The robots are coming, the robots are coming… Is now the time to start talking seriously about universal basic income? And what’s all this about our new Secretary of Labor not liking human beings?


It seems like we might have turned a corner today relative to universal basic income. Or at least that’s the sense that I get as I’m sitting here in bed, scrolling through today’s headlines. I mean, it’s something that we’ve been discussing for a while, but it seems like it’s everywhere today, which is odd, given how few non-Trump-related news stories break though these days. For some reason, though, the idea of universal basic income is everywhere today.

I think it must just be one of those “perfect storm” kind of things, the kind of thing that just happens when a tech entrepreneur like Elon Musk is asked about job loss due to automation, at roughly the same time that an industry-crushing giant like Amazon says that it may open as many as 2,000 automated grocery stores across the country, effectively eliminating an entire class of jobs overnight. Or maybe it’s just reality setting in. Maybe people are finally beginning to appreciate that they elected a conman, who was lying to them when he said he’d reopen the coal mines of West Virginia and the factories of Ohio… Speaking of which, did you happen to catch the article just posted on Wired titled “Trump Can’t Deliver the Rust Belt Jobs He Promised Because Work Has Changed“?

Whatever the reason, it seems like a significant number of people are now beginning to talk about the possibility of a universal basic income in substantive way, and I think that’s a good thing. [Musk, by the way, seems to be for it. When asked why, he said matter-of-factly, “I’m not sure what else one would do.”] Whether you think universal basic income would be a good thing or not, I hope you’d agree that it’s something that we should at least discuss as a society, given the sheer number of people, who, due to automation and other industry forces, are being pushed out of the workforce on a daily basis.

So with all of that said, I’m just sitting here, having finally gotten the kids to sleep, and I’m wondering what position I should take on the robot question… Should I advocate that we kill the robots right now, while we still have a chance… before they go all “2001” on us… or should I suggest that we roll the dice, hoping that the rising robot class makes it possible for us to live better, more fulfilling, lives?

For what it’s worth, I don’t think we have to decide at this very moment. I think we’ve still got a little time… although maybe not as much time as we thought that we had yesterday, before Trump named Andy Puzder, the CEO of Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s, to be his Labor Secretary. As you may recall, Puzder, a fierce opponent of the minimum wage, and worker rights in general, said last year that he’d like to start fully automating his restaurants, as machines are “always polite, always upsell, never take a vacation, never show up late, (and) never (file) slip-and-fall or age, sex or race discrimination case(s).”

And, yes, you read that right. Trump chose someone who doesn’t like human beings to be his Secretary of Labor.

So, just to bring you up to speed, Trump has now named someone that doesn’t respect civil rights to be his Attorney General, someone who hates public schools to be his Secretary of Education, and someone who has contempt for workers to be Secretary of Labor.

As for where all of this leaves us, I’m not so sure. But I need to get to bed. If I’m going to have to face off against the machines like John Henry, I’m going to need to get my rest… But keep checking back for a real post about universal basic income, which I’m sure I’ll get around to sometime.

Also, whatever budget and resources Puzder has at the U.S. Labor Department are going directly into fast food robot research, not improving the lives of U.S. workers. You can mark my words.

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  1. Posted December 8, 2016 at 10:58 pm | Permalink

    I don’t think I’ve ever said it here, but, after the first season, Lost in Space just went completely insane.

  2. Posted December 8, 2016 at 11:02 pm | Permalink

    It just occurred to me that I didn’t give you the link to the Elon Musk piece in Fortune. Well, there’s the link. And here’s a clip.

    In addition to addressing issues at SpaceX, Elon Musk spent some time during a Friday CNBC interview addressing how automation will impact the job market. Musk’s Tesla Motors is leading the way to self-driving cars, while also pushing factories to new levels of automation. And he thinks that workers displaced by those and other forms of automation will need help permanently, and on a broad scale.

    “I think that there’s a pretty good chance we end up with a universal basic income, or something like that, due to automation,” Musk said. “I’m not sure what else one would do.”

    The Universal Basic Income concept has gained broad traction in recent years, particularly in the tech community. The idea is that all citizens would receive a small regular stipend—enough to cover basic housing and food needs, but little more.

    The underlying economic rationale is that as industries from transportation to food production become more automated, there will be less demand for labor overall, while automated systems create a consistent surplus of value. In the absence of redistribution systems, that dynamic would rapidly accelerate income inequality, which can threaten both social and economic stability.

    Musk further argued that insulating individuals against uncertainty could also unleash a wave of creativity that would further benefit the economy and quality of life. “People have time to do other things, more complex things, more interesting things. [And they would have] more leisure time.”

    I like his idea that people would take full advantage of the opportunity and do “more complex things,” but I suspect Judge Judy would just have a lot more viewers.

  3. Posted December 8, 2016 at 11:12 pm | Permalink

    Speaking of horrendous Lost in Space episode, have you ever seen Mutiny in Space?

    Join me, won’t you?

    I know I said I had to get to sleep, but now that I’ve started, I can’t stop.

  4. Posted December 8, 2016 at 11:14 pm | Permalink

    And here, if you don’t want to watch Lost in Space, is some background on universal basic income from NBC News.

    First floated by 16th-century philosopher Thomas More as a “cure for theft,” basic income is finding new life 500 years later amid concerns over technology edging humans out of the workforce. If advanced machines are taking all the jobs, goes the thinking, then how will people earn money to support themselves? A “universal basic income” in which all citizens receive free money from their government — a figurative tax break just for being alive — is a possible solution.

    With all members of a society guaranteed some degree of income regardless of employment status, the ideology aims to provide people with some kind of economic anchor if they are unable to earn on their own.

    “We already do this for some kinds of people today,” says Erik Brynjolfsson, director of the MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy and author of “The Second Machine Age.” “Just consider social security, Medicare, and welfare — these are types of basic income. As automation makes society richer — unevenly — then there’s scope for a more generous social safety net”…

    Today, the jobs that evaporate on contact with automation are often mindless-seeming manufacturing and assembly line work, but a company called Momentum Machines brings the issue front and center for the everyday consumer. The brand’s robotic burger cook is capable of filling complex customer orders from scratch without human interaction, and can do so perfectly, nonstop, as long as it has ingredients available.

    If Momentum Machines should ever formally release its product, it will likely reshape the fast food industry, and have line cooks looking for new jobs. Smart people predicted that the machines would start to catch up to us; economist John Maynard Keynes wrote in 1930 that the eventual obsolescence of human work will be due to a society’s “means of economizing the use of labor outrunning the pace at which [it] can find new uses for labor.”

    Oh, and speaking of Momentum Machines, here’s a quote I found from company cofounder Alexandros Vardakostas back in 2014. The they’re making, he said, “isn’t meant to make employees more efficient. It’s meant to completely obviate them.” And this is a message repeated on the company’s website, which says their machine “does everything employees can do, except better.”

  5. Posted December 8, 2016 at 11:23 pm | Permalink

    And, lastly, here’s a clip from the Amazon Go story.

    But what happens when you start to enable the dismissal of huge numbers? It’s been one of the concerns about robotics and artificial intelligence. The latest sign is Amazon’s plan to run automated grocery stores — eventually establishing 2,000 of them, according to the Wall Street Journal. Kroger, one of the grocery giants, has 2,600 stores.

    It also threatens countless jobs at grocery stores, which are the leading employers of cashiers and had 856,850 on their payrolls in May 2015, according to the latest figures from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.

