Larger lessons

Iowa

Much of what’s in the New York Times article[1] had been previously reported,[2] but there is a little more detail.

The widespread lack of faith in the Iowa results has shaken many Americans’ confidence in their electoral system. Mr. Trump has reveled in the meltdown. Democrats have proposed abolishing caucuses and ending Iowa’s time at the front of the presidential nominating calendar.

Even as party officials scramble to contain the fallout, the full extent of the problems in Iowa is still not known.[3]

The Times doesn’t say so, but folks who work for a living and fans of Scott Adams’ Dilbert cartoon will recognize the pattern. This is meritocracy at its finest.[4] Naturally, we will not be absorbing the larger lessons even in the primary contest, let alone in our system of social organization at large.

Reid J. Epstein et al., “How the Iowa Caucuses Became an Epic Fiasco for Democrats,” New York Times, February 9, 2020, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/09/us/politics/iowa-democratic-caucuses.html


Veganism

I’m not seeing the Vitamin B-12 line here:

An issue is of ethical concern when there is a choice: Do we have alternatives?

On May 5, I will have been vegan for 12 years, despite not liking vegetables. In 2008, I went cold turkey from a “meat and potatoes” diet in which I considered green the color of decay.

Going vegan remains the single most effective action an individual can take to counter the climate crisis and the other forms of environmental catastrophe humans wreak upon the earth. It does so not only in terms of practical action but also in a recognition that this planet, the only planet we have, and the life on it do not exist for our exploitation. The latter rebuts a presumption that leads to pervasive abuse not only of our fellow human beings, but of the environment and of other species.[5]

I don’t care who you are. You have a choice. You need to be doing the right thing for yourself, for your fellow human and non-human animals, and for the environment.


  1. [1]Reid J. Epstein et al., “How the Iowa Caucuses Became an Epic Fiasco for Democrats,” New York Times, February 9, 2020, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/09/us/politics/iowa-democratic-caucuses.html
  2. [2]Nate Cohn, “New Doubts From Iowa Caucuses: How ‘Satellite’ Votes Are Being Measured,” New York Times, February 6, 2020, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/06/upshot/iowa-caucus-satellite-votes.html; Nate Cohn et al., “Iowa Caucus Results Riddled With Errors and Inconsistencies,” New York Times, February 6, 2020, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/06/upshot/iowa-caucuses-errors-results.html
  3. [3]Reid J. Epstein et al., “How the Iowa Caucuses Became an Epic Fiasco for Democrats,” New York Times, February 9, 2020, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/09/us/politics/iowa-democratic-caucuses.html
  4. [4]David Benfell, “Bipartisan ‘meritocracy’ and ‘vote Blue no matter who,’” Not Housebroken, February 6, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/02/06/bipartisan-meritocracy-and-vote-blue-no-matter-who/
  5. [5]Steven Best and Anthony J. Nocella, II, eds., Terrorists or Freedom fighters? (New York: Lantern, 2004); Greta Gaard, “Vegetarian Ecofeminism: A Review Essay,” Frontiers 23, no. 3 (2002): 117-146.

So, they say that vegans are well off whites fobbing off their lifestyle choices on the poor and people of color.

Brexit

Alison Flood, “Philip Pullman calls for boycott of Brexit 50p coin over ‘missing’ Oxford comma,” Guardian, January 27, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/books/2020/jan/27/brexit-50p-coin-boycott-philip-pullman-oxford-comma


Veganism

There is a new blog post entitled, “Rationalizing cruelty.”

Laura Reiley, “The fastest-growing vegan demographic is African Americans. Wu-Tang Clan and other hip-hop acts paved the way,” Washington Post, January 24, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/01/24/fastest-growing-vegan-demographic-is-african-americans-wu-tang-clan-other-hip-hop-acts-paved-way/


Dry January? Didn’t we try something like this with Prohibition?

There is a new blog post entitled, “The perniciousness of kyriarchy.”


I hadn’t known about “Dry January” (figure 1), but I’m happy to throw in a plug for going vegan.
butchers-veganuary
Fig. 1. Cartoon by Matt Pritchett, January 7, 2020, via his Telegraph newsletter.


Fixed it for her (figure 2):
FireShot Capture 052 - Home _ Twitter - twitter.com
Fig. 2. Screenshot of tweet by Hillary Clinton, corrected by author, January 12, 2020.


