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September 26, 2017

Comments

Paul Ryan may be dumb as a box of rocks in some ways, but he was smart enough to get elected and to become Speaker of the House. It's a depressing truism that there are various kinds of intelligence, and they're not all in synch inside any one person's skin. (Mine included. I am in fact a poster child for the phenomenon.)

One of the many things that's symbolic of what's going on in this country is pictures of groups of smug old men [sic] in suits gathered around a microphone looking happy in the service of greed and viciousness.

I don't mean to suggest that Paul Ryan is old. I was thinking of some of the others...smug, self-important, insulated...

I don't (necessarily) disagree, it's just that he has this massively undeserved reputation as some kind of policy wonk in the press, and yet at every turn he is lying and/or making dumb statements about policy.

Drives me nuts (in case that wasn't obvious).

I don't disagree with that framing at all.

It's a lot like Mr. Clickbait having a massively undeserved reputation for being a good businessman. I mean, he's obviously massively good at something, including passing himself off as a good businessman...

A close family member once informed me, concerning Newt Gingrich, that "at least you gotta admit he's a really smart guy."

Well, no, I don't. He uses a lot of big words, talks fast, and has a very high opinion of himself and is glad to tell you so. But that's not the same thing.

Funny, that family member sees right through Trump to the filth inside because he once had a boss who was a lot like him. But when it's outside his own experience, it's harder to see.

Well, no, I don't. He uses a lot of big words, talks fast, and has a very high opinion of himself and is glad to tell you so. But that's not the same thing.

This reminds me of something someone once said about Dick Cheney's (public) core competency, which is that no matter the question he always had an answer that, coming out of his mouth, seemed reasonable and he seemed completely sure of himself in a way that, superficially, was reassuring.

Funny, that family member sees right through Trump to the filth inside because he once had a boss who was a lot like him.

I had a stepfather a lot like Trump, just drunker and not nearly as rich. But the same sort of bullying, thin-skinned, egomaniacal, narcissistic, big-shot personality. Good times!

he always had an answer that, coming out of his mouth, seemed reasonable and he seemed completely sure of himself in a way that, superficially, was reassuring.

There seem to be quite a few people in politics like this. I haven't watched TV for years and I rarely look at video clips online, so mostly I know about people from their bare words or reported actions/positions. But now and then I'll see a clip of one of these far-right Congresscritters from whose words and positions I've concluded that they can't possibly be from the same species or planet as me. Then I hear them start talking and it's all framed as ever so reasonable and obvious and calculated toward the greater good, and it starts to make sense that they get elected by people who share a lot of their attitudes in the first place.

The people who don't ever strike me this way are the ones who make it all about God. There is no disguising the unreasonableness of that framing.

The next Political Economy?

History and Evolution of the Commons ...Euro based, lots of other articles, this is a leading edfe left.

Antonio Negri talks of the common a lot.

Not capitalist or privately owned and not state nationalized and managed and not even owned by workers and citizens...just shared. Maybe AI and algorithms will do the grunt work, as it does in P2P and file sharing.

There seem to be quite a few people in politics like this.

Dick Cheney always sounded and appeared as though he was speaking authoritatively, competently, insightfully, seriously, knowledgeably, and whatever other adverb you want to throw into the mix. Meanwhile, he was conman (and I suppose a high-performing dilettante of sorts).

In any case, he was certainly one of those sort of political people.

The next Political Economy?

amen brother. thanks for the link.

Dick Cheney always sounded and appeared

It's a skill set.

It's more than a little disturbing to me the range and number of positions of responsibility that are occupied by people whose primary skill seems to be "excellent bullshit artist". Not just politics, any field you care to mention.

Maybe life has become so complex, and truly competent knowledge so specialized, that being able to spin up sort-of-plausible, reassuring horseshit ends up being really appealing.

Reagan, Bush (either one,take your pick), Trump. Q.E.D.

Hey, Clinton (Big Dog) and Obama too, if you like. "New Democracy". "Hope and Change". Those are fairly gross simplifications, too. Although both of those guys IMO did a really good job of presenting things in something like their full complexity and context. Whatever else you want to say about them, they were both just exceptionally intelligent people.

I miss that.

I do wish people would turn off their TV's (or their computers) and read a book or two instead. There would probably be less of a market for comforting pandering bullshit.

We live in the world we have, not the world we wish we had.

Congressman Ryan represents himself as both a devout Roman Catholic and a devotee of Ayn Rand. The only reason he could be Speaker is that most of the rest of his party is even less coherent than that.

The next Political Economy?

amen brother. thanks for the link.

seconded. good one, bob.

I wanted to read it, but I have to wait until I get home. It's blocked at work for being an "advocacy group." Feh...

Paul Ryan HAS to have the reputation as a policy wonk, and a member of the intelligencia - he's the closest thing the GOP has.

He might be dumb as a box of rocks, but he's the best they have, so he's the GOP Einstein.

Nick -

Yeah, when I first read he is both a devout RC and a Randroid my first reaction was, "awful hard to be both". I'm sure his St Ayn would consider him to be just another whim-worshiper.

