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Four Tweets and Two Interviews

About a week ago, this tweet showed up in my stream and summarized everything that is worng with our current economy:

Screen Shot 2016-07-24 at 11.30.24 AM

Here’s what happened next:

Screen Shot 2016-07-24 at 11.30.56 AM

And after that?


That’s because when anyone has to actually sit down and think about it, the Gig Economy is only good for investors with a lot of money who can afford to dump a start-up when it doesn’t turn out to be the “get rich quick” scheme they thought it was.

The idea that some guy in his 20s is going to want to become a journeyman tech worker indefinitely is unrealistic. No one wants to live in a micro apartment forever. If you want a spouse and kids and a house, you can not do it if you are constantly looking for your next job that might be in another city where your spouse might not be able to find work or have to leave their own career behind. You can’t drag kids from one insecure gig to another and keep them in school without facing significant consequences down the road. (Take if from a Navy brat who still has problems with simple arithmetic. Thank god for calculators.)

Other things you can’t do in the Gig Economy as a tech worker: It’s hard to justify owning a house.How can you reasonably apply for a 30 yr mortgage if you don’t know when or where you’ll be working? It’s hard to save for retirement. Even if you are paid well, and some Accenture people I know are paid very well, you need to keep a significant chunk of liquid assets in case you’re laid off for extended periods of time. It used to be 6 months of salary. I’d say the actual amount is closer to two years. You just never know.

And add to that the stress of always shopping for a new job, updating your LinkedIn profile, networking, paying thousands of dollars for meaningless certifications, never getting enough experience or getting experience and then having to leave it all behind when the contract runs out.


Yeah, if you’re an entrepreneur and you have a flexible morality that allows you to take advantage of “ease of migration” and “fluid labor laws” while benefitting from the “rule of law” and other nice infrastructure that everyone else pays for with their taxes, then it’s a sweeeeet deal. Good for Marc Andreeson! I used to admire the team who came up with Mosaic, the first browser I ever wrote HTML pages for back in 1995. But he is symptomatic of many people who think that just because this economy is working swell for him that we can all jump on the “I wanna be a rich entrepreneur!” bandwagon.

As I’ve pointed out before, biopharma R&D is a team sport, a collaborative activity where the credit is spread among many people. It does not adapt well to a start up economy where there are promises of fabulous riches made to a select few people of “talent”. Sure , there will be exceptions but what Marc will never know is how many cures did not get made because the research was not sexy enough to get the funding it needed.

And don’t even get me started about the companies and universities that make you sign over your patent rights as a condition of employment. When we were all in corporate labs with mostly stable jobs and a decent standard of living, we didn’t think twice about it. The company paid for the capital and overhead, we gave them a patent. It was fair. Now, all the risk is born by the researcher and they can’t keep their intellectual property.

Anyway, I won’t go on and on about it because you’ve heard it all before. My point is that as much as the candidates talk about retraining and having the work force catch up with technology, they seem to be ignoring the fact that there are millions of highly trained tech and R&D workers with all of the tech skills a company could want who are forced into lives that are pretty similar to migrant labor. Sure, the pay might be good for short periods of time but stretch that out over 40 years of a typical worker’s life and it’s a bad deal. There is so much uncertainty that it is going to have, and is currently having, a significant impact on the economy going forward.

We need to do something about those fluid labor laws where it is easy to lay people off for no good reason at any time, and we need to give foreign workers green cards when they are hired here so that their lives are not subject to the whims of vulture capitalism. If we really, really need highly educated foreign born citizens, then they are valuable enough to treat them as human beings, decently, with an opportunity to find other jobs if they are laid off due to no fault of their own.

Which one of our candidates is getting a clue?

I submit to you two recent interviews that Hillary has given recently. One is with Ezra Klein where they talked about policy. When I heard this, I could swear she’s been reading this blog for the last several years. She uses the words like “churn” to refer to the practice of large corporations to be perpetually overturning their work force every couple of years.

The other is the interview she gave to Charlie Rose last week where she says that “income insecurity” is a big problem. If she really means it, she will also have to acknowledge that profit sharing does NOT lead to secure incomes. She’s going to have to go back and talk to the Andreesons and other Obama’s supporters and tell them that’s not going to cut it.

