYS AN ASSHOLE, and it reflected in the publics’ view of him. On the other hand, he did a lot of good things, and that was reflected in public opinions as well. As I said, it was a mixed bag.

    Peter: “I’m not sure how “free stuff” is a mark of good governance.”

    Providing for people’s real needs — housing, food, medical care, etc. — is a mark of a generally healthy society, and probably good governance as well. Generally healthy societies can also have serious problems. All societies are mixed bags. There are no utopias. Not that I know of, anyway.

    Peter: “When people talk about how wonderful Gaddafi was, on the one hand, sure, I’m sure a lot of people got fed and went to school”

    Hey hey hey! Peter is getting it! Yes, got fed, got housed, went to school, got their medical needs taken care of, and much more.

    Peter: “but…we never hear from the people who were disappeared who dared oppose him or from the rural tribes he oppressed”

    That’s right. Gaddafi WAS IN SOME WAYS AN ASSHOLE. An utter fucking asshole.

    Peter, is there something in this for you? I mean, does “disagreeing” with me, even when you don’t, have a benefit for you? Does it make you feel good, or something?

  293. alan2102
    Posted October 19, 2016 at 9:49 am | Permalink

    Peter: “First Trump, then China, now Qaddafhi. There is a pattern here.”

    Yes, a distinct pattern. I called Trump an asshole, several times. I called Gaddafi an asshole; as of the last post, many times.

    China… well, that is a very big subject, and one that you seem to have no interest in, so I don’t even know what you’re talking about.

  294. alan2102
    Posted October 19, 2016 at 10:02 am | Permalink

    stupid hick: “Alan makes a plausible observation that in the USA everyone’s basic needs could be taken care of, and everyone who wants to work could have a job, and there would still be plenty of privilege left over for the rich. It might be true, so why not talk about that instead of yelling “commie”?”

    Yes, a simple, plausible observation. And that makes me a raving Stalinist authoritarian.

    I swear, I could not make this shit up. Literally could not make it up. The idiocy in here can be breathtaking.

    ………….

    stupid hick: “the implications of MMT are interesting. As I said earlier, I don’t think most people understand what money really is, which may be why some posters can only conceive Alan must be advocating confiscating and redistributing property. Money does not have to be dug out of the ground, it is constantly “printed” to support policy goals. The question is what goals should it serve.”

    Exactly. And that simple concept for some reason flies over everyone’s heads, and I’m a bloodthirsty Stalinist authoritarian. Jeezuz God, please save us.

    Actually, it is understandable in light of what has happened since WWII. There has been a concerted and relentless anti-communist propaganda campaign, over many decades, which has perverted many minds. Otherwise-intelligent people now interpret anything outside the narrow scope of the current order as dangerous communistic apostasy, and/or as support of authoritarianism, slavery, Stalinism, etc.

    Here’s a great illustration. Jean writes: “If the point is to really wind out this idea…then I think we all need to imagine that the progrom [pogrom? -alan] begins with us. I’d like 20% of your resources right now. I’d like to completely disrupt your life, the business you work for or own, and the same for everyone else in the country, because in the end it will be more fair. Liquidate 20 – 40% of your assets now. The entire economy will fall to pieces… We will all be extremely poor and the economy domestically and globally will spiral into free fall”

    Right. Social justice calls necessarily for militarized police action, door-to-door confiscations at gunpoint, forced liquidations, economic collapse, and desperate poverty.

    This is the kind of rubbish that you read on “libertarian” and right-wing fora; idiots who interpret ALL taxation, for example, as THEFT.

    Such sad, dystopic visions can only be the product of those who have been brainwashed by decades of pro-fascist, anti-communist propaganda, and now cannot imagine peaceful, democratic, consensual change toward social justice.

    It is a sight to behold: perfectly intelligent people, mentally crippled so severely that they are incapable of imagining emancipatory consensual democratic change, and can see ONLY harsh dictatorial crap. Incredible, but true.

  295. Jean Henry
    Posted October 19, 2016 at 10:06 am | Permalink

    Alan– you too read selectively. Pete’s point was that your program requires extensive state control to implement and maintain. And your examples all happen to be places where state control is and was oppressive. Saying Gaddafi was an asshole, does not make the rest of the idea sound. Gaddafi was an asshole in order to be able to autocratically implement the radical reforms he did. (Also Libya was extraordinarily resource rich, not rich via economic productivity like the US. He was pulling the means out of the ground; we cant do that. You objected to this pattern yourself.) A friend of mine, a political activist/artist from Chile, described American leftists like this: They are naive. They don’t understand what is required to get everyone to march in the same direction.”

    Maybe Pete’s arguing with you because your ideas are unsound and their presumptions dangerous. (and increasingly common)
    Maybe he’s arguing with you because you immediately jumped to personal attacks against him and assumptions about his political ideas at the beginning of the ridiculous thread, in which your ideas have been excessively and elaborately indulged. Most people would simply laugh and not argue you. Pete’s showing you more respect than they are.

  296. alan2102
    Posted October 19, 2016 at 10:08 am | Permalink

    Jean: “MMT over-simplifies the challenges of attaining non-inflationary full employment by ignoring the dilemmas posed by Phillips curve…”

    Oh my GOD! Someone disagrees with MMT! That PROVES that it is a bunch of rubbish!

    Thanks, Jean. I was about to be led astray, but you’ve saved me from my own foolishness.

    Yes, absolutely it is time to disengage. STOP the conversation.

  297. Jean Henry
    Posted October 19, 2016 at 10:32 am | Permalink

    My point was that we here had questions about implementation and impact that you could not answer adequately, and those points appeared to be validated by much more legitimate analysis of the policy.

    I’m sorry that anyone disagreeing with you prompts you to yell.

  298. Jean Henry
    Posted October 19, 2016 at 10:43 am | Permalink

    The principles of democracy hold that ALL political perspectives are legitimate and self-limited. Multiple perspectives make apparent via critical analysis, the holes in opposing perspectives.

    That’s what discourse does. The risks of either autocratic tendencies under State control or inequities and abuse under capitalism are real. You have resorted Alan to assuming that any critique of your position is politically motivated, rather than actually taking it seriously. Saying a criticism is also evident in Libertarian thought does not make it invalid, even if Libertarianism itself is stupid.

    The reason absolutist political thought of any stripe is frightening is because it resists criticism as sacrilege. Th tendency to political fundamentalism is very very disturbing.

    We actually indulged your ideas. Gave them an audience.That we could not come to agreement is not reason for becoming upset.

    We agreed on quite a lot– on the need for programs to address poverty and income inequality as well as climate change. But you, Alan, not anyone else, insisted that all your ideas be validated by everyone else. OR you would get angry. that shows autocratic tendencies.

    And despite our fear of Trump’s autocratic nature, that tendency has been shown to be more prevalent among people with Liberal political leanings

  299. alan2102
    Posted October 19, 2016 at 10:44 am | Permalink

    Jean: “Pete’s point was that your program requires extensive state control to implement and maintain.”

    What is “my program”? You don’t know, do you? That’s because I’ve never suggested a program, a specific path toward social justice goals. I’ve mostly pointed out how badly unjust is the existing system. And you and Peter have interpreted this, absurdly, as a demand for immediate Stalinistic societal reconstruction. You guys are like cartoon characters.

    Expansion of the public sector can be a matter of consensual democratic change. I suppose, if your mind is sufficiently perverted, that this could be interpreted as wickedly Stalinistic “extensive [authoritarian] state control”. Such perversion is characteristic of right-wing assholes. I do not take you to be a right-wing asshole. But you do utter some things that are perfectly consistent with the utterances of right-wing assholes, as does Peter.

    There are different ways to achieve similar ends. I’ve been attracted to libertarian socialism (libertarian in the original sense, not in the sense latterly acquired from anarcho-capitalist types) and mutualism. Free-market anti-capitalism, as Kevin Carson calls it. I see this as possibly a better way to go for the U.S., which has so deeply internalized the free market meme. We need policies, and a system, that is consistent with the American ethos and ideal. As Randy Wray wrote (quoted above): “We need policies consistent with American values of work, initiative, self-sufficiency, and productivity.” Yes. Culture is important. What we do needs to be consistent with American culture and its biases.

    You didn’t know any of that, because you’ve never asked. You never inquired as to what “my program” might be. You simply took a few observations and twisted them into unrecognizable rubbish.

    Jean: “your examples all happen to be places where state control is and was oppressive.”

    I did not even give any examples, if by examples you mean existing systems that model what I would consider admirable and worthy of emulation. The reason Libya came up was in response to Jcp, who suggested that Muslims would necessarily reject UBI or social democratic types of policies. Libya, however deeply flawed, was a counter-example. Jcp never responded to that.

    Jean: “Maybe Pete’s arguing with you because your ideas are unsound and their presumptions dangerous. (and increasingly common)”

    You have failed to indicate how my ideas are unsound. You don’t have a clue as to what my ideas even ARE.

    Jean: “Maybe he’s arguing with you because you immediately jumped to personal attacks against him and assumptions about his political ideas”

    My points about the mean and Malthusian implications of his clearly and repeatedly stated views remain unanswered.

  300. alan2102
    Posted October 19, 2016 at 11:20 am | Permalink

    On the off chance that anyone is interested in the ongoing discussion…

    Some of this, frankly, goes over my head. But I’m trying.

    http://www.economonitor.com/lrwray/2012/07/26/on-the-supposed-weaknesses-of-mmt-response-to-palley/
    ON THE SUPPOSED WEAKNESSES OF MMT: RESPONSE TO PALLEY
    Author: L. Randall Wray · July 26th, 2012

    http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/09538259.2014.957471
    Modern Money Theory: A Reply to Palley
    Eric Tymoigne & L. Randall Wray
    Pages 24-44 | Received 06 Oct 2013

    And, rather more readable:

    http://bilbo.economicoutlook.net/blog/?p=22701
    I wonder what the hell I have been writing all these years
    Posted on Tuesday, February 12, 2013 by bill
    [essentially an extended response to Palley]

    One comment from the above link (bilbo.econo…):

    “Brian says: Wednesday, February 13, 2013 at 1:33
    Bill, in my opinion Mr. Palley is a mere tsetse fly compared to your mighty presence. You used up too much of your valuable time to swat him. You used a sledgehammer – a flick of the finger would have been sufficient. I laughed out loud when I read his words about MMT along the lines of ‘everybody knows this stuff’ – the mainstreamers arrogance is quite stunning.”

    …………………………….

    Who is right? Hell if I know. I’m still reading and thinking. That might go on for a few years. I will let others ignorantly dismiss the whole discussion out of hand. Me, I’m rather fond of reading and thinking, and considering novel, challenging new ideas. –alan2102

  301. alan2102
    Posted October 19, 2016 at 11:28 am | Permalink

    Jean: “Saying a criticism is also evident in Libertarian thought does not make it invalid, even if Libertarianism itself is stupid.”

    Libertarianism is indeed pretty damn stupid, and consistency with libertarian (in the anarcho-capititalist sense) ideas is a fair general litmus test for probable invalidity. Not certain, just probable.

  302. jean henry
    Posted October 19, 2016 at 11:30 am | Permalink

    Alan we explored in detail several of your ideas and Lynns guaranteed minimum income idea. We even addressed how you thought redistribution would happen without heavy taxation burden.
    This entire thread evolved from a discussion of orienting policy towards poverty alleviation v income inequality.

    Never has someone’s ideas been so indulged and yet he persisted in feeling unheard. We don’t have to agree with you to hear you.

  303. jean henry
    Posted October 19, 2016 at 11:43 am | Permalink

    Alan you position are anti-democratic. That’s the core issue. It’s easy to come up with perfect seeming answers in an ideological vacuum and very self gratifying. It’s useless practically however.

  304. alan2102
    Posted October 19, 2016 at 11:46 am | Permalink

    Jean: “so is Alan the Chair of the Federal Reserve? Because that’s the only way he could implement quantitative easing or the printing of any money.”

    I see. So, I cannot participate in any discussion of these issues if I am not chair of the FR or otherwise in a position, personally, to immediately and unilaterally institute dramatic economic changes. What a strange world you live in, Jean.

    Jean: “Stupid Hick you keep saying we don’t know what money is, without expanding. Please explain how MMT has any relevance to policy solutions for economic inequality.”

    Are you serious? Are you really that ignorant?

    emergency remedial reading list:
    http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2014/05/randy-wray-forget-taxes-redistribution-inequality.html
    http://neweconomicperspectives.org/2014/10/equality-mmt-real-fiscal-responsibility-re-inventing-democracy.html
    http://bilbo.economicoutlook.net/blog/?p=16506
    http://sevenpillarsinstitute.org/news/economics/failure-orthodox-economics-interview-l-randall-wray

    ……………..

    Who is right? Hell if I know. I’m still reading and thinking. That might go on for a few years. I will let others ignorantly dismiss the whole discussion out of hand. Me, I’m rather fond of reading and thinking, and considering novel, challenging new ideas. –alan2102

  305. alan2102
    Posted October 19, 2016 at 11:54 am | Permalink

    jean: “Alan we explored in detail several of your ideas and Lynns guaranteed minimum income idea.”

    The guaranteed income idea was never “explored in detail”. It was mentioned. That’s all. And that’s cool. If you don’t want to explore it, that’s fine. Personally, I don’t even think it is the best of ideas for the U.S., as I made clear several times, because of the cultural peculiarities of this country. Other approaches to similar ends would probably work better here. And if you don’t want to explore those, that’s cool too. Whatever.

    Somehow you have the idea that my making of many posts, some of them passionate, means that I am insisting that everyone agree with me. That’s hardly the case. If I present some ideas with passion, that means I feel passionately about some things. If others disagree, that is fine. All I ask is that the disagreement be at least marginally intellectually respectable, not just silly talking right-wing talking points, or ignorant dismissals.

  306. iRobert
    Posted October 19, 2016 at 11:57 am | Permalink

    Mark, you asked us to remind you to come back to this thread and straighten it out.

    I’m really upset about the direction it’s taken. My comments about how much I despise you have been lost in all this discussion.

  307. Lynne
    Posted October 19, 2016 at 12:36 pm | Permalink

    I have been reading up on MMT fwiw and have not yet formed much of an 0pinion on it but it is interesting. I do wish more economists were better writers though because wow, most of the stuff available is boring even for an economics wonk like me. :) Thanks for the links though.

  308. jean henry
    Posted October 19, 2016 at 2:42 pm | Permalink

    Alan– the point (which I made clearly) is that quantitative easing is not subject to the democratic process in our country. We don’t get voice in what the Fed does. It’s fine to criticize and question Fed policy, but the chances of enacting any policy initiative that requires Fed compliance is zero. (And you argued that it’s feasibility was simply a matter of the collective will or imagination or vision, but in fact it’s structurally impossible) And nonyou don’t get a say in Fed policy. The fed chair has autocratic power (with many advisors) over its realm, precisely so the legislative whims of our politicians and the people are not allowed to tank the entire global economy. So short of being fed chair , your ideas are a non-starter.

  309. jean henry
    Posted October 19, 2016 at 2:46 pm | Permalink

    I’m not ignorant Alan. I asked Stupid Hick to expand upon their statement, so I can fully understand their point. I’d rather not assume I understand his perspective. It’s clear you have no such limitation.

  310. alan2102
    Posted October 19, 2016 at 3:08 pm | Permalink

    Jean: “http://www.juancole.com/2011/08/top-ten-myths-about-the-libya-war.html”

    Yes, good old Juan Cole… a man of the left (kinda/sorta) who consorts with CIA agents and otherwise has highly-questionable attributes…
    https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2011/04/pers-a01.html
    http://original.antiwar.com/john-v-walsh/2011/09/01/juan-cole-consultant-to-the-cia/

    Nevertheless, I’ll give credit where it is due. Prof Cole is capable of excellent observations:

    http://www.juancole.com/2013/12/almost-neoliberalism-detroit.html

    Almost Human: How Robots, Race and Neoliberalism killed Detroit and what it Means for You

    By Juan Cole | Dec. 4, 2013

    snip

    The big question is whether Detroit’s bankruptcy and likely further decline is a fluke or whether it tells us something about the dystopia that the United States is becoming. It seems to me that the city’s problems are the difficulties of the country as a whole, especially the issues of deindustrialization, robotification, structural unemployment, the rise of the 1% in gated communities, and the racial divide.

    snip

    It seems to me that we need to abandon capitalism as production becomes detached from human labor. I think all robot labor should be nationalized and put in the public sector, and all citizens should receive a basic stipend from it. Then, if robots make an automobile, the profits will not go solely to a corporation that owns the robots, but rather to all the citizens. It wouldn’t be practical anyway for the robots to be making things for unemployed, penniless humans. Perhaps we need a 21st century version of ‘from all according to their abilities, to all according to their needs.’

    Communally-owned mechanized/ computerized forms of production would also help resolve the problem of increasing income inequality in the United States. The top 1% is now taking home 20% of the national income each month, up from 10% a few decades ago. The 1% did a special number on southeast Michigan with its derivatives and unregulated mortgage markets; the 2008 crash hit the region hard, and it had already been being hit hard. The Detroit area is a prime example of the blight that comes from having extreme wealth (Bloomfield Hills, Grosse Pointe) and extreme poverty (most of Detroit) co-existing in an urban metropolitan area. It doesn’t work.

    snip

    With robot labor, cheap wind and solar power, and a shrinking global population, post-2050 human beings could have universally high standards of living. They could put their energies into software creation, biotech, and artistic creativity, which are all sustainable. The stipend generated by robot labor would be a basic income for everyone, but they’d all be free to see if they could generate further income from entrepreneurship or creativity. And that everyone had a basic level of income would ensure that there were buyers for the extra goods or services. This future will depend on something like robot communalism, and an abandonment of racism, so that all members of the commune are equal and integrated into new, sustainable urban spaces.

    Insisting on a 19th century political economy like barracuda capitalism in the face of the rise of mechanized smart labor and the decline of human-based industry produces Detroit. Racial segregation and prejudice produces Detroit. Shrinking and starving government and cutting services while forcing workers to work for ever shrinking wages (or even forcing them out of the labor market altogether) produces Detroit. In essence, Detroit is the natural outgrowth of the main principles of today’s Tea Party-dominated Republican Party. It doesn’t work, and isn’t the future.

    Here here!

    “With robot labor, cheap wind and solar power, and a shrinking global population, post-2050 human beings could have universally high standards of living” … IF we abandon the “19th century political economy [of] barracuda capitalism”.

    I hereby take back my misgivings about professor Cole, perhaps even wrt his misguided take on Libya. Two cheers for the good prof!

    However, there is still the difficult problem of integration of ideas like basic income guarantees with American cultural/attitudinal peculiarities, as I’ve mentioned. Perhaps that integration can happen over the next generation. We’ll see.

    Further, I do hope that someone here can contact Dr Cole and set him straight on a few things, like the fact that “deindustrialization, robotification, structural unemployment, [and] the rise of the 1% in gated communities” is NOT really a problem. We’ve been assured on good authority that unemployment and job loss (due to robotification and other) are no problem at all. As Dr Larson has averred, “automation and NAFTA happened and there was barely any effect on unemployment … This idea that work is an ever rarer commodity is just preposterous.”

    Cole also needs to be apprised of the undeniable fact that anyone who opposes “shrinking and starving government and cutting services while forcing workers to work for ever shrinking wages” cannot be but a Stalinist, anxious to coerce everyone at gunpoint to cleave a vicious authoritarian communist system.

    Please, let’s bring Dr Cole up to speed on these points.

