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November 10, 2014

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I, too, am past the point of thinking that our nation will be redeemed by electoral politics alone. We are too far gone. "Government" has become a synonym for "liberal," which is a synonym for "those people," and we all know what that stands for. The only things that will change the U.S. now are people in the streets and violence. Do I think that's a good thing? (Note: to the NSA -- go ahead and add that statement to my file) No, I don't. But it's what always happens when the common people lose hope.

In a nation bereft of places people actually care about (e.g., Phoenix), it's not too hard to see how politics devolves to nebulous cultural issues where people bond online over their shared opinions. Still, the loss of authentic community, while poignant, can only be partially redressed by social media. Over the past 20 years, we've seen local newspapers die agonizing deaths as community life attenuated. I noticed how I stopped caring about Phoenix about the same time the Arizona Republic became an increasingly empty shell of its former self. I saw the New Times lose its best voices like Jana Bommersbach and Deborah Laake. I saw local news anchors become Ken and Barbie dolls, interchangeable androids of happy talk. What happened to us once the marketplace homogenized our cities and stripped them of their local values and institutions? We died in our collective soul. It's why nostalgia is such a strong impulse among so many of us. We can mourn this chain of events but we can't let it paralyze us. At some point, we must make the transition to new ways of living in actual community. How, I don't know but we must try. It's the only way to maintain personal and political sanity.
If you don't care about your local community, or find it too repulsive to nurture any longer (as in my case), you will either escape or go mad.

We are a nation now of anxious zealots, wound up by political theater, and thirsty for the certitude of validated outrage. One party specializes in that service. You know which one. It tells people that everything is very simple. All you have to do is tell society's remaining guardians that they have no legitimacy. And because liberalism is the political double helix of cultural transmission, it gets blamed when crucial connections no longer sustain us. Labor unions? Gone. Local banks? Bought out. Real newspapers? Gannettized. Old-time businesses? Struggling.

Politics is about our shared effort to realize sanity in what passes for communal life. We fill the potholes, look in after neighbors, feed the homeless, educate the young, heal the sick, etc., etc. Guess which party tells you how unfair it is that other people should have any claim on your efforts? You know which one.

Today's political climate is the primary symptom of democracy's auto-immune disease. People are rejecting political sobriety because they no longer trust that there is a sustaining fabric of community holding them. Or they fear the "others" are taking too much and giving too little. You know what color they are, needless to say.

History passes like falling rocks, the poet Robinson Jeffers advised. You look around and see the seismic slippage. You want to give up, you want to immigrate, you want to find sanity in books and art, you want to let nature heal you. But I fear our only path forward involves one another. Bond however you can. Rebuild the personal interstices of communal life by turning off your TV and internet, going outside and greeting the city. That is where sanity is. It's not isolation. It's immersion.

Felt the exact same way back in 2008.

From the political field, 6 pretty much wasted years, with bits of progress (For example, unions getting beat up pretty bad and a new focus on government deficits) and a few steps backwards, too (gridlock in Washington)

But wonderful advances in medicine and technology, some advances in limited parts of the economy, and the joy in seeing the US dig out of economic doldrums faster that Europe have been positives.

Going forward, we'll see. I have no expectations for the next two years, but maybe in 2016 we can elect people who might actually get things done.

So many solid Conservative Governors (even in Illinois!!)

Unions being beat up is not progress, especially when wages have been flat or in decline for 30 to 50 years (depending on the demographic). Expect to be disappointed in your solid conservatives and brace yourself for the backlash in 2016.

"Off the grid" is revolution. There are already preemptive moves by our masters to cramp these attempts (laws against gathering rainwater, the loss of the "right to farm" law in Michigan, attacks against organic dairies that don't pasteurize.) I'm sure that these will be ramped up as more and more of us decouple from the Big Teat of Big Ag.

I believe that folk whose local, communal, and "illegal" crops are attacked by the enforcement authorities carrying the (privatized) water of the oligarchy are going to be a bit self-righteously defensive about these moves. And that's not to mention the scandals to come from local currency and bartering (I've advocated for public state banking as an alternative to the Ponzi scheme of centralized Big Banks, but I don't think that idea is going to get off the ground before even State government becomes an unacceptable encumbrance.)

As more and more will be driven by necessity into off-the-grid, local economic systems, resistance to the status quo is going to be more of a life-or-death survival situation. That may very well be the flame that sparks the dry tinder. Timidity tends to disappear when they fuck with your food supply. Only this "revolution" (as I've speculated it) will not be about taking over and reforming the government, it will be about detaching from it, and defending our right to do so.

The calliopes of the political circus are receding into the distance for those who are awakening. The "powerful" are jet-setting into the distance, self-assured in their ascendence, not seeing that the grounded are eagerly cutting their tethers in order to accelerate their irrelevancy.

This goes for right and left. I don't know how many of you are following Russell Brand's "The Trews" broadcasts, but he is a case in point. While his criticisms and observations are pretty much on the mark, his is another echo of the circus, insofar as he is clearly trying to muster support for the inevitable revolution. Revolutions happen organically, and no leadership is necessary - nor is it helpful. He has my sympathies... what is an emphatic, concerned millionaire to do, except to grab a gilded soapbox and wail into the wind? He could just watch, but that is so, so hard to do when you think that you "matter."

I remember that in one of Dmitri Orlov's early essays on the collapse of the Soviet Union he discussed the mood of outlying villages, abandoned by the support of the Communist government upon which they had been so dependant. They were truly "off the grid," and not entirely by choice. One thing that was interesting was that at local gatherings where chores and resources were divvied up amongst the populace (we're talking things like who draws and heats the water for the weekly bathing,) there was a swift and severe response against anyone who attempted to create a leadership structure, political-style. Social disapprobation seemed to do the trick quite nicely.

(Note: "emphatic" above should read "empathetic.")

For those who still have a taste for the political circus, I give you Ian Welsh (non of this is news, but such is the political circus):

I’m going to be even more blunt than usual. Democratic apologists (and Obamabots) are a huge part of why the US is becoming a worse and worse place to live for most of the population.

[...]

I will be even more frank, the contempt I have for Democratic apologists and Obamabots is far greater than what I feel for Republicans. Republicans tend to be pretty straight: they intend to repeal the last millenium worth of social progress and institute a new Gilded Age.

Democrats, on the other hand, lie about how they care, care, care, but their ACTIONS show that they want to repeal the last millenium of non-identity based civil liberties and re-institute the Gilded Age.

[...]

Obama could have been FDR. He was given the opportunity. He blew it.

And Dem apologists made excuses for him all the way along. “The Republicans are worse.”

Yes, well, I’d rather be killed by an axe murderer than a guy with a chainsaw, but at the end of the day, I’m still dead.

And so will be your prosperity.


Petro, I love Russell Brand, who comes across like Edmund Burke by comparison to Ian Welsh. While we have had this discussion before, I'll rehearse its broad strains for the uninitiated. We on the left want greater income equality, social justice and democracy, environmental protection, higher taxes, particularly on the wealthy, and stronger labor law and unions. Where do we disagree? Essentially over the political landscape we inhabit. We cannot, for example, decree these things we would like to have. We don't have that power. So when Barack Obama had his big victory in 2008, he didn't usher in an epic victory for the left so much as an opportunity to advance in the direction of moderately liberal goals. His presidency, indeed, has been a testament to such modest but doable aspirations, which were painted by the opposition (and much of the media) as virtual horrors of modern Soviet collectivism.

