the economic superiority complex, wealth is considerably more heritable than genes

Police Dogs Attack Demonstrators, Birmingham, Alabama Protests]

Police Dogs Attack Demonstrators, Birmingham, Alabama Protests, 1963. Charles Moore, photographer.

Nozick: Libertarians are “filled…with resentment at other freer ways of being”

The Reactionary Mind:

Neither is conservatism a makeshift fusion of capitalists, Christians, and warriors, for that fusion is impelled by a more elemental force—the opposition to the liberation of men and women from the fetters of their superiors, particularly in the private sphere. Such a view might seem miles away from the libertarian defense of the free market, with its celebration of the atomistic and autonomous individual. But it is not.

One of the most insightful and concise definitions I’ve read of of what conservatism and con-libertarians are about. Things like religion do play a role. Regardless of what else it says in the Christian Bible about business and taxes, certainly Jesus Sermon on the Mount would take precedence. So conservative leaders twist what is in the Bible and deflect form the issue by claiming to know that their invisible friend really likes that Wal-mart pays less than a living wage and it is his will that business be run this way. Those conservatives that see any for’ners as a threat, are always inventing new threats and making existing ones much larger than they are. The far Right interpretation of religion and the pandering to paranoid minds both coalesce under what they see as their rightful place as everyone’s superior. The far Right has had this tendency in culture and economics since before the Civil War – Slave Capitalism.

Bread line at kitchen

Bread line at kitchen, 4th and Jefferson [streets], Feb. 1934. And related – Low Wages Cost Taxpayers A Quarter-Trillion Dollars Every Year.

Over the last couple years research suggests that genes alone are not destiny. How one – thus their genes interacts with the environment tends to have a large role. So may be it should not be that be a surprise that one’s economic status has much more to do with how well one’s life goes than genes, Wealth is considerably more heritable than genes. Policymakers who misuse genetics to argue a child’s fate is preordained are deliberately ignoring the effects of inequality

In his latest book, The Serpent’s Promise, Jones examines how nurture and nature are inseparably intertwined. The human genome project was for a while the modern version of eugenics, but Jones says it has disappointed those who thought it would reveal the destiny of physical traits, let alone psychological ones. “The more we learn about genes, the more important the environment appears to be.” Plomin spent years scanning top children for success genes, but never found them, says Jones. In life, “success and failure depend far more on the economic than the genetic accidents of birth”. Wealth is considerably more heritable than genes. The most equal nations with the best Gini ratings score the highest average intelligence.

Milburn’s report will pull no punches about unequal Britain. With destiny all but set by five years old, he wants redoubled investment in early years, targeting extra money at low-earning families: 500 Sure Starts have closed, many more are hollowed out, and a third of nurseries in poor areas are low quality….

…Teacher quality and status matter: in Finland, the leader of international league tables, teaching is first choice for the top 10% of graduates. Our top 20% of pupils do well, but our bottom 20% drag down UK results, as the shocking OECD report on basic literacy and numeracy shows.

If someone is lucky enough to be born into an upper middle-class family, even if they have slight below medium level intelligence, there is a built in safety net that makes sure they do not fail  – or at least not pay the way others do for failing. I remember a lot of the discussion about George W. Bush’s record in 1999. His supporters claimed he was a successful businessman. Not true in the least. He lead three business ventures into the ground. His family and their connections rescued him every time. yet many of these lucky people believe they are entitled to what they have regardless of the great advantages they started with. That lack of humility might be one of the biggest personality factors in public policy right now certainly, but for the last fifty years.

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the hand of man, money issues drain thinking

The Hand of Man

The Hand of Man, 1902, Photogravure. Photographer Alfred Stieglitz. Quite a few people were concerned about the effects of industrialization on society and the tormentor. The Industrial Revolution may have improved life for many people, but it did so at a price. One of those pivotal moments in history where the powers that could have made better, wiser decisions, but were blinded by short term profits. That is not a Luddite position, it is the we could do better point of view.

