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Liberal Outrage

NJ considering reducing hedge fund investments

So far, Murphy has been surprisingly good, but this will be the decision that confirms or allays my suspicious of a Goldman Sachs guy having bought our governorship.

For background, see David Sirota's original reporting on this.

By fnord12 | March 30, 2018, 12:14 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link

Ask not for whom the bell curves; it curves for thee

Ezra Klein's primary motivation in life seems to be to find a conservative that he can have a reasonable debate with. And so he's way too polite to these modern day phrenologists. But it's admirable that he took the time to address the arguments in a serious and data-driven way.

By fnord12 | March 30, 2018, 11:58 AM | Liberal Outrage | Link

Eight fake conspiracy theories ago

Congress is still defunding ACORN.

By fnord12 | March 22, 2018, 4:49 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link

More JG

In my last post, i looked at the Federal Jobs Guarantee as competition for UBI, and found it wanting. Matt Bruenig is pretty down on JG just on its own terms. It's for a lot of the same reasons that i think UBI needs to come first. What i was most focused on is the odd way that JG proponents suddenly have all these right wing criticisms of UBI, which is weird on its own (since JG is clearly a left policy too) and especially weird since the same criticisms of UBI can apply to JG. I do think that in some ideal world after we have Medicare For All and UBI and (as Bruenig notes) Universal Child Care, we could move on to trying to implement JG, whereas Bruenig almost makes it seem hopeless (even ignoring the rhetorical nine children thing). I guess the key is to accept that JG jobs would have to be make-work, which is something that JG proponents won't come to grips with.

By fnord12 | March 22, 2018, 12:40 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link

Job Guarantee vs. UBI

This Sanders Institute video about a National Jobs Guarantee is worth watching, but i have some serious grumbles. I support a Job Guarantee but i hate the way it's being pitched as an alternative to Universal Basic Income. JG ensures that everyone who wants to get ahead by working can do so. UBI helps correct the major problem we have with financial (income and wealth) inequality. The two programs could be complementary. UBI creates a new floor; JG ensures that people who are willing and able to work can rise beyond that floor. But if the two must compete, UBI is a far superior solution.

What's extra frustrating is that the people who argue for JG - like Stephanie Kelton, who i otherwise admire - suddenly start using all the arguments against UBI that you'd expect to hear from a center-left liberal (or worse).

The first thing to understand about JG is that it is an almost ACA-level Rube Goldberg contraption of moving parts. It requires jobs to be invented. Jobs that match all possible skill sets. Jobs for physical laborers, jobs for displaced IT professionals, jobs for people with disabilities, etc., etc.. Additionally, the jobs have to be the sort that aren't important enough to be permanent, because the whole idea is that most people go into these jobs during recessions and come out of them when the economy gets good again. That suggests WPA style jobs like park beautification, the creation of art, the recording of oral histories (which was a WPA job; the modern equivalent might be updating Wikipedia pages or something), etc.. Things that i'm not at all against, but which you might describe as make-work. However, Kelton's proposal includes things like child & elderly care and moving to a green economy. Those are not temporary jobs! You don't want to funnel a bunch of semi-qualified people into those positions and then have them leave when the economy gets good again. So there's a massive amount of administration that needs to happen to coordinate and balance all of that. It also requires a massive bureaucracy to evaluate people and place them into the appropriate jobs. Per Kelton's proposal, this bureaucracy will be administered at the local level, which comes with all sorts of problems that i'll discuss below.

Additionally, the JG in Kelton's proposal acts as a stealth raise to the minimum wage and a stealth universal healthcare, because the idea is that these jobs will pay a minimum of $15 an hour (which Kelton calls a "living wage" but it is not) and will provide people with health insurance. So if you have some other job not providing those things, you can quit and get a job from the JG, and that puts pressure on employers. Which is a good thing in the abstract, but it also suggests that the JG is being put forth as competition not just to UBI but to Medicare For All and the Fight For Fifteen (and/or a true living wage).