    Britt Beamer, president of America’s Research Group, a consumer-behavior research and consulting firm, estimated that Amazon’s cutting-edge technology had the potential to wipe out 75 percent of typical grocery-store staff.

    “It’ll be a big job-killer,” Beamer said. “It’ll eliminate the cashier, it’ll get rid of the baggers, it’ll eliminate the stock clerks. This could be big.”

    And given Amazon’s expertise in using robotics to stock products, you could probably add many of the other jobs in grocery stores.

    While I suspect they really are working on it, as it sounds like something that they’d do, I also think Amazon likes to come out and announce things like this just to keep their competition guessing. Remember how they talked a few years ago about building a fleet of drones to deliver packages? I’m not saying this is the same, as this sounds more doable, but I do think there’s an element of that here. And I do think things are moving in that direction. I wouldn’t doubt it it, in another decade, all grocery cashiers were gone, replaced by the occasional facilitator who could help if you had issues with the automated system.

  6. Morbid Larson
    Posted December 9, 2016 at 4:56 am | Permalink

    This again?

    The problem with discusssions of guaranteed income is that people don’t offer ideas to pay for it outside of “tax rich people” and willfully ignore how countries who do have it pay for it.

  7. EOS
    Posted December 9, 2016 at 7:21 am | Permalink

    As long as there are people there will always be jobs. If I were young today, I’d be sure to get training in electronics, computer programming, numeric control, or engineering. There will always be a demand for more health care workers: physicians, nurses, imaging technicians. Whatever form of transportation we end up with, there will be a demand to fix them. However, I wouldn’t aspire to find a career as a cashier, truck driver, or journalist. Make an educated guess at an occupational choice that’s likely to have a future and prepare yourself to switch jobs several times in your career. Those with high levels of reading and math skills will do fine. Those whose skills are deficient will do well to utilize the public libraries and educate themselves. I wouldn’t hold out any hope that the government will be able to carry your dead weight. They will be hard pressed to adequately care for those who lack abilities through no fault of their own.

  8. Demetrius
    Posted December 9, 2016 at 7:28 am | Permalink

    If we had a more stable political system and more enlightened leaders, I can almost see how this *might* make sense.

    Instead, Americans have just chosen a President-elect and Congress who seem more inclined to do away with many of the “universal” protections we already have: Social Security, Medicare, the ACA, etc. So, why in the hell would people trust these same folks to decide for us what a “Universal Basic Income” is … how much it is, who is eligible for it, what conditions are placed on it, etc.? Would drug-testing be a condition? Would former criminals be eligible … ?

    This headlong rush to automate/eliminate millions of “everyday” jobs (truck and taxi drivers, grocery, fast food and retail workers, etc.) is nothing more than a scheme to pad the profits of major corporations while adding to the already swelling ranks of the un- and underemployed.

    At first, being chauffeured by a robot or receiving groceries via a tablet will seem novel and cool … but once these modes become the norm, many of us will have no longer have any choice. Soon, driving or being driven by a person, being waited on by a cashier or clerk, etc., will become “luxury” experiences reserved for only the wealthy.

    Once you look past the “gee-whiz” factor and inherent technophilia, this seems like nothing more than a recipe for growing poverty and increasing social and political upheaval.

  9. Demetrius
    Posted December 9, 2016 at 7:42 am | Permalink

    One other thing: Many of these technotopian visions depend on continuing to have an uninterrupted supply of cheap, plentiful energy and stable political/social systems necessary to support complex global supply chains. As climate change accelerates, and world instability grows … I think this will become less and less realistic.

    Many of us believe that the medium- and long-term future will be much less about ordering a 10,000-mie Caesar salad (with crisp romaine grown in Mexico and gourmet dressing made in France) via our tablets, and having it delivered to our front door via drone … that it will be about returning to ways of living that are much more frugal, resourceful, and local.

  10. Jcp2
    Posted December 9, 2016 at 8:41 am | Permalink

    Don’t forget tribal. Any protections that might have been provided to people who either aren’t part of the tribe, or can’t contribute to the tribe, will be tenuous and arbitrary.

  11. jean henry
    Posted December 9, 2016 at 8:51 am | Permalink

    Humans are terrible drivers. I feel confident self-driving cars will eliminate the need for car ownership in densely populated areas and save many lives.
    There will still be lives.
    Resistance to change is natural and necessary. But I do not understand this nostalgia for hard labor. I agree with EOS on this one. There will always be work to do– especially as we transition to a sustainable green tech future– assuming we overcome our resistance to change. Trump, if we do our work and if he doesn’t go completely mad, will hopefully be a 4 year blip on history. Luckily for us, we live in a market economy (yay!) so, even when government and half the people resist climate action, there are a whole lot of people working hard on new green technologies. The government can slow but can’t stop the progress.
    Jobs or no jobs or 10 hour jobs in the robot future, it is our chance for continued human existence on this planet and we should embrace it.
    As for the guaranteed income thing, that won’t happen in America until we hit a tipping point of need. For the reason Pete states. Then, when it’s time, there are models to look at. There is no point in trying to force change before it’s time. Resistance to change requires impetus to overcome. A great inspiring idea cant do it on its own. Change also requires some outside force creating struggle and huge dissatisfaction with the status quo.
    It’s been studied and well documented.
    For the most part, humans do not move backwards. Trump may feel regressive, but he was elected on a change platform. And to the degree he offers it, we’ll resist it. He’s not going to have an easy time of it. The status quo persists not only because of corporate influence but because people simultaneously want change and resist it. No amount of ‘logical reasoning’ applied to problems will change that.

  12. jean henry
    Posted December 9, 2016 at 8:52 am | Permalink

    *lives should be ‘work’ — first paragraph

  13. jean henry
    Posted December 9, 2016 at 8:56 am | Permalink

    Ps potential for great profit = great impetus for change
    Whereas, Government programs that require lots of taxation meet strong resistance (everywhere but especially in the US)

  14. jean henry
    Posted December 9, 2016 at 9:02 am | Permalink

    Jcp2– ugh and right.
    Resistance to change is showing itself as anti-immigrant bias everywhere right now– especially in countries with well developed social welfare programs like Scandinavia etc.and those countries do not offer all benefits to refugees and immigrants. Given that we are a completely different kind of country in terms of size and diversity and the constant flow of immigrants, it makes some sense that we have resisted big give programs. Maybe those other countries would have too if they were more like us.

  15. Shane Davis
    Posted December 9, 2016 at 9:12 am | Permalink

    Secretary of Slavery

  16. jean henry
    Posted December 9, 2016 at 9:43 am | Permalink

    I don’t think hyperbole helps. The reality is bad enough.
    It’s unnecessary and just points up how little most Americans know of true suffering.

  17. Lynne
    Posted December 9, 2016 at 10:32 am | Permalink

    Re: “The problem with discusssions of guaranteed income is that people don’t offer ideas to pay for it outside of “tax rich people” and willfully ignore how countries who do have it pay for it.”

    To be fair, “tax the rich” is often short hand for more complex progressive tax structures. One of the reasons for a universal basic income is that as labor becomes more automated, wealth is likely to become more associated with capital than it already is. It is also much more likely to become concentrated into the hands of the few. I also wouldn’t say that people are ignoring how other countries fund great welfare states, but rather they are looking at those taxation schemes and determining that they wouldn’t work in the USA as well as something else. I don’t think that a progressive income tax is the only way to fund a UBI. Large inheritance taxes, property taxes on capital, and generally any kind of progressive tax would work.

