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AvatarComments by Chip Daniels in reply to North*

On “Protecting Workers Is How We Protect the Economy

Yes, this is my sense of things as well, that this is more of a Chernobyl moment than a Pearl Harbor moment.

The various institutions and entities are going through the motions of a liberal democracy, but lacking any faith in it.

On “Here Comes the Pain, Shared and Otherwise

That just sounds like all the more reason to urge the Democratic base adopt a more a aggressive confrontational stance towards the opposition.

I guess there are different ways to cope with the decisions of our fellow partymates.
When they rejected Warren, I had to just accept the painful truth that most of my fellow Dems don't want the Big Ideas howevr much I wished they would.

And they may still reject my proposal for a loud and confrontational battle in favor of some middling Obama 2.0 wonkishness and "Lets all come together" stuff.

But at the end of the day, as comrade Alinsky would say, you work with the terrain as it is not as you wish it were.


What makes you think a "better candidate with better policies" not congruent with who speaks loudly and forthrightly about how this is a battle between democracy and authoritarianism?

And recall that no Democrat in American politics fares any better against Trump than the current frontrunner.

On “A Clusterfark in Wisconsin

It's kind of like my comment on the other thread where we need to confront the fact that the GOP as a party, and the conservative movement, and the voting base that supports it, has grasped how unpopular their ideas are, and have abandoned the idea of operating as a loyal opposition or within the bounds of democracy, and decided to impose their vision on America by whatever means.

Its that paradox where they are using the norms of democracy against itself.

On “Here Comes the Pain, Shared and Otherwise

I'm just not clear on what you're suggesting we do.


As opposed to which other vote-getting strategy?


Which is why I think the Democrats need to go big, really big, like a New New Deal big.
Not like wonkish proposals, but a loud and bold declaration of Democracy vs. Fascism, like Roosevelt's "Economic Royalists/ I welcome their hatred" speech.

IMO, authoritarianism wins when it can present a clear and convincing case for order and stability at whatever cost. When authoritarianism is met with soft mewling and equivocation it easily steamrolls over it.

On “Protecting Workers Is How We Protect the Economy

We do see this sort of segregation though, in discussions about globalism or minimum wage, where when people point out how these are bad for workers, other people point out that the current regulatory structures are "good for consumers". As if consumer and workers aren't the same people.

Or we see it when the term "job creator" is invoked, as if job creation is something that happens independently of and antecedent to workers and consumers.

What the pandemic is showing is that investors, workers, and consumers are all tied tightly together in an interdependent cycle.

On “Andrew Yang, Bringer of Pestilence

From the NYT:
"Mr. Modly, Admiral Mullen said, “has become a vehicle for the president. He basically has completely undermined, throughout the T.R. situation, the uniformed leadership of the Navy and the military leadership in general.
When his 15-minute speech was over, signing off with a tepid “Go Navy,” Mr. Modly had effectively drawn an invisible line between him and the more than 4,800 crew members of the Roosevelt, one crew member said. This sailor added that many of the crew thought Mr. Modly had called them stupid for putting so much faith in their commanding officer. After Mr. Modly’s speech, junior sailors approached the crew member, he said, looking to leave the service after their first enlistment."

Republicans love the military like Michael Vick loves dogs: As cannon fodder for their own vainglory.

On “Here Comes the Pain, Shared and Otherwise

I've been bingewatching Babylon Berlin, so take this with a grain of salt...

It seems to me that this is all part of a continuum, where the same societal dysfunction that led to the election of Trump created this dysfunction.

Its not like there is some alternate, competent and well informed American citizenry standing in the wings to take over once this is over. And its not like the President and Cabinet of Aaron Sorkin's dreams just stepped out temporarily and will return in a moment.

When the next crisis hits, whether it is some economic issue, a military confrontation, a natural disaster or whatever, we will see the same sort of response from Fox News, Mitch McConnell, and governors like DeSantis. And we will see the same 40% of Americans respond just the way they are now.

On “Carnage: 6.6 Million in Initial Jobless Claims, 10 Million Two Week Total

Very good point that morality and ethics cut in many different ways, but still, we don't let that stop us.

The same moral code that says we should respect this behavior can also say that we should ban that other behavior.

The boundary lines between the two are always being negotiated and litigated.

On “Andrew Yang, Bringer of Pestilence

Acting Secretary of the Navy to Yang:
"Hold my beer"

The Administration has made it clear that letting sailors die needlessly is preferable to embarrassing the Dear Leader.

On “Carnage: 6.6 Million in Initial Jobless Claims, 10 Million Two Week Total

In order to have a market failure you have to have a market to begin with.
Dairy is a "market" the same way that a Soviet tractor factory was a market, i.e., it isn't.

And we should all keep in mind the fact that the vast regulatory apparatus of government control of agriculture came about exactly to correct problems like this, where the vagaries of agriculture resulted in vast overabundance one year and starvation the next.

The purpose of the governmental structure was never to make an efficient pairing of milk producers and milk consumers, but to prod milk producers into producing much more than anyone ever needed or wanted.

Every year, Americans dump millions of tons of food including milk down the drain or into landfills and nobody seems to freak out over it.

We do this because food is so cheap its easier to dump it than to give it away.

That Grapes of Wrath passage stirs my leftist blood and makes me want to reach for my hammer and sickle, but then again, I can't remember the last time I saw a hungry person and I live two blocks from Skid Row.

I just don't think that dumping excess milk is such a big problem today.


Things never go back to normal because no matter what is happening, society is constantly changing and evolving.

2019 wasn't the same "normal" as 2016, which wasn't the same "normal" as 2006.

We tend to notice the big shocks to the system like 2008 style crashes of shock election results like 2016.
But those are sort of like the meteor strikes and volcanic eruptions to the social ecosystem; Big spectacular events that make immediate and visible changes.