War at last

Iran and Iraq

An intelligent president might have been able to avoid a war with Iran. Given the raging narcissist-in-chief we have, I see zero reason for optimism.

Matt Purple, “This is Trump’s War,” American Conservative, January 3, 2020, https://www.theamericanconservative.com/state-of-the-union/trumps-war/

Jared Malsin, “Thousands March in Iraq for Iranian Commander Killed in U.S. Strike,” Wall Street Journal, January 4, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/thousands-march-in-iraq-for-iranian-commander-killed-in-u-s-strike-11578145358


Vegans

There is a new blog post entitled, “The problem of non-vegan restaurants.”

Jenny Kirkham, “‘Hands up this isn’t great’: KFC admits selling chicken instead of vegan burger to vegetarians,” Liverpool Echo, January 3, 2020, https://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/kfc-vegan-burger-chicken-vegetarian-17511479


The not-so-temporary immunity

Vegans

There is a new blog post entitled, “Is veganism a protected class?

British Broadcasting Corporation, “Sacked vegan brings landmark discrimination case,” January 2, 2020, https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-50969168


Israel

Despite [Binyamin] Netanyahu’s assertion that any immunity would be temporary, his actual request sent to Edelstein indicated otherwise: the prime minister’s lawyers wrote he was asking for functional immunity in one of the three cases against him as well as in certain aspects of another. Functional immunity protects parliamentarians from prosecution for things they did in fulfilling their parliamentary work, and is permanent, rather than temporary. Procedural immunity is temporary, and has to do with offenses committed by a parliamentarian that are unrelated to his parliamentary work.[1]

Just as Donald Trump’s supporters claim that impeachment seeks to overturn the results of the 2016 election, Binyamin Netanyahu claims that the indictments seek to overturn the will of voters, despite the fact that Netanyahu has failed to form a government. It appears unlikely that the Knesset will grant immunity, even once it is able to do so, so the principal effect of this is to stall the indictments.[2]

Times of Israel, “Netanyahu asks Knesset for immunity from prosecution, delaying indictment,” January 1, 2020, https://www.timesofisrael.com/netanyahu-announces-he-is-asking-knesset-for-immunity-from-prosecution/


  1. [1]Times of Israel, “Netanyahu asks Knesset for immunity from prosecution, delaying indictment,” January 1, 2020, https://www.timesofisrael.com/netanyahu-announces-he-is-asking-knesset-for-immunity-from-prosecution/
  2. [2]Times of Israel, “Netanyahu asks Knesset for immunity from prosecution, delaying indictment,” January 1, 2020, https://www.timesofisrael.com/netanyahu-announces-he-is-asking-knesset-for-immunity-from-prosecution/

Capitalists are bad? You don’t say!

Updates

  1. Originally published, November 15, 7:43 pm.
  2. November 16, 2:58 pm:
    • Correction: Sonoma Clean Power does not own or operate the geothermal plant at the Geysers in Sonoma County. These wells are mostly operated by Calpine.[1] I have removed erroneous text. Also, it appears the Press Democrat story[2] over-emphasized the prospect that Sonoma Clean Power might acquire PG&E’s transmission network in Sonoma County. My mother tells me that the Board was concerned with the possibility that PG&E might be bought out or become something else, and what the ramifications for Sonoma Clean Power, as a subsidiary power seller, would be. There may be a story forthcoming.

Ayodhya

Sadanand Dhume, “Hindus Take a Muslim Site. What’s Next?” Wall Street Journal, November 14, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/hindus-take-a-muslim-site-is-the-taj-mahal-next-11573775903


Pacific Gas and Electric

dt.common.streams.StreamServer.c
Fig. 1. Is this a picture to grab your attention or what? No, this isn’t a disaster about to happen. The original caption: “A helicopter uses a sprayer to wash high tension power line insulators after the Kincade Fire near Pepperwood Preserve.” This photograph is undated and uncredited but the other two in the article, also undated, are attributed to Kent Porter of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat.[3] Fair use.

There is concern that Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E), a company with a criminal record, will emerge from bankruptcy under control of a hedge fund.

“Nothing I can think of says, ‘screw the public interest’ like a hedge fund-owned public utility,” [Dave] King said.[4]

So Sonoma Clean Power may seek to acquire PG&E’s transmission network in the county.[5] It is unclear how this would mesh with the possibility that the state will take over the utility.[6]

While I’m no fan of PG&E, I also have to wonder to what extent public ownership will solve a problem whose causes lie not only with corporate malfeasance but also with the climate crisis.[7] And you know how you convince me you’re serious about the latter: Go vegan. Until you’ve done that, you’re really just playing around.