  311. alan2102
    Posted October 19, 2016 at 3:23 pm | Permalink

    Jean: “quantitative easing is not subject to the democratic process in our country. We don’t get voice in what the Fed does…. the chances of enacting any policy initiative that requires Fed compliance is zero…. it’s structurally impossible … The fed chair has autocratic power”

    Yes, Jean, I get it. The Fed has divine right — unquestionable, absolute and unchangeable.

    Jean: “precisely so the legislative whims of our politicians and the people are not allowed to tank the entire global economy.”

    Read: precisely so democratic will, for either good or ill, can never be expressed.

    I get it. The fatalistic view. I used to be that way. Thank God(dess) I found my way out of it.

    You know, Jean, you would make a very good propagandist for the banks and the plutocracy. Their position depends critically on widespread fatalism and deference to the power of money that you espouse.

  312. alan2102
    Posted October 19, 2016 at 3:34 pm | Permalink

    jean: “I’m not ignorant Alan. I asked Stupid Hick to expand upon their statement, so I can fully understand their point.”

    Would it be too much to ask that you spend (say) 20 minutes investigating MMT before posting disparaging comments about it? Disparaging comments followed by “Is it time to disengage? Yes, I think it has be shown to be so”, i.e. let’s just drop out of the discussion, since there’s nothing further to be known or shared.

    And btw what I just wrote should not be construed to mean that there are not serious questions about MMT. The discussions (below the initiating posts) on some of the links I gave provide plenty to think about, including much criticism of MMT from the left. Lots to mull over. I welcome your informed commentary and criticism.

  313. jean henry
    Posted October 19, 2016 at 4:24 pm | Permalink

    I spent more than 20 minutes on it Alan. (Something few others would bother to do) . I’ve actually heard about it before. I’ve sat in on lectures by Charles Eisenstaedt and others who talk about the question of money theoretically. I studied Quantitative Easing fairly extendively. You are incredulous that someone who is informed adequately might disagree with you. Thanks for all the links but I’m done, you pedantic, self consumed, condescending asshat.

    How’s that for discourse!

  314. jean henry
    Posted October 19, 2016 at 4:32 pm | Permalink

    *Charies Eisenstein

  315. Bob
    Posted October 19, 2016 at 6:33 pm | Permalink

    Lol

  316. Posted October 20, 2016 at 3:13 am | Permalink

    There are plenty of historical examples that support the need for a wholly independent central bank.

    Given that Mr. 2012 is well informed, I am sure he understands these historical examples.

  317. Jean Henry
    Posted October 20, 2016 at 9:57 am | Permalink

    Thanks, Pete. I hear there’s a very popular musical.

    Alan, who thinks Libertarians are nuts and not worth any consideration, shares with them a dislike of the independence of the Federal Reserve.

    Maybe when the Federal Reserve is stripped of its autonomy, there should be a duel between Alan and a Libertarian to determine Federal monetary policy going forward,

  318. stupid hick
    Posted October 20, 2016 at 10:52 pm | Permalink

    Money is a cultural contrivance that allows a society to keep score between its members, a medium to facilitate claims on resources and discharge obligations. Money derives value from the confidence of people in the strength and fairness of their society to enforce reciprocity. It’s a means to abstract debt within a society. The laws that define the US monetary system are not like the laws of physics. Money creation is a ritual performed in accordance with accepted rules and customs of our society. The rules of our monetary system are what we say they are. In fact the rules change all the time. Is it possible to make changes to support labor instead of capital, without going full Commie, or totalitarian, or abolishing the Fed? I think so, but I pose it as a question, because maybe not enough members of our society agree. That said, I think perhaps more people would agree if they had a clearer understanding of what money is. As for libertarians, I don’t mean to insult anyone here, but so many of them seem to be proponents of the gold standard, which is a moronic idea.

  319. stupid hick
    Posted October 20, 2016 at 11:15 pm | Permalink

    I don’t expect anyone to actually read these books because they’re long, but maybe Google them or read a wikipedia page for background about what I’m saying. “Debt: the first 5000 years”, Graeber. “Monetary History of the United States”, Friedman. “Pigs for the Ancestors”, Rappaport. Also, neweconomicperspectives.org about MMT. About MMT, I think it may help to focus on the factual description of the US monetary system at first. You don’t have to accept the policy suggestions.

  320. Posted October 21, 2016 at 2:36 am | Permalink

    “Money creation is a ritual performed in accordance with accepted rules and customs of our society. The rules of our monetary system are what we say they are. In fact the rules change all the time. Is it possible to make changes to support labor instead of capital, without going full Commie, or totalitarian, or abolishing the Fed?”

    For the first part, isn’t that obvious? I don’t think that anyone should argue otherwise.

    For the second, why would a populist approach to monetary policy be in anyway good for anyone?

  321. Westside
    Posted October 21, 2016 at 7:40 am | Permalink

    You do realize that populist means for the benefit of ordinary people don’t you?

  322. Westside
    Posted October 21, 2016 at 7:46 am | Permalink

    https://www.britannica.com/topic/populism

    Hmmmm….

  323. Posted October 21, 2016 at 8:22 am | Permalink

    I would consider Trump to be a populist candidate, but none of his policies are for the benefit of ordinary people.

    To me, populism is a pejorative. I might be using the term incorrectly.

  324. Posted October 21, 2016 at 8:26 am | Permalink

    This is far more interesting.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Populism

    Just because the “people” demand something (segregation or getting rid of Mexicans or killing rich people) or view it as beneficial (“free” services or money) doesn’t mean that those things are beneficial to them in the grand scheme of things.

    Again, I could be using the term too loosely.

  325. Jean Henry
    Posted October 21, 2016 at 9:11 am | Permalink

    Populism like any form of political movement can be effective in meeting the need of its constituents (in the case of populism’s case: the people) or it can be corrupted and manipulate the bias and fear of the people to gain and hold power. There is nothing about populism that is inherently going to lead to better results than other constituent groups. This is something the left does not understand. Labor Unions are incredibly important, but they too can be abused, and have been abused, as can any form of concentrated power. It always amazes me that we on the left refuse to acknowledge the negative histories of labor unions as well as the positives. It’s a form of sacrilege. We have blinders.

    Lee Atwater figured out how populist rhetoric works to sway the popular vote. Hinge your rhetoric on a little bias, seed some fear , but encode the whole thing in language that wasn’t direct– and whammo you can win elections. He, followed by Rove and Newt, used that strategy to help Reagan and Bush 1 elected and to bring about the Republican Revolution in the Congress. That Republican Revolution started in local and state races where conservative candidates were armed with talking points and language instructions so that the entire Republican Party started to feel like a movement of ‘the people’ to many bible belt conservatives.

    I very much believe in grassroots change. Populist political candidates like Trump and Sanders no longer meet with grassroots activists. they just use the language, so it feels like they are speaking for those groups of people.

    Obama made a speech recently saying that what Trump was doing was not populism. He was using the talking points of Jim Hightower, who is also trying to reclaim populism into a movement of integrity. http://jimhightower.com/ Hightower was a big Sanders supporter and an advisor for a while. (I’d really like to hear his take now) I wish Mr Sanders had actually lead a grassroots campaign, but he did not support lower ticket progressives on primary ballots. He did not meet with grassroots coalitions in every state. He did not listen to advocates in target policy areas who had been working on them for decades. He just used the language of populism. And when it wasn’t enough he went to seeding fear and derision of his opponent and allegations of rigged…well everything. Rigged not against people of color or the rural poor or even the working class really, but against him and his supporters.

    If he had run a true grassroots campaign, maybe he would not have resorted to tactics that destroyed his legitimacy. Maybe he’d have more to build on now or the nomination. I know this will be seen by many on this site as just another chance to jab at Sanders. But I think this election has made clear the risks of corruption within populism are as powerful as those within corporate control.

    I’m all for the voices of the people being heard. But the people have many voices. (When people on the left use the term participatory democracy, they often seem to assume all the people are on their side) The people are too often galvanized and energized by anger and hatred rather than hope. Nationalism and tribalism are both forms of populism. The people may have interests in common but they don’t agree at all on the best path to meet those interests. And they are very easily divided, within populism, against on another.

    Which is a point that almost ties out to the intention of the original post.

    Populism means a movement of the people. It can be hinge on bias, fear and anger or on hope and change. Often on both. It’s not inherently better than the party system or special interest advocacy groups and voting blocks any other way that people organize to be heard in a Democracy.

  326. alan2102
    Posted October 22, 2016 at 4:31 pm | Permalink

    http://theweek.com/articles/442121/federal-reserves-independence-dangerous-undemocratic-boon-wall-street
    “the only way for Democrats to credibly argue they have reigned in Wall Street is to drop their silly pretense that the Fed should be “independent.” They must reread the Constitution, and recognize that monetary policy is clearly within Congress’ purview.”

  327. alan2102
    Posted October 22, 2016 at 6:32 pm | Permalink

    But actually, the matter of Fed independence misses the point. Money can be issued by the U.S. government directly. No need for the Fed. Historically, money HAS been issued by the U.S. government directly — “United States Notes” (versus “Federal Reserve Notes”). In any case, no need to make the discussion contingent on the matter of Fed independence.

  328. Posted October 23, 2016 at 2:16 am | Permalink

    Yes, that is what we need. Simply print more money and start handing it out to the people.

    I think you’re onto something, Alan.

  329. alan2102
    Posted October 23, 2016 at 9:16 am | Permalink

    It is not me that is “onto something”. It is a lot of smart economists. I’m not saying they are right, but I am saying that they deserve a hearing. Helicopter money is one possible solution or partial solution (among others) to current problems including deflation, poor aggregate demand, dreadful inequalities, poverty and joblessness, etc.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Helicopter_money
    Supporters
    Former chairman of the Federal Reserve Ben Bernanke is known to be one of the proponents of helicopter money when he gave a speech in November 2002 arguing, in the case of Japan, that “a money-financed tax cut is essentially equivalent to Milton Friedman’s famous ‘helicopter drop’ of money.”[24] In April 2016, Ben Bernanke wrote a blog post arguing that “such programs may be the best available alternative. It would be premature to rule them out.”[25]
    Citigroup Chief Economist Willem Buiter is also known to be a prominent advocate of the concept.[26] Other proponents include Financial Times’ Chief Commentator Martin Wolf,[27] Oxford economists John Muellbauer,[12] and Simon Wren-Lewis, Economist Steve Keen, the political economist Mark Blyth of Brown University, Berkeley economics professor and former Treasury advisor, Brad DeLong,[28] UCLA economics professor, Roger Farmer, American macro hedge fund manager Ray Dalio, Irish economist and Fund manager Eric Lonergan,[29] Anatole Kaletsky.[30]

    Here’s some background on the helicopter-drop idea in the developing world:

    http://www.economist.com/news/international/21588385-giving-money-directly-poor-people-works-surprisingly-well-it-cannot-deal
    snippit:
    “enough of these programmes are up and running to make a first assessment. Early results are encouraging: giving money away pulls people out of poverty, with or without conditions. Recipients of unconditional cash do not blow it on booze and brothels, as some feared. Households can absorb a surprising amount of cash and put it to good use.”

    ……………………..

    Who is right? Hell if I know. I’m still reading and thinking. That might go on for a few years. I will let others ignorantly dismiss the whole discussion out of hand. Me, I’m rather fond of reading and thinking, and considering novel, challenging new ideas. –alan2102

  330. alan2102
    Posted October 23, 2016 at 9:32 am | Permalink

    Jean, regarding MMT: “You are incredulous that someone who is informed adequately might disagree with you.”

    That’s odd, since I’ve said repeatedly (to the point of redundancy) that I do NOT have a set opinion or conclusion on the subject. No “disagreement” with me can exist, since I’ve not taken a position, except to say that it is a big subject which deserves study by anyone who wants to arrive at a quality conclusion.

    How many times does this have to be repeated? —

    Who is right? Hell if I know. I’m still reading and thinking. That might go on for a few years. I will let others ignorantly dismiss the whole discussion out of hand. Me, I’m rather fond of reading and thinking, and considering novel, challenging new ideas. –alan2102

  331. alan2102
    Posted October 23, 2016 at 9:33 am | Permalink

    Jean: “Thanks for all the links but I’m done, you pedantic, self consumed, condescending asshat.”

    I love you too, Jean.
    Warm Regards,
    alan2102

  332. alan2102
    Posted October 23, 2016 at 9:47 am | Permalink

    A couple more resources:

    http://neweconomicperspectives.org/2014/06/modern-money-theory-basics.html
    MODERN MONEY THEORY: THE BASICS
    Posted on June 24, 2014 by L. Randall Wray

    Short book by Warren Mosler:
    http://moslereconomics.com/wp-content/powerpoints/7DIF.pdf
    Seven Deadly Innocent Frauds of Economic Policy

  333. Frosted Flakes
    Posted October 23, 2016 at 3:54 pm | Permalink

    Is the idea that printing money, and in this case giving it the poor, is just functionally a form of taxation and redistribution? Is the sidestepping of democratic processes and jumping straight to taxation the underlying feature that is appealing to some people?

  334. stupid hick
    Posted October 23, 2016 at 6:08 pm | Permalink

    Print money and give it to poor people. Lol, isn’t that already how the ‘taxation is theft’ crowd views all non defense government spending? The truth is the US doesn’t have to borrow to fund spending. We just choose to do so. Is there a limit to how much we can borrow or print? There probably is, somewhere. As we approach the boundary we should get warning signs in the form of inflation. Look, even so, people need to understand money is not the same as wealth. Money is just a contrivance used to keep score in a game, whose rules we define, and a game which is out of balance can be adjusted by its players. Sovereign debt is not the same as household debt. Sovereign debt isn’t meant to be paid off, it’s meant to be managed to balance values defined by society. For example, employment, price levels, price stability.

  335. Jean Henry
    Posted October 23, 2016 at 6:32 pm | Permalink

    Stupid Hick. I think most people get that money is a way of keeping score, a trade bead. It’s not a new human innovation. It really doesn’t matter much. I’m not sure why you think we haven’t realized that and, if we did, it would , like, blow… our… minds.

    Generally speaking, people prefer an agreed upon means to ‘keep score’ in any game, or fights break out.

  336. Jean Henry
    Posted October 23, 2016 at 6:39 pm | Permalink

    Frosted Flakes– In a word, yes. People who question Alan’s theories are extremely upsetting and a barrier to the path to progress defined by Alan which should be obvious to all. Alan seems not especially interested in implementing change via any standard process, but since he is a liberal, we should all just trust and not question the integrity of his ideas. Do not suggest that Alan is really just getting his rocks off by winding out his own personal monetary theory. It’s really really important that everyone pay attention to him and his ideas. It’s kind of everything. We much achieve agreement… with Alan. And he will keep pushing his points until that day comes. And, if you disagree with him, you are an idiot and a threat to all that is good and hopeful and Alan in this world.

  337. stupid hick
    Posted October 23, 2016 at 6:44 pm | Permalink

    OK Jean, I don’t mean to belabor the point. So we’re all clear that taxation is not a prerequisite for spending, nor is borrowing, and the national debt represents private assets, not like a household debt, that our children will ever be expected to “pay off” in full.

  338. Jean Henry
    Posted October 23, 2016 at 6:47 pm | Permalink

    For what it’s worth I read that economist article (about giving cash benefits to the poor) when it came out and agree with it. It’s not proposing a pay out to everyone I think those in poverty should be administered less and paid more until they get out of poverty. And I don’t think they should be penalized for earning income until they reach a threshold. As I said earlier, I support reparations– in part because of the findings in that article. I’m not interested in funding such an initiative with quantitative easing. At any rate, we’re 20 years from something like that. Because we don’t all just listen to Alan.

  339. stupid hick
    Posted October 23, 2016 at 6:49 pm | Permalink

    I don’t mean to speak for Alan, but my impression is he’s upset that people are are assuming he must be a communist, and have been putting reactionary words in his mouth, when he has made no such pronouncements.

  340. Frosted Flakes
    Posted October 23, 2016 at 7:45 pm | Permalink

    “Taxation is not a prerequisite of spending, nor is borrowing”.

    I assume everyone here believes this to be true.

    It seems like when I said printing +spending is functionally a form of taxation, you assumed I was expressing an anti tax statement. If so, I am not sure why you would make that assumption….

    I asked my question because I was wondering what might be appealing about one route toward redistribution (printing+spending) over another route toward redistribution (taxation + spending).

  341. Posted October 23, 2016 at 10:36 pm | Permalink

    Excessively printing money to pay for government obligations is often a bad idea can have negative effects.

    Ask Robert Mugabe.

  342. Posted October 23, 2016 at 10:45 pm | Permalink

    I don’t see where anyone has called Mr. 2012 a communist.

    Before defending him, one should note that Mr. 2012 historically has not been particularly friendly to people on this blog so it should be no surprise that people are not particularly friendly to him.

  343. Westside
    Posted October 24, 2016 at 6:21 am | Permalink

    But name calling?

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Name_calling

  344. Westside
    Posted October 24, 2016 at 6:28 am | Permalink

    “We need to get better at finding ways to disagree on matters of policy while agreeing on matters of decency and civility– How we talk to each other, treat each other, respect each other matters.” –HRC

  345. Westside
    Posted October 24, 2016 at 6:43 am | Permalink

    And nobody thinks quantitative easing is just printing money? Or is it OK if the printed money just goes to the banks?

  346. Jean Henry
    Posted October 24, 2016 at 7:57 am | Permalink

    Westside– Alan started with name calling right off the bat. I tried to engage his ideas critically for two days. He just kept doubling down on the righteousness, condescension and the flood of links. I probably should not have gone low, but I find him and his mode of argument close to intolerable. His points are one thing. His being as ass is another. There’s a point at which you need to say the problem is not your ideas; the problem is you. Although there was plenty wrong with his ideas too. So. much. wrong. And yet he concedes nothing.

    Also, Stupid Hick, before Alan took umbrage to the implication that his ideas contained markers of leftist ideology and autocratic tendencies (which they absolutely do), he tried to pigeon hole Pete as first a Republican and then a Libertarian.

    Some people are assholes, and after giving them a bunch of chances, I have no problem saying so.

    Alan did not come here to engage in discourse. He came here to spin off his crackpot theories ad nauseam and to seek validation we did not offer him. He became increasingly angry. At some point when engaging in discourse with someone who insists they are right and everyone else is wrong, you just need to stop and call them on process. I think Alan was given many chances.

    Stupid Hick– yes we are all clear on that it’s not a necessity to tax in order to spend. What you seem to be ignoring, on theoretical grounds of money being a concept, is the perilous consequence (beyond one little mention of inflation) of quantitative easing, especially if taken out of the hands of the independent monetary fund.

    Because money may be a concept, but the impact of economic catastrophies are very real.

    And yes, Westside, QE was used to help the banks and all of us (should have been more of us) after the collapse of 2008. Conceivably it could be used for reparations, but the economic impact to the larger economy would need to be carefully considered (something Congress seems ill-equipped to do v the central bank) QE cant be used for annual expenditures. That would be a disaster. It’s becoming far too common. Leftists like Jill Stein talk about it like it’s money hidden under the floor boards, which is akin to thinking a cash advance is free money.

    The inanity of this discussion on a basic economic feasibility level is frightening. No wonder conservatives think liberals are out to lunch in their economic thinking. We do pretty well in office with the economy. That’s testimony to the functionality of the process. Because the economic fantasies expressed here, if adopted by my party, would make me leave the party. I suspect most other people would too.

    I would love to hear examples of other countries where any of this proposed monetary policy and extensive redistribution via QE was put into effect and how that panned out

  347. Frosted Flakes
    Posted October 24, 2016 at 8:34 am | Permalink

    I am curious: Is there a political movement that is giving out gold stars after the MMT quiz? After the quiz are people made to be convinced that they have esoteric knowledge? Reading through the above thread there was a continual misplaced assumption that people taking a contrary position were disagreeing primarily because they were lacking in knowledge. I am not sure but it sure felt like a lot of the condescension was perhaps the result of systematic- thought -programming….In which case, calling someone an “ass” might be a little harsh.

