An Honest Opinion, Honestly Arrived At

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179 Responses

  1. Avatar Jaybird says:

    One of the really, really, really, really troublesome (problematic?) ideas that I toyed with as a solution to inter-generational welfare was something like homesteading. A plot of arable land and a house. Some chickens, some starter vegetables, and some periodic meetings with gentle experts willing to give advice on how to better raise chickens, vegetables, and so on. Perhaps a mule.

    The goal is not “MAKE THEM WORK IF THEY WANT TO EAT!” as much as “it will be good for the soul to eat food that they have cultivated themselves and traded with others”. Still give them government assistance, of course. But also give them meaningful work that they aren’t alienated from.Report

    • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to Jaybird says:

      Of course, if they grow a surplus of food (with “surplus” defined by the Department of Agriculture based on recommendations about basic nutrition established by the Department of Health and Human Services and the FDA) then they’re required to destroy it, because if they sell it then it would disrupt the existing agricultural market which was based on a carefully-balanced and -studied understanding of the amount of agricultural production in the United States. And it’s well established precedent that growing food is inherently engaging in interstate commerce. In fact, a program like that would require subsidies to other farmers, who would obviously see their revenues drop if people started growing their own food.

      And if we just let them grow whatever food they wanted, they might pick something unhealthy but simple and tasty, like corn, instead of good, healthy, nourishing kale and beets. So we’d have to send in the guys with herbicide hoses to deal with the consequences of these people’s misguided choices.

      And of course they’re not allowed to buy GMO seeds or anything from Monsanto.Report

    • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to Jaybird says:

      So you are proposing a return to sustenance farming as a way of preveting inter-generational economic conflicts and resentments? Doesn’t this represent a step back in terms of technology and society?Report

    • Avatar Marchmaine in reply to Jaybird says:

      As someone who has bought arable land and started a few cash generating projects on said land, I think this would be a huge benefit to the biggest impediment: the capital cost of the land/house.

      That said, I’d re-orient the notion slightly… unless the project was simultaneously a project to build-up lesser cities and the rural areas around them, then homesteading wouldn’t work. We need Town/City-folk to buy our food… with shorter more local distribution chains to remain competitive. In this era of remote offices, the right incentives could really help redistribute some population.

      What a lot of agrarians advocate (outside the political signalling/storytelling) is the re-balancing of City/Town/Country – not that everyone everywhere should try to live on the land. That a double fistful of cities are acting like giant drains sucking the life out of all lesser cities… that’s bad for the other cities, which hurts the towns, and then crushes the country-side. We like cities, even if that life is not for us… what we observe is that the Megalopolis is killing our cities. As Chesterton once said, sometimes the only solution to centralization is decentralization… but then that will set-off all sorts of dog whistles.

      But yes, some sort of Tripartite revitalization effort is something I’ve long thought should be explored.

      p.s. drop the mule – the Dairy cow is the single most amazing cash generating specimen ever created. I didn’t understand the term cash-cow until I started milking a cow; its like printing money – as long as you stay outside the industrial chain. But, for beginners, a few dairy goats and a starter flock of meat goats are the way to go. I could go on and on…Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to Marchmaine says:

        I live in a rural village and volunteer (I mean work, hard work,) at the local food pantry. Last spring, I collected seedlings from local greenhouses that would have been composted and handed them out to our food customers. Every single one went, and while I’m sure many died, many of those seedlings thrived. In talking to local market farmers, every single one said they sold all they grew, and had they grown more, they would have sold more.

        Some of the most open land around here is around an unused, empty, and unheated school, in my back yard, and around an HUD housing complex owned by one of a few non-profits who build HUD affordable and low-income housing in the state.

        Within the next few weeks, I’ll be hosting a walk with interested people about a survey of land, water, light, compost, etc. to explore the neighborhood for community agriculture potential. Because this is a resort town, there are many restaurants, and many condos where visitors cook their own meals. The both of the farmer’s markets in town seem to sell out of food, though not necessarily seedlings or processed stuff, each week during the summer months they’re open.

        Additionally, the area is developing a state-wide distribution network, called Crown of Maine, and local buying clubs.

        We’ll do small-scale gardens this summer, probably at the affordable housing complex and apply for grant money, and my hope is that it will be made as an economic-development argument; but I don’t intend to write the grant, and there will be committees. I used to feel confident about these things; now, there’s too much time I’m not confident I can speak. But I can certainly point out all the nooks and crannies of my neighborhood; like the place that would be good to grow stone fruit. Need just the right spot for peaches and apricots this far north. (Cold, but protected from wind and able to drain away cold.)Report

        • Avatar Marchmaine in reply to zic says:

          Yep, here in Virginia there’s a model that works very well – young folks go to landowners and offer to run sheep/goats/cows on their land. The land rental is very low, and often the landowners will let them use it for free just to have the pastures cleared. Solar electric fencing has made many impossible things possible. It’s a decent way to scrape together some starter cash to get another project going. There’s plenty of under-utilized land that could be made productive. A few incentives and changes to Agribusiness moats would open up a lot of opportunity for poorer folks.

          But, at any rate, you need a market… and pure homesteading without the city-building would just put a bunch of people together trying to sell each other what the other already has. We’ve seen lots of attempts at getting the distribution systems right (ourselves included)… but that’s still the toughest nut to crack.

          Like your farmers, we could sell more if we produced more, but we are careful not to produce more than we can sell. It sounds like there should be a simple solution to that… but until you try building and running the factory, its hard to gauge demand when its your capital at risk. Especially in a regulatory climate that could make your project “illegal” if the Dept. of Ag decides to interpret a regulation differently than it has for the past 10, 20, 100 years.Report

          • Avatar zic in reply to Marchmaine says:

            Like your farmers, we could sell more if we produced more, but we are careful not to produce more than we can sell. It sounds like there should be a simple solution to that… but until you try building and running the factory, its hard to gauge demand when its your capital at risk.

            And the other side of that, of course, is that there’s a concentration of small-scale agribusiness that creates vitality, too few, and there’s slack demand. Enough farmers, each growing what they know they can sell, often specializing in a few cash crops and always experimenting with new crops is a good way to grow the vitality of a regional market; growing the customer base and you grow the number of farms.Report

          • Avatar zic in reply to Marchmaine says:

            he Dept. of Ag decides to interpret a regulation differently than it has for the past 10, 20, 100 years.

            I grew up selling raw milk to customers out of our bulk tank. The bans on sale has only lead to a decline in barn hygiene. It’s horrible. And I buy black-market cheese, mostly fresh goat cheeses and the occasional gouda, from friends with goats who make goat cheese in their kitchens.

            But I’ve also watched most of the apple growers I know die around 65 from cancer, my generation (the grower’s children,) seem to be getting cancer even earlier; I’m skeptical of a lot of industrial practice, mostly because I know human nature is that if a little is good, a little more is even better.

            I once knew a man, a mycologist, who died from aggregate arsenic poisoning. Every year, he collected morels in the same few apple orchards, and the morels’ flesh concentrated the arsenic in the soil that the farmer’s used to spray on the trees.

            Regulation has to be taken one at a time; sometimes, it’s good (like don’t spray arsenic on your apple orchard). Sometimes, it’s bad, (like don’t sell raw milk and cheese to your neighbors). And always, when regulation changes, somebody will be unhappy about it, and somebody will see it as an opportunity.Report

            • Avatar Marchmaine in reply to zic says:

              Sorry to hear about your mycologist friend, but I must say that it sounds like the perfect plot for a Lord Peter mystery novel. Lord Peter solves the murder when the french cook (with whom the deceased was having an affair) serves plover’s eggs instead of or sans Morels in April.

              Huge swaths of VA used to be covered in Apple Orchards, now many are vineyards – I wonder if they are testing for Arsenic.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Marchmaine says:

        No problem with dropping the mule, but cows seem to me to require a level of husbandry that chickens don’t.

        Maybe “demonstrate that you have accumulated enough experience points to get to level 2 or 3, and then get a cow as a reward”?

        Though that’s distasteful too.

        I’m constantly assuming benevolent people overseeing this program and I should know, in my bones, that I cannot do that.Report

        • Avatar Patrick in reply to Jaybird says:

          I’m constantly assuming benevolent people overseeing this program and I should know, in my bones, that I cannot do that.

          Probably it will be benevolent people in the short term. Once someone recognizes that they can make it into an othering moment, that’s when it starts to fall apart.Report

        • Avatar Marchmaine in reply to Jaybird says:

          True enough, though to this date many more chickens have died on my watch and no cows have. But yeah, mostly it is an infrastructure problem – keeping a 1000# animal just requires a lot more stuff. More stuff and heavier duty stuff… everything is just a little bit more complicated with an animal that size – even when they are well mannered.

          Goats are the answer… great for dairy, great for meat, great for pasture management… easy to manage – even kids can do most of the shepherding. In a pinch you can even transport one in the back of a car.

          And… this is alone makes them awesome: they eat weeds. Not just the yummy stuff like dandelions, but the evil nasty prickly and invasive stuff like multi-flora rose… and bull thistles. Whenever I see a pasture with just one kind of animal on it I just think, whelp, poor guy is just doing it wrong.Report

    • Avatar Michael Cain in reply to Jaybird says:

      I’m almost ashamed of you, JB… in Colorado, that land had better come with water rights, or you’re not going to grow much in the way of vegetables. Available water is already oversubscribed, and new claims would go at the bottom of the list. This is generally true throughout the West — there are very few places where there’s water available for new irrigation.Report

    • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Jaybird says:

      Jaybird: Some chickens, some starter vegetables, and some periodic meetings with gentle experts willing to give advice on how to better raise chickens, vegetables, and so on. Perhaps a mule.

      I’ll take a decent handful of shipping containers, or an empty factory or big box store, a bunch of LED grow lights, and planting trays. Maybe a solar array on the roof.

      Subjecting ones food supply to the vagarieties of weather, disease, and pests sounds like a great way to go hungry.Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

        Hydroponics and solar power.Report

        • Avatar Kolohe in reply to zic says:

          Using the sun to create electricity to power light bulbs that shine EM radiation on plants …seems like the long way around.Report

          • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Kolohe says:

            In a straight energy conversion, yes, but there is a different set of costs being addressed, mainly one of environmental control. If I can do a decent job of keeping the building closed up, I can capture & recycle water (and supplement with rain capture), and keep out pests & disease (easy irrigation; no pesticides or herbicides needed). Using LED grow lights can actually be more efficient than straight sunlight because most plants only use a limited bandwidth of light for photosynthesis, so I only need LEDs tuned to those bandwidths, which means I need less intensity of light for the same effect. Thus I don’t need as much solar power as I would need for full spectrum LEDs, which means less solar array square footage compared to a greenhouse roof, plus I can supplement with grid power if need be.