Just so we don't lose track of the latest iteration of Trump's signature ineptitude

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/the-basic-premise-of-trumps-travel-ban-is-wrong/2017/09/26/7cb868b0-a2d5-11e7-8cfe-d5b912fabc99_story.html?utm_term=.d5108f039135

From that infamous bastion of liberalism . . . the Cato Institute.

Subhuman, corrupt anti-American republicans:

http://juanitajean.com/ryan-zinke-makes-trump-look-sane/

Another piece of filth spreading corrupt conservative principles, like so much lime in a grave, throughout the U.S. Government:

http://juanitajean.com/cabinet-secretaries-vying-for-wacko-points-to-redeem-at-chucky-cheese/

He's going to need a safe room too, especially when he's talking to murderous vermin like the Kochs and the Mercer insects, and in an office I fucking pay for.

In other countries, they are civilized enough to know what needs to be done.

"[Paul Ryan] so he's the GOP Einstein."

Ein Stein, more like, in the IQ department.

Well, since this is an open thread, can I just say I am schadenfreuded out that the Giants totally suck this year, since I ride Caltrain and am afflicted with the company of Giants fans every time there's a home game. This year, no playoffs, so it all ends this week. And the fans are morose, which makes them quieter and less annoying.

Also, I had given up watching football what with the Raiders moving, the NFL's phenomenally s****y handling of the CTE crisis, and their being a bag of dicks wrt the domestic violence scandals, but now I am feeling pretty damn proud of all those players after this weekend. I have hated the 49ers almost as much as the Giants for a long time, but I would like to shake Colin Kaepernick's hand.

I especially like all the people abandoning him left and right in the past couple months
Actually, no, Trump's approval rating has been rising for the past few weeks--I think the hurricanes knocked his dumb tweet of the day off the front pages for a little while. He's safely above 40% now.

That motion all happened before his past several days of obnoxious behavior, though, so we'll see what happens now.

In other news, I still have no idea what crime these assistant basketball coaches committed.

On the radio it was portrayed as defrauding the universities they work for by accepting money to steer players to certain advisors, and/or arranging payments to players through third parties - because that would violate NCAA rules potentially causing the schools to have to disgorge funds/give up wins, etc. Plus it somehow matters that these schools receive federal funds.

But...really? Suppose those assistant coaches were just playing the players directly themselves, is that now a criminal violation? Are players accepting such payments engaged in a criminal activity?

This seems to be a stretch to this lawyer, but anyone know more here?

Ugh-

These schools receive federal funds. The charges are brought under 18 U.S. Code § 666 - Theft or bribery concerning programs receiving Federal funds.

The investment advisors and athletic equipment companies are accused of offering something of value for the purpose of influencing coaches at universities that are subject to 18 USC § 666.

The coaches are accused of solicitation of bribes which is also a violation of 18 USC § 666.

Then you get the usual conspiracy and wire fraud and travel act etc., but the hook is these schools receive federal funds and these coaches are therefore being treated like a federal employee.

Personally, I'm torn. I hate cheating, but I also hate prosecutorial overreach. I also think these kids should be paid something for their time in college if they are in a revenue sport ... not to condone those kids (or their parents) who take payments, but just saying the system is really inequitable.

Loomis, the only thing tolerable at LGM, visits a grave.

Hey kids, if there are any kids around, West End Blues by Louis Armstrong is beyond any doubt the greatest and most important piece of music in the 20th century. If you don't have the Hot 5s and 7s in your library and played you are a fail. I listen to everything from the medieval Carmina Burana to Tago Mago and think Armstrong is the best.

2) The link and site above about the common is interesting because of the kinda affirmation it gives to neoliberalism and identity politics. Negri is the key, and you can go on from there reading his cites, but the collective died with Ford's Red River plant and the USSR. There is no longer any contingent solidarity, affilations are now chosen dynamic transient and multiple. Or soon will be, future is unevenly distributed.

Negri says the loss of the collective creates the common, and as we increasingly fractionate, the commons will grow until we achieve something that feels like anarchy and works like socialism. Kinda like the Internet. IOW, neoliberalism is also dialectical, create the forces for its transcendence.

This is a historical material process, a dialectic.

Thanks! More when I'm off this call.

And Dallas, as it always happens, has hit fall like a switch was flipped. Mid 70s to Low 80s with no end in sight, could be until May. This makes the summers bearable.

Gonna exhaust my hyper doggies in all the parks, miles in maybe 10s, eyeing the little and not so little girls with no intent whatsoever.

the Giants totally suck this year

The A's haven't exactly been tearing up the league either. OK, not (quite) as bad as the Giants. But still.

So the assistant coaches are charged with accepting $$:

intending to be influenced or rewarded in connection with any business, transaction, or series of transactions of such organization, government, or agency

I guess I can see how this might apply to recruiting athletes, but since that's their job anyway I'm not sure what the harm to the school is, other than speculative harm from possible future sanctions. I suppose they might recruit only specific athletes and leave other possible recruits on the table.

