A rigidity to their stupidity

There is a new blog post entitled, “A rigidity to Uber’s stupidity.”


Minimum wage

The federal minimum wage is $7.25.

But the report showed that a worker would need to earn $24.90 per hour in order to afford a two-bedroom home at Fair Market Rent. And a $20.40 “housing wage” would be needed for a one-bedroom. Fair Market Rents are government estimates of what a person should expect to pay for a modest home in their area.[1]

Were we being real about minimum wage, it would be over $24 per hour,[2] which would bring rent within range. But instead, capitalists, resenting every last penny they have to pay workers, complain about an entirely bogus “labor shortage.”[3]

Anna Bahney, “Minimum wage workers can’t afford rent anywhere in America,” CNN, July 15, 2021, https://www.cnn.com/2021/07/15/homes/rent-affordability-minimum-wage/index.html


Pandemic

I think it’s safe to say that Britain’s reopening isn’t quite going according to plan:

One of Britain’s largest retailers warned of “major disruption” that could leave gaps on shelves, while parts of the London Underground closed yesterday because of the number of staff instructed to self-isolate.

[Boris] Johnson and several other senior cabinet ministers were warned that they could have to self-isolate after Sajid Javid, the health secretary, who has championed the economic arguments for opening up, disclosed that he had showed up positive on a lateral flow test. Javid, 51, who has been double-jabbed, said his symptoms were mild.[4]

The U.K. is said to be suffering a “pingdemic,” as a contact tracing app informs users they’ve been in contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19[5] (figure 1).

Fig. 1. Cartoon by Matt Pritchett, July 17, 2021, Telegraph, via his newsletter, fair use.


Greg Sargent thinks the Republican message on vaccines implicitly is: “If you want us to help you vaccinate our own populations, you’d better stop calling out our voter suppression efforts for what they are.[6]

People are refusing to take the Vaccine because they don’t trust [Joe Biden’s] Administration. They don’t trust the Election results, and they certainly don’t trust the Fake News.[7]

In short, Republicans are willing to let their own voters die for Donald Trump and to suppress the nonwhite vote.[8] Which is, of course, absurd: Your vote can’t count when you’re dead; you’re handing a voting advantage to those with immunity. But not much makes any sense at all anymore.

“Clearly, from what we’re seeing in the natural experiment of vaccinated versus unvaccinated Americans, those who are unvaccinated almost exclusively are the ones who are in hospitals with Covid,” said Jonathan Perlin, HCA’s chief medical officer. He noted data includes information reported by patients.[9]

Melanie Evans and Julie Wernau, “Unvaccinated Americans Are Behind Rising Covid-19 Hospitalizations,” Wall Street Journal, July 18, 2021, https://www.wsj.com/articles/unvaccinated-covid-19-hospitalizations-11626528110

Michael Laris and Lori Aratani, “Unruly airplane passengers are straining the system for keeping peace in the sky,” Washington Post, July 18, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/transportation/2021/07/18/airplane-fight-behavior-faa-arrests/

Caroline Wheeler and Louise Eccles, “Johnson swelters over ‘freedom day’ mayhem,” Times, July 18, 2021, https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/johnson-swelters-over-freedom-day-mayhem-35mrj0s6v

Amanda Coletta, “Canada to open border to fully vaccinated U.S. citizens on Aug. 9,” Washington Post, July 19, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2021/07/19/canada-us-border-open/

Christopher Hope, “Freedom Day farce as Boris Johnson urged to end ‘pingdemic,’” Telegraph, July 19, 2021, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2021/07/18/freedom-day-farce-boris-johnson-urged-endpingdemic/

Greg Sargent, “A vile new Trump-GOP claim about vaccines suggests trouble ahead,” Washington Post, July 19, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2021/07/19/vile-new-trump-gop-claim-about-vaccines-suggests-trouble-ahead/


Jerusalem

If indeed, as many social conservatives posit, the Bible is the literal word of God, then it would seem that God has some explaining to do. Perhaps he can just strike down those blaspheming archaeologists instead.

Amanda Borschel-Dan, “First Temple-era walls, razed in biblical account, found unbreached in Jerusalem,” Times of Israel, July 14, 2021, https://www.timesofisrael.com/first-temple-era-walls-razed-in-biblical-account-found-unbreached-in-jerusalem/


Donald Trump

Associated Press, “Pennsylvania election audit gets GOP campaign trail embrace,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, July 18, 2021, https://triblive.com/news/pennsylvania/pennsylvania-election-audit-gets-gop-campaign-trail-embrace/


White supremacy

Sarah Brown, “U. of South Carolina Wants to Rename Buildings. State Politics Will Stop It,” Chronicle of Higher Education, July 16, 2021, https://www.chronicle.com/article/u-of-south-carolina-wants-to-rename-buildings-state-politics-will-stop-it