So with all of that in mind, let's talk about the objections to UBI. The first thing you'll hear is the very conservative idea about the "dignity of work" and how people will just sit at home and grow mold if they're just handed (a very modest amount of) money. This nonsense was already intrinsically rebutted during the debate about the ACA. How many times did we hear about how once people weren't tied to a shitty job because of their insurance needs that they would become entrepreneurs, start their own business, take on some risky career that they've always wanted to, stay home to give some much needed care to their kids/parents, spend more time doing charity work, etc.? The same argument can be made here. Freed from the burden of having to scrounge for a basic living, people will do what they want to do and will be inherently more productive and give much more back to society. Anyone who's been on the internet knows that people do this naturally: they code free software, they do research and update Wikipedia, they make free music, they make free web comics, they make free Youtube videos, they spend massive amounts of time working on comic book fan sites. The idea that we're all going to sit home and drool is counter to everything we know about people.

All of the other arguments about UBI can also be made about JG. Kelton says that the UBI amount would be subject to Congress where budget "hawks" would always be trying to lower it. But the same is true of the minimum wage for JG, and the generosity of the health insurance, AND the amount of funding for the bureaucracy and available jobs.

Another argument is that some people arguing for UBI (mostly the Zuckerberg types) are proposing it as a replacement for existing social programs, which would of course be awful. But no progressive is arguing for this kind of UBI (and i feel like Kelton was downright disingenuous in the video for not acknowledging that). And people make the same argument about JG - it could easily replace TANF, for example. And even the stealth ways that it addresses minimum wage and universal health care raise problems along these lines.

Kelton also says that a problem with UBI is that rich people will get the check as well as poor people. This is literally Hillary Clinton's "Why should we pay for Donald Trump's kids to go to public college?" argument. The answer, obvious to anyone, is that you get the money back by raising the top marginal tax rate. Kelton knows this and it's very disappointing to see her using that line.

The concerns about inflation are the same for both as well, and so is the response (there's so much slack in the economy that we're not even meeting the Fed's current inflation target let alone in danger of real inflation, and in any event the Fed can control inflation with interest rates).

Kelton says that the money people would be getting from JG would result in a massive economic stimulus, which i agree with but the same would be true of UBI. And the question of how to "pay" for it - which would be weird coming from the country's premiere MMT economist - applies equally to JG and UBI.

Then we get to the bureaucracy. Progressives/leftists love universal programs (1,2) because they require very little administration and are inherently fair. But JG puts a lot of arbitrary power into the hands of local administrators. And the first thing that makes me think of is how the New Deal failed black people by allowing the programs to be administered at the local level, thus allowing racist bureaucrats to exclude them (c.f. When Affirmative Action Was White). In a time when every Republican-controlled state with a large black population opted out of the ACA, this remains a legitimate concern. Beyond that, you know that conservatives (including rightwing Dems) are going to demand that the job seekers pass drug tests and that there's a very easy way to fire people, making the "guarantee" not so much of a guarantee. And the grifting opportunity is huge - how do you prevent the local bureaucrats from creating jobs that benefit campaign donors? With a higher level of bureaucracy, maybe? Turtles all the way up? With UBI, everybody just gets a check.

Another kind of grift comes from the fact that in order to determine what types of jobs should be in the JG, the bureaucracies are going to need to hire "experts" from think tanks. In fact, i'd argue that center-left think tanks like CAP are pushing for JG precisely because of these grifting opportunities. Again, with UBI, everybody just gets a check.

It's good that we're talking about stuff like this. It's good whenever the left is pushing new ideas and isn't just trying to figure out how to undo the damage Trump is doing. But if these programs are in competition with each other, the Jobs Guarantee should get a much lower priority.

By fnord12 | March 21, 2018, 5:34 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link


Jeet Heer on why it's a lame line of attack.

By fnord12 | March 21, 2018, 1:44 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link

The disavowal game

Everything Keith Ellison says here is stuff he's said before (in fact, he links to himself saying it before). The people attacking him with this stuff will never be satisfied with the disavowals.