But other things, like "steering" an athlete to a particular agent or shoe firm, how is that part of the "business, transaction, or series of transactions" of the University? I suppose if it's specifically in the job description, maybe.

It all seems very tenuous.

I agree that it's tenuous and that's what prompted my "prosecutorial overreach" comment.

Breaking news: Rick Pitino out at Louisville.

Yep. I generally don't like "better things to do with their time"-type arguments, but 2 years investigating this seems a bit much.

I'm sick of the distractions every time the https://herlanderwalking.wordpress.com/2017/09/27/hes-a-doll-the-trolling-of-america/>Troll in Chief knows he is fucking something up.

Oops, sorry about the clumsy, screwed up linkage attempt. I wanted to share a photo of the literal Trump Troll doll!

Aha, a chance to test my understanding of cleek's image posting instructions!

Did it work?

It half worked (only half because I guess I should have somehow miminised the original image in some way?). Thanks, future cleek!

I see you have confirmation of a new barbarian on the Supreme Court....
http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/jurisprudence/2017/09/neil_gorsuch_showed_his_commitment_to_racial_equality_is_as_strong_as_trump.html

Gorsuch's and the other conservative Supreme Court Judges' murder trials will have all-black juries, unless Gorsuch happens to have an unfortunate traffic stop before then with a white cop who kills twice as many white drivers as black.

Waiting for the Barbarians C P Cavafy


What are we waiting for, assembled in the forum?

The barbarians are due here today.


Why isn’t anything happening in the senate?
Why do the senators sit there without legislating?

Because the barbarians are coming today.
What laws can the senators make now?
Once the barbarians are here, they’ll do the legislating.


Why did our emperor get up so early,
and why is he sitting at the city’s main gate
on his throne, in state, wearing the crown?

Because the barbarians are coming today
and the emperor is waiting to receive their leader.
He has even prepared a scroll to give him,
replete with titles, with imposing names.


Why have our two consuls and praetors come out today
wearing their embroidered, their scarlet togas?
Why have they put on bracelets with so many amethysts,
and rings sparkling with magnificent emeralds?
Why are they carrying elegant canes
beautifully worked in silver and gold?

Because the barbarians are coming today
and things like that dazzle the barbarians.


Why don’t our distinguished orators come forward as usual
to make their speeches, say what they have to say?

Because the barbarians are coming today
and they’re bored by rhetoric and public speaking.


Why this sudden restlessness, this confusion?
(How serious people’s faces have become.)
Why are the streets and squares emptying so rapidly,
everyone going home so lost in thought?

Because night has fallen and the barbarians have not come.
And some who have just returned from the border say
there are no barbarians any longer.


And now, what’s going to happen to us without barbarians?
They were, those people, a kind of solution.

In fact, of course, the barbarians are here already.....

And now of course I can't get barbarians out of my head, so I have to post this (sorry!):

TRANSLATION BY ROY FULLER

Now that the barbarians have got as far as Picra,
And all the new music is written in the twelve tone scale,
And I am anyway approaching my fortieth birthday,
I will dissemble no longer.

I will stop expressing my belief in the rosy
Future of man, and accept the evidence
Of a couple of wretched wars and innumerable
Abortive revolutions.

I will cease to blame the stupidity of the slaves
Upon their masters and nurture, and will say,
Plainly, that they are enemies to culture,
Advancement and cleanliness.

From progressive organisations, from quarterlies
Devoted to daring verse, from membership of
Committees, from letters of various protest
I shall withdraw forthwith.

When they call me reactionary I shall smile
Secure in another dimension. When they say
‘Cinna has ceased to matter’ I shall know
How well I reflect the times.

The ruling class will think I am on their side
And make friendly overtures, but I shall retire
To the side furthest from Picra and write some poems
About the doom of the whole boiling.

Anyone happy in this age and place
Is daft or corrupt. Better to abdicate
From a material and spiritual terrain
Fit only for barbarians

This looks well worth reading:
https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2017/10/02/pour-one-out-for-ulysses-s-grant

(And will play to my fascination with early US railroads.)

wj @12:29: Yeah, but 1) I am an A's fan and 2) A's fans don't ride my train and annoy me (unless they are playing the Giants in SF).

GftNC @ 5:14pm -- Can I just say that is the greatest paean to rough trade ever written? Kthx

In the immortal words of Axel Foley: HEF!

This looks well worth reading:

Yes, it was. Not much there about railroads, though. You might enjoy Matthew Josephson's The Robber Barons.

Off topic (and that in an open thread):

I have forgotten the scientific terms that categorize languages as either mainly independent of cultural context (requiring mainly grammar rules and vocabulary to communicate) or extremly dependent on detailed cultural background knowledge (knowing only the words and grammar rules doesn't allow for even basic communication).
My google- and wiki-fu fails me there, although I know that there are (or were) entries for that.
Can someone/somebody here help me out there?

Trudeau is right.

Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau agrees that NAFTA does not do enough to establish common labor standards for the North American continent. But he doesn’t think that Trump needs to look quite so far south to find a place that’s undercutting American workers: In 28 U.S. states, so-called “right-to-work” laws inhibit the ability of workers to unionize, thereby holding down wages, and encouraging companies in America’s other 22 states to ship jobs across our nation’s (internal) borders.