The best thing about these interviews besides her command of policy, her confidence and her passion, is that she seems to have really started to listen. America is not as dark and foreboding as Trump would make us believe. But all is not well in terms of the economy and work and no one believes the current administration’s rosy scenarios and PR team. That is where the anger is coming from. We get a steady stream of Pravda media and it isn’t squaring with our own lives. Politicians, and by that I mean Republicans and some student body president Democrats, can only pull this off for so long before the electorate throws them all out.

She’s getting it. Good. That’s what I want to hear.

20 Responses

  1. It takes people who have come up the hard(er) way to appreciate those 30 year mortgages and steady employment. Obama didn’t come up that way and tRump certainly hasn’t. SOS Clinton didn’t really come from an upscale background and certainly Bill did not. Kaine also doesn’t sound like a child of privilege. I’m glad Clinton knows the language and seems to understand the gig economy quite well. Along with nuttery on the political left and right, this emphasis on quick-profit businesses could well unravel our civilization.

  2. I heard HRC say “income insecurity,” and immediately thought of you, RD.

  3. No I think things ARE as bad as they are saying. Obama’s completely dropped the ball, if saving the auto industry is the only accomplishment he can list it’s pretty pathetic. Trump has that same amount of narcissism as he does, they both think they could save the economy without REALLY understanding the problem. I think she gets it.

  4. I wish she wouldn’t keep downplaying the issues with obamacare and there are many

    • I heard her on obamacare recently. I don’t think she’s satisfied with it at all.
      But I think we have to remember that she has to fluff Obama to some extent to bring his coalition to the polls in November.

      • Can’t believe she has to butter him up. He just said yesterday she’s “not the best speech maker” and reiterated the email thing again. Make it stop!

  5. Anyone on Instagram or Twitter please comment support to Debbie Wasserman Schultz @dwstweets she’s getting tons of hate from Bernie Bros calling her a c*nt, wh*re, b*tch etc. The same people who had no problem with corrupt RBC meeting or rigged caucuses or superdelegate intimidation are in a tizzy over… wait for it… EMAILS! leaked by wikileaks.That are pretty innocuous if you ask me

  6. http://www.270towin.com/

    The site contains several maps on the drop-down menu below the Gulf Coast states. I find the “Same Since 2000” map to be the most interesting. It refers to the states which have chosen the same party’s Presidential candidate in every election at least since 2000.

    The Democrats have 242 votes from such states (and DC), whereas the Republicans have only 179 (which would be 180, if not for Nebraska’s split-vote thingy, which Maine also has).

    So, if Hillary can hold the consistently blue states, then add Kaine’s home state of Virginia, that makes 255.

    Florida has 29 EVs, went for Obama twice, and contains large numbers of Hispanic-Americans, whom Tribble Hair has basically been running against. Florida also contains large numbers of retirees, who are likely to trust the Democrats, more than the GOP, to protect Social Security and Medicare.

    I think she can do better than that, but 284 EVs would be enough. :mrgreen:

    • I think the tide might be turning in her favor. Now we’ve got Bloomberg who’s going to give his conversion story at the convention. Some of Bernie supporters will testify too. I just hope they emphasize her positives more than Trump’s negatives.
      But I could be wrong. I went to one of the debates for gov of NJ in 2009 when Christie came off a lot like Trump. I voted for the third party candidate who was an excellent debater and got the endorsement of several NJ papers. After the debate, I thought there was no way Christie could win. He was so bad. But he won anyway. That’s the kind of electorate we’re facing this year. In 2009, NJ voters were fed up with Corzine doing absolutely nothing on property taxes and just being generally ineffective and disconnected. He was the Wall Street candidate. People wanted SOMEONE to do SOMETHING. So, Christie won and the rest is history.
      So, yeah, anything is possible. Bernie peeps might want to think about which candidate they hate more.

      • If there’s anything to that “Putin is Trump’s puppeteer” story, HRC needs to find some surrogates to go Full Metal Joe McCarthy on that.

        IF there’s anything, that is; we don’t want her to fall into the kind of trap set for Dan Rather.

