The neoliberalism zombie will keep us poor

Economic ideology

In a previous article, Eric Levitz castigates policymakers for keeping so many people (including me[1]) underemployed or unemployed and effectively calls out claims of a “labor shortage” as fraudulent.[2] It has to be said, there’s little of that here, as Levitz turns to a larger failing of neoliberalism to address inequality, environmental calamity, or even its own failure to fulfill even its own policy making rationale.[3] Neoliberalism has, of course, been intellectually utterly discredited for quite some time now,[4] but anyone thinking this would alter policy making need only look to how the reconciliation package fares against the likes of Joe Manchin and Kyrstin Sinema.[5]

Paradoxically, Levitz highlights a popular complacency about what he calls the “fortification” of social inequality[6] even as workers hold out for better wages and conditions—they certainly aren’t complacent about inequality—and employers continue to whine about their entirely bogus “labor shortage.”[7] Perhaps the conclusion that would result from such a desperately needed synthesis, further illustrating the malice of our elite,[8] would be a step too far for publication.

Eric Levitz, “Neoliberalism Died of COVID. Long Live Neoliberalism!” Review of Shutdown, by Adam Tooze, New York, October 14, 2021, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2021/10/neoliberalism-died-of-covid-long-live-neoliberalism.html


Employment

Derek Thompson, “The Great Resignation Is Accelerating,” Atlantic, October 15, 2021, https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2021/10/great-resignation-accelerating/620382/


Donald Trump

Coup attempt

When the only hope for the survival of a country’s political system rests with the death of a politician, it’s time to wonder how very far away that country is from the status of a “failed nation,” “banana republic,” or a “Third World country.” I am, of course, referring to the U.S. and Donald Trump, with the former so far abjectly failing to effectively deal with the threat from the latter.

Josh Dawsey and Michael Scherer, “Trump asserts his dominance inside GOP, pushing Republicans to embrace his false claims of fraud,” Washington Post, October 14, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-gop-fraud-claims/2021/10/14/f37887fe-2cfc-11ec-985d-3150f7e106b2_story.html

Greg Sargent, “Trump’s latest eruption at Republicans captures a core insight about GOP voters,” Washington Post, October 14, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2021/10/14/trump-virginia-youngkin-gop-leaders/


  1. [1]David Benfell, “About my job hunt,” Not Housebroken, n.d., https://disunitedstates.org/about-my-job-hunt/; David Benfell, “About that alleged ‘labor shortage,’” Not Housebroken, June 10, 2021, https://disunitedstates.org/2021/05/09/about-that-alleged-labor-shortage/
  2. [2]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
  3. [3]Eric Levitz, “Neoliberalism Died of COVID. Long Live Neoliberalism!” Review of Shutdown, by Adam Tooze, New York, October 14, 2021, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2021/10/neoliberalism-died-of-covid-long-live-neoliberalism.html
  4. [4]Mark Blyth, Austerity: The History of a Dangerous Idea (Oxford, UK: Oxford University, 2013); David Fickling, “The Gig Economy Compromised Our Immune System,” Yahoo!, July 25, 2020, https://finance.yahoo.com/news/gig-economy-compromised-immune-system-000048670.html; Amir Fleischmann, “The Myth of the Fiscal Conservative,” Jacobin, March 5, 2017, https://jacobinmag.com/2017/03/fiscal-conservative-social-services-austerity-save-money; Jason Hickel, “Progress and its discontents,” New Internationalist, August 7, 2019, https://newint.org/features/2019/07/01/long-read-progress-and-its-discontents; Daniel Stedman Jones, Masters of the Universe: Hayek, Friedman, and the Birth of Neoliberal Politics (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University, 2012); Stephanie Kelton, The Deficit Myth (New York: Public Affairs, 2021); Robert Kuttner, “Austerity never works: Deficit hawks are amoral — and wrong,” Salon, May 5, 2013, http://www.salon.com/2013/05/05/austerity_never_works_deficit_hawks_are_amoral_and_wrong/; Eric Levitz, “Neoliberalism Died of COVID. Long Live Neoliberalism!” Review of Shutdown, by Adam Tooze, New York, October 14, 2021, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2021/10/neoliberalism-died-of-covid-long-live-neoliberalism.html; Dennis Loo, Globalization and the Demolition of Society (Glendale, CA: Larkmead, 2011); Thomas Piketty, Jeffrey Sachs, Heiner Flassbeck, Dani Rodrik and Simon Wren-Lewis, “Austerity Has Failed: An Open Letter From Thomas Piketty to Angela Merkel,” Nation, July 6, 2015, http://www.thenation.com/article/austerity-has-failed-an-open-letter-from-thomas-piketty-to-angela-merkel/; John Quiggin, “Austerity Has Been Tested, and It Failed,” Chronicle of Higher Education, May 20, 2013, http://chronicle.com/article/Austerity-Has-Been-Tested-and/139255/; David Stuckler and Sanjay Basu, “How Austerity Kills,” New York Times, May 12, 2013, http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/13/opinion/how-austerity-kills.html; David Stuckler and Sanjay Basu, “Paul Krugman’s right: Austerity kills,” Salon, May 19, 2013, http://www.salon.com/2013/05/19/paul_krugmans_right_austerity_kills/
  5. [5]Jonathan Chait, “Joe Manchin Has Put Biden’s Presidency in Mortal Danger,” New York, September 2, 2021, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2021/09/joe-manchin-pause-biden-presidency-failed-danger-congress-democrats.html; Jonathan Chait, “Kyrsten Sinema Threatens to Kill Her Own Infrastructure Bill,” New York, September 20, 2021, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2021/09/kyrsten-sinema-threatens-infrastructure-bill-biden-build-back-better.html; Mike DeBonis, “Joe Manchin gets all the attention. But Kyrsten Sinema could be an even bigger obstacle for Democrats’ spending plans,” Washington Post, September 15, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/sinema-reconciliation-manchin/2021/09/15/8c583f96-162d-11ec-9589-31ac3173c2e5_story.html; Democracy Now! “‘We Need to Deliver’: Anger Grows at Sens. Manchin, Sinema over Obstruction of Democratic Priorities,” September 21, 2021, https://www.democracynow.org/2021/9/21/35_trillion_spending_bill_ro_khanna; Maureen Dowd, “Sinema Stars in Her Own Film,” New York Times, October 2, 2021, https://www.nytimes.com/2021/10/02/opinion/kyrsten-sinema-congress.html; Olivier Knox, “It’s Bernie vs Manchin as spending breakthrough remains elusive,” Washington Post, October 7, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2021/10/07/its-bernie-vs-manchin-spending-breakthrough-remains-elusive/; Marianne Levine and Burgess Everett, “Democrats grit their teeth after Manchin lists demands,” Politico, September 30, 2021, https://www.politico.com/news/2021/09/30/democrats-grit-teeth-manchin-demands-514836; Hans Nichols, “Manchin backs as little as $1 trillion of Biden’s $3.5 trillion plan,” Axios, September 8, 2021, https://www.axios.com/scoop-manchin-backs-as-little-as-1-trillion-of-bidens-35-trillion-plan-91d079e0-84a7-4f8f-94d4-212827a61339.html; Greg Sargent, “Biden’s frustration with Manchin and Sinema captures a dark truth,” Washington Post, October 5, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2021/10/05/biden-manchin-sinema-frustration-reconciliation/; Greg Sargent, “Bernie Sanders erupts at Joe Manchin, and a deeper dispute is revealed,” Washington Post, October 7, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2021/10/07/sanders-manchin-reconciliation-democrats/; David Siders, “‘Her calculation is off’: Sinema dares the left to take her out,” Politico, October 5, 2021, https://www.politico.com/news/2021/10/05/sinema-arizona-democrats-congress-515108; Marianna Sotomayor, “Waiting for ‘Manchema’: House liberals grow exasperated with two Democratic senators as Biden agenda struggles,” Washington Post, September 30, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/manchin-sinema-reconciliation-liberals/2021/09/30/3aa2b376-2130-11ec-8200-5e3fd4c49f5e_story.html
  6. [6]Eric Levitz, “Neoliberalism Died of COVID. Long Live Neoliberalism!” Review of Shutdown, by Adam Tooze, New York, October 14, 2021, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2021/10/neoliberalism-died-of-covid-long-live-neoliberalism.html
  7. [7]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/; Sarah Chaney Cambon and Danny Dougherty, “States That Cut Unemployment Benefits Saw Limited Impact on Job Growth,” Wall Street Journal, September 1, 2021, https://www.wsj.com/articles/states-that-cut-unemployment-benefits-saw-limited-impact-on-job-growth-11630488601; Fiona Greig et al., “When unemployment insurance benefits are rolled back: Impacts on job finding and the recipients of the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Program,” J.P. Morgan Chase and Company Institute, July 2021, https://www.jpmorganchase.com/content/dam/jpmc/jpmorgan-chase-and-co/institute/pdf/when-unemployment-insurance-benefits-are-rolled-back-research-brief.pdf; Jenn Ladd, “‘This is a real job’: Philly’s restaurant workers dissect the labor shortage, and contemplate a different future,” Philadelphia Inquirer, July 10, 2021, https://www.inquirer.com/news/labor-shortage-pandemic-workers-restaurants-philadelphia-hiring-20210710.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/; Heather Long, “‘The pay is absolute crap’: Child-care workers are quitting rapidly, a red flag for the economy,” Washington Post, September 19, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2021/09/19/childcare-workers-quit/; Heather Long, Alyssa Fowers, and Andrew Van Dam, “Why America has 8.4 million unemployed when there are 10 million job openings,” Washington Post, September 4, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2021/09/04/ten-million-job-openings-labor-shortage/; Heather Long and Andrew Van Dam, “States that cut unemployment early aren’t seeing a hiring boom, but who gets hired is changing,” Washington Post, July 27, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2021/07/27/unemployment-insurance-go-away/; Bryan Mena, “Unfilled Job Openings Outnumber Unemployed Americans Seeking Work,” Wall Street Journal, August 9, 2021, https://www.wsj.com/articles/unfilled-job-openings-outnumber-unemployed-americans-seeking-work-11628531130; Anna North, “The death of the job,” Vox, August 24, 2021, https://www.vox.com/22621892/jobs-work-pandemic-covid-great-resignation-2021; Matt Petras, “In the continuing pandemic, businesses need workers, but are jobs meeting the needs of residents?” Public Source, August 12, 2021, https://www.publicsource.org/pittsburgh-workforce-covid-unemployment-hiring-worker-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/; Eli Rosenberg, Abha Bhattarai, and Andrew Van Dam, “A record number of workers are quitting their jobs, empowered by new leverage,” Washington Post, October 12, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2021/10/12/jolts-workers-quitting-august-pandemic/; 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/; Alina Selyukh, “Low Pay, No Benefits, Rude Customers: Restaurant Workers Quit At Record Rate,” National Public Radio, July 20, 2021, https://www.npr.org/2021/07/20/1016081936/low-pay-no-benefits-rude-customers-restaurant-workers-quit-at-record-rate; Derek Thompson, “The Great Resignation Is Accelerating,” Atlantic, October 15, 2021, https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2021/10/great-resignation-accelerating/620382/
  8. [8]David Benfell, “Imagine a malicious elite,” Not Housebroken, December 30, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/12/18/imagine-a-malicious-elite/