    Re: One other thing: Many of these technotopian visions depend on continuing to have an uninterrupted supply of cheap, plentiful energy and stable political/social systems necessary to support complex global supply chains. As climate change accelerates, and world instability grows … I think this will become less and less realistic.

    While I agree that climate change is likely to increase world instability, I am not sure that it is going to reduce the global trend for less violence that has been happening for the past 70 years or so. For whatever reason or reasons, humans are becoming much less violent. There are fewer wars, violent crime is down, etc. It could all collapse of course if things get bad enough but my hope is that they won’t get so bad as all of that.

    As for energy. We really are moving towards a point where renewable energy is becoming more feasible. I mean we have a giant fusion reactor just 93 million miles away that is constantly bombarding our planet with more energy than any of us could use in a lifetime. And we are getting better and better at capturing that energy every day. I actually have a plan to get almost all of my personal energy consumption (excluding transportation) from solar in just a few years and the reason I can do this is that solar energy has been getting cheaper and better at a very fast rate. I think there is hope even in this age of Trump.

  18. Lynne
    Posted December 9, 2016 at 10:38 am | Permalink

    Re: “Humans are terrible drivers. I feel confident self-driving cars will eliminate the need for car ownership in densely populated areas and save many lives.”

    OMG yes. It is going to kill a lot of jobs but it is totally going to save lives. I intend to make great use of this technology.

    There will always be work to do– especially as we transition to a sustainable green tech future– assuming we overcome our resistance to change.

    Yes, there will always be work to do but one of the aspects of technology on the labor market is that technology creates jobs but usually many fewer than the technology itself is replacing. They are higher paying jobs though which is a good thing. The thing is that fewer jobs = more people without jobs. That isn’t a bad thing necessarily. There is all kinds of important work to be done such as raising children which is mostly unpaid. However, it becomes a bad thing if there are huge segments of the population who cant get a job and then don’t have any means of support.

  19. Jcp2
    Posted December 9, 2016 at 10:52 am | Permalink

    See “Arab Spring”.

  20. Somebody
    Posted December 9, 2016 at 11:05 am | Permalink

    Doesn’t putting people out of work violate the first law of robotics?

  21. Jcp2
    Posted December 9, 2016 at 12:34 pm | Permalink

    On the other hand, maybe as long as we have digital connectivity, happiness doesn’t require a job.

  22. Jean Henry
    Posted December 9, 2016 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

    Lynne– Parenting for sure requires more time than most people can afford to give it these days. It’s hard from my perspective, having worked in the labor intensive food industry for my whole life, and owning my own businesses for much of the last 20 years, to imagine the problem of not enough work to do. I welcome every damn labor saving invention that comes along. From my perspective the people with time and agency to work on creating something are usually more content in their labor. So if less labor is required to do menial tasks, my feeling is that people will make work for themselves. Americans in particular are innovators. If we innovate ourselves out of one job, we will innovate ourselves into new ones.

    Re Global supply chains being threatened under climate change: that is a common scenario woven out by those who believe we will be living in small villages again carding our own wool. I have heard it a million times: the end of global trade. Every nightmare scenario contains a latent wish. Among long standing environmentalists and liberal academics, I believe the idea of limited consumption and supply chains is thats secret wish. It’s a punishment fantasy. It doesn’t bear out in the work of climate action though. I came to this understanding against my political inclination which is why I believe it so– green technological improvement will accommodate the most base of human inclinations– trade and travel. Small farms often have worse climate impacts than large farms per unit of nutrition produced. Economies of scale apply to energy use as well. (I say this loving small farms and the food they offer. But they will never replace big ag for feeding the mass of the population. They are still a vital part of the food system. Both kinds of ag are necessary.)

    I’m getting off track and don’t have time to write this properly, but global trade will face great insecurities but it will go on. It will be more efficient. There will be mass exoduses of populations from some areas to other areas, but this has also happened through out civilization an only encourages more… trade.

    Trade and shipping are not going away. Neither is travel. We will not have smaller lives. We will only have bigger broader and more integrated global lives. It will only be different in the technology used to make those things happen. We won’t be tying together logs to make rafts again, but, if that were humans only means to travel and trade, they would… Technology serve the human will, and the over-riding human will is not to stay in place given the option to progress.

    I’m not saying we will make it, but if we don;t make it, it will be because we resisted forward momentum for too long, not because we didn’t retreat into some past pre-industrial state. That will not happen. I grew up with back-to-the-land parents, who made those luddite personal choices when it was not cool. When it was considered just odd. I loved that part of my childhood, but it was not pointing the way forward.

    Jcp2: Arab Spring= every lesson in human foolishness ever is contained therein.

  23. Demetrius
    Posted December 9, 2016 at 1:37 pm | Permalink

    In the longer run, whether we’ll have a world of ever-expanding goods, services, choices, luxury, etc. – or not – won’t necessarily be our choice to make.

    Despite the wonders of technology, there is only so much available energy, so much fresh water, so much arable land, so much space to store our toxic waste, etc. Growing human populations combined with dramatically higher consumption standards simply cannot be sustained forever. The laws of entropy (and common sense) dictate otherwise.

    I’m not saying this will happen overnight, or that this means we will necessarily have to return to a “primitive” lifestyle (as long as there are humans we will still have new knowledge, discovery, art, etc.) … but I believe our collective medium- and long-term future lifestyles will definitely be much simpler, leaner, and more frugal.

    I think this is worth considering as we contemplate whether it is good or bad for robots to replace human endeavors, or whether we will , as a society, someday have so much “extra” wealth that we’ll be able to contemplate notions like a “universal basic income.”

  24. Jean Henry
    Posted December 9, 2016 at 2:48 pm | Permalink

    Demetrius– you are operating on the assumption that the only way humans can consume is to extract and dispose.

    In fact, if we learn to operate sustainably on zero waste principles using renewable resources, energy sources, etc, we can continue to survive and thrive on this planet within it’s natural limits. Water operates on a cycle. We have within this atmosphere a steady supply of water (not necessarily fresh or clean) that cycles through it. There will be water shortages and water disasters, but we have the capacity to live and thrive on this planet and reduce consumption of resources down to a minimum. We would still consume, just in a way that re-uses resources or uses renewable resources. We just have to change the technologies we use. Our lives would not look as different as people imagine. A net-zero home does not look or feel that much different than a standard home, it just uses different systems in order to consume no resources to run. Many people are disappointed that they appear so ‘normal.’ Self-driving cars and other emergent technologies do often change how we live our lives dramatically, but sustainable technologies tend to be less disruptive. They often require more awareness and so more work– more maintenance, monitoring, more employee engagement etc– but since we are facing an end of hard labor, there will be time for a little process finesse. If you look at Toyota Lean Manufacturing Systems thinking, you can see how increasing efficiency can really improve our work lives. That thinking can be applied to climate action. It hasn’t been doe yet to full effect, but the potential is there. Everything we make needs to be made differently, but our lives do not have to change dramatically to do so. My feeling is that we won;t make the change fast enough if it requires our lives to change dramatically. Climate change mitigation produces the outcome you describe. It’s inevitable to one degree or another now, but far from ideal. And it won;t solve the problem, just allow us to survive a bit longer within it.

  25. Jean Henry
    Posted December 9, 2016 at 2:54 pm | Permalink

    should have said “[Despite a steady atmospheric level of water supply] we will still have [fresh potable] water shortages and water disasters.” Plus a bunch of other things… I really need that editor Pete was talking about.