Tyler Silvy, “Sonoma Clean Power officials will explore public ownership of PG&E utility lines,” Santa Rosa Press-Democrat, November 14, 2019, https://www.pressdemocrat.com/news/10315410-181/sonoma-clean-power-officials-will


Gig economy

Imagine if other states, notably California, actually slapped Uber with a tax bill the way New Jersey has.[8]

Matthew Haag and Patrick McGeehan, “Uber Fined $649 Million for Saying Drivers Aren’t Employees,” New York Times, November 14, 2019, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/11/14/nyregion/uber-new-jersey-drivers.html



  1. [1]Power Technology, “The Geysers Geothermal Field, California,” n.d., https://www.power-technology.com/projects/the-geysers-geothermal-california/
  2. [2]Tyler Silvy, “Sonoma Clean Power officials will explore public ownership of PG&E utility lines,” Santa Rosa Press-Democrat, November 14, 2019, https://www.pressdemocrat.com/news/10315410-181/sonoma-clean-power-officials-will
  3. [3]Tyler Silvy, “Sonoma Clean Power officials will explore public ownership of PG&E utility lines,” Santa Rosa Press-Democrat, November 14, 2019, https://www.pressdemocrat.com/news/10315410-181/sonoma-clean-power-officials-will
  4. [4]Tyler Silvy, “Sonoma Clean Power officials will explore public ownership of PG&E utility lines,” Santa Rosa Press-Democrat, November 14, 2019, https://www.pressdemocrat.com/news/10315410-181/sonoma-clean-power-officials-will
  5. [5]Tyler Silvy, “Sonoma Clean Power officials will explore public ownership of PG&E utility lines,” Santa Rosa Press-Democrat, November 14, 2019, https://www.pressdemocrat.com/news/10315410-181/sonoma-clean-power-officials-will
  6. [6]Katherine Blunt and Alejandro Lazo, “California Governor Threatens State Takeover of PG&E,” Wall Street Journal, November 1, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/california-governor-threatens-state-takeover-of-pg-e-11572641749; Rebecca Smith, “California Mayors Join Campaign to Buy Out PG&E,” Wall Street Journal, November 5, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/california-mayors-join-campaign-to-make-pg-e-a-cooperative-11572955201
  7. [7]Kurtis Alexander, “Scientists see fingerprints of climate change all over California’s wildfires,” San Francisco Chronicle, August 3, 2018, https://www.sfchronicle.com/science/article/Scientists-see-fingerprints-of-climate-change-all-13128585.php
  8. [8]Matthew Haag and Patrick McGeehan, “Uber Fined $649 Million for Saying Drivers Aren’t Employees,” New York Times, November 14, 2019, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/11/14/nyregion/uber-new-jersey-drivers.html

A criminal in 10 Downing Street

Brexit

Boris Johnson has threatened to refuse to comply with the law requiring he seek an extension to Brexit.[1] Sound like someone else we know? I mean, this is more explicit—with Donald Trump, on the other hand, it’s more like a denial the law even applies to him.

Heather Stewart and Severin Carrell, “Boris Johnson short of options as rebels vow to secure Brexit delay,” Guardian, September 7, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/sep/06/boris-johnson-short-of-options-as-rebels-vow-to-secure-brexit-delay


Hong Kong

Steven Lee Myers, Chris Buckley, and Keith Bradsher, “Is Xi Mishandling Hong Kong Crisis? Hints of Unease in China’s Leadership,” New York Times, September 7, 2019, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/07/world/asia/china-hong-kong-xi-jinping.html


Veganism

There is a new blog post entitled, “The question of methodology and that allegedly higher risk of stroke for vegans.”

Nina Avramova, “Vegetarians might have higher risk of stroke than meat eaters, study says,” CNN, September 4, 2019, https://www.cnn.com/2019/09/04/health/vegetarian-vegan-diet-stroke-heart-disease-risk-intl/index.html


  1. [1]Heather Stewart and Severin Carrell, “Boris Johnson short of options as rebels vow to secure Brexit delay,” Guardian, September 7, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/sep/06/boris-johnson-short-of-options-as-rebels-vow-to-secure-brexit-delay

The world’s worst poker player

Brexit

Boris Johnson keeps raising the ante. There is a new blog entry entitled, “The world’s worst poker player, on a jet-powered bicycle at full throttle toward a brick wall.” He might be strapping on a rocket next.