Return to the coat hanger in Texas

There is a new blog post entitled, “War is over.”


Abortion

Courts

Ann E. Marimow, “Texas abortion ban remains in effect after appeals court rules against Justice Dept.,” Washington Post, October 14, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/courts_law/texas-abortion-appeal/2021/10/14/de27beda-2c82-11ec-985d-3150f7e106b2_story.html


Donald Trump

Coup attempt

Greg Sargent, “Trump’s latest eruption at Republicans captures a core insight about GOP voters,” Washington Post, October 14, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2021/10/14/trump-virginia-youngkin-gop-leaders/


Higher Education

Pennsylvania

Deb Erdley, “Pennsylvania Western University name adopted for merged state campuses,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, October 14, 2021, https://triblive.com/news/pennsylvania/pennsylvania-western-university-name-adopted-for-merged-state-campuses/


Pandemic

Pennsylvania region

Kate Merriman, “Pennsylvania hits 70% COVID-19 vaccination rate for adults,” WGAL, October 14, 2021, https://www.wgal.com/article/pennsylvania-hits-70-percent-vaccination-rate-for-adults/37963366


The Confederacy in Pittsburgh area schools

White supremacy

Until Donald Trump’s coup attempt, Confederate flags were flying in people’s front lawns throughout the Pittsburgh metropolitan area. Now, “[t]hese images [of Confederate-themed clothing at school] are offensive to many within the Norwin community.”[1] But “[o]ne of the images of the students that was shared on social media contained text that said ‘Triggered teacher Count #1,’”[2] which is to say that defiance is the point. The kids are doing just like their parents and singling out these kids will accomplish nothing at all.

Gillian Brockell, “Counties with more Confederate monuments also had more lynchings, study finds,” Washington Post, October 13, 2021, Counties with more Confederate monuments also had more lynchings, study finds

Joe Napsha, “Norwin superintendent reaches out to parents following Confederate clothing incident,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, October 13, 2021, https://triblive.com/local/westmoreland/norwin-superintendent-reaches-out-to-parents-following-confederate-clothing-incident/


Donald Trump

Finances

William D. Cohan, “The Case for Not Prosecuting Donald J. Trump,” Puck News, October 13, 2021, https://puck.news/the-case-for-not-prosecuting-donald-j-trump/

Coup attempt

Stephen Collinson wrote an analysis of the “Stop the Steal” campaign back in March.[3] It seems to be aging well.[4]

Jeremy Schwartz, “Trump Won the County in a Landslide. His Supporters Still Hounded the Elections Administrator Until She Resigned,” ProPublica, October 12, 2021, https://www.propublica.org/article/trump-won-the-county-in-a-landslide-his-supporters-still-hounded-the-elections-administrator-until-she-resigned


Pandemic

Economy

Tami Luhby, “Unemployment benefits ended, but hiring did not surge in September,” CNN, October 10, 2021, https://www.cnn.com/2021/10/10/politics/unemployment-benefits-jobs-september/index.html

(Inter)national

Tom Hals, “Texas vaccine mandate ban may be trumped by federal law but could cause uncertainty,” Reuters, October 13, 2021, https://www.reuters.com/business/healthcare-pharmaceuticals/texas-vaccine-mandate-ban-likely-be-trumped-by-federal-law-could-cause-2021-10-13/


California wildfires

There is a new blog post, entitled “The tragic argument over California forest management.”

