Category Archives: Economy

People Need Money

This is great and everyone should do it: 

Tubbs’ program, which started in February, could serve as a test case. For eight months, 125 Stockton residents living at or below the median income line (about $46,000 annually) have been getting $500 monthly stipends. The money is distributed through the mail in the form of debit cards.

This week, the city released the first set of data about the program. Most participants, it found, had been using their stipends to buy groceries and pay their bills.

The presumption that the poor will spend money frivolously is a deeply racist and offensive wingnut creation designed to keep middle class white people in the suburbs scared of the slavering hordes of welfare queens roaming the city streets armed with Your Tax Dollars. Fuck’s sake. People are people and everyone I know has a bill they could make disappear with $500. Even people who are relatively well off would benefit from that and if you’re NOT well off? That’s a goddamn windfall.

That’s the home repair you’ve been putting off or the dental work you’ve been struggling to pay for or the school fees for all of the kids plus your sister’s, that’s the coat you couldn’t replace plus the field trip you told your son he couldn’t take or the groceries for a month, for two months if you stretch.

And who does that sort of thing benefit? The local grocery, clothing and drug stores, the mom-and-pop places we’re told will benefit so hard from our support only nobody’s got any money to support them. Look, if you don’t have any customers it doesn’t matter how many tax cuts you get, you’re gonna close down, and you won’t have customers if they don’t have money.

Plus these thing spiral. We know this now, the missed bus leading to the lost job to the poorhouse, but also the $500 home repair not getting done and turning into $1,500 plus a fine from the city. If anyone thinks an extra $500 is some kind of incentive to not work they haven’t paid rent in several decades.

Five hundred dollars does not cover rent and utilities and the occasional hamburger, and even if it did, Jesus tits, the presumption that you’re the only one busting your ass is so goddamn conceited I want to put my fist through some thing.

A.

 

Enabling

When I was post-collegiate first-job broke, I lived out of Steve’s day-old bagel bin.

Steve owned the coffee/ice cream/pastry shop across the street from my retail job at a bookstore and he and my boss were buds. They’d hang out in each other’s places and give each other shit, and Pat paid in books for what Steve gave him in treats. If we couldn’t find somebody who worked for one of them, chances are the missing employee was in the other’s shop. It was that kind of neighborhood and, by virtue of selling used books to Pat’s customers, I was presumed to be a member of their family.

So when Steve noticed I was skinny and drinking tea from home instead of buying coffee from him, because a bill was due or a freelance check hadn’t come, he gave me a huge bag of bagels.

“Nobody will buy them if they’re more than a day old,” he said, shrugging, but he was being kind. There’s no way to tell if something’s a day old or not, he could have sold them toasted and masked their staleness.

Six bagels, twelve meals: Toast half of one (these were real bagels, thick, big as a third of a loaf of bread) with butter and jam for breakfast, toast the other half with butter and green-canister “parmesan” cheese for lunch. If I stuck them in the freezer they didn’t mold during paycheck-cashing times when I could buy chicken or Pop-tarts or pasta or eggs, and I had them when the money got thin again.

Steve gave me his day-old bagels for a year, and to this day one of the most satisfying comfort foods for me is an everything bagel with butter and parm. The real stuff now, grated by hand at the cheese counter, bagel still hot from the bakery oven, but it still makes me think of Steve banging through the door of the bookstore, or handing the bag over the counter when I stopped on my way home.

I think of him whenever I read something like this:  

“We’ve recently learned that some employees have been giving away Vita gift cards, food, and coffee to homeless people in the neighborhoods we occupy,” Washington wrote in the email. “Although these were well placed intentions, please understand, it is our belief that feeding homeless people without comprehensive services actually enables, increases and promotes homelessness.”

Washington went on to write that “giving away products is theft and the grounds for immediate termination,” and then argued customers “will likely choose alternatives” if the cafe is “filled with homeless people.” The email concluded with an invitation to “discuss opportunities to volunteer or donate” to the company’s “charitable efforts aimed at homelessness” if employees wanted to “make a meaningful impact.”

I work now in a rich area with a shitload of heroin problems and I’m not ever going to shame you for giving money to an organization working for affordable housing instead of a fiver to a twitchy guy whose sign says HUNGRY AS FUCK. I am sure as shit going to shame you for shaming other people for giving food to the homeless out the back of a store where they’re not bugging anybody:

In an interview, former Capitol Hill manager Hannah Delon, who worked for the company at multiple locations for five-and-a-half years before getting fired for “failure to enforce protocol,” said for “at least the last ten years” baristas have given “pastry waste” to a homeless man they believe distributes the confections to other people experiencing homelessness. Delon also said baristas sometimes give away drip coffee dregs to homeless people who offer to help bring in tables and chairs at the end of the night.

Like God forbid people, even twitchy dudes with drug problems, are just people and you can be kind to them. There are cures for homelessness and addiction but no cure that I know of for being an asshole.

I looked Steve up the other day. I know I thanked him for the bagels but I couldn’t remember if I ever thanked him for what he was really giving me: The knowledge that someone cared about me, just for a moment, when I was living alone and scared and needed something warm.

A.

A Cruelty Turducken

“Medical bond” so that jails can get out of paying for sick inmates, who can’t afford treatment from hospitals, that write off those expenses, so that nobody’s responsible and nobody gets paid and only the inmates get punished: 

Tidwell had been on the receiving end of a practice referred to by many in law enforcement as a “medical bond.” Sheriffs across Alabama are increasingly deploying the tactic to avoid having to pay when inmates face medical emergencies or require expensive procedures — even ones that are necessary only because an inmate received inadequate care while incarcerated.

What’s more, once they recover, some inmates are quickly rearrested and booked back into the jail from which they were released.

Local jails across the country have long been faulted for providing substandard medical care. In Alabama, for instance, a mentally ill man died from flesh-eating bacteria 15 days after being booked into the Mobile County Metro Jail in 2000. And in 2013, a 19-year-old man died of gangrene less than a month after he was booked into the Madison County Jail. In both cases, officials denied wrongdoing and surviving relatives settled lawsuits alleging that poor jail health care contributed to their loved ones’ deaths.

