athelind: (Default)
Today, I filled out my census data as the second person living at [livejournal.com profile] thoughtsdriftby's residence, and something occurred to me.

Neither [livejournal.com profile] quelonzia nor I remember filling out a census form in 2000 -- and in 2000, we were living in CSUMB's student housing. Despite the fact that we lived there for five full years (and the longest I've ever lived in any single place is six years), we were considered transient. In many places, students living on campus aren't considered "local residents", and thus aren't permitted to vote in local elections (though they can vote in national elections); since districting is based on census data, it makes sense that they might leave students out of that, as well.

In 1990, I was in the Coast Guard, and lived on a military base.

In 1980, my family lived in an RV park in a largely-agricultural part of Southern California; the immigration status of most of the other long-term park residents was, shall we say, dubious. My mother can't remember if we filled out a census form that year.

This may be the first census that's actually counted me since I was six years old.

The next time someone bitches about the effort the government has been going through to try and get the homeless and other "traditionally under-represented" segments of the population tallied accurately, I'll have to point out how easily a middle class white kid slipped through the cracks for forty years.


(This may be the most appropriate use of my barcode icon ever.)


athelind: (Default)

AlterNet runs the numbers.



In the 1950s the marginal tax rate on those earning more than $3 million a year (in today’s dollars) was 91 percent. By 1990 it was 28 percent. The IRS says that the top 400 richest tax filers actually paid a rate of just 16 percent in 2007 (the latest numbers we have). Yep, the richest earners — people who took in an average of $343 million each — probably paid a lower rate than you did. Something to consider as you sign your 2009 return.

By the way, those 400 people who do so well on tax day have a combined net worth of nearly $1.37 trillion. [...] If we had progressive taxes that reduced their wealth to a trifling $100 million each, we’d have enough money to set up a trust fund whose interest could provide tuition-free higher education for students at every public college and university in perpetuity. [...]


Note that "if" the article proposes is still far less than the upper-bracket tax rate of the 1950s.

And aren't the 1950s the mythical Good Old Days of Prosperity and Civic Responsibility that the Conservatives point to as the pinnacle of US culture?


Your Obedient Serpent has found that when he includes article quotes, people frequently just read the quoted passage, and leave comments raising objections that were dealt with handily in the original source. Please don't do that, or I'll have to stop including passages, and start including well-earned bitchslaps.
athelind: (Default)
… I have an icon for "pointless, repetitive, soul-destroying work", but not one for "vital, productive, fulfilling work".


athelind: (Default)

Better Off Deadbeat



Craig Cunningham is suing abusive credit companies and bill collectors.

It's one of those framing issues: "oh, no, he's trying to weasel out of debts he racked up, fair and square" -- but, you know, we've all been manipulated into this debt-based economy anyway. We're expected to play nice and be cooperative and toe the line, while they don't even see fit to follow the rules that already favor them.

The only way that's gonna change is by telling the bastards to take a flying leap. And sometimes, that takes another bastard to lead the way.

More power to ya, Mr. C -- and back to you, Howard.




For the record, I'm not seeing this as some kind of easy way to deal with my own economic woes;
for one thing, I don't have a whole lotta debt right now, myself. This just pleases me.

athelind: (Default)
A lot of people keep defending President Obama's mediocre track record on progressive causes,* citing the close margin he has, and occasionally even acknowledging that he can't even rely on his own party members in Congress.

[livejournal.com profile] bradhicks points out that Roosevelt, Johnson, and every other President who managed to accomplish anything of lasting significance faced the same kind of opposition, but knew how to use the power, prestige, and clout of the Chief Executive of the United States to get shit done.

The ones who didn't?

They didn't accomplish jack shit, for any cause, progressive or otherwise.

This is not the change I voted for.