These laws undermine organized labor by allowing workers who join a unionized workplace to enjoy the benefits of a collective bargaining agreement without paying dues to the union that negotiated it. This has the effect of encouraging other workers to skirt their dues, which can then drain a union of the funds it needs to survive.

Trudeau has called for a revised NAFTA to prohibit such laws, so as to protect Canadians from losing jobs to cheap American labor."

Trudeau needs to shut down the Canadian border to goods produced by right-to-work-and-that's-about-it low wage states.

Canada should deport American dreamers who cause nightmares for the rest of us.

Hartmut--

As far as I know there are no such terms. I am wondering: is is possible you are generalizing the terms context-free and context-sensitive to pragmatics/sociolinguistics?

JakeB, I'm glad you said that. Being only an amateur at linguistics (and an out of date one at that), I was waiting for a pro to weigh in. (lj's probably sleeping...)

But all I can think of for Hartmut's first category would be...computer languages? Pure invented Esperanto, before it starts getting used by actual humans?

either mainly independent of cultural context (requiring mainly grammar rules and vocabulary to communicate)

Chomsky's Universal Grammar?

"The basic postulate of UG is that a certain set of structural rules are innate to humans, independent of sensory experience. With more linguistic stimuli received in the course of psychological development, children then adopt specific syntactic rules that conform to UG."

Maybe also Ferdinand Saussure's General Linguistics?

There is also Korzybski and Hayakawa General Semantics

Just dropping names you can research. I know nothing.

But I remain an old-fogey structuralist.

I have been enjoying calling my conservative workmates 'snowflakes' who need their NFL games to be 'safe places' where they do not have to confront any ideas and beliefs that they don't agree with.

Even the Cowboys and Jerry Jones joined in.

I've yet to call anyone a snowflake for that reason, but that same thought did occur to me. Great minds think alike, and so do we.

JakeB, in that case someone clearly has completely reworked the wiki entries and removed all application to languages used in human (spoken) communication.

I know there were entries with specific terms dealing with those. The most common example are of course idioms that are not self-explaining but those can be mostly avoided in the languages we are most familiar with. But there are languages that consist mainly of structures working that way on the basic level (spoken mostly by 'primitive' peoples of course ;-) ). I know that the articles also discussed the possible implications of keeping the language hermetic*, e.g. creating strong 'us vs. them' distinctions a priori. Japanese (and Korean) has a reputation in that direction but I think that has more to do with class inside the group of native speakers than with their hermit tendencies.
A non-spoken example would the Chinese-derived writing systems where in theory the pictograms are composed of self-explanatory elements but the composites require a deep cultural knowledge to decipher based just on the meaning of the elements.

*I first thought that would be the term but 'hermetic language' deals with a very specific literary topic not the charcter of language itself.

context-free may be the term you are looking for, but I don't know of the opposing term. Functional linguistics would stand as the opposite, but I don't think context-free and functional are opposites.

The most recent kerfluffle has been between Chomsky and Dan Everett

https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2007/04/16/the-interpreter-2

A fun quote regarding Chomsky and his opponents, Elizabeth Bates wrote "functionalism is like Protestantism: it is a group of warring sects which agree only on the rejection of the authority of the Pope."

For a healthy dose of anti chomskyan fun, I recommend Geoff Pullum's The Great Eskimo Vocabulary Hoax and Other Irreverent Essays on the Study of Language, especially the one entitled Chomsky on the Enterprise, where Commander Spock has the opportunity to add his voice to an interview with Chomsky. Fun stuff.

ahh, Hartmut maybe isolating and agglutinative languages?

http://www.glossary.sil.org/term/agglutinative-language

http://www.glossary.sil.org/term/isolating-language

Also fusional and polysynthetic.

a bit more
http://www.languagesoftheworld.info/bad-linguistics/agglutinative-folk.html

The idea that languages moved from isolating to agglutinative and then to inflecting was an idea that emerged at the beginning of linguistics.

https://books.google.co.jp/books?id=3xoB_3C5N5QC&pg=PA158&lpg=PA158&dq=agglutinative+primitive&source=bl&ots=joiPYegBBD&sig=dhMce3_FlNytxH_aereVIVwXG64&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjntsXe68jWAhVIxrwKHR9XCyEQ6AEILzAB#v=onepage&q=agglutinative%20primitive&f=false

Humboldt introduced the term agglutinative

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Morphological_typology

The last bit on that page about Dixon's theory of language going thru a cycle is interesting, and it notes 'the Egyptian language as one that has undergone the entire cycle in only about three thousand years". I like the 'only' in that sentence, but given the pace of the world and human tendencies, I don't think any language or culture has 3000 years any more.

LJ, did you ever read Poul Anderson's _A Midsummer's Tempest_? A delightful book, whose central conceit is that everything Shakespeare wrote was historically factual (including that the Romans spoke Elizabethean English).

