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February 26, 2011

early revisit to permaslacks

So I had a piece in The Awl yesterday, which is always a pleasure.  And it was controversial (in the comments thread), which I expected.  But I have a self-imposed policy of not clogging up my own comments threads, so I'd like to address a few points here, stealthily.

Perhaps the biggest point was, "Icky poo, another 'my generation' navel-gazer."&nbssp; There's not much I can say to that other than I agree generally about navel-gazers, but I tried to bring something worthwhile to it, and I'm more than happy to fail.

Another point raised once is that the story of this subset of a generational demographic (see below) is just the latest example of a group of people that refuse to grow up.  This I disagree with entirely.  There is yet another term of art — "kidult" — that I deliberately omitted because it does not apply to what I'm proposing.  The 'kidult' is the embodiment of the adult who will not grow up.  This Frank Furedi essay is a good place to catch up.  The Permaslacks are not this at all.  They live on their own means, and they are fully functioning members of society.  Being mopey/dressing funny does not necessarily impute a refusal to grow up, more a refusal to accede to certain 'grown-up' ritualized behavior.

A point I didn't hit hard enough is that I'm not saying that the entirety of Gen-X is what I'm calling Permaslacks.  I'm saying that there is an identifiable subset of what were called Twentysomethings that have some shared traits and perhaps some shared motivations and beliefs.  I can only speculate as to the size of this subgroup, but in my personal affinity groups there are an awful lot of them.

And yes, there were a couple feelings-hurty comments, but honestly they hurt less than I thought.  Ultimately, I'm grateful to be read.

Posted by mrbrent at 10:38 AM

the only way to get thiis economy...

Morning Edition had a story that I was barely paying attention to, another looming budget cuts story, and a Republican elected official, I didn't catch who, was quoted as saying, "The only way to get this economy moving again is to cut the deficit."  It caught my attention.  Is that true?  Is the only way to "get the economy moving again" to somehow manipulate the amount of money the government spends vs. the amount of money the government takes in?  Are businesses not hiring or closing up entirely because its owners are worried about the deficit?  Or even just worried?  Just the fact that something as unavoidable as the economy can be affected by such a simple weapon as worry — that would be a fabulously weird world in which to live.

Unfortunately, the possibility of the economy being affected by the deficit is irrelevant to the premise, as it postulates not the economy just being spurred by cutting the deficit, but specifically that the only way to get the economy moving is to cut the deficit.  And I can think of at least one or two things that could be done (suspend corporate tax or institute a new iteration of the WPA, as two yin-yang possibilities), accordingly the premise is invalid.

But it's short and easy to remember, so it's the kind of thing that you want to say as a politician, and the kind of thing that your supporters will repeat as fact because no one will ever bother to refute it.  But the act of telling a bunch of un-/under-employed folk that the problem with the economy is the deficit, and to have the folk agree, is a very astonishing act of dumb-assery, or as we call it in polite company, "cognitive dissonance".

But to be fair, after only a little poking around, you see that "the only way to get this economy [verb implying forward motion]" is a very useful meme for all sides of the political debates.

Posted by mrbrent at 9:52 AM

February 25, 2011

crazy pills

Here is a thing I like.

I saw a band last night, which is not something I ordinarily do, and I was blown clean away by them.  They are called Crazy Pills.  They are a three-piece, and they look like they might be a cutesy girl band (nothing wrong with that), but they turn out to be a cutesy girl band who know The Rock and how to bring The Rock.  There's a little bit of garage in there, and a whole lot of musicianship.  They are tight and turned out and I recommend them.

I asked if they were playing again soon, and they said not so soon.  But go see them if they play near you.

Posted by mrbrent at 11:07 AM

do not google rick santorum

I absolutely, unreservedly think that a man who wants to refight the Crusades should be nominated as his party's candidate for president. 
"The idea that the Crusades and the fight of Christendom against Islam is somehow an aggression on our part is absolutely anti-historical," former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) told a South Carolina audience yesterday. "And that is what the perception is by the American left who hates Christendom."

Any candidate willing to leap onto the bucking third rail of American politics that is the Crusades truly deserves all the exposure he can get.  Some Republicans want to refight the New Deal, and some even want to refight the Civil War, but who but Santorum will delve so far back in history to find some settled matter to take offense from?

Oh, and is that supposed to read "that portion of the American left who hates Christendom" or "the American left, all of whom hate Christendom"?  I mean, clearly the latter is true, but I'm wondering what Santorum meant.