            Finally, greenhouses are expensive compared to a bunch of containers or old buildings no one is using (like, for instance, Zics old school building mentioned elsewhere). And that is before we factor in having to keep all that glass clean & repaired (as compared to the reduced solar panel square footage).Report

        • Avatar Michael Cain in reply to zic says:

          This is getting rather expensive in terms of capital…Report

    • This is an interesting discussion, but I don’t really follow how it relates to my OP. Not a complaint–and please, have at it–but I just don’t see the relationship.Report

  2. Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

    But that view must be balanced with a “first do no harm” principle.

    That’s tricky when our pundits & experts are more interested in ad hominem attacks than engaging with criticism honestly. For instance, from Mother Jones:

    In this post from just last weekend, Kevin links to a bit from Tyler Cowen. That was your first mistake, Brother Drum. I realize linking is not endorsing, though KD offers a limited, tentative ‘interesting possibility’ type of approval. You see, the prolific and very smart Tyler hails from the zany economics department of George Mason University. No good can come from referencing him. These characters spend all their time excoriating Government and social protection for the working class from tenured, Koch-subsidized positions at a public university. Sweet.

    Even though the author goes on to glibly discuss what Dr. Cowen talks about, the fact that opened his piece with such a blatant attack on Dr. Cowen undermines his own argument.

    Hard to talk about potential harm when ideologues slap on blinders & aren’t willing to discuss it seriously.Report

    • See, this is the problem with ideology. It has the answers before the question is asked (if the obvious answer is contrary to doctrine, the question is somehow flawed). Any response to a non-orthodox proposal is acceptable, because conformity to the propounded paradigm is paramount to any other goal, including actually solving the problem the ideologue identifies as problematic. (Insert mandatory BSDI disclaimer.)Report

    • Avatar Troublesome Frog in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

      Kevin Drum is in my normal daily RSS feed reading. I saw that headline pop in under his name and I immediately knew something was wrong. I’ve been skipping most of what the pinch hitters have been writing.Report

  3. Avatar zic says:

    It depends upon the kind of jobs. Multiple jobs at 10 to 20 hours with no bennies and erratic scheduling that means you can’t do stuff like schedule daycare or a second job? That’s nuts. It places the on-call worker constantly at the mercy of an employer without recompense.

    Strip that problem out of this discussion, and then it seems sane. But if you’re building that mistreatment of people into this discussion, that’s pretty sad. Perhaps you would clarify?

    And @jaybird I could make the very same arguments you’ve made about parenting and the importance of raising children.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird in reply to zic says:

      Oh, absolutely. But I think if I were to talk about the importance of having two parents in a home and discuss the importance of having one of the parents have one of their primary roles be the raising of small children until they get to school age, I would invite counter-arguments that talked about me, personally, rather than the importance of parenting/raising children.Report

    • Avatar Gabriel Conroy in reply to zic says:

      @zic

      Strip that problem [erratic scheduling, low hours, no benefits] out of this discussion, and then it seems sane. But if you’re building that mistreatment of people into this discussion, that’s pretty sad. Perhaps you would clarify?

      Well, that’s a point I can’t gainsay entirely, and I suppose if push comes to shove, I am building that mistreatment into the discussion. I am hopeful that the more jobs there are, the more demand for workers there’ll be and the more employers will have to supply at the very least more dependable scheduling, and perhaps better hours.

      Double plus stress the I hope, because I’m pretty sure things don’t work that neatly.

      So, I’ll go to back to the old saw and try to explore what hours/wages regulations are on offer and how will they help and hurt the persons you have in mind. Let’s take raising the minimum wage:

      Help: For every hour worked, the person gets a higher wage.
      Hurt: Employers might find it harder to hire more people, and therefore there’d be fewer jobs. Or fewer hours offered.
      So as long as one has a job, one gets paid more, but it’s harder to get a job. But it doesn’t necessarily affect erratic scheduling, except perhaps to lower the hours the person is allowed to work. It might indirectly affect benefits inasmuch that a higher wage plus benefits would be more expensive than a higher wage without benefits.

      (I am of course assuming something that is in dispute, that raising the minimum wage has a depressing effect on job growth.)

      As for addressing the other forms of mistreatment you point out, I’d need to know more what you’d propose. Require all employers to give regular schedules? Require at least a week’s advance notice of scheduling changes? Charge employers for deadweight time for 24/7 (or even 8/5) on call jobs? Discouraging clopening by making overtime apply to hours worked in a day and not a week? Replace “at will” employment with “good cause” employment like Montana? (For the latter, I’ve been reading up on it, and it seems that a sharp reduction in work hours that leads to an employee quitting could be considered something like a not-for-good cause termination.)Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to Gabriel Conroy says:

        I think we’ve tipped too far toward just-in-time scheduling; if you’re reserving someone’s time, you need to do it 1) in advance, 2) or pay a bonus for that time. If you’re telling them you’re reserving the right to send them home, you ought to be responsible for paying them something for showing up.

        I’d also put the onus on the employer to a floor of benefits they contribute, be it FICA or health care or retirement or sick/vacation time accrual. The hours you reserve, not the hours the employee works.

        Otherwise, employer should just people to show up, hire who they want from who shows up, and accept the risk that nobody might show up to work at all.Report

        • Avatar Gabriel Conroy in reply to zic says:

          Sincere question: Is just-in-time scheduling as prevalent of a thing that people are saying it is? I know erratic weekly scheduling is and has been a thing for a lot of food service and retail jobs for a long time, but the 24/7 on-call practice that people talk about, how prevalent is that?Report

          • Avatar zic in reply to Gabriel Conroy says:

            It’s common in retail and the service sector jobs, the jobs held by women and minorities, according to Robert Reich. I think research from last year suggested more than 40% of the part-time workforce didn’t know, a week in advance, what their schedules would be, with the most egregious abuse being required to show up for work and sent home without pay (or employer copays into benefits).

            Now I know that’s a lefty publication, but the companies who are doing this are also some of our biggest, most profitable companies. WalMart, for one. Starbucks got called out for their scheduling last August, and vowed to stop. I don’t know if they have.Report

            • Avatar Troublesome Frog in reply to zic says:

              This seems like a really good argument for some sort of regulation or “on call minimum wage.” Having a pool of people who could work two jobs or work and go to school but can’t because they don’t know in advance what their schedules will be is an insane waste of human capital. It would be like factories that use oil buying and using one barrel of oil and then being allowed to throw away 2 barrels without paying for them.Report

            • Avatar Gabriel Conroy in reply to zic says:

              @zic

              I think research from last year suggested more than 40% of the part-time workforce didn’t know, a week in advance, what their schedules would be, with the most egregious abuse being required to show up for work and sent home without pay (or employer copays into benefits).

              I agree that’s a very bad situation, but it’s different from the 24/7 on-call work that I was asking about. People may not know a week in advance, but they’re not necessarily on-call the week of. That may be a distinction without a difference, but I was asking about the former and not the latter. (By the way, the link to Reich doesn’t seem to work.)

              But again, that’s a bad situation. I’d be more open to some sort of legislative remedy to address that than I would to, say, expanding mandatory employer-contributed benefits.Report

      • Avatar Matty in reply to Gabriel Conroy says:

        I’m not sure regular schedules are always possible for a small business. Certainly the only time I’ve employed people we were dependent on third parties to give us access to work sites and if they didn’t I literally had nowhere for the employees to go and nothing for them to do.

        I did (just) manage to get schedules sorted on a weekly basis but any longer scale than that would have been impossible.

        That said if I have agreed with someone to pay them for 20 hours next week I will honour that agreement even if I can’t use them, and even if it leaves me out of pocket. Just don’t expect me to make the same offer over months or years as my funds are not limitless.Report

  4. Avatar LeeEsq says:

    Wouldn’t a policy that creates more jobs even if they are bad, squelch technology? A lot of the reason why so many jobs are disappearing is because technology has rendered so many irrelevant. Automation reduced factories that employed thousands or at least hundreds of people into factories that employ hundreds or even dozens. The internet gets rid of a lot of middle men jobs like travel agent because it is easier to plan your own vacation or business travel. More online shopping means fewer needs for retail clerks. More jobs would seem to require going back to a more simple time from a technology perspective.Report

    • Avatar Gabriel Conroy in reply to LeeEsq says:

      @leeesq

      Frankly, I haven’t even thought of that. So here’s my mostly speculative answer.

      “Squelch,” I think, is too strong a word. Some technologies depend on other factors, such as whether the government is going to help develop the communications and legal infrastructure to make innovations like online plane ticket purchasing possible.

      However, cheaper labor would likely blunt or hamper one of the mechanisms that encourage employers and firms to adopt newer technologies. What I mean (and what I think you were driving at) is, the regulations that have the effect of making labor costs higher provide a strong incentive for employers to innovate and reduce the need for the labor.

      Would that be a bad thing? Hmmmm….I don’t know. I’m in the awkward position of enjoying a lot of the labor saving technologies both directly (I buy plane tickets, books, green salsa, etc., online) and indirectly (the fact that steel mills can do with much less labor but produce so much steel probably affects me positively somehow).

      I guess I’m left with thinking that if we truly want to encourage labor-saving technology, we would do better to find other ways. Or to put it differently, I don’t think the argument in favor of higher wages, etc., should primarily be that it would encourage even fewer jobs.

      At any rate, good question!Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Gabriel Conroy says:

        Even cheap labor is a cost and companies always looked to get rid of that cost. Machines don’t strike for better working conditions or higher pay. Most consumers also prefer a system where they can do things like buy tickets online rather than having to go to the box office or an agent for them. The Internet got rid some middle-class jobs or even independent businesses at well. There are still travel agents because if your doing something complicated, they still help but it is much rarer. I was able to plan a trip around Costa Rica with friends without one a few years ago.

        1950s and early 1960s century technology seemed to be just about right for full employment. People were wealthy enough to afford a lot of creature comforts and services but technology was not advanced enough to reduce or get rid of a lot of jobs wholesale.Report

        • Avatar Gabriel Conroy in reply to LeeEsq says:

          Machines don’t strike for better working conditions or higher pay.