*Most of his defenders also ignore his reprehensible track record in sustaining and expanding frankly regressive causes, including some of the worst stances of the Bush Junta on privacy, security, and copyright law, just to name a few.
athelind: (Default)

Upper Mismanagement


Quick Summary: American manufacturing is in trouble in part because American business schools focus almost exclusively on finance, rather than production.

-- found via Boing Boing.



This thesis jibes with my impressions -- or perhaps it just plays into my prejudices.

You see, I've never really believed in money. I never have. I know it only has meaning and value because everyone agrees that it has meaning and value, and I've always found it difficult to buy into the consensual hallucination.

I design games for fun. I model real systems for a vocation. When I look at the financial world and derivative markets and all the rest, it all looks a lot more like the former than the latter. It's made up. It's arbitrary. And it bugs the hell out of me that, over the course of my lifetime, the people playing these made-up number games have managed to arrange the world so that their Game is somehow the Only Important Thing. no matter what else you do, no matter what else you know, you have to play their Game to have any measure of stability or security in your life.

And yet, they have no reciprocal obligation. If you have solid, useful, tangible knowledge, you also have to know their rules at the most basic level, and the more you pick up, the better off you are -- but if you focus on nothing but the Game, you have distinct advantages, economically, socially, and politically.

And, adding insult to very real injury, they constantly pat themselves on the back for being "hard-nosed" and "practical" and "only looking at the bottom line".

In short, they're Munchkins.

And yeah, the idea that their inbred, detached-from-reality number games have eviscerated the economy, leaving nothing but a hollow shell, a junk-bond paper tiger, a ghost made of numbers -- that makes perfect sense to Your Obedient Serpent.

On the other claw, as valid as these points may be, at this juncture in my life, I am forced to ask: Hey, Athe, how's that workin' for you?

I need to reassess my own attitude toward their razzin' frazzin' Game, and my own participation in it. Right now, when someone says "investment" and "mutual funds" to me, what I hear is "gambling" and "scam" -- and that's not useful.


athelind: (Default)

Fed Official Sees High Unemployment For Years

-- Associated Press, via NPR

You know, this actually makes me feel better about the job market in the near future.

Remember the Clinton Boom? (I know it's hard, but it really wasn't that long ago!)

Most "official government reports" of that period just foresaw the good times rollin' along. The few who saw the boom as part of a boom-and-bust cycle were dismissed as Chicken Littles. Same with the housing bubble that ranged through both the Clinton and Bush years.

In the same way, the government officials who currently insist that Recovery Is Just Around The Corner sound impossibly optimistic, seeing unicorns and rainbows in every little upward jig of an isolated economic indicator. Not only don't they convince us, they don't even sound like they've convinced themselves.

Official statements like this one sound so much more plausible. They're rooted in the "common sense" observations every one of us makes every day. They're logical extrapolations of the future from current conditions.

Just like those glorious predictions of the Infinite Boom.1

Because, you see, deep down, nobody really believes in change. They don't believe that things will ever be different. They find it hard to believe, in their hearts, that things ever were different, even if they experienced it themselves.2 My parenthetical comment above, about the Clinton Boom? 'Fess up: it's getting harder and harder to remember those times as genuinely prosperous, isn't it? Instead, it's just the top of a downward slope, not so much "better" as "where 'worse' started".

Don't read too much into this post, really. It's just an early-morning knee-jerk reaction to a headline article. Semantically, it boils down to, "hey, the government says this, so it must be wrong."

I suppose that's as good as any other method of economic prediction.


1Somewhere along the line, as Boom shifted into Decline and from there to Bust, the treatment of the "Technological Singularity" in speculative fiction shifted from "The Rapture of the Nerds" to the geek equivalent of Left Behind. See Accelerando, by Charlie Stross, for a good example of the latter.

2This is, of course, the root of Global Warming Denial.


athelind: (Default)


(There should be an embedded graph, above. If you don't see it, here's a link. If you do, please let me know in the comments, because it's not showing up in either FireFox or Epiphany.)

