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March 19, 2016

Comments

Cool.

I'd love it if the Cubs took it all.

Except for this. It would be something along the lines of an extremely rare celestial alignment event of Nostradomic proportions.

It would happen in October, just before the election.

What would that portend for who gets elected? Yikes!!!

What kind of stock market indicator would it be?

Would the lava dome building under Yellowstone finally go kablooey in synchrony?

As in, well, the Cubs won, so might as well blow up the world cause it ain't going to get any better than this.

Or, maybe it would happen during the bottom of the ninth in a tied seventh game of the World Series between the Cubs and whomever, just to continue the jinx and once and for all halt the Cubs chances at a title.

Cubs win.

Then a booger-flicking six-year old becomes President, as Republicans just barely fail to boost the God-addled Cruz into the job, the only guy who could boost the American death toll over and above Trump's.

http://digbysblog.blogspot.com/2016/03/a-random-sampling-of-obsessions-of-12.html

Less than Mao, the both of them, so they'll stand up well in future body count discussions with imbeciles.

http://digbysblog.blogspot.com/2016/03/a-random-sampling-of-obsessions-of-12.html

I look forward to State dinners at the Trump White House, now covered in fake gold leaf, when Trump fills his gob with peas and mashed potatoes and opens it and flashes the mess at his enemies in the cheap seats.

Something occurs to me. The last time the Cubs won a World Series was 1908. The next Presidential election (1912) was the one where the Republican Party split because the populists were unhappy with the way big business was running the party.

So the Cubs winning might be an omen of some kind....

New Supreme Court nominee... total meltdown of major political party... and all my favourite sites have decided this is the moment to become obsessed with baseball and basketball. How exactly am I supposed to waste time now?

When it comes to baseball, prediction is hard, especially about the future. So I hear.

Frex, it looked for a while that the Red Sox would win the World Series in every year with a Russian Revolution.
Then they fell out of sync. Oh well.

Hey, Adam, it's an Open Thread. Just start spouting off and see what response you get. (No doubt we all have opinions on those subjects as well. ;-)

Open thread? Okay:

What's happened to dimming your highbeams for on-coming drivers? Or for the driver you're tailgating?

Now that we've fooled the sun into staying up later, by means of the never-fails practical joke called "daylight savings time", I'm hoping to do less driving in the dark on two-lane roads. So I might, possibly, avoid shooting one of the many, many a$$holes who seem to have proliferated this past winter here in the Boston suburbs.

What the hell is going on? Is it possible that recent-model cars are coming equipped with supposedly self-dimming headlights that don't quite work right, and I am being blinded by oblivious morons rather than arrogant jerks? Is it possible that cellphones, combined with stalk-mounted instead of the old-style foot-mounted dimmer switches, are to blame? (If so, is there an app for that?) Whatever it is, the blinding-high-beam problem is getting worse and worse.

Is it just me, or what?

--TP


Tony -- I don't think it's just you. This has been irritating me for years. I'm guessing there are several factors, not excluding overlap with your suggestions:

1. Based on my kids' experience in driver's ed (okay, > 10 years ago now, but still), driver's ed classes spend most of their time trying to scare kids into driving safely instead of actually teaching them how to do it.

2. Cellphones.

3. Assholes. (Especially the ones that tailgate at all with lights on, never mind with their highbeams on. Why don't you design us a system we can use to flash messages out the rear window: "Dim your lights, a$$hole!" I've seen bumper stickers that are related in my mind: "The closer you get, the slower we go." That is actually a rule I live by, although I've calmed myself down a lot in fear of becoming a victim of road rage. Now I don't tap my brakes to make that point, I just gradually slow down......

4. In Maine, at least, last time I heard, they had (some years ago) removed headlight alignment from the annual inspection, so alignment just doesn't get done any more. That's why there are so many cars that seem like one headlight is on highbeam and the other isn't.

Grrrrrrrrr.

It's not just the highbeams with me. Anyone else irritatated by the increasingly bright LED sidelights ?

Notably on some of the more expensive German models.

Of course this might also be a function of older eyes being more susceptible to glare.

Fallows is running an interesting series very at the Atlantic:
http://www.theatlantic.com/notes/all/2016/03/trump-nation/473955/#note-474552

I can get the significant lack of enthusiasm for Hillary on the part of some Democrats, and indeed the hatred emanating from some Republicans.
But the hatred from some Democrats ?

I have a harder time telling if they're highbeams or just super-bright new-fangled headlights these days.

Tony P., foot switches? I had a car with one of those. It was built in 1968. Did you go stright from an 8-track player to an iPod in the last couple of years, too?