Posted by mrbrent at 10:07 AM

February 23, 2011

david koch, line two

Too many fabulous things happened yesterday to count.  So I'm picking my favorite: the prank call to Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin.  An editor of the Buffalo Beast called Gov. Walker's switchboard pretending to be secretive free market conservative financier David Koch, whereupon the Governor not only takes the call but stays on the line for twenty minutes.  No real scoop came out of the conversation, other than Gov. Walker's sneaky plan to trick the rascally Democrats, but there does not need to be any new information to make this an important item that everyone should note:

A governor of a state currently frozen by a week of popular protests and the Senate stuck in quorum-lock because of a runaway caucus, a governor who presumably has all kinds of other day-to-day responsibilities when not union busting, will take a twenty minute phone call from a non-state resident billionaire.  A governor who has labored to associate himself with the Tea Party, takes a call, through the switchboard, from an industrialist who has demonstrated his interest in not being seen as the man pulling the strings of the Tea Party, even though he is.

Of course, the governor is beyond embarrassing, as he displays that peculiar conservative cognitive dissonance, that Randian self-justification, but if Walker/Koch were working to keep Koch's name out of this, they should work harder.

Posted by mrbrent at 11:42 PM

good morning 2.23.11

Deep breath.

Can you remember a time (say, a span of a couple of weeks) where so much was happening at the same time, across the globe?  I'm starting to feel like if I devote my attention to one little thing, like say one specific country undergoing a revolution, or one state looming under the prospect of a general strike, then I am implicitly ignoring everything else, and nothing deserves to be ignored.

(Except the Melo trade, that just made no sense.)

Like, if I prattle on about the House Republicans and how they have a funny idea of checks and balances, am I giving short shrift to the CIA getting pantsed in Pakistan?  If I demand that the international community take action against Gaddafi, am I forgetting all about the housing bust?  And I don't even mean in the sense of writing about things, I mean actual attention.

I guess I'm starting to realize that my already ambitious schedule of information acquisition and consumption was an underestimation.

(This is also known as "bellyaching".  Please keep being too interesting to keep track of, you big old world.)

Posted by mrbrent at 10:06 AM

February 22, 2011

the phrase 'class war' isn't going anywhere soon

This is a very useful set of graphs reflecting income inequality in the US, both now and over time.  The one graph that's gotten the lion's share of the notice is the one that compares income distribution vs. what people think it is vs. what they think it should be.  Suffice it to say that it's a good thing that our collective inaccuracy on this issue won't be reflected on our final grade.

My favorite, though, is the one that shows the historical shares of federal tax revenue between income tax, payroll tax and corporate tax.  Income tax has always been the biggest share, but in the 50s, corporate tax was second, with 30ish percent, and payroll tax lagging at ten percent.  Now, income and payroll are tied above forty percent and corporate tax is below ten percent.  Sounds like someone that was granted mysterious personhood rights is not pulling his fair share.

Posted by mrbrent at 3:03 PM

good morning wisconsin

The Wisconsin story that made the front page of the NYT today was the least good story on Wisconsin they ran, with an obfuscating headline: "Union Bonds In Wisconsin Begin To Fray".  The story is about the simmering conflict between public-sector unions and private-sector unions, and not, as implied, some kind of erosion of support since the beginning of the Wisconsin labor actions.  And the story itself is meh, chock full of Man on the Street reports — "I don't like unions because they make more money than me!" "I don't get to collectively bargain at the Walmart, so why should they!"  Depressing, and not elevating anyone's opinion of the Man in the Street.

On the good side, the NYT did run a story about the Koch Brothers and their influence on the events in Wisconsin, which makes me happy, because nothing upsets secretive financiers of political movements worse than having their names dragged in through the papers.

And I guess that David Brooks wrote something about Wisconsin, but you could just stab yourself in the hand with a pen a few times for a commensurate effect.

Posted by mrbrent at 9:22 AM

February 21, 2011

this day of days

Happy Presidents Day!

Today is the day that we stop what we're doing, and honor the sacrifice of the most important men... well, I guess not so much sacrifice, but, er, some thing liiiike... courage?  Maybe tenacity is the better word.  Tenacity in the face of... of popularity and unimaginable responsibility and the perquisites of office like a chef and a helicopter and a very swanky house and a butler, too, right?

OK I have no idea why I'm getting a paid day off today.  But cheers!

Posted by mrbrent at 12:16 PM