But the use of medical bonds isn’t about inferior care. It’s about who pays for care.

How anyone can look at this system and say what we need here is to tweak it around the edges and phase in improvements by 2035 and walk very, very softly so as not to upset the Very Fine People who think LETTING A DUDE OUT OF JAIL TEMPORARILY SO HE CAN BE IN A COMA SOMEWHERE ELSE don’t get upset.

And look, we tried that. We tried the absolute mildest reforms possible, and even that opened up a gigantic GOP hellmouth spewing “death panels” and “government takeover” and “mandated birth control,” so maybe it’s time to clue into the fact that howler monkeys howl because it’s right there in the name. Maybe it’s time to do what needs to be done despite the entirely predictable, utterly disingenuous flipout that will most certainly occur.

You can’t convince me THIS is sustainable, or good for anybody, or can be improved upon by degrees.

A.

The Capacity

You know the responses that come out to a story like this always, because they come out anytime somebody gets hurt/sick and our health care system flattens them: Well why didn’t he … why didn’t she … what if you had …

It’s all deflection, of course, it’s all plain old animal fear and basic-bitch bargaining, that if I just do everything perfectly no one will get tumors and I’ll stay rich forever, but that doesn’t make it better. It makes it worse. If your only “lifehack” is “have a fuckload of money and an army of personal assistants to take care of the chaos of the world,” like if that’s the only way anything remotely works, that’s not a sign that you alone have your shit together. That’s a sign that the way the world is constructed is only remotely bearable by the very wealthy and everyone else is ten seconds away from being utterly screwed.

Okay, you have “health insurance” that will now pay for 90 percent of your $100,000 cancer treatment bill. Where does the other $10,000 come from? You have health insurance and maybe you even have $10,000, good for you, but that was your down payment on a house in a mostly ok school district and now you’re back in your shitty apartment with no savings and your toddler. You have health insurance and savings and a house but if you take time off work you’ll be fired and then the health insurance goes away and eventually so do the savings and the house. Without a million dollars in the bank and good credit, how do you even DO this? Like this doesn’t make sense.

The smug people who feel like they “made it” on their own before student loans and before hospital consolidations and before, you know, all the GOP tax-cutting, they have no concept of the precariousness of things. Of how taking a half day off can affect the entirety of someone’s future. Of how “a job” isn’t enough anymore, of how “two jobs” sometimes isn’t enough, in the face of a system that dooms you for one step outside the lines.

And it’s not all money. It’s the time that money buys. It’s the capacity to figure out the solution to a problem and you can’t think when you’re in the middle of it, when you’re scrambling to get to the bus that will get you to the train that will get you to the job that will pay for the childcare that allows for the job and the bus and the train fare. You can’t sit back and make strategic decisions about the ongoing juggling act that is your life because if you take your eyes off the balls for even one second you’re going to drop them. Even people with money are like this, can you imagine what it’s like without any?

We don’t have the capacity to make every single decision perfectly, to reason out all the angles and decide if I just set my alarm two seconds earlier I will never miss the bus. I will never accidentally overdraw my checking account and incur a $50 fee I have no way to pay for. I will never forget anything, lose anything, break anything. You can’t live like that, none of us are built that way, and the more things we have to keep track of the less capable we are of keeping track. The more we need help the less room we have inside our heads to ask for it, or get it. I mean, I need six hours on Sunday to do any kind of meal planning and I have no problems anyone should care about, you know?

We do not have a system that is built for people. For poor people, for any people who aren’t wildly rich and incredibly capable and assisted by everyone on the planet. Those assistants? There’s no world that makes their world possible.

A.

No Reason to Make People Choose

Zero versus sum: 

The Green New Deal (GND) remains controversial within much of the labor community, particularly among those in the manufacturing and extractive sectors who fear mass job losses or the dissolution of their entire industries. For them, and for coal miners in particular, the focus is on the idea of a “just transition” — a means of transitioning away from fossil fuels and toward renewable energy in a way that will create good-paying new jobs and viable career paths, and won’t leave them high and dry when the last mine closes.

The GND resolution does come with a universal jobs guarantee, but the thought of taking job-training classes or switching careers in middle age can be an understandably tough pill to swallow for someone who’s spent their entire working life underground. Despite these real complications, detractors of the GND often resort to the disingenuous, divisive tactic of pitting coal miners against environmentalists, as if it’s a zero-sum political game instead of gambling with the future of the planet. These critics act as though the miners as a monolith don’t care about the climate crisis, which certainly isn’t the case; while some unions still have their reservations, the growing support for the GND among miners and labor in general paints a different picture.

Here’s the thing. You could take what Jeff Bezos blows on lunch and use it to pay every single coal miner currently employed or on pension from a coal company their exact same salary for the rest of their natural lives, thus ensuring that nobody has to lose out when we need to save the dang planet or even move a factory.

There’s no reason why everybody who works someplace has to get screwed when an industry goes under. They wouldn’t even need to “learn to code” or whatever glib shit we’re yelling at people these days. They could retire right now and live lives they enjoyed for a little more than their bosses spend in Vegas brothels on the annual “company retreat.”

So sure, job training and health insurance and support for a career switch if that’s what people want, but let’s be realistic about what people need to live decent lives in the places they live, and just, like, give them that money as part of the cost of saving the earth. There’s no need to overcomplicate this and/or make it seem like a person who’s already their ass off down in the hole should now work even harder at something else for the last 10-15 years of their career.

We’re a very wealthy country and we could afford to say look, we recognize that it is not fair that you have to lose out on your livelihood because the companies you work for have exhausted their usefulness. We recognize that we are asking you to sacrifice more than most in order to change the way we do things, and we can compensate you accordingly.

We could give every coal miner in the United States $1 million for less than it cost to make that Avatar movie. We could afford that tomorrow and I’m tired of pretending we can’t so that people get mad at the Sierra Club or whoever, meanwhile we’re out here nuking the hurricanes.