DOT in the Dark: American headlight regs are dimwitted: While the agency delays life-saving technology, it allows automakers to sell cars that drive around in the dark. And that doesn't seem bright at all.

@Nigel -- I'm with you on the LEDs. In fact, I don't even get why they're allowed.

I remember foot switches..... ;-)

And I don't have an iPod. (Yet?) It's been a while since I had a car with a tape player, but I do still play CDs. My kids were happy when, at the point when I bought a new car three years ago (first time ever buying a brand new one, probably the last as well), the exact one I wanted wasn't on the lot, and we made a deal where I ended up with a car that did have a USB port, unlike the model I had wanted. Not that my kids are in the car with me much, but for long trips they like to have more options.

Well, as for the Cubs, I recall reading a science fiction novel a few years ago that was set around the year 2215 and mentioned for scene-setting, "The Cubs had recently completed their third century without a World Series win." You never know.

I can get the significant lack of enthusiasm for Hillary on the part of some Democrats, and indeed the hatred emanating from some Republicans.
But the hatred from some Democrats ?

I'm sure a lot of it is misogyny - you can find that anywhere on the political spectrum. But there's also a perception that Clinton is pragmatic to the point of having no fixed principles at all, or that she's establishment for the sake of establishment (yes, those two are in some contention with each other). She's also extremely elitist and more than a little condescending, if not outright patronizing. If you go left of the center left, she's something of an archetype of centerist liberal politics: lukewarm support on social issues, erratic and tepid lip service on fiscal issues (often coupled with staunchly pro-capital policies), and hawkish foreign policy, all wrapped up in a holier-than-thou, run-along-and-let-the-grownups-Do-Politics, that's-nice-dear 1% Ivy-League elitism.

(often coupled with staunchly pro-capital policies)

Yes, as evidenced also by her terrible record on labor issues.

More reasons not to feel great about Clinton--

http://www.nybooks.com/daily/2016/01/30/clinton-system-donor-machine-2016-election/

http://forward.com/opinion/national/324013/how-i-would-rebuild-ties-to-israel-and-benjamin-neta/

might as well vote for Trump i guess.

or try a Second Amendment remedy: buy a gun and shoot myself now.

</humor>

Based on my kids' experience in driver's ed (okay, > 10 years ago now, but still), driver's ed classes spend most of their time trying to scare kids into driving safely instead of actually teaching them how to do it.

I suspect that a significant part may be that driver's ed classes always seem to be daylight only. So new drivers never actually get taught about how to use their lights properly. And the fact that newer models have lights that come on automatically when it gets dark means that they can be totally ignorant about how their lights work.

erratic and tepid lip service on fiscal issues (often coupled with staunchly pro-capital policies)

Of course, Sanders (that self-proclaimed socialist) is on record as being staunchly in favor of private capital-based companies. Which doesn't sound much like socialism to me.

He just wants to regulate their excesses a bit more than most Democrats. Especially including Clinton. Even the "far left" in America is pretty darn right wing by most countries' standards.

I think I've mentioned that the Republican Party in California was among the first (outside the South anyway) to go down the far right rathole. But there are indications that we might also be leading the way back to sanity. Here's the new Republican leader in the California Assembly, taking his caucus on a field trip to a shelter for homeless mothers:

http://www.contracostatimes.com/breaking-news/ci_29663046/new-gop-leader-sacramento-wants-give-poor-people
Mayes, 38, believes he can make his party relevant in this ultrablue state by moving away from social issues like gay marriage and abortion, and focusing instead on quality of life issues like housing affordability and the need for middle-class jobs. **

How long before the Republicans in Congress catch up...?

** I do have to say that California isn't so much an "ultra-blue" state. This, after all, is a state where Ronald Reagan was governor. But it is one where the GOP has run far away from the population. (Less than 28% of the population are registered Republicans any more.)

Even the "far left" in America is pretty darn right wing by most countries' standards.

As far as I can tell, there is no meaningful 'left' in the US. Sanders can call himself whatever he wants, but as you note, he's not a socialist by any measure that would be recognizable anywhere else in the world.

Obama and Clinton (both Clintons) are, by global standards, somewhere between dead center and center-right.

Whether that's good, bad, or indifferent is another whole set of questions, but as a point of fact, the American 'left' is basically a sideshow. A curiosity. It's non-existent in electoral politics beyond a handful of extremely rare local examples.

there is no meaningful 'left' in the US.

What does that even mean, a "meaningful 'left'"?

What does that even mean, a "meaningful 'left'"?