Ryan Sabalow and Dale Kasler, “‘Self-serving garbage.’ Wildfire experts escalate fight over saving California forests,” Sacramento Bee, October 14, 2021, https://www.sacbee.com/news/california/fires/article254957722.html


Abortion

Roman Catholic Church

In yet another snub to U.S. bishops, Pope Francis will meet with Joe Biden.[5] U.S. bishops have sought to deny Biden communion;[6] the Vatican has pushed back on the bishops, suggesting they should be pastors rather than politicians;[7] and the Pope has previously met with Nancy Pelosi, another pro-choice politician.[8]

Amy B. Wang and Chico Harlan, “Biden to meet with Pope Francis to discuss coronavirus, climate change, caring for poor,” Washington Post, October 14, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2021/10/14/biden-pope-meeting/


  1. [1]Jeff Taylor, quoted in Joe Napsha, “Norwin superintendent reaches out to parents following Confederate clothing incident,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, October 13, 2021, https://triblive.com/local/westmoreland/norwin-superintendent-reaches-out-to-parents-following-confederate-clothing-incident/
  2. [2]Joe Napsha, “Norwin superintendent reaches out to parents following Confederate clothing incident,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, October 13, 2021, https://triblive.com/local/westmoreland/norwin-superintendent-reaches-out-to-parents-following-confederate-clothing-incident/
  3. [3]Stephen Collinson, “Trump’s army takes aim at 2022 touting his election lies,” CNN, March 23, 2021, https://www.cnn.com/2021/03/23/politics/trump-mo-brooks-election-lie/index.html
  4. [4]Jeremy Schwartz, “Trump Won the County in a Landslide. His Supporters Still Hounded the Elections Administrator Until She Resigned,” ProPublica, October 12, 2021, https://www.propublica.org/article/trump-won-the-county-in-a-landslide-his-supporters-still-hounded-the-elections-administrator-until-she-resigned
  5. [5]Amy B. Wang and Chico Harlan, “Biden to meet with Pope Francis to discuss coronavirus, climate change, caring for poor,” Washington Post, October 14, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2021/10/14/biden-pope-meeting/
  6. [6]Michelle Boorstein, “Catholic bishops vote on controversial Communion document,” Washington Post, June 18, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/religion/2021/06/18/biden-catholic-president-bishops-abortion-communion/; Matt Viser, “Biden, deeply Catholic president, finds himself at odds with many U.S. bishops,” Washington Post, June 18, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/biden-catholic-bishops/2021/06/18/acf576c0-d04a-11eb-a7f1-52b8870bef7c_story.html
  7. [7]Donna Cassata, “Top Vatican cardinal says Biden should not be denied Communion,” Washington Post, October 4, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/biden-catholic-communion-abortion-rights/2021/10/04/4c4a7138-2525-11ec-8831-a31e7b3de188_story.html; Elisabetta Povoledo, Richard Pérez-Peña, and Ruth Graham, “Pope Weighs In on Calls to Deny Communion to Biden Over Abortion,” New York Times, September 15, 2021, https://www.nytimes.com/2021/09/15/world/europe/pope-francis-biden-abortion.html
  8. [8]Philip Pullella, “Pope meets Pelosi as abortion debate rages back home,” Reuters, October 9, 2021, https://www.reuters.com/world/us/pope-meets-pelosi-abortion-debate-rages-back-home-2021-10-09/

Cry me a bay, it’s the Turnpike toll road blues

This’ll be out a bit early today, as if I actually had a schedule. The final furniture move, for stuff that doesn’t fit in the new apartment, is happening today, moving a dresser and a dining room table into storage. The storage is now a little less than an hour away; I expect this time will decrease when, this Friday, a new section of the Pennsylvania Turnpike opens, but I don’t really know how much (I’m guessing about 10-15 minutes, 20 at the outside).

Folks around here are inconsolable about Turnpike tolls (in Pennsylvania, Turnpike means toll road, often with a 70 mile per hour speed limit). They act as if the Turnpike is taking every last penny they have, which is also about how they respond to taxes. I hardly ever heard about either in California and, frankly, I paid more in bridge tolls out there. It’s really by far the least of my operating costs and I’m really rather disgusted when I hear people complaining about them here because, really, they aren’t much,[1] certainly nothing compared to the smidge over $8-9 to cross the Golden Gate Bridge[2] these days.

I shouldn’t be disgusted. The fact that folks have such an aversion to tolls means the Turnpike is generally wide open with hardly any traffic. You really can go fast on these roads. Which is definitely not the case with San Francisco Bay Area bridges, each and every one of which is a bottleneck for traffic.

The new section of the Turnpike will improve connectivity to the Pittsburgh airport, but mainly for folks along the I-79 corridor from Canonsburg south. That’ll sweep up some travelers from West Virginia and maybe even Maryland who also use the airport. I wouldn’t use it that way myself from where I live, but it will bypass a leg up I-79 to I-376 (the “Parkway”) and onto a section of U.S. 22 to get to my storage in West Virginia.


Capitalist Libertarians

Ian MacDougall and Isabelle Simpson, “A libertarian ‘startup city’ in Honduras faces its biggest hurdle: the locals,” Rest of World, October 5, 2021, https://restofworld.org/2021/honduran-islanders-push-back-libertarian-startup/


Pandemic

(Inter)national

Tom Frieden’s op-ed in the Washington Post reminds us that we’re still[3] having problems getting vaccines to the world.[4] I don’t see why an exposed unvaccinated person overseas would be any less a ‘variant factory’ than one here.[5]

Katie Camero, “UCLA doctor ‘willing to lose everything’ escorted from work for refusing COVID vaccine,” Sacramento Bee, October 7, 2021, https://www.sacbee.com/news/coronavirus/article254829122.html

Ben Sales, “A Proud Boys-sympathizing rabbi in Florida has provided 200 vaccine exemption requests,” Jewish Telegraphic Agency, October 8, 2021, https://www.jta.org/2021/10/08/health/a-proud-boys-affiliated-rabbi-in-florida-is-offering-to-endorse-covid-19-vaccine-exemption-requests

Alex Horton, “Hundreds of thousands of U.S. troops have not yet complied with vaccine mandate as deadlines near,” Washington Post, October 10, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/2021/10/10/military-vaccine-mandate/

Lizette Alvarez, “Florida teachers are quitting their jobs in droves — and who can blame them?” Washington Post, October 11, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2021/10/11/florida-teachers-covid-quitting-desantis/

Tom Frieden, “Pfizer and Moderna’s mRNA vaccines are our best chance to end this pandemic. Break up their duopoly,” Washington Post, October 12, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2021/10/12/its-time-break-up-pfizer-modernas-duopoly-their-vaccine-technology/

Dan Whitcomb, “Texas governor bars all COVID-19 vaccine mandates in state, rips Biden for ‘bullying,’” Reuters, October 12, 2021, https://www.reuters.com/world/us/texas-governor-bars-all-vaccine-mandates-state-2021-10-11/


Employment

Employers are still whining about not being able to find workers.[6] They’re also still ignoring my applications.[7]

Eli Rosenberg, Abha Bhattarai, and Andrew Van Dam, “A record number of workers are quitting their jobs, empowered by new leverage,” Washington Post, October 12, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2021/10/12/jolts-workers-quitting-august-pandemic/