On the radio it was portrayed as defrauding the universities they work for by accepting money to steer players to certain advisors, and/or arranging payments to players through third parties

I don't know about the laws here, but taking money to steer players to advisers or agents is pretty bad behavior. These guys are coaches, remember. I think, way back in the Dark Ages, coaches were supposed to be interested in the players' welfare. Telling a player that John Doe is the agent he wants, because Doe slipped the coach a few grand, would be shameful, if there were such a thing as shame in big-time college sports.

I do think prosecutors overreach, way too often, and the chance of publicity adds to the tendency. I don't know if that's the case here, but surely these guys deserve to be fired, and kept away from universities form now on.

Oh it's certainly a fireable offense and would/will subject the schools to sanctions by the NCAA, but still seems like some priorities are out of whack at the FBI/DOJ.

Moreover, it's coming awfully close to writing the NCAA's horrible amateur rules into law and essentially turning over the NCAA's (admittedly poor and spotty) rule enforcement mechanism to the government and giving the rules the force of law.

I can guarantee that none of those people thought they were doing anything criminal, even if they knew they would be fired if they were ever found out (with the possible exception of the shoe company guy).

Still wondering what the actual harm to the schools are, as opposed to potential future harm.

No, but sounds interesting. I've had a hard time reading any fiction in English for the past 10 years or so. I've got a number of theories as to why that is, but maybe I'll try to get it. thx

lj, I think there is a strong overlap of agglutinative and 'hermetic' languages but it is by no means a perfect fit. An then there are curious cases like some Amazonian tribal languages that for cultural reasons do not make use of the full options their grammars provide, i.e. there are ways of expressing things fully in accordance with the grammar rules (and seemingly natural to outsiders) that are never used by the native speakers. Classical Latin has a few small elements of that too btw, and those 'gaps' were closed mostly in the Middle Ages when the language had no native speakers aynmore. Cicero (and Seneca) struggled with this on occasion but would not come up with the solution that any beginner in Latin would almost automatically employ.

America, love it or leave it:

“I’m going to work until I die, if I can, because I need the money,” said Dever, 74,
...
People are living longer, more expensive lives, often without much of a safety net. As a result, record numbers of Americans older than 65 are working — now nearly 1 in 5. That proportion has risen steadily over the past decade, and at a far faster rate than any other age group. Today, 9 million senior citizens work, compared with 4 million in 2000.

While some work by choice rather than need, millions of others are entering their golden years with alarmingly fragile finances. Fundamental changes in the U.S. retirement system have shifted responsibility for saving from the employer to the worker, exacerbating the nation’s rich-poor divide. Two recent recessions devastated personal savings. And at a time when 10,000 baby boomers are turning 65 every day, Social Security benefits have lost about a third of their purchasing power since 2000.

Ugh,

Still wondering what the actual harm to the schools are, as opposed to potential future harm.

Not clear what the harm to the school is, but there could easily be harm to an athlete steered to an inferior, not to mention plainly dishonest, agent.

From today's daily e-mail newsletter by the Economist:

China said that all North Korean companies in the country would be shut. The commerce ministry set a 120-day deadline from the start of UN sanctions imposed after North Korea’s latest nuclear test.
Perhaps China has decided to get serious about turning the screws on North Korea. If their sanctions move past hurting the North Korean population to actually impacting the elite, Kim may be in trouble. Even an absolute dictator needs some number of enforcers to maintain his position.

Take these two from Ugh's link together:

Two recent recessions devastated personal savings.

and

While most Americans are unprepared for retirement, rich older people are doing better than ever. Among people older than 65, the wealthiest 20 percent own virtually all of the nation’s $25 trillion in retirement accounts, according to the Economic Policy Institute.

and you get this:

Fundamental changes in the U.S. retirement system have shifted responsibility for saving from the employer to the worker, exacerbating the nation’s rich-poor divide.

Some people shorted the futures of others during those recessions and got rich doing it. Apparently, it was all legal.

While some work by choice rather than need, millions of others are entering their golden years with alarmingly fragile finances. Fundamental changes in the U.S. retirement system have shifted responsibility for saving from the employer to the worker, exacerbating the nation’s rich-poor divide.

A problem exacerbated by the tendency of my generation to spend their lives as grasshoppers rather than ants: spending for the present with no thought for the future. An alarming number of quite well paid folks (e.g. IT workers) managed to save very little.

We need to lower taxes and slash regulations to unleash the power of investment on our economy because it's going to help everyday Americans. Isn't that how it's been working all along, just on a smaller scale?

401k and IRAs turn out to be mostly a band-aid for the shift away from defined benefit plans that no longer need to be funded.

How many of your for profit employer's match 401k contributions? Mine does, but it's a non-profit.

should add to the end of that first sentence: rather than a viable way to save for retirement for the average American.

More:

There is no shortage of theories about why modern American life is beset with a stagnant middle class and a lack of good jobs.
...
In his new book, The End of Loyalty: The Rise and Fall of Good Jobs in America, Rick Wartzman offers a different primary culprit: corporate culture.

This culture, Wartzman argues, has “explicitly elevated shareholders above employees.” Looking at issues like the rising disdain for unions, the emergence of Ronald Reagan, and, quite simply, less corporate focus on the common good, Wartzman makes the case that the increasing focus on top salaries and shareholder returns has warped American life.