          Yeah, but if my computers at work are any indication, they sometimes take very long coffee breaks 🙂

          I agree with most of what you say, but also point out that costliness of even cheap labor would still exist and be a spur to some labor saving technology.Report

          • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Gabriel Conroy says:

            Fast food workers and even wait staff are some of the lowest paid people in the United States. The minimum wage often doesn’t apply to wait staff because it is assumed that tips would bring up the slack. That hasn’t stopped chain restaurants like TGIF from trying to find ways to reducer the amount of wait staff needed by allowing patrons to order via computer. The retail trade is also trying to reduce the amount of workers needed by using computers to determine how many workers are needed at a particular time.Report

  5. Avatar j r says:

    At some point, here is what we are going to have to come to terms with: there are jobs and there is work.

    A job gives you a paycheck and maybe some benefits and the likelihood that if you show up again tomorrow, you’ll get to do it all over. Work is the activity itself, hopefully its productive activity and hopefully it involves some of the positive benefits outlined in the OP.

    Jobs can involve productive and beneficial work or they can involve soul-crushing, horizon-shrinking work. And good work can come from a job, but it can also be unremunerated activity that you pursue in your spare time.

    I look forward to a future where work replaces the job, but I imagine that the journey from here to there will be somewhat perilous.Report

    • Avatar Kim in reply to j r says:

      I agree, the journey will be perilous.
      In the meantime, may I suggest puppy flipping as an occupation?
      I hear it’s quite profitable…Report

    • Avatar Gabriel Conroy in reply to j r says:

      @j-r

      I’m not quite there yet when it comes to looking forward to such a future, although it does have some obvious appeal. Perhaps I have been too conditioned by our wage economy, but I like the idea of having to go to work and I like the idea of work being a social thing. That is, of course a personal preference, and not argument for preventing others from following a different path. If my current situation were different, perhaps I’d have very different views on what I’d like.Report

    • Avatar Patrick in reply to j r says:

      @j-r stole my answer.

      This is one reason why the whole “work ethic” approach to character building is so often flawed in practice, because it’s focused on “doing a job” rather than “building a work ethic”, by actually doing “work”.Report

  6. Avatar Richards says:

    I find it galling that Economics As Understood basically states that Anything You Do To Help The Working Poor without benefitting the employer serves to screw the working poor. We’re supposed to buy the idea that Trickle Down is the only viable option, when in reality it seems to work in a pretty piss poor fashion (pun intended)

    To paraphrase a comment I read earlier, we have a group that might suffer a broken leg if we choose to help the group having a heart attack… so we choose to prevent the broken leg.Report

    • Avatar j r in reply to Richards says:

      If that is your understanding of economics, then you don’t understand economics.Report

      • Avatar Richards in reply to j r says:

        By all means enlighten me then… The overwhelming narrative is that any regulation on hours of work and pay rates will deter job creation… in fact anything you do except give employers a free hand will deter job creation.

        Meanwhile gold plated tax cuts for the rich and corporations were supposed to help create jobs by trickle down, and seem to fail on that account.

        Have I missed anything. Economics, at least at first blush, seems to spend more time rationalizing the desires of Those Who Already Have at the expense of those who dont’.Report

        • Avatar j r in reply to Richards says:

          Have I missed anything.

          Yes.

          The problem is that you are paying attention to the political narrative and not to the actual economics itself.Report

          • Avatar Richards in reply to j r says:

            You will excuse me if I retort that economics is in itself political…. Again, the wisdom of Those Who Have seems to usually carry the day.Report

            • Avatar j r in reply to Richards says:

              No. Economics is a field of study where people make empirical claims about the way that the world works and offer hypotheses to be tested.

              Politics is about selling people a narrative. You can choose to elevate the political over the economics, but that’s only to your detriment.Report

              • Avatar Richards in reply to j r says:

                …and of course, conservatives and libertarians are experts at economics, while liberals and progressives generally don’t have a clue about how it works….

                I know the field is sold as being apolitical, but the results of said empirical claims are invariably used for political ends… the results of which don’t seem to line up with the needs of Those Who Have Not.Report

              • Avatar Damon in reply to Richards says:

                I don’t know where you get the idea that economics is sold as apolitical. After all, it used to be called “political economics”. And there are plenty of experts in economics of the liberal persuasion….like 90% of the PHDs in most colleges and grad schools. They are advocates of Keynes after all.

                No, it’s the conservative and free market economists that are in the minority, particularly the Austrian school. Maybe the conservatives are better at messaging?Report

              • Avatar Richards in reply to Damon says:

                I suspect the conservative economists have a message that is more soothing to Those Who Have… at least they are the ones that make headlines.Report

              • Avatar greginak in reply to Damon says:

                “conservative and free market economists that are in the minority”

                Citation needed. Actually multiple citations needed since that seems hard to believe.Report

              • Avatar Damon in reply to greginak says:

                I suggest you poll academic economic phds.

                You’ll find they are majority Keynesian. However, I’m unaware of any statistically significantly valid research as to the politics of economic phds in academia. But you’d waste your money. It’s the same reason as to why you’d find conservatives at a country club.Report

              • Avatar Dave in reply to Richards says:

                I know the field is sold as being apolitical, but the results of said empirical claims are invariably used for political ends…

                Yes. Only by conservatives and libertarians. Liberals/progressives would never dare produce research to support their own claims and sell that research in the marketplace of ideas.

                That’s beneath liberals…the snooty elitist arugula eating latte drinkers they are. Bastards. All of them.

                the results of which don’t seem to line up with the needs of Those Who Have Not.

                I take it you haven’t read arguments in favor of raising the minimum wage, including the one recently published by Robert Reich.Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Dave says:

                Dave: take it you haven’t read arguments in favor of raising the minimum wage, including the one recently published by Robert Reich.

                Or Nick Hanauer.Report

              • Avatar Richards in reply to Dave says:

                “I take it you haven’t read arguments in favor of raising the minimum wage, including the one recently published by Robert Reich.”

                I’ve actually read way more about how raising the minimum wage is the dreaded job killer…Report

              • Avatar Dave in reply to Richards says:

                @oscar-gordon

                I haven’t seen Hanauer’s piece.

                @richards

                Well, there are arguments your side makes in favor of higher wages for workers. They’ve been around as long as the arguments you deplore.Report

              • Avatar Richards in reply to Dave says:

                “Well, there are arguments your side makes in favor of higher wages for workers. They’ve been around as long as the arguments you deplore.”

                Let me know when the minimum wage actually gets raised to a livable level everywhere…Report

              • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

                Here is Hanauer

                To be clear, in the unlikely event that that piece left any doubt, Nick Hanauer is not an economist.Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Brandon Berg says:

                @brandon-berg

                Yeah, decidedly not. He is, however, one of the Haves that @richards is all offended about not conforming to the narrative in richards head.Report

              • Avatar Richards in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

                I’m not sure what the point of that cheap shot is ( I suppose because I dare question the sanctity of economics?).. but Mr Hanauer is making a valid point.

                If I may make a farming analogy, the ground needs to toiled and fertilized if you want to reap a harvest. For some time now, human capital (fertilizer, if you wish) has been ignored. Ironically, without human capital, there wouldn’t be an economy, or the science (or is it religion?) of Economics….Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Richards says:

                Are we wandering back to the labor theory of value?Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Richards says:

                No, it’s the partisanship you ascribe to economics, as if all economists align their politics, rather than conservative political partisans promoting economists that have theories & positions that they find useful.

                It means you haven’t demonstrated much understanding of the ongoing theoretical debates within economics and how the positions of those debates are co-opted for political gain.Report

              • Avatar Richards in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

                “No, it’s the partisanship you ascribe to economics, ”

                Fair enough… in the media the loudest voices in Economics (be it print, ,TV or internet) seem to be aligned with the bias I’m perceiving, and in recent history most legislation seems tailored to that worldview.

                Even on this site, voice like Keynes and Robert Reich are spoken of with great derision. There are quite a few left leaning economic think tanks, but they get very little attention compared to their dexter cousins.

                There may be much debate within Economics, but what ignorant members of the public like me perceive is more of a lockstep march to the Right.Report

              • Avatar LWA in reply to Richards says:

                “Even on this site, voice like Keynes and Robert Reich are spoken of with great derision.”

                I gotta start posting more.Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to LWA says:

                @lwa

                Please do!Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Richards says:

                You do know who Paul Krugman is, right?

                Yes, we have a few commenters here who have deeper backgrounds in economics who also tend to skew to the right. But that is a very small sample size. If you honestly exposure to a more liberal view on economics, I’m sure all you need to do is ask and folks here will be happy to offer up some links.

                Also, do not confuse what economists think & theorize with what politicians & pundits say they think & theorize. They are looking to evoke emotional reactions, not engage in intellectual discussion. Sound bytes do not lend themselves to expressing nuance.Report

              • Avatar Richards in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

                Paul Krugman was one of the other voices I was trying to remember…

                I get what you’re saying about confusing economists and pundits. However, even in my neck of the woods, the Fraser Institute gets much more media attention than say the CCPA… and that’s one of things that’s sticking in my craw…Report

              • Avatar Dave in reply to Richards says:

                @richards

                I’m not sure what the point of that cheap shot is

                Read the part about Wal-Mart being able to afford paying more in wages because it even if pays more, there are still profits available to it. That’s worth more than a few cheap shots and is a violation of Dave’s First Rule of Capital (TM). Hell, at least pretend to acknowledge that there’s a cost associated with it.

                ( I suppose because I dare question the sanctity of economics?)

                I’m not an economist nor aspire to be one so your shots at the field of economics aren’t going to matter to me.

                If I may make a farming analogy, the ground needs to toiled and fertilized if you want to reap a harvest. For some time now, human capital (fertilizer, if you wish) has been ignored. Ironically, without human capital, there wouldn’t be an economy, or the science (or is it religion?) of Economics….

                Human capital = fertilizer? I gotta leave this one alone.

                @jaybird, I think you may be right.Report

              • Avatar Richards in reply to Dave says:

                “Human capital = fertilizer?”

                Well, at least we can agree that it gets treated like it, can’t we….