  348. alan2102
    Posted October 24, 2016 at 9:37 am | Permalink

    Jean: “People who question Alan’s theories are extremely upsetting and a barrier to the path to progress defined by Alan”

    How many times does this have to be repeated? —

    Who is right? Hell if I know. I’m still reading and thinking. That might go on for a few years. I will let others ignorantly dismiss the whole discussion out of hand. Me, I’m rather fond of reading and thinking, and considering novel, challenging new ideas. –alan2102

  349. alan2102
    Posted October 24, 2016 at 9:42 am | Permalink

    Peter: “Excessively printing money to pay for government obligations is often a bad idea can have negative effects. Ask Robert Mugabe.”

    Garsh. The MMT guys never thought of that. OK, so their theory is blown out of the water. End of discussion.

  350. alan2102
    Posted October 24, 2016 at 9:48 am | Permalink

    Jean: “I read that economist article (about giving cash benefits to the poor) when it came out and agree with it.”

    Hmmm. So, at least one person here agrees with my crackpot theories. Except that they are not my theories, and never have been, as stated many times (now redundantly, but that was an apparent necessity). They are interesting-as-heck ideas, being promulgated by a lot of smart people. I am reading with great interest. They might be on to something.

  351. EOS
    Posted October 24, 2016 at 10:16 am | Permalink

    Printing money devalues the currency that everybody holds. It is the driving force of inflation. We haven’t seen the negative effects recently only because those holding the T-bills haven’t yet cashed in. China can destroy our economy at the time of its own choosing. Savings and investments will plummet. The only question is when.

  352. Lynne
    Posted October 24, 2016 at 10:37 am | Permalink

    FWIW, printing money and QE are the same in that they both increase the M1 money supply.

    And boy is Jean ever the Pot calling Kettle black when she claims that anyone is an asshole in how they argue. Shew-we!

    A guaranteed minimum income (which is when money is given directly to the poor) or a basic income (which is when money is given to everyone) are both good ideas although for obvious reasons, the GMI is more likely to have support than a Basic Income. Personally, I like the idea of a Basic Income because in addition to easing poverty, it will get people out of the workforce at a time when demand for labor is decreasing (not eliminated as Peter Larson has seemed to argue). I like it because no one falls through the cracks and because it effectively redistributes wealth from the holders of capital to those who aren’t. And yes, in an era where technology increasingly funnels wealth to those at the top, this isn’t a bad thing. A Basic Income also does not leave people in the situation where they lose their benefits if they get a job and earn money. And because a lot of people will voluntarily leave the labor market, it means higher wages for those who do not.

    I am not sold on the idea of MMT or using QE to fund these things.

  353. Posted October 24, 2016 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

    “Garsh. The MMT guys never thought of that. OK, so their theory is blown out of the water. End of discussion.”

    I wouldn’t discount it.

  354. jean henry
    Posted October 24, 2016 at 1:55 pm | Permalink

    No Alan. I’ve been clear that I don’t agree with yourcrack pot theories. I agree that the main issue for people in poverty is… poverty. Poverty is like quicksand. It’s very hard to escape without a hand up. This is not a new idea. This whole thread started with a discussion about whether progressives should focus on income inequality or poverty. I said poverty. You argued otherwise. That article supports my position more than it ever did yours and I don’t recall any mention of quantitative easing as finding mechanism within it.

    And Pete’s right– Mugabe is an example of what can go wrong with QE. Where’s your example of it used to redistribute wealth where it worked out? I asked earlier too. Maybe it exists. Please inform us.

    Any policy proposal benefits from analysis of some comparable policy success or failure.

    But don’t put words or interventions in my mouth.ive been painfully clear on my position.

  355. jean henry
    Posted October 24, 2016 at 2:13 pm | Permalink

    Lynn– Demand for labor is not decreasing and is not likely to decrease. There is zero evidence that the problem you seek to solve exists. We have been told this would happen with every new technology age. And it never happened. We experienced a major economic recession. That’s why joblessness increased. That’s all. And Obams just hit more months of steady job growth than any other president. I would suggest that before you propose a policy solution to an imagined problem, you should maybe be sure that problem actually exists or is imminent. Your whole position hinges on an undemonstrated issue. A solution in search of a problem. We have enough real problems to solve.

    I’m sorry I lost my temper with Alan but he was excruciatingly, relentlessly passive aggressive and sometimes you just need to call that stuff what it is. I never called you names Lynn. Can’t say the same for you. I have always tried to address your questions seriously. I have the conviction of my point of view, but I don’t mind people disagreeing with me. In my mind, that makes no one an asshole. (I like it actually when people disagree.) That’s not my problem with Alan. I’m not sure the distinction will be clear to you. What I say rarely seems clear to you. I do my best.

  356. jean henry
    Posted October 24, 2016 at 2:31 pm | Permalink

    FF– I guess you are right. Given the evident thought programming, ‘ass’ may have been a tad harsh. Alan claims he is just dabbling but gets very upset when his ideas (not his, there are others… they are very smart and convincing) … anyway…he gets very upset when we don’t validate the ideas with which he is dabbling. But the way I see it, arguing an idea is a kind of validation. So I can’t figure out if Alan wants us to take him seriously or not. It’s confusing. But maybe creating confusion and uncertainty is part of the indoctrination process.

  357. jean henry
    Posted October 24, 2016 at 2:42 pm | Permalink

    the criticism section of the Wikipedia MMT post pretty much repeats the concerns weighed in here. It’s not so much a new idea as an oversimplified exaggeration of Keynesian theories. And where it is over-simplified (not too complex to understand, Alan), there are huge gaps in feasibility. I feel validated. I’m sure I’m wrong.

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Modern_Monetary_Theory

  358. kjc
    Posted October 24, 2016 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

    jean, come on. you’re a total condescending asshole. you can’t help it. accusing others of pedantry, arguing like an asshole, getting upset when others don’t agree (sanders supporters, the phantom “left”), etc. it’s hilarious. almost everything you say about alan is true of you. and when lynne notices your hypocrisy, more assholeness:

    “I would suggest that before you propose a policy solution to an imagined problem, you should maybe be sure that problem actually exists or is imminent. Your whole position hinges on an undemonstrated issue. A solution in search of a problem. We have enough real problems to solve.”

    if the irony police ever shows up (they won’t) you’re going under the jail. just sayin’. i accept this is your modus operandi. you should too. it will save you indignation and further pedantry (despite your boundless energy for both).

    you and alan and pete actually have a lot in common. if any of you ever acknowledge it, the thread will die. (please, soon.)

  359. Lynne
    Posted October 24, 2016 at 4:14 pm | Permalink

    Re: “Demand for labor is not decreasing and is not likely to decrease. There is zero evidence that the problem you seek to solve exists.”

    Um, there is a lot of evidence that this is exists. Primarily the evidence is stagnant wages. If the demand for labor were not decreasing, wages would stay the same. Well, another possibility is that the supply of labor is greater even as demand for it has remained the same. It probably is a little of both. Still, the wage stagnation is there and it is meaningful.

    Yes, there has been job growth recently but if you look at larger trends, there is less of a demand for labor than there was 40 years ago and it really does look like this trend will continue. You have presented absolutely no explanation of this trend and have only stomped your feet and denied that there is a problem.

    Consider how something like a self driving vehicle will affect employment and you will see generally how technology progresses in labor markets. There will be jobs created to be sure. Good paying ones too for those who develop the software for these vehicles. However, many fewer will be created than will be lost when we no longer need truck drivers, cab drivers, bus drivers, etc. All those workers will be competing in a labor market that simply isn’t going to meet their needs.

    It is true that in the past, technology has mostly had an effect on our manufacturing sector and that it has created many jobs (although fewer than were lost to it). This is why there was much less wage stagnation among the college educated. However, now technology is coming for many of those jobs too. This puts the owners of the technology at a huge advantage in terms of how much income they bring in in the same way that those who have control over the means of production have always had an advantage but now they need much less labor which will only make it worse. Robots don’t go on strike after all.

    I see an era where maybe the top 20%-30% end up better off. They’ll get tech jobs and move to areas where those are concentrated. Maybe they will push the poor out as they have done in SF so that poverty no longer becomes a problem for them. They probably will pass laws to further reduce incidences of poverty in their city if they haven’t already. I believe we were already discussing how this is already happening? I just worry about how much more economically segregated we can become and what will happen when more than half of our country sees that they are doing less well than their parents.

    I used to think we might see something positive if that happened. Now I am not so sure. At any rate, we have to start thinking of these things along with global income inequality and poverty since these things are great sources of frustration for a lot of people.

    As for arguing like an asshole. I know I do it too but did want to point out that you were being very unfair to Alan to chastise him for doing something that most of the rest of us in this conversation are doing, that is all.

  360. stupid hick
    Posted October 24, 2016 at 4:39 pm | Permalink

    Jean, turn to Alan and say “Baby, I love you. Won’t you smile for me?”. Alan, turn to Jean and say “I love you, baby, but I just can’t do that”.

  361. stupid hick
    Posted October 24, 2016 at 4:48 pm | Permalink

    Would someone please explain again (in terms a simple hick can understand) why it’s “crackpot” to want our monetary policy be brought into balance to serve working people instead of just the bankers? Rising inequality is a symptom the game is out of balance.

  362. alan2102
    Posted October 24, 2016 at 5:01 pm | Permalink

    EOS: “Printing money devalues the currency that everybody holds. It is the driving force of inflation. We haven’t seen the negative effects recently only because those holding the T-bills haven’t yet cashed in. China can destroy our economy at the time of its own choosing. Savings and investments will plummet. The only question is when.”

    That’s what the Austrians have been intoning since… forever. Question is, why doesn’t it ever happen? Well, it HAS happened in some sectors, like education and medical care, which have inflated wildly, but is that due to excess money creation? Could be, but why didn’t everything else go up comparably? The explanation doesn’t seem to hold water.

    At this moment there is a better case (so it seems, to me) for the idea that there is too little money relative to goods that the money might buy. The classic formulation holds that inflation happens when there is too much money relative to (industrial) outputs. But right now, we are swimming in outputs. We would have to create a whole hell of a lot of money to “catch up” with the outputs — the result of overproduction. The other way to solve this problem is, of course, war. War is an effective way of sopping-up capitalism’s overproduction problem, by destroying vast quantities of outputs. And that’s where we’re headed, unfortunately.

    Yes, China can destroy our economy at any time. Why don’t they? Maybe because it would be suicidal for them.

    I bought the Austrian-ish views of these things for a number of years, but now I am questioning.

    Yes, inflation is one limit on money creation, at the extremes. Nothing can be created without limit. But that’s not the point. The MMT guys are not suggesting limitless money creation.

  363. alan2102
    Posted October 24, 2016 at 5:09 pm | Permalink

    Jean: “It’s not so much a new idea as an oversimplified exaggeration of Keynesian theories. And where it is over-simplified (not too complex to understand, Alan), there are huge gaps in feasibility. I feel validated. I’m sure I’m wrong.”

    I’m not. I don’t know who is right, or wrong.

    There’s plenty about this discussion that goes over my head, which is why I have not taken a position. Yet.

    If you think that there are “huge gaps in feasibility”, then by all means repair to Wray’s or Mitchell’s or any of the other blogs, and bring up your objections. Some discussants will agree with you. Others won’t, and will explain why they think you are wrong. I will read it all with great interest. Be sure to post the links.

    Wikipedia is only useful as a springboard into the discussion. Palley’s views were deconstructed in the links I gave. Maybe Palley is right, but it looks doubtful.

  364. alan2102
    Posted October 24, 2016 at 5:14 pm | Permalink

    kjc: “jean, come on. you’re a total condescending asshole…. it’s hilarious. almost everything you say about alan is true of you.”

    Yes, we tend to project onto others the very things we are guilty of ourselves. Which means, if the logic holds, that the truth about me is too unbearable to contemplate. Unless I am the rare exception, not projecting. I’ll smoke some pot and meditate on that.

  365. jean henry
    Posted October 24, 2016 at 5:41 pm | Permalink

    I disagree with your assessment Lynn. I see stagnant wages as a result of system in which profits were being extracted quarterly absent economic growth. productivity went up but wages did not. But the beauty of increasing employment opportunities is that wages will go up, and not at state command. Many sectors show increasing wages. I know that in Ann Arbor in the food business if you arent paying at least $12/hour now, the help wanted sign never gets taken down. Recovery takes a while. Give it time.
    Technological innovation reduces manual labor but it doesn’t reduce work. If it didn’t happen with the era of tech innovation we just experienced (ultimate time saver as anyone knows who did any of these tasks before) , then it’s not going to happen because we don’t drive our own cars.

    At any rate, change doesn’t happen without impetus. And impetus doesn’t happen until the change is upon us– or we would have addressed climate change 20 years ago. So plan away for the era of leisure. It’s a nice fantasy.

    KJC it is true that Alan, Pete and I have a lot in common. We are a bit relentless. We actually are engaging each other’s ideas (along with Lynn) even when we find them ludicrous. That creates tension but it’s useful tension. Alan is positively tamed in his certainty now. (And Alan, my issue was with QE more than redistribution although I think one needs to be very very cautious of both. I don’t believe in silver bullets.) I have been ordered to bed rest for half the day all last week– which sucked. This thread made it easier. Even when frustrating it was better than the litany of righteous fb memes.

    At any rate, I’d rather be any of us than you, kjc. You have always been condescending and nasty without cause. Maybe some of us over contribute and like to provoke, but I honestly can’t ever remember a single comment from you that stimulated any response beyond a sigh. You repeat standard taking points and when exhausted of any point usually within a paragraph, resort to name calling. I’d rather have an original thought in my head, back it up with real information, be long winded, provocative and even wrong any day than play queen bee, be nasty, dull and never wrong.

    If the detail with which we are engaging is boring to you, why are you here? You had nothing to contribute but nastiness as usual.

  366. alan2102
    Posted October 24, 2016 at 5:42 pm | Permalink

    Lynne: “Re: “Demand for labor is not decreasing and is not likely to decrease. There is zero evidence that the problem you seek to solve exists.” Um, there is a lot of evidence that this is exists.”

    Yes, a ton of evidence for that and much more. Poor demand for labor (all kinds), poor demand for labor at decent rates of pay, poor creation of full-time jobs with benefits (or even without benefits), stagnant wages, sharply increasing debt loads, etc. About 100 million people are either in poverty, according to official stats, or are below 150% of the official poverty level; the lousy job market is a major part of the explanation. This is a massive problem and it is not reflected by any one stat such as “unemployment”. Jean has a LOT of reading and reality to catch up on…

    http://bilbo.economicoutlook.net/blog/?p=34574
    The US labour market is nowhere near full employment

    http://monthlyreview.org/2014/01/01/the-plight-of-the-u-s-working-class/
    The Plight of the U.S. Working Class

    http://isreview.org/issue/88/state-us-working-class-part-1
    The state of the US working class – Part 1
    Labor in an era of recession and austerity

    http://www.counterpunch.org/2013/01/10/the-long-term-jobs-and-wage-picture/
    The Long-Term Jobs and Wage Picture

    http://www.globalresearch.ca/there-has-never-been-an-american-middle-class-the-u-s-working-class-has-always-been-poor/5483336
    There Has Never Been an American “Middle Class”. The U.S. Working Class Has Always Been Poor

    http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2015/10/goodbye-middle-class-51-percent-of-all-american-workers-make-less-than-30000-dollars-a-year.html
    Goodbye Middle Class: 51 Percent Of All American Workers Make Less Than 30,000 Dollars A Year

  367. Posted October 24, 2016 at 8:09 pm | Permalink

    Interesting perspectives on topics of interest to some people.

  368. jean henry
    Posted October 24, 2016 at 9:23 pm | Permalink

    Could there be any explanation for wage increases not matching productivity levels other than the dawn of the end of work because of technological advances?
    I would also like to add that job creation has been steady and wages, especially at the bottom, are starting to rise. In spite of the robot future that is upon us.
    If i had not heard this same scenario spun out 20 years ago, I might be less skeptical.
    I don’t know about you, but it seems that climate action and adaptation is likely to entail a reworking of just about everything we do over the next 50 years, so I just don’t see an end to the necessary work any time soon.

  369. alan2102
    Posted October 24, 2016 at 9:51 pm | Permalink

    Jean: “in Ann Arbor in the food business if you arent paying at least $12/hour now, the help wanted sign never gets taken down”

    $12/hour in one of the richest counties in the state. And how many jobs like that is A2 creating? Five per month? Ten?

    $12, after taxes, is ~10.50. That 10.50 certainly does provide a living, if you’re young and healthy and without health insurance, (who could possibly afford insurance on 10 bucks an hour?), and if you’re single and without dependents, and if you live in a small furnished room or basement (preferably the folks’ basement), and if you live quite low. Yes, 10 bucks does suffice. With that fact well in mind, we can dismiss the mountains of evidence of mass unemployment, underemployment, homelessness or near-homelessness and general precariousness, wage stagnation, severe indebtedness to support a reasonable life, going without or with inadequate medical care, and on and on.

  370. alan2102
    Posted October 24, 2016 at 10:20 pm | Permalink

    Jean: “I just don’t see an end to the necessary work any time soon.”

    No one ever said there would be an end to necessary work, as you well know.

  371. alan2102
    Posted October 24, 2016 at 10:22 pm | Permalink

    Peter: “Interesting perspectives on topics of interest to some people.”

    Yes, some people. Not the 10K/month set.

    Class determines consciousness.

  372. alan2102
    Posted October 24, 2016 at 10:26 pm | Permalink

    jean: “I see stagnant wages as a result of system in which profits were being extracted quarterly absent economic growth. productivity went up but wages did not

    Ding ding ding! BINGO!

  373. Posted October 24, 2016 at 11:35 pm | Permalink

    I am looking at new career options.

    Approximately how much does a taxi driver make in Ann Arbor?

    Does anyone have a contact at one of the taxi companies?

  374. Posted October 24, 2016 at 11:38 pm | Permalink

    I am looking at new career options.

    How much does a taxi driver make in Ann Arbor?

    Does anyone have a connection at on of the taxi companies?

  375. Posted October 25, 2016 at 12:47 am | Permalink

    I cared about things for a while. Then stopped.

    Nothing matters.

  376. Posted October 25, 2016 at 3:46 am | Permalink

    I tend to be dismissive of things written on the Counterpunch website.

    Just sayin.

  377. Posted October 25, 2016 at 5:28 am | Permalink

    I have now remembered who Mr. 2102 is.

    I wrote a post on Ron Paul and health care several years ago, using my uncle as an example of where a Ron Paul led health care policy would go wrong. Mr. 2102 was angry that I wrote about a single person. It seemed to be lost on him that people like my uncle are not rare, which was the point of the post.

    Oddly, Mr. 2102 was angry that I wrote the post, assuming that I was indifferent to war, because I didn’t write about it, as if to say that not writing the post he wanted to write was somehow an endorsement of whatever he would have written about.

    It was a bizarre exchange. Mr. 2102 seemed to be unwilling to let it go.

    I assumed that he had some kind of underlying mental issue and tried to be as polite as I could. It didn’t work.