  26. Lynne
    Posted December 9, 2016 at 3:09 pm | Permalink

    re: From my perspective the people with time and agency to work on creating something are usually more content in their labor. So if less labor is required to do menial tasks, my feeling is that people will make work for themselves. Americans in particular are innovators. If we innovate ourselves out of one job, we will innovate ourselves into new ones.

    I agree with this and fwiw, it actually is one reason why I am so in favor of a UBI. I think there is a reason why we don’t see too many entrepreneurs among the poor or rather super financially successful entrepreneurs. When people are working menial jobs for low pay, they just don’t have the time or the energy or perhaps the motivation to implement their good ideas. And I KNOW that the poor are just as innovative and creative as those in higher income brackets. Seriously, look into prison inventions for some really good examples of creative innovative inventions that can come from a primarily underclass population. One of the good aspects of a universal basic income is that you still get it even if you earn money (although in a progressive tax environment, the taxes you pay on the money you earn will eventually be greater than the UBI). There is no disincentive to earn money, either through employment if one is skilled enough to get it or through entrepreneurship if one has those skills.

    Re: “Growing human populations combined with dramatically higher consumption standards simply cannot be sustained forever.”

    This is absolutely true but we already know the solution to this problem and that is to empower women. If you give women control over their reproduction via birth control AND give them education and economic opportunities, they have fewer children. Many women are like me and don’t have any children at all (thanks birth control and economic independence!). In this sense, feminism is a climate issue.

    We also know how to handle things like consumption standards and will continue to do things like make products which consume energy more efficient while also perhaps changing some cultural values around consumption. I already see this with that tiny house movement which, while not yet mainstream, is gaining momentum. And of course, there is the economics of consumption. As resources get more scarce and depleted, they will become more expensive and the quantity demanded of those resources will be reduced or in other words, consumption will go down.

  27. Lynne
    Posted December 9, 2016 at 3:17 pm | Permalink

    yeah, water is an interesting case. We don’t really destroy water by using it. The water on this planet is the same water that has been on this planet for millions of years. I know some scientists like to illustrate this by pointing out that most likely, when you drink a glass of water, the water molecules you drink very well may have once been inside the body of a dinosaur. Plus, we actually live on a planet that is mostly water. The challenge will be getting renewable energy that is sufficient to harness that water but fwiw, solar desalinization is a thing and is a thing likely to continue to grow. I expect that countries like Saudi Arabia which have both abundant sunshine and a lack of water are going to be driving this technology. In other areas there are different technologies to capture water. One of the most interesting I have seen is in mountain areas of Peru, they are capturing fog and turning it into potable water. Really interesting stuff. I think we will be ok in terms of water.

  28. Jcp2
    Posted December 9, 2016 at 3:27 pm | Permalink

    One common complaint about tiny houses is that they can intermittently smell like tiny outhouses, which can be alleviated by using the outside as a temporary escape. However, this can pose a dilemma if it’s really cold. Also, to look at how a post fertile economy might work, look to either Japan or the rural US. Two entirely different environments.

  29. Jcp2
    Posted December 9, 2016 at 3:33 pm | Permalink

  30. Jean Henry
    Posted December 9, 2016 at 4:11 pm | Permalink

    JPC2— Tiny houses in remote places are not more environmentally sustainable than living in a green building in a densely populated environment. They are often not sustainable designs in anyway. Factor in the need to drive them around etc. The idea that reducing consumption to the bare minimum is the answer is a myth. Matt Grocoff’s Net Zero historic home in A2 is a better example. The idea that living sustainably requires great self-sacrifice is not a great selling point to all except those remaining puritans waiting for everyone else to be punished for their wicked ways.

  31. Jean Henry
    Posted December 9, 2016 at 4:31 pm | Permalink

    You want to save energy, replace your old refrigerator and clean it’s compressors regularly. Replace anything old and mechanical with something new and efficient. Buy a lot of LED light bulbs for $5 each/ Maybe wash clothes in cold water. Fill the dishwasher and use it, don’t hand wash dishes. Cut the A/C and work those double hung windows and shades and some window fans to regulate the heat in your home. Insulate your walls, don;t install solar. Drive less or drive with more people in your car. Put the a/c on when on the highway, roll down the windows downtown. Buy used clothes from thrift stores. Buy the food you need, not so much meat and eat it all. Food costs a lot of energy to produce. How you throw it out is not such a big deal. Just throw out less. Hang out more, shop less. Pay for music and experiences not stuff. Don’t worry about the garbage and don’t move to some remote place and plant a garden and live in a tin can…. unless you want to do that. It’s not self-sacrifice, just some basic adjustments. Most healthier for us and the planet.

    And yet, human behavior is the last thing to change– even among liberals– in face of climate change. We just don;t change easily. Millennials living at home, moving to cities and riding the bus are living much more sustainable lifestyles than we did. They don’t call it green. Big business, corporate America, that bastion of greed and abuse, is actually way ahead of your average liberal do-gooder or small business on climate action. They have 5 and 10 year strategic plans and they are acting on them. They are measuring their climate impact. Are you? Didn’t think so.

    At U-M LSA was useless on climate action but very preachy (SNRE was the exception), but the Ross School of Business was all over the issue. Go figure. Bunch of evil neo-liberals got more real work than the hand-wringing marxists.

    This Arby’s dude is an asshole. He’s the worst. He does not represent the rest of corporate America. But he makes a great scapegoat for those who would like to believe he does.

    Our only hope on climate change right now is neo-liberal global corporate tech innovation. Many on the left would rather imagine sowing their own wheat and grinding it to grain than imagine that capitalism is the only shot we have a changing aka ‘innovating’ fast enough to save the human race from extinction.

    I am a died in the wool liberal. I have never worked for a major corporation in any capacity and likely never will. I own no stocks outside of an IRA I don;t manage. I have lived my life well removed from that world, though family members are deep in it. But I have seen the numbers. And I have worked every other angle on sustainability, and the sector actually making progress is business. Oh and the military… since a Bush mandate… but no one wants to hear about that either. They like to look at tiny homes on the internet and plan their off the grid retreat into the bush

  32. Demetrius
    Posted December 9, 2016 at 5:23 pm | Permalink

    Given the amazing advances of the 20th Century, I understand the desire to believe that ever-increasing advances in science and technology will become available “just in time” to solve our most pressing environmental issues. I also get the appeal of believing that things like recycling, solar panels, net-zero homes, and hybrid cars are going to help save us . (FWIW – I recycle, support environmental causes, and drive a hybrid myself. …)

    In short, I worry about what I believe is a widespread over-reliance on the belief that newer, better scientific and technological solutions will always be just around the corner … and that they will rescue us from overpopulation, resource depletion, and climate change, etc. Call me a pessimist, but I believe that our long-term future will be much more complicated (and harsher) than that.

    @ Lynne – I think that human overpopulation is near the top of issues we need to solve if we are going to have any kind of sustainable future. To that end, I agree with you that educating and empowering girls and women is one of the major ways we can not only reduce future populations, but also improve the lives of individuals, families, and communities.

  33. Morbid Larson
    Posted December 9, 2016 at 5:25 pm | Permalink

    “To be fair, “tax the rich” is often short hand for more complex progressive tax structures.”

    To be fair “tax the rich (i.e. get rich people to pay for everything)” is about getting middle class people free stuff without requiring them to shoulder any of the expense.