Perhaps, a group on the left which is actually "left" in the sense that the rest of the world uses the term. And which has any significant influence on politics or public policy. (Compare, for ecample, the Labour Party in the UK. Now that's a meaningfully "left" party.)

You might want to be more specific about policy, and what that policy would mean in the US, wj. Perhaps the fact that people can't even begin to articulate that has a lot to do with people's perception that a "meaningful left" doesn't exist.

In fact, I think most Democratic presidents and presidential candidates would have (for example) signed legislation that would have raised taxes (especially on the wealthy) in order to expand public services, and more of a safety net to the middle class and less advantaged people. The problem is that the people who support those measures don't vote in off-year elections. Sad, huh? Has nothing at all to do with the absence of whatever it is that you or russell mean by "meaningful left". But maybe you didn't mean that.

Well, why don't they?

Not enough of them vote in presidential year elections either.

Well, why don't they?

I vote, so can only guess what other people are thinking. And my guess, from what I read on blogs, is that people are pretty clueless about the fact that we have three branches of government, and that Congress makes the laws. That seems pretty apparent by the "disappointment' that Obama couldn't make a single payer system happen, but maybe Bernie can. Things like that lead me to believe that people don't think very carefully about how the country (or the Constitution, which they're always talking about) works.

people are pretty clueless about the fact that we have three branches of government, and that Congress makes the laws.

Maybe they slept thru high school Civics class. (Do they even have that as a graduation requirement any more?)

wj: Civics, or Government, something like that.

And if you think that State legislatures (that set graduation requirements from HS) would let kids off the hook without a round of indoctrination, you're dreaming.

IMO, for most of them it's just "one more thing from school to be forgotten PDQ, like Algebra".

"What does that even mean, a "meaningful 'left'"?"

what I mean by it is, briefly, a social and political force that is favorable to labor.

in most of the world, that would be sort of left-ish, which kind of makes my point. and realistically, even that degree of poltically left orientation hardly exists here.

something as modest as advocating for a liveable minimum wage is a big deal, here.

folks who argue from a more thorough-going critical economic and social analysis are utterly out of the mainstream.

by international standards, the political spectrum in the US runs from a kind of technocratic middle ground, to plainly reactionary.

I'm not saying that's a good thing, or a bad thing. I am saying it's a thing.

to my eye, safety nets are liberal, not left. those two things are not synonymous.

an example of a policy that has a left, rather than a liberal, orientation would be a mandatory legal requirement for labor representation in corporate governance.

which exists, for example, in germany.

and none of that is the same as socialism. socialism involves public ownership of the means of production.

hope that clarifies what I'm talking about.

hope that clarifies what I'm talking about

Thanks. It does, and it gives me something to think about and read about.

as another simple example, it appears to be basically impossible for American policy makers to imagine what a productive, market based economy might look like outside the capitalist model.

that's what I mean when I say there is no meaningful left in the US.

Along the lines of what Russell is saying, I think, is this article I linked in the other thread

http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2016/03/bernie-sanders-nordic-countries/473385/

In the US this is considered utopian socialism and Bernie calls himself a socialist, but it is just capitalism with a very strong safety net that works for everyone.

Several of the Nordic countries have more economic freedom than the US. And the president of Denmark objects to Denmark being called a socialist country. He says it's a capitalist country.

capitalism with a very strong safety net that works for everyone.

I think most Democrats who think of themselves as "left" support this, and don't think it's crazy. I certainly don't.

In terms of labor rights, if "left" means "labor", then sure - we don't have a labor party. We have a social safety net, and "government can do infrastructure' party. I vote for that party, the Democrats, and have always considered myself to be on the left. Not that I object to union, and labor rights, but I'm not a protectionist.

Are Trump's trade policies "leftist"?

Trump has proposed slapping a 45 percent tariff on Chinese exports to America. I.e., 45% sales tax on anything from China. Another one of those "cut your nose to spite your face" deals.

The problem with that article, which I have now gotten on every social media feed I have plus a few emails, is that it is one dimensional. It doesn't talk about the economics of providing that safety net in the us, it just assumes the underlying economic factors are equivalent. That allows him to assume the outcome would be equivalent. It also doesn't address, other than pretty flippantly, that Finland is in a full lown recession,Sweden is in the throes of arguing about the extent of their safety net due to the even higher tax burden their and the challenge they have that their children (over 50%) want to emigrate to somewhere else because they have limited opportunity at home.

Everything is good as long as you only look at the good part. I'm curious, if its so great there, why he is here and a US citizen.

i suspect that attitudes towards emigration are different in Europe than in the US. it takes serious effort for most Americans to visit a different country. Europeans, not so much.