                The cheap shot remark (or that post) wasn’t aimed at you… but the miserly treatment of human capital by Walmart is certainly a symptom of a miserly form of economics being the prevalent paradigm in Today’s Economy®…Report

              • Avatar greginak in reply to Richards says:

                @richards There are plenty of conservatives who will say Economics means they are Right and dispute their are liberal economic arguments. Firstly, the people that say that are exactly the wrong ones to talk with because they are dim bulbs. Second, if you choose to do so then just list the various liberal economists. That doesn’t settle who is correct but it at least it establishes there are a variety of viable views on economics.

                In fact that could even be the start of a conversation but you are sort of poking at a strawman here.Report

              • Avatar j r in reply to Richards says:

                I’ve actually read way more about how raising the minimum wage is the dreaded job killer…

                Sounds like you are reading the wrong things then.

                In all honesty though, I don’t get the sense that you are actually all that interested in economics other than as a foil to your sense of faux moral outrage.Report

              • Avatar Richards in reply to j r says:

                My moral outrage is real enough.

                I am interested in economics, but I find Homo Economicus to be a caricature that doesn’t explain a lot of human behavior.

                @greginak If I’m poking at a strawman, it’s the one in the OP that claims hopelessness… that you can’t help the working poor without screwing them.Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Richards says:

                Richards: that you can’t help the working poor without screwing them

                That is NOT what the OP says. It says that any policy we aim at improving things will have potential costs & unintended consequences, and failing to address these costs & consequences, or waving them away as unimportant can, at best, undermine the argument for the policy as too rosy for reality (thus weakening support), and at worst wind up doing more harm than good as those costs & consequences that proponents were so cavalier about come home to roost.Report

              • Avatar Richards in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

                So how does that work out differently for those you are trying to help… are they still not well and truly screwed?Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Richards says:

                If costs & consequences are addressed openly & honestly, then no, they don’t have to get screwed, because measures can be taken to compensate or alleviate the negatives.

                But too often, what is done is the political equivalent of “Hey y’all, hold my beer & watch this!”.Report

              • Avatar greginak in reply to Richards says:

                @richards I don’t think Gabriel’s OP was all that good, but he is a thoughtful person. He is thinking through an issue. I don’t think he is really going for the Homo Econ model which i agree is somewhere between poor and fair. He clearly stated he isn’t pushing the standard weak conservo ideas.Report

              • Avatar Troublesome Frog in reply to Richards says:

                Oh, that silly homo economicus.Report

              • Physicists are idiots: they think that theories depend on facts. Economists know better.Report

              • Avatar Troublesome Frog in reply to Mike Schilling says:

                I’d respond to a link from Economic Policy Journal with a link to TimeCube, but it looks like timecube.com redirects these days. A tragic loss for the Internet.Report

              • Avatar Kim in reply to Richards says:

                Richards,
                Go out and learn a little bit about game theory.
                Economics is merely another game, with different rules…Report

              • Avatar Richards in reply to Kim says:

                And here I thought Economics was a subset of Game theory…Report

              • Avatar Kim in reply to Richards says:

                Richards,
                yes, that was precisely what I was saying.
                Keynes is an awfully old man, but if you bother sticking your head up, you’ll find a lot of younger liberals (and conservatives) in economics trying to solve problems as quick as they can.

                NYT(I think?) ran a piece on economists trying to solve global warming, and it wasn’t just Ostrom they were citing, either.Report

            • Avatar Dave in reply to Richards says:

              @richards

              You will excuse me if I retort that economics is in itself political…. Again, the wisdom of Those Who Have seems to usually carry the day.

              To be fair, there is a pretty ironclad law I refer to as Dave’s First Rule of Capital (TM). It’s not rooted in political ideology but reality – capital has a cost. What you may see as “the wisdom of Those Who Have” I see as understanding how the capital markets may react to certain kinds of policy changes. That requires no economic theory to understand since we can watch it unfold right before our eyes.Report

              • Avatar Richards in reply to Dave says:

                “capital has a cost.”

                True enough. It just seems that some capital is considered costlier than others. Property and financial capital is considered first and foremost. Human and environmental capital seem to have much lower priorities to Those Who Have.Report

              • Avatar Dave in reply to Richards says:

                @richards

                Property and financial capital is considered first and foremost.

                Well, if people are seeking capital for investment, the people responsible for investing the money are going to protect that capital first and foremost.

                And do your “Those Who Have” include all the assets held by institutions including the pension funds that invest on behalf of the retirements of public employees, mom and pop investors, union members, police, fire, etc.?????Report

              • Avatar Richards in reply to Dave says:

                @Dave
                …meanwhile human and environmental capital keeps going at a deep discount. The social and environmental costs of Economic decisions are invariably put on the backs of Those Who Don’t Have.

                “And do your “Those Who Have” include all the assets held by institutions including the pension funds that invest on behalf of the retirements of public employees, mom and pop investors, union members, police, fire, etc.?????”

                Pardon me while I laugh, but it seems to me the current economic climate is making sure that pensions are becoming a thing of the past. I might have one. I doubt my kids will.Report

              • Avatar Dave in reply to Richards says:

                @richards

                I don’t mind the laughing at all. First, it shows that you can’t or won’t address my points (the relationship between capital and the middle class can’t be boiled down into an Elizabeth Warren talking point given the large institutional ownership of assets) . Second, it’s a refreshing change of pace from the kind of left wing know nothing populism that makes this discussion counterproductive for both of us.

                For the record, the public pension funds aren’t going away anytime soon so unless your uncanny knack of perception can provide an argument that you can support without invoking your form of haves and have nots class warfare, you’ll have to pardon me if I encourage you to keep laughing at me.Report

              • Avatar Richards in reply to Dave says:

                I simply thought your comment on pensions irrelevant to the discussion. FWIW public sector pensions in the US have been seriously gutted since 2008… invariably drained to pay for other things our lawmakers deem more important, hence my doubts about thier survival (the police may be the only exception)

                BTW, I don’t see you addressing the disconnect between values of various types of Capital…Report

              • Avatar Dave in reply to Richards says:

                I simply thought your comment on pensions irrelevant to the discussion. FWIW public sector pensions in the US have been seriously gutted since 2008… invariably drained to pay for other things our lawmakers deem more important, hence my doubts about thier survival (the police may be the only exception)

                How many states have serious issues with unfunded pension obligations? New Jersey and Illinois come to the top of my head. Still, it’s relevant because the “Haves” include the institutional owners.

                BTW, I don’t see you addressing the disconnect between values of various types of Capital

                Seeing as there was never much of a connect to begin with and capital is only going to invest where it can achieve its benchmark returns, I don’t see how those other factors play any serious role.

                Human capital can play a more significant role in higher income higher skilled professions but in industries/sectors like low wage retail or service, how much value can employees that are easily replaceable have?Report

              • Avatar Richards in reply to Dave says:

                I don’t think pension funds are as important to the “Have” equation as you like to make out. Admittedly, there are some large ones, but the beneficiaries, such as they are, don’t have much control over how that particular Pile of Capital is managed, so you can’t really call them “Haves”… Most pensions are going to a “defined contribution” model, which lowers the amount of benefit to the contributor.

                As far as human capital is, technological change and outsourcing is doing a good job of replacing skilled labour and the cheap unskilled labour is becoming the norm.

                I note you consistently avoid commenting on environmental capital… obviously, degradation of the environment is low on your list of priorities… too bad you can’t eat or breathe money..Report

              • Avatar Dave in reply to Richards says:

                @richards

                I note you consistently avoid commenting on environmental capital…

                I am approaching this issue from a finance and capital markets perspective, as that is my background. I don’t know what you specifically mean by “environmental capital” and how that factors into the investment decision process especially when not all investment decisions impact the environment.

                I have my concerns about degradation of the environment, but for the purpose of this discussion, there’s no reason for me to address those concerns.

                I don’t think pension funds are as important to the “Have” equation as you like to make out.

                We’re going to have to agree to disagree. The reason I like to cite the large scale institutional ownership of assets is to educate people that capital ownership goes far beyond your hideously crude caricature of the “Those that Have”, so much so that I deplore even the slightest hint of people treating capital as some abstract mass of money. I’ll forgive that do it since they may not understand the diversity of capital sources and how capital varies across the risk spectrum.

                Admittedly, there are some large ones, but the beneficiaries, such as they are, don’t have much control over how that particular Pile of Capital is managed

                The capital is in the hands of the pension fund managers and any advisors and/or consultants that act on their behalf. By and large, this is a good thing since they are knowledgeable about markets and are subject to a whole host of regulations requiring them by law to act in the fiduciary interest of those beneficiaries (i.e. the Investment Advisors Act of 1940 and the Employee Retirement Income Security Act).

                so you can’t really call them “Haves”

                I never called them “Haves”. I asked if you did. I think terms like the “Haves” to describe the broader capital markets, at least from the perspective of someone that has almost 20 years experience in the capital markets, doesn’t connect with the understanding I’ve gotten through professional experience.Report

              • Avatar Richards in reply to Dave says:

                If I have to pigeonhole “Those Who Have” it would be those who control/own the masses of capital. We’re talking about corporations (and their owners and CEOs) that have more economic clout than most third world countries. They are for the most part isolated from the ravages economic downturns…

                Listen, if I lose half my paycheck I’m going to notice it… I might have to sell my car, or my house… Some of these players can lose a major portion of their net worth and not bat an eyelash.Report

              • Avatar Kim in reply to Dave says:

                Dumb money engaged in dubious investments might not be the best call for Assets the Middle Class Owns.
                You might try houses, instead.Report

              • Avatar Kim in reply to Dave says:

                Capital has a cost. Surely it does. But how many people think of the national security issues it creates?Report

              • Avatar Dave in reply to Kim says:

                @kim

                But how many people think of the national security issues it creates?

                You seem to be farther along than all of us…always.Report

  7. Avatar Saul Degraw says:

    I agree with you that unemployment is dispiriting and demoralizing. I can say this because I have gone through periods of unemployment. Unemployment can be especially hard when it seems like everyone you know is on the up and up or doing really well and your social media feed is filled with stories about promotions, raises, vacations, life mile-stones and yours feels years if not a decade or so away.

    But it is also dispiriting and demoralizing to be in jobs where you feel there is zero or no chance of promotion, where your supervisors get away with treatment that is bullying or worse, to do so without any benefits like health insurance, bonuses, decent pensions, sick leave, vacation, etc.