A.

Today on Tommy T’s Obsession with the Freeperati – Cheeto Bandito edition

Oh dear.  In spite of Orange Julius’s economic advisers (the ones he hasn’t fired yet, anyway) telling him that this was just about as good an idea as pissing on an electric fence…

There’s a new tariff in town!

June 10th, United States will impose a 5% Tariff on all goods coming into our Country from Mexico
Real Donald Trump Twitter ^ | May 30, 2019

Posted on 5/30/2019, 6:50:28 PM by SMGFan

On June 10th, the United States will impose a 5% Tariff on all goods coming into our Country from Mexico, until such time as illegal migrants coming through Mexico, and into our Country, STOP. The Tariff will gradually increase until the Illegal Immigration problem is remedied,..

….at which time the Tariffs will be removed. Details from the White House to follow.

*************

great
1 posted on 5/30/2019, 6:50:28 PM by SMGFan
NotSureIfSarcasticOrStupid
To: SMGFan

 

KaBOOM

The screaming starts in…3, 2, 1…

4 posted on 5/30/2019, 6:52:27 PM by Regulator

Oh, I don’t think you’re going to have to wait that long…
To: SMGFan 

market down right now on the news.

Yeah – just a tad.

Tariffs

I have started closing positions at the end of the day because these tweets just really roil it.

9 posted on 5/30/2019, 6:55:11 PM by RummyChick

Do they, now?

To: SMGFan

 

I think he is getting a little wild with tariffs. He is going to shock the economy. Too much too fast never goes well.

84 posted on 5/30/2019, 7:37:39 PM by Sequoyah101 (It feels like we have exchanged our dreams for survival. We just hava few days that don’t suck.)

 

(skipping about a hundred posts about how only avocados and tequila are going to get more expensive)

One Freeper points out the obvious.

To: MeganC

 

You do realize that Mexico actually won’t pay he tariffs, right? China doesn’t pay the tariffs either. The American businesses that import the goods actually pay the tariffs. That’s how a tariff works. It’s not like a Mexican truck full of avocados is now going to get charged a 5% tax at the border. The importer pays that when it gets delivered and hen they pass that on to the store and they pass that on to you.

92 posted on 5/30/2019, 7:44:17 PM by NELSON111 (Congress: The Ralph Wolf and Sam Sheepdog show. Theater for sheep. My politics determines my “hero”)

So – how’s ya’ll’s 401Ks doing these days?
More below….

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Today on Tommy T’s Obsession with the Freeperati – World’s Biggest Losers edition

Hello, sports fans! Well, The Darnold seems determined to do to our economy what he did to the Taj Mahal casino, so let’s get right to the mayhem!

US tariffs on China jump
CNBC ^ | 10 May 2019 | Jacob Pramuk | Everett Rosenfeld

Posted on 5/10/2019, 12:09:09 AM by BeauBo

The Trump administration is hiking duties on $200 billion worth of Chinese products to 25% from 10%… Industries and businesses affected by the tariff hike will not feel the effect right away: it will apply to goods exported after May 10, according to the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative. It will not affect products already in transit to the United States. Trump has prepared to put even more pressure on China as he pushes for an agreement. The president has threatened to slap 25% tariffs on $325 billion in Chinese goods that remain untaxed.

*************

This is going to rip whole industries out of China, if they don’t make a deal – but they may just not be able to.

Nah – they’ll just subsidize any affected industries with state resources, just like they always have. They can probably only afford to do this for 15-20 years, though.

This is a big deal, and Chinese markets should take it hard on the chin when they open.

1 posted on 5/10/2019, 12:09:09 AM by BeauBo

I think you’re worried about the wrong markets, shithead.
To: BeauBo

 

While a agree with Trumps actions here. It is going to be painful for our 401k accounts. I’ve lost 25% of the gains I have made this year already this week. I have painful memories of being up 11% in October of 2018 only to be down 1% for the year in December. I hope that does not happen again. Then again, I don’t need to access my 401k until about 2023. So should be recovered by then, provided we don’t elect another obama.

3 posted on 5/10/2019, 12:32:07 AM by JoSixChip (Trump stands alone.)

Commie.
.
“cba123” wants to throw gasoline on the fire our 401Ks are currently burning in :
To: MtnClimber

 

I don’t know.

I think the Chinese should be punished for going back on the original aggreements.

Trump should enact 25% tariffs on everything as a new baseline, but should then announce they are going to 100% in a month, 200% in two months, then 500% in three months.

THEN start negotiating from there.

We do not repeal the 25% tariffs, ever.

8 posted on 5/10/2019, 12:47:32 AM by cba123 ( Toi la nguoi My. Toi bay gio o Viet Nam.)

Aren’t you glad there’s so many professional economists posting on Free Republic?
To: BeauBo

China says they will retaliate – but there is not $200 billion of US imports remaining to them to raise tariffs on. This round is the end of equivalent tit for tat exchanges of tariffs.China is running out of ammo. The next (final) round, if imposed, would be largely one sided, and would likely send Chinese our markets into crisis, their our economy into recession, and risk a debt and/or asset bubble and/or currency crisis.

FIFY.

I’d guess this round will be triggering some stops on Chinese stock markets tomorrow. Much of the industry getting these tariffs will simply be leaving China, if the tariffs stay in place.

6 posted on 5/10/2019, 12:41:20 AM by BeauBo

Meanwhile, in the real world…
To: BeauBo

China is running out of ammo.

They could recall the US debt we have to them. That would do some damage.

9 posted on 5/10/2019, 12:47:46 AM by JoSixChip (Trump stands alone.)
Ya think?
Oh and about that 401K thing :
To: JoSixChip

 

No one cares about your precious 401k.
This is about the fight for our Republic.

16 posted on 5/10/2019, 1:13:29 AM by mkleesma (`Call to me, and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.’)

More meta-economic stupidity below the fold….