        • But if it’s real, it would help her if she could turn this election into Clinton vs. Putin. 😈

          • Surely there must be a law against the POTUS doing personal financial deals with Russia? And/or being indebted to a foreign government?

      • Repeatedly, in my adult life, I have learned that I must never underestimate the vacuum-skulled, knuckle-walking stupidity of my fellow non-elite white USAmericans at election time. 👿

        • Ah, H.L. Menken: “No one in this world, so far as I know—and I have researched the records for years, and employed agents to help me—has ever lost money by underestimating the intelligence of the great masses of the plain people. Nor has anyone ever lost public office thereby.”

  7. Given this latest Wikileaks DNC email leak, & added to all the prior election rigging, is it fair to say that HClinton/DNC/Govs including NY & RI Gov/etc rigging of 2016 D Primary is as ethically immoral & illegal as Bush43/SCOTUS 2000 election rig?

    Anybody else worried about the risk of vomiting the next time a neoliberal D like HClinton, 0bama, etc proclaims Murican Exceptionalism as the Greatest Democracy on Earth TM, after having subverted democracy with this 2016 D Primary rigging?

    It looks like Debbie Wasserman Schultz is taking the fall for her boss HClinton, resigning as DNC head. Is 1 of those cases where the Power Elite expects the public is supposed to gullibly castigate the fall guy, while pretending the boss is not guilty? Reminds me of the torturing soldiers at Abu Gharib got punished via dishonorably discharge or some such, but Bush43/Cheney/Rumsfeld etc were not even harshly criticized, much less charged with a felony.

    Troll Prophylactic: there are some intelligent earnest Progressive US politics experts like Prof. Noam Chomsky that still recommend LEV (Lesser Evil Voting) for swing state voters, although others conclude otherwise, such as Seattle Councilwoman Kshama Sawant & Prof. Cornell West rejecting the LEV concept & endorsing Dr. Jill Stein (#ImWithHer !). However, any swing state Progressive Lesser-Evil-Voting for HClinton would do so holding their nose or wearing a HazMat suit after this latest debacle.

    Ironically, some non-swing staters might be happy for the (Murican Exceptionally) stupid Electoral College’s existence in this case! They can vote their conscious without having to agonize over the LEV concept.

    • Again, who did you vote for in 2008 when the evidence that the primary was rigged was overwhelming and the party was brazen enough to televise it?
      If you said nothing back then, you have no excuse to complain about a handful of stupid emails now.
      Btw, stupid emails aside, I see no evidence that anything the DNC did had any effect on the outcome of the vote, unlike 2008. Or are you going to tell me next that the caucuses were somehow more holy and democratic than the primaries.
      Nothing you can say or do is going to erase Sanders’ deficit in pledged delegates. He. Lost. It wasn’t close. And carrying on like this is just pissing the rest of us off. Once again, Hillary’s supporters are supposed to acquiesce to a bunch of arrogant guys who think they know better than the rest of us. Don’t even get me started on how this damages our chances against Trump.
      You have much much less to complain about than we did in 2008 and your delusions about neoliberalism and Hillary are completely irrational compared with the feckless financier toe sucking Obama. Vote for whoever you want. I honestly don’t care. It’s your vote.
      But stop coming here spewing garbage.
      BTW, Hillary is not Debbie’s boss. Obama is. Debbie said as much yesterday. And when he urged her to step down, she said she wasn’t leaving until Friday.
      Why would Debbie risk the election over some emails and pointedly ignore Obama’s request for her to leave? My guess is that Debbie knows a lot more about what went on in 2008. Back then, she was the super delegate that broke the news to Hillary that all the other superdels gates were abandoning her for Obama when the difference in elected delegate count was statistically insignificant.
      Debbie knows very well how to play this game. She just has been a very unpopular DNC head and neither candidate has wanted her there for months. You already know this.
      So, why did she defy Obama and decide to stay? You should be asking this question.

  8. We do not need to import workers, whether it be highly educated or field laborers. That is just a myth. We need to support the American workforce.

  9. My life for 20+ years.

  10. I distinctly remember Hillary Clinton talking about the gig economy (yes, using the term “gig economy”) in one of her economic speeches several months ago. I think she gets it. She is listening to the people.

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