    Here it was:

    https://peterslarson.com/2012/01/03/my-dying-uncle-vs-ron-paul-a-public-health-disaster-in-the-works/

  378. Posted October 25, 2016 at 5:47 am | Permalink

    In his first comment, he said (about me):

    “It seems that you have sided with the oligarchs and plutocrats, and warmongers. Hope you’re OK with that, because now it is on record. Unless you’ve got some alternative explanation/excuse. I won’t hold my breath.”

    because I wrote about Ron Paul’s poor health care place and not the post that Mr. 2102 would have wanted. Apparently, Mr. 2102’s passion for Paul was intense.

    Yes, it is on record. It has been following me around like a black cloud. I can no longer find work, I have no friends, lost my marriage, lost my house, lost my sanity, lost all my money, because of that particular post.

    The exchange was very odd. I only bring it up because I remembered it.

  379. Westside
    Posted October 25, 2016 at 6:14 am | Permalink

    I’m looking forward to a lot of engagement within the party and the “tension” that will create. Remember the Democrats who held up Obamacare?

    http://www.politico.com/story/2016/10/clinton-warren-trump-progressives-230260

  380. Posted October 25, 2016 at 6:37 am | Permalink

    Two of my comments were deleted.

  381. site admin
    Posted October 25, 2016 at 8:08 am | Permalink

    None of your comments were deleted, Dirt Bag. Four of them, however, had been flagged as spam. I just found them and approved them, so they should be on the site now.

  382. alan2102
    Posted October 25, 2016 at 8:20 am | Permalink

    Jean: “Alan is positively tamed in his certainty now.”

    You did not notice, but Alan never had all that much certainty, e.g. the universal forced 10-hour work weeks that I never proposed.

  383. alan2102
    Posted October 25, 2016 at 8:50 am | Permalink

    Peter: “Mr. 2102 was angry that I wrote the post, assuming that I was indifferent to war, because I didn’t write about it”

    Partially right. Your anti-Paul diatribe (which btw made some good points, and I agreed with most of it) failed by way of not placing things in context, as I pointed out to you in my responses — unsuccessfully, as it turned out.

    Peter: “Mr. 2102 seemed to be unwilling to let it go.”

    Right. I was unwilling to let it go at that moment — a bad move. I was obsessional. Mea culpa.

    Peter: “I assumed that he had some kind of underlying mental issue”

    Right! I have serious underlying mental issues, such as a persistent interest in justice, sometimes carried to obsessional extremes. So far the DSM has no formal classification for this, but it is doubtless a mental malady.

    Peter: “Apparently, Mr. 2102’s passion for Paul was intense.”

    Well, you got one wrong. Still, three right in a row is pretty good; I salute you.

    No, my “passion for Paul” was not intense, and really not a passion at all. My support for him was highly guarded and qualified, as I mentioned (but did not sufficiently emphasize) in the exchange to which you linked. My interest in Paul was almost wholly restricted to the issue of war. I should have been more emphatic about that, and I apologize for failing in that regard. Most of Paul’s views are crap, and most of what you wrote was correct — but still, you missed critical context.

  384. Jean Henry
    Posted October 25, 2016 at 9:15 am | Permalink

    “Could there be any explanation for wage increases not matching productivity levels other than the dawn of the end of work because of technological advances?”

    — you forgot that part Alan. Also both jobs and wages are going up now while productivity slows… so…

    Also, to remind you that you did run out the end of work idea to the 10 hour work week. I brought up having seen that idea floated in the 90’s (didn’t happen), questioned it and you suggested it’s plausibility.

    “Our society is way rich enough to allow everyone to work 10-15 hour weeks and live comfortably. But we’ve organized things in such a way that the wealth funnels to the top, rather than being distributed widely.”

    So perhaps you didn’t say it would be forced, but you suggested that we (as in the State) would just divide the labor up. So that sounds like State control of labor. I still cant see another way to implement that. I’m sorry if we were mistaken about your intent. Since I don’t believe the labor could or ever will be divisible into 10-15 hour work weeks, the point is moot for me.

    Pete- that post about your uncle made me sad. But Alan2012 was even more easily righteously inflamed then, so points for progress I guess. If you want work here, there’s plenty. Seriously. It’s all Uber now. Yellow cab closed. But more people are taking paid rides than ever before, so the hours remain long. Being able to create surveys and manage data alone is a valuable skill in the semi-robot future that is now. Unfortunately the era of big data does not offer ten hour work weeks. But you can get health care coverage pretty easily.

  385. Posted October 25, 2016 at 9:29 am | Permalink

    “critical context”

    To you? Who are you?

    Who cares? It was a stupid blog post that no one should have ever read. I regret writing any of that stuff. I will probably take it all down soon.

  386. Jean Henry
    Posted October 25, 2016 at 9:31 am | Permalink

    Alan2012: “Peter: “Interesting perspectives on topics of interest to some people.”
    Yes, some people. Not the 10K/month set.
    Class determines consciousness.”

    So only 75% of people under 10 grand/year voted in the primary. And most voted for Hillary. I guess I’m wondering how you interpret that as support for addressing wealth inequality via redistribution among the poor. My experience has been that the very poor question the power of the State at least as much as the question the power of corporations. They question power period. So how do you interpret that class consciousness as support for your position?

    Also since Pete actually grew up poor, v. you and Lynn, and lives in a developing nation on a very limited income, how is it that his perspective is invalidated by your statement?

    I’m so confused. You seem to repeat dogma with absolute certainty even when the context of the conversation clearly belies it.

  387. Jean Henry
    Posted October 25, 2016 at 9:45 am | Permalink

    The ‘critical context’ according to Alan was Pete’s one line statement that Paul supporters were more concerned with the wars and legal pot V concern for leaving the poor to die of death and disease with no insurance or government support. This was true. That was their primary concern. Alan supported their ideological anti-war fervor over any other concern, because he has ” a persistent interest in justice, sometimes carried to obsessional extremes.”

    Single issue ideologues always think they are more concerned with justice than other people.

  388. Jean Henry
    Posted October 25, 2016 at 9:46 am | Permalink

    typo: *25% of people under 10 grand/year voted in the primary

  389. Jcp2
    Posted October 25, 2016 at 10:55 am | Permalink

    Commentary from rigged media

    https://youtu.be/O7VaXlMvAvk

  390. Lynne
    Posted October 25, 2016 at 11:48 am | Permalink

    Re: Could there be any explanation for wage increases not matching productivity levels other than the dawn of the end of work because of technological advances?

    Yes and no, something could have happened that significantly increased the labor force but fwiw, that is due to technology too. It used to be that it was more or less of a full time job to keep a house and then technology in the form of washing machines, dishwashers, vacuum cleaners, etc changed it combined with the technology of The Pill. We no longer needed that home labor as much and so women entered the labor market increasing the supply.

    Re:”I would also like to add that job creation has been steady and wages, especially at the bottom, are starting to rise. In spite of the robot future that is upon us.

    Don’t confuse short term trends with long term ones. It is true that this bottom sector of the economy has been growing recently but that is just because labor has been cheaper than the technology.

    Re: If i had not heard this same scenario spun out 20 years ago, I might be less skeptical.
    I don’t know about you, but it seems that climate action and adaptation is likely to entail a reworking of just about everything we do over the next 50 years, so I just don’t see an end to the necessary work any time soon.

    Well, guess what. what you heard about 20 years ago has happened and is continuing to happen. We have lost a lot of manufacturing jobs due to technology (in this case, the technology was the advanced shipping techniques that allowed companies to chase cheaper labor). I do agree that we have a lot of potential for job growth in the renewable energy sector and I am 100% on board with developing it. However, we are going to see less of a need for labor in the coming years and if we don’t address that problem, we will suffer for it.

    The thing is, this isn’t something that is happening quickly so the solution doesn’t have to be quick either. That is why I like the idea of gradually reducing the work force by getting young people out (perhaps with tuition grants or expanding the peace corps or whatever) while simultaneously getting the old people out bv lowering the retirement age. That would allow everyone else to work as much as they want to. Yes, a 10 hour week is something that has been floated around by economists for decades and maybe they are entirely wrong but it could also be that they are wrong in terms of timing.

  391. Lynne
    Posted October 25, 2016 at 12:02 pm | Permalink

    Re: “Also since Pete actually grew up poor, v. you and Lynn, and lives in a developing nation on a very limited income, how is it that his perspective is invalidated by your statement?”

    I will just say that you should be very careful before you make judgements about me and my perspective on poverty. It is entirely possible for someone to grow up well off while still being exposed to poverty. I get it that living something and experiencing it first hand isn’t the same as simply being in an economically diverse social situation but trust me, I may not have been poor myself but I was raised amidst some serious poverty and went to schools where the majority of my fellow students were pretty poor. So I will say that I probably have some perspective that you don’t and it would be foolish of you to dismiss it.

  392. Lynne
    Posted October 25, 2016 at 2:54 pm | Permalink

    So that sounds like State control of labor. I still cant see another way to implement that. I’m sorry if we were mistaken about your intent. Since I don’t believe the labor could or ever will be divisible into 10-15 hour work weeks, the point is moot for me.

    Our 40 hour work week is pretty arbitrary. There is no real reason why we couldn’t change the FLSA to make it shorter as needed. 10 would be too low for right now but why not 35? And why not expand it to include more workers? At the very least we should expand that law to cover domestic workers and agricultural workers. That wouldn’t prevent anyone from working longer hours and many would but it would also give employers something of an incentive to keep hours down. There is some evidence that a 30 hour work week with 5 6 hour days may be more efficient than a 40 hour work week with 5 8hr days. I know we aren’t ready for this but it is something being toyed with abroad and we did have a major experiment with 6 hour days in the manufacturing sector right here in Michigan that exposed both the positives of a 6 hour day (basically workers produced as much working 6 hours as they did working 8 hours) and the negatives (this decades long experiment with the 6 hour day ended due to pressure from the *workers*)

  393. Posted October 25, 2016 at 9:41 pm | Permalink

    “It is entirely possible for someone to grow up well off while still being exposed to poverty.

    No, it is not. Sorry.

    I mean, I’m you like to tell yourself that but you’re wrong. You can never understand poverty when you grew up in security. You can say you do, but you don’t.

  394. Lynne
    Posted October 25, 2016 at 10:00 pm | Permalink

    I admit that someone who grew up with security can’t have the same understanding of poverty as someone who didn’t. However, someone who grew up surrounded by poverty might have a different perspective than someone who grew up surrounded by affluence in the same way that you obviously have a greater understanding of what it is like to grow up in Kenya than I do even though you didn’t grow up in those circumstances yourself.

  395. Posted October 25, 2016 at 10:25 pm | Permalink

    I know I said it before, but I really need to read through this thread, especially the stuff related to universal basic income, and see if I can somehow condense it into a post for the front page. If anyone has thoughts on how that might be accomplished, seeing as how I keep falling asleep every time I try to make may way though this 300+ comment thread, I’d appreciate it.

  396. Posted October 25, 2016 at 10:51 pm | Permalink

    The problem with talking about universal basic income with Mark Maynard is that he doesn’t like how countries that have it pay for it. He is still under this mistaken idea that we can get rich people to pay for everything and they won’t try to influence policy to get out of it.

  397. Posted October 25, 2016 at 10:56 pm | Permalink

    I had a friend once who would comment on my blog, obsessively messaging me, chiding me for not writing about this or that thing that was important to him. I tried to be polite and point out that the post was about X and not Y, where Y was the thing that was important to my friend.

    He wouldn’t let it go. I told him politely that he should write his own blog. He still wouldn’t let it go about multiple posts I had done.

    I dropped him as a friend and never spoke to him again.

    There are bloggers, who write about things they like to write about at the time, and then there are people who obsessively write comments. The former is just a thing that people do. the latter, in its extreme, is a form of attempted control and should be considered unhealthy.

    I remembered this, as I was looking at this thread. I am not pointing fingers at any one person.

  398. Posted October 25, 2016 at 10:59 pm | Permalink

    Lynne,

    You can convince yourself that you can understand, but you can’t. If you grew up in security, you can never understand.

    Sorry. That’s not an insult. It is just a fact. Wealthy (middle class and up) and secure people can never understand poverty and insecurity.

  399. Lynne
    Posted October 26, 2016 at 12:06 am | Permalink

    Ok. I don’t disagree with that. What I mean is that I have a perspective and experience with poverty and with very extreme income inequality. From the point of view of the top. And that perspective is not typical of people of my socio-economic class who tend to grow up very isolated from poverty. I was not poor but also was not isolated from poverty. For all but two years of my K-12, I was in Detroit Public Schools and went to school in the Cass Corridor from 7-11 grade during a time when it really was “skid row” (early 80’s) and not the trendy place it is these days. It is not at all the same perspective as actually being poor but I do have an understanding of what poverty looks like up close to someone who isn’t poor and I don’t think that is a worthless point of view in discussions of poverty.

  400. Westside
    Posted October 26, 2016 at 6:52 am | Permalink

    Wait. This started with Pete saying he made well above median income. Now Jean is saying Pete lives in a developing nation on a limited income. Which is it?

    How did Peye go from that story about his uncle which showed some compassion for poor person to hating poor ( white ) people in just four years?

    Do I get a prize for making comment number 400?

  401. Posted October 26, 2016 at 7:32 am | Permalink

    As with everyone, financial issues are complicated.

    As for poor people, I can dislike them (since that’s where I’m from, familiarity breeds contempt) and advocate for them at the same time.

    The problem with people today is that they think you have to pick a single side. You have two views on the same issue, particularly in regards to family.

    It isn’t that complicated.

  402. alan2102
    Posted October 26, 2016 at 9:32 am | Permalink

    Jean: “I’m sorry if we were mistaken about your intent.”

    Yes, you were mistaken about my intent. I did not think it that hard to understand, but I was wrong.

    Let’s try this once again, with some in-line emphases:

    Alan: “Our society is way rich enough to allow everyone to work 10-15 hour weeks and live comfortably” [I meant exactly what I said. Our society is WAY RICH ENOUGH for that. That does not mean we should immediately reduce all work weeks to 10 hours — a programmatic suggestion. I did not make a programmatic suggestion. I made an observation about the degree of our richness. Clear now?]

    Alan: “But we’ve organized things in such a way that the wealth funnels to the top, rather than being distributed widely.” [Here I introduce the concept of inequality, which is my main concern. Again no specific programmatic suggestions — least of all ridiculous ones like forced universal 10 hour work weeks!]

    Jean: “you did run out the end of work idea to the 10 hour work week.”

    No, I did not. See above.

    On the other hand, I believe I did post a few things about the possibility (quite viable) of reducing the hours of work somewhat. This is already happening in more advanced social democracies, e.g. France.

    The point was that WE ARE REALLY RICH, and the money is not getting into the hands of the people who create the wealth. Specifically how that is to be remedied, IF it is to be remedied, is a big question and I do not have final answers (on that or anything else, for that matter). Reducing work hours somewhat while keeping pay the same is one do-able option. There are a variety of other options, and in fact any comprehensive and practical approach to the problem would necessarily involve a portfolio of options.

    Clean now?

  403. alan2102
    Posted October 26, 2016 at 9:33 am | Permalink

    “Clean now?” = Clear now? [was not intended as query into personal hygiene ;-) ]

  404. alan2102
    Posted October 26, 2016 at 9:46 am | Permalink

    Peter: “The problem with talking about universal basic income with Mark Maynard is that he doesn’t like how countries that have it pay for it. He is still under this mistaken idea that we can get rich people to pay for everything and they won’t try to influence policy to get out of it.”

    1. MMT and its programmatic implications; i.e. not a matter of “getting rich people to pay for it”.

    2. Strangely, the U.S. has unlimited $trillions$ to spend on wars, endless medical and social expenses as a consequence of the wars, military hardware, “security”, prisons, QE for the bankers, etc., etc. — including SIX $trillion$ “misplaced” by the DOD (wholly unaccounted for!) — but when it comes to supporting the common people, suddenly there is great wailing and gnashing of teeth on the part of the austerians: “Can’t afford it!” “Living beyond our means!” “Unpayable debt!” And on and on, ad nauseum.

  405. alan2102
    Posted October 26, 2016 at 9:52 am | Permalink

    Lynne: “Our 40 hour work week is pretty arbitrary. There is no real reason why we couldn’t change the FLSA to make it shorter as needed. 10 would be too low for right now but why not 35?”

    Exactly. Or, say, 4-8 weeks/year paid leave, as is common in some countries. Lots of options. But for some reason Jean and others became fixated on the “10 hour week” which was never suggested.

  406. Posted October 26, 2016 at 10:03 am | Permalink

    Japan is also “really rich” but there are almost no discussions of “universal basic income” or even welfare for that matter. Receiving welfare is pretty shameful over there, since you are expected to take care of yourself.

    And the whole argument about how much money gets spent on the military is just a non-starter. Yes, the federal government spends money on the military. The States do not and it is no accident that no state has set up a welfare system like one see in a number of European countries. Any of them could. Note that Michigan and Sweden have a similar GDP and similar population.

    It isn’t how much we spend on this or that, it’s that people don’t want it. These lofty discussions of what “should” happen don’t mean much when we live in a society that puts a societal premium on people working and supporting themselves rather than being cared for.

    Sure, there are a million theoretical ideas that are out there, but most of them are politically dead on arrival. And no, it isn’t the oligarchs and the plutocrats, it’s the people. Again, look at how red State legislatures are and red local government is. People vote that way, because they have a message that resonates to them. “Leave me alone.”

  407. alan2102
    Posted October 26, 2016 at 10:13 am | Permalink

    Jean: “So only 25% of people under 10 grand/year voted in the primary. And most voted for Hillary. I guess I’m wondering how you interpret that as support for addressing wealth inequality via redistribution among the poor.”

    We have not discussed the demographics of people who did or did not vote in the primary, nor their political preferences. But now that you bring it up: I interpret the low voter turnout in that group as a visceral but basically correct suspicion that their votes won’t ever actually amount to anything because the system is rigged against them. They’re right. It is.

    Jean: “Pete actually grew up poor, v. you and Lynn”

    You know nothing about how I grew up. But, now that you’ve brought it up, I did not grow up poor — or rich. Solidly middle-middle.

    Jean: “I’m so confused.”

    You could readily get un-confused by reading and paying attention to the denotations of the words.

  408. Jean Henry
    Posted October 26, 2016 at 10:27 am | Permalink

    Lynn– I feel a need to be super clear here. You invalidated Pete’s perspective on poverty based on your political ideology.
    I said that his perspective is inherently valid becuas ehe lived it and that deserves our attention not quick dismissal on political grounds.
    You somehow took that as me saying your perspective is invalidated by your experience. It sounds like we grew p similarly so I am not about to say that.
    What I would like you to explain is why you dismiss out of hand the perspective of someone who actually lived it when it disagrees with your political perspective.
    Nice try at the defensive turn around, but I’m not taking it.
    You and Alan owe Pete an apology for attacking him and is informed views because they differed with your political belief system.

    Mark– until people stop speaking from ideology and this turns into actual discourse, I honestly don’t know how you can cull much of use. Basically, Lynn insists on her analysis of the future scenario and doesn’t really answer any questions about it’s viability.
    Alan is just wholely defensive and again, just loads links and doesn’t listen.
    I guess you can decide they are right, but I don;t think they are.

    I have no idea why a discussion of a guaranteed minimum income should begin with a questionable future scenario rather than real world examples of implementation.

    For the record my biggest issue was with the suggested use of Quantitative Easing as means for funding. I’m not impressed with MMT. I do think that liberals tend to believe the necessary money is somewhere for them to implement their agenda and don’t really tease out economic impacts. This is a sign of US privilege; we can afford to be economically stupid or at least blindered. That’s a failing in a lot of small progressive businesses and non-profits with whom I have worked. They just don’t tease out the numbers. They don;t want to know. We should be doing this work ourselves and not waiting for the right to do it for us.