This is the country we live in. I think we could agree it's agonizingly stupid. But it's the reality on the ground. Obama can't change it, nor can we.

Ideally, from my point of view, we could gradually create a coalition of citizens who would acquiesce to higher taxes and more social justice. I think there's even some hope that as Republican sociopaths ascend to their eternal reward this goal might be met. But we don't have enough guns. literally and figuratively, to make it happen faster than that. We don't have a liberal Supreme Court (thanks, Ralph Nader!) to overturn Citizens United. We do we have? A few labor unions, an attenuated manaufacturing economy, and a population apathetic at best about concentrated wealth. It is not, in other words, 1933.

Obama can't change that, nor can we.

My plea for realism comes from these implacable facts, not, I hope, from what Ian Welsh would think of as my corporate toadyism. I would love to see a much stronger left in America, but I can't change the history of this country. To my way of thinking, the great American tragedy has been and continues to be race. It is ultimately the crucible on which our nationhood and character hangs. The right has hijacked America's promise with Pavlovian evil. We are not a fully mature social democracy for that reason. Our path forward is tortuous for that reason. Blame Obama for this all you want but I hope the irony of that effort doesn't escape you.


Begin by articulating basic principles (e.g., People - human beings - are the basis of society. All human beings are created equal. Governments are established to protect and maintain people's rights.) Have a model of society so it's easier to understand the relationships among government, religious institutions, and the economy. Learn from history about how peaceful social change happened before (e.g. during the Progressive Era). Be overwhelmingly common sense, to find and build the coalition of the center. Make changes simultaneously in multiple institutions. Develop new political parties where candidates agree to uphold the party principles and accomplish changes needed in state constitutions.

Blame Obama for this all you want...

I left out the deft feint in the latter half of the above quote, not because it wasn't a fine piece of rhetorical irony (it was,) but only because I find the above a succinct and valid criticism worthy of response all on its own.

"Blame Obama." I'll admit there's a fair of amount of that going on... and the things that I say, the people I consider a good reference, etc.... well, you're on solid ground if you say that I blame Obama.

I can't speak for Ian Welsh and the rest of the "ilk." Let me say though that I rather blame the faith in Obama (which I admit I shared at the time.) That puts it on us, and our faith in political leadership in general, a faith dubious, it goes without saying*, given our current relationships between money and politics.

I'm sure Obama's a swell guy, and the things that held him back were truly intimidating to the President of the United States (and I'm not even being sarcastic there.) So, when it seems I "blame Obama," I'm just blaming the audacity of hope.

(All of which bridges no gap between us, I know. But the gallery may be amused. Cheers, soleri.)

---

*If there ever was a weirder oxymoron of a phrase: "It goes without saying l... but I'm gonna say it.]" I used it just so I could make this footnote.

Petro, U and I briefly touched on this at coffee, a few days ago.
When Obama was elected he was called in and told by the secret government what the rules were. Just as has many other presidents.
Maybe the folks that choose not to vote were smarter than those of us that did vote.

http://www.bostonglobe.com/ideas/2014/10/18/vote-all-you-want-the-secret-government-won-change/jVSkXrENQlu8vNcBfMn9sL/story.html?event=event25

https://www.bostonglobe.com/arts/books/2014/10/18/review-national-security-and-double-government-michael-glennon/tUhBBdSj8s0WW1HoWUf20M/story.html

and I believe I have been suggesting for some time living off the grid or moving to Uruguay.

Excellent posts Petro, glad to have U step back into the issues.

Does Grijalva have it right:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/11/10/progressive-dems-obama-executive-actions_n_6134290.html

Cal,
The secret institutions you speak of are not secret at all. Tens of thousands of people work for them and the "secret" institutions are well known the DC metropolitan area. Yes, presidents do change their foreign policy positions after receiving inputs from experts from those institutions upon becoming president. One exception was Cheney and Bush who intimidated the the institutions into parroting the neoconservatives and their mindless pre-emptive war strategy to justify the invasion of Iraq.

The mistakes and excesses of foreign affairs institutions are undeniable but not secret nor in a position to dictate terms to the president. The greater threat is the tremendous war profits to be made and how political contributions are made to elected officials to err on the side of making war.

HMLS I'm good with what u say except I think it is very likely that some try hard to dictate terms to the president. Secret is nor my choice of words but from the articles I posted. However I believe The CIA, and DEA are two groups that try hard to control their world and the rest of the world regardless of what the prez thinks.

First, if there are any veterans here: thanks for your service.

Second: not everywhere is getting worse. I think Phoenix (and I’m the last person to look to for a rational assessment) is slightly better than it was 10 years ago. It still sucks, but it doesn’t suck quite as bad – or maybe it does. There are some things unique to the metro – for example the recent drought; which is probably going to persist for at least 15 years or more. A flood of destitute migrants doesn’t help either. But look to Portland and Seattle: they’re good and getting better. I know Birmingham is immensely better. Everywhere got hammered by the “meltdown” but I think things are getting back on track.

Third: you need a lefty equivalent of the tea party. Work the primaries. Get some candidates that you can work up some enthusiasm for. And believe me: the mainstream dems are as deeply into the pocket of Wall Street as old line GOP fossils – maybe more so.

Soleri is right, at least in part.

In about 1980, the country started taking a turn to the right. There were lots of reasons for that. Since then, there have been bumps in the road with swings back towards the left, but the trajectory has been generally to the right. And the 2014 midterms more than fixed the left's 2008 victory.

Who nationally would campaign on the views many in this blog have? Stronger Unions? They've thrown everyhing they can at Scott Walker and he's still standing and other midwest states are starting to adopt his policies. Universal healthcare? Oh, sure. Given the smoothness that Obamacare has shown us all, that's a real winner. Weaker defense and foreign policy? Oh, sure. Things in the Mideast und Russia are going so well. Higher taxes? Right. Cause 2014 only set a record for all time federal tax receipts, and I guess they need more. More environmental protection? Moderate Democrats are against cap and trade.

wkg makes a good point, kind of. You lefties howl about the Tea Party, but what have they really accomplished? Illegals are still in the US, abortion is still generally the law of the land, taxes are still high, the EPA still exists, and the fed is still the puppetmaster of monetary policy. Is government any smaller? Anywhere?

A left version would be the same. Much ado about nothing.

Hillary is probably a little to the left of Obama on some items and a little to the right on others. But she's no Elizabeth Warren.

I like Elizabeth and I don't think Taxes are too high and besides health care for all why shouldn't the world's "greatest" county provide free college education?
But no tax on food. and most the Tea party folks I know personally are scared rabid racists of black and brown folks.

Cal (and HMLS): I think this argument is useful and ongoing. That is, it's been going on for my entire life. The Deep State - the intelligence agencies, the foreign policy establishment, the military, and the merchants of war - have shared values. Even before JFK was killed, there was widespread paranoia that the CIA/military/FBI might have their own secret government. There were even popular movies touching on this subject back in the day, from 1962's Seven Days in May and The Manchurian Candidate to The Parallax View of 1974. Perhaps one of the best was Them! from 1954, a kind of horror film but in truth an allegory of a nation driven mad with McCarthyism.