  1. [1]Pennsylvania Turnpike Customer Service Center, “Toll Calculator,” 2021, https://www.paturnpike.com/toll/tollmileage.aspx
  2. [2]Golden Gate Bridge Highway and Transportation District, “GGB Toll Rates Increase July 1, 2021,” June 10, 2021, https://www.goldengate.org/ggb-toll-rates-increase-july-1-2021/
  3. [3]Tom Frieden, “Pfizer and Moderna’s mRNA vaccines are our best chance to end this pandemic. Break up their duopoly,” Washington Post, October 12, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2021/10/12/its-time-break-up-pfizer-modernas-duopoly-their-vaccine-technology/
  4. [4]Helen Branswell, “WHO director-general slams notion of Covid-19 vaccine booster doses given global health needs,” Stat, July 12, 2021, https://www.statnews.com/2021/07/12/who-director-general-slams-notion-of-covid-19-vaccine-booster-doses-given-global-health-needs/; Maria Cheng, “WHO: Rich countries should donate vaccines, not use boosters,” Associated Press, July 13, 2021, https://apnews.com/article/europe-business-health-government-and-politics-coronavirus-pandemic-02b1157d4f0def0460c9c4548f1c7679; Hindu, “U.S. defends restrictions on export of COVID-19 vaccine raw materials amid India’s request to lift ban,” April 23, 2021, https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/us-defends-restrictions-on-export-of-covid-19-vaccine-raw-materials-amid-indias-request-to-lift-ban/article34391251.ece; Christopher Rowland, Emily Rauhala, and Miriam Berger, “Drug companies defend vaccine monopolies in face of global outcry,” Washington Post, March 20, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2021/03/20/covid-vaccine-global-shortages/
  5. [5]Maggie Fox, “Unvaccinated people are ‘variant factories,’ infectious diseases expert says,” CNN, July 3, 2021, https://www.cnn.com/2021/07/03/health/unvaccinated-variant-factories/index.html; Tom Frieden, “Pfizer and Moderna’s mRNA vaccines are our best chance to end this pandemic. Break up their duopoly,” Washington Post, October 12, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2021/10/12/its-time-break-up-pfizer-modernas-duopoly-their-vaccine-technology/
  6. [6]Eli Rosenberg, Abha Bhattarai, and Andrew Van Dam, “A record number of workers are quitting their jobs, empowered by new leverage,” Washington Post, October 12, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2021/10/12/jolts-workers-quitting-august-pandemic/
  7. [7]David Benfell, “About my job hunt,” Not Housebroken, n.d., https://disunitedstates.org/about-my-job-hunt/; David Benfell, “About that alleged ‘labor shortage,’” Not Housebroken, June 10, 2021, https://disunitedstates.org/2021/05/09/about-that-alleged-labor-shortage/

The ideologies that doom us

Economics

There is a new blog post entitled, “Economics, empire, and the environment.”

George Monbiot, “Fire Front,” October 11, 2021, https://www.monbiot.com/2021/10/11/fire-front/

Paul Krugman, “Doing Economics as if Evidence Matters,” New York Times, October 11, 2021, https://www.nytimes.com/2021/10/11/opinion/nobel-prize-economics.html


Pandemic

(Inter)national

Jamie Gumbrecht, “Pfizer seeks FDA authorization of Covid-19 vaccine for children ages 5 to 11,” CNN, October 7, 2021, https://www.cnn.com/2021/10/07/health/hfr-pfizer-covid-vaccine-fda-eua/index.html

Katie Camero, “UCLA doctor ‘willing to lose everything’ escorted from work for refusing COVID vaccine,” Sacramento Bee, October 7, 2021, https://www.sacbee.com/news/coronavirus/article254829122.html

Ben Sales, “A Proud Boys-sympathizing rabbi in Florida has provided 200 vaccine exemption requests,” Jewish Telegraphic Agency, October 8, 2021, https://www.jta.org/2021/10/08/health/a-proud-boys-affiliated-rabbi-in-florida-is-offering-to-endorse-covid-19-vaccine-exemption-requests

Alex Horton, “Hundreds of thousands of U.S. troops have not yet complied with vaccine mandate as deadlines near,” Washington Post, October 10, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/2021/10/10/military-vaccine-mandate/

Lizette Alvarez, “Florida teachers are quitting their jobs in droves — and who can blame them?” Washington Post, October 11, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2021/10/11/florida-teachers-covid-quitting-desantis/

Dan Whitcomb, “Texas governor bars all COVID-19 vaccine mandates in state, rips Biden for ‘bullying,’” Reuters, October 12, 2021, https://www.reuters.com/world/us/texas-governor-bars-all-vaccine-mandates-state-2021-10-11/


Infrastructure

It won’t be me defending the messaging around the $3.5 trillion reconciliation package from charges such as Philip Bump’s.[1] But I would also suggest that Joe Biden’s profoundly misguided faith that he could work across the aisle with Republicans[2] was plainly hubris such as that which leads to conundrums such as this. It’s too bad because this is the sort of conundrum that argues against the ambition that could do a lot of people a lot of good.

Philip Bump, “One person who deserves blame for Biden’s stalled agenda is Joe Biden,” Washington Post, October 11, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2021/10/11/one-person-who-deserves-blame-bidens-stalled-agenda-is-joe-biden/


  1. [1]Philip Bump, “One person who deserves blame for Biden’s stalled agenda is Joe Biden,” Washington Post, October 11, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2021/10/11/one-person-who-deserves-blame-bidens-stalled-agenda-is-joe-biden/
  2. [2]Perry Bacon, Jr., “Does Biden Really Think Republicans Will Work With Him? And Could He Be Right?” FiveThirtyEight, January 19, 2021, https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/does-biden-really-think-republicans-will-work-with-him-and-could-he-be-right/; ric Bradner and Gregory Krieg, “Joe Biden predicts a post-Trump ‘epiphany’ for Republicans,” CNN, May 14, 2019, https://www.cnn.com/2019/05/14/politics/joe-biden-republicans-trump-epiphany/index.html; Moira Donegan, “What does Biden have in common with Trump? Delusional nostalgia,” Guardian, June 21, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/jun/21/joe-biden-trump-sexism-delusional-nostalgia; Matt Ford, “Someone Please Tell Joe Biden That Bipartisanship Is Dead,” New Republic, June 12, 2019, https://newrepublic.com/article/154183/someone-please-tell-joe-biden-bipartisanship-dead; Matt Viser, “Biden once asserted Republicans would have an ‘epiphany.’ Now he admits he doesn’t understand them,” Washington Post, May 6, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/biden-once-asserted-republicans-would-have-an-epiphany-now-he-admits-he-doesnt-understand-them/2021/05/06/a8204a84-ae77-11eb-acd3-24b44a57093a_story.html; Paul Waldman, “Joe Biden still hasn’t learned the lessons of the Obama presidency,” Washington Post, December 6, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2019/12/06/joe-biden-still-hasnt-learned-lessons-obama-presidency/; Martin Pengelly, “‘Short and not especially sweet’: Lindsey Graham called Biden over Trump support,” Guardian, August 16, 2021, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/aug/16/lindsey-graham-joe-biden-hunter-call-trump-support; William Rivers Pitt, “Mitch McConnell Says Bipartisanship Is ‘Over.’ Believe Him,” Truthout, July 7, 2021, https://truthout.org/articles/mitch-mcconnell-says-bipartisanship-is-over-believe-him/

U.S. bishops should feel shame. I’m guessing that, some how, some way, they won’t.

LinkedIn has done it again, this time without even a profanity in the headline, censoring one of my posts. I don’t even want to hear their excuses. I don’t care about their explanations. I want them to close the account and have told them so. I am now treating all emails from LinkedIn as spam.


Abortion

Roman Catholic Church

So, do you suppose that Pope Francis meant it when he admonished bishops to be pastors rather than politicians[1] and a Vatican cardinal echoed his remarks more pointedly[2] about an effort to stop Joe Biden from receiving communion because of his stance on abortion rights?[3] Put it this way: If you don’t like Joe Biden on abortion, you sure as hell ain’t gonna like Nancy Pelosi on abortion. But guess who the Pope met?[4]

My suggestion to those bishops would be that if they don’t like it, they should consider following the example of Martin Luther. Oh, but that would undermine their own authority. Oops.

