Category Archives: Economy

How Many Dollars Is a Life Worth (and Why Did We Choose This)?

COVID-second-wave

Our desperation is no accident. Desperation is good for business.

Colorado reopened for business yesterday. There were precautions galore, like these posted on the website of one of our favorite local restaurants:

    • You must wear a mask or face covering until drinks and food arrive and  while you are moving about the restaurant and bar
    • Practice social distancing by staying 6 feet away from other patrons
    • Limit your party size to eight people or less
    • Make reservations if possible
    • Check in with the host and provide your full name, phone number, and email address
    • After checking in, please wait outside weather permitting, for your table
    • Please practice patience with our staff as we are doing our best to accommodate you within our new restaurant dine-in guidelines

We reserve the right to deny service to anyone(s) not following the safety protocols from the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment 

PLEASE TAKE NOTICE OF THE SAFETY PRECAUTIONS WE ARE PUTTING IN PLACE TO
PROVIDE YOU WITH THE SAFEST AND BEST DINING EXPERIENCE POSSIBLE

    • Our team members are all wearing face coverings and are increasing their handwashing practices
    • All team members go through symptom monitoring when arriving at work
    • We are disinfecting all shared surfaces such as menus, tables, and chairs after every use and/or applying sanitation to food contact areas between seatings
    • Menus are available online to view from your mobile device if you prefer – let the host know if this is your preference
    • High touch areas are being disinfected every 30 minutes
    • We have a reduced occupancy capacity and are practicing social distancing of 6 feet
    • We are offering our full menus for take out, delivery, & curbside pickup

My guess is these guidelines are pretty standard around the state, and no doubt health inspectors will be out in force looking for skulls to crack and examples to make.

I have friends working in a couple of these restaurants and it goes without saying I hope all goes well for them.

That said, reopening is as bad a decision as has ever been made by a Colorado governor (and that’s saying something). From the standpoint of public health, this is malfeasance in the first degree. Gov. Jared Polis just killed people.

Let me say that again just so we’re clear:

Gov. Jared Polis just killed people.

How many we don’t know yet, but you can be forgiven for expecting the worst.

Of course, this wasn’t a public health decision. It was an economic decision. How do we know? Well, when you need an extended laundry list of shalts and shalt-nots like the one above so you can eat dinner without killing the neighborhood, that’s maybe a hint.

And as infuriating as it is contemplating how many dollars a life is worth, we understand how this morbid calculus works, don’t we?

Billionaires can’t become multi-billionaires if the doors are shut (okay, okay – yes, one mega-multi-billionaire is in the process of becoming a trillionaire – so maybe there’s an angle after all).

Billionaires are powerfully motivating for our elected officials, many of whom hope to be elected again someday. Most of us regular types don’t worry so much about the rich, though. They’ll manage. But we still support reopening. Why are we on the same side of the issue as those who literally don’t care if we die?

Duh. We care about the small businesses in our communities. We care about workers at the bottom of the food chain – waiters, bartenders, retail clerks, delivery drivers – all those “essential” folks on the frontlines. We know these people. We patronize their establishments. We know the workers. They’re our friends, our relatives. And we know the straits they’re in.

Which means that while we’re not happy about it, reopening is necessary, right?

Oh hell no.

That proposition requires me to accept a deeply flawed assumption: that Capitalism, and our particular brand of feral dog Capitalism in particular, is natural and necessary. It isn’t. That we have no safety net isn’t inevitable, it’s a choice we made. That losing your job, through no fault of your own, means losing your healthcare insurance isn’t just how the world is. It’s how Capital wants it and we’ve acquiesced.

When push comes to shove, the people who shape our economic reality have no obligation to their neighbors or their communities. They answer only to shareholder value – and that didn’t come down the mountain with Moses on a stone tablet.

We could have chosen differently. We can still choose differently, and each day we don’t allows our wealthy elite to consolidate their power just a little more.