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The Point Is To Be Mean

I’ve written before about how everything right now is designed to make you give up, lie down and quit fighting, and of course twas ever thus for those we nice white people didn’t want participating in the system, but increasingly we are weaponizing our customer service systems against ourselves: 

Elizabeth Cloinger, 47, who lives in a trailer next to her cousin’s house just outside town, thought she was complying with the new rules. She has been on Medicaid for years and already had a job, working seven days most weeks as a home health aide. Her wages — 9.25 an hour, with 50 cents more for hospice patients — and her hours met the new rules. Yet she received a June letter saying she needed to verify that her income made her eligible, or she would be cut off.

She called the listed phone number and faxed information to a state employee in Pine Bluff. She was told that, like many people, she was exempt from the work requirements — in her case, because she was caring for her 20-year-old daughter recovering from a car accident and her 3-year-old granddaughter.

But on Aug. 18, she received another letter, saying she had been terminated because she had not verified her income. In December, four letters arrived saying she needed to update her email address, then 11 more in January. Each letter told her to create an online account. She doesn’t have a computer and didn’t realize that the program requires everyone to get an email address.

A federal judge struck down these requirements recently, but of course they’ll come back, and of course the GOP and some MY BRAND IS CENTRIST Democrats will keep trying to make the poor prove they’re poor, the disabled prove they’re disabled, and everybody having a hard time will be forced to perform that hard time for the public to make us all feel better or something.

The point is to get people to give up and die already. It’s to exhaust them, the way endless appeals to insurance companies and run-arounds and “log in to your account except you need an account to log in” mechanisms are designed to do so. The point is to make people who have a limited capacity to fight struggle even harder. The point is to be mean.

And to who? To people who take care of the elderly in nursing homes and hospices, for ten goddamn dollars an hour. Hospice workers are angels on this earth and should be paid like star quarterbacks, this is already disgusting, and here come our National Scolds to make things worse. As if someone who works in a nursing home has to prove anything to anybody. If these lawmakers had to empty even one bedpan they’d faint from exertion.

I will never understand — as a person who, full disclosure, paid a healthy amount of taxes last year for the first time in my adult life — what I am supposed to get out of punishing people like that. Atrios says all the time that the health care system can be wildly complicated and expensive on the back end but should be absolutely free and simple on the front end and I absolutely agree but for EVERYTHING.

Yeah, people are gonna game the system. Somebody’s gonna be a welfare queen. Get the hell over it. If the choice is between “a system that can be gamed but hospice nurses get paid and can see a doctor themselves” and “a system that nobody can game WHICH IS IMAGINARY and is also a huge pain in the ass for the people who literally care for the dying and drives such people into poverty” I will gladly, enthusiastically accept the former.

A.

How You Gonna Pay For It?

Whenever someone asks that, in response to some mild environmental proposal, we should just say that WE ALREADY PAY FOR IT, DIPSHITS:

The ponds and landfills used to store coal ash are frequently unlined, allowing toxins to leach into groundwater.
The report is based on groundwater monitoring data from more than 4,600 wells. It compared measured levels to drinking water or other standards. Contamination was found in groundwater near 242 of the 265 plants that recently reported data required by the 2015 rule.
Fifty-two percent of those sites are contaminated with cancer-causing arsenic, and 60% are polluted with lithium, which is linked to neurological damage, according to the report.

There’s this idiot idea that we are not now paying for any kind of environmental damage we have caused, as if asthma and cancer and lead poisoning are things that don’t cost anyone any money. If that’s true I gotta boatload of friends what need the money they’ve spent on inhalers and chemo and testing reimbursed.

A.

People Are Such Assholes, I Am Exhausted

Nope. Nope nope nope. Just made a donation to The Night Ministry in honor of these pricks because I cannot with “poor gay children near my park will ruin my life” right now:

In a question to The Crib’s leaders, parent James Walsh echoed the sentiments of several parents who — in any other neighborhood — say they likely would have supported the idea of a youth homeless shelter.

“I think everybody in this room thinks the Night Ministry does amazing work,” he said. “(But) you’ve searched for two years, and you couldn’t find a space that isn’t a stone’s throw from an elementary school? And a stone’s throw from a kid’s park? … I’m not trying to be a NIMBY alarmist in this situation. I’m really not. But it seems like it’s right on top of it.”

Some members of the crowd clapped as Walsh went on to press The Night Ministry leaders on logistics.

Before anyone can come at me with WELL WHAT IF IT WAS YOUR KID’S SCHOOL, lemme just tell you my kid regularly gives her bags of crackers and applesauce pouches and pocket change to the guys panhandling on the train because she’s a generous kind child, and in 20 years of living where we live I have had exactly zero real problems with the homeless people we’ve encountered, so I see no reason to beat those instincts out of her.

I’m far more worried about her frequent interactions with judgy racist holier-than-thou suburbanites, to be honest.

What if it was your child? Well, what if my child was homeless? What if something happened to both Mr. A and myself and she was on the streets? What if she was addicted, if she was alone, if she was scared? What if she rejected us, or we didn’t know where she was, and all we had to cling to was the forlorn hope that someone somewhere was taking care of her? Would I want her to have a safe place to go, in a neighborhood near a park and a school instead of in some industrial shithole, where she could lay down her head?

Fuckin’ A right I would and people need to put themselves in that position more often because it takes startlingly little to fall from grace these days. I am beyond exasperated by anybody who thinks they’re safe right now. How? How can you be that clueless?

The earth is caving in and so many people are trying with their own two hands to keep it all together, and we don’t have time for this kind of petty selfishness. We don’t have room to be threatened into a giant hissyfit over a shelter that holds 20 kids, most of whom are gay and are on the streets because their mean-ass families kicked them out. Come the hell on. Focus here.

You don’t want to do the work, fine. Not everyone has to have the same cause. But you can’t then refuse to make space for the people who do. That’s not a level of control you get to exercise over a world this out of whack.

A. 