Residential schools


CTV News, “Sask. Indigenous leader says Catholic Church releasing records for 13 residential schools,” July 18, 2021, https://saskatoon.ctvnews.ca/sask-indigenous-leader-says-catholic-church-releasing-records-for-13-residential-schools-1.5514044

Jeff Gammage, “Rosebud Sioux teens, now young adults, return to claim relatives’ remains from Carlisle Indian School Cemetery,” Philadelphia Inquirer, July 18, 2021, https://www.inquirer.com/news/rosebud-sioux-carlisle-indian-school-repatriation-boarding-school-army-cemetery-20210717.html


Higher education

Not what’s happening:

[George] Orwell wanted readers to see that writing clearly and truthfully is a moral act. This is why, for instance, it is so wrong to argue that the primary value of college writing instruction is give students “communication skills” for their future jobs. Teaching writing is teaching thinking, and thinking well is a moral virtue. “The great enemy of clear language is insincerity,” Orwell wrote; to be insincere is to be untrue.[10]

Important as the foregoing excerpt is, it misrepresents Lee Vinsel’s thrust. His critique aims not at the teaching of English but instead at universities’ self-promotion:[11]

Now, I realize that “Students Load Up on Debt While Wages for College Grads Stagnate” is not a winning headline for a glossy PR publication. But universities have a moral duty to bring their rhetoric back down to earth. Shouldn’t their publications educate and inform? Is it OK for university organs to spout bullshit? Indeed, the duty to inform is especially true of land-grant universities, which have an explicit mission to educate the public at large, as our agricultural-extension programs have done for over a century.[12]

Lee Vinsel, “Marketing and PR Are Corrupting Universities,” Chronicle of Higher Education, July 9, 2021, https://www.chronicle.com/article/marketing-and-pr-are-corrupting-universities


Used cars

Nora Naughton, “Selling Your Used Car? You Could Turn a Profit,” Wall Street Journal, July 18, 2021, https://www.wsj.com/articles/selling-your-used-car-you-could-turn-a-profit-11626606000


Surveys

Public opinion polls in the 2020 presidential election suffered from errors of “unusual magnitude,” the highest in 40 years for surveys estimating the national popular vote and in at least 20 years for state-level polls, according to a study conducted by the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR).[13]

They consider just about every possible explanation[14] except that they’re working with a six or seven percent response rate[15] when it should be ninety percent.

The fundamental problem that no amount of statistical magic can address is that, with such a low response rate, your sample is self-selecting, specifically, of people who choose to be polled; these respondents are different in utterly unknown and utterly unpredictable ways from non-respondents. So your sample cannot be representative of the over eighty percent who should respond but do not. This completely invalidates the methodology.

Dan Balz, “2020 presidential polls suffered worst performance in decades, report says,” Washington Post, July 18, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2020-poll-errors/2021/07/18/8d6a9838-e7df-11eb-ba5d-55d3b5ffcaf1_story.html


Technology

Julia Ioffe: So Teddy, you’re in San Francisco, where you write about the egos and influence of Silicon Valley, and I’m a Luddite who likes reading books on paper in Washington. Over the weekend, there were a couple tech stories that made me panic just a little. First, there were the dancing robots—including the terrifying police “dog,” the one the N.Y.P.D. had sent into the projects—doing the running man. Then there was the story about the experimental brain implant that can translate thoughts into words, which seems great for helping paralyzed people who can’t speak but also potentially terrifying if, say, the Chinese government used it to thought-police the Uyghurs. Am I needlessly freaking out or do our brightest technological minds often fail to consider how their inventions might be used for ill?

Teddy Schleifer: Fail to consider, or aren’t incentivized to consider? There is little market pressure to reckon with the social consequences of any innovation. Companies are rewarded for growth, which often forces them to deprioritize anything that hinders that until it is too late. That’s why the Bay Area posturing that I find most grating is all the high-minded talk of social conscience. “Impact investing.” “New capitalism.” “Connecting the world.”​​ But all of these businesses primarily care about one thing: maximizing shareholder value.[16]

This discussion is priceless. Read the whole thing. And yeah, I’m going to plug Julia Ioffe’s newsletter again. Subscribe, damn it.