"Everything is good as long as you only look at the good part."

You mean Sweden and Finland aren't Shining Cities on The Hill either?

There's always sell-side Wall Street.

There's no ""left" left here because it's been hammered forever for refusing to follow the dictum wholesale that the United States is exceptional, so shut up.

Now the message from the right is "everything in America sucks" but will soon be TERRIFIC once we get back to only looking at the good parts and the left and the center shut up again, only from now on with a sucker punch.

Like the man said, next time he might have to kill.

And if we don't like shut up and be terrific, here's the alternative:

https://twitter.com/Rschooley/status/711690666942734337/photo/1?ref_src=twsrc^tfw

Not that I object to union, and labor rights

The very essence of the historical Left since Marx is the role and/or place of labor in society.

I'm curious, if its so great there, why he is here and a US citizen.

Is this that old chestnut "love it or leave it" brought back to life? Some things just don't change.

What's the Finnish and Swedish for "nattering nabobs of negativism"?

no, bobbyp, just a question I tend to ask since my college days. Several of my friends in college were Iranian and they spent hours at a time sitting in the student union talking about how America sucked and their country was better. So I took to asking them to explain why, since they obviously had a choice, were they here then.

I did tread a little more lightly after one who complained the least explained he was here because returning would mean he would be executed.

And now, my apologies. I jumped into this this morning but I am waiting on a plane to someplace warm where I promised myself I would take a break from all social media and blogs for a week. So, nevermind.

"somewhere warm"

I'm doing exactly the same thing in two weeks.

Things are complicated everywhere:

Iran may want trumP:

http://finance.yahoo.com/news/iran-surprising-favorite-u-presidential-101500324.html

Are Trump's trade policies "leftist"?

Another one of those "cut your nose to spite your face" deals.

When doctors, lawyers, accountants, hollywood, pharmaceutical companies, and Bill Gates are subjected to the same economic devastation as factory workers in the US have dealt with over the last several decades then the snark above could make some kind of substantial point.

Otherwise, they simply reveal a preference for economic coddling of some classes of people over others, and do not manifest in any way, a real admiration for "free trade".

See Dean Baker for further elaboration of this point.

Trump will start a new network, TSPP Trump Sucker Punches The Press:

http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/chuck-todd-says-trump-can-no-longer-call-into-meet-the-press

The apotheosis of the Right's hatred of the lamestream media.

Heil Hitler!

You're welcome.

Meil Mitch:

http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/mcconnell-dismisses-idea-of-lame-duck-confirmation-of-garland

an example of a policy that has a left, rather than a liberal, orientation would be a mandatory legal requirement for labor representation in corporate governance.

which exists, for example, in germany.

It seems that Germany's system doesn't necessarily solve the problem of wealth inequality though.

I wonder whether labor neutral social programs aren't better suited to the modern economy. (And I am against protectionism for doctors and lawyers as well as manufacturing workers, although professional licensing in order to guarantee quality is certainly necessary - in case anyone chimes in to insist on that).

German (large) unions are not very worker friendly themselves and treat their own employees like shit. Their representatives in governance have more in common with the dirty capitalists on the boards than with their base. Those unions of medium size tend to be much better (pragmatic and reasonable).
What unions still guarantee is at least a tolerable bottom level that I'd consider still to be far above that in the US. It's been some time since someone over here suggested that people starving in the streets should be seen as an incentive for workers to accept starvation grade wages while I hear veiled versions of this regularly from US politicians (usually in combination with a certain Bible quote deliberately stripped of context).
Germany is not Cockaigne but at least starvation is still at maximum a personal choice not collateral damage of an economical dogma put to practice.

I vote for that party, the Democrats, and have always considered myself to be on the left.

I pretty much always vote (D) as well. My comment wasn't meant to be critical of (D)'s or people who vote for them. The only point I was trying to raise is that, by any standard or usage that includes places other the US, the (D)'s are not particularly left-wing.

There are no institutions of any consequence in the US that are meaningfully "left", where for "meaningful" I simply mean left-wing in any sense that anyone other than an American would recognize.

Yes, in the American context, you (sapient) *are* left-wing. In the American context, I'm more or less a sans-culottes, which is kind of comical. And, that's my point.

It doesn't talk about the economics of providing that safety net in the us, it just assumes the underlying economic factors are equivalent.

That's a really good point, but I'm not sure the overall purpose of the article was to say "The US should be just like Denmark!".

As I read it, the purpose of the article was to make the point that the Nordic countries aren't especially socialist.

It seems that Germany's system doesn't necessarily solve the problem of wealth inequality though.