Colorado opened its economy because it’s the only way to alleviate our desperation. Way too many of us already live one or two bad months from utter disaster, and thanks to a pandemic that those at the top of the food chain ignored disaster is no longer two months away. It’s clawing at the door.

Our desperation is no accident. Desperation is good for business. It keeps labor costs down and deters people from seeking employment somewhere less exploitative (which keeps turnover down, and turnover is hellishly costly for companies). This is especially true if the employer provides health insurance for the worker and – this is key – the worker’s family.

Desperation means a frightening number of Americans don’t have jobs, they have hostage situations. (And if we had single-payer healthcare like other developed nations, that means employers would have a bit less leverage, doesn’t it?)

Don’t let anyone arguing to “reopen the economy” get away with “we have to let people work to stay alive.” That’s a rhetorical trick aimed at suckering you into accepting their toxic worldview. The real question is this: how did the richest nation in the world get into a mess like this in the first place? Why do regular citizens have to choose between the plague and homelessness?

What if we don’t assume predatory Capitalism, but we make its adherents justify it?

Lyft, Uber: the shame of lesser work (and get ready for the automation of white collar jobs)

white-collar-automation

Automation is getting worse for workers, and the emotional strain is already evident.

I’ve noticed something. When I take a Lyft (I never take Uber, although I imagine the same is true for them), I’m rarely in the car more than a minute before the driver subtly makes it known that he/she has a real job (ie, white collar – today it was a real estate guy) and just does the rideshare thing on the side.

It doesn’t happen 100% of the time, but it probably does happen 90% of the time. Read more

Trump logic and steel imports

The Trump Doctrine is in full flight this morning.

President Don says he’s gonna lay the steel tariff smack down on China. Funny thing, though:

China, China, China - where's China?

China … China … China – where’s China?

However, he now says he might exempt Canada and Mexico from the tariffs.

The Trump Doctrine: Imagine a problem that doesn’t exist. Use it to piss off everybody. Then propose a “solution” that wouldn’t work even if the problem were real.

Happy Monday, yo.


Thanks to Lex and Gavin for pointing this out to me.

Happy 4th of July: what does “freedom” mean to you?

America is a great idea, but it’s hard to love these days.

At some point tonight millions and millions of us will find ourselves sitting in a stadium or a park or maybe on a city rooftop or a grassy hill in the country, staring at the sky, celebrating our country’s anniversary by watching the annual fireworks show. I won’t lie – I love fireworks. They’re spectacular to watch, but beyond that I’m fascinated by how they work. How do you get one to look like a flower? How do you get multiple colors in one burst? I assume I could learn these things if I spent the time, but regardless, it’s a pretty cool exercise in artistry.

But I don’t love everything about fireworks shows. If you’re at an official civic event you’ll certainly get to hear Lee Greenwood belting out his famous “God Bless the USA.” This is a massively famous and popular song, having reached #7 on the Billboard Country charts. It’s sold over a million copies and there’s no telling how much it has earned Greenwood in royalties.

It’s also perhaps the greatest lie ever set to music. Bear with me.

America is a wonderful idea. Read more

HB2 cost NC a lot more than $3.76B

The AP says the “bathroom bill” cost North Carolina $3.76 billion. The real damage is likely much, much higher.

The AP yesterday released an analysis indicating that reaction to North Carolina’s discriminatory HB2 – the “bathroom bill” – cost the state a staggering $3.76 billion in lost business, projected over 12 years. That’s a remarkable hit to economy, but as I read the full details of how the AP arrived at that number, I can’t help wondering just how badly they underestimated the true damage that former governor “One Term” Pat McCrory and the rest of the jackals in the state GOP caused NC.

Have a look at the WaPo article linked above, then consider: Read more

Dear Liberals: you don't vote in your economic best interests, either

trump-votersBottom line: almost ALL Americans vote against their best interests.