Kevin Sullivan and Karla Adam, “Britain may face snap elections after Prime Minister Boris Johnson suffers major loss in Parliament,” Washington Post, September 3, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/showdown-set-for-the-british-parliament-as-legislators-return-from-summer-recess/2019/09/03/105ecca6-cb6c-11e9-9615-8f1a32962e04_story.html

Peter Walker and Jessica Elgot, “Boris Johnson’s ultimatum: back me or face 14 October election,” Guardian, September 2, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/sep/02/boris-johnson-threatens-to-ignore-mps-on-no-deal-brexit

Esther Webber and Kate Devlin, “Try and stop me rebelling, Philip Hammond tells No 10,” Times, September 3, 2019, https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/news/try-and-stop-me-rebelling-philip-hammond-tells-no-10-kbdzj8nwf


Recession

I’ve been inclined to think a recession is on the way for a while now[1] for a bunch of reasons.[2] Now Aaron Back, writing for the Wall Street Journal’s “Heard on the Street” column opines that “[s]igns of a possible recession keep stacking up. At some point it no longer makes sense to keep explaining them away.” The manufacturing index dipping below 50 is not a perfect recession signal and Back seems to think it’s less reliable than the inverted yield curve. But he concludes, “With both the yield curve and manufacturing surveys flashing red at the same time, it would be foolish to dismiss them both. No wonder investors are spooked.”[3]

Ruth Simon, Megumi Fujikawa, and Paul Hannon, “U.S.-China Trade War’s Global Impact Grows,” Wall Street Journal, September 2, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/u-s-china-trade-wars-global-impact-grows-11567466809

Aaron Back, “Another Recession Sign to Ignore at Your Peril,” Wall Street Journal, September 3, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/another-recession-sign-to-ignore-at-your-peril-11567530230


Hong Kong

Natasha Khan and Eva Dou, “Beijing Asserts Power to Declare Emergency to Quell Hong Kong Unrest,” Wall Street Journal, September 3, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/beijing-asserts-power-to-declare-emergency-to-quell-hong-kong-unrest-11567509276


Dorian

Continental US - Clean Longwave Window - IR
As of 8:00 am, Dorian’s eye had moved off of Grand Bahama, but the storm was still lashing the island. The storm had weakened to category 3,[4] but appeared to be beginning to affect Florida. It killed at least five people on the Abaco islands, to the east of Grand Bahama.[5]

The storm has weakened further since, to category 2, but looks set to graze the Atlantic Coast all the way up to Newfoundland.[6]
eusgm-2019-09-03-20FireShot Capture 083 - HURRICANE DORIAN - www.nhc.noaa.gov
72-hour gif, images 2 hours apart, as of 8:00 pm and National Hurricane Center storm track forecast as of 8:00 pm.

Andrew Freedman and Jason Samenow, “Dorian expands in size as tropical storm conditions hit Florida and the hurricane risk increases in the Carolinas,” Washington Post, September 3, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/weather/2019/09/03/hurricane-dorian-is-set-creep-north-closer-florida-georgia-carolinas-after-pounding-bahamas/

Arian Campo-Flores and Erin Ailworth, “Hurricane Dorian Death Toll at Five in Bahamas as Storm Is Headed for U.S.,” Wall Street Journal, September 3, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/hurricane-dorian-batters-bahamas-drives-toward-u-s-11567429839