    I won’t talk about you know who related to this… I won’t… or maybe…
    OK I will say that the chair of the Senate Budget committee has a decent amount of capacity to obstruct policy that doesn’t meet his standards and that makes me nervous. I like that HRc has solid numbers behind her plans. She did the work. It may look like an absence of vision or excessive compromise to those who don’t want to look at feasibility.

    The left likes to point to European examples without really studying them. Many European nations have become more market based. I feel like we should be starting there to look at Guaranteed Minimum income not at the future of trucking when we are facing catastrophic climate change.

  409. Lynne
    Posted October 26, 2016 at 10:30 am | Permalink

    Re: It isn’t how much we spend on this or that, it’s that people don’t want it. These lofty discussions of what “should” happen don’t mean much when we live in a society that puts a societal premium on people working and supporting themselves rather than being cared for.

    This is absolutely true. We have put such a stigma on ‘welfare’ that most people would not want something like a basic income at this time. And yet people in the USA are fine with receiving government benefits when everyone gets them. i.e. you don’t hear people bitching about receiving housing subsidies when they are called a mortgage interest deduction on their taxes. People are fine accepting Social Security because they rightly feel that it is an earned benefit. People are fine with spending public money on education.

    This is exactly why I feel our country is not ready for a Basic Income and why I propose lowering the retirement age and increasing college tuition subsidies. For now. Like it not, this discussion and the thousands more like it which take place every day across the internet is how the idea of the Basic Income may become more accepted. I think it can be even if it isn’t now but do admit that I could be wrong about it.

    There is a real reason why a Basic Income wouldn’t work on a state level though and actually is unfortunately a real disincentive for states to offer good social welfare benefits now. If a state’s benefits are large enough, people will move into the state in order to collect them. You see this on a local level to a smaller degree when jurisdictions bus homeless people to Ann Arbor. I myself have helped a relative move out of Wayne Co and into Washtenaw Co because the mental health services were better at the time.

    Federal would be better than state level but if we could eventually go global with such a thing, even better. I suppose that is long enough away though that we might have to worry about our Mars colonists moving back to reap the benefits. LOL j/k

  410. Lynne
    Posted October 26, 2016 at 10:42 am | Permalink

    Re: “You invalidated Pete’s perspective on poverty based on your political ideology.”

    I don’t believe I ever did this. But if *Pete* feels that I have, I am open to his comments. Not so much from someone who apparently sees herself as Pete’s rescuer.

    Re: “Basically, Lynn insists on her analysis of the future scenario and doesn’t really answer any questions about it’s viability.”

    I think the issue here is that Jen refuses to listen to the many answers I have given about its viability and instead just chooses to ignore trends which are already happening. Don’t blame me for your closed mind.

    Re: “What I would like you to explain is why you dismiss out of hand the perspective of someone who actually lived it when it disagrees with your political perspective.”

    I have not done this. Perhaps you would like to explain why you think I have?

    “For the record my biggest issue was with the suggested use of Quantitative Easing as means for funding.”
    Yeah. I love a basic income but using QE for a program of that size would be a disaster. I have read a lot of the MMT links provided earlier in this discussion and am not convinced it would be feasible.

  411. Jean Henry
    Posted October 26, 2016 at 10:44 am | Permalink

    This entire thread has been an argument against fundamentalist political thinking– at least for me. Which is ironic given the original post.

    Alan re poor voters not voting because they feel systemically excluded, I agree. But you assume because they feel systemically excluded, and you have a plan to address income inequality, they will agree to your solutions. That’s a giant fucking assumption.

    The results of the primary among the poor and systemically excluded who voted would indicate they don’t go in much for the solutions offered by the left. Anything else is just assumption. It’s not just you and Lynn, I have seen this a thousand times in political movements. College educated white people telling the poor and people of color what is good for them, not convincing them via discourse– telling them. White activists grabbing the bullhorn to be the loudest people in the social justice parade. White activists throwing rocks because they are so angry about systemic injustice, and who gets arrested or hurt when violence ensues– people of color.

    The left really needs to step back from the high and mighty rhetoric and start listening and observing. Mostly it needs to ask itself harder questions.

    Alan you are convinced the poor agree with you. I would suggest you dig into that assumption by actually engaging. (PS you did mention your middle class upbringing somewhere earlier)

  412. Jean Henry
    Posted October 26, 2016 at 11:15 am | Permalink

    Lynn– my original comment to which you felt a need to respond was directed at Alan: “Also since Pete actually grew up poor, v. you and Lynn, and lives in a developing nation on a very limited income, how is it that his perspective is invalidated by your statement?””

    And you did, throughout this thread, invalidate Pete’s perspective on ideological grounds. He was simply wrong because what he said sounded ideologically offensive to you.

    You are right I don’t buy your original scenario, backed by Alan, which was of mass unemployment driven by tech innovation in the next 1-20 years. (Sorry I just don’t see it. Economists are usually wrong in their predictions as you know. They never seem to have the whole picture or anything close) The solution to tech driven mass unemployment being, not job creation but a lowering of work week hours. We talked about a 10 hour work week for many column inches.

    Now you talk about a 6 hour work day. I’m all for that. I’m for lots of flex time solutions allowed by… technology. I live that.
    That issue could not be more different than a forced division of labor among the population. We could have saved ourselves a lot of time.

    It’s true I defended Pete. I also defended myself. I never did so without some larger political point to make. Points consistently missed. and reduced to a ‘rescue’ — more condescension. there’s a mode of discourse here that is perpetually self-validating and dismissive of other perspectives. I may well be guilty of it myself. It makes any progress– like to the validity of a 6hour work day v a 10 hour work week== too hard won.

  413. alan2102
    Posted October 26, 2016 at 11:18 am | Permalink

    Peter: “It isn’t how much we spend on this or that, it’s that people don’t want it. These lofty discussions of what “should” happen don’t mean much when we live in a society that puts a societal premium on people working and supporting themselves rather than being cared for. Sure, there are a million theoretical ideas that are out there, but most of them are politically dead on arrival. And no, it isn’t the oligarchs and the plutocrats, it’s the people.”

    A half-excellent point. You should have said: “it’s SOME of the people”. There is indeed a substantial portion of the population in the grip of the ethos of personal self-sufficiency, rugged individualism, and etc. And that is why I mentioned several times up thread the point about this very cultural peculiarity vis a vis policy practicality; that is, whether this American ethos would allow for certain policies like guaranteed incomes. I am skeptical, but open. I am also open to alternative suggestions that have less cultural “radioactivity” (potential for fiery resistance), such as Wray’s job guarantee. And others.

    A snippit from up thread:

    Alan: “There are different ways to achieve similar ends. I’ve been attracted to libertarian socialism (libertarian in the original sense, not in the sense latterly acquired from anarcho-capitalist types) and mutualism. Free-market anti-capitalism, as Kevin Carson calls it. I see this as possibly a better way to go for the U.S., which has so deeply internalized the free market meme. We need policies, and a system, that is consistent with the American ethos and ideal. As Randy Wray wrote (quoted above): “We need policies consistent with American values of work, initiative, self-sufficiency, and productivity.” Yes. Culture is important. What we do needs to be consistent with American culture and its biases.”

    But now let’s return to this matter of “SOME of the people”, i.e. not all. There is compelling evidence that substantial majorities of the U.S. population favor generally progressive policies which are not in the best alignment with said “American ethos” characterized by rugged individualism, etc. “American culture and its biases” is not uniform or homogenous. We seem to have TWO populations and TWO American ethos’ (plural). Hence your point about “the people” (as though one homogenous group) is half-excellent, because you are correctly characterizing some people, but not all.

    Further, we need to ask just how many people you’ve correctly characterized. Is it a majority? We don’t know. And we don’t know the extent to which their predispositions are being (perhaps) used cynically to advance a fatalistic agenda pertaining to public policy. That fatalistic agenda would hold (for obvious political reasons) that the great majority of the people do not want economic democracy or social justice. Perhaps that is true. BUT PERHAPS IT IS NOT. You don’t know, do you?

    Another snippit from up thread:

    Alan: “we have cultural peculiarities that make the acceptance of some suggestions (like Wray’s job guarantee) more likely than acceptance of others (income guarantee)…. [However,] we have to FIND OUT. There is little basis for judging in advance of experience, concluding pessimistically that any creative and novel proposal will be rejected. We have to try, and find out.”

    Try and find out, since we don’t really know, do we?

    Yes, Jean, there I go again, “repeating dogma with absolute certainty”. I am so dogmatically certain about everything — except when I’m not.

    …………….

    another repeat:

    http://www.basicincome.com/basic_rifkin.htm
    “Although liberal and conservative economists differed in their reason for supporting a guaranteed annual income, the growing interest in the idea led President Lyndon Johnson to establish a National Commission on Guaranteed Incomes in 1967. After two years of hearings and studies, the commission, made up of business leaders, representatives of organized labour, and other prominent Americans, issued their report. Commission members were unanimous in their support of a guaranteed annual income.

    Hmmm. Conservative business leaders — imbued with rugged individualism, Protestant work ethic, etc., etc. — were unanimous in their support of guaranteed income.

    Maybe we have to TRY AND FIND OUT, rather than issuing *a priori* dismissals with… um… dogmatic absolute certainty.

  414. Posted October 26, 2016 at 11:26 am | Permalink

    “This is absolutely true. We have put such a stigma on ‘welfare’ that most people would not want something like a basic income at this time.”

    I personally think that societies need to expect people to take care of themselves. Japan is quite good in this regard as is Kenya. In both places, if you fall, there’s no one there to help you.

    In Tanzania, it is expected that the government (or someone) will take care of you. South Africa is also hindered in this regard. The result is that people are happy to get paid, but not so happy to actually do anything. Given a choice, I would employ people in Kenya (where people are afraid to get fired so they’ll work) than socialist TZ (where people just simply expect to get paid without work).

    Note that Kenya is far, far ahead of TZ and Japan is far, far ahead of, well, most everywhere. This is because people don’t depend on other people for help because that just isn’t an option.

  415. alan2102
    Posted October 26, 2016 at 11:33 am | Permalink

    Jean: “I don’t buy your original scenario, backed by Alan, which was of mass unemployment driven by tech innovation in the next 1-20 years”

    There is much more to it than unemployment *per se*, and we’re talking about massive structural changes over decades past, not only the next few decades.

    see links here:
    http://markmaynard.com/2016/10/nows-not-the-time-to-disengage-or-is-it/#comment-904794

  416. Lynne
    Posted October 26, 2016 at 11:40 am | Permalink

    Re: “And you did, throughout this thread, invalidate Pete’s perspective on ideological grounds. He was simply wrong because what he said sounded ideologically offensive to you. “

    No, I don’t think I did. Not even once.

    Re: “Lynn– my original comment to which you felt a need to respond was directed at Alan: ”
    Jan, if you throw my name in it, I feel it is safe to assume that it is at least indirectly aimed at me.

    Re:”That issue could not be more different than a forced division of labor among the population. We could have saved ourselves a lot of time.”

    No kidding, Jan. YOU are the one who brought up this whole forced division of labor thing and yes, it was a complete straw man argument that made no sense but don’t blame me for your bad arguments.

    Re: “I personally think that societies need to expect people to take care of themselves. Japan is quite good in this regard as is Kenya. In both places, if you fall, there’s no one there to help you. ”

    I guess that is a fundamental difference in our outlooks as I think there is a huge benefit to strong social safety nets.

    Re: “Given a choice, I would employ people in Kenya (where people are afraid to get fired so they’ll work) than socialist TZ (where people just simply expect to get paid without work). ”

    This is actually a big reason why I like a Basic Income. If employees know that they can live even if they get fired, they are way less likely to take abuse from their employers. When people face starvation or homelessness from a lost job, it does make them better workers but it still isn’t right. I simply do not think the employers should have that kind of power over those they employ.

  417. Posted October 26, 2016 at 11:51 am | Permalink

    “If employees know that they can live even if they get fired, they are way less likely to take abuse from their employers.”

    Are you assuming that I abuse my employees?

    I guess you have never employed people. If you are stuck with lame employees (“I can just work somewhere else”), the work won’t be productive, which means you can’t hire more people. Workers don’t improve their own skills so they can’t more one when the time comes. Motivation is low. Everyone loses.

    There is a reason that people would rather invest in Kenya than TZ and a reason that standards of living are so much higher here than down there. People work here because they have to.

  418. Lynne
    Posted October 26, 2016 at 12:09 pm | Permalink

    Pete, no I am not at all making that assumption but I know from my own personal experience that it isn’t uncommon for employers to use power imbalances to abuse their employees. I also know that if there is a power imbalance, someone will abuse it. Hence, a lot of my proposals are about giving workers more power. I like unions a lot too. I will say that I consider it kind of lazy for an employer to count on such a power imbalance to motivate workers but I imagine that you probably motivate your workers in other ways. I don’t really know though but I can say that someone with an attitude that you are expressing here is probably more likely to be a dick to his employees.

    FWIW, I have employed people. I employed people at a job with a LOT of high expectations and low pay too in a market where all of my employees could walk out at any time to a job that paid more and had a lot less emotional work involved. I understand completely that if you have bad employees their work will not be productive but I also know that if you treat people well and treat them as if they have other options, they often turn out to be really hard workers. Motivation varies but motivation that comes due to economic necessity is barely one step up from slavery, imho. I also tend to think that intrinsic motivation (ie wanting to do a job because it is important and meaningful) is better than extrinsic motivation (doing the job for pay in order to eat) in terms of getting quality work out of people. It isnt necessary to put people in a situation where they must work hard just to eat in order to get quality work out of them.

  419. alan2102
    Posted October 26, 2016 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

    Lynne: “This is absolutely true. We have put such a stigma on ‘welfare’ that most people would not want something like a basic income at this time. And yet people in the USA are fine with receiving government benefits when everyone gets them. i.e. you don’t hear people bitching about receiving housing subsidies when they are called a mortgage interest deduction on their taxes. People are fine accepting Social Security because they rightly feel that it is an earned benefit. People are fine with spending public money on education.”

    You contradict yourself. You point out (correctly) how people have no problem accepting e.g. Social Security, a universal benefit program, but still assert that guaranteed income would not be accepted because… stigma. Where’s the stigma against people on SS?

    And if you say that guaranteed income would not be accepted (unlike SS) because people do not feel it to be an “earned benefit”, I would counter by saying that that might be a matter of education. What makes people think that they have NOT earned a basic income?

    This goes to the general matter of economic democracy (or lack thereof) and perceptions as to where the public/private lines are drawn. As a human being, you have the right to breathe air, without someone coming along and charging you for it. But why? The answer should be obvious. Same with water to drink. Same with… well, how far do you go, or not go? Why do you not deserve your share of a national dividend? For the same reason that you do not deserve free-of-charge air to breathe, perhaps?

    General background, including concepts such as basic income, national dividend, social credit, and similar:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economic_democracy

    See also:
    http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2015/07/economic-grace-of-social-credit-national-dividend-and-compensated-retail-prices-to-facilitate-consumer-goods-distribution-in-an-age-of-robotics.html

    Can these ideas be effectively communicated, and would they have a receptive audience? I don’t know. I would like to think so, and I think there’s a good chance of it, but I don’t know.

    Again I insist (contra Jean) that I do not have any final answers, only questions. If it is true, as it might be, (and as even I suspect MIGHT be), that guaranteed income would not be well-received, then so be it. It is what it is. But at this moment we don’t really know.

    We have to try, and find out. This is called empiricism. It is a wonderful innovation, allowing us to learn many interesting things about the world. We don’t have to base all of our conclusions on theory, speculation, prejudice, or the received Word of God, or the received Word of Peter Larson. We can try, and find out.

  420. Jean Henry
    Posted October 26, 2016 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

    My name is Jean.

    “It isnt necessary to put people in a situation where they must work hard just to eat in order to get quality work out of them.” That is true. in fact, I have definitely seen, especialy after 2008, that financial insecurity and struggle can negatively impact productivity.

    But I have also seen systems in Eastern Europe back in the day where too much financial security was provided in exchange for too much compliance and limited freedoms.

    Both are true.

    I don’t think it’s ay all simple to address the issue of wealth inequality much less implement it. I reject certainty. I’m interested in actual models that have been successful and then a dissection of those models. It’s also useful to look at what has not worked.

    Alan– you just made my point. Yes you site conservatives who support your idea. But thats just more confirmation bias. I suggested you explore ideas that don’t support your view– ideeas that disrupt your hypothesis not confirm it.

    You are still being ideological as long as you reject any information that does not support your concept. The conservatives you site, in going against standard party line, are not being ideological.

  421. Jean Henry
    Posted October 26, 2016 at 12:33 pm | Permalink

    Actually I mis-spoke, it wasn’t too much security at all in Eastern Europe. It was barely any. Power was solely with the state. It wasn’t even equal. There wasn’t enough to go around. People struggled. Productivity was terrible. There were few labor saving devices being invented.

  422. Jcp2
    Posted October 26, 2016 at 12:34 pm | Permalink

    Comrade Lynne,

    My father worked as an ex-pat oil engineer for Comrade Alan’s favorite African leader’s oil company in the late 1980’s to early 1990’s. Projects that would normally take days in North America would take weeks to months to accomplish there, in Libya. The company had no shortage of capital, and was well staffed by purportedly well educated and provided for local employees. The company’s solution to this problem was to expand the ex-pat compound and hire more ex-pat workers. Don’t worry, no Americans were used in this process. Mostly Canadians and British, with a few Norwegians.

  423. Lynne
    Posted October 26, 2016 at 12:48 pm | Permalink

    re: My name is Jean.

    Oh I am sorry, I thought we were dropping vowels from people’s names. My name is Lynne. As usual you have missed your own hypocrisy.

    jcp2, forgive me but I think I am missing some point there. Are you saying that North Africans simply aren’t as productive as Canadians and the British even in situations where they are well provided for?

    I’m interested in actual models that have been successful and then a dissection of those models. It’s also useful to look at what has not worked.

    Absolutely. Luckily there are models to look at in terms of social welfare programs including things like a basic income or a guaranteed minimum income. We also have many many real world examples of what hasn’t worked. To complicate matters of course, sometimes something will work in one place and culture and not in another and all of those are valid points of discussion.

  424. Jcp2
    Posted October 26, 2016 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

    Comrade Lynne,

    Earlier in this comment thread, Comrade Alan had used Gaddafi and the successful implementation of his Green Book ideals as an exemplar for how a UBI would work. Since I can only assume that Comrade Alan and my father have no reason not to be truthful, what other conclusion is there to make?

  425. Lynne
    Posted October 26, 2016 at 1:01 pm | Permalink

    jcb2, I don’t know. I missed Alan’s Gaddafi example and probably wont dig through things to find it. I certainly don’t think anyone is not being truthful. I know very little about Libya’s labor issues or those of oil companies for that matter. But thank you for clarifying.

  426. kjc
    Posted October 26, 2016 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

    “Oh I am sorry, I thought we were dropping vowels from people’s names. My name is Lynne.”

    lol. omg humor!

  427. Jean Henry
    Posted October 26, 2016 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

    Lynne– Sorry I misspelled you name. I have some issues around spelling and this format is not good for correction. your point in misspelling mine was a tad too subtle for me.