Philip Pullella, “Pope meets Pelosi as abortion debate rages back home,” Reuters, October 9, 2021, https://www.reuters.com/world/us/pope-meets-pelosi-abortion-debate-rages-back-home-2021-10-09/

Courts

Ann E. Marimow, “Appeals court reinstates Texas’s six-week abortion ban, two days after it was lifted,” Washington Post, October 8, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/courts_law/texas-appeals-abortion-ruling/2021/10/08/56b9fe9e-2774-11ec-8831-a31e7b3de188_story.html


Pandemic

Pennsylvania and environs

Jason Laughlin, “Vaccines continue to protect against COVID-19, but latest Pa. data show signs of waning effectiveness,” Philadelphia Inquirer, October 8, 2021, https://www.inquirer.com/health/coronavirus/vaccine-breakthrough-covid-pennsylvania-hospitalization-infection-20211008.html

(Inter)national

Alex Horton, “Hundreds of thousands of U.S. troops have not yet complied with vaccine mandate as deadlines near,” Washington Post, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/2021/10/10/military-vaccine-mandate/


Donald Trump

Coup attempt

David Smith, “The silence of Donald Trump: how Twitter’s ban is cramping his style,” Guardian, October 9, 2021, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/oct/09/the-silence-of-donald-trump-how-twitters-ban-is-cramping-his-style


Environment

Pennsylvania region

Joe Napsha, “Report: Drilling spills ruined wells and polluted streams in Westmoreland, across Pennsylvania,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, October 9, 2021, https://triblive.com/local/westmoreland/report-drilling-spills-ruined-wells-and-polluted-streams-in-westmoreland-across-pennsylvania/


Christopher Columbus

It’s been a while since I’d checked in on the controversy over the Christopher Columbus statue in Pittsburgh’s Schenley Park, of which I have previously written,

I guess it’s really weird to me that Italian-Amerikkkans can apparently find no other symbol to take pride in other than Christopher Columbus, who was a bit more than, as Bill Peduto phrases a perspective I share, “a progenitor of slavery and racism.”[5] Columbus was one who initiated genocide.[6] It’s disturbing even that people find this something to be proud of.[7]

As near as I can tell, a court battle over the potential removal rages on[8] and now—here’s what inspired me to check up on the Schenley Park statue—I learn of a similar controversy, featuring at least one of the same actors, in Philadelphia.[9]

If anything, my earlier comment[10] is entirely too mild.

Jason Laughlin and Allison Steele, “After a day of wrangling, South Philly Columbus statue to stay covered — for now, court rules,” Philadelphia Inquirer, October 9, 2021, https://www.inquirer.com/news/columbus-statue-marconi-plaza-judge-remove-box-20211009.html

Laura McCrystal and Sean Collins Walsh, “A judge ordered Philadelphia to remove the plywood box covering the Christopher Columbus statue in Marconi Plaza,” Philadelphia Inquirer, October 9, 2021, https://www.inquirer.com/news/columbus-statue-south-philly-marconi-plaza-20211008.html


Race

Annabelle Tometich, “What pretending to be a White guy taught me about privilege,” Washington Post, October 8, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2021/10/08/white-male-privilege-pretending-restaurant-critic-filipina-writer/


Afghanistan

It’s worth remembering, with regard to accusations of Pakistani double-dealing repeated in this article,[11] that Pervez Musharaff, Pakistan’s president at the time of the 9/11 attacks, accused the U.S. of “threaten[ing] to bomb Pakistan ‘back to the stone age’ unless it joined the fight against al-Qaeda.” Apparently the U.S. government refused to comment on the allegation.[12]

This alleged conduct is simply asinine, so had the George W. Bush administration confirmed Musharaff’s allegation, they would have been admitting they were asses. Denying it, on the other hand, might have led Musharaff to supply proof—you know everybody has transcripts and recordings of all these conversations—which would have exposed them as asses and liars. Suffice it to say, the Bush administration’s non-denial strikes me very strongly as very near confirmation.

Which certainly makes it seem like the Pakistani “alliance” was agreed to under duress. And that successive U.S. administrations, now including Joe Biden’s administration,[13] have expected the Pakistani government to grovel and to meekly comply. Do I really need to point out how foolish this is?

Shah Meer Baloch and Julian Borger, “Biden administration delivers brusque message to Pakistan,” Guardian, October 10, 2021, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/oct/10/biden-administration-delivers-brusque-message-to-pakistan


  1. [1]Elisabetta Povoledo, Richard Pérez-Peña, and Ruth Graham, “Pope Weighs In on Calls to Deny Communion to Biden Over Abortion,” New York Times, September 15, 2021, https://www.nytimes.com/2021/09/15/world/europe/pope-francis-biden-abortion.html
  2. [2]Donna Cassata, “Top Vatican cardinal says Biden should not be denied Communion,” Washington Post, October 4, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/biden-catholic-communion-abortion-rights/2021/10/04/4c4a7138-2525-11ec-8831-a31e7b3de188_story.html
  3. [3]Michelle Boorstein, “Catholic bishops vote on controversial Communion document,” Washington Post, June 18, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/religion/2021/06/18/biden-catholic-president-bishops-abortion-communion/; Matt Viser, “Biden, deeply Catholic president, finds himself at odds with many U.S. bishops,” Washington Post, June 18, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/biden-catholic-bishops/2021/06/18/acf576c0-d04a-11eb-a7f1-52b8870bef7c_story.html
  4. [4]Philip Pullella, “Pope meets Pelosi as abortion debate rages back home,” Reuters, October 9, 2021, https://www.reuters.com/world/us/pope-meets-pelosi-abortion-debate-rages-back-home-2021-10-09/
  5. [5]Megan Guza And Joanne Klimovich Harrop, “Pittsburgh Mayor Peduto recommends removal of Columbus statue from Schenley Park,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, October 9, 2020, https://triblive.com/local/pittsburgh-mayor-peduto-recommends-removal-of-columbus-statue-from-schenley-park/
  6. [6]Howard Zinn, A People’s History of the United States (New York: HarperPerennial, 2005).
  7. [7]David Benfell, “Why do Italian-Amerikkkans take pride in genocide?” Irregular Bullshit, October 10, 2020, https://disunitedstates.com/2020/10/10/why-do-italian-amerikkkans-take-pride-in-genocide/
  8. [8]Nick Matoney, “Final vote held to remove Christopher Columbus statue from Pittsburgh’s Schenley Park,” WTAE, October 30, 2020, https://www.wtae.com/article/final-vote-held-to-remove-christopher-columbus-statue-from-pittsburghs-schenley-park/34529036; Bill O’Driscoll, “Pittsburgh’s Columbus Statue Remains Standing While Court Dispute Continues,” WESA, June 16, 2021, https://www.wesa.fm/arts-sports-culture/2021-06-16/pittsburghs-columbus-statue-remains-standing-while-court-dispute-continues
  9. [9]Jason Laughlin and Allison Steele, “After a day of wrangling, South Philly Columbus statue to stay covered — for now, court rules,” Philadelphia Inquirer, October 9, 2021, https://www.inquirer.com/news/columbus-statue-marconi-plaza-judge-remove-box-20211009.html; Laura McCrystal and Sean Collins Walsh, “A judge ordered Philadelphia to remove the plywood box covering the Christopher Columbus statue in Marconi Plaza,” Philadelphia Inquirer, October 9, 2021, https://www.inquirer.com/news/columbus-statue-south-philly-marconi-plaza-20211008.html
  10. [10]David Benfell, “Why do Italian-Amerikkkans take pride in genocide?” Irregular Bullshit, October 10, 2020, https://disunitedstates.com/2020/10/10/why-do-italian-amerikkkans-take-pride-in-genocide/
  11. [11]Shah Meer Baloch and Julian Borger, “Biden administration delivers brusque message to Pakistan,” Guardian, October 10, 2021, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/oct/10/biden-administration-delivers-brusque-message-to-pakistan
  12. [12]British Broadcasting Corporation, “US ‘threatened to bomb’ Pakistan,” September 22, 2006, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/5369198.stm
  13. [13]Shah Meer Baloch and Julian Borger, “Biden administration delivers brusque message to Pakistan,” Guardian, October 10, 2021, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/oct/10/biden-administration-delivers-brusque-message-to-pakistan