  1. [1]David Benfell, “About that recession timing and the 2020 election,” Not Housebroken, August 25, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/08/25/about-that-recession-timing-and-the-2020-election/
  2. [2]Jon Hilsenrath, “After Record-Long Expansion, Here’s What Could Knock the Economy Off Course,” Wall Street Journal, June 3, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/after-record-long-expansion-heres-what-could-knock-the-economy-off-course-11559591043; John Kemp, “Global economy is probably in recession,” Reuters, August 7, 2019, https://www.reuters.com/article/uk-global-economy-kemp/column-global-economy-is-probably-in-recession-idUKKCN1UX1OF; Colin Kruger, “‘Insane levels’: Can a world where profitless companies are flying last?” Sydney Morning Herald, August 10, 2019, https://www.smh.com.au/business/companies/insane-levels-can-a-world-where-profitless-companies-are-flying-last-20190808-p52f3d.html; Damian Paletta, Thomas Heath, and Taylor Telford, “Stocks tank as another recession warning surfaces,” Washington Post, August 14, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2019/08/14/stocks-tank-another-recession-warning-surfaces/; Tim Wallace, “‘Very real’ recession risk as economy contracts for first time in seven years,” Telegraph, August 9, 2019, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2019/08/09/recession-risk-now-real-economy-contracts-first-time-seven-years/; Tim Wallace, “World economy faces a risk that’s far bigger than Trump’s trade war,” Sydney Morning Herald, August 9, 2019, https://www.smh.com.au/business/the-economy/world-economy-faces-a-risk-that-s-far-bigger-than-trump-s-trade-war-20190809-p52ffs.html
  3. [3]Aaron Back, “Another Recession Sign to Ignore at Your Peril,” Wall Street Journal, September 3, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/another-recession-sign-to-ignore-at-your-peril-11567530230
  4. [4]Arian Campo-Flores and Erin Ailworth, “Hurricane Dorian Death Toll at Five in Bahamas as Storm Is Headed for U.S.,” Wall Street Journal, September 3, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/hurricane-dorian-batters-bahamas-drives-toward-u-s-11567429839
  5. [5]Arian Campo-Flores and Erin Ailworth, “Hurricane Dorian Death Toll at Five in Bahamas as Storm Is Headed for U.S.,” Wall Street Journal, September 3, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/hurricane-dorian-batters-bahamas-drives-toward-u-s-11567429839
  6. [6]Andrew Freedman and Jason Samenow, “Dorian expands in size as tropical storm conditions hit Florida and the hurricane risk increases in the Carolinas,” Washington Post, September 3, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/weather/2019/09/03/hurricane-dorian-is-set-creep-north-closer-florida-georgia-carolinas-after-pounding-bahamas/

Let’s see just how much nuclear fallout we can spread over just how large an area with just how many people. Oh, a hurricane! What a spectacular idea!

Hurricanes

What people near the president do is they say ‘I love a president who asks questions like that [about nuking a hurricane], who’s willing to ask tough questions.’ … It takes strong people to respond to him in the right way when stuff like this comes up. For me, alarm bells weren’t going off when I heard about it, but I did think somebody is going to use this to feed into ‘the president is crazy’ narrative.[1]

Um, no, “unnamed senior administration official,” this isn’t a “tough question.” It’s a really asinine question[2] from an asinine president who finds divine inspiration in his own used toilet paper, then denies it when enough folks point and sneer.[3] After all, he’s “really, bigly smart,” remember?[4]

But like clockwork, the question seems to resurface every few years. In 2004, during a particularly deadly hurricane season, Mary Aiken, an elected member of the Hernando County, Fla., commission, called on NASA to find a way to stop the storms before they could reach Florida, and likened Mother Nature to a terrorist.

“These storms infuriate me,” she said, according to the Tampa Bay Times. “There must be something that can be done. It’s like a war. This state looks like Iraq.”

Informed by the county attorney that government scientists had researched that question before, only to realize that they ran the risk of combining a hurricane’s powerful wallop with deadly nuclear fallout, Aiken wasn’t satisfied. The agency, she declared, simply hadn’t been trying hard enough.[5]

It’s like that really huge shit you took that won’t flush. (Hint: Go vegan. And pay the fuck attention in class.)

Antonia Noori Farzan, “Trump denies that he suggested nuking hurricanes. But the government once studied the idea,” Washington Post, August 26, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2019/08/26/trump-nuclear-weapons-hurricane/

Jonathan Swan and Margaret Talev, “Trump suggested nuking hurricanes to stop them from hitting U.S.,” Axios, August 25, 2019, https://www.axios.com/trump-nuclear-bombs-hurricanes-97231f38-2394-4120-a3fa-8c9cf0e3f51c.html


Gig economy

Dhruv Mehrotra and Aaron Gordon, “Uber And Lyft Take A Lot More From Drivers Than They Say,” Jalopnik, August 26, 2019, https://jalopnik.com/uber-and-lyft-take-a-lot-more-from-drivers-than-they-sa-1837450373

University of California, Hastings College of the Law, “UC Hastings Professor, Academic Leaders Call for Support of AB5,” August 26, 2019, https://www.uchastings.edu/2019/08/26/uc-hastings-professor-academic-leaders-call-for-support-of-ab5/