People’s Capacity

This is a fascinating approach: 

A 2016 study published in the American Journal of Public Health found that between roughly 2,800 and 5,500 premature deaths that occurred in New York City from 2008 to 2012 could have been prevented if the city’s minimum wage had been $15 an hour during that time, instead of a little over $7 an hour. That number represents up to one in 12 of all people who died prematurely in those five years. The chronic stress that accompanies poverty can be seen at the cellular level. It has been linked to a wide array of adverse conditions, from maternal health problems to tumor growth. Higher wages bring much-needed relief to poor workers. The lead author of the 2016 study, Tsu-Yu Tsao, a research director at the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, was “very surprised by the magnitude of the findings.” He is unaware of any drug on the market that comes close to having this big of an effect.

A $15 minimum wage is an antidepressant. It is a sleep aid. A diet. A stress reliever. It is a contraceptive, preventing teenage pregnancy. It prevents premature death. It shields children from neglect. But why? Poverty can be unrelenting, shame-inducing and exhausting. When people live so close to the bone, a small setback can quickly spiral into a major trauma. Being a few days behind on the rent can trigger a hefty late fee, which can lead to an eviction and homelessness. An unpaid traffic ticket can lead to a suspended license, which can cause people to lose their only means of transportation to work. In the same way, modest wage increases have a profound impact on people’s well-being and happiness. Poverty will never be ameliorated on the cheap. But this truth should not prevent us from acknowledging how powerfully workers respond to relatively small income boosts.

You need to have the capacity to exercise, to eat well, to sleep soundly. Back when I was working two jobs when Kick was a toddler I ate like shit and threw my back out and could barely get it together to clean my house much less do meal prep with organic vegetables. I would get a cold and it would knock me out for weeks. I had no reserves from which to draw, and an unexpected inconvenience would send me into a full-on tailspin. Financially speaking, I was okay. Not great, but okay. And the stress of it all still staggered me completely. 2015 alone took five years off my life.

On the one hand DURR OF COURSE MONEY MAKES YOU HEALTHIER. But we have not approached money as a public health concern. When you are broke and tired, you cannot expect to function at a level that lets you do everything you need to do and in case anyone hasn’t noticed shit is INSANE right now. The world is big and dumb and complicated and calling your doctor is like an all-day ordeal and nothing is easy. If the bus is late five minutes your whole, like, thing comes crashing down, and living like that takes a very definite health toll.

This is obvious. It should be obvious, but we are determined to be cling to our fantasies of the laziest poor people who just need to be told to work harder: 

West Virginia delegates are set to vote Tuesday on a bill that would terminate health insurance for some low-income West Virginians, a vulnerable population that a state analysis says is especially prone to death by overdose.

Last week, West Virginia House of Delegates Finance Chairman Eric Householder, R-Berkeley, introduced a bill in his committee that would require people who receive Medicaid in West Virginia to work, volunteer or participate in workforce training 20 hours a week.

In 2017, the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources released an analysis of more than 800 overdose deaths in 2016 and found that about 71 percent of them were low-income people on Medicaid. About a third of the state’s population is currently on Medicaid.

Not only are we not saving people, we are making it harder for them to save themselves. We are taking away the few things — public assistance, services — that give them room to breathe and then putting a pillow over their faces.

A.

It’s ALL About Money

I look forward to this explanation of how church and “civic life” are entirely divorced from economics because everyone knows you don’t need money to buy, say, land to build your sanctuary on, or textbooks: 

Why do so many people believe that the American dream is no longer within reach? Growing inequality, stubborn pockets of immobility, rising rates of deadly addiction, the increasing and troubling fact that where you start determines where you end up, heightening political strife—these are the disturbing realities threatening ordinary American lives today.

The standard accounts pointed to economic problems among the working class, but the root was a cultural collapse: While the educated and wealthy elites still enjoy strong communities, most blue-collar Americans lack strong communities and institutions that bind them to their neighbors. And outside of the elites, the central American institution has been religion.

That is, it’s not the factory closings that have torn us apart; it’s the church closings. The dissolution of our most cherished institutions—nuclear families, places of worship, civic organizations—has not only divided us, but eroded our sense of worth, belief in opportunity, and connection to one another.

Let’s ignore for a moment three generations of people subjected to a national media narrative driven by a 24-hour propaganda network telling them to feel alienated from modern life, and pretend they arrived at this feeling of alienation independently.

Let’s take this nonsense on its face for a moment because there’s a romanticism to this argument that a lot of people passively watching this guy get interviewed on GMA will find persuasive.

It’s entirely CRAP to say “factory closings” are somehow separate from “church closings” or that the loss of civic institutions isn’t economic. You know what closes a church? MONEY. If people can’t afford to send their kids to the local Catholic school, and can’t put anything in the collection plate, the lights won’t stay on. God may take an IOU but the electric company won’t.

That’s not “morality,” that’s reality.

Morality isn’t just mouthing words at a podium, or bowing your head once a week, or joining a bowling league. Morality is your actions toward others, the way you construct your days, the world you decide to build.

If you build a world without libraries, without schools, without roads and water pipes and snowplows and street sweeping, that will erode the feeling of community connection. If you replace every small music venue with a Starbucks, that will erode the feeling of community connection. If you make seeing a dentist a disaster on par with the car breaking down or your house catching fire, that will erode the feeling of community connection.

If you make it impossible for the elderly to stay in their homes and put decent retirement out of reach. If you stop picking up litter in neighborhoods where people aren’t likely to have time to complain. If you pay people sub-minimum wages so that they have to work two or three jobs and don’t have time to take their kids to the park much less join the damn bowling league.

All of that is immoral. All of that will erode the ties that bind us to one another. I understand the appeal of this argument that modern life sucks so hard because young people would rather be on their phones than attend church services. It lets us all off the hook for the world that we have built, and lets us sit back and judge others as silly and shallow without even once talking to them about how they feel and what they need.

I am happy to have a conversation about the morality of the way we build our lives now. I am beyond thrilled for us to start talking about why our sense of responsibility to one another is disappearing. I would LOVE the chance to explain, on national TV or with a Big 5 book deal, just how it is the world of the middle class disappeared and all the churches closed.

But somehow that conversation is never about money, and it needs to be.

Also? Not for nothing, but the bona fides of this whisperer of the great unwashed?