I wasn't actually arguing for adopting the German system, or holding it up as a shining example of socio-economic nirvana.

It was just an example of what seemed, to me, a left-oriented public policy. As opposed to a liberal one.

Basically, I was trying to clarify what I, personally, understand terms like "left" and "liberal" to mean.

The reason I'm interested in this stuff at all is that it seems to me that the liberal agenda in the US is mostly remedial - direct public resources to poor or otherwise disadvantaged people, so they don't starve or die of exposure, and as such, is always kind of a game of catch-up.

I'm talking here only about the economic dimension, American liberalism also has valuable goals that aren't strictly economic - social inclusion, defense of civil rights, etc. Those fall somewhat outside the fairly narrow point I'm trying to make here, but that is not to dismiss them or their value.

It's absolutely great to not let people starve or die of exposure. If people starving or dying of exposure is among the possibilities, I am emphatically agin it, and will support whatever efforts are available to prevent or remediate it. My preference, however, would be to organize our economy and society in such a way that remedial actions were hardly needed.

Distribution, not re-distribution. That is my mantra.

It's not a point of view I see represented in our social and political dialogue.

And no, the standard conservative line about "just get government out of the way, and the free market will solve it!" doesn't get it done, either.

I wonder whether labor neutral social programs aren't better suited to the modern economy.

Coupled with "capital neutral" and "private property neutral" policies, we could have a discussion. However, it comes down to what those policies are.

what I mean by it ["meaningful 'left'"] is, briefly, a social and political force that is favorable to labor.

My somewhat complementary take would be that a real conservative (I obviously can't use the phrase "true conservative"!) is of the opinion that "a workman is worthy of his hire." (Indeed, a Christian who actually reads his Bible is going to find those exact words.) That doesn't necessarily mean that a minimum wage law is necessary. Except that there are always those who decide to exploit the system, and a minimum wage law helps keep that restrained.

I admit to a fondness for some kind of profit-sharing plan, simply because I think it is good if everybody involved in a company has some kind of stake in how well that company does. And what is capitalism about, if not creating companies which do well?

It also tends to make management, capital, and labor all feel like they are on the same side. When they are opposed, you get strikes, mass layoffs, nasty treatment on both (sometimes all three) sides. It's not a congenial place to work . . . and since we spend a significant portion of our lives working, it seems better to work where folks get along.

I'd say that, overall, that position is "favorable to labor". Albeit not necessarily to labor unions. But then labor unions are, as far as I can see, only peripherally about helping labor. They seem to be more about a) fighting management, and b) doing well for union management.

Hartmut, regarding starvation, it seems that food insecurity in Europe, including Germany, is a problem, possibly just as much of a problem as in the US. Food insecurity seems not to be documented in the same way in both places, so it's hard to make a genuine comparison, although the problem does seem to exist in Europe.

I admit to a fondness for some kind of profit-sharing plan, simply because I think it is good if everybody involved in a company has some kind of stake in how well that company does. And what is capitalism about, if not creating companies which do well?

The idea of employee-owned companies is really attractive. I'm not sure that employees actually do better financially, although I think that job insecurity is less than for public companies.

I'm not sure that employees actually do better financially

In general, employees at employee-owned firms do better than at similar, non-employee-owned firms.

There's a lot of literature available on the topic if you're interested.

I'm not sure that employees actually do better financially

In general, employees at employee-owned firms do better than at similar, non-employee-owned firms.

There's a lot of literature available on the topic if you're interested.

Conversation at a Trump employee-owned firm:

Trump: You're fired! Get your face outta mine!

Employee: You can't fire me, I own the joint.

Trump: We need a little more violence around here!

A pretty good basic FAQ.

The Harvard Business Review weighs in.

An important distinction to make here is between ESOPs, i.e. employee stock ownership plans, and labor co-operatives.

In the former, employees have an ownership stake, but not necessarily a voice in governance.

In the latter, employees run the company.

ESOPs are fairly common (and successful) in the US. Co-operative ownership and management is much more rare, here, although I think it's not-uncommon in other countries.

Bureau of Labor Statistics on employee-ownership and job creation, dated 1983.

The Minneapolis Fed, as of 2007, says results are mixed and hard to pin down, but are generally quite good.

Conversation at an employee-owned Trump firm:

"I'm fired! Now get me out of here!"

A study by Rutgers U, following employee-owned firms from 1983 through 2001, on the relationship between employee ownership and business durability.

Sorry, here is the Rutgers link.

Sorry, here is the Rutgers link.

The idea of employee-owned companies is really attractive.