How many of your for profit employer's match 401k contributions? Mine does, but it's a non-profit.

Mine does, up to a limit specified by % of salary. My company has anachronistically good benefits which are gradually being eroded as (as I see it) part of the exact same process described in the last paragraph of Ugh's 1:45. It just happened later for us because of quirks of timing, ownership, etc., and maybe more slowly because the essential decency of a company that was always a bit funky hasn't been baked out of it. (Yet?)

How many of your for profit employer's match 401k contributions? Mine does, but it's a non-profit.

Some matching in 401K's and SEP IRA's is not uncommon, but it is usually capped at some paltry figure. You also have to consider the generally rapacious rake-off taken out by the investment firms/fund managers. Even 1% a year over 40 years adds up to a big chunk for basically telling suckers "past performance is no guarantee of future results".

They 'effing want it all.

Ted Kennedy once famously asked, "Where does the greed stop?"

It doesn't.

bobbyp's 2:12 -- another item subsumed under russell's general observation the other day:

the health care system in this country is no longer about health care. it is about making money, or not spending money.

i.e., it is about money.

in that, it is like every other good and useful thing that has been absorbed by the calculus of commodification.

Just because we haven't heard about it lately, let's not forget the efforts that have been made, and will probably be made again, to "privatize" social security, for the exact same reason: so that someone can start skimming profits off it. Or should I say "rapacious rake-offs" off it.

"Some of the most admired (and top-earning) companies today include Amazon, Costco, Google, Patagonia, Southwest Airlines, Starbucks, and of course, Whole Foods. Each of these companies is cited by Mackey as those that have embraced its 'rising consciousness.' He is convinced that a 'conscious business energizes and empowers people and engages their best contribution in service of its noble higher purpose. By doing so, a business has a profoundly net positive net impact on the world.'"
In Capitalism, Nice Guys Finish First: Capitalists get a bad rap for being greedy and ruthless, but John Mackey shows another way.

With the current corporate culture, having a 'defined benefit plan' generally means that there's a pot of money sitting around, just waiting for corporate raiders to grab, via contrived bankruptcy, merger or whatever.

Best to have the whole thing OUT of their greedheads dishonest paws, as the employees of Enron found out the hard way.

It's almost like it has been planned this way for 40-plus years.

It's almost like, instead of the filth rapturing their wealth away to a secret land of the prosperity gospel as they have threatened to do since the Soviet Union planted their agents Ayn Rand, Milton Friedman, Arthur Laffer, and onald rump among us, Galt's Gulch has been built around us and the padlocks placed on access for all but the filthy few, most of them conservatives who want the rest of the crumbs, too.

Social Security and Medicare will be abolished. There will be no unions in America in fifteen years. They will made illegal as they are in other totalitarian countries around the globe. There will no public education in America in 15 years. There will be no public libraries in America in 15 years.

There will be no access to roads and highways in 15 years if you haven't the wealth. There will be no access to fresh water or clean air In America unless you possess the wealth. There will no protection of the environment in America. There will no National Parks or State Parks in America.

The law that stipulates all patients must be seen and given meliorative care in hospitals and clinics will be abolished.

Free clinics will be surveilled and taxed to prevent any citizen from getting something for nothing.

Unless you are incorporated, you will not be considered a person under the Constitution. Unless you possess enough wealth above a certain level, the First Amendment for political purposes will be defunct for many of us.

Only money will be heard. These noises we make with our mouths and these scratchings in ink and type will not be heard by deaf political institutions.

The NRA and the Republican party, in a few years, will quietly shift their positions on the Second Amendment. Only those above a certain income and with the correct political views and party registration will be permitted to purchase and possess guns and ammo.

Every day at noon, 365 days a year, a siren will sound across America and all legitimate citizens, those in the one percent, will expect all proles, the rest of us, to stop what we are doing and stand at attention and salute military hardware as it trundles by our houses and places of business and flies overhead in formation.

Any deviation will be noted and accommodation for the deviants will made on the prison island of Puerto Rico.

There will be a prison system far more vast than today to house liberals, gays, blacks, Mexicans, all questionable immigrants, feminists, and women who are pregnant outside of marriage, and those who kneel, unless it is to Mammon.

Only conservative churches will be released from the prohibition of making political contributions. They will seek parishioners, not by promising everlasting life, but by paying them to join via tax-free subsidization by corporations and the likes of the fascist Mercers and the Kochs.

Only conservative republican public bathrooms will be permitted in America. They will not be required to treat their waste however, because their shit don't stink and their piss will be considered the golden shower elixir of trickle down prosperity in God-fucked America.

The rest of us will have to piss up a rope under massive state surveillance, for a user fee.

There will be only one rope.

The rope will be used to hang us.

This could all be avoided by means unmentionable, but will not, because America is full of shit.

With the current corporate culture, having a 'defined benefit plan' generally means that there's a pot of money sitting around, just waiting for corporate raiders to grab, via contrived bankruptcy, merger or whatever.