  1. [1]Unnamed “senior administration official,” quoted in Jonathan Swan and Margaret Talev, “Trump suggested nuking hurricanes to stop them from hitting U.S.,” Axios, August 25, 2019, https://www.axios.com/trump-nuclear-bombs-hurricanes-97231f38-2394-4120-a3fa-8c9cf0e3f51c.html
  2. [2]Mark Strauss, “Nuking Hurricanes: The Surprising History of a Really Bad Idea,” National Geographic, November 30, 2016, https://www.nationalgeographic.com/news/2016/11/hurricanes-weather-history-nuclear-weapons/
  3. [3]Antonia Noori Farzan, “Trump denies that he suggested nuking hurricanes. But the government once studied the idea,” Washington Post, August 26, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2019/08/26/trump-nuclear-weapons-hurricane/
  4. [4]Jeff Mangiat was being facetious in “Business Schools Have No Business in the University,” Chronicle of Higher Education, February 20, 2018, https://www.chronicle.com/article/Business-Schools-Have-No/242563
  5. [5]Antonia Noori Farzan, “Trump denies that he suggested nuking hurricanes. But the government once studied the idea,” Washington Post, August 26, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2019/08/26/trump-nuclear-weapons-hurricane/

Forsaken

I think my grandfather would have been furious.

Don’t get me wrong. I remember him as a generous man. He would have dug in his wallet and ponied up.

But I was stunned today when a firefighter was walking between the lanes holding a boot. He was raising funds. Begging on the street.

I’m already irritated that so many firefighters are volunteers. They provide an essential service. They should be paid.

In California, I’d gotten used to seeing pancake breakfasts to raise funds for volunteer fire departments. Frankly, I saw them not only as fundraising efforts but as community get-togethers. I didn’t attend because I was vegan, but I saw them as a way for firefighters to connect with the communities they serve. These I felt I could respect.

But here, volunteer fire companies (they’re not called departments here, but companies) have to beg on the streets.

I’m horrified. And I can’t imagine my grandfather approving.


Poverty

I gather that Newstart is an important part of Australia’s neoliberalized social safety net. I see it’s been attracting some controversy lately for its paucity, its sheer meanness.

Brigid Delaney writes about going from a well-paid position to Newstart.[1] She didn’t like it. Note that the dollar amounts in the following will be in Australian dollars, which are worth considerably less (as I write this, Google says 0.68) than U.S. dollars:

One of the most isolating things about being on Newstart was being priced out of my social group. Before I lost my job I was earning $100,000. After on Newstart and bits and pieces, it was around $27,000. I wore rich person’s clothes while walking everywhere because I couldn’t afford the tram.[2]

Delaney was, nonetheless, fortunate. Her friends helped her get a job within six months. And now, she writes for the Guardian.[3]

But that’s Australia, where people apparently still recognize the humanity in their fellow human beings. Where mistreatment of human beings, as on Manus Island, remains controversial.

In the U.S., I was not so lucky even though I had friends who were making much more[4] than Delaney when she found herself on the wrong side of a line between even reasonable prosperity and poverty:[5]

The line is the thing that separates those with good financial padding, who might not think much about the $30 taxi or the unexpected bill, or $70 meal in a restaurant or putting a round of drinks on their cards – and those who are fearful when the bill comes, when the groceries are rung up, when opening the mail. On the other side of that line there are no shock absorbers. And of course, the journey is more jarring and perilous.[6]

My human rights continue to be violated, in effect denying that I am even human.[7] And my friends really were indifferent. Which is why I remain furious with them,[8] over two years now since I begged them for help.

They couldn’t even be bothered to read that I wasn’t just asking for a job per se but rather for help making sense of where I am, what I have accomplished—a Ph.D. for crying out loud—and then a job.[9] I still desperately need that help.

They dared to tell me after sixteen years of failure, after having returned to school, finished a B.A., an M.A., and a Ph.D., that “[applying] doesn’t work until it does.”[10] Sixteen fucking years. Now over eighteen.

Yes, you could have raised a kid in the time since I last had a real job.

I can’t care about their excuses. I can’t care about anyone’s excuses. I especially can’t care about politicians’ excuses. Excuses don’t pay the rent. Excuses don’t pay the bills. What they are excusing themselves from is the responsibility we all share as human beings of compassion and care for our fellows.

Posting on Facebook and Twitter about how social injustice is wrong, how politicians are derelict, and especially about how, if only we could elect a Democrat to the presidency (they have forgotten Barack Obama already), doesn’t pay the bills either. I needed, and still need, real, substantive action. They refused.

