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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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Tis the season

The gas fireplace works!

It only took me 3.5 years to turn it on.

Amazing. No wood required. I love it.


This could be me

The Atlantic has an article about Americans who are still feeling the after effects of the 2008 financial crash 10 years later.

I’m not in the same dire straits as the family profiled here but only because I got the f#%^ out of NJ before the value of my house plummeted any further and used the proceeds to buy a foreclosed property in Pittsburgh. So my misfortune prompted me to benefit from someone else’s.

But I did experience a prolonged period of unemployment as did many of the hundreds of thousands of scientists who lost their careers in service to shareholder value. I struggled for several years on consulting work, contracting work, part time jobs all without benefits, at a period of time when the medical costs for a family member meant that I drained every cent of my savings to pay for insurance and deductibles.

This also coincided with the a long bull market and my 401k was converted to an IRA and languished in ultra safe investments. I couldn’t afford to lose another penny.

Now my life has somewhat stabilized. I have a good job with benefits but it’s in a different field and I have to work my way up from the bottom on an entry level salary with not that many years left to save for retirement. I’m very lucky that I don’t have a mortgage or any debt. But I go on vacations in my dreams. I buy my clothes at H&M and the Gap but only with 40% off. I look forward to Christmas but I buy only for my closest family members. The days of my nice middle class life are permanently gone.

That’s what 2008 did to me. And it is still having a profound effect on my former coworkers and friends who still can’t find suitable work at a decent salary but are doing adjunct work or contracting work or just sitting at home, staring at the walls, with a rising sense of fear, uncertainty and dread.

The tax reform bill is going to impact us particularly hard. We are not ready to retire but we have a long way to go to rebuild our lives and at this point, retirement will be like vacations, in our dreams only.


This sums up the tax bill fiasco:

Here’s what I don’t think MAGA voters understand: they think they’re going to get a tax cut in 2019. And they very well might. There’s a spoonful of sugar initially.

But it’s going to be offset by a rise in State and Local taxes over time as our local governments scramble to plug the holes left by a $1.5 trillion dollar federal deficit.

This was the plan all along. Anti-government forces do not care about the needs of ordinary people. They think that government’s only purpose is to fight wars on our behalf and that’s it. They have never made any secret of this.

The rest? Well, that’s up to you. If your state wants nice things, like bridges that don’t collapse when you drive over them, you’ll have to cough that up yourself.

And anyway, it’s so much easier to catch your dinner when you separate your prey from the herd. These tax cuts are going to lead to further deterioration of our ability to negotiate bulk discounts. Like CHIP!

We should just hang up a sign that says “Welcome to Bangladesh!” because to the people on whose behalf this bill was passed, that’s what the rest of us look like. Dirty, uneducated, piece work employees who don’t deserve the measly salary they get because they weren’t virtuous enough to be rich.

“The lion does not concern himself with the opinions of the sheep.”


On a more cheerful note, Vince Guraldi wrote the best Christmas album ever. It always fills me with Christmas cheer. Let’s get this party started.