Best to have the whole thing OUT of their greedheads dishonest paws, as the employees of Enron found out the hard way.

Yes. But this is not entirely new.

Part of the reason IRA', 401(k)'s and the like came into being was that defined benefit plans had some serious deficiencies. They were very nice if you spent your career at a stable organization, but if not you had problems. The plans had various vesting requirements, so career-changers lost a lot of accrued unvested benefits, which were generally not portable.

As Snarki says, the plans were always vulnerable to bankruptcy and other events, even including changing the terms. There was a famous case concerning IBM in the 90's.

The problems with self-directed plans like 401(k)'s are, IMO, twofold.

First, the company matches are often too small, by comparison with what DB plans used to offer. Partly that's cheapness, partly, maybe, it's the fact that the DB plans had a significant dropout rate, so pension money was more narrowly distributed. Good for the recipients, not so good for job-changers.

The second is that they expose participants to the vast amount of financial hucksterism, bad advice, and near-thievery that exists in the investment world. People have a chunk of money to manage. It's important and they're nervous and often do not have a lot of financial knowledge. So it's easy to go for the reassuring voice, all the more so when it comes from a big-name outfit, and they end up with mismanaged funds and silly fees.

Moving on.

Breaking News:
HHS Secretary Tom Price is apparently resigning. Is a matter of his use of his office (and its budget) for personal purposes had gotten just too embarrassing? Or is it just that he was getting too much press compared to the President? (Or even both?)

You decide. The answer makes a difference, because he's not the only one wasting budget funds on personal travel. Could we be looking at a new Treasury Secretary as well...?

They were very nice if you spent your career at a stable organization, but if not you had problems. The plans had various vesting requirements, so career-changers lost a lot of accrued unvested benefits, which were generally not portable.

How well I remember. I started work at Bank of Americas. Their retirement plan vested after 10 years. That's 10 calendar years (each with at least 1000 hours worked). But then, they changed it to anniversary years. The Bank swore that nobody would lose anything as a result. But then I changed jobs. I had 10 calendar years . . . but for my last anniversary year, I was a few hours short of 1000 hours. So, zero vesting. Surprise!

30+ years later, I'm still a bit testy about that.

my wife and I are just finishing a two week holiday in italy. yay us.

from my unscientific and completely anecdotal experience here, which has consisted of talking to people (WTF, it worked for friedman), I conclude that American workers, compared to those of any remotely similar nation, are basically getting screwed on a daily basis.

job security, health insurance, time off, retirement, child care, parental leave. American workers are, by general OECD standards, treated like crap.

keep on genuflecting to those "job creators". wealth creators, go pound sand.

job security, health insurance, time off, retirement, child care, parental leave. American workers are, by general OECD standards, treated like crap.

I agree with this to an extent. A lot of this has to do with the attitude of workers themselves towards fighting for their own rights. Italians and French strike regularly. Nobody can count on getting on that train. Our folks do not. The people there stand up and fight for certain things. Here they don't (not lately - they vote for Trump instead).

The reason I said "to an extent" is that if you go to some outlying areas of Italy, not as a tourist, perhaps as a worker of some kind yourself, you will find pretty serious poverty. It's misery, although their gorgeous culture is some comfort.

Corruption (mafia) rules a lot of Italy. Like this. Close relatives have lived in Italy, and worked there some. Lovely, gorgeous, inspiring place to visit. Living there? Hard.

Did you read Elena Ferrante's novels? Highly recommend them for so many reasons, poverty included. There was a thread recently. I think I was the only one here, at the time, who had read them.

Friends, my laptop key#oard seems to have eliminated the second letter of the alpha#et. I'm hoping it fixes itself. In the meantime, my comments will either #e awkward, include a # instead of that letter, or whatever. Sorry for this!

Another thing, just to #e annoying: the literary community around here is all a#out new stuff. Elena Ferrante and Karl Ove Knausgård were vying (in my community) for literary attention. I haven't yet read Karl Ove Knausgård, although I plan to do that. #ut plenty of people here have tried reading his work, #ut Elena Ferrante? Not so much.

Ferrante's work isn't the last word on feminism, #ut it's incredi#ly informative. Read the series, please. It's a #it operatic (Italian, no?) #ut so freaking good.

So - open thread and all - Puerto Rico anyone? I'm thinking that PR should have #een on the forefront of everything for the past week.

We're #arely talking a#out it. #ad for us.

#ad for us.

I guess I meant: "#ad on us."

Tedious but:

B - [alt] 0066
b - [alt] 0098

ºº§§

Thanks,CharlesWT! It's not working yet, #ut I'll keep at it.

Hmmm...should work if you hold down the Alt key and type in the numbers.

I checked again. You don't have to type in the zeros.

Puerto Rico

Also the Virgin Islands

https://www.balloon-juice.com/2017/09/29/hurricane-marias-aftermath-the-leaks-become-a-flood/

Puerto Ricans are brown people with big debts they owe us surrounded by big water. Ocean water.

The Russians, Cubans, and the Chinese need to move on Puerto Rico.

