Friday, January 27, 2012

Trust Not

In North Carolina a Republican law maker wants to bring back public hangings for "murderers" as well as "abortionists, rapists, and kidnappers." Not that the maniacs are all robotic sociopaths but just enough of them to keep me voting for the lesser of two evils.

Intellectually Dishonest

is the proper phrase for David Brooks most recent op-ed bit. He bewails the smallness of the President's ideas:
It’s sad to compare that era of bigness to the medium-sized policy morsels that President Obama put in his State of the Union address. He had some big themes in the speech, but the policies were mere appetizers. The Republicans absurdly call Obama a European socialist on the stump, but the Obama we saw Tuesday night was a liberal incrementalist.
There was nothing big, like tax reform or entitlement reform. There was no comprehensive effort to restore trust in government by sweeping away the tax credits and special-interest schemes that entangle Washington. Ninety percent of American workers work in the service economy, but Obama spoke mostly about manufacturing.
Instead, there were a series of modest proposals that poll well. In that sense, it was the Democratic version of Newt Gingrich’s original “Contract With America” — a series of medium-size ideas with 80 percent approval ratings.
I thought the speech was fairly awful in that it is a continuation of Obama's centerist neoliberalism with his usual dose of competence, which is why I voted for the guy. Brooks doesn't really care about the speech's content, however. Here is a link to the number of times the great dolt used the words Burke and Humility in the same essay.

For Brooks, you see, the big, the grandeous, the game changing ideas are a violation of Burkean humility and, consequently, dangerous and ruled always already out of court. Like Burke, Brooks is the pickle-herring in the puppet-show of nonsense who defends the current manifest unfairness and tyranny in the present by insisting that rapid change is worse than the disease. Both accept that there is a disease but both reject any attempts to end it that require making the kind of fundamental alterations of things as they are. Why? Because the current manifest unfairness is the result of centuries of evolution in political, cultural, and social arrangements and to change them is a slap in the face to our ancestors, even if they were criminal thugs, and because the wrong sort might emerge as the new runners of things.

So Brooks castigation of Obama for timidity exposes his role in the current neoliberal intellectual world. It's his job to provide some pious bullshit that criticizes Obama without being the kind of race based crap that Gingrich and his ilk trot out. Furthermore, unlike George Will or Charles Krauthammer, Brooks has to appear to act more in sadness than in anger.

One final  point, one of the few things in the speech that Brooks liked was the idea that community colleges should become the state supported apprentice programs of America's private sector. This is the kind of dangerous neoliberal clap trap that threatens to transform this country into China. We need to stop thinking that the purpose of humanity in a social situation is to increase the economic efficiency of the "free" market system.

Mark Twain

asks burglars to be polite next time:


He's Right You Know That

A German pundit on last night's debate he asks if
there enough material to make it worth watching, even though it was number 18 of the campaign season? No, the anticipation proved too much, though there were some meaty skirmishes and well-planned attacks between the top two candidates and the other two on the stage, Rick Santorum and Ron Paul. But there were also more lies, half-truths, and window dressings.
It really was one of the oddest and least illuminating debates ever in human history except that it exposed the Republican candidates as loons each one odder than the other. Really, it was an intellectual freak show.

Thursday, January 26, 2012


I just watched the Republican debate. All four candidates are nuts. Should any of them become president the country is screwed, blued, and tattooed.

Protests in Days of Yore

I've never heard of this incident:

Nixon reflects



From now on I think we should all tar all neoliberals and their robotic sociopathic enablers with the brush of this Bobby Burns epithet:
thou pickle-herring in the puppet-show of nonsense
The phrase is one of several dozen doozies sent by Burns to a critic.

Industrial Policy

I mentioned that Thomas Friedman is an idiot and that David Brooks wants to turn the country into one huge breeding ground for industrial workers on the Chinese model of neo-slavery. Brooks had the good sense to mask his desire for waging war on workers as citizens behind the pious bullshit of concern for their moral degeneration; in a recent column Friedman makes no such rhetorical maneuver.

He admits that  machines have replaced humans and insists that workers will need "something extra" because "the age of average is over." What is that something extra? Friedman quotes from the NYTimes article that laid bare the horrors of the Apple factory in China. That's right in Friedman's world if you want a job you need to sell yourself into neoslavery and be willing to work yourself to death.

What I don't understand is why this horrid little men are allowed to pollute the minds of their readers with this anti-human clap trap and, more to the point, why anyone not a member of the plutocracy would read them. Neoliberals really do hate people and they aren't even ashamed of that fact any more. They are happy to apologize for the purely destructive economic strategies of robotic sociopath Mitt Romney while defending growing economic inequality and declining social mobility.

The world is run by lunatics. At some point we are going to have to come up with a better way of distributing the wealth we create of bad things are going to start happening.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012


Over to Crooked Timber there is a post on abortion that makes the point that banning certain kinds of abortions takes the moral choice out of a woman's hands and is a sign that many don't trust women to  make the correct moral choice because of women's well know penchant for making frivolous decisions to have abortions. There are, as of right now, around 600 comments most of them are titanically silly. Many of the comments try to link the idea of trust to other laws about, say, drunk driving. Leaving aside the fact that we know that there are, right this second, tens of thousands of drunks driving cars and we don't know of any similar number of women having frivolous abortions. Indeed, we might know of a number approaching zero.

Ask your self if society has undertaken to ban drunk driving in similar fashion. Sure, in the recent past police have cracked down on drunk driving and the limits for blood alcohol have declined. But still all the necessary ingredients for drunk driving are readily available. Alcohol we can but everywhere, including gas stations and drive through liquor stores. In Missouri I once watched a guy walk into the gas station pay for his gas and buy a cherry coke and an airplane bottle of vodka, chug some of the cherry coke, dump the vodka in and clamber into his car and drive off.