As a teenager, I relied on Time Magazine for current events. I noticed how their fervor for embroiling this nation in Vietnamese civil war was informed by a kind of Manichaean sensibility. We were the children of light, and "they" (the dreaded commies) were children of dark. There was no nuance here. It got to me in a way but I couldn't shake the feeling that there was something noxious in the argument. There has never been any doubt in my mind that even had JFK lived, we still would have gone full bore into that disaster because our nation understood itself through that dark but satisfying fairy tale. Fear was the emotional blackmail we exacted on its behalf, also known as American Exceptionalism.

LBJ wanted more than anything to be FDR's successor. He knew Vietnam was going to screw up that dream. His Vietnam escalation policy was, in a way, a desperate maneuver to win the war on the cheap and get back to The Great Society as quickly as possible. American liberalism was deeply wounded, perhaps mortally, by that failure. America came apart at the seams because we were fundamentally neurotic about who we are as human beings. I still notice the desperate and defensive flag-waving from pathetic people wanting to make rote patriotism substitute for reasoned debate. We don't want to grow up.

Obama was born in 1961 when this fever dream was at its pitch. We understand him as a cosmopolitan and sophisticated, someone embarrassed by crude displays of emotionalism. But by 2008, we forced him to start wearing a flag pin to show that he was a "real American". I'm surprised Republicans didn't demand he say the pledge of allegiance before every speech he made. Once in office, he had to bow before this angry god of Exceptionalism and apologize for ever doubting its moral exigency. Obama Derangement Syndrome was predicated on the rage of children mocking this interloper who wanted to be their step-dad. He was not only the wrong color, he didn't even know their music and favorite TV shows. How dare he pretend to be our Daddy.

The left's perpetual daydream is to imagine a counterfactual history in which none of this mattered, as if the past was simply something we could awake from and get on with our liberal day. Our past is not that tractable, unfortunately, nor do the wounds heal themselves in the minds of entitled citizens gazing dreamily at that Shining City on the Hill, always wondering what ever happened to their cherished childhood home and the pastures of plenty surrounding it.

Cal:

I understand what you want.

The problem is that the overwhelming majority of American's don't want anything even close to that.

Can you imagine any candidate running for office on a platform of higher taxes, free college, and universal healthcare?


It does sometimes feel like we’ve fallen into a science fiction story: the natural earth is at risk of failing; our neighbors have been bodysnatched by the evil Dr. Murdoch’s hypnotism; population is outstripping the planet’s capacity to feed; terrorism is the new norm, even in our schools; privacy and freedom are captive to electronic surveillance of our every move; the man we sent in to fix things was bitten by the undead and now lurches along with them. The results of the last election are trivial, really, compared to the larger challenges of our time.

In the film “On the Beach,” when the radiation of World War III is drifting toward Australia, dooming it, things go off the rail there, with auto races turning into death matches and human relationships finding new expression. Maybe that is our story. Maybe people don’t believe in the future. Maybe the more we worry aloud about the state of the world, the more people tune out in despair. It may not be a kind of despair they even acknowledge consciously, but it erodes the serious moorings of life, and they become leaves blown in the slightest winds from a Kardashian or Bush.

There is no escape “off the grid,” or to Canada or New Zealand––though New Zealand at least fits the On the Beach storyline. The issue is a global one, and it has, at its root, the question of individual belief in the future, in the belief in control over one’s own life, in the belief that one can shape a happy future for one’s family. It is also a question of exploitation versus prosperity: will we have the resources of time and energy to even have a civic life, where democracies are possible?

Many of us have doubted that the “invisible hand” of the economy is any more beneficent than Dr. Strangelove’s leather-gloved and out-of-control fist of fascism. At the same time, however, we seem to have believed in some invisible hand that will find its way into social reforms and elections and political sanity. Maybe it’s time to give up on that lazy belief and get to work, individually and collectively, to turn things around. It will not be done through better election messaging, as the clueless Democratic Party is now self-talking.

Can we lay out the agenda? We certainly can. We can do it locally, and, with the powerful genie of social networking, we can do it worldwide. We require faith in ourselves to do that, and faith in the future itself. But what a perfect time to be alive, with everything at stake!

It’s gratifying to find something I heartily agree with Soleri on (btw, we probably agree on more things than we don’t). The “Deep State” scares the hell out of me. Now we have “Big Data” which is about as bad – except (at least for the time being) they can’t conduct no-knock raids and throw you into a slammer for no reason at all. As a matter of principal I pay with cash for almost everything and don’t carry a phone around.

UNPHX
Sure Elizabeth Warren and James Wood
the blind but all seeing candidate.
With Snowden as head of the NSA.

WKGINBHAM no phone and cash. U have not noticed that little unreachable slight and occasionally itching bump between your shoulder blades.

Soleri my History agrees with Yours.

Burke good post.

Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo makes a very smart case why the Democrats lost so badly last week. It's less income inequality than wage stagnation. He's less sure about the policy prescription to rectify this problem but he's persuasive about the need to find those policies and organize around them politically.

http://talkingpointsmemo.com/edblog/forget-the-chatter-this-is-the-democrats-real-problem?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+Talking-Points-Memo+%28Talking+Points+Memo%3A+by+Joshua+Micah+Marshall%29

soleri, I enjoyed reading your short history above; it is excellent!

I love the internet. It's very interesting being able to read the diversity of thought by many different people.
Keep net-neutrality.

Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo makes a very smart case why the Democrats lost so badly last week. It's less income inequality than wage stagnation.

Nah.
The reason why Dems lost the midterms (and win in Presidential cycles) is because they don't (and then do) show up to vote. It's that simple:

The worst voter turnout in 72 years

So why didn't Dems show up in the recent midterms? Because they weren't given a reason to.

We've had 6 years of unrelenting hate aimed at Obama by Republicans and extreme liberals. For one side he is a dirty communist. For the other he is a dirty corpratist. Gee Willikers: Could it be that both sets of assholes are wrong? Duh.

The net effect of this unrelenting campaign is a constant erosion of the man's character and a blaming on him for everything from Ebola to Ukraine.

Given that 40% of Americans don't even know what party is in charge of the Senate and the House, only the nastiest, vilest, ugliest, most unrelenting messages percolates thru the average person's football filters and reaches their brain. That message? It goes like this: "The country fucking sucks and Obama made it so."

Lost in all this stupid noise is the slow steady improvement of the world. For example, I bet not 1 in 10 Americans is aware of these simple facts I pulled from a recent AARP story:

Preventive Care May Be ACA’s Greatest Achievement

Under the ACA, Medicare now covers an annual wellness visit and preventive care at no extra cost to you. This includes cancer, cholesterol and diabetes screenings, as well as immunizations. And the ACA also requires most private insurance plans to cover recommended preventive care without charge.We have no way of knowing how many mothers will not die of breast cancer because a free screening found it in time; how many fathers will live to see their grandchildren instead of dying of a heart attack, because a free screening discovered high blood pressure and further tests revealed coronary artery disease; or how many children will be spared pain and suffering because a free immunization prevented measles, hepatitis or some other serious disease. But here are some numbers we do have:

Under the ACA, 71 million Americans pay nothing out of pocket for preventive screenings, because their private insurance covers the tests. In 2013, an estimated 37.2 million people covered by Medicare received one or more preventive services at no cost to them beyond their monthly Medicare premium.


Conclusion:

Whomever was in charge of overall Dem campaign strategy needs to be axed. Bring back Howard Dean and a positive unrelenting message that has a chance of penetrating thick American football-driven skulls.