    As for the Gaddafi comment, your computer has this cool function: command f

    cp2: “I would imagine that UBI would not be a great hit with this quarter of the worlds population.” [“this quarter” = the Muslims, right?]
    Why do you imagine that? Why do you imagine that Muslims would not be receptive to socialistic or social-democratic ideas?
    Take one example: Gaddafi, the Muslim leader of a Muslim nation, was a socialist (made clear in his “Green Book” published in the 70s) and was instrumental in instituting free housing, free education, free medical care, free electrical power, and numerous other social-democratic types of social supports in Libya — easily equivalent to a UBI. Citizens were also credited directly with a portion of the proceeds from oil sales; that IS a UBI of a sort. Of course, that was before Hillary et al bombed the shit out of Libya, reducing much of it to rubble. (Can’t have any pinko socialists running around creating societies that take care of their people, now can we?) Regardless, here was a Muslim nation that had either a UBI or something comparable to it, or exceeding it.
    So again, tell me why you imagine that UBI or similar would be unacceptable to Muslims?”

  428. Jean Henry
    Posted October 26, 2016 at 1:13 pm | Permalink

    kjc: you’re a fucking laugh riot. Always.

    Did you take rhetoric lessons from Trump?

  429. kjc
    Posted October 26, 2016 at 1:15 pm | Permalink

    “Lynne– Sorry I misspelled you name. I have some issues around spelling and this format is not good for correction. your point in misspelling mine was a tad too subtle for me.”

    humorlessness is not jan’s strong point. she and pete have that in common.

    “As for the Gaddafi comment, your computer has this cool function: command f.”

    jan can’t stop making dick comments. cuz of being a dick. stop complaining about discourse for god’s sake. you’re constantly lowering the quality with ad hominem.

    or tell us again about how all comments on this post are deluded and “ideological” except for your own (and pete’s perhaps, your chosen authentic voice of poverty?). i can’t believe mark doesn’t vet all his posts w/you. silly man.

  430. kjc
    Posted October 26, 2016 at 1:16 pm | Permalink

    is her strong point. obviously. i misspoke. please don’t give me the Lynne treatment for my typo!

  431. alan2102
    Posted October 26, 2016 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

    Lynne: “If employees know that they can live even if they get fired, they are way less likely to take abuse from their employers. When people face starvation or homelessness from a lost job, it does make them better workers but it still isn’t right.”

    But Lynne, it IS right, from the standpoint of a would-be slave owner or feudal lord. The threat of destitution or draconian punishment is integral to chattel society and feudal orders.

  432. Lynne
    Posted October 26, 2016 at 1:27 pm | Permalink

    kjc, I can’t, due to a lack of vowels in your screen name.

  433. Lynne
    Posted October 26, 2016 at 1:32 pm | Permalink

    Honestly, I do not know enough about Libya and their UBI but will point out that we do have a state (Alaska) with something like a UBI where they take oil profits and give it to the people in the form of an annual check. It isn’t enough to live off of but it is something and it does look like it has helped both with poverty and income inequality.

  434. alan2102
    Posted October 26, 2016 at 1:36 pm | Permalink

    Jcp2: “Alan had used Gaddafi and the successful implementation of his Green Book ideals as an exemplar for how a UBI would work.”

    Oh for God’s sake. The whole point was that YOU asserted that Muslims would reject UBI (or equivalent social democratic-type programs). I gave you a contrary example. There was nothing about Gaddafi or Libya being an “exemplar” of how a UBI (or anything else) would work. You ignored my reply, pretending that you had never made the assertion that you did make. And now this shit about “exemplar”, implying that I take Gaddafi’s Libya to be utopia. What a bunch of execrable fucking shit.

  435. Jean Henry
    Posted October 26, 2016 at 1:36 pm | Permalink

    It’s true I let myself get pulled down into nastiness. I regret that. It undermined my point.

    It would be cool if people (all people) on this blog could actually discuss these issues in detail without dismissing people on political ideology ground. It would be cool if we wasted less time in defensiveness and talked about models. It would be cool if we could just agree to disagree on some points and talk about areas of agreement. That would be productive and interesting not mean, sour and hurtful. It would be cool, and it used to be like that here a few years ago, but now it’s just nasty.

  436. Westside
    Posted October 26, 2016 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

    I blame Hillary for making nasty cool!

  437. Westside
    Posted October 26, 2016 at 1:41 pm | Permalink

    Do I get a prize if I make comment number 500?

  438. Jean Henry
    Posted October 26, 2016 at 1:42 pm | Permalink

    Sometimes nasty is necessary– like say in a presidential debate with an idiot bully. It shouldn’t be necessary here. Not much is at stake. And this community really needs to be more self-critical, because it has a lot of shitty results. I always thought that was this was a space where that could happen (as well as celebration of our successes) usefully. Oh well.

  439. alan2102
    Posted October 26, 2016 at 1:53 pm | Permalink

    Jean: “you site conservatives who support your idea.”

    MY idea? WTF?

    Jean: “But thats just more confirmation bias. I suggested you explore ideas that don’t support your view– ideas that disrupt your hypothesis not confirm it.”

    My previous posts make it abundantly clear that I am more than happy to entertain, and accept, evidence that runs contrary to my inclinations and preferences. ABUNDANTLY clear. I even went out of my way to suggest, multiple times, that (e.g.) Americans might well NOT want to accept something like guaranteed income, because of their cultural peculiarities.

    But somehow — as usual — you fail to… hmm. What is it that you fail to do? Do you fail to read? Do you fail to comprehend? Do you read and comprehend, but then decide consciously to lie and misrepresent me? I honestly don’t know. It is one of those things. Maybe you could clue me in to which it is.

  440. Lynne
    Posted October 26, 2016 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

    “It would be cool if people (all people) on this blog could actually discuss these issues in detail without dismissing people on political ideology ground. It would be cool if we wasted less time in defensiveness and talked about models. It would be cool if we could just agree to disagree on some points and talk about areas of agreement. That would be productive and interesting not mean, sour and hurtful. It would be cool, and it used to be like that here a few years ago, but now it’s just nasty.”

    Well, what do you think happens when YOU start dismissing people on political ideological grounds? I think you were the person who really first introduced it into this conversation fwiw. It would be cool if we could perhaps not make huge assumptions about the motivations of a person’s disagreement. If you don’t like nasty, dont be nasty or in other words, don’t dish it out if you can’t take it.

  441. Jean Henry
    Posted October 26, 2016 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

    I did not read all your posts or links, Alan. It would be impossible for me to do so. I don’t feel at all obligated to do so. I’m not ever going to. I have wasted enough time here as is.

    I stand by my assessment of that one example. It did not show that you were not ideological. That one example. I cant speak to the rest. My impression from what I did read and the nature of your attacks on contrary viewpoints was that you were determined to have your perspective validated and agreed to and would never stop trying… . You lost me at Gaddafi. This thread should have ended there.

  442. Jean Henry
    Posted October 26, 2016 at 2:09 pm | Permalink

    If you read your pull quote there, you will see that I said all people– including me. I totally did that. I did not start it. But I did it.

    I can take abuse, Lynne. Believe me. I don;t like it when I start dishing it out. I’m disappointed in myself as I said. This thread has been pointless, mean and stupid. I could blame illness, but that would be cheap. Some part of me enjoyed it. I should have watched some movies instead.

  443. Westside
    Posted October 26, 2016 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

    Could you all keep it up just a little longer? Only 57 more comments till 500.

    I want to win the dinner and movie with Mark.

  444. alan2102
    Posted October 26, 2016 at 2:28 pm | Permalink

    Jean: “I did not read all your posts or links, Alan.”

    Fine. Perfectly fine. But as such, you have no right to rag on me about “confirmation bias” and the rest, because you don’t know what you’re talking about — by your own admission. If you don’t read my posts, FINE, but then refrain from the generalities about what I’m saying. You cannot come to a conclusion about my biases or anything else from a single post; or rather, you can, but that would reflect intellectual dishonesty.

    Yes, “it would be cool if people (all people) on this blog could actually discuss these issues in detail”. It would be even more cool if people (all people, including Jean) would take the detailed discussions seriously by reading them before slinging mud.

    And btw, I have no objection to slinging mud. Go for it! Sling that mud! But not ignorantly. Before slinging, you have to READ. If you can’t or won’t do that, then STFU.

  445. Lynne
    Posted October 26, 2016 at 2:33 pm | Permalink

    Fair enough. It doesn’t really matter who started it. Of course people enjoy this kind of thing, that is normal. I don’t really mind it myself but I am also not really complaining about it. I can say that there are two techniques I have used in the past when discussions have started to actually bother me. 1. go high. Just refuse to get in the muck. 2. leave the conversation

  446. alan2102
    Posted October 26, 2016 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

    Lynne: “Motivation varies but motivation that comes due to economic necessity is barely one step up from slavery”

    Yes, well said.

    Lynne: “I also tend to think that intrinsic motivation (ie wanting to do a job because it is important and meaningful) is better than extrinsic motivation (doing the job for pay in order to eat) in terms of getting quality work out of people. It isnt necessary to put people in a situation where they must work hard just to eat in order to get quality work out of them.”

    Yes again, and this is consistent with findings of scholars who specialize in motivation.

    Here’s a classic from Fred Herzberg:
    https://numerons.files.wordpress.com/2012/04/how-do-you-motivate-employees-frederick-herzberg.pdf

    Herzberg distinguishes *motivation* from *movement*: “Movement is a function of fear of punishment or failure to get extrinsic rewards. It is the typical procedure used in animal training and its counterpart, behavioral modification techniques for humans [i.e. dehumanizing, bestializing procedures — alan2102]. Motivation is a function of growth from getting intrinsic rewards out of interesting and challenging work.”

  447. Lynne
    Posted October 26, 2016 at 3:18 pm | Permalink

    re: “You lost me at Gaddafi. This thread should have ended there.”

    Actually in a discussion of UBI, it probably makes a lot of sense to look at Gaddafi and how this sort of thing was implemented in Libya. Same with many other countries where there has been a lot of social welfare programs. This kind of thing has plenty of real world examples and my conclusion from looking at many of them (although I haven’t yet had time to see if there was any research done in Libya about this) is that UBI is a really good idea but can be harmful if implemented improperly.

  448. Frosted Flakes
    Posted October 26, 2016 at 3:21 pm | Permalink

    I am sure the poverty struck masses will read through this thread and see the genuine passion on display and go to sleep tonight comforted by the fact that their better-off liberal counter parts are ever so close to working on the problems that face them…. You guys are almost there. Just a few more internet links away. Don’t forget to wait for the robots. Nothing rash. Think your way through this. More robots will be needed. And please enjoy the hell out of the robots because nothing will get better for the poor in *this* country until things get much worse. Flaunt it, but do it with purpose. The poor are counting on the robots to make their situation so dire that all that is left is hope. From that hope will spring a rebellion, which will result in the poor being victorious, , resulting in free sandwiches for everyone, everyday. After the revolution, it will be recounted that a wise man once said: “what does human nature have to do with anything.” It did not make any sense at the time it was spoken but in the future we will come to realize it was a form of flirting. A very progressive and strategic form of flirting given that the feminine robots were not even invented yet….Ahhhh, the future!

  449. Jean Henry
    Posted October 26, 2016 at 3:39 pm | Permalink

    This whole thread has been a performance piece illustrating the the difficulty of disengaging and the folly of engaging. In the end to the piece Westside gets a Dirt Sandwich dinner and a dystopian sci-fi flick with Mark. .

  450. Lynne
    Posted October 26, 2016 at 4:20 pm | Permalink

    Frosted Flakes, fwiw, my worry is that rebellion will not improve things but it is an outcome we see in history quite often when the poor get fed up. You are incorrect though, feminine robots have been invented.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W0_DPi0PmF0&_=1

    I also am kind of feeling an obligation to help Westside have that hot date with a married man that he/she seems to really want even if it is just dinner and a movie ;)

  451. Westside
    Posted October 26, 2016 at 4:48 pm | Permalink

    There Kjc – a little humor. Maybe?

    I think we really need Larsn and Lan to drive up the numbers.
    ( get it ? I dropped their vowels.)

  452. alan2102
    Posted October 26, 2016 at 5:23 pm | Permalink

    Jean: “This whole thread has been a performance piece illustrating the the difficulty of disengaging and the folly of engaging.”

    Yes, Jean, it is laughable folly to engage in conversation when attention is repeatedly called to your own character flaws. Sheer folly.

  453. Frosted Flakes
    Posted October 26, 2016 at 5:33 pm | Permalink

    Lynne,

    Some might argue we have an obligation to not get to 500 posts. If we get to 500 posts then Westside’s hopes will be dashed as s/he remembers there never was any promise of prize dinner date with Mark. In fact, Westside made the whole thing up.

  454. Lynne
    Posted October 26, 2016 at 5:50 pm | Permalink

    LOL Once Mark admitted that he couldnt keep up and read all the comments here, it really presented an opportunity for shenanigans that Westside exploited quite handily. :)

  455. Posted October 26, 2016 at 9:37 pm | Permalink

    “Actually in a discussion of UBI, it probably makes a lot of sense to look at Gaddafi and how this sort of thing was implemented in Libya.”

    Yes, you can see how dolling out free shit from commodity sales to the rest of the world can suppress dissent and keep a despot in power.

    It is astounding that Americans lack the ability to see what was going on in Libya. There is nothing there worth defending. Libya’s numbers have to be looked at with extreme skepticism given that it was an authoritarian government (is that so hard??). Ethiopia (moreso the latter) are notorious for skewing the books to make themselves look good to the rest of the world. Yet, despite the rosy pictures, there is rioting in Ethiopia right now and Gaddafi was killed by his own people and dragged through the streets. People cheered his death.

    Plenty of countries have increased literacy without giving away free money from state owned oil companies.

    Do you want me to name them?

    You guys are out of your minds if you seek to lionize Gaddafi, or at least at least weak to propaganda. Perhaps you think North Korea is good model of UBI because it pays out money to elite residents of Pyongyang?

    You would be better off looking at market based states like Sweden, where public services are being provided without trampling on peoples’ individual rights (or jailing and killing journalists, academics and the political opposition).

  456. Posted October 26, 2016 at 9:56 pm | Permalink

    Gaddafi might have been a comedian, though:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Al-Gaddafi_International_Prize_for_Human_Rights

  457. Jcp2
    Posted October 26, 2016 at 10:06 pm | Permalink

    Comrade Lynne,

    There was a populist movement from the last century worth studying. Among their rallying points were strict controls on immigration with a guest worker program, direct democracy by citizens, a guaranteed job program, abolition of unearned incomes and war profits, expansion of old age welfare and creation of a healthy middle class, significant land reform, a national health care program, and a change in law away from property based laws towards a common law. It was wildly popular and enjoyed national success for close to 25 years. Unfortunately, this government was destroyed by the United States and its allies because of incompatible ideologies. If you are not familiar with them, I can include a source.

  458. Westside
    Posted October 27, 2016 at 8:40 am | Permalink

    I’m not fimiliar, could you include the source?

  459. Lynne
    Posted October 27, 2016 at 9:02 am | Permalink

    Well, I certainly wouldn’t want us to emulate the authoritarian nature of Libya. FWIW though, I do worry that might be an outcome of NOT addressing economic issues early.

    Westside, I think he is talking about Nazis. If so, it is a lazy argument since obviously no one is suggesting that we go that route.

  460. Westside
    Posted October 27, 2016 at 9:11 am | Permalink

    Eye roll!

  461. Westside
    Posted October 27, 2016 at 9:14 am | Permalink

    And to clarify I was thinking more along the lines of takeout from Argus and a Rom-com.

  462. Posted October 27, 2016 at 9:22 am | Permalink

    “Well, I certainly wouldn’t want us to emulate the authoritarian nature of Libya. FWIW though, I do worry that might be an outcome of NOT addressing economic issues early.”

    I really think you need to start learning about the rest of the world.

  463. Lynne
    Posted October 27, 2016 at 9:39 am | Permalink

    Oh like you, Dirt Bag? LOL.

    On the one hand, I agree. I want to learn more about the world but on the other hand, you don’t seem like someone who is really in a position to judge what I know or don’t know about anything. It is ok though, I am used to men dismissing my ideas because they falsely assume that I don’t know what I am talking about. If it matters to you, I think you could probably stand to learn more about human nature and economics and even the rest of the world outside of your perspective too. Probably everyone could stand to learn more.

  464. Posted October 27, 2016 at 12:04 pm | Permalink

    “Oh like you, Dirt Bag? LOL.”

    Yes, like me. You don’t know much. I’m sure that you know more about the Ypsi Farmers Market than I do. Is there one? I don’t know.

    I made a statement that your knowledge of the world was inadequate to comment on why Libya became an authoritarian state and you replied in a snide manner. I’m confused as to why. You clearly know very little about Libya or any other country on the Continent or anything at all about how governments work in other places or politics around the world.

    It would do you some good to start filling those gaps. One has to recognize one’s shortcomings.

  465. Posted October 27, 2016 at 12:15 pm | Permalink

    “Oh like you, Dirt Bag? LOL.”

    Yes. Like me. Your knowledge of American politics appears to be sorely lacking. Your knowledge of world politics appears to be nonexistent.

    I mean, I’m sure your knowledge of the Ypsi Farmers Market is much wider than mine. I’m not even sure that Ypsi even has a farmers market. Does it?

    It would do you good to do some reading.

  466. Lynne
    Posted October 27, 2016 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

    “It would do you good to do some reading.”

    LOL, if you only knew….

  467. jean henry
    Posted October 27, 2016 at 1:23 pm | Permalink

    The mention of historic parallels of your agenda, Lynn, is not beside the point. We talked about models. If both Libya and Nazi Germany implemented UBI under totalitarian regimes, it’s worth looking at why. It’s worth looking at how any policy can go wrong. And they can all go wrong.

  468. Lynne
    Posted October 27, 2016 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

    I agree. I think those models should be looked at. I don’t agree that a desire to look into them is the same as a desire to support authoritarian governments.

    Peter is the king of straw man arguments but it is interesting how often what he falsely accuses me of thinking filters into other people’s psyche as what I am actually thinking, I guess that is the power of that type of argument.

  469. kjc
    Posted October 27, 2016 at 2:38 pm | Permalink

    “I mean, I’m sure your knowledge of the Ypsi Farmers Market is much wider than mine.”

    suuuuuuch a dick.

  470. M
    Posted October 27, 2016 at 3:14 pm | Permalink

    Dirt Bag Larson, I’m convinced, is doing this on purpose. He hates himself and he wants others to validate those feelings of worthlessness by telling him that he’s garbage. I encourage you not to give in to the urge, though. Meet his hostility with love. Remind him that he is a valued member of our online community. When he’s a douche, give him a wet smooch on the cheek and tell him that he matters.

  471. Westside
    Posted October 27, 2016 at 4:02 pm | Permalink

    Come on! Keep it going. Only 30 more comments to go!

    I thought you all would have exchanged a lot more insults during the day. Don’t hold back.

  472. jean henry
    Posted October 27, 2016 at 4:26 pm | Permalink

    M (Mark) just defended Pete, so you should attack him now.
    Quick.
    I like my earlier analysis better. Pete is self-deprecating to get in front of the standard ad hominem attacks. Either way Mark is right the smart response is a big wet kiss.
    It’s interesting to be a provocative person in the era of political fundamentalism. (Sorry, Lynne couldn’t resist)

    Westside– I’m doing my best for you…

  473. Lynne
    Posted October 27, 2016 at 4:51 pm | Permalink

    Oh I hope you get to go on your date with Mark, Westside.

    It’s interesting to be a provocative person in the era of political fundamentalism.

    Is that like that “May you live in interesting times” curse?

    At any rate, I can say without any doubt that Dr Larson is not without some powers of observation. I probably really do have a much wider knowledge of the Ypsilanti Farmer’s Market than he does. LOL. SMOOOOOOOOOOOCH (how’s that M?)

  474. Posted October 27, 2016 at 6:37 pm | Permalink

    I am positive that Lynne’s knowledge of the Ypsilanti Farmer’s Market is greater than mine, given that she lives somewhere near Ypsilanti and I do not.