    This should not be a zero-sum game where he just kowtow to “job creators” by making everything a race to the bottom for which state allows the closest to unbearable and dispiriting conditions. I do think there is a role for government to play in ensuring that people are treated with dignity and decency including while at work and give a modicum of benefits including decent relaxation.Report

        • Much of that is interesting, @saul-degraw . Here’s my take:

          1. Employment, with a living wage. To me, that sounds like a guaranteed basic income. For if not everyone has a job (which will happen at least occasionally, as FDR well knew) then the state, or someone, is guaranteeing the income, either through outright grants or through a system of benefits (food stamps, housing subsidies, etc.). That, I understand, is what “universal employment guarantees” mean.

          2. Food, clothing, leisure. I support all three. I personally believe that any safety net system (or GBI) needs to be able to provide for a certain amount of leisure. It should be more than bare subsistence.

          3. Farmers’ rights to fair income. “Fair” is a term of art. I’m more inclined to think this plank in the new BofR is mostly a sop to FDR’s rural constituency. If ensuring a “fair income” to farmers means increasing the cost of food to people, then count me out.

          4. Freedom from unfair competition and monopolies. It depends on what is meant by “unfair” and “monopolies.” If “unfair” means a business is charging less than another business or is open longer than customary hours, then I say, it’s okay to be unfair. If “unfair” means fraudulent or prupsoefully misleading advertising, then count me in. For monoopolies, it also depends on the definition. By one definition of monopoly (state-granted and -enforced privileges that ensure entities a specially protected position in the economy), NLRA unions and farmer coops might count as monopolies, which is probably not what FDR intended. By another definition of monopoly (a business that’s too big for Americans’ comfort), it probably applies to Walmart USA, but not 50 separate different Walmarts (Walmart of Arkansas, Walmart of Ohio, Walmart of Illinois), similar to the Standard Oil solution. I’m not too much on board.

          5, 6, 7. Pretty much on board, with the caveat that the devil is, as always, in the details. The “right of families to a decent home”? It depends on whether a house meets the only definition of “decent.” Social security? I’d prefer a less regressive system than the FDR is responsible for. But if that’s all a that’s on the table, I’ll take it. Medical care? Like ssa, I’d prefer a less regressive system than Obamacare, but since that’s probably the best possible, I’ll take it. (And I’ve defended it ever since it seemed likely to pass.)

          8. On board, but it depends on what we mean. I think people have a right to access to a basic education and help in advancing that education. I’m not sure I’d translate it into a “right” for a college education.

          Now, here are my concerns about this “second bill of rights.”

          Calling some of these things “rights,” which mostly are “rights to” things, aka freedom from fear and freedom from want, could imply a positive obligation that might be oppressive to some. If someone wants to work a job that the state deems as not “a useful and remunerative job in the industries or shops or farms or mines of the nation,” that could be bad for that person. My objections to “unfair” above also fall into this category about positive obligations. The NIRA also called for codes of fair competition, and when people champion the New Deal, they usually don’t mean the NIRA. (When I’ve criticized it elsewhere in the context of your saying you like the New Deal, I seem to recall you correcting me that you’re more supportive of things like NLRA, SSA, and FLSA.)

          Another concern is how to arrive at these goals. My OP is mostly about #1, although #1 implicates, for example, SSA and medical care inasmuch as those are employer (and employee) contributed mandates. In my heart of hearts, I’d prefer a system that grows jobs in the hope that more jobs will empower more people. Others might prefer regulating the jobs available so as to ensure that those jobs that do exist, meet minimum standards. Despite what I say in the OP, I have more sympathy for that latter position than you might think.Report

  8. Avatar LWA says:

    I appreciate the cautious framing of this, with the careful bounding and advice against taking this too far.

    All well and good.

    But I also wonder if this is a false dilemma. Its as if I wrote that I prefer policies that emphasize workplace justice, rather than trade unionization.

    The idea that regulations and taxes are harmful to the creation of jobs isn’t axiomatic anywhere outside of Heritage Foundation. Obviously there are limits to all job creation factors.

    But consider the current article in The Atlantic on the Fortune 500 firm in Ferguson, the very typical recipient of massive taxpayer gifts and subsidies, while the poor residents are the recipient of massive fees and taxes.

    The benefits of using tax and regulation abatement to spur the creation of jobs hasn’t worked out as advertised. Instead it has only hastened the tilting of wealth towards those who have not earned it.Report

    • Avatar Dave in reply to LWA says:

      @lwa

      The benefits of using tax and regulation abatement to spur the creation of jobs hasn’t worked out as advertised. Instead it has only hastened the tilting of wealth towards those who have not earned it.

      And we can thank state and local governments for betting the farm on job creation and tax receipts that weren’t going to happen.

      I’d say the companies that received those subsidies earned it since they were able to create a competitive process and got the “winner” to throw everything and the kitchen sink at them.

      If I was a Fortune 500 Company CEO, I’d be laughing all the way to the bank.Report

      • Avatar LWA in reply to Dave says:

        Well yes, and welfare cheats earn their money by being so clever and enterprising as to game the system.

        Not an argument you will hear very often, though.Report

        • Avatar Dave in reply to LWA says:

          Who is cheating in my example? I don’t see a cheat. I just see desperate bureaucrats trying to pad their resumes. Why not oblige them?Report

          • Avatar LWA in reply to Dave says:

            Well, first on the cheat list would be Arthur Laffer, and anyone who was so gullible/ dishonest as to believe the snake oil.

            Next would be the politicians who understand the implications of cutting taxes on the wealthy while increasing fees on the poor, who speak to the common good while favoring the elite.

            Next the corporations who spend billions in lobbying to promote this quackery in pursuit of a neo-feudalist future for themselves.

            As the saying goes, it isn’t what is done illegally that is the scandal….Report

            • Avatar Dave in reply to LWA says:

              @lwa

              Well, first on the cheat list would be Arthur Laffer, and anyone who was so gullible/ dishonest as to believe the snake oil.

              So you don’t believe that a relationship between tax rates and tax revenues can exist?

              If you want to have a beef against the politicians that took the Laffer Curve and tried to sell tax cuts without paying attention to the side of the curve that shows the negative relationship between tax cuts and tax revenues, have at it. That’s my beef with the crude supply-siders: we’re well past the point where tax cuts will have any meaningful effect on revenues. Calling this snake oil is putting it too kindly.

              However, based my experiences in the real estate business, one of the effects of the reduction in capital gains taxes was that investors that wanted to sell assets became less interested in entering into tax deferral strategies and chose to pay the gain upfront.

              Does this make me dishonest?

              Also, should I blame Keynes for the politicians that chose to embrace his theories and then butcher them?Report

              • Avatar Troublesome Frog in reply to Dave says:

                If you want to have a beef against the politicians that took the Laffer Curve and tried to sell tax cuts without paying attention to the side of the curve that shows the negative relationship between tax cuts and tax revenues, have at it.

                In LWA’s defense, I don’t think it’s especially unfair to lump Art Laffer himself into that crowd.Report

              • Avatar Dave in reply to Troublesome Frog says:

                @troublesome-frog

                Even if I concede that point, which I’m glad to do, is the theory itself incorrect?Report

              • Avatar Troublesome Frog in reply to Dave says:

                The theory that there are times when changes in tax rates and changes in revenue can be negatively related under certain conditions? Sure, that’s correct. I just don’t think it’s quite right to imply that Laffer had his ideas co opted by crazies. All evidence points to him being one of the crazies.Report

              • Avatar Dave in reply to Troublesome Frog says:

                @troublesome-frog

                With you having said that, I remembered this:

                http://www.ritholtz.com/blog/2010/06/art-laffer-make-up-your-own-facts-here/

                That’s the last time I’ve seen anything from him, and probably for good reason.Report

              • Avatar LWA in reply to Troublesome Frog says:

                I won’t attack Laffer himself, if only because that reduces the argument to one loony guy.
                Sam Brownback is still trying to sell us on the idea that tax cuts= prosperity, and he is driving the whole damn state into Soviet style collapse.
                For that matter, the efficacy of tax cuts in stimulating – (always and everywhere!)can fairly and honestly be described as the core of Republican economic planning.

                Comparing it to the abuse of Keynesian stimulus is actually fair, except irrelevant.
                We haven’t have anything resembling a Keynesian policy since Carter left office (with the notable exception of certain events in 2008!) so it is sort of a moot point.

                The article I referenced in The Atlantic points to the end result of the abuse of Lafferism, which is neo-feudalism.
                Further, I don’t think it is unfair at all to suggest that this is a feature for the conservative politicians, not a bug.

                Look, Ferguson has everything that market fundamentalists claim to hate- crony capitalism, rent seeking, heavy and crushing taxes (for the poor at least) and heavy handed policing covering ever manner of petty offense.
                Taxes are levied upon citizens by the state, then transferred to private hands, who themselves control the levers of the state in a vicious circle.

                Yet it remained invisible, hidden from sight for years, and only came to light as a result of the riots.

                Even now that it is known, the silence from the expected quarters- NRO, Heritage, Fox, CATO- is thunderous.
                A raid on a corrupt Wisconsin GOP Republican? Tons of pixels of screaming outrage. Yet this example of Mugabe style feudalism? ZIP.

                The only reasonable explanation I can see is offered by Corey Robin.

                That the true unwavering goal of conservatism is feudalism, the protection of the privilege and power of the property owner generally, and white male property owners especially.Report

    • Avatar Gabriel Conroy in reply to LWA says:

      But I also wonder if this is a false dilemma. Its as if I wrote that I prefer policies that emphasize workplace justice, rather than trade unionization.

      The idea that regulations and taxes are harmful to the creation of jobs isn’t axiomatic anywhere outside of Heritage Foundation. Obviously there are limits to all job creation factors.

      I fear, too, that I’m posing a false dilemma. I’m not arguing that regulations/taxes = fewer jobs is “axiomatic,” but there seems to be at least a plausible causation/correlation between the two, and one that policymakers ignore at their peril (or the peril of their preferred policies).

      I return to this: “Its as if I wrote that I prefer policies that emphasize workplace justice, rather than trade unionization.” A certain school of thought suggests that trade unionization can sometimes lead to workplace injustice. That’s not its goal, but it’s not always benign. The trick, in part, is to define justice. And that relates to my OP because in part I prefer the policies I do based on define, not justice, but something akin to “justice,” i.e., I’m trying to settle on what works better, fewer jobs or better jobs.