    You guys are out of your skulls if you think that would ever work.

  34. Lynne
    Posted December 9, 2016 at 7:44 pm | Permalink

    Re: “To be fair “tax the rich (i.e. get rich people to pay for everything)” is about getting middle class people free stuff without requiring them to shoulder any of the expense. “

    Typical Larson straw man argument. No one is currently making the argument that rich people should pay for everything. There are plenty of tax schemes which are progressive and thus tax the rich more but which tax middle class people as well and it would make perfect sense to go with something like that instead of something that put most of the burden on the rich.

    But now that I think of it. There *is* a valid argument for getting rich people to pay for everything in certain conditions. The main reason for taxing the middle class, btw, is that is where the money is. In an economic landscape where wealth and income become even more concentrated at the top, it actually might make sense to tax the rich so that they are funding everything although my hope is that we would adopt various policies to prevent the kind of wealth concentration that would require such a taxation policy.

  35. Lynne
    Posted December 9, 2016 at 7:48 pm | Permalink

    Jean, I think you are right that at this point our best hope for climate change is a private sector solution. However, there is still some public sector hope too or rather public sector hope that comes in the form of lobbying from private companies. Here is the thing. That Paris treaty. There are foreign governments who might not be favorable to American business interests if our government pulls out of that treaty. Those businesses are already lobbying hard to keep us in that. I still wish there were a way to get the lobbying money out of Washington but on those occasions when the public good aligns with business interests, it can be a good thing. We will see.

  36. Lynne
    Posted December 9, 2016 at 8:10 pm | Permalink

    This just came to my attention today. A nice solution to energy storage issues and also a nice solution for disposing of nuclear waste.

  37. M
    Posted December 9, 2016 at 10:15 pm | Permalink

    I was watching a film from the 1930s last night and a character referenced the tax rate being 60%. While I wouldn’t suggest we necessarily go that high, there is a precedent, and everything should be on the table as we contemplate the future. How many times will we attempt cutting taxes on the rich before we accept that it just doesn’t work?

  38. Jean Henry
    Posted December 10, 2016 at 12:21 am | Permalink

    Lynne– re the Paris treaty, even if we pull out, half of the money (5 billion to green tech in developing nations) has been spent and the rest committed to in the budget, so a lot of the work is happening anyway. Realistically we were unlikely to meet our marks for emissions reductions anyway. We will get there. It’s going to take more than 4 or 8 years. There will be real apparent climate impacts in the next 8 years. The ball will roll forward in spite of Trump. The govt does have a role to play, but it consistently has been far too slow. Industry is not. Industry will not wait for govt. It will move forward anyway. Government incentives and funding do help things happen, especially on the R&D front but the reality is that business innovates to the future with or without incentives. And Trump will not impede businesses from making money.
    Right now word is his transition team is amassing a list of EPA and other scientists who have worked on climate change and mitigation. The concern is he will purge these people from the EPA. All of this is horrible, but it will not stop the ‘evil’ private sector from investing in the critical research. Because there is money to be made. Whoever wins the energy storage race will get very very rich.

    M– Cutting taxes is not the same thing as raising taxes. Most Americans accept the need for a progressive tax system, but not THAT progressive. (your bubble is showing) When will the American public accept raising taxes high enough to support a ‘mincome’ (as the kids call it)? When everybody is suffering enough to create impetus for change. AND They would need to be convinced they will benefit more than they will be hurt. The govt needs to prove it’s functional before that happens. So maybe never or maybe, in case of extreme hardship, sooner than we think.

  39. Morbid Larson
    Posted December 10, 2016 at 1:53 am | Permalink

    “Typical Larson straw man argument. No one is currently making the argument that rich people should pay for everything. ”

    You have to be joking. Bernard Sanders made an entire primary campaign out of it. Remember his “free college” idea?

  40. Lynne
    Posted December 10, 2016 at 6:22 am | Permalink

    I guess I thought you were discussing UBI with others here in this comment section, Peter. But you were arguing with Bernie Sanders about his pandering to privileged millenials? Yeah…ok

  41. Jcp2
    Posted December 10, 2016 at 6:48 am | Permalink

    I’m of the impression that most people who talk about tax rates on comment boards don’t really make clear the difference between a marginal rate versus an effective rate in a progressively bracketed system. A maximum marginal rate of 60% is meaningless without knowing what the lower limit of the bracket is. Is it 50,000, 500,000, or 5,000,000? When Warren Buffett has a sound bite that claims that he pays less in taxes than his secretary, does he mean it in an absolute dollar sense, or is his effective tax rate lower, or is his marginal tax rate lower? Are we talking personal income tax only, or all taxable income? I’m pretty sure that the companies that he controls pays more in taxes than what a single secretary could make in income. Without being precise and specific, discussions about tax policies are just airing of grievances disguised with jargon.

  42. Morbid Larson
    Posted December 10, 2016 at 8:11 am | Permalink

    UBI will NEVER happen in the US, not in the way you people are imagining it.

    We might get an expansion of the EITC, but there will be nothing looking anything like the guaranteed lifestyle that people seem to be fantasizing about here.

    I mean, look at who the populace votes in. Get real.

  43. Jean Henry
    Posted December 10, 2016 at 8:53 am | Permalink

    I read a lot of millennial bro talk on the social media, and they for sure are talking about ‘mincome’ as coming from the rich exclusively. (They also think Trump will excellerate our progress towards it by making workers lives so shitty) Or worse they are buying that same quantitative easing funding idea that Stein put forward. It may not be the thinking of people commenting on this blog outside of Comrade Alan, but it’s prevalent. In general, manymany people on the left, including Mark, showed very little interest this year in how their pet projects might be funded or what the broader economic impacts would be. They were going for *v-i-s-i-o-n*. HRC with her incremental policy plans backed up with detailed funding mechanism was boring.

    Sanders harnessed populist sentiment and anger at the 1% to put forward a set of economically half-baked policy with strong potential for inverse results to those he promised to stadiums full of cheering loyal fans– all of whom were united in hatred of a class of people.

    Now that we have lost, the left is outraged that someone harnessed populist sentiment and anger specific classes of people to put forward a set of economically half-baked policy with strong potential for inverse results to those he promised to stadiums full of cheering loyal fans– united in hatred.

    There is zero self-scrutiny. We’re facing terrible times but Pete was right to bring up Sander’s false promises and economic and political magical thinking on the left. We are still living in cities where such delusion creates bad municipal results, especially for the most marginalized.

    When anyone brings up economic and political reality around a beloved policy agenda to people on the far left or right, they are attacked. If we are ever going to fix this country, we need to stay grounded in contemporary political and economic realities. The last thing we should be talking about right now is our robot future and a basic minimum income.

  44. Morbid Larson
    Posted December 10, 2016 at 11:17 am | Permalink

    The robot future and UBI are just stupid conversations to have when we have an administration hell bent in making all of the heinous shit you hear on conservative talk radio a reality.

    There are far bigger fish to fry right now.

    You won’t get UBI. You might get disability payments if you like, but you won’t get anything like UBI. You won’t get free health care. You won’t get free school.

    What you will get is some of the worst SCOTUS appointments you have ever seen. A corrupt executive on a level that you’ve never seen, A complete rollback of abortion rights. Defunded planned parenthood. Erosion of labor protections. Privatization of schools. Heavy funding for police and military to protect the interests of people who feel threatened by people they don’t like. Disenfranchisement of potential voters. More gerrymandering. A lot of people will lose the health care they are paying for. Hell, we might end up in a war, or causing one.

