/Tag: politics

Generation Revolt.

Maybe it’s not because Millennials have rejected the American dream, but rather because the economy has not only blocked their path to attaining it but punished them for trying to.

Millennials are the most educated generation in U.S. history to date. They bought into a social contract that said: Everything will work out, if first you go to college. But as the cost of college increased, millions of young people took on student loans to complete their degree. Graduates under 35 are almost 50 percent more likely than members of Gen X to have student loans, and their median balance is about 40 percent higher than that of the previous generation.

And what has all that debt gotten them? “Lower earnings, fewer assets, and less wealth,” according to the Federal Reserve paper’s conclusion. Student debt has made it harder for millions of young people to buy a home, since “holding debt is associated with a lower rate of homeownership, irrespective of degree type,” as Fed economists wrote in a previous study. In other words, young people took on debt to pursue a college degree, only to discover that the cost of college would push the American dream further from their grasp.

Is it any wonder that Millennials are eager to overthrow a system that has duped them into a story of permanent progress, thrown them into debt, depressed their wages, separated them from the trappings of adulthood, and then, for good measure, blamed them for ruining canned tuna?

Derek Thompson on killing Millennials.

2019-01-07T08:28:58+10:0018th May, 2019|Tags: culture, economics, politics|

Nice chaps.

Partisanship is not a result of us not hearing enough about George H.W. Bush talking to his grandkids. It’s largely a result of one party devoting itself to racist, reactionary politics in the service of global corporate interests, but that’s another conversation for another time. More importantly, if you’re an immigrant who is now too terrified to get free baby formula for your child because you heard it might mean you can’t get a green card, you probably don’t care very much whether John Bolton’s guilty pleasure is watching Real Housewives; if you’re a poor person in Arkansas and you just found out you got dropped from Medicaid because of work requirements you didn’t know existed, it’s not all that relevant to you if John Kelly stubbed his toe and said the F-word.

For comfortable D.C. journalists—the sort who might go from the Ivy League to a Buckley Fellowship at the National Review and then to a more prestigious magazine and a CNN gig—the material effects of politics are much less likely to reach you. Politics is, as Chris Hooks wrote in 2016, “the way we distribute pain”—it’s “how we determine who gets medication and who dies young, who learns in a class of twenty kids and who learns in a class of thirty.” But what is politics if you’re privileged enough to insulate yourself from that pain? How do you view politics if you can pay for private schools? If you have good, employer-sponsored healthcare? It’s unlikely you’ll ever have to deal with Medicaid work requirements or skip taking the meds you need to make rent. You don’t have to choose between feeding your kids and buying their birthday gifts. So the import of politics isn’t “will I be able to eat” or “will I be deported,” it’s “are they nice chaps?”

Libby Watson on politics.

Watson is talking here about the scourge of access journalism specifically, but this also applies to a good 99%+ of the middle class, for whom life does not change very much under one party or another, and thus politics is reduced to, variously, “who did I find most charming on TV” at best… and “who will most hurt those [immigrants/single mothers/poor people/hipsters/uni students/insert-other-maligned-group-here] I don’t like” at worst.

But, y’know. Gods forbid anyone be partisan about anything. How déclassé!

2019-01-07T08:05:35+10:0014th May, 2019|Tags: newsphobia, politics|

The Great Game.

To a certain Beltway mindset, it is the height of seriousness not to take political ideas so seriously that you attach life-or-death significance to them. For the “Pod Save America” hosts and for most of the other liberals eagerly embracing Never Trumpers, showing off your Republican pal — the good, polite kind of Republican! — feels harmless because most of them will never actually have to deal with the consequences of actual Republican policies.

Ashley Feinberg on political games.

This is one of the things my husband, who has quite a few aggressively right-wing friends, and I will seemingly never agree on. Someone being a “nice guy” in one-on-one social interactions doesn’t actually make up for the fact that they actively work—even if it’s only in small ways, like voting—to make my life worse and more dangerous, and the amount of “friendly social interactions” I want to have with said people is zero.

2019-04-29T12:06:55+10:0028th April, 2019|Tags: culture, politics|


Earnest critiques of the facts and opinions that [talk-radio host John] Ziegler put into the world as if he were a journalist made no sense. “Maybe it’s better to say that he is part of a peculiar, modern, and very popular type of news industry, one that manages to enjoy the authority and influence of journalism without the stodgy constraints of fairness, objectivity, and responsibility that make trying to tell the truth such a drag for everyone involved,” [David Foster Wallace wrote in 2005].