This is a very difficult, heart wrenching article to read, but worth it to see the truth behind the pork industry, Gagged by Big Corporate Agriculture. Horrific abuse. Rampant contamination. And the crime is…exposing it?

The Colonist of Good Will: On Albert Camus. Granted Camus was a humanitarian and his position on Algiers was far more responsible than supporters of French colonialism, but ….

from a collection of glass slides of fairground scenes

This image comes from a collection of glass slides of fairground scenes found in the stores at Discovery Museum, Newcastle upon Tyne. Courtesy ‘Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums’. No date or place was known.

How Money Worries Can Scramble Your Thinking

“Financial constraints capture a lot of your attention,” says , a psychologist at Princeton University, who helped lead the study. “Then there’s less bandwidth left to solve problems. Your cognitive ability starts to slow down, just like a computer.”

And the effect is big. After a quick reminder about money issues, people’s performance on the puzzles drops down by at least a quarter — or approximately the same mental hit a person takes after staying up all night.

mountain train wallpaper, the sequester has consequences, marriage is something the working class can no longer afford

mountain train wallpaper

mountain train wallpaper

 

Apparently Rupert Murdoch only believes in hiring editorial board members who have no use for math, WSJ’s Stephen Moore: Devastating Sequestration Cuts Are A “Success” Free Of “Negative Consequences”. There are people in the world who do not have to take off their shoes to do simple math, and even more math wizards here.

Train concourse, Union Station, Washington, D.C. Between 1905 and 1910

Train concourse, Union Station, Washington, D.C. Between 1905 and 1910.

Love And Work Don’t Always Work for Working Class in America, Study Shows

The decline and disappearance of stable, unionized full-time jobs with health insurance and pensions for people who lack a college degree has had profound effects on working-class Americans who now are less likely to get married, stay married, and have their children within marriage than those with college degrees, a new University of Virginia and Harvard University study has found.

The research, “Intimate Inequalities: Love and Work in a Post-Industrial Landscape,” will be presented at the 108th Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association.

“Working-class people with insecure work and few resources, little stability, and no ability to plan for a foreseeable future become concerned with their own survival and often become unable to imagine being able to provide materially and emotionally for others,” said Sarah Corse, an associate professor of sociology in U.Va.’s College of Arts & Sciences and the study’s lead author. “Insecure work changes peoples’ non-work lives.”

The study was conducted through direct interviews and surveys with more than 300 working- and middle-class men and women in the U.S. The study participants were white, African-American, Asian, and Latino, between the ages of 18 and 70, and with a range of educational histories. They were married, single, divorced, cohabitating, and widowed, as well as non-parents and biological and adoptive parents.

The researchers found, generally, that educated middle-class workers are better able to recover from the destabilizing effects of insecure work than the working class, and therefore can seek and find stability in relationships.

“Marriage is becoming a distinctive social institution marking middle-class status,” Corse said.

People who are living in an unsecure and unstable situation have difficulty being trustful of possible partners because of the risk of betrayal, noted Harvard sociologist Jennifer Silva, Corse’s co-investigator, who earned her sociology Ph.D. at U.Va. They also find it difficult to meet material or financial obligations and may feel that the emotional and psychological commitment required by marriage is too great a demand on top of other challenges.

“Marriage has lost its relevance as a marker of adulthood,” said Silva, author of the book, Coming Up Short: Working Class Adulthood in an Age of Uncertainty, to be published in August by Oxford University Press.

People with college degrees, however, tend to work in stable jobs with better incomes allowing for the emotional and material commitment of marriage and having children within marriage. Middle- and upper-middle class people, as a result, express high expectations for their marriages, centering on self-fulfillment, deeply engaged parenting by both parents, and psycho-emotional awareness. They also “insure” themselves against marital complacency, conflict, and dissolution through private material and emotional “investments,” such as therapy and special “date nights,” Corse said.

According to Corse and Silva, wages for the non-college-educated have fallen dramatically in the United States as manufacturing work has been outsourced to other countries, greatly reducing the number of high-paying union jobs with good benefits.

