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Crap jobs
Posted by Heebie-Geebie on 12.12.19

The current private sector shitty job index is 81:

The US Private Sector Job Quality Index (JQI) measures the ratio of what the researchers call "high-quality" versus "low-quality" jobs. The JQI is the weighted ratio of the "high quality" jobs that pay more than the average weekly wage and tend to have more hours per week, and the "low quality" ones that pay less and offer fewer hours. The index is averaged over the previous three months to cut out the noise and adjusted to ensure inter-sectoral comparability.
Right now the JQI is just shy of 81, which implies that there are 81 high-quality jobs for every 100 low-quality ones. While that's a slight improvement from early 2012--the JQI's 30-year nadir--it's still way down from 2006, the eve of the housing market crash, when the economy regularly supported about 90 good jobs per 100 lousy ones.

and also:

The JQI White Paper paints a grim picture. "The success of superstar companies like Google or Apple or Pfizer should not blind us to the fact that today Leisure & Hospitality is our largest sector with 14,7 million non-management employees. It's a sector that pays such workers $16.58 an hour and the average worker works just 25.8 hours a week - resulting in average weekly income of $428. (Benefits like health insurance in the sector are small to nonexistent.)"

This reminds me of something I got from maybe Apo, years ago, along the lines of how economists are loathe to think of public jobs as being part of the economy. There seems to be about 22 million people that work for either local, state, or the federal government. I bet those have steady hours and benefits.

Anyway. I've been informed recently of this Texas program, which is a plan to get 60% of the young Texas population with an advanced degree by 2030. Right now it's 24%. This is dumb on so many levels, and so it annoys me that people are taking it seriously. Mainly: 1. this isn't mysterious. It's a lack of funding for K-12 and higher ed, plus poverty. This mandate isn't going to get funded, and so it's not going to fund schools or address poverty. 2. Are they planning on building more colleges? Where exactly do they plan on putting all these students? Is the vision to do it entirely online and through dual-credit? 3. What, are the graduates going to drive Ubers when they get out? What jobs are they envisioning for their extra accredited people?

As they say, don't piss on my leg and tell me it's raining. Maybe just properly fund schools and regulate the shittiness of the existing work that needs to get done, and call it a day, hmm?

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Disintegration Nation
Posted by Heebie-Geebie on 12.11.19

Trump sent over 100 tweets on Sunday. Let's say that works out to 5-10 tweets an hour. That's not actually that hard - go on a bender regularly where you go nuts tweeting and re-tweeting, with multi-part rants. But the idea that he kept up these benders all day long certainly gives the impression of a cartoon robot that's starting to short-circuit out, and keeps emitting zaps of electricity and random poofs of smoke.

Also, the first half of this article is good:

When Republicans impeached Andrew Johnson for obstructing Reconstruction in 1868, there was no broadcasting. There was no polling, at least not in the scientific sense of today. "Media" in America meant newspapers, which were largely partisan, but whose effect on the public was hard for politicians to gauge. The trial of Johnson was thus conducted by a relatively small political elite that, because they focused on the crisis, at least understood the facts.
The impeachment of Richard Nixon a century later was critically different, in part, at least, because the technology of culture had become importantly different....
...As the Watergate hearings progressed, Americans weren't just focused on the story: They were focused on the same story. The networks were different in how they broadcast news, but not much different....
The impeachment of Donald Trump will happen in a radically different media environment -- again. (In Clinton's impeachment, standing between Trump's and Nixon's, the effects were consistent but muted relative to today.)...
[T]he Civil War may well have been the last time we suffered a media environment like this. Then, it was censorship laws that kept the truths of the North separated from the truths of the South. And though there was no polling, the ultimate support for the war, at least as manifested initially, demonstrated to each of those separated publics a depth of tribal commitment that was as profound and as tragic as any in our history.

I mean, I'm no historian but it's useful for me to think of how dis-aggregated "facts" were leading up to the Civil War in order to get a handle on this idea that there's no consensus on reality anymore.

The second half of the article is a day-dreamy fantasy about what it would take to reverse course on this epistemological implosion.

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Guest Post - And You Thought You Had Issues
Posted by Heebie-Geebie on 12.10.19

Momo Chocho writes:

A court in the South American country of Suriname has convicted President Desi Bouterse in the 1982 killings of 15 prominent political opponents and sentenced him to 20 years in prison [...] In 1999, Bouterse was convicted by a court in the Netherlands in absentia of drug trafficking but avoided an 11-year prison term because he cannot be extradited under Surinamese law. In 2015, his son, Dino Bouterse, was sentenced to more than 16 years in prison in the U.S. after he admitted he offered a home base in Suriname to the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah. Dino Bouterse had previously been picked by his father to lead a counterterrorism unit in Suriname.

Heebie's take: that is one bad dude. I don't think either of them should be president.

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