For years progressives have been hammering conservatives – specifically social conservatives – who “vote against their own interests.” As in, poor working people who vote for the wealthy GOP interests that are the reason they’re poor, and whose policies insure they will remain that way. I have certainly been among this crowd – I remember wondering back in the 1992 election what the fuck could be wrong with Arkansas Bush I voters, for instance. They concluded that Dubya’s Daddy was the sort of guy “they’d like to have a beer with.” Somehow a Northeastern blueblood Skull & Boneser who’d been born with a silver spoon up his ass was more “one of them” than, you know, the guy who was actually born in the trailer park down the road.

It was irrational, it was self-defeating, and it was stupid beyond all imagining. Read more

What does Brexit mean for the Premier League?

By threatening club finances and limiting player movement, Brexit may inflict serious damage on the world’s best league…

brexit-premier-leagueOn the sports side of things, we have this headline this morning:

Premier League refuses to speculate on effects of UK’s ‘Brexit’ from EU

The world’s most prestigious football league might be unwilling to speculate, but I’m not. England’s vote to leave the European Union has many uncertain about what it means for the Prem, but nobody sees it as a good thing. Lots of uncertainty. Lots of breath-holding. And for some, probably a good bit of prayer.

From where I sit, Brexit looks to be an unmitigated disaster for the Premier League. Read more

Clinton's agenda for first 100 days is underwhelming. And predictable. And paid for by the usual suspects.

On infrastructure and immigration, half measures and vested interests dominate Hillary’s planning. Duh.

There’s news about what would-be President Hillary Clinton has planned for her first 100 days in office. Pending details, there are things to be cautiously optimistic about.

A Clinton aide indicated today that within her first 100 days in office, the likely Democratic nominee would send Congress a bill to spend more federal money on infrastructure. The price tag for that bill isn’t clear yet, but the aide suggested it will be higher than the $275 billion proposal Clinton has already put forth. Read more

Dear Human Resources: four ways employers can help America’s job hunters (and themselves)

“Hiring managers” say only apply for jobs you’re qualified for. Fine. Now, here are some things HR needs to do in return.

Only-Post-JobsI subscribe to a number of industry mailing lists and content services as part of my work, and periodically they’ll publish stories aimed at helping job seekers – how to find opportunities, how to network, résumé tips, that sort of thing. Recently one of them posted an article where they elicited advice for job hunters from “hiring managers.” (Actually, these folks weren’t hiring managers at all – they were HR staffing managers, who have nothing to do with the hiring decision. But they’re the gatekeepers, so their opinions matter. )

The key bit of insight in this one particular piece was fairly straightforward: only apply for jobs that you’re qualified for. Read more

Walmart “Working Man” ad: Rush sold out their fans. Big time. #WTF

Rush’s decision to license “Working Man” to a company that has declared war on American workers is one of the biggest betrayals of trust in Rock history.

Rush Sold OutYesterday I offered up a brief post wondering what the folks at Walmart were thinking when they chose to use Rush’s iconic “Working Man” as the soundtrack for their ad on investing more money in American manufacturers. Rush, in case you don’t know them, is Canadian, and that struck me as a tad … ironic. Maybe for a follow-up they can do something with Alanis Morissette. Or a Chinese band, if they want to be especially heavy-handed.

Today it’s time to ask WTF Rush was thinking when it decided to sell out to one of the most egregiously anti-working man corporations on the planet.

First off, let’s get some perspective on the claim. The ad says that in the next 10 years they’re “pledging $250 billion to products purchased from American factories.” That’s a lot of money. However, this is a company with 2013 revenues of nearly $470 billion, so the ad shouldn’t be construed as a commitment to go all-in on the American worker. Read more

Are you a socialist? Take the test….

A 2011 study yields surprising results.

The word “socialist” was, for all intents and purposes, dead and buried after the fall of the Iron Curtain. But it has enjoyed a huge resurgence in popularity since, oh, 2008 or so. The thing is, since we hadn’t had any real socialistm for awhile, our understanding of what the term means has gotten a little fuzzy.

So the question is, how socialist are you really? Maybe none at all, maybe a whole lot, and maybe somewhere in the middle. Let’s find out. Read more

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