Consistent with the Marshall article that Soleri posted from my favorite WSJ writer.

http://online.wsj.com/articles/dan-henninger-why-the-democrats-lost-1415233499


It's the economy, stupid.

wkg/INPHX

1) I think most of us are going to be in agreement over the police/deep state. It's scary. So we can probably find common ground around that... except when, you know, cops are shooting down black kids in the street and that's okay. I don't like that. Not saying you do, but all the people I know who do are all conservatives. Now that we've established common ground:

2)The economy is getting better FOR THOSE WHO ARE ALREADY WELL OFF. Ask anyone under 30--even people with lucrative careers--this economy sucks. NOBODY IS HIRING. Few of us have savings, most of us have debt, and there seem to be few opportunities for corporate advancement. This includes middle class white students from elite schools.

If you graduated from college before 2000, it's not the same market. Different rules. To ignore our insecurity is insulting.

3) The left is fractured by cultural issues in the way the right isn't. Remember why occupy failed? No coherent platform. Doesn't mean they didn't have great points. The tea party can have a more coherent platform because its more homogeneous. Damn post-structuralism.

4) Following this point, who cares if the tea party didn't get rid of illegal immigrants? That's never, ever going to happen as long as people (workers AND employers) want to make more money. But what did the tea party do? Changed the climate so it was more inclusive to their views. How else do we get SB 1060? OR THE LOWEST FEDERAL TAX RATE SINCE THE 70s?!

http://www.taxpolicycenter.org/taxfacts/displayafact.cfm?Docid=456

4) Please, God in heaven above, let someone run on a platform of free college. I'll canvas for them now. Nearly 70% of h/s seniors go to college.

www.bls.gov/news.release/hsgec.nr0.htm

WHY DO YOU THINK WE ARE ALL IN DEBT?! And when you say, "not everyone should go to college," I'll say, "they should if they want a middle-class career and income."

5) Both parties are run by baby bommers/gen x-ers who lack the long term foresight/fortitude to enact policies to deal with wage stagnation and income inequality. Both of these things disproportionately affect those under 35. We didn't live through the go-go nineties. All we have is eroding consumer power. At least Democrats talk about that... Republicans want to deport my friends and lower taxes I don't have the income to pay.

PS--No way metro PHX is better than it was 10 years back. By what criteria? Not by median income:

http://www.deptofnumbers.com/income/arizona/phoenix/

Oh, yeah, we have gay marriage and medical marijuana. Woo-hoo!

@assassin: You’ve covered a lot of ground. I respond to some this now – maybe all of it in due time. You’re not a frequent commenter here, so I don’t know a lot about you. From your comments I’m going to assume you’re under 30, live in the Phoenix area, male, white and a college grad.

Item 1: I don’t like it when anyone is gunned down in the street. I’m confident that the facts will come out and the right thing will be done. I am concerned about the militarization of our police. I live in Vestavia Hills where violent crime is unheard of. Yet the cops drive around in these ominous looking black SUVs and are armed like they’re expecting a war to break out. You’d be surprised to know that a significant number of our patrol cops are black – I’d estimate 30%. We tend to hire out the best and brightest out of the City of Birmingham force. They do a great of training and you get a lot of experience fast working there.

Item 2: First the “NOBODY IS HIRING” meme. The official numbers would indicate they are. Do I trust the numbers – not really. I take everything coming out of the Federal Government with a degree of cynicism. They might be true – or they might not. I have been lied to on issues with which I am very familiar with.
I trust my eyes and ears. I can only tell you what I have seen personally. Like I have said I’ve retired recently, but the company I worked for has been hiring – mostly electrical engineers and electrical workers. I see the fast food joints have their “join the team” signs out again. I see construction happening again. The car plants have been adding shifts and new production lines. New parts manufacturers continue to locate here.

With regard to: “Few of us have savings, most of us have debt” – I’ll address this as a separate “higher education swindle” bullet.
With regard to: “To ignore our insecurity is insulting.” Not true. The fate of working and middle class people is maybe the most important issue out there. The indifference to this issue at a Federal level has been shocking. The state of Alabama has really gone to bat for this demographic. Zealously peruses things like car plants, steel mills, etc. Landed a huge Airbus factory for the Mobile area. It’s hard to believe now, but white, working class voters used to be the backbone of the Dems. They still cater of the organized labor portion of the demographic, but the rest came go to hell.

Point #3. Re: “Remember why occupy failed? No coherent platform. Doesn't mean they didn't have great points.” –
Hey here’s another point of agreement. I was very sympathetic to most of their discontent – I had same discontent myself. Occupy had a little encampment downtown here and I stop to chat on my after-lunch walks. Nice kids – and they did skew young – but some were aging boomers who just never got over the hippy thing. Frustrating to talk to because, as you say, they didn’t have a coherent platform. Hell have any platform. I did pick up on the college debt situation – again more on this in the “higher education swindle” bullet.

Going to take a break now. More latter – probably.

Consumption!

Consumption and a nap!

INPHX, I clicked on your WSJ link only to discover it's a pay site. The teaser lead in disappeared after only a couple of sentences but I did catch the gist of a red-meat opinion piece: the economy of the last six years has been a catastrophe and history shall blame Obama.

Well, that's interesting! For six years we've heard nothing but how federal deficits were going to lead to runaway inflation. It's a tenet of faith on your side, moored not in empirical statistics nor even in a pertinent example (hint: we are not Greece). So, this became the excuse to starve the government, depress the economy, and blame Obama for the result. A kind of Rovian trifecta. And as we saw last week, it paid off.

Except the inflation never happened, not here, not in Europe where the Germans exacted austerity even worse than here. The shortfall in demand seems to respect only one desire: that the rich suffer in no way at all from their plutocatric economic principles. Yet our economy has been very slowly improving from the actual catastrophe Republicans bequeathed Obama in January of 2009. A too-modest stimulus package is given credit for averting what could have been the second Great Depression. Herbert Hoover, indeed.

Of course, your side has only one arrow in its economic quiver: tax cuts for the rich. Take Arizona (please, Lord). Taxes keep getting cut, investments in education and economic development shrink, the median income level falls, and the Randian nirvana promised never materializes. But cultists like you are not easily dissuaded by your own zealotry. The beatings shall continue until morale improves.

Everyone on the left pretty much knows what will happen if a Republican wins the presidency in 2016. The brakes will come off, just like they did for Ronald Reagan in 1981 and George W Bush in 2001. Since you're dealing with a memory-impaired electorate, it won't be that hard to simply call spending by another name, say, Strategic Freedom Investments for a Strong America. You people may have the economic modeling of Amway, but your salesmanship is still as robustly cynical as any used-car salesman revved on crank.

In 2017, America will relearn time-honored truths like "Reagan proved that deficits don't matter". More tax cuts for the rich will be our just desert. And who knows? Inflation might even result if the mixture is too rich. But we will all know whose fault that will be if it happens. Obama's! Because as the oblivious Dan Henninger notes, the catastrophe only began not when Republicans and their bankster allies succeeded in crashing the global economy but when the black man in Washington tried to repair the damage.

Soleri:

Good of you to comment so much on an article you didn't read. So much for a reality based blog.

Henninger's point was not that much different than the Marshall article that you posted. But since it came from the WSJ, your reaction, is, well, your reaction. All evils of the GOP.