    This is a fact. I am not sure why that is perceived as insulting.

  475. Posted October 27, 2016 at 6:44 pm | Permalink

    Lynne’s knowledge of the Ypsilanti Farmer’s Market is greater than mine since she lives somewhere near Ypsilanti. It is a fact.

    I am not sure why that is perceived as insulting.

  476. Posted October 27, 2016 at 6:46 pm | Permalink

    Don’t worry, I will die soon.

  477. jean henry
    Posted October 27, 2016 at 6:59 pm | Permalink

    I believe she took it to mean she was provincial which was the implication of your other comments. I personally doubt that you care much about provincialism. But many people do. All people have blinders to the experience of some other groups people. These are more problematic in politics than in other areas of life.

  478. Westside
    Posted October 27, 2016 at 7:00 pm | Permalink

    Could you make a few more comments first? Who knows you might make number 500 and get the dinner and a movie. A reason to continue on, maybe?

  479. Posted October 27, 2016 at 7:05 pm | Permalink

    Perhaps she is provincial. There is no shame in that. Many people are.

  480. Jean Henry
    Posted October 27, 2016 at 8:12 pm | Permalink

    It’s hard to know what kinds of comments people will be sensitive to.

    Westside on the other hand is very clear in her wants. that makes it easy. A like a woman who creates her own contest in hopes of winning the prize. Self-starter.

    I hope I got the gender thing right, Westside. Like spelling and punctuation and proper names and social cues, I’m a little dense in some areas. (I left you that opening folks. Westside wants to be comment #500. Let’s produce something useful from this charade.

  481. Lynne
    Posted October 27, 2016 at 8:29 pm | Permalink

    No, I don’t really consider myself to be provincial fwiw but it absolutely could be seen as insulting since it usually means narrow minded and unworldly. It was a dick thing to say for sure in the context in which it was said but so what? As I said before, Peter isn’t in a position to adequately judge me on such things so his opinions, while perhaps unkind, are not very meaningful to me.

  482. Jean Henry
    Posted October 27, 2016 at 8:55 pm | Permalink

    You could see it as meaning rooted in your community. I have met a lot of ‘sophisticated’ and ‘worldly’ people who were stuck in their own boxes, who have their own kind of provincialism.

  483. stupid hick
    Posted October 27, 2016 at 10:22 pm | Permalink

    “rooted in your community” is the sort of thing Petr might say to Lynn as backhanded compliment.

  484. Posted October 27, 2016 at 11:57 pm | Permalink

    Judging from statements made, Lynne’s knowledge of international politics is lacking if not non-existent. She would benefit from some careful study.

    I stated that she knows more about the Ypsilanti Farmers Market, which is obviously true since I didn’t even know there is one and she confirmed its existence. This is a fact. She knows very little about the world but possesses great knowledge of her environs. I know very little about Ypsilanti, but know a great deal about the places I have lived and worked.

    It is possible she has no time or the will to study, though. She does not have to. I merely thought she would benefit from it.

    I do not understand what is the controversy is.

    Further, no one on this blog is particularly friendly to anyone at all. I am confused as to why this exchange is being singled out. Particularly kjc, whose unpleasantness seems to know no bounds, I hope never to meet such a mean and callous individual in real life.

    What is the point in living? A local blog? Does this give people mutual affirmation? Is it power? Why post here? What is the point?

    It is all over. Perhaps I will be hit by a bus today. Perhaps we will all be hit by buses.

  485. Westside
    Posted October 28, 2016 at 3:17 am | Permalink

    We’re still not to 500?

    The little one isn’t sleeping well tonight so I’m up and thought I’d check. The little one overheard us talking. He wanted to know if the old lady who hates white boys lives in our neighborhood?

    It’s cold outside. I’ll check again in the morning. Good night.

  486. Westside
    Posted October 28, 2016 at 3:28 am | Permalink

    Oh – it looks like Avalon is opening a place here in Ann Arbor. Maybe we could have dinner there instead of Argus?

  487. Dirt Bag
    Posted October 28, 2016 at 3:51 am | Permalink

    i do not know what those are.

  488. Westside
    Posted October 28, 2016 at 4:44 am | Permalink

    Don’t worry you have much grander issues to occupy your time.

    Hope you weren’t around the embassy!

  489. Dirt Bag
    Posted October 28, 2016 at 5:24 am | Permalink

    i just learned of the incident. terrible.

    i am sure you would all be glad if i died.

    i am sorry to disappoint everyone.

  490. alan2102
    Posted October 28, 2016 at 8:24 am | Permalink

    Peter: “You guys are out of your minds if you seek to lionize Gaddafi”

    {eye-roll} Yes, “us guys” really think that Gaddafi was a saint.

  491. Westside
    Posted October 28, 2016 at 8:36 am | Permalink

    Are you still engaging, or have you given up on the idea that meaningful discussion can still be had?

  492. Posted October 28, 2016 at 8:48 am | Permalink

    There were two people on this page who spoke highly of Gaddafi, yourself included.

    What you have to understand, is that when despots do “good” things, it isn’t for the good of the people, but rather to suppress dissent and hold on to power. Moreover, they tend to provide handouts strategically, then overstate the results to themselves and the rest of the world.

    It was an odd set of statements, but there you go. It is obvious that you are ok with authoritarianism.

    You aren’t alone. There were a number of economists in the 2000’s who argued that authoritarianism and dictatorship were “good” seemingly indifferent to the lives of the people who have to live under them.

  493. alan2102
    Posted October 28, 2016 at 9:06 am | Permalink

    Jean: “Let’s produce something useful from this charade.”

    It is up to you to produce something useful, by paying attention to the posts, following the links, reading, thinking, and expanding your knowledge and understanding of the very important issues that have been raised. It is only a “charade” if you disparage it while failing to use it to enhance your knowledge and understanding of the world.

  494. Jean Henry
    Posted October 28, 2016 at 9:20 am | Permalink

    Alan, if I thought you could enhance my knowledge and understanding of the world, I would have continued reading your links. I stopped. You don’t have to read mine either.

    Westside– I’m not sure who the ‘old lady is who hates white boys’ you refer to is, but if it’s me, I have a 10 year old boy. I’m raising him to be resilient, feeling and aware of gender and other bias. I suggest, rather than letting your son believe that old white feminists are out to get him, you do the same. I know I let my hair go silver and often look sickly, because it did and I am, but I’m not quite old yet. Please introduce yourself next time you see me at Argus. I’ll buy you a sandwich.

  495. Jean Henry
    Posted October 28, 2016 at 9:24 am | Permalink

    5 to go. You are welcome Westside.

  496. alan2102
    Posted October 28, 2016 at 9:24 am | Permalink

    Peter: “What you have to understand, is that when despots do “good” things, it isn’t for the good of the people, but rather to suppress dissent and hold on to power.”

    What you have to understand is that the world is not divided up into bad actors and good actors, clearly and cleanly. I understand that it is convenient and attractive to think in those terms, but it is unrealistic. Everything is a gray mess. What you also have to understand is that intent is not everything. It is something, it is appreciable, but it is not everything. Sometimes good things happen for bad reasons, and when they do, I’ll take them, and so should you.

  497. alan2102
    Posted October 28, 2016 at 9:35 am | Permalink

    Jean: “Alan, if I thought you could enhance my knowledge and understanding of the world, I would have continued reading your links.”

    Right. “My” links were all about Alan. The ideas themselves don’t count; the ideas themselves don’t even exist; ALAN posted them, therefore it is all about Alan.

    Jean: “I stopped.”

    Right.

    Jean: “You don’t have to read mine either.”

    I read every one of the links you posted, because my mind is open and I am anxious to gain knowledge, especially challenging new knowledge (like stuff that I don’t already agree with).

  498. Jcp2
    Posted October 28, 2016 at 10:02 am | Permalink

    Comrade Alan,

    Thank you for emphasizing that every cloud has a silver lining. Every cloud. I am hopeful that your open mindedness to all ideas leads to great things for the people

    Sometimes good things happen for bad reasons, and when they do, I’ll take them, and so should you.

    http://www.lifenews.com/2015/05/14/i-became-pregnant-at-14-after-rape-if-you-think-i-should-have-had-an-abortion-consider-this/

    Also, I hope Westside does get Mark to take Peter out for a meal. He’s like the missing Beatle to Mark’s band.

  499. Lynne
    Posted October 28, 2016 at 10:07 am | Permalink

    Stupid Hick. OMG yes! I had forgotten of his issue with that word!

    Judging from statements made, Lynne’s knowledge of international politics is lacking if not non-existent. She would benefit from some careful study.

    I have a feeling that these so called statements I have made that somehow expose a lack of knowledge of international politics are just made up in Peter’s head. Admittedly, I am lacking in certain areas and have only lived in the USA. I do read though and because my brother is an expert on International Relations and works for the GAO, I find myself reading way more GAO reports than most people. I suspect I have a better knowledge of how construction of the embassy was going in Afghanistan and embassy security in general than Peter does just from that reading. Also the effects of our anti-drug policies in Columbia, and soon, our anti-poverty programs in Malawi and Guatemala. If Peter is judging my knowledge of international relations based on what he *thinks* I was saying here, it really reflects more poorly on him than me imho. I don’t claim to be an expert in international politics but I don’t think Peter has demonstrated any great knowledge of that area either and therefore really isn’t in a position to judge me as evidenced by how wrong he gets it.

    There were two people on this page who spoke highly of Gaddafi, yourself included.

    No there wasn’t. I am starting to think that Dirt Bag has a reading comprehension problem

  500. Posted October 28, 2016 at 10:27 am | Permalink

    ”What you have to understand is that the world is not divided up into bad actors and good actors”

    No, but the Gaddafis of the world aren’t grey, they are a deep shade of black. It’s pretty cut and dry. People like Gaddafi, Robert Mugabe, Yahya Jammeh (as examples) are pretty fucking miserable.

    That’s what you don’t seem to understand. I guess from Ann Arbor it all looks pretty grey and relative, but from here, it’s pretty clear. These are self interested despots (though Gaddafi is dead) who are wholly indifferent to the welfare of their people outside that which will keep them in power.

    When I was at Michigan, there were a number of Marxists (and pseudo-Marxists) who were in love with Cuba, due to the success of it’s public health program. Well, sure, Cuba provides health care for its citizens, but that’s just what governments in a lot of places do. The existence of the public health program didn’t absolve the Cuban government of all of its other major abuses, the list of which is endless.

    I guess if a guy who beats and abuses his family provides food, he doesn’t need to be called out for abusing his family any more. But authoritarian governments use the same logic. There just is no excuse for that.

    I’ve been the Harare. It’s fucking heartbreaking what’s going on down there. I’ve been to Gambia, the stories will make your jaw drop. But you know, you haven’t so I’m sure it just doesn’t feel as real to you and I get that. You can draw comparisons to problems in the States (as you are bound to do, as they all do), but it just isn’t the same.

    And yes, I’m an asshole and I don’t get this and that and I support the plutocrats and the oligarchs and blah blah blah but the truth is, that you don’t get it. Because you can’t.

  501. Posted October 28, 2016 at 10:32 am | Permalink

    Lynne could use some time for careful study. It would help greatly.

    I am unsure as to why someone would resist or take offense to a call for more careful study.

    That makes little sense to me.

  502. Lynne
    Posted October 28, 2016 at 10:41 am | Permalink

    Fair enough. I will continue to study international politics as I have been and he can work on his reading comprehension skills and we will all be happy! Well except for Westside as it seems that Dirtbag got the coveted 500th comment. LOL

  503. Jean Henry
    Posted October 28, 2016 at 11:27 am | Permalink

    Pete nabbed Westside’s 500th comment sandwich with Mark prize right out from under her. We’ll have to fly him here from Kenya now. Or fly Mark out there. That’s it– fly Mark to Kenya to eat a sandwich with Pete. I don’t think that’s a bad idea. I would like to see that video. Someone make an GoFundMe page.

  504. Posted October 28, 2016 at 11:38 am | Permalink

    He will have to come to me. I have no money.

  505. Jean Henry
    Posted October 28, 2016 at 11:56 am | Permalink

    Can you video the visit though? I’m quite serious that I think it would be a great idea. We could crowd fund $1000 for the flight to thank Mark for tolerating us. He deserves some thanks. You deserve a sandwich.

  506. Posted October 28, 2016 at 12:19 pm | Permalink

    $1000 is a lot of money.

    Someone else can take the credit. It doesn’t really matter much to me.

  507. Jean Henry
    Posted October 28, 2016 at 12:39 pm | Permalink

    It was all made up anyway, Pete.

  508. alan2102
    Posted October 28, 2016 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

    Peter: “the Gaddafis of the world aren’t grey, they are a deep shade of black.”

    False. Even the worst humans have redeeming characteristics.

    I used to think like you, when I was a lot more ignorant than I am today. (We are all ignorant, more or less; some more, some less.) I slowly learned that there is not a single person who is a “deep shade of black”, i.e. unmixed evil. Not one. Only in the realm of religious belief (religious intolerance and black-and-white thinking) does unmixed evil exist. It is a metaphysical idea with no correlate in this here world in which we live.

    Peter: “Cuba provides health care for its citizens, but [that doesn’t] absolve the Cuban government of all of its other major abuses”

    No, of course it does not absolve it. That misses the point. The point is that everything and everyone is a mixture of qualities. Including you. Including me. This is so obvious that it ought not need be said.

    Cuba provides good health care and that is an appreciable attribute. AND they commit inexcusable crimes. Clear?

    Peter: “I guess if a guy who beats and abuses his family provides food, he doesn’t need to be called out for abusing his family any more.”

    How idiotic. Of course he needs to be called out for his crimes. But he is a mixture, just like everyone else. He provides food, which is good, AND he needs to be called out for his crimes. Clear?

    Peter: “yes, I’m an asshole and I don’t get this and that”

    Some of your views are quite asshole-ish, indeed, though I would stop short of calling you a total asshole on that account. And yes, there is a great deal that you don’t get.

    Peter: “I support the plutocrats and the oligarchs”

    Some of your views do effectively support the plutocrats and the oligarchs, even if that is not your conscious intent.

  509. alan2102
    Posted October 28, 2016 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

    Lynne: “I am starting to think that Dirt Bag has a reading comprehension problem”

    He may or may not have a reading comprehension problem, but he clearly has a black-and-white thinking problem, a problem of cognitive distortion.

    Absolutes don’t exist on this here earth.

    Peter: consider cognitive therapy.

  510. Jean Henry
    Posted October 28, 2016 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

    Alan: LET IT GO.

  511. Posted October 28, 2016 at 3:56 pm | Permalink

    “Cuba provides good health care and that is an appreciable attribute. AND they commit inexcusable crimes. Clear?”

    No, providing health care is what a normal state does. Jailing journalists, political dissidents and homosexuals is not.

    Again, if a man feeds his kids, also normal, but beats them, is he a “mixture?”

    No, he’s still an asshole.

    I don’t think black and white, but there’s a point that bad governments get where they are all black. I’m sorry that you can’t see that, but I’m pretty sure you’ve never been to a place with one of these governments. I live in a country that was under a dictator for more than two decades. He left power back in 2000. You can still see the damage he did to this place, 16 years later.

    You would do well to start touring these places.

  512. Jean Henry
    Posted October 28, 2016 at 4:55 pm | Permalink

    Re the earlier conversation about addressing poverty v income inequality: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/30/opinion/sunday/3-tvs-and-no-food-growing-up-poor-in-america.html

    I don’t think they are the same issue, though they are related. Poverty is thicker stuff. Bernie’s plans would not have solved poverty in the US. I think they may have exacerbated them. I think we need to stop pretendin the middle class and the very poor have the same issues. Britain reduced childhood poverty from 26% to 14% in a few years. Under Johnson we almost eliminated childhood hunger. Now it’s 1 in 5 kids and 1 in 4 kids in cities who occasionally go without food all day.

    I don’t think UBI is the only solution. Maybe it’s the right solution. I think we need to start talking about poverty again if we are going to find out.

  513. Lynne
    Posted October 28, 2016 at 6:04 pm | Permalink

    As much as I am pro UBI, even I admit that it is not a solution for now. People arent ready for it. Heck, I got into a big argument with a guy about how the school district in his town decided to spend some money to give the kids free breakfast *and* lunch and he just went on a rant about how we were teaching children that someone else would feed them and it would make them dependent. We live in a country where a significant number of people actually have a problem with *children* getting government benefits.

    On the other hand, a lot of those same types live in Alaska and don’t seem to have a problem with Alaska’s version of a UBI. So who knows?

  514. Jean Henry
    Posted October 28, 2016 at 7:15 pm | Permalink

    Red states recive more federal support than they contribute in revenue by a wide margin. They also receive more social welfare benefits than Blue states per capita. Watch the Red state governors opposed to social welfare spending beg for FEMA money. Watch their friends defraud the FEMA programs for their own gain. Conservatives are right to be skeptical of regulation and big government– some one has to be– but they have no idea how much they partake of it’s bounty. And they also, like most poor people, would rather have access to real opportunity.

  515. alan2102
    Posted October 29, 2016 at 8:02 am | Permalink

    Peter: “if a man feeds his kids, also normal, but beats them, is he a “mixture?” No, he’s still an asshole.”

    An asshole in one respect, not an asshole in another.

    It is kinda like being able to walk and chew gum at the same time, Peter. Maybe someday you’ll learn how to do that. I have my hopes.

  516. alan2102
    Posted October 29, 2016 at 8:11 am | Permalink

    Lynne: “As much as I am pro UBI, even I admit that it is not a solution for now. People arent ready for it.”

    Yes, that’s where I come out, too, tentatively. Need more data, but people (in the U.S.) are probably not yet ready for it.

    Lynne: “Heck, I got into a big argument with a guy about how the school district in his town decided to spend some money to give the kids free breakfast *and* lunch and he just went on a rant about how we were teaching children that someone else would feed them and it would make them dependent. We live in a country where a significant number of people actually have a problem with *children* getting government benefits.”

    Isn’t that amazing? Pathetic. The U.S. is incredibly retarded in some ways. You can even find similar sentiments in the posts of (presumably highly intelligent, highly educated) professors of public health!

    But it is what it is. This is OUR culture. It took generations to establish it, and it won’t be changed overnight. And this is why alternative suggestions (e.g. Wray’s job guarantee) probably have a more realistic possibility of implementation in the foreseeable future.

  517. Posted October 29, 2016 at 8:24 am | Permalink

    No, he’s an asshole. Feeding kids is assumed. One doesn’t get any props for doing things that normal people should do, nor do dictators.

    Again, living in a country that had one, you can see the damage they do. Having been to places that have them, you can see how awful it is for the people who have to put up with them.

    But from Ann Arbor, it’s all just scientific isn’t it. They aren’t people, they’re just faceless “populations,” and that’s where a number of development economists went terribly wrong (some who keep popping up). They stopped looking at a citizenry as people from their perches at Harvard and the World Bank and just looked at them as faceless numbers, and in the end, encouraged despots because they did “good” things, without ever exploring what people had to live with on a daily basis.

    I mean, I get that you think you know what you’re talking about. I’m sure given your time on the internet, it feels like you’ve got these places figured out. But you don’t. That’s not an insult, I was there at one point, too, and then spent more time on the Continent and learned a few things.

    Bad governments are fucking miserable, no matter what they might get right. People like you who have no experience here, inevitably end up propping up the murderers and the thieves through the propagation of incorrect ideas.

    I see people like that everywhere. Invariably, if they ever live here for a while, the learn a few things.

    I hope you get that opportunity. Yes, there are grey areas in the world, but bad governments are pitch black. Even the “good” things they do, are deleterious in the end.