But wait, it gets worse:

According to official statistics, the unemployment rate in the United States is now 9.8 percent. But those statistics understate the severity of the jobs crisis. The official statistics do not include the 875,000 Americans who have given up looking for work, even though they want jobs. When these "marginally attached" workers and part-time workers are added to the officially unemployed, the result, according to another, broader governement measure of unemployment known as "U-6," is shocking. The United States has an unemployment rate of 17 percent.

And even this may understate the depth of the problem. By adding the 3.4 million Americans who want a job but have not looked for one in over a year, businessman, philanthropist and Obama advisor Leo Hindery Jr. infers an actual unemployment rate of 18.8 percent. In other words, nearly one in five Americans is unemployed or underemployed.


I know, this isn't really news. A lot of people have mentioned the current economic situation in comments on my recent Jobquest! posts.* I'm just posting it here for future reference.


*Please note: this is not "reassuring", thank you very much; it just adds to the stress.
athelind: (Default)
I'm posting this link in part for my own benefit, for easy reference in the future:

“Mister Taxy” Is A Friend Of The Rich.


In which MGK makes it clear that the biggest beneficiaries of tax dollars devoted to social infrastructure are, in fact, the wealthy.

Excerpt:
The level of income inequality between the poorest and richest is the greatest it ever has been in human history. On the one hand, that kind of sucks; on the other hand, it’s amazing. There’s a reason that feudal lords in the Middle Ages weren’t as comparatively rich as modern tycoons, and it’s not because of technology: it’s because they don’t have to spend money on keeping people alive and healthy and generating value and furthermore able to generate the best possible value, because the government does that for them, and frankly does it better than individuals could anyway.



athelind: (Default)
To my surprise, I find myself praying.

This is hard to admit, this year, this hour. Not only am I an avowed agnostic, but the Religious Right has been so soundly mocked for praying for the victory of their Chosen Candidate, as if they could command their God.

The last eight years, however...

It's not much of a prayer, as prayers go. It's just a single word, but one that keeps echoing in my soul as I read Barack Obama's speeches, or watch them on video, or see the words and images of those who have come together, having finally found someone that they can genuinely support, rather than a mere placeholder for their opposition.

It's a single word:

Please.

Last night, [livejournal.com profile] ounceofreason said, It's Christmas Eve, except that there's a decent chance that Santa will burn my house down.

That single sentence perfectly encapsulates how I feel right now.

Please.

Perhaps I'm praying to Old Man Coyote. The last election, for me, moved "Coyote Loves Us" from a wry acknowledgment of Murphy's Law to something akin to an epiphany. It staggered me that Americans could put that man back into the Oval Office even by such a slim margin after seeing what he'd done to this country in that first term; what better evidence that our little corner of the universe was in the paws of a prankster, a practical joker with a penchant toward the scatological, who'd just pulled the national-if-not-global equivalent of a banana peel?

Nice one, Coyote. But just this once...

Please.

I'm going to work now, to while away the next several hours in the ever-so-important task of unpacking and inventorying this week's shipment of comic books and pop culture trinkets.

I welcome the distraction.

When I leave the back room refuge of the comics shop, perhaps there will be good news.

Perhaps I can allow myself to hope.

Please.

athelind: (Default)
[livejournal.com profile] quelonzia and I voted today.

And now... a Reality Check.


The video says, "Hey, we liberals can sling mud, too," but honestly? We don't need to sling mud. They've got huge piles of shit all around them; all we have to do is lift up the corner of the flag they're trying to cover it all with.

Thanks to [livejournal.com profile] wingywoof for the video link.

WWJRDGDI?

Sep. 26th, 2008 12:47 pm
athelind: (Default)
[livejournal.com profile] araquan offers this:
What Would Jesus Do? ... Wait, he'd do WHAT? But I thought... Oh shit. I guess we're fucked.

In our current situation, of course, the answer is:
Throw The Money-Changers Out Of The Temple.

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