      Again, that might be mostly a false dilemma. A lot of smart people would agree with you. But I don’t think it’s completely false.Report

  9. Avatar Rufus F. says:

    One of the problems I’m facing right now is that I am one of those people, I suspect like yourself, who has to work and keep busy. Now, I am suddenly feeling like maybe I need to take a month off from work and recharge, but of course, such a thing is not possible.Report

  10. Avatar Saul Degraw says:

    @gabriel-conroy

    The second reason for my jobs first preference is that employment is empowering. I’m hopeful that more bad jobs will lead to more good jobs and that more jobs will make bad jobs more bearable. The more jobs there are, the more choices workers will have and the more employers will have to do to attract and keep workers. It’s one thing to have a horrible job that you can’t quit because you’re unlikely to find another one. It’s another thing to have a horrible job that you can quit because you’re likely to find another. In the latter case, the worker enjoys a little more respect, a little more protection, and perhaps even a higher wage and somewhat greater security.

    I think this raises a variety of questions. Why is employment empowering? Is all employment equally empowering or is most employment just a way to pay the bills?

    Rand Paul made a similar statement some time ago and it was part of a Vox article I linked to on whether a “crummy service job” is just the future of American work. Rand Paul’s statement is that self-esteem can only come from labor.

    I am not sure that I agree with this. There might be a lot of socio-economic class issues and the variety of distinctions between a job and a career but it seems to me that because of the law-firm crunch and the variety of stores I have read on adjunctification that employment is not always empowering. This seems to be an issue where people who have always won moralize about things and situations that they don’t always understand. How many business and political leaders/elites have gone through periods of prolonged unemployment or underemployment? I am not talking about losing elections. But being the person who sends out hundreds or thousands of applications and does not hear back. Or survives via temp work?

    There are lots of people out there who do not find their employment situations empowering and/or a source of self-esteem and they write about it. Lots of people out there feel like they are treading water or drowning with no end in sight or hope for rest or improved employment status. Now I do admit that a lot of this sort of continues until it doesn’t but I do wonder as a society why we also can’t recognize the demoralizing nature of poor work. Not all jobs are like winning a brass ring. Many, maybe even plenty of people start low and with risky prospects and rise to affluence but many also do not. Should all the rewards be like the lottery?Report

    • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      “There are lots of people out there who do not find their employment situations empowering and/or a source of self-esteem and they write about it.”

      The class of people who “write about” their lives are a relatively small subset of the population and probably one not ideally generalized from.

      How much of this is about expectations? Above you discuss people’s social media being filled with examples from their friends’ lavish lifestyles. Indulging this seems to encourage a “Keeping up with the Joneses” mentality, which is problematic (and often why the uber rich care so much about making $80B instead of ‘just’ $70B). @jaybird often speaks of the issues that arise when we aim for the government to provide a constantly shifting ‘bare minimum’.

      In essence, you seem to not just be advocating a living wage of some sort, but a relaxing wage. It isn’t enough that people have a roof over their head and three squares a day… they should be taking semi-annual vacations. And, if they aren’t, they are right to feel like a failure, as if their dream is being denied, and as if what they have accomplished is insufficient.

      Research into child development indicates that success begets confidence as opposed to the inverse. You and I were part of a generation that, sadly, embraced the wrong idea. We were/are the “self esteem” generation. We were told how special we were no matter what with an eye towards giving us confidence that would lead to untold success. Unfortunately, this isn’t how it works. Success… real, genuine success… is what breeds confidence.

      I can tell you that you are a great wall climber until I’m blue in the face. But if you’ve never climbed a wall, never discovered what you were truly capable of, there is a good chance you will slink in the face of the task. Or, if you struggle with it, you won’t have the muscle memory of having actually done it to fall back on to encourage you to keep going. Instead, you’ll think, “Maybe I’m not so good at this. I’ve never actually done it,” and quit. Again, research backs this up.

      Work is almost inherently empowering because when you accomplish something, you add it to your list of “Things I can do.” This list growing is itself a good thing: more skills, more abilities, more things you can do is a good thing. But it also breeds confidence in your ability to do other things. “Well, I was able to do A, B, and C. I can probably do D. Let me try!”

      There are few better things a person can do than actually accomplish something on his/her own.Report

    • @saul-degraw

      Why is employment empowering? Is all employment equally empowering or is most employment just a way to pay the bills?

      I don’t want to deny the self-esteem advantages that can come from having a job, but that wasn’t what I was getting at. If you reread the part of my OP you quoted, you might see I was referring to empowerment by choice of jobs. The more jobs there are, the more choice the worker has. The more courses are being offered, the more adjuncts are in demand. The more law gigs there are, the more the contingent lawyer can afford to be choosy.

      More choices are not the promised land of all labor, but it’s usually better to have more choices than fewer. Whether having more choices is worth the tradeoff of having lower wages and fewer employer provided benefits, that’s another issue, and although I’ve stated my preference, I realize others can disagree, and they might even be right.Report

  11. I appreciate everyone’s comments here. For those of you who are resistant to my stated policy preferences, I have a couple questions: Is it ever acceptable to take into account a given wage/hours regulation’s effect on job creation? If so, what is the point at which hampering jobs creation becomes a deal breaker?

    If your answer to my first question is “no,” then we probably don’t have a lot to discuss. (Even the Mother Jones article I link to contains an admission that at some point raising the minimum wage too high could hurt the economy). If your answer to the second question is “I don’t know,” then you and I are in the same boat. If you have a better answer than “I don’t know,” then that’s something I need to hear.

    (This is a drive by comment. I probably won’t be able to check in until later tonight.)Report

    • Avatar Jesse Ewiak in reply to Gabriel Conroy says:

      I think the problem is, that in 2014 America, worry that any small bit of regulation might impede economic growth after 40 years of continued pro-management, anti-worker policies is kind of worrying about the fact the princess might be slightly uncomfortable if we remove one of her many blankets and pillows while the pauper freezes to death in the rain outside.

      Yes, in theory, too many regulations or raising the minimum wage too high, or giving those pesky workers too many guaranteed benefits could stop economic growth, but we’re so far from that point in modern day America that it’s like Taylor Swift being worried about becoming obese. Sure, in theory, it could happen, but maybe eat a Big Mac or two and see if any slight paunch is created before assuming you’re going to blow up to 250 pounds if you indulge every so often.

      Again, most of the rest of the civilized Western world offers far more guaranteed benefits to all of its citizens, even the mildly unproductive ones who might not deserve it according to the Market, hallowed be it’s name, without any massive disasters. No, I don’t consider slightly higher unemployment over a long tail of a few decades to be a massive disaster.Report

      • @jesse-ewiak

        I’d like to distinguish between benefits given to people by virtue of them being citizens/residents of a country and benefits, etc., granted by virtue of employment. I would like generous benefits to go to “even the mildly unproductive ones who might not deserve it according to the Market, hallowed be it’s name, without any massive disasters.”

        Also, I take issue with this: “No, I don’t consider slightly higher unemployment over a long tail of a few decades to be a massive disaster.” I’ve never said, nor do I believe, that a “slightly higher unemployment” rate is a “massive disaster.” I do think it’s an undesirable state of affairs, however. Especially if it goes from “slightly higher” to “steadily increasing.”

        Of course, as you point out, the US has a long ways to go before it catches up in that respect. And as I admit above, the trend from “slightly higher” to “steadily increasing” hasn’t been proven. So maybe there is some room for more regulation. I’m open to the discussion, but I’ll repeat the question you responded to because you didn’t seem to answer it: “Is it ever acceptable to take into account a given wage/hours regulation’s effect on job creation?”Report

        • Jesse,

          I owe you an apology. I accused you of not answering my question, but you did when you said this: “Yes, in theory, too many regulations or raising the minimum wage too high, or giving those pesky workers too many guaranteed benefits could stop economic growth,….”Report

    • Avatar zic in reply to Gabriel Conroy says:

      Is it ever acceptable to take into account a given wage/hours regulation’s effect on job creation? If so, what is the point at which hampering jobs creation becomes a deal breaker?

      I don’t understand what this is really asking. Where does the notion that changes in regulation don’t get frisked like this stem from?

      Honestly, it’s nonsensical. You propose a change in some regulation, and the people who think they’ll be hurt by that tend to come out of the woodwork to make their opinions known.

      Honestly, the way the question’s framed, taken to its extreme, has this feel of supposing that business doesn’t have a way of representing it’s interests, and the liberal-social-facists hold total control of the discussion. This is not representative of reality.Report

      • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to zic says:

        You propose a change in some regulation, and the people who think they’ll be hurt by that tend to come out of the woodwork to make their opinions known.

        And your fellow travelers call them corporate shills. Which suggests that they don’t think it’s acceptable to ask these questions. No one’s saying there aren’t people who question the wisdom of new regulations. But there seem to be an awful lot of people who don’t consider this a legitimate thing to do.Report

        • Avatar zic in reply to Brandon Berg says:

          And your fellow travelers call them corporate shills.

          Not that I notice; they generally call them lobbyists.

          Edited to add: This is an attacking the messenger instead of listening to the message. And it’s really common. So policy debate then devolves to the merits of the messenger so that we can be distracted from the actual policy being debated. No?Report

      • Avatar Gabriel Conroy in reply to zic says:

        “I don’t understand what this is really asking. Where does the notion that changes in regulation don’t get frisked like this stem from? ”

        I didn’t say it didn’t “get frisked like this.” I’m suggesting that those doing the frisking might have a point.

        Edited to add: I’m not suggesting we take the question to an extreme. I’m asking if you (or anyone) would ever take into account a regulation’s effect on job growth.Report

        • Avatar zic in reply to Gabriel Conroy says:

          @gabriel-conroy if you’re asking me, every piece of policy has consequences, both good and bad, and it’s good to try to consider them and to be prepared to monitor them to see 1) how they’re actually working and 2) if what you wanted is happening and 3) what are the things you didn’t anticipate, 4) what might you learn for future knowledge from this review, and 5) does what we’ve just considered suggest realigning the policy.

          Now I realize that this last notion drives tremors of regularity uncertainty through some minds, but I think that the flip side of that coin in some assurance of regularity certainty, too. Like the deep-water drilling inspectors and bank regulators performance is evaluated so that we have the assurance they’re actually carrying out the public trust with which they’ve been charged; and the certainty that a bad policy might be revamped before it causes problems like, say, we’re seeing in Baltimore or amongst part-time workers.