Pittsburgh Art Commission recommends removal of Columbus statue from Schenley Park

Tom Davidson, “Pittsburgh Art Commission recommends removal of Columbus statue from Schenley Park,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, September 23, 2020, https://triblive.com/local/pittsburgh-art-commission-recommends-removal-of-christopher-columbus-statue-from-schenley-park/

Megan Guza And Joanne Klimovich Harrop, “Pittsburgh Mayor Peduto recommends removal of Columbus statue from Schenley Park,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, October 9, 2020, https://triblive.com/local/pittsburgh-mayor-peduto-recommends-removal-of-columbus-statue-from-schenley-park/

Nick Matoney, “Final vote held to remove Christopher Columbus statue from Pittsburgh’s Schenley Park,” WTAE, October 30, 2020, https://www.wtae.com/article/final-vote-held-to-remove-christopher-columbus-statue-from-pittsburghs-schenley-park/34529036

Bill O’Driscoll, “Pittsburgh’s Columbus Statue Remains Standing While Court Dispute Continues,” WESA, June 16, 2021, https://www.wesa.fm/arts-sports-culture/2021-06-16/pittsburghs-columbus-statue-remains-standing-while-court-dispute-continues

Jason Laughlin and Allison Steele, “After a day of wrangling, South Philly Columbus statue to stay covered — for now, court rules,” Philadelphia Inquirer, October 9, 2021, https://www.inquirer.com/news/columbus-statue-marconi-plaza-judge-remove-box-20211009.html

Laura McCrystal and Sean Collins Walsh, “A judge ordered Philadelphia to remove the plywood box covering the Christopher Columbus statue in Marconi Plaza,” Philadelphia Inquirer, October 9, 2021, https://www.inquirer.com/news/columbus-statue-south-philly-marconi-plaza-20211008.html

Paula Reed Ward, “A year later, Pittsburgh Columbus statue remains covered in Schenley Park,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, October 11, 2021, https://triblive.com/local/a-year-later-pittsburgh-columbus-statue-remains-covered-in-schenley-park/

It’s a news-heavy but mostly boring day. So here are some cats.


Donald Trump

Olivier Knox, “How The Simpsons explains the GOP’s latest Trump defense,” Washington Post, October 8, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2021/10/08/how-simpsons-explains-gops-latest-trump-defense/


Pandemic

Economy


Justin Lahart neglects that child care workers have other reasons besides fear of the novel coronavirus[1] for leaving the industry.[2] Heather Long, by contrast, writes that “[t]he reason the United States has roughly 11 million job openings and 7.7 million unemployed is more complex than many are willing to admit.”[3]

For months, economists predicted a surge in hiring in September as unemployment benefits expired for millions of workers and schools reopened across the country. Instead, last month marked the weakest hiring this year, and an alarming number of women had to stop working again to deal with unstable school and child-care situations.

The numbers are striking: 309,000 women over age 20 dropped out of the labor force in September, meaning they quit work or halted their job searches. In contrast, 182,000 men joined the labor force, Labor Department data showed.[4]

Josh Mitchell, “U.S. Economy Added Only 194,000 Jobs in September,” Wall Street Journal, October 8, 2021, https://www.wsj.com/articles/september-jobs-report-unemployment-rate-2021-11633641477

Justin Wolfers, “Non-farm payrolls in September rose by only +194k, after +366k last month. . . .” Twitter, October 8, 2021, https://twitter.com/JustinWolfers/status/1446453154975977489

Justin Lahart, “Jobs Forecasters Got Schooled—Here’s Why,” Wall Street Journal, October 8, 2021, https://www.wsj.com/articles/jobs-forecasters-got-schooledheres-why-11633708530

Heather Long, “America’s unemployed are sending a message: They’ll go back to work when they feel safe – and well-compensated,” Washington Post, October 8, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2021/10/08/september-jobs-report-takeaway/

Pennsylvania

Jason Laughlin, “Vaccines continue to protect against COVID-19, but latest Pa. data show signs of waning effectiveness,” Philadelphia Inquirer, October 8, 2021, https://www.inquirer.com/health/coronavirus/vaccine-breakthrough-covid-pennsylvania-hospitalization-infection-20211008.html


Economics

Nick Romeo, “Is It Time for a New Economics Curriculum?” New Yorker, October 8, 2021, https://www.newyorker.com/culture/annals-of-inquiry/is-it-time-for-a-new-economics-curriculum


Abortion

Ann E. Marimow, “Appeals court reinstates Texas’s six-week abortion ban, two days after it was lifted,” Washington Post, October 8, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/courts_law/texas-appeals-abortion-ruling/2021/10/08/56b9fe9e-2774-11ec-8831-a31e7b3de188_story.html


  1. [1]Justin Lahart, “Jobs Forecasters Got Schooled—Here’s Why,” Wall Street Journal, October 8, 2021, https://www.wsj.com/articles/jobs-forecasters-got-schooledheres-why-11633708530
  2. [2]Heather Long, “‘The pay is absolute crap’: Child-care workers are quitting rapidly, a red flag for the economy,” Washington Post, September 19, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2021/09/19/childcare-workers-quit/
  3. [3]Heather Long, “America’s unemployed are sending a message: They’ll go back to work when they feel safe – and well-compensated,” Washington Post, October 8, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2021/10/08/september-jobs-report-takeaway/
  4. [4]Heather Long, “America’s unemployed are sending a message: They’ll go back to work when they feel safe – and well-compensated,” Washington Post, October 8, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2021/10/08/september-jobs-report-takeaway/

Elon Musk lies. Employers lie.

Pandemic

Elon Musk

Antony Currie expresses doubt about Elon Musk’s stated reasons for moving Tesla headquarters to Austin, Texas.[1] Musk had been an ass about the pandemic and furiously resisted stopping production at the old NUMMI plant in Fremont, California,[2] The Washington Post article also pointed out that the move would bring Tesla headquarters closer to SpaceX headquarters,[3] but if indeed you reject the stated reasons for the move, it’s gotta be damn near impossible to escape the suspicion that Musk is still nursing a grudge about the lockdown.[4]

Faiz Siddiqui, “Elon Musk announces Tesla is moving its headquarters from California to Texas,” Washington Post, October 7, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2021/10/07/musk-tesla-texas/

Antony Currie, “Tesla’s move to Texas further mars ESG credentials,” Reuters, October 8, 2021, https://www.reuters.com/breakingviews/teslas-move-texas-further-mars-esg-credentials-2021-10-08/

Economy


But of course, employers are still[5] whining, with Wall Street Journal support, about a so-called “labor shortage.”[6] I am utterly unimpressed[7] and will remain so unless and until I actually have a real job.[8]

Josh Mitchell, “U.S. Economy Added Only 194,000 Jobs in September,” Wall Street Journal, October 8, 2021, https://www.wsj.com/articles/september-jobs-report-unemployment-rate-2021-11633641477

Justin Wolfers, “Non-farm payrolls in September rose by only +194k, after +366k last month. . . .” Twitter, October 8, 2021, https://twitter.com/JustinWolfers/status/1446453154975977489