Timothy P. Carney is the commentary editor at the Washington Examiner and a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. He is the author of The Big Ripoff: How Big Business and Big Government Steal Your Money and Obamanomics: How Barack Obama is Bankrupting You and Enriching His Wall Street Friends, Corporate Lobbyists, and Union Bosses. He lives in the Washington, D.C., area.

I’m sure he’s welcome to move to a small town in Idaho and run their community rec center anytime he likes. Amazing how all these extollers of the virtues of Heartland poverty run zero risk of encountering it in the wild.

A.

The Dental Lobby

Got into a discussion the other day about the infuriating cost of dental work and the near-total uselessness of dental insurance and a friend pointed my way to this story, which explains in some ways why my dentist acts like money doesn’t exist:

On a recent Friday, Michael Hanson, 54, a lobsterman who went 15 years without seeing a dentist, was sitting in the community health clinic near Maine’s Acadia National Park. Over time, lack of care and poor health ruined Hanson’s teeth. In February, they were all pulled. He sat toothless, talking about eating soft food for months while he awaits his dentures.

Hanson said his daughter, too, skips annual exams because it is hard to come up with the money.

The dental system is broken, he said. “You go to the hospital and they give you time to pay your bill. But you go to the dentist and they want you to pay right there, and people just don’t have the money.”

The sickest I’ve ever been was from a botched root canal that abscessed. No pain was like that in my life, not the C-section, not the burst ovarian cyst, not the herniated back disc. At 3 a.m. I was begging Mr. A to either pull the tooth out with pliers or put me immediately to death. But in calling around to emergency rooms to try to find someone to shoot me like a horse we realized almost none of them consider dental care health care at all.

I have a decent dentist now, but my teeth are genetically horrible and if I tilt my head just right I can get radio signals, I have so much metal in my head. Every time I go in it’s $200 with head-shaking advice to spend approximately 10 grand (I’m exaggerating but only a little) on veneers, replacing all my old fillings, getting implants and/or bridges, and they get downright SHIRTY when I say flat-out that I can’t afford what they want to do.

“When are you going to get these implants?” the dentist asked, noting the four holes in my mouth where adult teeth never came in.

“When they’re free.” She stared at me like I’d suggested paying her with my body. At $3,500 times four, it would be the only way to get it done.

If we had a decent government and not a dumpster fire overseen by a fascist lunatic, we’d be adding to Obamacare a few levels that let us get our teeth fixed before we all died of blood poisoning or had to get dentures in our 30s.

A.

PAY YOUR FUCKING TAXES BEFORE YOU PAY BONUSES

The thing that gets me closest to a seize-the-means-of-production outlook on life is shit like this honestly: 

The company behind the Sears and Kmart chains on Friday obtained a U.S. bankruptcy court’s permission to pay as much as $25.3 million in bonuses to top executives and other high-ranking employees at Sears, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in October.

Why on earth would they do this OH WAIT:

The retailer successfully made the case that it needs to give employees a financial reason to stick around, even as it reported losses of almost $1.9 billion in the first three quarters this year.

“Under these circumstances, it would be understandable if many key employees are asking themselves whether they should be seeking other opportunities,” Sears said in a court filing last month. However, the retailer “cannot afford this uncertainty — however understandable it may be,” the company said.

You know what else this dog turd of a company couldn’t afford recently? Its goddamn TAXES, for the school district in the town that housed its bullshit HQ: 

Nearly 30 years ago, to lure Sears’ home base from Sears Tower in Chicago and keep it in Illinois, the retailer received nearly $250 million in tax breaks and incentives to move to its sprawling Hoffman Estates headquarters.

With that deal, much of the property tax revenue generated by Sears’ head offices in Hoffman Estates went back into the development of the surrounding Prairie Stone Business Park, near the Jane Addams Tollway at Illinois Route 59.

When the deal was to expire in 2012, local taxing districts like Community Unit School District 300 were supposed to see the full benefit of the increased tax base, but instead Sears landed an extended deal with the renewed threat of leaving the state.

We should have let those cockfucks quit the state. Bye bye, fuckers, go not pay for yourselves somewhere else. Whenever some corporation tries to get these deals, they’re all BUT THE JERBS which is only a good thing if you can, like, educate and feed the kids of the people who have those jobs. What good is all the wonderful tax revenue coming into the state if it doesn’t benefit the state at all? Like what are we getting out of this? Fuck this.

I swear we hear all day long about how political incivility has ruined our fucking society and we will yob off for HOURS about people who want something for nothing but everybody and their Bezos want taxpayers to foot the bill for their corporate retreat centers and their fucking executive trampoline parks and, shit, doggy day cares and whatever, and when we get jack shit out of it we talk about how we can’t afford to give people food stamps.

Well of course we can’t afford to. We’ve given all our money to assholes like this who, when they drive their goddamn company into the ground, get paid because the company “can’t afford uncertainty.”

A WHOLE BUNCH OF LITTLE SCHOOLKIDS CAN’T AFFORD LUNCH, TAKE YOUR UNCERTAINTY AND LIKE IT, MOTHERFUCKERS. BUY THE KIDS SOME HOT DOGS.

God, $25 million would be lifechanging for a school district. That’s like two entire schools, teachers and all. You give 25 teachers $1 million each for their schools, see how much uncertainty goes the fuck away. Shit, give 250 teachers $100,000 each and I guarantee you wherever you do that will have a healthier happier environment than the current one at Sears. The Sears by my house just shut down and thank God, we went in there to get a dishwasher and there were like two racks of Ed Hardy vests and a shelf of dusty coffeemakers. Sears is a gross dying shitbox that should be helped to its inevitable end, not protected from “uncertainty.” Can’t it bootstrap itself or something?

We are not getting anything out of this, Jesus God, it should be obvious by now. The rich are not magically putting their money back into charities to feed the poor, the jobs are not good enough, the wealth is not trickling down, and I would like to start a whole movement like the one that began in 2010 or so where instead of “if you’re too mean to the rich they won’t give to charity” we say things like “if you keep giving out executive bonuses like this we will take all your shit, burn it in the street, sell tickets to the same and then give the money from those tickets to kids so they can have milk.”