To quote Henninger:

For decades after World War II, the U.S. economy had an annual average growth rate of 3.3%. Here are the growth rates for each year of the Obama presidency (World Bank data):

2009: -2.8%; 2010: 2.5%; 2011: 1.8%; 2012: 2.8%; 2013: 1.9%

You preside over that performance, you lose. The 2014 growth uptick arrived too late to save the Democrats. The economy was a spent political force for them.

The Obama economic policy has had essentially two prongs: 1) the 2009 stimulus bill’s Keynesian Multiplier (the government spends, and new jobs appear); and 2) let the Federal Reserve figure out the rest.

Democratic economists and pundits will still argue for their spend-and-hire theory. Feel free. But after this week’s political blowout, John Maynard’s magic multiplier goes back on the ash heap of history. The Obama Fed, meanwhile, continues its mysterious, five-year strategy of suffocating the interest-bearing savings of middle-class voters.


Here's a little tidbit from the Article YOU posted:

Fundamentally, most people don't care particularly how astronomically wealthy people are living their lives. It is a distant reality on many levels. They care a great deal about their own economic circumstances. And if you are not doing any better than you were 5 years ago or a decade ago or - at least in the sense of the hypothetical median wage earner - 40 years ago, that's going to really have your attention and shape a great deal of your worldview and political outlook.

Henninger and Marshall are pretty much saying the same thing; in putting the two together, crappy GDP growth (Henninger) kept a lot of hourly compensation low (Marshall).

But you sure show your approach to debate. Two guys, pretty much saying the same thing. You link to one and you attack the other.

You attack the one that you didn't read using solid economic analysis such as, uh, er, uhhh, ummm, well, I guess,,, ummm, errr, well,,,cause, I guess, Obama is black and it's all Bush's fault???

Swell.


INPHX, your doctor called. He wants to schedule you for a saliva test.

Really, if you wanted me to read something, don't tell me I've to buy the book. Either lend it to me or copy and paste it to your comment. I'm not going to argue with you otherwise.

Quoting right-wing econimist and Nobel prize winner Milton Friedman, "we're all Keynesians now". Except you Republican partisans when a Democrat happens to be president. Ergo, Clinton's 1993 tax hike was going to send the economy into recession. Not a single Republican voted for it. Yep, your party of steely-eyed, green eye-shaded geniuses knew that for a fact. And being Republican, you showed yourselves incapable of admitting your grotesquely wrong prediction. Instead, you doubled down on it with the Balanced Budget Amendment, which had it been passed would have incurred an economic catastrophe on this nation and the world, too. And when it came time to bequeath Clinton's surpluses to a Republican president, you knew exactly what to do with them. Give them to the rich in tax cuts, whereupon they turned to deficits. Because we all know how sincere you zealots are about - ooga booga! - inflation. Oddly, no one talked about the Balanced Budget Amendment on Team R anymore. Funny, that. Then Obama is elected and presto! It's back to doom and gloom unless we cut spending dramatically because only Republicans are responsible enough to triple the National Debt and not be criticized for it (see: St Ronald Reagan).

Your GDP stats are out of context and ignore long-term economic trends. Because you're a partisan hack, you make an argument any serious economist would easily dismiss. Post-war growth (always higher under Democrats, btw) was robust for demographic and macroeconomic reasons. Meaning we had a vibrant middle class, strong labor unions, high taxes on the rich, and a virtual bipartisan consensus that this was all good. The rightwing counterrevolution ended this idyll in the 1970s, and now Team R is forced to argue that the darkies are taking too much pie from deserving white people. Because otherwise Team R would have to argue that an economy that only works for the rich is a good thing. And you sociopaths couldn't win that way. You want the rich, needless to say, to have a disproportionate share of the national wealth. This is your Trickle Down theory. It has gutted the middle class, saddled America with the greatest income inequality of any advanced nation, and made us last among OECD nations in terms of social mobility. Yet voodoo has clearly cast its spell upon you zealots. You cannot admit error. You can't now. You couldn't ever. Because yours is a cult. Nothing more.


No INPHX, they were not "Two guys, pretty much saying the same thing."

I agree with soleri that, 1st you should not post articles when no one but you can read them. 2nd, if you do and the first paragraph reads like the WSJ article reads, then it is impossible to think that they are saying the same thing.
So, we do not know what the WSJ said, however you seem to indicate that "It's the economy stupid".

soleri's article surmises that “knowledgeable” people have little confidence that “public policy” can effect stagnating wages and wealth inequality in the US. The article does not indicate that low wage growth is because of the "economy". In fact, economic indicators by most standards (ie productivity, job creation and low inflation etc.) are good.


Soleri:

Don't comment on an article you didn't read- it's stupid. Are we done on that?

I'm ready to go back to the Clinton budget years tomorrow with an across the board tax increase (from those years) for the wars.

You?

And that Keynesian stimulus package that you praise?

35% of it was for tax relief (the horrors!!)

At least your side got that part right.


Again, I really don't know what you're debating here. The article YOU posted says that a primary driver behind the Democrats A to Z, 1 to 10, left to right, top to bottom recent shellacking was the stagnation of wages. Henninger removes that one step by attributing it to crappy GDP growth.
WEll?

Say- why didn't the Deomcrats push your views? You know- that you have to normalize GDP growth from when gas was .50 per gallon. You know, before computers. And cell phones. And China. And Carter. And gee- MArshall must have missed that.

Right. Just reduce expectations. That way, Obama's economy just might look a little better.

Hurray! We're better than Spain!!

And you got me on the post 1970 economic shifts. It must be the hate of the darkies.

Cause, well, nothing ELSE has changed in economics since then. No shifts in globilization, technology, taxes, healthcare costs, defense, terrorism, bloated pensions and related retiree costs, aging populations, energy costs, financial instruments, trasporation, volatility, inflation, currencies, foreign trade, demographics, competition, stock markets, speed, or anything like that.

Got some bad news for you,chump. Can't go back to Mayberry. No one's going to pay a wage to support a family of 4 for a guy sweeping the floor, no matter what the unions say.

The world has caught up.

You?

@Assassin: Back to you later. Don't want to get into the middle of this one.

@Soleri Re:” Quoting right-wing economist and Nobel prize winner Milton Friedman, "we're all Keynesians now". Friedman was most definitely not a Keynesian. His idea was that you “manage an economy” via money supply.

Mt theory: the macro-economy is inherently chaotic, dynamical and non-linear. What does that mean? Like the weather, predictions into the future beyond the very short term is impossible.

@INPHX; Had your saliva test yet? If you get it at dentist you might get a nice teeth cleaning at the same time.

Suzanne, INPHX is a whirling dervish of talking points, which can almost seem like a coherent argument if you ignore the political economy we consciously chose in this nation. That is, low taxes on the rich, weakened labor law, much more expensive higher education, a declining minimum wage in terms of adjusted value, a globalized economy for labor, safe harbors for corporate and plutocratic tax exiles (see: Mitt Romney), a health-care oligopoly that enriches the haves and bankrupts the have-nots, and a wretchedly excessive defense budget, Yes, technology, globalization, and demographics have changed this landscape, but you don't throw your hands up and bow to the Invisible Hand. No, you address the problem through government policy. But as seen over and over again, the right doesn't do economic policy, just tax cuts for the rich and favored interests. End of story.

