Wednesday, April 27, 2016
  The Trump movement
The Trump movement is a religious movement, and Trump is their Messiah.

The religion is Progress, but for this group the definintion of progress is that things would remain good and continue to get better for the working class.

Which it hasn't. It's gotten worse.

And the way to understand that, short of complex political or economic theorizing, is that "we was robbed," that bullshitting pompous venal political types have rigged the game. (And they are actually right about that.)

Trumpists have the idea that somebody who wins, somebody who is demonstrably a winner because he's rich, well, he can fix things. He'll get a better deal for them. (But, sadly, they are probably wrong about that.)

Thursday, April 21, 2016

My first Sociology class was a revelation. I still have the notes I took, though they're in a cabinet in the back of the overstuffed garage.

The Professor was soft spoken, Iranian, brilliant, refined, and visting from somewhere. (Hence my realization that Prestigious University (PU) got heavy hitters from around the world who wanted a term or a year at PU. So I sought them out during the rest of my college years.)

There are different methods of explaining why things are the way they are, he explained:

*Who benifits?

*Who rules?

*The "Great Men" theory.

*Historical Materialism.

*Psychological or Social Psychological theories.

*And so on.

They are obvious, with regular people using them willy-nilly, switching back and forth haphazardly, not really noticing. (Social scientists presumably are more rigorous.)

All of them have their strengths and weaknesses. (None of them can actually contain reality, no explanation can. The map is not the territory.)

I don't really have a larger point. I was just remembering the class, and hadn't posted to this powerful blog in a while.

Thursday, March 17, 2016
  Rambling on or through the trouble with statistics, MMM, Sanders.

The trouble with statistics...

Take the unemployment rate. Say it goes up a half a percent. Not such a big deal. But wait. Down at the granular level, so to speak, you've got actual living, breathing human beings who have lost jobs. From that position that slight uptick in the unemployment rate is a very big deal. A very. Big. Deal.

For them, for their families.

Losing a paycheck is a disaster for most people. This isn't the 1970s when (I came of age) and if you wanted work you could find it. (And maybe that was only true for me because I was young, white, and living in Los Angeles...)

Full Employment should be (and is supposed to be-- see the long forgotten other aim of the Fed) an object of great importance to a democratic government. "For the people." Get it?


People have bought into the Myth of the Magical Marketplace: that if government would get out of the way of business we'd all have rainbows and ponies.

Nonsense. If a market isn't properly regulated, the unscrupulous will win, and you will get poverty, pollution, corruption, theft, usury, and so on.

It's having that Myth in the back of our minds that keeps us from demanding full employment, by government where necessary.


Democratic Socialism of the Sanders type isn't really socialism; it's capitalism with a human face. Sanders is right in many ways that no candidate has been right in generations. But he doesn't go far enough. (Besides Full Employment, see, for instance, the post directly below on this powerful blog's powerful call for a Military Repatriation Corps.)
Tuesday, March 15, 2016
  Militay Repatriation Corps

Dmitri Orlov has a great essay up today on how utterly hopless and wasteful is the U.S. military.

The empire is ending, and we can whistle past the graveyard, pretending it won't happen to us, not putting on the brakes to minimize the impact. Or we can make the best of it.

We need to bring the armed forces home, and dismantle and recycle most of their weapons and machines. We could not fight a world war with them anyway-- we cannot even prevail with them where we employ overwhelming might against single militarily inferior countries. We can destroy their infrastructure, kill lots of people, but we cannot achieve cessation of hostilities on favorable terms (which must be the goal or what the hell is?).

Invasion risk? We won't be putting our selves at risk, we'll be gauranteeing a better future. Protecting our borders will require a small fraction of ther resources required for being The Global Superpower. We're pretty safe having borders only with Canada and Mexico.

First Strike risk? If we step down from Global Superpower, no country on earth would have us in their sights as the Great Evil.

Now, to close down all those bases in an orderly way; to decomission, deconstruct and recycle all those aircraft carriers and fighter jets; to disarm our nuclear weapons and find (temporary!) solutions for storing the radioactive materials: is going to take a lot of people a long time.

What to do?

A Militay Repatriation Corps.

*To effect an orderly redeployment home of all our troops worldwide.

*To effect an orderly relinquishing of empire.

*To dismantle the foreign war machine.

We don't want to have an abruptly unemployed bunch of former soldiers. So we initially staff it with the current armed forces. But we also do a lot of hiring-- there's plenty of work to do for a long time, and new and different expertise will be needed at all levels.
Wednesday, June 17, 2015
  On Free Trade
Free trade is good!-- it must be because its got the word free in it!-- and a rising tide lifts all boats, amirite?

Where's my boat?

Free trade is not some sort of magical mystical good-in-itself. Making trade more free is obviously profitable for some traders. But higher tariffs are just as obviously good for other people, by protecting American companies and jobs. Similarly, ensuring safe food and other commodities is good for consumers, and not always conducive to the freest of trade relationships.

Free-for-all trade is good for capitalists. (And I don't mean entrepreneurs or small business owners. I mean capitalists: people who buy and sell and make a profit without adding value. This confusion of terms has long contributed to Main Street mistakenly thinking its interests are perfectly aligned with those of Wall Street.)

The people who were young adults when NAFTA passed are middle-aged now. We know what happened to our jobs, or the jobs of our friends and relatives. NAFTA was a disaster for the working class.

In fact, we voted for Obama partly based on his promise to renegotiate NAFTA.

He did not honor that promise. He didn't even try. Instead, he tried (is still trying!) to stick it to us again, with the TPP.

We know what happened with NAFTA, and we know TPP is more of the same. So: stop it.

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Wednesday, March 25, 2015
  The Invisible Hand
The Invisible Hand of the Market is a fist.

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Wednesday, August 13, 2014
No one would have planned this: "Hey, I know! Let's set up a city in such a way that most people have to spend an hour or more every day navigating a river of cars

But here we are. That's the free market unfettered by planning for the common good.

And then we become hypnotized.

Perhaps we were shocked once. Perhaps there was a moment in one of those seemingly spontaneous, utterly inexplicable gridlocks when one might normally say "This Sucks" and instead we say, "Wait a minute! This is insane. Really, truly a world gone mad."

But we get over it. We forget it. We push it away, and collaborate in re-hypnotizing ourselves.

You'd have to be some kind of laughing Buddha to not repress or despair.

Further: It's easy to fall into the 'logic' of competition and join in the race when people are rushing past you to the next red light. And something one does as much as most people drive around here affects the way one thinks, the way one perceives other aspects of life. So we rush through everything and slow down only when we have to.

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When life gives you dilemmas, make dilemmanade.

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