By fnord12 | March 19, 2018, 5:06 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link

Today in why the Jersey Dem Machine sucks

Part one.

Part two.

It's not too late to support Peter Jacob, though.

By fnord12 | March 19, 2018, 5:01 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link

Origins of private property vs. libertarian philosophy

Not sure i love the "sick burn" framing, but it's an interesting way of looking at things.

By fnord12 | March 19, 2018, 2:40 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link

What the Dems should do when they win

I agree with Ryan Cooper's proposed agenda, but i especially like his 3 Political Reform items. And i'm actually surprised he didn't include "Pack the Supreme Court" in there; i think i've seen him advocate for that before. It would of course be controversial (FDR tried and failed) but the Court already has no legitimacy and left alone it would be a major partisan blocker to any Dem agenda.

By fnord12 | March 19, 2018, 2:37 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link

Criminal Justice Reform

Larry Krasner is looking like everything we hoped he'd be.

By fnord12 | March 15, 2018, 1:35 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link

The bots are here, and they ain't Russian

How a major Hillary Clinton supporter managed an army of bots to drown out support for Bernie.

She used photos of dead people for the bot profiles. So ghoulish.

By fnord12 | March 14, 2018, 12:51 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link

Apparently this is a thing

The bill makes sexual harassment a crime, punishable by the Florida Commission on Ethics. It outlaws unwanted sexual advances by legislators, candidates for public office, agency employees and lobbyists. It imposes new penalties on violators, creates a new victims advocate in each agency, and bans the hiring of so-called "closers" -- often young men and women retained by lobbying firms who may be expected to submit to sexual advances from lawmakers in the closing days of the legislative session.

The bill is DOA, by the way (h/t).

By fnord12 | March 13, 2018, 4:44 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link

Look forward, not back

Dexter Filkins at the New Yorker:

From 2003 to 2005, Gina Haspel was a senior official overseeing a top-secret C.I.A. program that subjected dozens of suspected terrorists to savage interrogations, which included depriving them of sleep, squeezing them into coffins, and forcing water down their throats. In 2002, Haspel was among the C.I.A. officers present at the interrogation of Abu Zubaydah, an Al Qaeda suspect who was tortured so brutally that at one point he appeared to be dead.

On Thursday, the Trump Administration announced that Haspel would become the C.I.A.'s new deputy director.

..."You are putting a person in a leadership position who was centrally involved in an illegal program," Sifton told me. President Barack Obama ordered the closure of the secret prisons, or black sites, in 2009.

A former government official, who spoke to me on condition of anonymity, said that the promotion of Haspel amounted to the C.I.A.'s revenge. "The agency is giving the finger to anyone who was ever critical of the program," the former official said.

...When Obama took office, in 2009, he declared that he would not prosecute anyone involved in the C.I.A.'s interrogation programs, not even senior officers, among whom Haspel was one. At the time, Obama said he wanted to look forward and not back. But the past, as Obama well knows, never goes away. With the prospect of American torture looming again, I wonder if Obama regrets his decision. After all, people like Haspel, quite plausibly, could have gone to prison.

Update: It's come out that Gina Haspel wasn't involved in one particular instance of torture but was instead involved in a different instance of torture and also helped destroy evidence so we don't really know who was involved in what instances of torture. And somehow that's supposed to make it all ok.

By fnord12 | March 13, 2018, 12:43 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link

What's The Matter With What's The Matter With What's The Matter With Kansas?

After watching the Thomas Frank video Min posted below, i looked up Frank's post on Krugman and all of the links to Krugman's past dismissal of Frank's thesis. I think Frank's rebuttal of the guy that Krugman relied on to be particularly devastating PDF and long, but well worth the read). Bartels' poor definition of the working class should have been disqualifying.