You can try to have a smart discussion with a zealot but it always comes back to bullshit in service of obfuscation. It's how rightwingers win and they're not going to stop now.

INPHX, "Real gross domestic product -- the value of the production of goods and services in the United States, adjusted for price changes -- increased at an annual rate of 3.5 percent in the third quarter of 2014, according to the "advance" estimate released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. In the second
quarter, real GDP increased 4.6 percent."
http://www.bea.gov/newsreleases/national/gdp/gdpnewsrelease.htm

Can you help me understand how this has anything to do with middle class wage stagnation?

@Soderi: My favorite bumper sticker of all time - "Eschew Obfuscation".

wkg--most of my friends work in the call-center industry. At some of these places, they have a 100% turnover ratio every three months. You last that long--you're management track.

I have other friends that work as medical assistants. It is one of the fastest growing fields in medicine and requires far less education (and therefore $$$) in training than other types of medical professionals. The median income for the field? Less than $30k/year

http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/medical-assistants.htm

We can talk about other things... working for amazon, serving as an orderly, (and as barbara ehrenreich said--there are some careers, like fast food, you don't work in as a white, native born American, unless you want something to be seen as wrong with you) but these are the employment opportunities available to low-skill employees in today. Even the industrial jobs Alabama has attracted comes via the decimation of the industrial heartland.

The Federal Government sets the environment, the state government attracts the business, and the local government provides the services. Arizona Republicans have done a TERRIBLE job of attracting businesses that benefit Arizona workers. I can't speak on Alabama--but considering how endemic poverty remains in the state I wonder how effective they've been as well. Unless your argument is that people are poor because of personal and cultural choices and, well, that is another discussion entirely.

And a question I am curious about--why do you think the white working class no longer votes Democratic?

PS-INPHX you are probably right about not going back to Mayberry. What the hell are we going to do about that? I'm not sure that cutting taxes is a response to the consequences of that. Which are? Declining consumer power and an inability to maintain existing infrastructure. How do tax cuts solve that? Even if the government makes more money, those who cannot afford to participate in an increasingly privatized system are excluded from the benefits of economic growth. How do we help meet their needs?

Unless your argument is we don't. And then I present you with this:

http://io9.com/slum-life-in-new-york-city-during-the-nineteenth-centu-1584688488

soleri, I was off reading the gdp report, trying to make a connection between that and what INPHX says is in the WSJ article.
I am thinking that you are absolutely correct about the "whirling dervish".

Suzanne, I first noticed this technique in the climate change debate. It's analogous to a shotgun. Just keep peppering the discussion with absurd quibbles (sun spots!, it's snowing outside!, carbon isn't poisonous!), conspiracy theories (scientists are liberals who want research grants!), broad philosophical diversons (we are part of nature so who's to say what we're doing is wrong?), to outright lies (Earth hasn't warmed since 1998!). If you argue with these people - and I've mostly stopped for this reason - you quickly get mired in their argumentation, and thereby validate their tactics.

The question I always ask myself is how do you converse with people who are, in an almost literal sense, insane. Obviously language matters, as does respect for expertise and sober judgment. But George Will and David Brooks show how even that is insufficient. Ultimately, you have to make a moral judgment about these people since their nihilism involves more than just ordinary differences of opinion. They are sabotaging the economy, the environment, and democracy itself for reasons that can only be guessed at. My guess: they're evil. Yes, they look like nice, white guys. So did Timothy McVeigh. We have to wake up. This is more than a left vs right debate. This is ultimately about our ability to make sense to one another. It is as profound a struggle as I've ever witnessed.

Republicans defined themselves as "not Obama". In competitive states where Senate seats were up for grabs, most Democratic candidates defined themselves as -- "not Obama".

This strategy was not enough to woo those who tend to vote Republican; but it was enough to alienate parts of the Democratic base while failing to motivate other parts to go out and vote for Democratic candidates.

When political races depend upon comparatively small numbers of voters at the margins, it's extremely important to ensure high turnout. Otherwise, the blase and the offended stay home. Democrats ran from Obama's legacy (most of which is very popular) instead of embracing it.

Polls at the time of the election showed that nearly 60 percent of American voters like Obamacare as far as it goes: they either regard it as a positive but sufficient reform, or else believe that it didn't go far enough. Between marketplace subsidies and expanded Medicaid, most Americans pay less for healthcare coverage and many find it affordable for the first time.

Polls consistently show support for Obama's distaste for military adventurism, including opposing the reintroduction of U.S. ground forces in Iraq.

Instead of framing the debate in terms of gains and (potentially, if Republicans take control) losses, of a return to unaffordable healthcare and of never-ending war, many Democrats in competitive races chose to posture as Mini-Me Republicans.

Voters, even in conservative states, also voted to approve several state-mandated increases in the minimum wage.

Stagnating or declining real (inflation-adjusted) wages for the middle and working classes were every bit as much of a problem during the boom period of 2000s economic growth as they are post-Great Recession. The real question is, what are Democrats prepared to do about it?

The fact that tax receipts have set a new record (INPHX) is scarcely surprising; over time, figures for just about everything grow, as the economy grows and as inflation erodes the real value of nominal dollars.

A campaign to raise taxes would be warmly received by most voters if several things were made clear: that the tax increase was on the wealthy; that these were personal rather than business tax increases; that the tax receipts were used to directly benefit underpaid workers with stagnating wages, rather than for more bureaucratic initiatives and programs.

This could easily be accomplished by means of existing structures, specifically, an increase in the earned income tax credit for full-time equivalent workers. That is, tax the wealthy and redistribute the funds directly to those in the bottom third, on a progressive sliding scale at both ends.

This would also avoid the argument which accompanies minimum wage debates, that increased payroll costs cause employers to offset the costs by other means, particularly by laying off workers, hiring fewer workers, or cutting hours.

Daniel Henninger is a longtime editorial writer and later a columnist and Deputy Editorial Page Director for the WSJ's editorial page.

He has no real experience as a serious business journalist. And even before Rupert, the WSJ editorial page was known for its reactionary stance – it was a joke in the WSJ newsroom.

Here are the salient graphs in his column:

"The Democratic Party has become the Nickel-and-Dime Empire. Their compulsion to chisel money out of the population is collapsing the empire from within. Here’s how:

"The Democrats are the party of the state and public sector. Over a long period, the costs of maintaining the state have risen inexorably, especially in the North due to public-union costs and transfer payments. We may call this phenomenon political global warming, with the gases of public spending driving the fiscal tides ever higher.

"Unwilling to restructure government, state Democrats used taxes as sand bags. First they raised taxes on large business. Then the “wealthy.” Then came the fees and regulatory costs for smaller businesses. In Maryland and Illinois, companies and the wealthy fled.

"It still wasn’t enough. Over the past decade, Democratic politicians (and some Republicans) started imposing regressive fees on everyone. Which means the party’s pols are now siphoning cash straight out of the budgets of their blue-collar and middle-class base. That hurts.

"Traditional Democratic liberals understood that the private sector at least needed room to breathe. The party’s left, having self-deported from the private sector, does not. Thus at the same time their governors were bleeding the base, congressional Democrats voted through ObamaCare with its “Cadillac tax,” device tax, Transitional Reinsurance Fee and noncompliance penalties. As you can see, it’s just a messaging problem.