    But here you guys (and many like you) are again, talking some nonsense about fantasies of free stuff that simply will not ever, ever happen.

  45. Lynne
    Posted December 10, 2016 at 2:50 pm | Permalink

    Jean, yes. It is very unfortunate that people so often confuse the vision (which is valid as a goal post, imho) and the practical incremental steps we need to take in order to reach that vision. I appreciated Bernie’s vision and even though I really think he tried to be real a lot more than people gave him credit for, ie by trying to distinguish things that were visionary but not possible without a “political revolution” (by which he meant liberals getting off their asses to vote), people often just saw the vision while ignoring his rhetoric about what it would take to get there. Kind of like how they just saw Trump’s vision without worrying too much about how practical it was.

    One of my big frustrations with people was that they just couldn’t or wouldn’t see how HRC’s less visionary but more practical policies could have moved us a bit closer to UBI and the vision Sanders was selling. She might have been able to expand SS by lowering the retirement age, thus expanding an existing system for UBI that we already have. She might have been able to expand the EITC to give folks at the bottom some help. Then, later on, we could move even further in that direction. Oh well. We’ve been set back.

    I disagree with Peter though that this will never happen. Right now, UBI is at the stage where it is being discussed by economic experts and also at a grassroots level by lay citizens. This is the stage where the idea is being planted. I can remember, not to long ago, when people were saying that gay marriage wasn’t ever going to happen too. I remember when people said marijuana would never be legalized in my lifetime. I think it is hard to judge how a society will head. It may be as Jean has suggested that things will need to get much worse and people will need to be in more economic pain but I hope not.

    In this case, it is absolutely true that there has been a set back and it is also true that the set back is so large that we are not going to move forward on this in the next four years in any kind of meaningful policy manner. We are indeed going to have to work hard just to keep existing policies in place since the GOP has already stated they are going after Social Security and Medicare. However, it is possible that things will change. Well, things are going to change no matter what but it is still possible for us to go in this direction especially considering the alternatives if the projections about technology’s impact on the labor market are correct.

  46. Bob
    Posted December 10, 2016 at 4:47 pm | Permalink

    Milennial bro talk? What does that even mean? Shit talking.

  47. Jean Henry
    Posted December 10, 2016 at 10:33 pm | Permalink

    Progressive social media is dominated by millennial bros. Their narrative bleeds through out the left and largely determined the trajectory of Sander’s campaign as they constituted his most active and vocal meme producing base. They matter. And yeah, it was a lot of BS and fake news and conspiracy theories cribbed from the alt right, but they had a lot of power in the last election, and they still seem to.

  48. Demetrius
    Posted December 11, 2016 at 10:08 am | Permalink

    Rather than come to terms with the fact that Hillary Clinton was a flawed candidate who ran a poor campaign, some still insist on blaming her stunning Electoral College defeat on everyone and everything else … including so-called Bernie/millennial bros.

    Meanwhile, Democrats who are actually serious about winning future elections are busy trying to learn from past mistakes, and working to re-calibrate their policies – including how to incorporate key themes from Bernie’s campaign that appealed to millions of potential voters:

    New York Times – DEC. 10, 2016 – Democrats Hone a New Message: It’s the Economy, Everyone

    “ … We need to double down and double down again on the importance of building an economy not just for those at the top, but for everyone,” said Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, a high-profile progressive who is seen as a leading potential opponent for Mr. Trump.

    This pocketbook-centered approach offers an added benefit in the minds of Democratic strategists: It papers over the party’s differences on how much to focus on cultural issues.

    There is little appetite among most Democrats to substantively revise their stances on issues like abortion, gay rights, gun control and immigration, where trends on the national level continue to favor the party. By constructing a platform focused on an overarching theme of economic fairness, Democrats are hoping to avoid yoking their candidates to a more divisive agenda that could sink them in states like North Dakota and West Virginia, which are crucial to control of the Senate.

    This is markedly different from the approach that party leaders have taken over the last eight years, when President Obama defined the party from top to bottom with his personality and policies. Instead, Democrats intend to focus on a sparer agenda of bread-and-butter priorities that can win support from both liberal and moderate officeholders — and appeal to voters just as much in red states as along the two coasts. …”

  49. jean henry
    Posted December 11, 2016 at 10:22 am | Permalink

    We have different ideas about what mistakes were made and so what the future direction of the party and the left should be. That does not mean anyone is in denial of defeat. We simply have different political perspectives– each with its own blind spots. Having discourse across these perspectives is how the political process works. While it’s annoying that the Dems are always having these core principles and trajectory discussions, it’s also our strength in governance. We could be like the GOP and march in like ck step to political victory, but we might sacrifice our core principles and capacity to govern in the process.
    The thing that really impedes the left, in my view, is taking it all way to personally– seeing their political views as a marker of their own personal worth. More on the left do this than on the right. The right has its wacko fundamentalists but the left is full to the brim with people who think they are better than whoever they oppose. It’s a limitation to the movements capacity to learn from diversity and progress politically.

  50. Lynne
    Posted December 11, 2016 at 11:42 am | Permalink

    Rather than come to terms with the fact that Hillary Clinton was a flawed candidate who had a vagina, some still insist on blaming her stunning Electoral College defeat on everyone and everything else.

    There, I fixed that for you, Demetrius

    If young male left leaning men think that they can win elections without the full support of left leaning women, they are wrong. If they think they can win without POC, they are wrong. If they keep trying to put the economic needs of rural white men ahead of those of everyone else, they will not win elections.

    Would it help the Democrats to focus more on the needs of the poor than they do? Maybe, unless they try to build low income housing in Ann Arbor or otherwise try to dismantle our system of economic segregation. I am afraid they need rich white liberals too

  51. Demetrius
    Posted December 11, 2016 at 12:50 pm | Permalink

    @ Lynne

    This knee-jerk tendency to label any criticism of Hillary Clinton or her campaign as merely sexism is false, dishonest, and tiresome. To those who are interested in defending against the worst excesses of the incoming administration – and possibly winning future elections – is is also dangerously counter-productive.

    If Democrats are serious about understanding what went wrong – and trying to fix it – they need to be able to have honest conversations. That begins by acknowledging that yes, there were some voters who refused to support Clinton merely because she was a woman. But it also means recognizing that were many *more* voters that either didn’t support her, or voted for her with little enthusiasm, because her campaign did not present a vision that was compelling enough for her to win several key Democratic-leaning battlegrounds states (including Michigan).

    The article I linked to clearly states that, among the Democratic leaders who are deeply troubled by the recent election results – and interested in re-calibrating he party’s message to be more successful going forward – are Senators Heidi Heitkamp, Claire McCaskill, and Elizabeth Warren. Does that make them closet misogynists, as well?

  52. Bob
    Posted December 11, 2016 at 2:18 pm | Permalink

    Disliking HRC as a candidate, her policy, her voting record, even her personality does not make you sexist. The bro talk and demonization of the left is such a crock. She was a giant blunder and you still don’t have the good sense to admit your misguided vision of who she is. Let’s work to elect Warren, or hopefully someone even stronger than her. Cut out the Bernie bro bullshit. He wouldn’t have blown it like Hillz did.

