Having taken over 80 lives, the Grenfell Tower fire now claims scalps: Daily Bullshit, July 1, 2017

Updates

  1. July 1, 5:03 pm:
    • Alice Rivlin breaks down the Republican divisions in their effort to (mostly not really) “repeal and replace” Obamacare more precisely than I’ve seen elsewhere.[1] It turns out this is a relatively old article, dating to February, but well worth the read.
    • David Roberts notices that “Blue America” is going its own way in open defiance of “Red America” and worries about what might happen when the latter figures it out.[2] (Secession)

Grenfell Tower

Cartoon by Nick Anderson, June 29, 2017, via Arcamax, fair use.
Fig. 1. Cartoon by Nick Anderson, June 29, 2017, via Arcamax, fair use.

Prime Minister Theresa May’s response to the fire had been abysmal,[3] but, at least for now, she retains her job. Others are now having to resign.[4] But as the cartoon (figure 1) shows, and part of what May has failed to answer for, is what this tragedy says about neoliberalism, in which, as I have said, money is more important than lives:

What I want to highlight is the hazard of monetary abstraction. [John] Gordon objects to “solving the problems of the world with other people’s money.”[5] What this means is that property rights outweigh other internationally recognized human rights, specifically the rights to a decent job paying a decent salary so a worker can live in dignity.[6] It means that, for Gordon, property has become more real than the human.[7]

I’ve seen neoliberalism come under withering criticism far too many times now to believe that it surely now is dead even in Britain. Fundamentally, it makes the wealthy more comfortable, which means that as soon as public attention is diverted even for the briefest moment—Donald Trump is here reliably useful—it is restored full force as a governing ideology. “There is,” after all, as Margaret Thatcher is said to have said, “no alternative.”[8] Squeezing the poor to make the rich richer is a dirty job, but I guess somebody has to do it. And then all it will take is for one capitalist libertarian to point out that the council that bought that cladding for Grenfell Tower is a government agency and the elites can be reassured that all is well.

Nick Anderson, “Combustible Cladding,” Arcamax, June 29, 2017, https://www.arcamax.com/politics/editorialcartoons/nickanderson/s-1972359?ezine=641

Louis Emanuel, Sean O’Neill, and David Brown, “Grenfell council under pressure as calls for takeover grow,” Times, July 1, 2017, https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/news/kensington-and-chelsea-council-in-disarray-over-grenfell-tower-fire-z6fbtnpm6


Obamacare

Alice M. Rivlin, “Why Is It so Hard for Republicans to Replace Obamacare?” Real Clear Health, February 9, 2017, http://www.realclearhealth.com/articles/2017/02/09/why_is_it_so_hard_for_republicans_to_replace_obamacare_110432.html


Secession

David Roberts, “Blue America reaches out to the world, ignoring Trump,” Vox, July 1, 2017, https://www.vox.com/energy-and-environment/2017/6/30/15892040/blue-america-trump


  1. [1]Alice M. Rivlin, “Why Is It so Hard for Republicans to Replace Obamacare?” Real Clear Health, February 9, 2017, http://www.realclearhealth.com/articles/2017/02/09/why_is_it_so_hard_for_republicans_to_replace_obamacare_110432.html
  2. [2]David Roberts, “Blue America reaches out to the world, ignoring Trump,” Vox, July 1, 2017, https://www.vox.com/energy-and-environment/2017/6/30/15892040/blue-america-trump
  3. [3]Tim Shipman, “Tories give Theresa May 10 days to ‘shape up’ or face vote of no confidence,” Times, June 18, 2017, https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/news/tories-tell-may-you-have-10-days-zkszx07r7
  4. [4]Louis Emanuel, Sean O’Neill, and David Brown, “Grenfell council under pressure as calls for takeover grow,” Times, July 1, 2017, https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/news/kensington-and-chelsea-council-in-disarray-over-grenfell-tower-fire-z6fbtnpm6
  5. [5]John Steele Gordon, “Walmart, Wages, and the Public Good,” Commentary, June 24, 2014, http://www.commentarymagazine.com/2014/06/24/walmart-wages-and-the-public-good/
  6. [6]International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, December 16, 1966, United Nations, General Assembly resolution 2200A (XXI), http://www2.ohchr.org/english/law/cescr.htm; Universal Declaration of Human Rights. United Nations, December 10, 1948, http://www.un.org/en/documents/udhr/
  7. [7]David Benfell, “Money is even more broken than I thought,” Not Housebroken, June 25, 2014, https://disunitedstates.org/?p=6449
  8. [8]Margaret Thatcher, quoted in Mark Blyth, Austerity: The History of a Dangerous Idea (Oxford, UK: Oxford University, 2013).

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