Julia Ioffe, “Zuckerberg, Biden, and the End of an Obama-Era Romance,” Tomorrow Will be Worse, July 19, 2021, https://ckarchive.com/b/zlughnh2l3ze


  1. [1]Anna Bahney, “Minimum wage workers can’t afford rent anywhere in America,” CNN, July 15, 2021, https://www.cnn.com/2021/07/15/homes/rent-affordability-minimum-wage/index.html
  2. [2]Dean Baker, “This is What Minimum Wage Would Be If It Kept Pace with Productivity,” Center for Economic Policy and Research, January 21, 2020, https://cepr.net/this-is-what-minimum-wage-would-be-if-it-kept-pace-with-productivity/
  3. [3]Abha Bhattarai, “Retail workers are quitting at record rates for higher-paying work: ‘My life isn’t worth a dead-end job,’” Washington Post, June 21, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2021/06/21/retail-workers-quitting-jobs/; Eric Levitz, “5 Explanations for April’s Bad Jobs Report,” New York, May 7, 2021, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2021/05/jobs-report-explained-ui-childcare-seasonal-adjustment.html; Eric Levitz, “Letting the Economy Create Jobs for Everyone Is (Sadly) Radical,” New York, June 4, 2021, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2021/06/biden-full-employment-policy-labor-shortage-inflation.html; Heather Long, “It’s not a ‘labor shortage.’ It’s a great reassessment of work in America,” Washington Post, May 7, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2021/05/07/jobs-report-labor-shortage-analysis/; Greg Rosalsky, “Is There Really A Truck Driver Shortage?” National Public Radio, May 25, 2021, https://www.npr.org/sections/money/2021/05/25/999784202/is-there-really-a-truck-driver-shortage; Eli Rosenberg, “These businesses found a way around the worker shortage: Raising wages to $15 an hour or more,” Washington Post, June 10, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2021/06/10/worker-shortage-raising-wages/; Jon Schwarz, “The Business Class Has Been Fearmongering About Worker Shortages for Centuries,” Intercept, May 7, 2021, https://theintercept.com/2021/05/07/worker-shortage-slavery-capitalism/
  4. [4]Caroline Wheeler and Louise Eccles, “Johnson swelters over ‘freedom day’ mayhem,” Times, July 18, 2021, https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/johnson-swelters-over-freedom-day-mayhem-35mrj0s6v
  5. [5]Christopher Hope, “Freedom Day farce as Boris Johnson urged to end ‘pingdemic,’” Telegraph, July 19, 2021, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2021/07/18/freedom-day-farce-boris-johnson-urged-endpingdemic/; Caroline Wheeler and Louise Eccles, “Johnson swelters over ‘freedom day’ mayhem,” Times, July 18, 2021, https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/johnson-swelters-over-freedom-day-mayhem-35mrj0s6v
  6. [6]Greg Sargent, “A vile new Trump-GOP claim about vaccines suggests trouble ahead,” Washington Post, July 19, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2021/07/19/vile-new-trump-gop-claim-about-vaccines-suggests-trouble-ahead/
  7. [7]Donald Trump, quoted in Greg Sargent, “A vile new Trump-GOP claim about vaccines suggests trouble ahead,” Washington Post, July 19, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2021/07/19/vile-new-trump-gop-claim-about-vaccines-suggests-trouble-ahead/
  8. [8]Greg Sargent, “A vile new Trump-GOP claim about vaccines suggests trouble ahead,” Washington Post, July 19, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2021/07/19/vile-new-trump-gop-claim-about-vaccines-suggests-trouble-ahead/
  9. [9]Melanie Evans and Julie Wernau, “Unvaccinated Americans Are Behind Rising Covid-19 Hospitalizations,” Wall Street Journal, July 18, 2021, https://www.wsj.com/articles/unvaccinated-covid-19-hospitalizations-11626528110
  10. [10]Lee Vinsel, “Marketing and PR Are Corrupting Universities,” Chronicle of Higher Education, July 9, 2021, https://www.chronicle.com/article/marketing-and-pr-are-corrupting-universities
  11. [11]Lee Vinsel, “Marketing and PR Are Corrupting Universities,” Chronicle of Higher Education, July 9, 2021, https://www.chronicle.com/article/marketing-and-pr-are-corrupting-universities
  12. [12]Lee Vinsel, “Marketing and PR Are Corrupting Universities,” Chronicle of Higher Education, July 9, 2021, https://www.chronicle.com/article/marketing-and-pr-are-corrupting-universities
  13. [13]Dan Balz, “2020 presidential polls suffered worst performance in decades, report says,” Washington Post, July 18, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2020-poll-errors/2021/07/18/8d6a9838-e7df-11eb-ba5d-55d3b5ffcaf1_story.html
  14. [14]Dan Balz, “2020 presidential polls suffered worst performance in decades, report says,” Washington Post, July 18, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2020-poll-errors/2021/07/18/8d6a9838-e7df-11eb-ba5d-55d3b5ffcaf1_story.html
  15. [15]Courtney Kennedy and Hannah Hartig, “Response rates in telephone surveys have resumed their decline,” Pew Research Center, February 27, 2019, https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2019/02/27/response-rates-in-telephone-surveys-have-resumed-their-decline/
  16. [16]Julia Ioffe, “Zuckerberg, Biden, and the End of an Obama-Era Romance,” Tomorrow Will be Worse, July 19, 2021, https://ckarchive.com/b/zlughnh2l3ze

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