          I’m not a fan of set-it and forget-it governing, just like the food, the results tend to be hit or miss.Report

          • Avatar Gabriel Conroy in reply to zic says:

            @zic

            That’s a very thoughtful answer. Thanks for giving it. And I don’t have a problem with those steps. And to be honest, as I tried to suggest in my OP (but not many seem to have noticed), I am worried that my preference is overwrought and it can end up promoting some undesirable outcomes.

            I have yet to find a way to gauge my preference against other things that are also good. Your formulation is as good a starting point as any.

            Thanks, again, for the reply.Report

    • Avatar DRS in reply to Gabriel Conroy says:

      You have policy preferences? I assume you mean in your initial post at the top of the page. I would respectfully suggest that it’s not a policy but rather an accumulation of stale bumper sticker slogans. Bad jobs lead to good jobs? How does that work in real life? You’re implying that the workers themselves control that process somehow. But they don’t.Report

      • Avatar Gabriel Conroy in reply to DRS says:

        @drs

        In case I was unclear, here is how that will (I hope) happen: If there are more jobs available, employees will be more in demand. Therefore, employers might treat their employees better.

        I put a lot of stress on the “I hope” and the “might” here, so maybe I’m off-base. Actually, if you reread my OP, you’ll find that I have the same concerns you bring up here.Report

  12. Avatar DRS says:

    This piece pretty much describes the status-quo, doesn’t it?

    Jobs are not things that exist in isolation of surrounding context. The great manufacturing, unionized jobs of the past are gone and, like the Boss said so well, “Boys, and they ain’t coming back/to your home town/to your own town. It got too easy for manufacturers to uproot entire factory systems and send them overseas to countries that could now guarantee a docile, trainable workforce. Too easy for consumers to be persuaded that cheapness was better than paying for products that would last longer than three to five years (who wants to own a three-year-old smart phone?). Too easy for container ships the size of major islands to carry extruded plastic crap to mini-malls like Walmart to sell. Too easy to pretend that the formerly working class (now disadvantaged class) are unemployed by their own faults. Too convenient to claim that shuffling paper in a brokerage house or bank is creating wealth as opposed to skimming off the top.

    But the horse has well and truly bolted from that barn, and chasing it miles down the road and hauling it back with strong ropes isn’t feasible. RIP, it had a good run but it’s over.

    So what would help create the context for those good jobs that everyone claims to want? Some suggestions:

    1. Man up and admit that single-payer healthcare, like those that exist in most other major Western countries, is not a boondoggle or incipient communism but a way to allow individuals to pull up stakes and move to other parts of the country without fear of losing healthcare for themselves and their families. Seriously guys, welcome to the late 19th/early 20th century already.

    2. Let go of the idea that people on welfare or employment insurance (or whatever you call it down there) need to be punished and humiliated for their situation. Loosen up on regulations. Increase levels of payment for those who take professional training for non-off-shore-able skills like dental hygiene or plumbing or electrician skills. You can off-shore manufacturing but no one is going to fly to Lahore to get their teeth cleaned. Those skills are also portable – toilets get clogged from coast to coast – and will not tie anyone down to a specific city or state.

    3. Bite the bullet and admit that many people have lost their place in the economy and won’t get it back, even at a fraction of their previous worth. From your mid-fifties and up, it’s almost impossible for untrained or barely trained men and women to find jobs in competition with their children. So create a welfare level that will transition them into governmental old age pensions and wish them a happy retirement.

    4. Start having more respect for those artisanal jobs that create handmade items like jewelry, artwork, statuary, handcrafts or one-of-a-kind dresses and apparel. It’s still considered acceptable to sneer at these people as providing expensive items for the upper-middle-class (especially from pundits who are themselves upper-middle-class) but those people are self-employed and working. And they have skills that they can train other people in.

    5. Accept that people who are really, really rich aren’t automatically really, really smart. Stop deferring to the rentier class that clips coupons and gets rich off other people’s labour. A four-story factory that used to hold a single manufacturing site can be refurbished to provide smaller, divided workspaces for smaller businesses like glass-blowing, furniture-making, tapestry and rug weaving or any of a number of other artisanal industries. So jack up the taxes on those unoccupied buildings that owners want to keep empty until they find an occupant who can pay higher rent and lower the taxes for owners who understand that times are changing. And when tenants complain about crappy business landlords, let those landlords know that someone at city hall is paying attention.

    6. Make work the basis of social respect. Not employment, not wealth – but work. What do you produce? What do you create? What skills do you have? Do you train others in those skills?

    In other words, make it easier for the 21st century urban workforce to participate in an updated version of the late 19th century/early 20th century urban economy.Report

    • Avatar zic in reply to DRS says:

      +1 @drs

      I would add another point: make stay-at-home parenting/homemaking an honorable option, for both men and woman.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird in reply to DRS says:

      I like a lot of these, DRS, but 3 and 6 are at odds with each other.

      I’m wondering what would have to change in the culture to get the others to work.Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to Jaybird says:

        Not if ‘work’ is also based on community volunteering; running for local office and serving on local boards, non-profit stuff, etc. Unpaid work that you do because it makes your community a better place to live has tremendous value. Going to your 1950’s comment, in the 1950’s, women, wives who were stay-at-home mothers, did a lot of that stuff.Report

        • Avatar Jaybird in reply to zic says:

          Unpaid work that you do because it makes your community a better place to live has tremendous value. Going to your 1950’s comment, in the 1950’s, women, wives who were stay-at-home mothers, did a lot of that stuff.

          Oh, yeah. I agree 100%.

          But there were a lot of things that tied in with that. Stigmas against bastardry, for example. Stigmas against working outside of the home for women (unless it was in very specific, community-based, circumstances).

          What made that system sustainable, insofar as it was sustainable, was a lot of other things in the culture.

          Things we were more than happy enough to abandon and say “GOOD RIDDANCE!” as we threw them away.

          The question of whether it’s possible to throw out the bathwater without breaking a few eggs seems to be unresolved.Report

          • Avatar zic in reply to Jaybird says:

            This is a thing that we need to discuss; we lost a lot of social grease when women went to work outside the home. In general, I’d say it’s a net good; but I’d also make the argument that the social grease women provided before was seriously undervalued, and that it doesn’t necessarily need to be stay-at-home women providing that grease.Report

      • Avatar DRS in reply to Jaybird says:

        No they’re not. As I clearly state, there are going to be people who simply aren’t going to be able to compete and we should just admit that fact, and allow them to retire from the field with dignity intact. It’s what’s happening today except that everyone pretends that they could get work if they just tried harder or stopped having so much sex (Rod Dreher’s conviction) or whatever the shibboleth of the moment is.

        Not sure what your second sentence refers to except that you think that it’s their own fault they can’t find work.

        No, the 19th century wasn’t libertarian; there were lots of social bonds and communal commitments that tied people, families and communities together. A stronger sense of what was owed to all levels of society. And of course, all the shitty racist, xenophobic stuff as well but there are some things we have outgrown.Report

        • Avatar Jaybird in reply to DRS says:

          Allow me to rephrase my second sentence.

          Please change “I’m wondering what would have to change in the culture to get the others to work” to “I’m wondering what would have to change in the culture to get the other suggestions you’ve made to work.”

          there are going to be people who simply aren’t going to be able to compete and we should just admit that fact, and allow them to retire from the field with dignity intact.

          Sure… but part and parcel with that is a healthy stigma against people retiring if they are able to compete.

          No, the 19th century wasn’t libertarian; there were lots of social bonds and communal commitments that tied people, families and communities together. A stronger sense of what was owed to all levels of society. And of course, all the shitty racist, xenophobic stuff as well but there are some things we have outgrown.

          It seems that we’ve also outgrown lots of social bonds and communal commitments that tied people, families and communities together.Report

          • Avatar DRS in reply to Jaybird says:

            healthy stigma against people retiring if they are able to compete.

            Maybe we can not assume that EVERYONE is able to compete. If they’ve had years of unemployment, made hundreds of individual efforts to get jobs, been turned down or were uninterviewed for all of them, maybe society can cut them a break before they’re reduced to living out of their cars.

            It seems that we’ve also outgrown lots of social bonds and communal commitments that tied people, families and communities together.

            Yes, libertarianism has been just great for society, hasn’t it?Report

            • Avatar Jaybird in reply to DRS says:

              Yes, libertarianism has been just great for society, hasn’t it?

              You know, I’ve been seriously thinking about that.

              I suppose the best example I could give is the whole “abortion” one. Abortion in the United States is used to make sure that women who make one mistake don’t end up unable to go to college, or unable to get a job, or find themselves unmarriable by somewhat higher-status men.

              In China and India it is used after it’s found that it’s a girl and abortion is a quick reset/try again button.

              I’ve been wondering if Libertarianism doesn’t have some very, very specific pre-requisites and, without those pre-requisites, it’s going to do a lot more harm than good.

              Discussion of the pre-reqs is distasteful, though.Report

              • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to Jaybird says:

                @jaybird

                When I met up with Hanley, he said that Libertarianism assumes that all people are completely competent and able in all matters and manners. He also said that this clearly isn’t true. We aren’t all able to compete for a variety of reasons including reasons beyond our control.

                For example, jobs and income. I know what my rent is and I know that it is likely to be my best deal without moving far, far away. There are also costs for moving. So I have an idea about what my salary requirements are. Supposed there is someone whose parents and/or spouse is willing to support them and they can just underbid anyone to get experience. This means that the less well off can’t compete with the wealthy and/or the single can’t compete with the romantically attached or some of the romantically attached.

                What do you think the specific pre-requisites are?Report

        • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to DRS says:

          there are going to be people who simply aren’t going to be able to compete and we should just admit that fact, and allow them to retire from the field with dignity intact.

          Or, perhaps, we can help them pivot to something they can compete in. Perhaps not all of them, but just because the market has left a skill or career behind doesn’t mean the people of that skill or career are unable to participate, but they may need a little help understanding how to pivot.Report

    • Avatar j r in reply to DRS says:

      @drs

      You make a few references to “respect” and “social respect.”

      I am interested to hear a little more about how you quantify respect and how you would operationalize this attempt to increase respect. Also, how would you know when you’ve been successful in this.Report

    • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to DRS says:

      @drs

      I largely agree with this list:

      “6. Make work the basis of social respect. Not employment, not wealth – but work. What do you produce? What do you create? What skills do you have? Do you train others in those skills?”