By fnord12 | March 12, 2018, 11:58 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link

The Absurdity of the Russian Trolls

Thomas Frank talks with RJ Eskow on the Zero Hour about how the Democrats are doing what they can to dodge responsibility for running a bad presidential candidate by inflating the Russian bots into something they were not.

The article Frank wrote about the Russian trolls is here.

By min | March 12, 2018, 11:14 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link

We Are Not Health Consumers

Natalie Shure discusses our broken health care system and how it thinks of people who need health care as "consumers" who are paying so much because they are not "good shoppers".

By min | March 12, 2018, 10:54 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link

"Casual" Racism


After receiving yet another one of Chunzi's checks on my desk, I wrote a terse email to human resources and copied our managing editor. "These mistakes," I wrote, "are extremely offensive and unacceptable." The managing editor called me into his office to apologize, but he rationalized the situation: "I don't think anyone here's got a mean bone in their body," he said.

This is part of the problem: White people and even Asians themselves dismiss the issue. We laugh at it because it's not malicious. The Asian women I've spoken to have largely rolled their eyes when this has happened or have tried to be good-humored about it. (Several Asian women I know have switched seats with the other Asians in their offices to see if their white male bosses noticed; they didn't.) America Ferrera and Eva Longoria recently made fun of these types of errors in a routine at the Golden Globes.

Nicole Chung, writing in the Toast, calls these experiences "casual racism" and notes that, as minorities, we are often afraid of how white people will feel if we call them out. "What does our dignity matter, what do our feelings amount to, when we could embarrass white people we care about? When our white relatives or friends or colleagues might experience a moment's discomfort, anxiety, or guilt?" she writes.


"You're so pretty," a woman at a concert told me. "My son is marrying a Vietnamese girl. Are you Vietnamese?"

You're so pretty, too! I wanted to say. My cousin is marrying a white guy from Tennessee. Are you from Tennessee? But I didn't say it.

Sometimes I'm so stunned by what's happening that I'm at a loss for words -- like when a man on the subway announced to me, apropos of nothing, "I was just in Shanghai last week!" But this won't stop until we learn to speak up. Part of that includes being brave enough to call this phenomenon for what it is: racist. But the onus isn't just on us inching past our fear of embarrassing a white person. It's on white people to learn to make distinguishing faces a priority. Whether they realize it or not, the repeated misidentification broadcasts its own message: I'm Asian, indistinct and not worth remembering.

A friend of a family member who shall remain nameless once said very enthusiastically, "I LOVE Chinese tea!" at a family gathering. 0_o

And here are some brown people getting mistaken for others.

By min | March 12, 2018, 7:06 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link

Sorry to keep doing this, but...

Bernie Sanders:

I've never believed in this blue-state, red-state nonsense. Yes, Lubbock voted overwhelmingly for Trump. But any county in this country, which has people who are struggling, can and must become a progressive county.

Hillary Clinton:

I won the places that represent two-thirds of America's gross domestic product. So I won the places that are optimistic, diverse, dynamic, moving forward. And [Trump's] whole campaign 'Make America Great Again,' was looking backwards.

By fnord12 | March 12, 2018, 6:36 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link

Or, Are the Nordic countries socialist?

In my post on the last Elizabeth Bruenig OpEd, i said that i wished we didn't always need the obligatory disclaimer about not wanting to install the reanimated corpse of Joseph Stalin. It turns out even putting in that disclaimer doesn't help.

Update: Meanwhile, Elizabeth's husband looks at Singapore.

By fnord12 | March 11, 2018, 7:41 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link

Secure your base, people

The Missing Obama Millions:

...many analysts see Romney voters who flipped to Mrs. Clinton as an illustration of how the Democratic Party now survives in significant part by appealing to more upscale voters.

Frustratingly, however, these perspectives play down the importance of a crucial group of disaffected voters: those who voted for Mr. Obama in 2012 but then failed to go to the polls in 2016. Because this group is disproportionately young and black, this erasure is racially tinged.