As evil as Donald Trump is—I see him as comparable to Adolf Hitler[11]—what the Democratic Party does with its likely nomination of Joe Biden is compel me to choose between the authoritarian populist fascist and the neoliberal fascist. I cannot support neoliberalism, which makes it extremely unlikely I can support the Democratic Party (the neoliberal party) in 2020. Because their political gains have come at the expense of the poor,[12] including me.

I have updated my ethics page largely based on Jason Hickel’s article, adding to the corpus that, intellectually, utterly discredits neoliberalism.[13]

Jason Hickel, “Progress and its discontents,” New Internationalist, August 7, 2019, https://newint.org/features/2019/07/01/long-read-progress-and-its-discontents

Brigid Delaney, “I was poor while all of my friends were rich – the hardest part was the lack of freedom,” Guardian, August 8, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/aug/09/i-was-poor-while-all-of-my-friends-were-rich-the-hardest-part-was-the-lack-of-freedom


Brexit

British businesses appear not to be buying Boris Johnson’s bullshit.[14]

Tim Wallace, “‘Very real’ recession risk as economy contracts for first time in seven years,” Telegraph, August 9, 2019, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2019/08/09/recession-risk-now-real-economy-contracts-first-time-seven-years/


Recession

The Sydney Morning Herald is full of economic gloom lately. Yes, it’s an Australian paper but it’s talking about the global economy:

A number of experts have also shuddered as the most dreaded four words in investing start cropping up in conversation: “this time is different”.

In his recent memo to clients with those four words as its heading, [Howard] Marks noted that in the world of investing, perception often swings from the polar extremes of ‘flawless’ to ‘hopeless’ with little time spent in the happy medium.

“Widespread attaching of ‘the four words’ to bullish propositions suggests that the environment is being perceived as flawless. When and if that swings to hopeless, the result is pain for investors.”[15]

If, as some suggest,[16] we are indeed in another tech bubble, you can just about take it to the bank that Uber, whose spin disappointed,[17] will be taken out when it pops. And Lyft, whose spin met with approval,[18] is on thin ice.

Donald Trump is standing next to the bubble, if it is indeed a bubble, with a pin. Investors are already nervous about the trade war[19] he stupidly pursues against China.[20] Then there’s fucking Brexit.[21] Then there’s just the fact that this economic so-called ‘expansion’ has gone on for so long and that the Federal Reserve doesn’t have much stimulus left in its bag of tricks.[22] Oh, and looky here: Another—are you fucking kidding me?—potential housing crash. Not so much in the U.S. apparently, but “house prices in China, Canada, Australia, the UK and large swathes of Europe and Asia are far higher than before the financial crisis, building up serious risks, according to economists at IHS Markit.”[23]

It just wouldn’t take much.

Tim Wallace, “World economy faces a risk that’s far bigger than Trump’s trade war,” Sydney Morning Herald, August 9, 2019, https://www.smh.com.au/business/the-economy/world-economy-faces-a-risk-that-s-far-bigger-than-trump-s-trade-war-20190809-p52ffs.html

Colin Kruger, “‘Insane levels’: Can a world where profitless companies are flying last?” Sydney Morning Herald, August 10, 2019, https://www.smh.com.au/business/companies/insane-levels-can-a-world-where-profitless-companies-are-flying-last-20190808-p52f3d.html