      I suspect that this one is going to be the hardest and the biggest hurdle if not impossible. There are lots of biases and assumptions that go into respecting work. A lot of people disrespect lawyers as being useless (until they need one) or gumming up stuff. Or they respect some lawyers (Fancy Corporate Lawyers, DAs) and not others (Plaintiff’s lawyers, Public Defenders). Some do vice-versa of course. A lot of people seem to disrespect artists because they see at as “playing all day”. To be fair, a lot of artists would call this a perk but we live in a society that wants to have it both ways with arts and entertainment. We want our art and entertainment but we like to dismiss those who dream of life in the arts.Report

    • Avatar Gabriel Conroy in reply to DRS says:

      @drs

      I don’t particularly blame you for not knowing this because I don’t expect people to make a study of all my comments over the past years here and elsewhere, but I support single payer system, or something like it. I agree with and have long stated my agreement with something like what you say in #2. Your #3 is actually one reason I have the policy preference I do in the first place. In fact, in my dream policy world, people would have access to cheaper/free health care and a robust set of state supports and/or guaranteed basic income.

      I haven’t thought about #5.

      #4: I admit, I sometimes sneer at such economies. Maybe I shouldn’t. [edited to add: It’s no excuse, but I tend to sneer more at the customers.]

      #6: I don’t really want to insist on that route. I believe in respecting people who work. But I wouldn’t want to make work the basis of social respect.Report

  13. Avatar Patrick says:

    @dave

    Also, should I blame Keynes for the politicians that chose to embrace his theories and then butcher them?

    This is actually a very interesting question.

    I’m inclined to say “no”, but I think the better answer is “it depends”.

    Oppenheimer felt culpability for the use of his learning and he spent a good chunk of his life (and social capital) attempting to mitigate what he had done. António Egas Moniz felt no culpability for the use of his learning and won a Nobel. Oh, and Nobel of course, duh.

    The thing about knowledge is that you can’t unlearn it, and if you learn it, somebody else is almost certainly already also already working on it. The myth of the fantastic visionary genius is largely a myth, after all.

    So whatever you learn, it’s going to be out there anyway.

    What you choose to do with it, how you choose to shape the use of what you learn… I’m certain that reflects differently in the “moral burden baggage” of anybody who ever was involved in discovering or inventing anything that was misused.

    I don’t pass judgment on most of those cases myself, but I would be flabbergasted if most of them don’t pass judgement on themselves, one way or another.Report

  14. Avatar LWA says:

    A bit OT, but here we have another example of the neo-feudalism at play:
    Iran’s Navy seizes a non-US flagged cargo ship. The ship was flagged by a Dutch company, Maersk, in the Marshall Islands, a US protectorate.

    Why did Maersk not flag the ship in The Netherlands, you ask? Why because “The ship is owned by the Danish conglomerate Maersk, which like many shipping companies uses Marshall Islands’ “flags of convenience” to reduce operating costs and sidestep regulation. ”

    Ahh. But now that the Dutch cargo company’s ship, flagged in an independent territory of the US where regulation is lax is now in trouble, I bet the Dutch and Marshall Islanders are going to have to sack up and confront the Iranians themselves, right?

    Why no!
    “Under a 1983 Compact of Free Association, the U.S. has “full authority and responsibility for security and defense of the Marshall Islands,” according to a State Department fact sheet.”

    Well.
    So when it comes time for the Dutch company to comply with European regulations about taxes, worker safety, pay, and so forth, they run to a tiny island on the other side of the world, in a law-free environment.

    FREEDOM!
    INDEPENDENCE!

    Then they run into trouble, the American taxpayer is expected to dig deep into our pockets to provide security and protection.

    This is feudalism. The peasants are forced to pay taxes which benefit the holders of property, yet receive nothing in return. The power of the state is purely for the benefit and protection of the landholder. Yet the landholder pays nothing, and instead rides on the backs of the peasants who provide the wealth.Report

    • Avatar Will Truman in reply to LWA says:

      So when it comes time for the Dutch company to comply with European regulations about taxes, worker safety, pay, and so forth, they run to a tiny island on the other side of the world, in a law-free environment.

      So do a lot of basically American ships (flying under the flag of other countries).

      The Marshall Islands thing is the circumstance of a lot of moving parts. Defense is as big (or a bigger) culprit than international trade or whatnot. We wanted something from the Marshall Islands for strategic purposes. We had something to offer, namely a guaranteed defense. Which did give them something they were able to use for their economic benefit, which is the product of our not treating them like a colony.

      It was all a part of the deal. This is the cost of that deal.Report

      • Avatar LWA in reply to Will Truman says:

        Would it have been possible, as part of the negotiations for this deal, to stipulate that any Marshall Islands-flagged ships comply with certain regulations, oh, I don’t know like minimum wage, working conditions, etc?

        The answer is of course, yes it was possible.
        But not a priority for those negotiating the deal.

        That American taxpayers would pick up the cost of any ship’s defense, while the workers on those ships would have their needs ignored, and that the shipping companies would enjoy the benefit and protection of the American Navy while paying little or nothing in return was also not considered important.Report

        • Avatar Will Truman in reply to LWA says:

          It would have been possible, but I don’t think it would have been in the best interest of the workers on those ships to try to bring them in to compliance with our own regulatory norms. The Marshall Islands are a free and democratic nation. I don’t see a whole lot of reason to believe that the MI and its workers aren’t happy with the deal as it is, and the labor laws they have.

          Whose interests do you propose we serve? The interests of the American taxpayers and the Marshall Islanders are not the same. As an American taxpayer (or perhaps I should say “a subject of the American government” as you seem to see it), I’m not thrilled about being on the hook for this. But that was the deal we signed.Report

          • Avatar greginak in reply to Will Truman says:

            AFAIK commercial shipping jobs are good jobs that are sought after. Sailors make good money. Depending on their home life being away from home for long stretches might even be a perk of the job.Report

          • Avatar LWA in reply to Will Truman says:

            I propose we negotiate deals that serve the interests and principles of the entire American citizenry, not just the narrow interests of the elite.

            Commercial ships are all flagged by small 3rd World nations for a reason- to evade the regulations and laws of the actual nations where they are based.
            Yet they demand the benefits of being 1st World nations.

            For instance, it has been demonstrated that if an American citizen is raped or robbed while on a Princess Cruise line, they do not have access to American courts, because the ship is flagged in Liberia or somewhere.
            Likewise, the crew are all 3rd World workers who work without the benefit of American labor laws and protections.

            Yet of course, Princess Cruise lines enjoy all the benefits and perks of being an American corporation- if I were to infringe on their copyright or trademarks I doubt if they would be told that they don’t have access to American courts. The laws are written with this result in mind.

            This is that pattern I am noting, of the wealthy and powerful helping themselves to the tax revenues of the citizens, while the citizens are denied any control over the holders of property and capital.

            Ferguson is part of the pattern, trade agreements are part of this pattern.
            If you are not the holder of land or capital, you have no part to play in this, except to pay money or shed blood.Report

            • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to LWA says:

              @lwa

              Where a ship is flagged is actually more complicated than just a desire to dodge US labor & safety regs. International politics & Admiralty law play a huge part in this practice.

              For what it is worth, the Marshall Islands are members of the International Labor Organization, and thus their labor laws must align with the ILO. Also, many western nations will deny access to their ports if a ship is flagged in a country with lax labor laws and the owner is known for not enforcing acceptable working conditions for the crew. This may not seem like much, but where a ship docks & transfers cargo can make a huge difference in the operating costs & the availability of valuable cargo. Access to modern, secure western ports can make or break a shipping company.

              In short, it’s not exactly the wild thing you imagine.Report

              • Avatar LWA in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

                That could well be true wrt the Marshall Islands.
                But here is the article I was referencing, about cruise lines
                http://www.cnn.com/2013/02/13/opinion/walker-cruise-ships/
                Sample quotes-
                “The Cruise Lines International Association says its “crew members are provided wages that are competitive with international pay scales.” But a cleaner aboard a Royal Caribbean ship, for example, will work 12 hours a day, seven days a week, for as little as $156.25 a week with no tips. U.S. labor laws are not applicable to provide protection to crew members at sea, nor is there any real oversight of the cruise lines’ operations.”

                Again, it is true that shipping lines- cargo ships and cruise lines both- want to evade the labor and safety regulations of 1st World countries like Denmark and America; yet they also want the protection of 1st World navies when trouble happens.

                Its this double dealing that I am calling out.Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to LWA says:

                First off, as a former Navy Sailor, I refuse to sail on most cruise ships precisely because I don’t trust the training of the crew to handle trouble. Granted I have a much higher standard because I was military, but still.

                As for the double dealing, we have, in many ways, done that to ourselves. At risk of summoning the objections of Kolohe, The US has effectively banned, or incentivized the reduction of, foreign navies. Certainly foreign countries have navies, but most are very small, and are not interested in playing Global Naval Enforcement. Thus when trouble hits on the shipping lanes, we get the call more often than not, treaty or not.

                And to be honest, the US Navy will see this as, in large part, a nice training exercise for the crew of the Farragut, one where the actual military cost will be a small portion of the Farragut’s current deployment budget.Report

              • Avatar LWA in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

                Which is why the term “neofeudalism” is so apt.
                The sailors will not be answering the call to defend America’s shores, American lives, American ships, or even American interests however broadly defined.

                No, in true Game Of Thrones fashion, these sailors will possibly shed blood solely for the defense of Danish stockholders, no different than going to war to defend the land claims of the Lannister family. And you and I will be obliged to pay taxes for this effort.Report

              • Avatar Kolohe in reply to LWA says:

                it has been a general principle of United States foreign policy since 1780 something to patrol the global commons of oceanic trade routes for the benefit of both blue shipping and white shipping.

                Though in practice, we actually don’t break as much of a sweat over white shipping as we do for blue shippingReport

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Kolohe says:

                White vs Blue shipping? Passenger vs Freight? High value vs low?Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to LWA says:

                Neofeudalism – OK, now I see the angle. Got it.

                Welcome to US Naval policy, circa always.

                I will add that, if the Farragut was the closest ship, once the Dutch ship issued a distress call, the Farragut would have responded, treaty or not, no matter the flag flown. This hearkens back to tradition & Admiralty law.

                The treaty will probably require the US to get involved should the Iranian claim be invalid or enforced improperly.Report

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