GOD. Sears can’t afford the uncertainty. Schools can’t afford books, fuck yourselves, Sears.

A.

The Ability To Weather Small Disasters

This idiot:

And look. Let’s just stipulate that yes, there are choices you can make that will lead to you being poor. But the gulf between rich and poor isn’t who made bad choices and who didn’t, it’s who GOT to make bad choices and who didn’t.

Like you, Stephen Meeks, the human embodiment of a Polo shirt. You got to crash Daddy’s Lamborghini, or impregnate the maid, or puke into the potted palms at the country club, and none of it destroyed your life. You could pay for car repairs, abortions, and lawyers. You didn’t have to worry about taking out a loan because you had to have a bottle of Drakkar Noir laparoscopically removed from your colon and the hospital bill was in the zillions.

You could make stupid mistakes, and you had the ability to recover from them.

Whereas if your car was totaled on the freeway by no fault of your own, and you couldn’t get to work because you couldn’t pay to fix it, and you got fired, you’d be out on the street in six months.

If the woman you knocked up refused to get an abortion, and you married her and had the baby, and you burned through your savings paying for the birth, you’d have to max out your credit cards to pay for diapers. Good luck buying a home for you and that baby with the credit you’d have after that.

If you got drunk, and behaved badly, or got arrested, which is something rich people do ALL THE GODDAMN TIME, and you couldn’t afford a decent lawyer, you’d sit behind bars until you could make bail, and then if you got lucky you’d wind up on probation, your name on the internet forever as the dumbass who barfed in the bromeliads, and you wouldn’t get hired at McDonald’s.

Everybody makes mistakes. Everybody makes terrible choices. Not only that: Everybody gets smacked in the face by life every once in a while. Forget the examples above: What if you just, you know, got a rare form of cancer and then had to switch insurance companies? What if someone stole from you? What if your house burned down? What if you weren’t the family breadwinner, and that breadwinner died and left you nothing?

A part of me envies these people that don’t have to think about all the times they could be bankrupted or otherwise poleaxed by the universe. It is ALL I think about (and I have no real problems financial or otherwise); my contingency plans have contingency plans. I have seen firsthand people’s lives go from charmed to chainsawed and all it takes is hitting one giant pothole, self-inflicted or otherwise.

You shouldn’t get to live a decent upright life only if you never make a mistake or never have a misfortune. “I did everything right” is a delusion, and it shouldn’t be a goal. You should be able to make ordinary fuckups, take a few wrong turns here and there, and still be able to claw your way back without destroying everything. Inherent in building a society is building one that understands the people living in it aren’t perfect, and builds in options to help them recover, rebuild, and go on.

A.

Today on Tommy T’s Obsession with the Freeperati – “How now, down DOW?” edition

Quickie today (yeah – I know I said that LAST week) as Freepers declare “I’ll tumble for ya”.

Dow tumbles 650 points to new low on day, bringing 2-day losses to more than 1,400 points
CNBC ^ | 10/11/2018 | Fred Imbert

Posted on 10/11/2018, 1:57:57 PM by BradtotheBone

Stocks fell in volatile trading Thursday, a day after the major indexes suffered steep losses sparked by higher rates and a sell-off in tech shares.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average traded 650 points lower, bringing its two-day losses to more than 1,400 points. The S&P 500 dropped 2.1 percent and was on pace for a six-day losing streak. The broad index also broke below its 200-day moving average for the first time since May. The Nasdaq Composite pulled back 1.5 percent and entered correction territory.

The major indexes fell after some of the major tech names failed to recover from steep losses in the previous session. Netflix fell more than 1.5 percent after briefly trading higher. Apple also declined 0.8 percent, erasing earlier gains.

Tech shares fell more than 4.5 percent on Wednesday, marking their worst day since 2011. The sell-off led to the Dow sinking more than 800 points and the S&P 500 dropping more than 3 percent. It was also the 28th time since 2011 the S&P 500 posted a more than 2 percent decline, according to data from Birinyi Associates.

“It’s a momentum correction, not a portfolio correction,” said Joe Terranova, chief market strategist at Virtus Investment Partners. “While we have a bias to believe 2008 could happen again, I don’t think this is the case.”

“Less is more in this environment,” Terranova added. “I think you need to be an observer of the guidance you get in earnings.”

Stocks tried to rebound earlier in the day after the release of weaker-than-expected inflation data. The U.S. government said the consumer price index rose 0.1 percent in September, well below the expected gain of 0.2 percent.

**********************

Not Good!!!
1 posted on 10/11/2018, 1:57:57 PM by BradtotheBone
Thanks for that cutting-edge analysis.
So – who’s to blame??
To: BradtotheBone

Soros.

2 posted on 10/11/2018, 1:59:04 PM by cowboyusa (America Cowboy UP!)

I don’t know why I bother.
To: BradtotheBone

The Dow is getting crushed.

3 posted on 10/11/2018, 1:59:23 PM by tatown

SO much winning!!

To: BradtotheBone

Billionaire RATs trying to crash it before the mid-terms.

Yep – because nothing says “billionaire” like losing 1400 points on your investments.

IF only evidence of it could be found.

4 posted on 10/11/2018, 2:00:25 PM by lgjhn23 (It’s easy to be liberal when you’re dumber than a box of rocks.)

AliensItWas
.
More at the “continue reading” clicky link thingy.

Continue reading

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Self taught, self made, bet, self styled

This, pretty much:

I always feel like at least part of it’s projection, like if you did it all yourself then nobody can take it from you. If you did all this yourself, and you weren’t beholden to any system you didn’t control, then not only do you get to give yourself credit but you get out of fear-jail free. It’s all you, and you know what you can handle, right?

And you want your work to be enough. If you’ve been busting your ass, since high school or before, you want that to have been enough to make you because it was so fucking hard. Even people who have it relatively easy — born white and middle class in America — can still work their comfortable honky asses off and get to middle age thinking goddamn, I hustled this shit hard. Thinking of the ways you benefitted from things — public libraries, good schools, books in your house, parents with the leisure time to take you to plays and museums — seems to diminish that.

