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    • Week-end Wrap – Political Economy – October 17, 2021
      Week-end Wrap – Political Economy – October 17, 2021   Strategic Political Economy “You lost. Stop acting like you won” [White Hot Harlots (lyman alpha blob), via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 10-14-21] “The abortion issue has been lost. I cannot fathom any plausible near or medium-term scenario in which the actually existing American left mounts a successfu […]
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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?

{{crickets}}

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.

IT IS THE STUPIDEST WAY TO RUN AN ECONOMY.

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.

The Mystery of Hillary’s Campaign Strategy

Short one today, peoples.

If I were Hillary, I would have picked up right where I left off in 2008 at the end of the primary season. That was when she was the strongest as an appealing candidate and her campaign message of making the invisible Americans count again meant something. She was feeling her Cheerios. It wasn’t her fault that the nomination was awarded to someone else through inflated caucuses, superhuman amounts of money from the finance industry, short-sighted superdelegates and DNC rules skullduggery.

Has she completely forgotten that she went to Denver in a statistical tie with Obama? Did she forget how the party prevented California and Pennsylvania from casting ballots during the roll call just in case it looked like she might actually have a good reason for a floor fight? Are we the only ones who remember that it was NOT a landslide at the convention for Obama, not even close?

Really, Hillary, you have to believe this. No one on this blog and some other blogs is stupid enough to believe that Obama “won” the nomination through the strength of his amazing campaign strategy or scintillating personality. Even as recently as last night, I run into people who absolutely. can. not. stand. him. because they don’t find him charismatic, interested in average Americans, or politically talented. These are *Democrats*, in local Democratic organizations. They loathe him. It’s not racism. It’s well founded, completely rational disgust with the way he campaigned and the opportunities that were handed to him on a plate that he squandered.

Yup, completely unsolicited loathing of the guy who weaponized accusations of racism and smothered real criticism from his own side for 8 long years. The Dirty F^&*ing Hippies are now getting together and comparing notes. How did Hillary miss that??

And then there is the subject of his legacy, which no one I know likes. Maybe it’s because I don’t hang out with the DailyKos crowd anymore. Eight years of Bush followed by eight years of a weak and compromised Obama who blew two years of a Democratic majority in the House and Senate has left almost everyone I know more economically insecure and twitchy. It’s even more insecure if you’re younger and you’re saddled with student debt the size of a mortgage and see very shaky job prospects for decades to come.

So, why in Hell would Hillary Clinton hitch her wagon to Obama’s star? It is a mystery wrapped in an enigma.

This is the year when many Americans are finally figuring out that they have been eating grass. Even the seniors who have never met an abortion opponent they didn’t like are finally realizing something’s not right.

The Obama campaign apparatus oversold their strategy and prior success. It was illusory anyway. Charlotte’s Web is so over. And Hillary should have known that and done a whole lot more listening before she rolled out a campaign that was targeted to aspirational small business entrepreneurs and suburban working moms.

She is missing the big picture and bigger opportunity: It’s the income instability, stupid.

Focus on that.

Oh, and David Axelrod looks like a rat. Someone needs to stuff a sock in his mouth. I swear, the old Obama campaign people are out to get her. They need to go. Bring back Peter Daou.

Update: I’m finding it amusing that the NYTimes editorial page seems to be in full blown panic over the prospect of a Trump presidency and is now trying to get Hillary to keep her chin up. It’s all fun and games with the relentless “scandals” until a dangerous narcissist starts winning the primaries, eh Gail?