Obama-to-nonvoters share the progressive policy priorities of Democrats, and they strongly identify with the Democratic Party. Four out of every five Obama-to-nonvoters identify as Democrats, and 83 percent reported they would have voted for a Democrat down-ballot. A similar share of Obama-to-nonvoters said that they would have voted for Mrs. Clinton had they turned out to vote. In short, while reclaiming some Obama-to-Trump voters would be a big help to Democratic prospects, re-energizing 2012 Obama voters who stayed home is a more plausible path for the party going forward.

Whether Democrats can mobilize these voters is an open question, however. Significantly, only 43 percent of Obama-to-nonvoters reported being contacted by a candidate in 2016, compared with 66 percent of Obama-to-Clinton voters. While analysts have focused on why many conservative voters switched to the Republican Party, a better question might be why a campaign that sought to energize young voters of color failed to do so.

The study did some analysis of policy preferences for these voters, but it seems to have just been a kind of baseline comparison to confirm that they are "liberals" and not conservatives. It would have been nice to see if the more progressive policies of a Bernie Sanders type candidate might have motivated them more than Clinton's platform. My theory is that is certainly wouldn't have hurt, and it also might have peeled off a lot of the third party voters.

By fnord12 | March 11, 2018, 7:34 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link

Phil Murphy vs. idiots

I wasn't too thrilled with the way Phil Murphy got the nomination for governor, but he's shaping up to be pretty decent. Unfortunately, he's running into opposition from other idiot Democrats.

Idiot number one is the much hated boss of southern Jersey, Steve Sweeney, who asks if we won't please think of the poor millionaires?

Senate President Steve Sweeney, a Democrat, said he is concerned that a millionaires tax would be too much in addition to the new federal tax law, which capped previously unlimited annual state and local tax deductions at $10,000 for individual and married filers. Mr. Sweeney previously sponsored several bills that would have raised income taxes on New Jersey residents earning more than $1 million, all of which were blocked by former Republican Gov. Chris Christie.

"We're going to jack up people's taxes and they can't write it off?" Mr. Sweeney asked. "The game changed when Washington passed this so-called tax cut."

Instead of a tax on millionaires, Mr. Sweeney has proposed raising the state's top corporate income tax to 12% from 9%...

Murphy's response to that is kind of cool, like fuck it, we'll do that too.

The governor told reporters last week that he was intrigued by Mr. Sweeney's proposal but wanted more details, including about how it would affect small businesses. Mr. Murphy said he didn't see it as a substitute for a millionaires tax, but "perhaps as an additional weapon at our disposal."

The other idiot has some serious paternalism for us:

At the same time, other Democratic lawmakers are balking at Mr. Murphy's proposal to legalize marijuana, which he has said could generate more than $300 million in tax revenue. Assemblywoman Shavonda Sumter said she was concerned about how legalizing marijuana would affect urban residents' health and job prospects.

"Any job you go for, especially in health care, you're doing a drug screen," she noted.

A spokesman for the governor said he is still committed to legalizing marijuana. Mr. Sweeney said he strongly supports legalization but acknowledged that he doesn't yet have enough support from his Democratic caucus.

How about you let the people going to job interviews worry about that? And maybe if we legalize pot, that drug screen won't be needed (for a lot of jobs) either.

Anyway, once again we see why we can't have nice things.

By fnord12 | March 11, 2018, 7:22 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link

"ICE was a direct product of the post-September 11 panic culture"

Abolish it.

By fnord12 | March 9, 2018, 2:06 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link

"We see now how that loyalty is repaid"

Ryan Cooper on the the subtle racism of centrist Democrats.

By fnord12 | March 9, 2018, 1:30 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link

What is the point of you?

Rachel Maddow naysaying peace talks with North Korea just to get digs in at Trump is making me very angry.

Everyone should read Tim Shorrock on North Korea.