I was thinking more of employees each having some equity in the company, but not a majority. I.e., the company isn't an employee cooperative.

Otherwise, what Russell said.

But then labor unions are, as far as I can see, only peripherally about helping labor. They seem to be more about a) fighting management, and b) doing well for union management.

This is so wrong in so many ways...where to start. I won't bother. You appear to be starting from a point that reflects the general right wing default setting of pure ideological preference coupled with a distinct tendency to avoid actual, you know, facts.

Thanks for the links, russell.

I was thinking more of employees each having some equity in the company, but not a majority. I.e., the company isn't an employee cooperative.

Co-ops have been pretty successful.

The poster child, really, for the worker co-op approach is the Mondragon Co-op, in Basque Spain. It's a really large and really successful company, and it's been around for a while.

The biggest co-op in the US is Cooperative Home Care Associates, in the Bronx NY.

I actually don't have a good explanation for why this stuff is not more common here. I ascribe it to a lack of imagination, and/or lack of basic information.

People could be a lot better off than they are, pretty easily.

The Employee Ownership 100: America's Largest Majority Employee-Owned Companies

You appear to be starting from a point that reflects the general right wing default setting of pure ideological preference coupled with a distinct tendency to avoid actual, you know, facts.

Actually, I'm starting from views I learned at my father's knee. He was a member of the carpenters' union the whole time I was growing up. His view, based on his personal experience, was that a) unions should be legal, but that b) they were a really bad deal for anyone who was interested in actually working. I'm not quite that extreme, but it definitely colored my perspective.

Thanks for the links, russell.

You are welcome.

a) unions should be legal, but that b) they were a really bad deal for anyone who was interested in actually working.

I work in an industry that is pretty well paid, and where employee compensation in the form of equity, profit sharing, and/or regular bonuses is kind of the norm.

It's not uncommon for people who do what I do to retire early, and/or end up at the end of a career with quite a lot of money.

No unions.

Somewhere in that small set of facts is the magic formula for making unions unnecessary.

I actually don't have a good explanation for why this stuff is not more common here. I ascribe it to a lack of imagination, and/or lack of basic information.

Just from browsing around the Internet, and a little bit of anecdotal experience, it seems that ESOPs are more common in organizations that rely on workers who are harder to replace (like engineers) because there's more incentive for founders of a company to share the profits with such people. Also, colossal ESOP failures, such as Enron and United Airlines, suggest that integrity and competence in management is possibly even more important in ESOPs than in public companies.

I realize that this comment is just a general impression. But I actually do know someone who lost a lot of money (the bulk of his retirement fund) when an ESOP business failed because of bad management, which the employees seemed not to be able to stop, even though some of them saw it happening.

On the whole, the data seems very favorable, but it may be that some enterprises are better suited to employee ownership than others.

Somewhere in that small set of facts is the magic formula for making unions unnecessary.

Being in the same industry, I submit that it is a-typical. It's a matter of supply and demand. The demand remains high. The supply of people who can do IT work is (still) quite limited.

Attempts to outsource overseas (primarily to India) have not worked out well. So even companies which have tried to cut costs by doing so have discovered that they have severe problems in some (not all) areas -- it's partly a matter of Indian IT folks just not having the experience to deal with the inevitable problems in the software.

Strong demand + limited supply = high wages.
(Of course, many of us also put up with far longer hours than most blue-collar workers would consider acceptable....)

BREAKING: Obama surrenders to Che!

Strong demand + limited supply = high wages.

At the risk of sounding heretical, I'll say that building software is complicated, and difficult to do well, but no more so than (for example) building a house or other complicated physical structure.

And the number of people who are really good at either are not so many. Really good tradespeople might be rarer, actually. Lots of people code, nowadays.

I saw a guy make a tight right-hand turn with a very large flatbed rig earlier this week that was, truly, a thing a beauty. It was like ballet. The difference between a guy like that, and a guy who has to make a five-point-turn out of it, or who takes a mailbox out along the way, is measured in real dollars.

Plain old craft-knowledge labor is enormously undervalued in this country. I'm a smart guy, the stuff I do is complicated and can be hard, and not everybody has the right mind to do it.

But I think the same is true for good plumbers, or electricians, or home health aides for that matter.

I have a friend who is a home health aide as kind of a retirement job. He deals with feeble, demented people who drool on him and are prone to bizarre fits of anger and confusion, that he has to walk them back from. He has to wipe shit off of their bottoms, some of them.

He's a better man than I am, I can tell you that.

The value of white collar "knowledge" work is, IMO, overstated.

All my two cents.

