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    • Week-end Wrap – Political Economy – September 22, 2019
      by Tony Wikrent Economics Action Group, North Carolina Democratic Party Progressive Caucus Strategic Political Economy How Powerful Ideas Can Shape Society: Aaron Director and the Triumph of Nihilism Matt Stoller [Pro-Market, via Naked Capitalism 9-18-19] Director is the key founder of what is now known as the Chicago School of law and economics, which resha […]
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Hillary’s “Status” email addresses, Peter Daou and Julia Gillard

The NYTimes has a post up about how getting an email address on Hillary’s server was a sign of status.

Duh.

Are these people for real??  Of course it’s a sign of status. The more important your job is to getting things done, the more likely to get an email address on the server. You automatically get prestige from the position. Jeez, and these people are called journalists, seeing slights in every little thing and not recognizing when a working group is not a clique. It’s not a matter of favoritism. It’s a matter of battening down the hatches and keeping confidential material from being compromised.

I seriously wish she had sent copies to her .gov account just to shut up the conspiracy theorists and because, hack attack or not, I suspect it was the more correct thing to do. But let’s not forget that the Republicans have done this for years and they saved official correspondence on a GOP server. Then, they deleted all those emails. Yup. Just gone. Poof. No record, no backup. That administrator probably got a raise for losing all those important emails between Dick Cheney and Scooter Libby or whoever. Republicans have no one to blame but themselves. No sane governmental official is going to let their email fall into the hands of politically motivated indivduals if the other side got away with it previously.

Hillary has asked that all of her emails from her personal account be released. That probably won’t be enough to sate the bloodthirsty zombies who have been after her for decades. But now we can request that all Republican candidates do the same with all of their official personal email accounts. Put up or shut up.

Peter Daou, Clinton’s former internet director from 2008, tells us why the “innerati” have been gunning for Hillary for more than 20 years. I think he is partially right. They don’t know what to make of her as a powerful woman and their jaws robotically chomp away at her as a consequence of some internal germ they were infected with when they were growing up in the 50s and 60s.

Daou says the reason why Hillary has such loyal friends is because she is a loyal friend. She doesn’t forget you:

I have a personal take on why Hillary Clinton’s reputation is so resilient. Early on a Sunday morning in the summer of 2006, a week after she had hired me as an advisor and after an outbreak of violence in the Middle East, my home phone rang. “Peter, it’s Hillary, I was just calling to make sure your friends and family in Lebanon are OK.” It immediately struck me: the reason Hillary Clinton has so many fiercely loyal friends and advisors, so many fans and supporters, is because of her character, her friendship, her loyalty.

We here at The Confluence have a similar story. We were never official bloggers for Hillary but we took up her cause back in 2008 because, well, frankly, what the rest of the blogosphere was doing to her was outrageous and we were paying attention to the kind of person she was. Later in the primary campaign season, she had a conference call with us and other bloggers to thank us. Katiebird got to talk to her on our behalf. We didn’t ask for any recognition, and I’m not sure she really wanted us to go the PUMA route afterwards, but it was a very thoughtful gesture.

All of this reminds me of what Jane Caro said in her Dangerous Ideas video. (Pick it up at about the 13:00 mark) She was talking about Australian prime minister Julia Gillard who never seemed to catch a break either. She was either praised excessively as being some kind of female iconic heroine or villified by the Australian version of the innerati.

“Poor bloody Julia Gillard”, says Caro. “She’s just a person who got to be prime minister.”

I recommend Jane’s commentary on merit, women, quotas and politics to anyone who is trying to figure out why someone as accomplished as Hillary Clinton has to fight so damned hard to be president when we have many men on both the left and right who aren’t nearly as qualified, or on her level, who are being considered as legitimate opponents. I mean, some of them on the right don’t even believe in evolution. How is it they can even get on the ballot?? Something as elemental as believing in evolution should be a requirement for office. It’s bizarre but I’m sure Hillary is used to it by now.

We’re used to it too. We’re definitely in the Jane Caro contingent. We’re not shutting up.

For the Record: We do not have email addresses on Hillary Clinton’s private server. We do not feel slighted.

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More Whineter, STEM and being a dick with peppers

It’s March already. Why is it still snowing? Why is it 15º outside?? The other day, it rained and melted some of the snow. The sump pump was going off every 90 seconds. I timed it. I started to see the ground. This morning, I woke up and there’s another layer of snow out there. WTF?? I have about a cup of rock salt left and there’s none to be had for miles. It’s too much. Make it stooooop.