Increasingly, the jobs available to those without a college degree are service-sector jobs, many of which are short-term and/or part-time and lack benefits, they said.

“These are foundational changes in the labor market for the working class and they broadly affect people’s lives,” they said. “Our interviewees without college degrees expressed feelings of distrust and even fear about intimate relationships, and had difficulty imagining being able to provide for others.”

College-educated middle-class workers, with material, cultural, and intellectual resources, are more resilient, however, when faced with the effects of possible insecure work in tough times, and therefore are more able to commit to marriage and to planning families.

In the U.S. almost everyone from people living in exclusive gated communities to people trying to get by on minimum wage and living with two roommates, describes themselves as middle-class. All these people might be middle-class culturally, but economically they are very far apart.

gladiolus, ethics and copyrighting new words

gladiolus summer wallpaper

gladiolus summer wallpaper

 

Democrats introduce Supreme Court Ethics Act to helpfully suggest the Supreme Court have some. Because conservatives in the Senate have a strangle hold on all legislation and the House has a tea stained majority, this bill will not go anywhere. It will be interesting to watch conservatives push rationales for why the SCOTUS, which has a conservative majority, does not need any stink’n ethical standards.

black and white boat

black and white boat

“Here, Among the Black Sand Beaches of Kupang”: A Century of the American Word Industry in Review

1: Beatrice Tesla (of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) for her invention of the adjective reproable, which she defined as a robotics term to be applied to any machine with the ability to duplicate itself in its entirety.

6: P. K. Buckman (of Cedar City, Utah) for his invention of the phrase Mormo metal, which he defined as a subgenre of heavy metal, characterized not as much by certain guitar techniques or styles of drumwork as by having overtly Mormon lyrics.

Fans of etymology, neologisms or just weird cultural news might enjoy the full essay.

Low minimum wage undermines economy. If workers are paid well they tend to buy stuff.

the first parachuting nurses, changing technology and worshipping false gods

A nurse parachutist, having jumped, is about to open her parachute.

One of the first parachute nurses. WHO/Red Cross photo.

The first parachute nurses WHO/Red Cross photo.

The first parachute nurses WHO/Red Cross photo.

While it is great that the WHO/Red Cross makes these photos available, they do not supply dates. As best i can find out these nurses may have been part of the Emergency Flight Corps (1933) or the Aerial Nurse Corps of America (1936), both started by Lauretta M Schimmoler (1900-1981).

How Technology Is Destroying Jobs

Given his calm and reasoned academic demeanor, it is easy to miss just how provocative Erik Brynjolfsson’s contention really is. ­Brynjolfsson, a professor at the MIT Sloan School of Management, and his collaborator and coauthor Andrew McAfee have been arguing for the last year and a half that impressive advances in computer technology—from improved industrial robotics to automated translation services—are largely behind the sluggish employment growth of the last 10 to 15 years. Even more ominous for workers, the MIT academics foresee dismal prospects for many types of jobs as these powerful new technologies are increasingly adopted not only in manufacturing, clerical, and retail work but in professions such as law, financial services, education, and medicine.

That robots, automation, and software can replace people might seem obvious to anyone who’s worked in automotive manufacturing or as a travel agent. But Brynjolfsson and McAfee’s claim is more troubling and controversial. They believe that rapid technological change has been destroying jobs faster than it is creating them, contributing to the stagnation of median income and the growth of inequality in the United States. And, they suspect, something similar is happening in other technologically advanced countries.

The issue addressed should be of concern, especially since economic policy and cultural attitudes about work in the U.S., Canada and western Europe is driven by right of center Chicago school of economics. Though one of the things that bothered me was the possibility this gives to the far Right to use as another excuse. As in oh well, no sense passing any Keynesian economic incentives because they are of no use in light of changing technology. Some basics still remain. If you start paying all  low wage workers at fast food places, Walmart, Target, Sears, etc a living wage they will spend more, thus drive more demand. Because of technology the multiplier effect might not be as great as the post WW II era, but fair wages would create jobs.

There are some good thoughtful comments. Some seeing the new age as an opportunity, if you get the education and training. The whole article and those comments are worth a click over.