(Of course, many of us also put up with far longer hours than most blue-collar workers would consider acceptable....)

Sometimes I work a lot of hours, and sometimes I don't. It ebbs and flows. And has done as long as I've been doing this, which is a little over 30 years now.

At least I only have to work one job to make my nut. And, I don't have to write code while hanging off the side of a building 200 feet up.

I really don't think technology workers are as special as folks think they are. There are a small-ish number who really do create stuff that generates ridiculous amounts of value, but most of us are kind of specialized mechanics.

That's my experience and observation. There are folks here on ObWi who have much more sophisticated skills than I do, you may well be one of them. But industry-wide, I think what I'm saying here holds up.

I think of myself as being sort of equivalent to a pretty good CNC guy. Except the pretty good CNC guy is probably rarer.

I've seen Obama hanging with worse:

https://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2011/06/18/photo-president-obama-and-speaker-boehner-green

Republican filth twatting in ugh's link treated Boehner and Guevara pretty much on a par.

Wait till they get done with McConnell.

Somewhere in that small set of facts is the magic formula for making unions unnecessary.

The small set of facts raises some questions:
1. Why is there not more competition (i.e., supply) for those positions? Has the operation of the free market been suspended?
2. Revenues in your industry may be above that which is economically most efficient due to overly strong intellectual/property rights.

it seems that ESOPs are more common in organizations that rely on workers who are harder to replace (like engineers)

The 100 largest ESOP firms (same link as CharlesWT's, I think).

It's a mix. Many of the largest are grocery stores and other commodity retail, like drug stores.

Some manufacturing.

And, some more technical engineering firms.

But most definitely not specific to industries where people are harder to replace.

BREAKING: Obama surrenders to Che!

He doesn't have his left hand making a fist and raised up above his head. Obviously a CINO (communist in name only).

And who the fjnck is Ben Shapiro?

Really good tradespeople might be rarer, actually.

It's definitely tricky to find a good plumber. Or mechanic. Once you find one, you hang on to them.

But I was thinking more of manufacturing workers. Those jobs have gotten outsourced to places where job skills aren't all that high. Suggesting that they didn't require much here either.

As for us being "specialized mechanics", I think that holds up in some cases -- especially the folks writing and maintaining business application code. But those folks aren't, at least in my observation, the ones making the big bucks.

Are we super-special? Nope. But what we are doing is more akin to what an auto mechanic does today. He also has to be real familiar with computer systems -- the average car has dozens of computer chips, spread across multiple systems.

Unlike manufacturing, what we do can't be automated. Or even done without significant on-the-job experience. Heaven knows a lot of companies have tried. Without notable success.

Obviously a CINO (communist in name only)

Bobby, there must be some way to make that come out ChINO. There just has to be....

I realize that this comment is just a general impression. But I actually do know someone who lost a lot of money (the bulk of his retirement fund) when an ESOP business failed because of bad management, which the employees seemed not to be able to stop, even though some of them saw it happening.

Pivoting off of this, it's going to become increasingly apparent over the next 20 years that the abandonment of defined benefit pension plans in favor of 401k plans and the like is a complete and utter disaster for the vast majority of people -- a massive transfer of risk to labor and rewards to capital.

But we need to cut entitlement programs...

And who the fjnck is Ben Shapiro?

"the virgin Ben"?

http://townhall.com/columnists/benshapiro/2005/06/15/rescuing_a_generation/page/full

he's a typical young, excitable, true believer who likes to imagine The Left is out to destroy America.

like a wee Jonah Goldberg, but without the inheritance.

Ah, one of those people who is so clearly smarter than the rest of us that we should be thankful that he blesses us with his attention. Like a mini-Ted Cruz. Among other things. Thanks cleek.

But I was thinking more of manufacturing workers.

Yes, between off-shoring and automation, manufacturing line workers are basically SOL.

It's not a matter of being underpaid in their case, the jobs just don't exist.

he's a typical young, excitable, true believer who likes to imagine The Left is out to destroy America.

But if it wasn't for the elite anti-elites guys, how would we know that elites are bad for us...?

between off-shoring and automation, manufacturing line workers are basically SOL.

It's not a matter of being underpaid in their case, the jobs just don't exist.

Which probably means we need some serious re-training programs. (Preferably after some serious thought about "retraining to do what?")

A guy who who worked manufacturing car might not be trainable to support computer systems. (Although he might be. I note the case of my brother-in-law, who went from being an aircraft mechanic to running the computer network at Lawrence Livermore Lab.) But surely he could learn to be a decent auto mechanic. And we could definitely use more (competent) auto mechanics.