"It was good being the party of Robin Hood. Until they morphed into the Sheriff of Nottingham. In November 2014, the forest people in at least four states figured out who has been picking their pockets. What the Democratic Party’s answer will be in 2016 to this public rebellion is so far nonexistent."

----

Time and brain cells do not allow me to rebut all the falsehoods, fuzzy thinking and propaganda. But consider: Which are the states with the most competitive economies, best wages and social outcomes? Blue states. Then there's Texas, with oil and massive federal subsidies, yet it still has some of the worst poverty in the nation and ranks No. 1 in the percentage of people without health insurance.

Here is whats next, 5000 people that control the world convince those folks that voted GOP in midterm to murder all non "White" folks and those that will not convert to Kochism.

Second revolution occurs when those same White folks realize they are now the slaves and so they guillotine the city state barons.

Eventually only the Sajuaros and the Coyotes that sow the seeds, survive.

@Assassin Re Item 4: “Following this point, who cares if the tea party didn't get rid of illegal immigrants?” True. My view: some of the blue collar distress and even middle class distress is due to the flow of legal and illegal immigrants into the country. These people are here to take your job.

Re: "not everyone should go to college," I'll say, "they should if they want a middle-class career and income." Finally the great “higher education swindle”.

My view: only something like 20% of high school grads have the intellectual ability to pursue an actual college education. Paul Fussell, a scholar of impeccable liberal credentials puts the number at 13%. From his (highly recommended) “Class: A painfully accurate guide through the American status system”: As late as 1972 (Vance Packard) … writes…”In about 1943 about 13 percent of college-age people actually went to college; by 1970 it was about 43%.” But no. It was still about 13 percent. The other 30 percent attending things merely denominated colleges.”

From the book Academically Adrift: “With a large same of 2,300 students, we observe no statistically significant gains in critical thinking, complex reasoning, and writing skills for at least 45 percent of the students in our study.”

The bottom line – a shockingly large segment of the population are attending “college” that don’t belong there and are not learning much of anything. Here’s the swindle part: the colleges are more than happy for the kids to hang around 5, 6, 7 years – as long as you want as long as you can come across with a tuition check. And we’re going to make it as much fun for you as we can. And all those prestige professors we brag about – well you’re not going to see any of them – minimally paid adjuncts are what you get. Having trouble with finances: well let us set up a loan through xxxxxx (who’s kicking back money to us for the referral).

Big Ed sells itself with the proposition: get a degree with us and you’ll make a lot more money over your lifetime. In way too many cases, the degrees are essentially worthless. In some cases the degree carries a negative value (e.g. a degree in anything with the word “studies” in it).

The swindle: five years, tons of money, a pile of debt, no learning, and a worthless degree.

I think a far better track is to quit high-school at the earliest legal opportunity (or hell maybe illegally – certainly any well motivated kid can a way to be expelled) and apprentice off as a plumber, or electrician, or HVAC tech, a car body guy – you name it. Not only do these pay damn good, the opportunity is there to start your own business and really make some money.

Alternatively, dad can say “we can drop $xxxx on college or I can just buy you a convenience store or dry cleaners.

Does this mean the kid is doomed to an intellectual vacuum? Not at all. I’ll point to our own self-educated scholar Cal Lash. Or alternatively ask yourself the question: “of all the stuff I know and value – how much of it did I learn in college”?

Item “PS--No way metro PHX is better than it was 10 years back.” I’m in no position to say. I think Rogue, Soleri and Cal heartily agree. The web page has a block of “Progress” articles – so there must be at least a few good things happening.

@Assassin: RE “most of my friends work in the call-center industry.” Situation sounds like it truly sucks. The best action would seem to just move somewhere else. Hell, Soleri and Rouge did. So can you. It’s a hard thing to do. I’ve done – so I know.

Here’s the thing; you’re always going to have to hire in at entry level. That’s just the way it is. Until you learn the ropes, you’re nothing but unskilled labor.

Re: “there are some careers, like fast food, you don't work in as a white, native born American, unless you want something to be seen as wrong with you”. Well, maybe in your circles. My employment history includes cutting grass, baling boats, cleaning fish and ducks, frying donuts, flipping burgers and Swabby for the USN. And you know what: I felt didn’t degraded in any of them.

Re: “Even the industrial jobs Alabama has attracted comes via the decimation of the industrial heartland.” Maybe true, but the heartland in question would be in Germany, Japan and Korea.
Re: “. I can't speak on Alabama--but considering how endemic poverty remains in the state I wonder how effective they've been as well.” Sad but true. All I can say is that things are a lot better than they were ten years ago. Trends not looking all that favorable for blue states.

Well, here we go......

1. Soleri morphs right into Homer Simpson when confronted with the fact that the world economy has changed since the 50's and 60's. A couple (maybe two??) brain neurons fire and then it's right back to evil white sociopath nihilists racist rich guys. Oh, and Timothy McVeigh. Rinse, repeat. Play, record. You can say anything you want to a Chatty Cathy doll, but when you pull the cord, there's only a few possible responses. Hence, Soleri.

2. The left has a handful of catchphrases that they use to impugn those on the right with whom they disagree. One of my favorites is "dog whistle", which is when progressives pretend someone said (or meant) something they didn't say or mean. It's typically used in racial issues. Another is "serious", which is what libs typically use when they disagree with a writer (that writer that thinks estate taxes shouldn't be 90%- they're not serious). Rogue, of course, throws this term at a guy who is on the editorial page of the leading daily financial newspaper in the world (I thought you guys liked newspapers??). To me, this is lunacy.

You can disagree with Henniner all you want (if you can present rational discourse, other than white racist sociopath nihilist ism ism ist). But to suggest he's not serious, is, at least as far as I can tell, not serious.

Suzanne- Let's try to get back to the issue. The crux of Marshall's column( you know, the one that Soleri posted) is that a big part of the Dems staggering defeat was that real wages were stagnant and that people held Democrats responsible for that.

Does anyone disagree with that? (Marshall might be white, so make sure you take that into account.)

Henninger (you know-- the article everyone attacks but no one read) makes the same argument except he uses 2009-2013 GDP (which was pretty miserable) instead of the stagnation in wages.

I don't know if you can correlate GDP growth and real wage growth. I don't know if you might get a better fit if you lag the data, or use logarithms. But I'm pretty sure that a rocking economy will be a heck of a lot more likely to result in real wage growth than a crummy one.

Ignore Henninger for a second. Do you think Marshall was right?


And I hate to venture into this, cause I think "social justice" is one of those terms (like "dog whistle") the left uses to attack the right (the left has it, the right doesn't).

But if anyone thinks that "social justice" may include the ability to live in a reasonable house based on your income, or to live in an area where income is distributed more fairly, well, here you go:


http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2014/10/why-are-liberal-cities-so-unaffordable/382045/


INPHX, I already read that Atlantic article, which suggests since expensive cities are liberal, then it means liberals are hypocrites for a variety of reasons. Two things. Liberal cities are famous for things like rent stabilization and affordable housing programs, all trying to modify the market in such a way to make life fairer (aka, social justice). Since conservatives don't care if people life or die (exception: fetuses), you won't find anything so outlandishly compassionate going on. But the article is right: conservative cities are cheap and often glaringly so. But most saliently, they're cheap for a reason in that they don't attract the creative class who are vital for making cities strong economic engines. Most importantly, conservative cities are not as dense as liberal cities. The correlation is less who's R and who's D. It's who is comfortable living very close to other people. This correlates to the willingness to pay for a good public sphere (which involves taxes). Conservatism correlates to an aversion to taxes and the civic form supported by them. The most liberal cities will be those places with the highest population density and the most need for urban values like good transit and high walkability.