If we took banning drunk driving, a real problem, as seriously as banning those (fictive) frivolous abortions because they bother some subset of our fellow citizens we would offer our fellow citizens the choice between owning a car and having a drink. In this scenario, once you buy a car you are forbidden to buy any alcohol ever and even forbidden to have alcohol in the home situation. If you don't own a car but rent any vehicle for the period of its rental you are forbidden buying alcohol.

There are, obviously, a number of positive outcomes here. More people would use public transportation, bicycles, or shanks mare to get from point a to point b. This would result in an increase in spending on mass transit within and between cities. Trains, trolley cars, and related etc would become the preferred modes of transportation, with car rentals filling the lacuna. Fewer people would move miles from where they work and, consequently, the downtowns of a many cities would blossom.  Freed from the onerous cost of vehicle ownership, people would have more money to spend on fun things, like alcohol and food. The world in general would be a better place.

Yet for some reason we trust motorists, a deranged and dangerous lot, to make the right choice and not drive drunk. Why  then can we not extend to our fellow citizens, who are women, the same right to chose and only punish those cases were the abortion is properly deemed frivolous. Could it be that we don't trust women?

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

I Do Not Want

to eat a picaken, but you might:

Directions on how to make.

Arguing With The Voices in His Head

 David Brooks is. After recounting the heartwarming story of a poor who worked her way up as high as here miserable upbringing would allow, he thinks, if that is the word I want, that
Democrats have shifted their emphasis from lifting up the poor to pounding down the rich. Democratic candidates no longer emphasize early childhood education and community-building. Instead they embrace the pseudo-populist Occupy Wall Street hokum — the opiate of the educated classes.
Part of the problem here is that "Democrats," more properly the political center which tilts toward the left and the left itself -- he must mean, are in fact "pounding down the rich," which makes the wealthy sound like a refreshing beverage, means raising their taxes and spending that money on social goods, education, etc, that provide the poors with the skills necessary to successfully negotiate post industrial and industrial capitalism. OWS "hokum," in other words is the desire to overcome the last 30 years of aggressive neoliberalization of state and society with its attendant oligarchic friendly policies

Brooks goes on to insist that OWS/99 concern with altering the maldistribution of wealth and salary is a
materialistic ethos [that] emphasizes reducing inequality instead of expanding opportunity. Its policy prescriptions begin (and sometimes end) with raising taxes on the rich. This makes you feel better if you detest all the greed-heads who went into finance. It does nothing to address those social factors, like family breakdown, that help explain why American skills have not kept up with technological change.
It is impossible to increase opportunities without decreasing inequality in so far as we are discussing the distribution of the wealth produced by any economic system. Inequality explains the differences between good, mediocre, and bad schools and the decreased state support for education which explains the lack of "skills" workers have. Brooks' position is the real materialistic ethos and the real danger to economic growth and social justice.

What is it? He argues that the way forward is
[a]s a survey of nearly 10,000 Harvard Business School grads by Michael Porter and Jan Rivkin makes clear, to get companies to locate their plants in the U.S., Obama is going to have to simplify the tax code, cut corporate rates, streamline regulations, make immigration policy more flexible and balance the budget over the long term.
To ensure there’s skilled labor for those plants, Obama would have to champion different policies: successful training programs like Job Corps, better coordination between colleges and employers, better treatment for superstar teachers, more child care options and better early childhood education.
That's right continue the neoliberal destruction of a regulated economy and transform the educational system into a a training system for business. In  short the answer to the problem neoliberalism created is more neoliberalism which will finally overcome the damages neoliberalism wrought. When Marx argued the law of the theft of the woods made the state the property owners' business manager, it was a critique of one of the manifest injustices of 19th century society. When Brooks insists that the state needs to reorganize society so that it serves the narrow interest of the managers and owners, he seems to think that it is a dramatic statement of humanist ideals.

The way forward to overcome the "social factors" is the pursuit of a democratic socialist agenda that offers more support for the majority of society allied with the aggressive promotion of a state supported system of education that focuses on liberal arts education. Corporations can start paying for their own damn apprentice systems and the rich can go back to being insanely, instead of absurdly, rich by paying 40 percent on all monies over  250k per year, 50 percent on anything over 1 million, and 60 percent on anything over 10million.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Economic Growth

Way back in the 19th and early 20th centuries, American workers lived in factory towns, earned little, and worked when and how they were told to. The long drawn out process of limiting owners and managers power over workers took a combination of labor unions, political radicalism, and the pragmatism of TR's brand of progressivism. Today we learn that for the fast-talking exploiter of today economic "growth" means a reversion to the worst of 19th-century industrial capitalism:
Apple executives say that going overseas, at this point, is their only option. One former executive described how the company relied upon a Chinese factory to revamp iPhone manufacturing just weeks before the device was due on shelves. Apple had redesigned the iPhone’s screen at the last minute, forcing an assembly line overhaul. New screens began arriving at the plant near midnight.

A foreman immediately roused 8,000 workers inside the company’s dormitories, according to the executive. Each employee was given a biscuit and a cup of tea, guided to a workstation and within half an hour started a 12-hour shift fitting glass screens into beveled frames. Within 96 hours, the plant was producing over 10,000 iPhones a day.
Leave aside the horrific working conditions, the rampant and unabated pollution, and the quotidian corruption that attends this systematic exploitation of workers and ask your self what the cost of waiting a week for Apple would have been.