And let me address this troll in the comments section, or the attitude and empty platitudes:

@kbillet The idea that reward is directly tied to how hard you work is definitely a mindset of a past generation. Compensation in today’s world is about your output, and the comparative cost of your labor. Also, many business owners have put their fortunes and lives on the line for a shot to make a business happen. As you mentioned yourself, not everyone has the skills, vision, and luck to pull that off. For those that make that leap, if they’re able to succeed (or at least successful be enough to employ a team of engineers and programmers), I have a hard time not justifying the return on the investment.

Isn’t that the essence of the American Dream? Or does fairness now mean that every one should be entitled to same pay regardless of contribution?

Since when is “how hard you work” not pretty much the same thing as “output”. Excepting those who run around appearing to keep very busy yet create little in terms of products or services, work is productivity. Why is it this guys never supply a modern example of some one who put their fortunes on the line. Would that be businessmen like George W. Bush who tanked three businesses and still came out OK because rich friends bailed him out. Would that be Mitt Romney who used other people’s money, including tax payers subsidies, drained businesses of profits then sold them off. After which which many went bankrupt. How about the Koch brothers who were born into wealth and just made some basic business moves that made them even more wealthy. They have not put their wealth on the line. If they wanted to they could live off the interests of their liquid assets for three lifetimes. Are all the CEOs who make millions a year regardless of profits, risk something? – what exactly, the cash to buy a third mansion. kbillet’s tunnel vision is all too common. Why isn’t a worker – say a skilled programmer, or sheet metal worker or fishing crew, risking everything by working for company B instead of company C. If that hero risk taker CEO at B screws up, he or she will still have millions ( most American workers are still recovering from the Great Recession, while corporate America is back to make per-recession profits).  The worker will have invested a year, five years or maybe twenty years with a company whose CEOs did not have the vision or the humanity to see how their decisions affected their workers. When we start thinking about inclusiveness, the connections and interdependence of people, that is the kind of fairness we should always be thoughtful of. He is implying some enforced socialistic dystopia, a corrupt ignorant hyperbole at the mere thought of economic justice incorporated into our economic system. Let’s not be mindful of how we conduct business in the world because there are these mythical John Galts who are doing everything, inventing everything, risking everything  – while the mindless lazy workers are hanging behind the shed smoking a doobie, instead of being down on their knees in gratitude for letting them ride the great man’s coattails.

doctors get paid too darn much, whitman versus poe

Massimo Campigli - Seamstresses

 Seamstresses. Oil on canvas, 1925. By Massimo Campigli (1885-1971).

 

Seriously—The Evidence is Overwhelming That Americans Pay Too Much To Go See The Doctor

Amidst many hundreds of words of discussion of the subject he totally buries the lede:

Standard economic theory suggests that over all, American doctors are overpaid, although perhaps not the primary-care specialties. This position leans on the fact that at existing incomes there is still considerable excess demand for places in medical schools among bright American youngsters – not to mention a huge pool of highly qualified foreign applicants. This suggests that the lamented doctor shortage in the United States is the result of an artificially constrained supply of medical school places and residency slots, which serves to inflate physician incomes above what they would be in a better functioning market without supply constraints.

That’s really what you need to know about the subject. At current wages, the supply of qualified doctors could easily be increased. Alternatively, if doctors’ wages were reduced there would be no decline in the supply of qualified doctors. That’s because the supply of qualified doctors is being doubly restricted, first by regulations that make it exceedingly difficult to import qualified doctors from abroad and second by cartelization that prevents medical schools from training more doctors.

Towards he end of last year a survey of doctor income showed that general practitioners with a few years experience were averaging $200k. Specialists – heart and brain mostly – with a few years experiencing were averaging $300k. That does seem a little high. I think I more or less accepted it at the time because CEO salaries ( Mr 47% Romney) was on my mind. Campbell CEO had a total compensation package of $9.6 million in 2007. I bet we could find someone with a near genius IQ who could manage the company as well or better for a $125k a year. Throw in a $25k bonus if she meets certain standards – a living wage for employees, good environmental record, fair profit and so forth. CEOs just don’t have that kind of value. Most of them are not where they are because they have remarkable skill sets, they’re there just because. They navigated the in and outs of the business world, talked a good game. The real numbers people, the analysis, who are usually well paid, work at a lower level. The first thing any CEO does before they make a decision is consult the number crunchers. They do not provide enough value to society to justify making more than overpaid doctors.