I mean, the Russians already have their man in the White House, and a few in Congress.

They are coming for all of us:

https://digbysblog.blogspot.com/2017/09/coming-for-resistance.html

filthy, stinking republicans.

rump didn't even show up for the swearing in of the new FBI Director. Maybe he visited Thad Cochran in the hospital, where rump has insisted seven times in recent days the Confederate is in his sickbed.

Maybe Tom Price, and the other thieving, lying republican cabinet secretaries can be hoisted aloft via a weather balloon gondola into the eye of the next hurricane on the way to their next junkets and report back to us.

http://juanitajean.com/welcome-to-third-world-america/

The plane won't be replaced because some of the data it collects MIGHT be used to justify the deep state liberal conspiracy to remake the entire world economy because of global warming.

Trump later this afternoon, "Let them eat cholera." Probably.

Powerful excellence:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mU0RfhvYN8s

Or .... as the current inhabitants of the White House and their voters would say:

"Namby-pamby politically correct fake news. Diversity schleversity. This is a white Christian male country. There are very good people writing racist graffiti. There are very good people on the other side NOT writing racist graffiti."

Tweeted by John Rentoul today, a reminder of the late, great (at least as a journalist/columnist) Bernard Levin, (for those who few who may be interested, Arianna Huffington's first and greatest love), here talking about John Major's government, but of course it applies even more appositely to Trump's:

The longer and more frequently I contemplate Mr Blair, the more I like the cut of his jib. This has nothing to do with the alternative; I long ago concluded that the present Government was worm-eaten, exhausted, dishonest, incompetent, lazy, mendacious, ignorant, rotten, false, disreputable, deceitful, unsavoury, squalid, abominable, soiled, piratical, shifty, discreditable, infamous, improper, obscene, hateful, impure, degraded, dilapidated, shabby, grovelling, discredited, renownless, tarnished, disgraced, shameless, creeping, abject, two-faced, unscrupulous, villainous, treacherous, untrustworthy, prevaricating, sinister, crawling, insincere, fishy, spurious, unclean, felonious, infamous, venal, base, vile, bribable, rancid, disloyal, scheming, unsavoury, sickening, fetid, nauseating, putrid, defaulting, mouldering, evil, vicious, damnable, maleficent, wrong, ineffectual, mean, inferior, contemptible, superficial, irrelevant, expendable, powerless, pathetic, nugatory, impotent, jumped-up, cheap, insalubrious, flea-ridden, unsound, nasty, baneful, foul-tonged, cursed, unwarranted, execrable, damned, abnormal, unreasonable, virtueless, peccant, sinful, unworthy, hopeless, incorrigible, tergiversating, brutalised, nefarious, culpable, scandalous, worthless, flagitious, gross, indefensible and unpardonable to say the least. But Blair, as far as I can see, is to be found on his own feet, not measuring by the scabrous (I missed that one) Lilliputians now arrayed against him.

rewriting that on-point paragraph in rump-speak would entail placing the words "Make America greatly" as lead in to "worm-eaten" and add "very, very" before every wonderful descriptive, like when the top comes off the salt shaker and dumps salt all over your exquisite meal.

"unpardonable' would be replaced by "pardoned"

add "is that a word? I don't know if you know that word, I do" directly after "tergiversating" and then he would mock a disabled person, thinking "tergiversating" was a medical term for bodily movements during a Grand Mal seizure.

Paddy Chayefsky would be proud of Levin's list.

To be fair, which is now a law, Tony Blair was no snowflake. He tergiversated all over the place.

H.L. Mencken could use words bigly too:

http://juanitajean.com/downright-moron/

If I want Hugh Hefner ruined for me, this is how it should be done:

http://www.lawyersgunsmoneyblog.com/2017/09/plutocratic-logic-hefner-apologists

Count, I didn't say anything the first time you mentioned this, but was your opinion of Hef truly such that it's only just been "ruined"? Maybe you are just being ironic? And I speak as someone who grew up with loads of people (although luckily not my father) reading Playboy, and thinking it worthwhile (the articles!) and sophisticated. And I never questioned it until, I don't know, the late 70s...

To the extent that I thought about Hefner, which was hardly at all and WHEN I thought about it him it was the few times when I was 12 years old and my best friend would sneak into his Dad's bedroom, rummage under his bed, and appear with a stack of them for we boys to peruse during sleepovers, I viewed him as a sort of harmless sideshow, a con, but with the audacity to lounge around and be interviewed in his pajamas and a bathrobe with pretty girls surrounding him ... naivete.

Mine.

In the intervening years, dozens and dozens of them, I paid no attention, with the exception of the John Lennon interview back in the 1970s.

Ir always kind of killed me that Playboy was a public company traded on the stock exchange.

So that was the little that was ruined. I'm sorry to hear he was a rather a mean individual. A misogynist. And not an employer who treated many of his employees like human beings, but instead like company assets and objects.

He was tawdry.

Where was OSHA? Where was the EEO?

When we run out of English words to describe rump, use Latin:

http://www.lawyersgunsmoneyblog.com/2017/09/donald-trump-truly-despicable-human

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