By fnord12 | March 9, 2018, 2:09 AM | Liberal Outrage | Link

This is how reparations could be done

The basic idea here is good, although i disagree with the tactics. Instead of boosting "subsidies meant to encourage work", just give people money. And also spend money on job-creating infrastructure projects. And instead of just targeting areas of "chronic joblessness", also target areas that have historically suffered from oppression and plunder. Basically, just create a huge bottom-up stimulus program that takes into account our history.

But, sincerely, i am glad that Larry Summers (et al.) are thinking in these terms.

By fnord12 | March 8, 2018, 9:25 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link

Suburbs of Nothing

Noah Smith has an interesting tweetstorm (it's been "unrolled"). The thesis is that white flight has created areas of the country (Noah doesn't want to call them suburbs, but it's what i would call them; suburbs without the urb) where there are no jobs and so they're under extreme economic strain.

By fnord12 | March 7, 2018, 1:54 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link


There's been so much written about the 17 Dems - including Hillary Clinton's vice presidential pick Tim Kaine and Doug "owes his election to black women" Jones - who voted in favor of financial deregulation that i don't know where to start. Here's Jeff Spross just as an example. And Bernie has good video on it. But all i can really do is sputter at the stupidity of it.

By fnord12 | March 7, 2018, 12:38 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link

"It's time to give socialism a try"

We saw the New York Times editor unable to form a sentence when asked why he doesn't run leftists, but the Washington Post has Elizabeth Bruenig going Beyond Bernie. I'd like to get to the point where we don't have to throw in the obligatory "we don't mean totalitarian dictatorships!" paragraph but it's a huge start.

By fnord12 | March 7, 2018, 12:34 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link

Running from words

Ryan Cooper follows up his previous article by noting how the response to criticisms of Neoliberalism is to claim that such a thing doesn't exist. And ultimately that's a good thing, because we don't want it to exist (anymore).

By fnord12 | March 5, 2018, 12:09 AM | Liberal Outrage | Link

Poultry Lobby Forcing Stores to Sell Their Eggs


As consumers have awoken to the barbaric conditions of the egg industry, they have begun to turn toward incrementally more humane alternatives, such as cage-free eggs, as well as truly humane options, such as eggs from pasture-raised hens at places like Vital Farms.
But in response, the powerful poultry industry -- which long invoked principles of the "free market" to justify their torture-derived products being available to consumers -- have now reversed course. With consumers choosing more humane egg products, lobbyists for the poultry industry are pushing laws that would force stores to carry their products even if doing so offends their moral sensibilities and ethical judgments.

In Iowa, the nation's biggest egg-producing state, lawmakers, at the behest of the poultry lobby, are making their most brazen attempt yet to fight the tides of change: simply making it a legal requirement for grocery stores to carry inhumanely produced eggs.


The bill's supporters frame the measure as a consumer choice issue, arguing that the most economically destitute Iowans deserve access to lower priced eggs.

And if you weren't aware of the inhumane treatment of chickens...

The cages were about the size of a microwave, with seven to 10 hens crammed into each one. The floors were made of an abrasive wire mesh, so when birds died -- often from thirst or starvation after their confinement had debilitated their muscles and bones, rendering them paralyzed -- the live hens would stand on top of the decaying carcasses to give their feet some relief. Workers like Carlson were responsible for removing the trampled carcasses.

"We called it 'pulling carpets,'" he said.


"It was common at the places I worked to find hens whose wings, legs, necks, and prolapsed ova became caught in the wires, condemning them to excruciating, prolonged deaths by dehydration or trampling by their cage-mates," Carlson told The Intercept in an email. The "ova" that he refers to is the chicken equivalent of a uterus, which commonly prolapses because they are bred to produce so many eggs. "When I pointed this out to my supervisor and offered to help untangle some of the hens, I was told this wasn't our job and should wait until they died to remove them," Carlson added.

By min | March 2, 2018, 1:36 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link

The rise and fall of Clintonism

Ryan Cooper is writing the second draft of history.

By fnord12 | March 1, 2018, 1:03 AM | Liberal Outrage | Link

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