  1. [1]Brigid Delaney, “I was poor while all of my friends were rich – the hardest part was the lack of freedom,” Guardian, August 8, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/aug/09/i-was-poor-while-all-of-my-friends-were-rich-the-hardest-part-was-the-lack-of-freedom
  2. [2]Brigid Delaney, “I was poor while all of my friends were rich – the hardest part was the lack of freedom,” Guardian, August 8, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/aug/09/i-was-poor-while-all-of-my-friends-were-rich-the-hardest-part-was-the-lack-of-freedom
  3. [3]Brigid Delaney, “I was poor while all of my friends were rich – the hardest part was the lack of freedom,” Guardian, August 8, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/aug/09/i-was-poor-while-all-of-my-friends-were-rich-the-hardest-part-was-the-lack-of-freedom
  4. [4]David Benfell, “To my friends,” Not Housebroken, April 7, 2017, https://disunitedstates.org/2017/04/01/to-my-friends/
  5. [5]Brigid Delaney, “I was poor while all of my friends were rich – the hardest part was the lack of freedom,” Guardian, August 8, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/aug/09/i-was-poor-while-all-of-my-friends-were-rich-the-hardest-part-was-the-lack-of-freedom
  6. [6]Brigid Delaney, “I was poor while all of my friends were rich – the hardest part was the lack of freedom,” Guardian, August 8, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/aug/09/i-was-poor-while-all-of-my-friends-were-rich-the-hardest-part-was-the-lack-of-freedom
  7. [7]David Benfell, “About my job hunt,” Not Housebroken, n.d., https://disunitedstates.org/about-my-job-hunt/
  8. [8]David Benfell, “To my friends,” Not Housebroken, April 7, 2017, https://disunitedstates.org/2017/04/01/to-my-friends/
  9. [9]David Benfell, “To my friends,” Not Housebroken, April 7, 2017, https://disunitedstates.org/2017/04/01/to-my-friends/
  10. [10]David Benfell, “To my friends,” Not Housebroken, April 7, 2017, https://disunitedstates.org/2017/04/01/to-my-friends/
  11. [11]David Benfell, “Heil Trump,” Not Housebroken, July 24, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/07/22/heil-trump/
  12. [12]Peter Edelman, “The Worst Thing Bill Clinton Has Done,” Atlantic, March, 1997, http://www.theatlantic.com/past/docs/issues/97mar/edelman/edelman.htm; Herbert J. Gans, The War Against The Poor: The Underclass And Antipoverty Policy (New York: Basic, 1995); Alana Semuels, “The End of Welfare as We Know It,” Atlantic, April 1, 2016, http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2016/04/the-end-of-welfare-as-we-know-it/476322/
  13. [13]Mark Blyth, Austerity: The History of a Dangerous Idea (Oxford, UK: Oxford University, 2013); 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); 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/; 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/
  14. [14]Tim Wallace, “‘Very real’ recession risk as economy contracts for first time in seven years,” Telegraph, August 9, 2019, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2019/08/09/recession-risk-now-real-economy-contracts-first-time-seven-years/
  15. [15]Colin Kruger, “‘Insane levels’: Can a world where profitless companies are flying last?” Sydney Morning Herald, August 10, 2019, https://www.smh.com.au/business/companies/insane-levels-can-a-world-where-profitless-companies-are-flying-last-20190808-p52f3d.html
  16. [16]Colin Kruger, “‘Insane levels’: Can a world where profitless companies are flying last?” Sydney Morning Herald, August 10, 2019, https://www.smh.com.au/business/companies/insane-levels-can-a-world-where-profitless-companies-are-flying-last-20190808-p52f3d.html
  17. [17]Eliot Brown, “Uber Posts Its Largest Quarterly Loss,” Wall Street Journal, August 8, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/uber-posts-its-largest-ever-quarterly-loss-11565295373
  18. [18]Eliot Brown, “Lyft Raises 2019 Revenue Outlook and Sees Smaller Annual Loss,” Wall Street Journal, August 7, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/lyfts-raises-2019-revenue-outlook-and-sees-smaller-annual-loss-11565208387
  19. [19]Colin Kruger, “‘Insane levels’: Can a world where profitless companies are flying last?” Sydney Morning Herald, August 10, 2019, https://www.smh.com.au/business/companies/insane-levels-can-a-world-where-profitless-companies-are-flying-last-20190808-p52f3d.html
  20. [20]Stephen Bartholomeusz, “Trump is escalating a trade war he isn’t winning,” Sydney Morning Herald, August 5, 2019, https://www.smh.com.au/business/the-economy/trump-is-escalating-a-trade-war-he-isn-t-winning-20190805-p52dxf.html
  21. [21]Tim Wallace, “‘Very real’ recession risk as economy contracts for first time in seven years,” Telegraph, August 9, 2019, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2019/08/09/recession-risk-now-real-economy-contracts-first-time-seven-years/
  22. [22]Jon Hilsenrath, “After Record-Long Expansion, Here’s What Could Knock the Economy Off Course,” Wall Street Journal, June 3, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/after-record-long-expansion-heres-what-could-knock-the-economy-off-course-11559591043
  23. [23]Tim Wallace, “World economy faces a risk that’s far bigger than Trump’s trade war,” Sydney Morning Herald, August 9, 2019, https://www.smh.com.au/business/the-economy/world-economy-faces-a-risk-that-s-far-bigger-than-trump-s-trade-war-20190809-p52ffs.html