Sound familiar to anyone? While talk radio caters to all tastes, the medium developed to serve an audience Pew described in 2004 as “a distinct group; it is mostly male, middle-aged, well-educated and conservative.” That cohort is now over 50, and its members spent decades listening to radio hosts stimulate by mixing facts and opinions in whatever proportion was necessary to keep listeners from turning the dial.

Alexis C. Madrigal on the new spectacle.

This is from an article describing Pew Research Center research that shows older Americans are more likely to confuse opinion statements for factual ones.

Keep in mind, incidentally, that the replacement of factual analysis with subjective feeling is one of the key preconditions for the rise of fascism

2018-12-03T10:12:00+10:0025th April, 2019|Tags: newsphobia, politics|

And the rich for free.

Uber’s business plan, like that of so many other digital unicorns, is based on extracting all the value from the markets it enters. This ultimately means squeezing employees, customers, and suppliers alike in the name of continued growth. When people eventually become too poor to continue working as drivers or paying for rides, UBI supplies the required cash infusion for the business to keep operating.

When it’s looked at the way a software developer would, it’s clear that UBI is really little more than a patch to a program that’s fundamentally flawed.

The real purpose of digital capitalism is to extract value from the economy and deliver it to those at the top. If consumers find a way to retain some of that value for themselves, the thinking goes, you’re doing something wrong or “leaving money on the table.”

Douglas Rushkoff on the UBI gig economy.

Like, to be clear: I still support UBI. But, uh. Not as the only policy. And the gig economy is still a cyberpunk dystopian garbage heap so… there’s that.

2018-11-29T08:31:43+10:0021st April, 2019|Tags: economics, politics, tech|

Mo’ money, mo’ carbon.

Also, while we’re on the subject: it’s not using plastic straws or taking half-hour showers that’s destroying the environment. It’s the fucking mega-rich.

Repeat after me, kids: Individual “choices” cannot fix structural issues. And as the article points out:

[T]here is no “free market” incentive to prevent disaster. An economic environment where a company is only considered viable if it’s constantly expanding and increasing its production can’t be expected to pump its own brakes over something as trivial as pending global catastrophe. Instead, market logic dictates that rather than take the financial hit that comes with cutting profits, it’s more reasonable to find a way to make money off the boiling ocean. Nothing illustrates this phenomenon better than the burgeoning climate-change investment industry. According to Bloomberg, investors are looking to make money off of everything from revamped food production to hotels for people fleeing increasingly hurricane-ravaged areas. A top JP Morgan Asset investment strategist advised clients that sea-level rise was so inevitable that there was likely a lot of opportunity for investing in sea-wall construction.


2018-11-27T13:34:21+10:0012th April, 2019|Tags: climate, culture, nature, politics, science|

Unnatural opposites.

Our weird cultural commitment to the gender binary goes way beyond actual living men and women—if it didn’t, people wouldn’t freak out so badly when someone declines to choose. Masculinity and femininity are concepts we layer on top of everything from people to pens to political parties. Sometimes there’s a middle ground, but often we seem lost without our familiar patterns; it’s the confused hetero doofus asking a gay couple “which one’s the woman,” except for the entire world. Take any opposed things—Democrats and Republicans, cats and dogs, even the sun and the moon—and you’ll find one of them associated with physical strength, action, and domineering behavior, and the other associated with emotion, reticence, and calm. That’s not just descriptive; it’s prescriptive, and proscriptive too. If we could judge the moon for yelling, we would.

Jess Zimmerman on binaries.

This is from a longer, and more specific, analysis on the Democratic party in the US, specifically the fact that it’s seen as “feminized”—as (ahem) “opposed” to the masculinized Republican party—and how that results in a heavily gendered political dynamic (i.e. the GOP are allowed to whine and scream and be giant manbabies, because mantrums, while Democrats are forever play the role of the “reasonable” mother-wife).

Mostly, though, I think it’s a reminder that “smash the gender binary!” doesn’t mean “ban individual gender expression” but rather “critique and dismantle cultural constructs that assign specific traits to genders and then in turn those genders to non-human objects/concepts.”

2018-11-27T08:15:57+10:009th April, 2019|Tags: culture, politics|

Modern right.

The problem is now that Americans don’t enjoy anything remotely close to the same rights as the rest of the rich world does. That is why their lives are so much more impoverished — not just financially poorer, but genuinely more deprived, whether of healthcare, happiness, savings, trust, or mobility. In that sense, American society is failing because its social operating system — its constitution — is badly obsolete. In the 21st century, people need healthcare and education to be rights a lot more than they need to be able to wield guns against bears and wolves .

umair haque on constitutional priorities.

2019-04-29T12:06:53+10:006th April, 2019|Tags: politics, usa|