  1. [1]Antony Currie, “Tesla’s move to Texas further mars ESG credentials,” Reuters, October 8, 2021, https://www.reuters.com/breakingviews/teslas-move-texas-further-mars-esg-credentials-2021-10-08/
  2. [2]Tim Higgins, “Elon Musk’s Defiance in the Time of Coronavirus,” Wall Street Journal, March 20, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/elon-musks-defiance-in-the-time-of-coronavirus-11584733458; Kari Paul, “Elon Musk rails against ‘fascist’ shelter-in-place orders in Tesla earnings call,” Guardian, April 29, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2020/apr/29/tesla-quarterly-earnings-coronavirus-shares; Faiz Siddiqui, “Tesla’s Elon Musk reopens factory, defying county orders and daring officials to arrest him,” Washington Post, May 11, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2020/05/11/musk-tesla-factory/; Faiz Siddiqui, “Tesla defied county orders so it could restart production. Days later, workers tested positive for the coronavirus,” Washington Post, June 9, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2020/06/09/tesla-factory-coronavirus/
  3. [3]Faiz Siddiqui, “Elon Musk announces Tesla is moving its headquarters from California to Texas,” Washington Post, October 7, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2021/10/07/musk-tesla-texas/
  4. [4]Antony Currie, “Tesla’s move to Texas further mars ESG credentials,” Reuters, October 8, 2021, https://www.reuters.com/breakingviews/teslas-move-texas-further-mars-esg-credentials-2021-10-08/; Faiz Siddiqui, “Elon Musk announces Tesla is moving its headquarters from California to Texas,” Washington Post, October 7, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2021/10/07/musk-tesla-texas/
  5. [5]Sven Beckert, “Slavery and Capitalism,” Chronicle of Higher Education, December 12, 2014, https://www.chronicle.com/article/SlaveryCapitalism/150787/; 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/; Heather Long and Andrew Van Dam, “States that cut unemployment early aren’t seeing a hiring boom, but who gets hired is changing,” Washington Post, July 27, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2021/07/27/unemployment-insurance-go-away/; Matt Petras, “In the continuing pandemic, businesses need workers, but are jobs meeting the needs of residents?” Public Source, August 12, 2021, https://www.publicsource.org/pittsburgh-workforce-covid-unemployment-hiring-worker-shortage/; 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; 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/
  6. [6]Josh Mitchell, “U.S. Economy Added Only 194,000 Jobs in September,” Wall Street Journal, October 8, 2021, https://www.wsj.com/articles/september-jobs-report-unemployment-rate-2021-11633641477
  7. [7]David Benfell, “About that alleged ‘labor shortage,’” Not Housebroken, June 10, 2021, https://disunitedstates.org/2021/05/09/about-that-alleged-labor-shortage/
  8. [8]David Benfell, “About my job hunt,” Not Housebroken, n.d., https://disunitedstates.org/about-my-job-hunt/

I guess this is what lawyers are for (Update #5)

Updates

  1. Originally published, February 3, 2021, 1:15 pm.

  2. February 3, 2021, 10:40 pm:

    • The judge has ruled against the Crack’d Egg Restaurant in Brentwood, requiring it to comply with COVID-19 orders or close. The restaurant is asking for a stay while it appeals. The judge, however, cited a Pennsylvania Supreme Court decision upholding Governor Wolf’s and Pennsylvania Health Department’s orders, in reaching his decision.[1] So I’m not seeing how this gets reversed. But then, this is Pennsylvania.

    • I managed to run afoul of Twitter’s bots in responding to a post on keys to the City of Pittsburgh. As I recall, such keys were traditionally hung from a lanyard about the bearer’s neck, and a newer design lacks the hole found in traditional wire skeleton keys that would make that possible. I sought to point this out and, after all, if we’re going to uphold antiquated traditions, we ought to uphold them properly.

      But it appears that Twitter’s appeals process relies on the same artificial idiocy as that which condemned me in the first place. So I’m mostly off Twitter until sometime tomorrow.

      I have previously taken up the problem of artificial idiocy in a blog post entitled, “Our new Satan: artificial idiocy and big data mining” and previously encountered a similar problem with Google’s last ill-fated attempt at a social network, Google Plus.

    • My car is off to another expensive start in maintenance in the new year. I’m getting new struts, new shock absorbers, and new tires put on. All this also means an alignment. It’s conceivable the bill will exceed $2,000. I really need a real job because with this rideshare driving, I am, and my passengers are, just destroying perfectly good automobiles, all while not accumulating a penny for retirement, not really being able to take any time off, and not having a life.

    • My mother got me a copy of Ezra Klein’s book Why We’re Polarized. I’ve read the introduction and the first two chapters. It’s an interesting perspective in that Klein perceives a difference between Democrats and Republicans as having increased since a time even as recently as the 1980s, when, he argues, the two major parties were not distinguished by ideological differences. And yes, I guess if your baseline includes southern Democrats who openly sought to preserve white supremacy, then yes, indeed, the Democrats have moved left.[2]

      Republicans have, to an increasing degree, relied on race-baiting to appeal to those former southern Democrats and this, of course, has plumbed despicable depths with Donald Trump.[3] But at least in the early going, Klein seems not to see white supremacy outside the south, such as I see in southwestern Pennsylvania.

      In this, Klein magnifies the differences between the parties at the expense of their similarities. Both parties are dominated by their donors; both embrace neoconservatism, for which neoliberalism is a moral imperative[4] and overseas wars are somehow self-defense; neither takes the climate crisis seriously enough; neither has taken the need for economic relief and universal health insurance coverage generally, let alone in the pandemic, seriously enough; neither is particularly troubled by widening social inequality; indeed, neither is really all that terribly troubled by the cozy relationship between police and white supremacists.[5] From a progressive perspective, these similarities unite the two major parties as an evil blob far to the right. But Klein, so far, at least, barely even acknowledges that there is a progressivism to the left of the Democrats.[6]

  3. February 4, 2021, 5:56 am:

    • I’ve read a bit further into Ezra Klein’s work, which I began discussing in the last update (February 3, 10:40 pm). Klein correctly identifies a problem as being with “us” versus “them” thinking, but then argues that this goes beyond political views into entire lifestyles. If you like Whole Foods, you’re probably a Democrat. If you like Cracker Barrel, you’re probably a Republican. He seems to be thinking that we conform to partisan archetypes in a seeming desperation to align with whichever “us” we identify with.[7]

      This is far too simplistic. Roughly, it aligns with George Lakoff’s “nurturant parent” (Democrat) and “critical father” (Republican) morality systems, but Lakoff was at pains to explain that there would be different emphases among adherents to each morality system.[8]

      My dissertation was all about not treating conservatives monolithically; I identified seven different tendencies, all authoritarian and ideological to be sure, but otherwise strikingly different.[9] Even if we were to merge the three tendencies that comprise Donald Trump’s base, these being authoritarian populism (which actually does embody the hierarchical invidiously monistic thinking that Klein attributes to most of us), paleoconservatism (including white supremacy and neo-Nazism), and social conservatism (mostly evangelical Protestantism), which is still a step beyond my current thinking,[10] we would still have five tendencies on the right.

      Though I have not been as systematic on the left on the left (here viewed broadly as including even mainstream, such as Barack Obama, and conservative, such as Joe Manchin, Democrats, most of whom are neoconservative, a conservative tendency), there are similar differences; but they divide differently, including among those who tend to identify all social inequality as that being the particular form that personally afflicts them. Hillary Clinton, for example, marks herself as a second wave (we’re probably now up to the fourth, albeit ill-defined, wave) feminist by tending to view all social inequality as sexism. My formerly favorite professor (now emeritus) at California State University, East Bay, often reduced social inequality to racism. I’ve seen something similar with sexual and gender minorities, and some progressives focus almost exclusively on class.

      Klein’s error, at least so far, seems to be the opposite extreme from failing to see the forest for the trees. He would not even see separate forests so much as he would notice hardwood forests that often predominate east of the Mississippi and softwood forests that predominate along the west coast. Both characterizations obscure much more than they reveal.