(Preferably after some serious thought about "retraining to do what?")

Can you have a sustainable economy based on political campaigns and lobbying?

Can you have a sustainable economy based on political campaigns and lobbying?

How is that different from what we have now?

Can you have a sustainable economy based on political campaigns and lobbying?

Now that we've gotten to never-ending campaigning, perhaps you can.... ;-)

Look at dese undercover Commies hamming it up wit the mini-Castros, will ya.

http://m.mlb.com/news/article/168383594/rays-chris-archer-plays-catch-with-fan-in-cuba

The entire Tampa Ray Devil Rays roster are a bunch of traitors.

If Shapiro and Cruz and Rubio aren't able to stop this subversion, I predict within months baseball stadiums around our great country will be serving 50 cent gummint hot dogs and the guys and gals in the paper hats selling em will be making the same amount as we white collar vermin Republican grifters pull down in a month making sh*t up.

Dat'll be the end of capitalism as we know it, people. Pretty soon ya won't be able to sell a hot dog anymore for more than the guy makes hourly who's handing it over OR for more than the family buying six of em makes in a day.

It's got to be stopped.

Why, I heard Obama by executive order is going to allow a guy to get a triple by cutting straight across the infield directly from first to third and cutting out second base altogether.

And he wants more sacrifice ...... bunting.

Can you believe dat?

It ain't right. It was bad enough when dat commie Roosevelt removed 5th and 6th base from da game.

Every Cuban pitcher we bring in here is gonna be putting foreign substances on the ball.

We need a little more violence in dis here country.

Against Drudge, Shapiro and the lot of them.

One problem is that we have been conditioned to accept shoddy work as long as we perceive it as cheap. Once we accepted that, the competent craftspeople were easily outbidden by less comptetent but outwardly cheaper rivals. Plus manual labor* has been devalued as far back as written records go no matter how much skill was involved (see e.g. sources from ancient Egypt).

*including the arts at times (many a famous painter or composer got treated no better than a lowly craftsman).

This is Ben Shapiro.

http://americablog.com/2014/04/ben-shapiro-holocaust-mozilla-gay-brendan-eich-prop-8.html

He is one of those punks from "The Village Of The Damned"

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-AUBlW5EWnI

"Village of the Damned is a strongly compelling Science-Fiction highlight and easily of the eeriest movies I ever saw. Although it's a very modest and simply made production, the scary-effect of this film is a lot more effective than some of its big-budgeted colleagues. On a random day, the entire English village of Midwich falls into a trance-like sleep. Completely inexplicably, they awake again seemly normal but two months later it appears that every fertile woman in town got pregnant on the day of the blackout. The newborns show a strange resemblance in looks and – what is even more bizarre – they're telekinetic! Due to their amazing intelligence and emotionless behavior, they form a huge threat and freak out the entire little town. `Village of the Damned' is loyally adapted from John Wyndham's novel `The Midwich Cuckoos'. Throughout the whole film, you don't get much explanation and, as a viewer, you're forced to guess at the mystery's origin. Although highly unlikely, the events in Midwich really are alarming and make you feel uncomfortable. This effect is reached through solid tension and macabre atmosphere much more than through special effects. The eerily lit eyes of the ‘children' are the only real effects but they cause a lot more fear than gallons of blood ever could! Village of the Damned also owes a lot of its power to a terrific casting job."

Shapiro used to brag about being a virgin, on account he was afraid he would give someone something.

Then he got married, and still claims he's a virgin, even though his wife somehow lost hers but picked up a bug.

Apparently the way right wing conservatives do it is they only do it to poor people, usually from behind without permission, but it let's them keep their virgin creds, in their minds.

They are like Dagny Taggart in Atlas Shrugged, except for the socio-economic milieu within which she would only do her you-know-whating.

Going in a different direction, we have this for those who might be under the illusion that the US has cornered the market on nut cases:
http://news.yahoo.com/-boaty-mcboatface--man-apologizes-for-upending--name-our-ship--poll-155016879.html?soc_src=mail&soc_trk=ma&nf=1

RSS Boaty McBoatface indeed.

Bobby, there must be some way to make that come out ChINO. There just has to be....

Communist hippy in name only?

Can someone splain sumpin to me, hanh?

How come when Republicans go all Trayvon on a person, maybe because that person was, ya know, stalking em a little bit, how come when these people are assaulted by the Republicans, they can't act exactly as Republicans/Libertarians have counseled the "citizenry" to act when assaulted, that is, to go all George Zimmerman right back at em, by shooting em in the f*cking head?

Or is the guy who use to explain these matters to me no longer commenting here?

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