It doesn’t have to, though. If you look at the way you were made, the parts you did yourself and the parts other people helped you do, as a model for what you have to give others instead of a list of what others should be denied, it multiplies your work instead of dividing it: Yes, I started on second base, but I made it home, and you’re gonna make it home, too, no matter where you started from.

A.

Giving Away the Store to Get the Store

Back when I covered local government this was beyond routine: Jewel wants to build a store to make money off of (and employ a few of) our residents! Let’s give them tax breaks to come here because if we don’t, they’ll build 10 feet down the road in a town that will!

Thus ensuring that any economic development doesn’t benefit the schools or the residents, which is … the entire rationale behind encouraging economic development in the first place.

I’m seeing more pushback against this in the Amazon discussion than I ever did previously:

Critics of Amazon’s “race to the bottom” as it searches for a home for its second headquarters said on Thursday that the company’s newly released shortlist of 20 cities highlights a crisis in the U.S. economy—one exemplified by the huge incentives offered to Amazon in the bidding war among potential hosts.

When politicians talk about incentives for businesses people assume they mean giving Jane and Joe a break on their water bill while they’re opening an ice cream shop, not giving Jeff Bezos a free pass to rebuild their whole city for rich white people.

A.

The Rule of Law Without Lawyers

You tell me how this works out well for anybody: 

John Anderson’s weeks blur together as the lone judge in Bayfield County. The largely rural county sits at the top of Wisconsin and is home to hundreds of miles of trails, some of the Apostle Islands, and 15,000 residents. But there are just 14 active attorneys.

In Anderson’s courtroom, one scenario unfolds over and over: Nonviolent drug offenders file into court without a lawyer, Anderson tells them to contact an attorney and then they are released on a signature bond. They’re due back in court in two weeks for another hearing, and possibly an offer for treatment if they’re able to find a lawyer.

But they often don’t last that long. The offender often ends up back in Anderson’s courtroom in a week on bail-jumping and more serious felony charges, with no representation. Now the opportunity for treatment is gone.

“That happens every week,” Anderson says. “Somebody is put back into the community with a serious drug or alcohol problem, waiting to get their lawyer, and then they reoffend.”

Like much of the state, Bayfield has faced serious, and worsening, problems with meth and opioid addiction, leading to many overdoses a year.

But unlike Wisconsin’s more affluent counties, Bayfield is also facing a shortage of lawyers to take up public defender cases, resulting in a backlog that lengthens delays for treatment and leaves people in jail awaiting trial.

Instead of people getting assigned a public defender within days of being arrested and charged, it can take four, six or even eight weeks. This gap in defense leaves people addicted to opioids or meth in a high-stress situation, without treatment options. If they do get assigned representation, it can be from an inexperienced attorney.

Other than the for-profit prisons, I mean.

A.

We Want To Be Good

Look how they’ve exceeded their goal: 

I am Samierra Jones, a Senior at Coppin State University and a graduate of Baltimore City Public School system. Baltimore City Public Schools are currently operating with an inadequate heating system. Students are still required to attend classes that are freezing and expected wear their coats to assist in keeping them warm. How can you teach a child in these conditions? This fund raiser will  help  in purchasing space heaters and outerwear to assist in keeping these students warm. To raise $20,000 would be enough to cover the fees of Go fund Me and purchase roughly 600 space heaters, outerwear, and it will cover the processing fee for Go Fund Me.

A lot of the comments on this are rightly castigating American society for creating a situation in which strangers have to pitch in to heat a classroom for students to learn. That is disgusting. It’s ridiculous that we can fund a plane that doesn’t take off or land, and a war that won’t ever be won, and a tax cut for a billionaire, instead of funding heat in our schools. It’s absurd.

And maybe the most absurd thing about it is the way in which it points out the lengths to which decent people of good will will go in this society to continue upholding the social contract no matter how often their leaders tell them they don’t have to.

Look at what happened here. Strangers pitched in. Strangers exceeded the $20,000 ask by more than $50K. Strangers covered the costs for people they have never met and will never meet. Strangers kicked in small amounts and it added up to enough to solve a problem no one person could have solved on his or her own.

That’s government. That’s all it is. Pooling a small amount of our resources to provide resources for everyone.

And in the absence of government, in the face of the deliberate abdication of government, after 40 years of tax cuts and posturing about graft and fairytaling about our supposed desire to not have any government ever because welfare queens or something, people all over the place are trying to say through the Internet that fuck your selfishness, we will do this anyway.

This isn’t me justifying private charity being a substitute for government action. It’s me saying that our natural impulse is to take care of each other. Given the chance, given enough high-traffic retweets and attention, we respond to these things. We push and change and fight for each other. It’s what we’re made for. It’s how we live and that instinct is knit into our muscles and bones.

It’s why it took them so fucking long.

It took Republicans YEARS, years on every level from municipalities to the White House, to destroy the human voice that wakes us, that says our fate is your fate. It took them DECADES of daily propaganda, of beating their drums as if the sun never set, saying no, no, no, no. Saying we can’t afford to be brave and generous and decent and true. Saying we can’t afford to help one another, to open our hands and offer our shoulders. Saying we shouldn’t do this anymore. It took them AGES to get us to where we are, to make us this small and this mean.

And still, people say, I can help. Let me help. Still.

We pass the word. We give what we can. Some give more. Some give less. But we give, and instead of just being infuriated by the idea that you should have to beg for your very life, we should be looking at examples like this and saying they signify the will to care for one another still remains.

No matter what they tell us. No matter how loud they shout. No matter how many lies they thread into the tax code and how many cautionary tales they spin about fraud and waste and inefficiency and paralyzing fear.

We are big enough for things like this. And we will keep doing them, whether you want us to or not. Candidates for office should take note, and call this what it is, this extension of what we have to care for all of us. They should call it government, and run on it as much as they run for it.

A.