  53. stupid hick
    Posted December 11, 2016 at 3:40 pm | Permalink

    Warren Bennis: “The factory of the future will have only two employees, a man and a dog. The man is there to feed the dog. The dog is there to keep the man from touching the equipment”

  54. stupid hick
    Posted December 11, 2016 at 3:55 pm | Permalink

    Sigh. I thought we went over this before. Taxes at the federal level have nothing to do with raising revenue to “pay for stuff”. As long as there is slack in private sector demand for labor, and public infrastructure that needs fixing, it is wasteful for the US NOT to “print money” to put unutilized human resources to work on those things.

  55. stupid hick
    Posted December 11, 2016 at 4:06 pm | Permalink

    Why does anyone think Bernie would have beaten Trump? Why does anyone think that ANYONE would have beaten Trump? Didn’t Trump shoot some guy on Madison Avenue, in broad daylight, and admit to it? NOTHING stopped Trump, and that’s what you liberals need to study. Abandon facts and reality, the battle is in LaLa Land. Learn the rules of physics in LaLa Land, if you ever want to win again.

  56. stupid hick
    Posted December 11, 2016 at 4:21 pm | Permalink

    I wrote abandon “facts and reality” where I meant “facts and reason”. That’s the new reality you should be striving to understand. Try this for a start: imitate Trump and measure the results. If Trump shoots one guy on Madison Avenue, you shoot two. If he tweets two dubious stories, you tweet four. If he promotes a vile T-shirt to his followers, you make a product that’s twice as vile, PLUS causes poison ivy of the anus, and sell it to them using the same pitch. If you liberals want to stop being losers you need to study your opponent and stop playing defense. It should be obvious by now the rules you have been playing by are out the window. Facts and Reason have left the building. You need to too. You can take the window or the stairs, and the stairs haven’t gotten you anywhere, so why not try the window this time?

  57. Lynne
    Posted December 11, 2016 at 4:55 pm | Permalink

    Re: “This knee-jerk tendency to label any criticism of Hillary Clinton or her campaign as merely sexism is false, dishonest, and tiresome. To those who are interested in defending against the worst excesses of the incoming administration – and possibly winning future elections – is is also dangerously counter-productive. “

    #1 Until we can combat the sexism on the left, how are we going to defend against the incoming administration? Addressing this problem is not going to make us weaker, it is going to make us stronger. Guys like Bob, who regularly spew sexist bullshit here are not the future of the party if said party wants to win. [you see Bob, a LOT of people hold men and women to different standards so while it is true that a dislike of HRC does not necessarily mean someone is sexist, we know that a whole lot of that dislike, certainly enough to cost her the election, is due to sexist attitudes and denying it does not help]

    I think that trying to focus on white rural male voters at the expense of black urban voters, female voters, latinx voters, etc is not what the party needs, fwiw. I will not support it. I will not support throwing people under the bus. Nor will significant parts of the left wing electorate. And really? come on! Name ONE policy of Donald Trump’s that is better for the rural working class than what Clinton was presenting. Unless you are suggesting that her flaw was that she didn’t lie enough to idiots, then you don’t really have an idea of what you are talking about when you start talking about how flawed she is. Who do think would have been less flawed? Bernie? He couldn’t even win the primary!

    Re:The article I linked to clearly states that, among the Democratic leaders who are deeply troubled by the recent election results – and interested in re-calibrating he party’s message to be more successful going forward – are Senators Heidi Heitkamp, Claire McCaskill, and Elizabeth Warren. Does that make them closet misogynists, as well?

    It is always impossible to tell at the individual level but they are advocating putting women’s issues and the issues of POC on the back burner in favor of policies that are more attractive to white male rural voters. Maybe they are like most white women and both racist and misogynististic. I wouldn’t say they are in the closet about it though since we are mostly talking about implicit biases. At any rate, anyone who thinks that women can’t be just as invested in the white heteronormative patriarchy as men is mistaken. Women can be sexist. Black people can be racist against other black people. etc.

    Stupid Hick, I know it is a joke but honestly I wonder if maybe the Democrats should adopt a strategy where they lie to people. They can lie to guys like Bob and Demetrius who apparently need to have white men on top as a party strategy. It is easy.

    Yes, Bob and Demitrius, you are right. There was no sexism involved. Just a bad candidate and next time we will get a better candidate who will put white Bernie Bros front and center just like you want. No more talking about women rights or the rights of minorities. It will be all white men all the time.

    Then the party can work behind the scenes to advance policies which help women and minorities trusting that such policies will also help rural white people enough too.

    I am not the first person to suggest this:

  58. stupid hick
    Posted December 11, 2016 at 5:28 pm | Permalink

    Lynne, it’s not a joke! You don’t have to give up on facts and reason, but you liberals need to understand they are only legal tender in the “reality based community”. Not in Trump Land. So if the inhabitants of Trump Land have a taste for a particular brand of poison, by all means, why don’t you HELP them O.D. on their own poison?

    Also, I’m not here to defend Bob and Demetrius, but is it possible to conceive of a liberal who is critical of Hillary, and is NOT sexist? I haven’t studied it as deeply as you have, but I’m open to the idea that such people do exist.

  59. Lynne
    Posted December 11, 2016 at 5:59 pm | Permalink

    Also, I’m not here to defend Bob and Demetrius, but is it possible to conceive of a liberal who is critical of Hillary, and is NOT sexist? I haven’t studied it as deeply as you have, but I’m open to the idea that such people do exist.

    Of course. Lots of people have very valid criticisms of Clinton that are not based on sexism. I just haven;t seen much of that here.

    When the specific criticisms are all things where Trump is worse, it probably is an indication that the criticism is based on misogyny or some other bias. e.g. if someone chose not to vote for Clinton because of concern about her email server and classified info but was willing to allow a man who would nominate someone convicted of giving out classified information, then I don’t think that Clinton’s flaw there was the problem. I think the much more likely problem (especially knowing what I know in terms of social research on sexism and elections) is that some voters on the left chose not to vote for her because they were holding her to a higher standard than they would have held a male candidate to.

    I also find the rhetoric about how *they* nominated a bad candidate to say a lot too. Who is *they*? The millions of voters, many of whom were women and POC, who voted for Clinton in the primary? The rhetoric, when combined with pleas to consider white male voters more as we see here, really comes across as saying that the issue with Clinton is that she pandered to much to women and POC and lost because she didn’t consider the needs of white men enough. While Demetrius and Bob are ok with that message and don”t see how it could possibly be sexist, I disagree with them. And FF too because it is only a matter of time before he drags his misogyny into the conversation and tells me again how my being too uppity as a woman cost Clinton the election. *rolls eyes*

    Often these folks will go on and on about how Bernie would have been more electable when in reality, his platform and Clinton’s are much more alike than different especially in relation to Trump’s and for that matter, Bernie’s platform and vision is further away from that of conservative voters than Clintons so tell me again the reason other than his penis that would have made Bernie more popular with those who voted for Trump or who chose to stay home or vote third party? What specifically about his message was so great that when Clinton presented a similar message suddenly made her a flawed candidate?

  60. Jean Henry
    Posted December 11, 2016 at 7:32 pm | Permalink

    It would have been great if this past election season had been about real issues, and real news, and real policy and real criticism of all the candidates– equally. I have had plenty of criticisms of HRC and continue to have them. In wake, however, of an all out misinformation assault on her, it’s hard to get to those issues. And of course, criticism of one candidate should be met with equal criticism of the other, and that most assuredly did not happen in the Dem primary. If it had I could have sat back and relaxed more.