There are good conservative cities on that list like Cincinnati, but for the most part conservative cities are cheap for a reason. They may have bad climates - usually too warm - along with uninteresting downtowns, weak bones, and inadequate transit. No one dreams of growing up and moving to Houston (unless you grew up in Sugartown). Similarly, Phoenix is a magnet for snowbirds, but the creative class largely avoids it since it's low on the urban energy scale. Houston, by contrast, is much more dynamic but it's still cheap. The city is autocentric, unwalkable, and generally a hellhole for six months a year. But it is cheap, and in the constellation of right-wing values, that's a plus.

There are only so many great cities in the world. New York and San Francisco are two of them, and are, unsurprisingly, coveted. This means people will pay a lot more money to live there. In effect, the market is always valuing cities in a relentlessly rational way. No one is going to pay a lot of money to live in Houston and Phoenix. You will gladly live there if you make a lot of money or feel the need for hot temperatures. But the reality is that their relative success is based on a suburban typology with few civic assets and a dreary built environment. Great cities are tourist magnets. Not conservative cities, however.

Conservatives in their charming way charge liberals with hypocrisy for wanting to protect their assets with zoning restrictions. I suspect this is true for people like David Koch who has fancy digs on Manhattan's Upper East Side. Apparently, conservatives haven't looked in a mirror lately since suburbs are pretty much a testament to that phenomenon. Yes, this is human nature and granted it shows a flaw in liberals that they tend to be human. I wouldn't want to live in a bad neighborhood or next to a homeless encampment. I can tolerate more ambiguity than the average conservative, however, who tends to regard socio-economic and racial diversity as nauseating. Republicans are strongest where diversity is the weakest. That's why conservative cities tend to suck. Great cities challenge. Conservative cities soothe to the point of narcolepsy.

WKG: Reader, Yes.
Scholar, No Way!

INPHX asked, “Do you think Marshall was right?” I do not know.

I rather like Emil’s analyses about why Democrats did not show up to vote. Also, from Emil, “Stagnating or declining real (inflation-adjusted) wages for the middle and working classes were every bit as much of a problem during the boom period of 2000s economic growth as they are post-Great Recession.” I know that stagnating wages have been a concern at least since the early 90’s. Marshall’s 1st graph indicates that hourly compensation (in relation to productivity) has nearly flat lined since 1975. However, I have some difficulty with Emil’s tax plan.

I am very suspicious that wage stagnation is linked to individual greed (Walton family style). In this case, I am not confident that "public policy" can be solely effective.

Look at the demographics. Only a tiny minority have actual memories of the New Deal and the Roosevelt years. I'm one of them. I think your friend is making some wise decisions, but there are things that she could do that would not make her feel crazy. It's important to stay engaged with politics. You leave the field, you lose the game.
I continue to work for the League of Women Voters. I think people who are serious about democracy, men and women, should join the League. We advocate for clean and fair elections. We help register voters. We work as election officials. We educate and inform the public on issues. We are non-partisan as an organization in that we don't back candidates, but we do lean liberal in our advocacy of issues. There are not enough of us,though, to do this important work. Yes, we are mostly old white women, but what that means is that we need help to do our good work.
We are well respected, and that's important.
Go to our web site and look at what we do. Please join!

Good post by Steve Lemmons
The Feathered Bastard in the New Times.

http://blogs.phoenixnewtimes.com/valleyfever/2014/11/forget_the_whining_the_dark_money_barack_obama_its_the_economy_stupid.php?utm_source=Newsletters&utm_medium=email

wkg--when did you take those jobs? was it before the early nineties? Because if that's so, then it is a different labor market now than the one you entered.

Illegally hired labor composes a significant minority of the blue-collar labor force in phx, and in many areas (like fast food, car washing, landscaping, etc.) hiring is dominated by sub-contractors who cut every cost they can to keep overhead low. I would go as far as saying a law-abiding American citizen would find difficulty being hired in some fields BECAUSE of the legal protections we have.

However, this isn't every job. There are lots of entry level jobs where cultural competency and citizenship are requirements. Wal-mart, Target, and other large corporations often hire American workers for entry level positions that can lead to managerial opportunities. Unfortunately, the working conditions managers face often aren't worth the salary

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/08/29/dollar-stores-work_n_3786781.html

This doesn't even include jobs (like being a cashier, a waitress, etc) where there often ARE NOT opportunities for upward mobility because of the distinction between service and managerial labor. Furthermore, those dead end jobs make up the majority of entry level blue-collar positions:

http://www.bls.gov/ooh/installation-maintenance-and-repair/heating-air-conditioning-and-refrigeration-mechanics-and-installers.htm

http://www.bls.gov/ooh/installation-maintenance-and-repair/heating-air-conditioning-and-refrigeration-mechanics-and-installers.htm

http://www.bls.gov/ooh/food-preparation-and-serving/food-and-beverage-serving-and-related-workers.htm

http://www.bls.gov/ooh/office-and-administrative-support/customer-service-representatives.htm

We will have 150000 new hvac/plumbers over the next decade. We'll have 750000 short-order cooks/call center employees. Which one do you think most low-skilled workers will enter?

This is why, even though college is a racket, I would be very leery about encouraging someone to leave school and enter blue-collar trades. It's like telling someone to become a farmer in the 1920s. The downward pressure on wages and the paucity of high wage jobs makes makes skilled blue collar work a riskier bet than going to college--at least with the latter, you can be a teacher, get a HR job, etc. (Even a much maligned "studies" degree shows you can finish SOMETHING and opens the door to white-collar occupations--as my friends in the call-center industry tell me.)

The wage structures, working conditions, and social connotations of unskilled labor are not the same as when you started working. Is that a fair statement?

So you're right: it probably is better to relocate to a place that has more lucrative employment opportunities. However, that means our elected official failed us--our politically conservative state officials. If they can make jobs in TX and CA it's not Washington's fault AZ can't.

I wish we had real conservatives around--they would argue that we should get rid of the FHA and publicly subsidized student loans. That is what got us into this mess in the first place. Neither party is willing to do that. But, hey, Republicans and mostly white and Democrats aren't. That leads to different ways of negotiating the shortcomings of our (very good just not perfect) system. The differences are mostly social. And this is where all the talk about "dog whistles" actually starts to matter... especially when the "working-class" is browner and browner by the day.

PS--I learned all of this in college. Millennials are overeducated and underpaid. One of these days it is going to become a problem.

@assassin Re: "Millennials are overeducated and underpaid. One of these days it is going to become a problem." It already is a big problem. No a huge problem.

@Assassin re: "wkg--when did you take those jobs? was it before the early nineties? Because if that's so, then it is a different labor market now than the one you entered." Nope - 60's and 70's. I was an electrical engineer from '73 till recent retirement.

The reason I recommended the trades I did is that they are skilled labor. Have long apprenticship periods, testing, licensing and bonding.

@Assassin: For what it's worth. My company used a co-op program and a staffing agency for entry level or training level positions. The reason we did was so that we could take a good long look before hiring someone. Just about never hired someon off the street.

Hattie, I'm with you.

Suzanne: Thanks

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