    You can dismiss my set of experiences if you like. After all, I’m an idiot, I admit. A loser who knows nothing at all.

  518. Posted October 29, 2016 at 8:47 am | Permalink

    To be clear, I’m not trying to be insulting.

    I was like you at one point, I believed that all of the Bush era “axis of evil” pitch was nonsense. Then I did some travelling and living and found that, yes, there is evil in the world, and some of evil people do, in fact, become leaders of countries sometimes, where they continue to do more evil.

    The idea that leaders always want what’s best for their people in completely flawed. Sometime evil people become dictators and they could really care less about anyone but themselves and their own egos, and then they do more bad shit, and then have to do even more bad shit to keep their people from killing them (as happened to Gaddafi). Mugabe is a great example of this.

    I now live in a country that experiences terrorism (though not lately, thank god). I used to think that they were just like freedom fighters, fighting against a great western machine which seeks to impose its will where it isn’t wanted. Nothing could be further from the truth. Al Shabab would burn their own house down if it suited them.

    I knew someone who was shot at Westgate in 2012. She was shot, along with her unborn baby and her husband (and more than 200 other people), needlessly, for no other reason that Al Shabab wanted to make themselves feel good. They didn’t get territory, all they wanted was fame. When they went to Garissa, it was the same thing. Now, every time I hear that someone from Al Shabab has been killed, I rejoice. Good fucking riddance.

    So I get that that’s where you are likely coming from based on what I’ve seen here. It is a flawed view that many people fall into. I hope that one day, you get out of it because its a dangerous place to be.

  519. Posted October 29, 2016 at 8:49 am | Permalink

    *Westgate was 2013, not 2012.

  520. Lynne
    Posted October 29, 2016 at 9:25 am | Permalink

    Pete, no one here has been suggesting that we prop up dictators. At worst we might want to study the outcomes of their economic policies to see if they might work well for the USA.

  521. Posted October 29, 2016 at 9:40 am | Permalink

    No, Alan is not suggesting that we prop up dictators. He is arguing the we evaluate both the good things and the bad things they as if they were normal people or normal governments.

    I am arguing that that approach is flawed.

  522. alan2102
    Posted October 29, 2016 at 10:12 am | Permalink

    Peter: “No, he’s an asshole. Feeding kids is assumed.”

    No, obviously it is NOT assumed; see Lynne’s amazing example immediately above: “We live in a country where a significant number of people actually have a problem with *children* getting government benefits.” And we can see her example reflected on this very thread, with people like you denouncing the poor as lazy fucks who have no one to blame but themselves — ergo screw them and their hungry kids.

    Peter: “Bad governments are fucking miserable, no matter what they might get right.”

    All governments are bad governments and simultaneously good governments, though some are clearly much worse than others. Neither utopia nor hell exists. But, if it pleases you, continue to think in antiquated and fanatical manichaean terms. The warmongers and military profiteers depend on masses of people like you. How else to drum up support for more military spending than every other country on the planet COMBINED?

    Peter: “The idea that leaders always want what’s best for their people in completely flawed.”

    Yes, completely flawed, and never suggested by ANYBODY (save perhaps for the occasional deluded chauvinist). Leaders are humans, and as such are mixtures of good and evil, always and everywhere.

    Peter, master of the straw man.

    Peter: “Now, every time I hear that someone from Al Shabab has been killed, I rejoice.”

    Good! GOOOOOD! Let the hate flow through you, and your journey to the Dark Side will be complete!

  523. jean henry
    Posted October 29, 2016 at 10:33 am | Permalink

    It’s really amazing the persistence with which you are willing to dismiss someone’s loved experience because it doesn’t align with your perspective Alan. All that talk of the need to accept the dialectic, and you twist yourself in knots to dismiss any perspective that’s disruptive to your sense of reality.

    It seems to me that second hand reading about something is very obviously inferior to the lived experience of the same thing.

    So you need to maybe look at your defensiveness instead of attacking Pete’s positions and his character.

  524. alan2102
    Posted October 29, 2016 at 3:06 pm | Permalink

    Jean: “second hand reading about something is very obviously inferior to the lived experience of the same thing.”

    That is both very right and very wrong, depending. There are different domains of knowledge. Some things require lived experience, and reading about them is worthless or worse. Other things, the opposite. You cannot, for one example, know much about the overall growth (or non-growth) of the economy of Vietnam by way of your personal neighborhood experiences in Da Nang. Those experiences might offer clues, but that is much inferior to reading credible literature and statistics dealing with the Vietnamese economy. Indeed, the clues might actually be misleading: maybe your neighborhood in Da Nang is the picture of prosperity, while the rest of the country goes to hell. On the other hand, the quality and nature of restaurant food in Da Nang is very much a personal experiential thing, and reading about it is much inferior to the lived experience; reading about it might even be misleading. Surely you know all this. Was it really necessary for me to write it? Why would you, an intelligent person, make such a stupid claim of universal superiority of lived experience as a way of knowing?

    Jean: “[you] dismiss someone’s lived experience because it doesn’t align with your perspective Alan.”

    No, I did not do that, and you know I didn’t. I agree with Peter that there is great evil in the world, that some leaders are terrible and do many evil things, that terrorist groups are awful and should be held to account for their crimes, that people who beat their families are criminals who should be held to account for their crimes, etc., etc.

    Peter writes that “I did some travelling and living and found that, yes, there is evil in the world, and some of evil people do, in fact, become leaders of countries sometimes, where they continue to do more evil.”

    Yes, that is obviously true. You think that I “dismiss” that, and other stuff he wrote of similar nature? Of course I didn’t, and you know damned well that I didn’t. It seems likely that you are now consciously lying and misrepresenting me, though I don’t know why. Does it give you a charge or something? Is there something in it for you?

  525. jean henry
    Posted October 29, 2016 at 4:06 pm | Permalink

    Alan– maybe re-read your posts. You may not think you were dismissive, but it reads that way.

  526. jean henry
    Posted October 29, 2016 at 5:57 pm | Permalink

    Alan– The certainty with which you ascribe thoughts or beliefs to others is also not in keeping with an appreciation for dialectic.
    I know you believe you are being extremely clear and open minded, but I’m not sure that’s a status one confers on oneself.
    As others have pointed up I’m not much unlike you, but I can see that at least.

  527. Posted October 30, 2016 at 2:02 am | Permalink

    Well, Alan is free to think what he likes.

    One thing I have learned from this blog is that there are people out there are who are very sure of their level of knowledge and eagerly dismiss peoples’ real experiences in favor of “data” and published knowledge, without, of course, addressing the limitations of both. I always took issue with that in grad school. I would advise him to do more research on the subject of the limitations of data and methodological approaches to data collection and analysis.

    I encourage Alan (and most everyone on this blog) to get away from the computer and start collecting some experiences. He seems like a bright enough guy, it would be good for him. I don’t mean that as an insult in anyway.

    As for straw men, I gave you examples. Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, Jammeh of Gambia, Ethiopia’s ruling government are not straw men, they are very real assholes and very real people live under them. Alternatively, I could have given you Museveni of Uganda, Paul Kagame of Rwanda and the current case of Burundi.

    As for feeding kids, it’s a given. Not feeding kids makes one an asshole. People who oppose feeding kids are assholes. I’m not sure why you would assume that I wouldn’t think they are assholes, given that I said clearly that I think that people who abuse kids are assholes.

    Let me say it again, people who abuse or neglect kids are assholes.

    As for poor white people not taking care of themselves, again, barring extreme circumstances, in a system that was designed for them, if a person doesn’t take advantage of the opportunities offered to them, they will get little sympathy from me. Given that’s where I come from, my capacity for sympathy has been severely diminished. Lots of people who escaped poverty in the US will say similar things. You should talk to them and listen to what they have to say sometime. Invalidating their experiences with “data” or pseudo-academic articles isn’t fair to those people.

    I’m not trying to win. You seem like a fairly smart though obstinate guy and that’s ok.

    I feel as though I’m repeating myself.

  528. Lynne
    Posted October 30, 2016 at 9:56 am | Permalink

    Re: “As for straw men, I gave you examples. Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, Jammeh of Gambia, Ethiopia’s ruling government are not straw men, they are very real assholes and very real people live under them. Alternatively, I could have given you Museveni of Uganda, Paul Kagame of Rwanda and the current case of Burundi. “

    I honestly cannot tell if Peter just doesn’t know what a straw man argument is or if he is baiting us into mansplaining (womensplaining?) it to him.

    RE: “As for poor white people not taking care of themselves, again, barring extreme circumstances, in a system that was designed for them, if a person doesn’t take advantage of the opportunities offered to them, they will get little sympathy from me. Given that’s where I come from, my capacity for sympathy has been severely diminished. Lots of people who escaped poverty in the US will say similar things. You should talk to them and listen to what they have to say sometime. Invalidating their experiences with “data” or pseudo-academic articles isn’t fair to those people.”

    I don’t think that bringing data into a conversation necessarily invalidates lived experiences. I am sorry that you feel that way. Data can, however, offer an objective perspective that is lacking with lived experience sometimes. I mean, my lived experience with this election is that almost everyone is voting for HRC except a few people who are voting third party. Out of the many hundreds of people in my social circle, only two are saying they are voting for Trump. Those are the opinions I encounter regularly. However, the data tells a different story and probably Trump will get more than 0.001% of the vote.

    It is true that poor people will often be unsympathetic towards the struggles of those who are currently poor in the same way that former addicts can be unsympathetic to those who are still using and the worst for me sometimes are the people who have lost weight and no longer have any sympathy for fat people. *rolls eyes* Your lived experiences offer a valuable part of the story but surely you can see that you might have a bias?

    It is totally normal though. EVERYONE does it to some degree or another. Who hasn’t said at one time or another, “I was able to do it, so why can’t they?” It *is* a bias though. There are all kinds of reasons why a white person might remain in poverty that are completely outside of their control and while I don’t expect you to have sympathy for some poor white kid who gets lead poisoned during their childhood or who becomes just slightly mentally ill from the instability or whatever, I still think that such sympathy is appropriate.

  529. EOS
    Posted October 30, 2016 at 11:29 am | Permalink

    Now is an excellent time for Hillary to disengage. Her treatment of emails was incredibly stupid. But the Wikileaks information of the criminality of the Clinton Foundation is far worse. If she manages to win the election, the next four years will be consumed with more criminal investigations and impeachment proceedings with a Republican plurality in both houses. She is unable to walk more than a few steps without grabbing on to something for support. Her stamina is suspect. The added stress of non-stop investigations will leave her little time to devote to the many pressing issues that we need to address. For the good of the nation, she should step down.

  530. Westside
    Posted October 30, 2016 at 8:42 pm | Permalink

    Who won the dinner and movie?

  531. Lynne
    Posted October 30, 2016 at 9:03 pm | Permalink

    Westside, I believe it was Dirt Bag Larson.

  532. Westside
    Posted October 30, 2016 at 9:06 pm | Permalink

    That’s great! I hope it lifts his spirit a bit.

  533. alan2102
    Posted November 1, 2016 at 6:59 am | Permalink

    Peter “there are people out there are who are very sure of their level of knowledge and eagerly dismiss peoples’ real experiences in favor of “data” and published knowledge, without, of course, addressing the limitations of both.”

    I clearly (albeit briefly) addressed the limitations of both in my post to Jean, discussing “domains of knowledge”. Perhaps you did not read it.

    Peter: “if a person doesn’t take advantage of the opportunities offered to them, they will get little sympathy from me. Given that’s where I come from, my capacity for sympathy has been severely diminished. Lots of people who escaped poverty in the US will say similar things. You should talk to them and listen to what they have to say sometime. Invalidating their experiences with “data” or pseudo-academic articles isn’t fair to those people.”

    You still don’t get it. I have never argued with your personal experience, nor would I argue with any of the “lots of people who escaped poverty” that you cite. Everyone’s personal experience stands on its own and is unarguable. Their experiences are not “invalidated” by the data or academic articles, and I do not “dismiss” them. However, the data — which you disparage, weirdly, with sneer-quotes (odd for a scientist!) — does invalidate BROAD GENERALIZATION ***FROM*** their personal experiences. Do you understand? Their personal experiences are 100% true, valid, and unarguable. It is the generalization FROM those experiences that is in question, and indeed that is invalid IF there exists good data that suggests another interpretation or conclusion.

    In the same way, I don’t dismiss the experience of an angry parent (let’s say) who thinks their child was harmed by vaccinations. Maybe their child actually WAS harmed by vaccinations; hard to say, but in any case their personal experience is unarguable. Only they know what they have actually experienced, and I am in no position to argue with it. I am, however, in a position to say that vaccinations across large populations have pronounced beneficial effects, regardless of what might happen occasionally to certain individuals within those populations. That’s the difference between personal experience and data. Do you understand, Peter? I would hope that you, a professor of public health (!), would understand.

    Peter: “I encourage Alan (and most everyone on this blog) to get away from the computer and start collecting some experiences. He seems like a bright enough guy, it would be good for him.”

    I encourage you, Peter, to get on the computer and start collecting some real data pertaining to your existing opinions/prejudices. You seem like a bright enough guy, and it would be good for you. Mind you, I am NOT suggesting that you pay no attention to your personal life experiences. Not at all. Those experiences are invaluable guides to some things, and offer sometimes-important clues to other things. Personal experiences are great and indispensable. However, sooner or later, when you are thinking and speaking about broad, society-wide phenomena (e.g. poverty, meritocracy or lack thereof, social mobility, and the like), your personal experiences must be subordinated to data that is collected across far, FAR larger samplings than those of your personal experiences. You will often find that your personal experiences get blown away by this data.

    In other domains of knowledge, it works the opposite way. You read and read and read about restaurants in Da Nang, or about human love and sex, and think you know something. But then you actually go there, in the flesh, and the personal lived experience utterly BLOWS AWAY everything that you had read. Different domains, different epistemologies.

  534. alan2102
    Posted November 1, 2016 at 7:07 am | Permalink

    I just wrote: “You will often find that your personal experiences get blown away by this data.”

    Understand, I meant that your extrapolations or generalizations FROM your personal experiences get blown away by this data, not your personal experiences themselves. The experiences always stand on their own and are unarguable.

  535. alan2102
    Posted November 1, 2016 at 7:13 am | Permalink

    Lynne: “I don’t think that bringing data into a conversation necessarily invalidates lived experiences. I am sorry that you feel that way. Data can, however, offer an objective perspective that is lacking with lived experience sometimes.”

    Yes, of course, and that is putting it mildly. It is amazing that this must be explained, and explained repeatedly, to a supposed academic.

  536. alan2102
    Posted November 1, 2016 at 7:27 am | Permalink

    Peter: “Let me say it again, people who abuse or neglect kids are assholes.”

    That would include you, indirectly, by way of your repeated assertions that deny well-documented inequality and suggest that social mobility is MUCH greater than it actually is, in statistical fact — and all this based on your personal anecdotal experiences, and the experiences of the “lots of people who escaped poverty” that you cite. Your personal experiences are (for the 8th time) 100% true and unarguable, as are those of the “lots of people” that you mention. There is NO ARGUMENT about your and their personal experiences. But the reality across the entire population of people in the U.S. is that social mobility is very poor. Most poor people will fail. Some will succeed (like you), and the great majority will fail, and their children (and their children) will suffer as a result. When you say that “they can make it, same as I did”, you are lying. They — as a large group — cannot. Individuals within the large group can, but most cannot. Your personal anecdote-based view denies this reality across the whole population, and hence effectively promotes abuse and neglect of children, which is the nearly unavaoidable fallout of mass poverty.

  537. Jean Henry
    Posted November 1, 2016 at 8:27 am | Permalink

    Maybe Alan alone can take this thing to 600.

  538. Westside
    Posted November 1, 2016 at 6:48 pm | Permalink

    Seems like the one group that some people said were engaged , aren’t. And that might make all the difference.

    I’m going to wait until Wednesday to party, or not.

    http://theweek.com/speedreads/658863/florida-africanamerican-voter-turnout-lower-than-clinton-hoped

  539. jean henry
    Posted November 1, 2016 at 8:34 pm | Permalink

    Yes it’s tightening up. I have friends on the ground who say that African Americans are not st all enthusiastic. The election is ugly. It’s turning them off. They don’t see the point in voting. When they have the power to turn it. The Latino population which faced direct threat from Trump is turning out though. Hard to say. She has a 75% shot. Fingers crossed. Whether it’s mourning the end of the republic or celebrating the First Woman president, I will be having a party to raise funds for planned parenthood and SOS. Seems the best way to go. They may need it.

  540. Posted November 1, 2016 at 11:54 pm | Permalink

    “When you say that “they can make it, same as I did”, you are lying. ”

    What, like I know it not to be true but I’m saying it anyway? That’s a stupid assertion. Sorry.

    “Your personal anecdote-based view denies this reality across the whole population, and hence effectively promotes abuse and neglect of children, which is the nearly unavaoidable fallout of mass poverty.”

    Well there you go again with that “population” thing, Again, you discredit the experience of people due to the perceived superiority of analyses of the “population.” I have said repeatedly that in analysis of any social phenomenon, one has to look at both, because “population” studies often produce digestible data in coarse form, while the stories of individuals produce precise data in a form that is difficult to digest. You don’t seem to get that one without the other is pretty useless.

    It is your dismissal of peoples’ experiences and your seeming unquestioning acceptance of the published work of the educated elite that I find troubling. Being in that game, I find that, no matter how well intended, educated people tend to be pretty ignorant of the world (particularly poverty) and their work suffers. I could name names, but I won’t.

    I am merely saying that you should get out from behind the computer and experience the world.

  541. alan2102
    Posted November 4, 2016 at 3:04 pm | Permalink

    Peter: “in analysis of any social phenomenon, one has to look at both, because “population” studies often produce digestible data in coarse form, while the stories of individuals produce precise data in a form that is difficult to digest”

    Yes, the stories of individuals necessarily produce more precise data with respect to the individuals in question, and I do not dismiss it (in spite of your repeated assertions that I do). The question is: what to do with that precise data?

    If a parent says that their child was harmed by vaccines, that is precise data. What is to be done with it? Should we tell parents that — based on this single case history — children can be harmed by vaccines, hence vaccinations ought to be avoided?

    The answer is: no, of course we should not tell parents that. Not because the parent with the vaccine horror story is wrong, but because we cannot extrapolate from that one case history TO THE ENTIRE POPULATION. We need a sample size much larger than that, and probably multiple samples, in addition to other (mechanistic and etc.) data, before we can so extrapolate. Do you seriously not understand this?

    Peter: “you discredit the experience of people due to the perceived superiority of analyses of the “population.””

    Analyses of the whole population are obviously necessary and superior if we are going to draw any conclusions about the whole population. Just as analyses of an individual are obviously necessary and superior if we are going to draw conclusions about an individual. These are different domains of knowledge. They have a relationship, but it is highly uneven and spotty.

    I honestly do not understand your failure to understand all this. I’m astonished. Again, I find it hard to believe you could have made it through undergrad, let alone grad school.

    Peter: “It is your dismissal of peoples’ experiences and your seeming unquestioning acceptance of the published work of the educated elite that I find troubling.”

    The educated elite are fine when it comes to empirical study. There’s no reason to doubt empirical scientific work, in general (though of course there are occasional exceptions); the educated elite are very good and counting and measuring things. Questioning the educated elite comes at a different level — the level of interpretation, context and conclusion. If you say you went to the store and counted four cars in the parking lot, I accept that. That’s an empirical finding; I have no reason to doubt it. If you conclude from that that there is an economic collapse underway because of so few people shopping for groceries at that moment, I question that. Do you see the difference?

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