Edgar Poe's Significance

Edgar Poe’s Significance by Walt Whitman.

Edgar Poe’s Significance , last page. These are the hand written manuscript pages from Walt Whitman’s (1819–1892) essay on Edgar Allan Poe (1809 – 1849). Pages three and five respectively, which contain the bulk of his argument against Poe. I’m just going to post what I consider the major portion of his analysis of Poe, you can read the rest here.

By common consent there is nothing better for man or woman than a perfect and noble life, morally without flaw, happily balanced in activity, physically sound and pure, giving its due proportion, and no more, to the sympathetic, the human emotional element—a life, in all these, unhasting, unresting, untiring to the end. And yet there is another shape of personality dearer far to the artist-sense, (which likes the play of strongest lights and shades,) where the perfect character, the good, the heroic, although never attain’d, is never lost sight of, but through failures, sorrows, temporary downfalls, is return’d to again and again, and while often violated, is passionately adhered to as long as mind, muscles, voice, obey the power we call volition. This sort of personality we see more or less in Burns, Byron, Schiller, and George Sand. But we do not see it in Edgar Poe. (All this is the result of reading at intervals the last three days a new volume of his poems—I took it on my rambles down by the pond, and by degrees read it all through there.) While to the character first outlined the service Poe renders is certainly that entire contrast and contradiction which is next best to fully exemplifying it.

[  ]… Almost without the first sign of moral principle, or of the concrete or its heroisms, or the simpler affections of the heart, Poe’s verses illustrate an intense faculty for technical and abstract beauty, with the rhyming art to excess, an incorrigible propensity toward nocturnal themes, a demoniac undertone behind every page—and, by final judgment, probably belong among the electric lights of imaginative literature, brilliant and dazzling, but with no heat.

berence abbott city photographs, the modern day grapes of wrath

Oyster Houses Apr. 1, 1937

Oyster Houses Apr. 1, 1937. By Berence Abbott. Even has her autograph at the bottom.

Harlem Street II, June 14, 1938

Harlem Street II, June 14, 1938. by Berence Abbott (July 17, 1898 – December 9, 1991). Abbott got what we would call her big break when Man Rayhired her as a darkroom assistant at his portrait studio in Montparnasse. She later worked for the Federal Art Project (FAP) as a project supervisor.

As Common As Dirt

“As Common as Dirt” by Tracie McMillan has won the 2013 James Beard Award in the Politics/Policy/Environment category. The award is the highest honor for food journalism.

Compared with other recent tales of American farmworkers, Villalobos and Gomez might consider themselves lucky. In Florida, tomato pickers have been locked in box trucks under the watch of armed guards; in North Carolina, pregnant workers have been exposed to pesticides during harvest and birthed babies with missing limbs; in Michigan, children as young as six have been found laboring in blueberry groves. Those are marquee cases that garner national media, shining the spotlight on the most egregious abuses. In relative terms, suits like Villalobos are mundane, but they are also ubiquitous, filed with a frequency that suggests the most pervasive and insidious abuse faced by farmworkers is the kind Villalobos encountered: the blatant disregard of labor laws governing wages, safety, and health. This type of abuse is most typically seen in fields managed not by farmers but by farm-labor contractors, many of whom started out as farmworkers themselves.

I wrote a post just recently about John Steinbeck. Many consider his novel The Grapes of Wrath, about a poor farm family during the Depression, his greatest work. Though probably some people read it or watch the very good movie version, and think those battles for decent working conditions and fair pay for a day’s work are a thing of the past. We just keep fighting the same battles over and over again because greed and cruelty are monsters with insatiable appetites.