But the small stuff does its work too.

Like, the 2008 crash and Trump's election didn't just happen at random like a meteor zooming out of the cosmos.

They were the result, the visible manifestation of things which had been in motion for a long time, just never noticed until after the fact.

Likewise, this pandemic isn't unpredictable or even novel (despite its name). This is just the first time one has hit us under this unique set of conditions.

And the reaction to it is a visible manifestation of the changed society that has been evolving towards this direction for decades.

The lack of trust, the lack of ability to coordinate efforts, the existence of a propaganda outlet which seeks to disinform and obscure; these are conditions that are different and new.

They are and have been for a while, the "New Normal".


"this means putting up with crying eyes of people dying because they’re priced out of the system. "

Can't make an omelette...


Again with the monoculture stuff?
No Germany is not a flippin' monoculture! The events of 1933-1945 should be familiar to you.

And more recently, the strangeness of the reunification of the "Ossies" and Wessies" after the fall of the Wall should be fascinating to anyone who imagines that nation as a hive minded monoculture.

And the idea labor unions are a competitive disadvantage is made laughable with just a glance at the German industrial powerhouse.

And in keeping with my other comments today, maybe the operative term here isn't "labor unions" so much as it is "German".

That is, the German people have collectively made decisions about how they want corporations to behave and what benefits they want to derive from them.


I read that essay, and his conclusions ( rightism is optimized for survival and effectiveness, and leftism is optimized for hedonism and signaling games ) and ( rightism is optimized for tiny unstable bands facing a hostile wilderness, and leftism is optimized for secure, technologically advanced societies like the ones we are actually in ) are derived from a caricature of both leftism, rightism, and history.

To start off with, he doesn't acknowledge the large overlap of rightism and leftism.
They both for example utilize groupishness and the subordination of the individual to the collective.

Especially in desperate survival situations, the needs and desires of the individual become very weak and the bonds and obligation to the larger collective group become stronger.

What he doesn't acknowledge as well, is that our political frame of reference of rightism and leftism is itself a product of a highly advanced technological society a world of abundance and peace.

From the viewpoint of some struggling band of desperate people in the wilderness, or a resident of some other time and place, the beliefs of both American conservatives and American liberals would be baffling and incomprehensible.

And if the point is to hypothesize about how contemporary American culture might change as a result of a desperate survival event, probably the only safe conclusion is that it will be "unpredictably different".


One of the reasons I'm not fond of the term "market failure" is that it uses a metaphor of the market as being some entity that operates separate and independently of the society in which it occurs.

But that metaphor seems inaccurate to me. The metaphor doesn't explain how markets work so much differently, produce so wildly different outcomes across nations and time.

And the suggestion that the public somehow "fix" the problems like monopolies and externalities is no different than saying we should "fix" society itself.

Economics is at its root a form of sociology. It attempts to explain and predict human behavior. And human behavior is one of the most complex and unpredictable things in existence.


That's right, SVT is a political theory, a way of looking at the world that many American have come to accept.

Which is what I would like to see changed. I would like Americans to think of the corporate form of business as a privilege that is granted with the intention of benefiting the public's interest as much as the shareholder's interests.

I like the German example of giving a stronger voice to the workers, placing their interests on an equal footing with the investors.


Corporate personhood is not the same as the Shareholder Value Theory.

Most European nations have very strict public control over how corporations behave; in Germany for instance labor unions have a seat on the board of companies like BMW and Mercedes Benz.

Check out the German Works Council Constitution Act, where corporations are required to give workers "co-determination rights" in how the company operates.

They don't operate under the idea that corporations have no obligation other than to their investors; Corporations are understood to be a privilege granted upon certain conditions and for the benefit of the public.


I think people tend to use "market failure" to refer to any outcome we don't like.
As if the market always results in happy outcomes, like some benevolent god was the Invisible Hand.

The best analogy I've seen is that the market is just like an ecosystem, which has no teleological end goal, no directing spirit.
It just does what it doe,s goes where it goes, and the outcomes can be anything from a flourishing of life or mass extinction.

The market, like the natural world, is entirely indifferent to our desires.


This "bedrock of our economic system" is younger than the Big Mac.

It didn't exist during the postwar economic boom, it didn't exist in the 19th century Industrial age.

It doesn't even exist today in most of the world outside of America.

The idea that corporations are public entities and that the public has a legitimate interest in their outcomes is the "bedrock economic theory" throughout the world.


Nine months.
Nine whole months to retool for a new profession?

So like, an unemployed guy today, or a million or ten million unemployed guys will be ready to take your place at cheaper wages in January 2021?

See that's my point.

Unlike previous eras, where learning a trade like blacksmithing might take years of apprenticeship and journeyman work, technology is such that you or me or anyone can learn a different trade within months.
Human laborers have become like disposable phones, where it is cheaper to throw the old one out rather than fix it.

Here, enjoy this clip of Get Shorty where Delroy Lindo explains to John Travolta how easy it is to retool oneself into being a scriptwriter:

BO: "See, all you gotta do is write what what you think should happen, then hire some other guy to put the commas in and make sure the words are spelled right.
And hell, I've seen scripts that hardly had any commas in at all, and I know some words weren't spelled right!"

CHILI: "That's it?"
BO: "That's it!"
CHILI: "That's all there is to it?"
BO: "That's all there is to it."

CHILI: "Then what the f*ck do I need you for?"


I almost quoted it, but felt it was too snarky.


Has it occurred to you, that if it was so easy and quick for you to "retool" to a new occupation, that millions of other people could do the same?

In other words, how much effort and time would it take for just anybody to do what you do, and cheaper?

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