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In other news, PA Governor Tom Wolf visited a school in Chester yesterday to find out about its STEM programs.

Ok, I know Wolf didn’t ask for my opinion but when has that ever stopped me from giving it? (There’s a proposal at the end of this little rant so stay with me.) Here it goes:

There’s no living wage in STEM jobs. Even the people who have good jobs are constantly worried about losing them. They’re forced to move to very expensive parts of the country and can never relax. The fear of losing a job just after they might have already lost one is not a good way to live. This happened recently to people I used to work with who were transferred to Massachusetts after the layoff, and then lost their jobs- again.

Jumping from job to job after a short period of time means people in pharma and biotech R&D will not achieve the degree of experience that they need to be really good at their jobs. It takes a long time for R&D professionals to gain enough experience to be really useful to their company. That means starting and staying with a project over a long period of time, like, 5-6 years. At that point in time, they will have just about enough seasoning to be useful to the company and laying them off is a tragic waste of talent. There is no cheap substitute, as this country will begin to realize (and may already realize, judging from the ads I’m seeing for computational chemists with at least 5 years of industrial experience).

Unfortunately, this is not what the finance industry had in mind. It thinks we can all work under their crazy employment rules like they do on Wall Street. That means flexibility at all costs. That’s a losing game for the R&D professional in terms of living standards, skills and passion for research.

If the R&D professional doesn’t get a good paying job in Cambridge or San Francisco, the alternatives can be grim. Academic research associates with PhDs and industrial experience make between $37-$54K/year. I know because I have the job postings to prove it. You can live on this in the midwest but academic research is subject to grant availability. If the grants don’t materialize, the jobs don’t either.

A potential place where a governor can productively intervene is at the small start up level. Pennsylvania would be a good place for startups, especially in the Pittsburgh area, which has a university/medical culture and a renaissance in the east end. There’s good mass transit, affordable real estate, and an educated population. BUT what every state of the country lacks at this point is access to affordable R&D resources. That is, there are some things that any start up is going to need access to but probably can’t afford. In my case, as a consultant, I can’t get access to a lot of scientific literature. I don’t have a license to Elsevier, ACS publications, etc, which can cost millions of dollars to a large university. I also can’t afford the vendor licenses to do my modeling work. I can ask vendors to give me demo licenses, for which I must sign an agreement to not use them for research. They’re only for evaluation purposes and to keep myself current. If I want a license so I can make money, well, I can’t afford the license.

So, verily I say unto Tom Wolf, if you want to attract STEM startups to Pennsylvania, (and why not? It’s a heck of a lot more affordable than Cambridge) you need to fund a license bank. Ok, I don’t know what else to call it. Make it more affordable for startups and consultants to access the licenses they need to get their work done. At this point in time, the only entities that can afford licenses for literature and proprietary software are large multinational companies and universities, leaving the rest of us to smuggle papers and cobble together software solutions from publicly available sources. That leaves us at a disadvantage in the beginning phases of research where the start up costs are already astronomical.

I don’t know if a license bank has ever been done or what a configuration might look like but here’s one possibility: Put the licenses on a PA server, start a consortium, and allow startups and consultants to ping the licenses for a fee based on number of papers downloaded or amount of time licenses are checked out. Or make us fork over a cut of anything we discover to the state. I could agree to that. Wouldn’t Tom Wolf like to be a partial recipient of the next antibiotic patent? Yes, this would be an investment for the state. It could cost several millions of dollars. No, Republicans won’t like it because… I don’t know why they wouldn’t like it. They’re always going on about helping small businesses but they want us to somehow use magic to afford the start up costs. I’m beginning to think that Republicans aren’t being honest with us about their love of entrepreneurs and small business people… Is that possible?

But the payoff could be substantial for the state if it attracts businesses and the patents generate money. That money could be used to fund education while some of it could be used to buy other things early discovery researchers might need. It could be self funding down the road because if you run for two consecutive terms, you could leave a nice little pile of patent shares for the state by the end of your them.

And since I need a real job, I will gladly work for the state setting up this system for a decent living wage. No, no, don’t thank me. See my LinkedIn profile.

So, there you have it. I have given you a possible solution to a pressing problem that doesn’t involve the governor making pointless visits to schools to encourage innocent children to go into professions in which they can’t make a living. As for teachers of STEM subjects, that’s where some of my former colleagues are going now that they can’t make a living in research. So, you know, you’ll have plenty to choose from.

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Finally, Titli Nihaan has a recipe for a hot dip on a cold day. Pay attention. 😉