  61. Jean Henry
    Posted December 11, 2016 at 7:39 pm | Permalink

    Lynne– there’s no point in continuing to argue that sexism exists on the left. Their absolutist questions are so absurd as to not merit arguing. Demetrius, Bob et al prove the point they seek to deny in their own insistence, in very degree of their defensiveness.

    Their anxiety about female power is not going away, and neither are we. There are more important fish to fry now.

  62. Bob
    Posted December 11, 2016 at 8:34 pm | Permalink

    You two don’t even read what anyone else writes. Ironic, considering you both just babble endlessly with long, boring posts that nobody could possibly get through. Anyone who disagrees with you is a sexist.

  63. Lynne
    Posted December 11, 2016 at 9:09 pm | Permalink

    Jean, I am with you in that I would have liked this election to have been about policy. I, too, had criticisms of Clinton’s policy proposals. They were enough that I voted for Sanders in the primary. I was planning to be a thorn in her side had she won. I really hoped she would win too. I may have liked some of Bernie’s vision better but that doesn’t mean that I haven’t also really liked her.

    I am sad that this election brought out so much more sexism on the left than I realized was there. It was especially hard seeing it in men I have known and admired for years although the plus side of that is I have gotten better at calling them out by focusing on what they said vs who they are. Not because it is not who they are of course but because I have gotten better at handling their fragility IRL.

    I don’t agree that there is no point in continuing to argue that sexism exists on the left. I have actually not given up on these guys yet. I know that I have often needed to be called out hundreds or thousands of times before I could get that something I thought was truth actually was my own bias.

    You are very right that the anxiety about female power and the power of people of color is not going away. You are also right that women and minorities are not going away. We are still working hard and we have accomplished much in worse situations. We aren’t going backwards and we will continue to be powerful and we will continue to be ambitious for equality. So yeah, ok. Let’s fry some fish.

    Which one though? So many fish to fry, it is hard to choose.

  64. Demetrius
    Posted December 11, 2016 at 9:15 pm | Permalink

    Throughout its history, the Democratic party has always been most successful when it aimed to be a “big tent” party that embraced blue collar and white collar workers, rural people and city dwellers, white and non-white people,, etc. In fact, that’s the best way to build a winning (and lasting) coalition.

    Instead, claiming that Democrats can’t understand and champion the rights of white, rural, blue-collar voters WHILE AT THE SAME TIME supporting urban residents, minorities, LGBT Americans – and women – is simply untrue, and ultimately counter-productive.

    In short: It is isn’t about “OR” … it is all about “AND.”

    And, once again: To dismiss any criticism of Hillary Clinton as a candidate or campaigner as merely “anxiety about female power” is lazy, and it its own weird way, quite anti-feminist.

    Believe me, if we had a male presidential nominee – who had similar experience in Washington, as a U.S. Senator, Secretary of State, etc. – who ended up running a campaign so tragically inept that he cost us the White House to the likes of Donald Trump (!) … I would have exactly the same questions and criticisms.

  65. Morbid Larson
    Posted December 12, 2016 at 2:15 am | Permalink

    “Why does anyone think Bernie would have beaten Trump? Why does anyone think that ANYONE would have beaten Trump?”

    Because that’s what Sanders’ team told everyone during the primaries and people still believe it.

    It doesn’t matter at this point. Trump got elected. Now there is no option but to focus on Trump and defeating Republicans in the midterms.

    Blabbering on about past elections, sexism, impossible dreams of a world of free stuff and anything else that goes on here will not help. At all.

  66. another possibility
    Posted December 13, 2016 at 10:10 am | Permalink


    Automation Can Actually Create More Jobs: “Since the 1970s, when ATMs arrived, the number of bank tellers in America has more than doubled.”

  67. Lynne
    Posted December 13, 2016 at 11:00 am | Permalink

    Re:”Throughout its history, the Democratic party has always been most successful when it aimed to be a “big tent” party that embraced blue collar and white collar workers, rural people and city dwellers, white and non-white people,, etc. In fact, that’s the best way to build a winning (and lasting) coalition.”

    I am curious about what part of Clinton’s platform you think didn’t embrace blue collar workers. I think her fault in that area was her honesty (ironic considering so many felt that they “just couldn’t trust her”) and while I think lying is a valid strategy, it can be a myopic one.

    “Since the 1970s, when ATMs arrived, the number of bank tellers in America has more than doubled.”

    Unfortunately, I cannot read the article because of the paywall. However, while I don’t dispute this figure, I will just note that it is possible for technology to take jobs at the same time that the jobs are otherwise growing. i.e. the demand for in person banking may have grown faster than the rate ATMs were replacing tellers. It is hard to know without the actual data though. Generally though, what we see happening with technology is that it creates jobs and generally the jobs require skills and are better paid. That is good! Unfortunately, it generally creates fewer of those jobs than it replaces. If I turn out to be wrong on this, great! A UBI won’t hurt a booming labor market at least from the perspective of the employed. It would raise wages which I realize would hurt some employers but overall, it would be a benefit to society.

    So the question becomes what are we going to do about people who don’t have jobs. I mean besides blaming them for it, which we can still do. That costs nothing! But if we don’t want tremendous social upheaval, we need to make sure that poor people (all poor people, not just white ones) have food in their bellies, roofs over their heads, and some possibility of social mobility with a reasonable amount of hard work.

    As social safety nets go, one of the big benefits of a universal basic income is that no one falls through the cracks. Everyone gets it and they don’t have to wait to qualify. It saves tons of money in administration costs. Combined with a single payer health care system and I can see huge benefits for society as a whole.

    I admit that part of why I am so passionate about this is that I used to manage adult group homes for the mentally ill and one of the programs was short term for people coming out of the hospital. It was heartbreaking watching people who barely could keep their shit together face our current nightmare of getting benefits. It was especially heartbreaking to watch people get trapped by the system. They couldn’t try to get a job because if they did, their income would disqualify for them for benefits, including health insurance but if they didn’t have health insurance, they didnt have their medications and without their medications, they couldn’t keep the job. The lower administrative costs but especially the part where people keep the benefits if they get a job really will make things better and make welfare less of a trap.

  68. stupid hick
    Posted December 14, 2016 at 12:25 am | Permalink

    You know, there already is a guaranteed minimum income, but it’s currently only available to people who already have money to begin with. Park your dollars in t-bills and the interest is your guaranteed income.

  69. Demetrius
    Posted December 17, 2016 at 8:36 pm | Permalink

    NYT: Free Cash in Finland. Must Be Jobless.

    “Finland will soon hand out cash to 2,000 jobless people,
    free of bureaucracy or limits on side earnings. The idea,
    universal basic income, is gaining traction worldwide. …”

  70. Posted December 17, 2016 at 9:13 pm | Permalink

    If the Russians weren’t about to invade, I might consider it, Demetrius.

  71. Posted December 17, 2016 at 9:14 pm | Permalink

    Did you see that the Swedes raised the threat level a few days ago in preparation for the conflict with Russia that they think is coming now that Putin won the White House?

  72. Jcp2
    Posted December 18, 2016 at 8:34 am | Permalink

  73. Kit
    Posted February 15, 2017 at 3:57 pm | Permalink

    Looks like Puzder decided to give up on confirmation.

  74. Eel
    Posted February 15, 2017 at 4:27 pm | Permalink

    Why am I just now hearing this?

    “…a 1990 “Oprah Winfrey Show” episode in which Puzder’s former wife appeared in disguise to describe allegations of domestic violence.”

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