Category: Economy

Matt Taibbi on why free market fundamentalists attack the Pope.

| June 29, 2015 | Reply

Matt Tiabbi on why the Pope’s environmental message is making many conservatives angry:

That the pope’s letter inspires such hysterical stupidities speaks to how deeply upsetting it must be to our guardians of mainstream opinion. But what exactly has all of these people so upset?
To me, all of this speaks to the weirdly cultist, neo-Randian, Road to Serfdom vibe that is increasingly swallowing up the American cultural and intellectual mainstream.

Capitalism and competition aren’t merely thought of as utilitarian systems for delivering goods and services to people anymore. To people like Brooks and Rand Paul and Charles Murray (also known as Jeb Bush’s favorite author), the free market is also a sort of religion that can address every important human question.

We used to think of wealth and spirituality as being two completely separate things. But in the minds of some in modern America, they’re becoming fused. The way Brooks and others clearly imagine it, one achieves wealth first, then dignity follows behind. We’re losing the ability to imagine a dignified life without money. Which is pretty messed up.
In the past, it was completely natural for a religious leader like a pope to suggest that our economic system leaves important spiritual questions unanswered. After all, that’s what religion was supposed to be for, addressing the non-material parts of our lives. But in modern times, this idea offends many people.

Hence this bizarre wave of criticism directed against an elderly cleric in a funny hat who is being blasted for being impractical, unrealistic and insufficiently appreciative of the material, despite the fact that it’s precisely a pope’s job to be all of these things.

I’m not religious, and I’m not particularly a Luddite or an anti-capitalist. But I’m open to the idea that there should be something else in life beyond money, or that we may be losing something important when we communicate by clicks and drags instead of face-to-face meetings. Is that really such revolutionary thinking, especially coming from a pope? It seems like such a strange thing to get angry about.

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How to get richer by squeezing money out of the poor: invest in trailer parks

| May 23, 2015 | Reply

Here’s where free market fundamentalism leads us: dulled consciences and oppression of those on the brink of homelessness.

From the U.K. Guardian:

Some of the richest people in the US, including billionaires Warren Buffett and Sam Zell, have made millions from trailer parks at the expense of the country’s poorest people. Seeing their success, ordinary people from across the country are now trying to follow in their footsteps and become trailer park millionaires. The Guardian went to Orlando to learn the tricks of the trade from Frank Rolfe, the self-appointed dean of Mobile Home University, as he led would-be investors around a trailer park for sex offenders.

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Urban-Suburban Donut changing

| March 4, 2015 | Reply

Inner urban areas are being repopulated and revived.

The long-standing urban-suburban divide in education, income, race and other characteristics is being turned on its head as college-educated Millennials crowd into U.S. cities, new research shows.

Putting urban neighborhoods under a microscope, a University of Virginia researcher has concluded that the traditional urban “donut” pattern — a ring of thriving suburbs surrounding a decaying city center — is being replaced by a new pattern: a thriving urban core surrounded by a ring of suburbs with older housing, older residents and more poverty.

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Owls are perceived to be more lazy than larks

| February 25, 2015 | 3 Replies

Even if Owls work the same number of hours as larks, they are perceived to be lazier. That is the conclusion of this article:

The belief that getting an early start to the day is virtuous is widely held. In fact, finds a forthcoming study, it’s so pervasive that managers rate workers who get an early start higher than those who get in and stay late, no matter how many hours they work in total or how well they do their jobs. And it could explain why other research has found that workers who have flexible schedules have less successful careers.

The study, from researchers at The University of Washington, highlighted at the Harvard Business Review, will be published later this year in the Journal of Applied Psychology. It finds support for the idea that managers have a “morning bias.” In other words, they buy into a common stereotype that leads them to confuse starting time with conscientiousness. They perceive employees who start later as less conscientious, and consequently less hard-working and disciplined, and that carries through to performance ratings.

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Ignorance about income disparity in the United States

| January 22, 2015 | 1 Reply

According to this article in Slate, Americans are ignorant of how outrageous wealth disparity is in the United States:

According to the Harvard study, most people believe that the top 20 percent of the country owns about half the nation’s wealth, and that the lower 60 percent combined, including the 20 percent in the middle, have only about 20 percent of the wealth. A whopping 92 percent of Americans think this is out of whack; in the ideal distribution, they said, the lower 60 percent would have about half of the wealth, with the middle 20 percent of the people owning 20 percent of the wealth.What’s astonishing about this is how wrong Americans are about reality. In fact, the bottom 80 percent owns only 7 percent of the nation’s wealth, and the top 1 percent hold more of the country’s wealth – 40 percent – than 9 out of 10 people think the top 20 percent should have. The top 10 percent of earners take home half the income of the country; in 2012, the top 1 percent earned more than a fifth of U.S. income – the highest share since the government began collecting the data a century ago.

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On Being Primed For Worse

| November 25, 2014 | 1 Reply
On Being Primed For Worse

Haven’t we been gearing up for some kind of O.K. Corral showdown pretty much since the announcement that there would be a grand jury? Haven’t we been gearing up for some kind of O.K. Corral showdown pretty much since the announcement that there would be a grand jury? Sure looked like we expected what we got. [More . . . ]

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Karl Marx was correct about these ill-affects of capitalism

| November 12, 2014 | Reply

Rolling Stone points out that, despite some huge problems with his proposed solutions, Marx was correct about these ill-effects of capitalism.

1. Capitalism’s Chaotic Nature

2. Imaginary Appetites

3. The Globalization of Capitalism

4. Monopoly

5. The Reserve Army of Industrial Labor

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Tony Robbins discusses tuning in and being productive

| October 22, 2014 | 1 Reply

A friend recently told me about Tony Robbins. I had heard the name but didn’t appreciate who he actually was. This extended interview of Robbins by another productivity guru, Tim Ferriss, is well worth your time. I’m only half-way through and much of what Robbins says is resonating with me.

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How to be productive rather than busy

| October 22, 2014 | 2 Replies

Eric Barker offers some excellent advice on how to stop being busy. I’m really appreciating and implementing many of the ideas he so succinctly presents. This article urges that you stop being busy and start being productive. Here’s the nutshell:

Just because the other people at the office are overscheduled and the other parents are doing 1000 things doesn’t mean you need to.

We all only have 1440 minutes a day. Accept you can’t do it all, focus on what’s important and do that well.

We’re all jealous of the people who are calm and cool under pressure. Be that person.

Next time someone asks how you’re doing, don’t talk about how busy you are. Don’t get sucked into thinking busy means important.

Busy doesn’t make you important. Doing the important things you need to do makes you important.

I could spend hours reading Barker’s summaries of his science-based self-improvement advice, which seems counter-productive.  But I’m going to work hard to implement many of these suggestions–many of them ring true.

Related excellent article by Eric Barker: 6 Things The Most Productive People Do Every Day Here’s the intro:

People work an average of 45 hours a week; they consider about 17 of those hours to be unproductive (U.S.: 45 hours a week; 16 hours are considered unproductive).

Lots of good advice on how not to fritter away one’s time.

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