  4. February 4, 2021, 12:11 pm:

    • Please see an update regarding my social network presence on my contact page.

      This is, to say the least, an unfortunate situation. Applying for jobs has been a pathetic failure and I have no functional social network. I had hoped that I might eventually reach someone who might be interested in hiring me through these online networks, but I have no way to reliably avoid running afoul of the artificial idiots that police these networks.

    • I’m finally getting the car back. The total wasn’t as bad as I feared but it’s still bad, close to $1,900.

  5. February 5, 2021, 10:00 pm:

    • The Crack’d Egg is closing its doors while, the owner says, she pursues an appeal.[11]


Allegheny County

So, the Crack’d Egg Restaurant now says it only filed for bankruptcy[12] in what turned out to be, because the bankruptcy judge didn’t allow it, an unsuccessful attempt to evade the Allegheny County Health Department’s lawsuit[13] for flouting pandemic restrictions[14] and now wants to withdraw the filing.[15] This sounds like an abuse of the system to me but I guess that’s what lawyers are for.

Paula Reed Ward, “Crack’d Egg restaurant asks to withdraw bankruptcy filing,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, February 2, 2021, https://triblive.com/local/south-hills/crackd-egg-restaurant-asks-to-withdraw-bankruptcy-filing/

Paula Reed Ward, “Judge orders Crack’d Egg to follow covid rules or close,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, February 3, 2021, https://triblive.com/local/south-hills/judge-orders-crackd-egg-to-follow-covid-rules-or-close/

Paul Martino, “After Defying Health Department, Crack’d Egg Follows Judge’s Ruling And Closes,” KDKA Television, February 4, 2021, https://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2021/02/04/crackd-egg-closes/


Evictions

Andrew Khouri, “Depleted savings, ruined credit: What happens when all the rent comes due?” Los Angeles Times, February 2, 2021, https://www.latimes.com/business/story/2021-02-02/rent-debt-worries-grow-covid-strains-tenants


  1. [1]Paula Reed Ward, “Judge orders Crack’d Egg to follow covid rules or close,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, February 3, 2021, https://triblive.com/local/south-hills/judge-orders-crackd-egg-to-follow-covid-rules-or-close/
  2. [2]Ezra Klein, Why We’re Polarized (New York: Avid Reader, 2020).
  3. [3]Ezra Klein, Why We’re Polarized (New York: Avid Reader, 2020).
  4. [4]Gertrude Himmelfarb, “Irving Kristol’s Neoconservative Persuasion,” Commentary, February 2011, 25-29.
  5. [5]Mark Berman et al., “Protests spread over police shootings. Police promised reforms. Every year, they still shoot and kill nearly 1,000 people,” Washington Post, June 8, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/investigations/protests-spread-over-police-shootings-police-promised-reforms-every-year-they-still-shoot-nearly-1000-people/2020/06/08/5c204f0c-a67c-11ea-b473-04905b1af82b_story.html; Kyle Cheney, Sarah Ferris, and Laura Barrón-López, “‘Inside job’: House Dems ask if Capitol rioters had hidden help,” Politico, January 8, 2021, https://www.politico.com/news/2021/01/08/congress-democrats-capitol-riot-inside-job-456725; James Downie, “Time to toss the ‘bad apples’ excuse,” Washington Post, May 31, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/05/31/time-toss-bad-apples-excuse/; Kimberly Kindy, Mark Berman, and Kim Bellware, “After Capitol riot, police chiefs work to root out officers with ties to extremist groups,” Washington Post, January 24, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/police-capitol-riot-extremists/2021/01/24/16fdb2bc-5a7b-11eb-b8bd-ee36b1cd18bf_story.html; Maggie Koerth, “The Police’s Tepid Response To The Capitol Breach Wasn’t An Aberration,” FiveThirtyEight, January 7, 2021, https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/the-polices-tepid-response-to-the-capitol-breach-wasnt-an-aberration/; Kurtis Lee, Jaweed Kaleem, and Laura King, “‘White supremacy was on full display.’ Double standard seen in police response to riot at Capitol,” Los Angeles Times, January 7, 2021, https://www.latimes.com/world-nation/story/2021-01-07/la-na-washington-capitol-police-attack-race; Wesley Lowery, “Aren’t more white people than black people killed by police? Yes, but no,” Washington Post, July 11, 2016, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-nation/wp/2016/07/11/arent-more-white-people-than-black-people-killed-by-police-yes-but-no/; Brentin Mock, “What New Research Says About Race and Police Shootings,” CityLab, August 6, 2019, https://www.citylab.com/equity/2019/08/police-officer-shootings-gun-violence-racial-bias-crime-data/595528/; Elie Mystal, “There’s Only One Possible Conclusion: White America Likes Its Killer Cops,” Nation, May 27, 2020, https://www.thenation.com/article/society/white-america-cops/; Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, “How Do We Change America?” New Yorker, June 8, 2020, https://www.newyorker.com/news/our-columnists/how-do-we-change-america
  6. [6]Ezra Klein, Why We’re Polarized (New York: Avid Reader, 2020).
  7. [7]Ezra Klein, Why We’re Polarized (New York: Avid Reader, 2020).
  8. [8]George Lakoff, Moral Politics: How Liberals and Conservatives Think, 2nd ed. (Chicago: University of Chicago, 2002).
  9. [9]David Benfell, “Conservative Views on Undocumented Migration” (doctoral dissertation, Saybrook, 2016). ProQuest (1765416126).
  10. [10]David Benfell, “The seven tendencies of conservatism,” Irregular Bullshit, n.d., https://disunitedstates.com/the-seven-tendencies-of-conservatism/
  11. [11]Paul Martino, “After Defying Health Department, Crack’d Egg Follows Judge’s Ruling And Closes,” KDKA Television, February 4, 2021, https://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2021/02/04/crackd-egg-closes/
  12. [12]KDKA, “Brentwood Restaurant That Sued Allegheny County Over Coronavirus Restrictions Files For Bankruptcy,” October 9, 2020, https://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2020/10/09/the-crackd-egg-files-for-bankruptcy/; Paula Reed Ward, “Allegheny County argues Crack’d Egg can’t hide from covid restrictions under bankruptcy filing,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, January 5, 2021, https://triblive.com/local/south-hills/allegheny-county-argues-crackd-egg-cant-hide-from-covid-restrictions-under-bankruptcy-filing/
  13. [13]Paula Reed Ward, “Judge rules against Crack’d Egg, health department case can proceed,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, January 7, 2021, https://triblive.com/local/south-hills/judge-rules-against-crackd-egg-health-department-case-can-proceed/; Paula Reed Ward, “Judge to rule on Crack’d Egg restaurant closure order next week,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, January 29, 2021, https://triblive.com/local/south-hills/judge-to-rule-on-crackd-egg-restaurant-closure-order-next-week/
  14. [14]Paula Reed Ward, “Brentwood restaurant defies order to close for covid-19 violations, faces court action,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, September 18, 2020, https://triblive.com/local/south-hills/brentwood-restaurant-defies-order-to-close-for-covid-19-violations-faces-court-action/; Paula Reed Ward, “Crack’d Egg flouts shutdown as deputies quarantined for dining, taking photos with owner,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, December 14, 2020, https://triblive.com/local/south-hills/crackd-egg-flouts-shutdown-as-deputies-quarantined-for-dining-taking-photos-with-owner/
  15. [15]Paula Reed Ward, “Crack’d Egg restaurant asks to withdraw bankruptcy filing,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, February 2, 2021, https://triblive.com/local/south-hills/crackd-egg-restaurant-asks-to-withdraw-bankruptcy-filing/