A Conversation

An instant messaging exchange, about the Hartmann Radio Show, Friday, between me (STF) and another guy (OtherGuy): (editted to make us look better)

OtherGuy: hartmann was talking to krugman, who was cool until the end when he said the usual (employed economist) bullshit about there being new jobs to replace all the exported ones. (WHY do otherwise intelligent, skeptical people believe that absolute crap?)
STF: Because he's a professor and he has tenure.
OtherGuy: yeah, but I assume that some equations work out to prove it too. I wish I had the time and inclination to prove why these equations are flawed.
STF: other than using our own eyes?
STF: Brad DeLong's site goes on about this as well.
OtherGuy: usually when your own eyes contradict equations it turns out your eyes are being tricked. or the equations are based on some very subtly wrong assumption.
STF: Here's how I worked out the problem once: The idea is that you take a $100,000 job, and send it to India where the worker is paid $10,000. That means you have $90,000 more in your economy to invest or buy stuff.
OtherGuy: yes, but everything is more efficient!
STF: So your loss of $100,000 consuming power is balanced by the purchase of $10,000 from you by the India guy, AND the $90,000 extra for investment or consumption here. BUT that doesn't work if instead some rich fuck POCKETS the $90,000 and puts it in a swiss bank - which is what IS happening. The concentration of wealth cancels out the beneficial results of that extra $90,000 AND nothing at all says that $10,000 WILL come back to the US resulting in exports
STF: at least in our lifetime.
OtherGuy: except for literally putting the money in the mattress, "just pocketing" is a myth. yeah, the lag time is the problem.
STF: Well, if the money goes out of the US, it helps the Swiss or Caymans prosper, which is supposed to also come back to us. Eventually. But, again, not in our lifetimes.
OtherGuy: and the fact that entire industries seem to be wiped out almost instantaneous. the one question NONE of these people can ever answer is : "What do I retrain FOR?"
STF: Yeah, retrain, to become a different cog in the machine. Your only value in America is the extent to which you can serve as an economic unit, making some rich fuck richer.
STF: Another problem is that Mexico is losing jobs to VietNam and VietNam is losing jobs to Cambodia and Cambodia is losing jobs to China.
OtherGuy: Exactly. and as hartmann always points out that global capital is (now) almost completely free to move anywhere instantly, whereas labor is stuck where it's stuck.
STF: On the macroeconomic scale it's a wash. But it doesn’t take into account WHO benefits. Like the room where there’s a hundred people, and Bill Gates. On average that is an extremely wealthy room full of people. Never mind that 99 of them are starving.
STF: It is a downward spiral. A free market in labor in a world with too many people is necessarily a formula for worldwide poverty.
OtherGuy: yup
STF: If the market is completely free and "clears rapidly" the consequences NECESSARILY are that wages reach subsistence AFTER enough people have starved, leaving just enough workers for the jobs.
OtherGuy: It's really very depressing to know that there is nothing I can do that will prevent me from continuing in relative poverty for the rest of my life. [Note - OtherGuy is a programmer.]
STF: Until enough people have starved off, of course the wages don't NEED to be at subsistence level. You only need to pay enough that someone will take the job and starve slower than the rest.
OtherGuy: eat the fucking rich!
OtherGuy: and EVERYONE (except a very few rich fucks) would be better off.
OtherGuy: Revolution. heads on pikes!
STF: In such an economy, where the unemployed are starving off, and employers are only paying a penny or so a day until enough people have starved, leaving just enough people remaining to do the jobs, a person with extra fat on his body has the advantage over a thin person, because the thin person will die of, and the person with fat will live long enough to outlast the labor surplus
OtherGuy: that's my plan!
OtherGuy: (being fat)
STF: You're way ahead of the game
OtherGuy: heh
STF: you are one of the elite few who will survive
STF: survival of the ...
STF: wait for it...
OtherGuy: heh
STF: fattest
OtherGuy: yay!
STF: I think I should blog this

Moral of the story: Who is our economy FOR, anyway?

Spam Propaganda Letters

Atrios found this: Google Search: "I have been serving in Iraq for over five months now"


Maybe I haven't been writing as much lately because I just feel overwhelmed and discouraged, and that it's useless to keep pointing things out. For example, these two stories, about items released by the Bush administration on Friday afternoons - so that the stories are "buried" and the public never hears about them. First, U.S. May Expand Access To Endangered Species:
The Bush administration is proposing far-reaching changes to conservation policies that would allow hunters, circuses and the pet industry to kill, capture and import animals on the brink of extinction in other countries.
And this, also released late Friday, Bush eases mining rules:
The Bush administration announced Friday that it would start allowing companies that mine gold, silver and other precious metals as much public land as they need to help them develop their claims.
I often say that one way to learn about Republicans is to listen to what they accuse others of, and then realize that their tactic is to cover their OWN motives an actions by accusing others of those very things. (Another long, convoluted sentence. Does this one get the prize?) For example, they were accusing Clinton of being corrupt and immoral -- and now look at the Bush administration, the most corrupt and immoral in history. Or how about Bill Bennett being the "morality" guy? And, of course, Mr. Judgement himself Rush Limbaugh.

What I'm getting at is, they accuse everyone else of being evil...

So they have this tactic of releasing news like this on Friday afternoons so the story gets "buried" in weekend WORKS. How do we get the public to understand that things like this are happening? I hope everyone reading this is doing all they can to get people reading online news sources like BuzzFlash, and weblogs like this one!



Y'know, if you always know where your keys are because you always put them in the same place, and then one day you can't find them no matter where you look, it's better to remember BEFORE you call your wife demanding to know where she hid them, that you bought one of those little USB storage devices and put it on your keychain, and now it's plugged into the back of your computer.

Also, this is longest sentence contest day.

Mapping Votes by County

style.org > Mapping Votes by County.

Just go look.

Update - Now go look at Billmon's maps!!!!

Voting Machines and Working At The Polls

One of the things I have learned from working at the polls on election day for the last couple of elections is the way they safeguard the ballots. There are fairly extensive procedures for making sure that all of the ballots are accounted for and only those ballots marked by actual voters are counted.

In California's San Mateo County they use optical scanning equipment. The voter is given a paper ballot. The voter marks the ballot by completing a thick line next to the choice the voter is to make. For example, for the recall there are two choices, YES and NO. The voter sees something like the following:

YES  <<===    ===

NO <<=== ===
The voter uses a special pen to connect the line next to the voter's choice.

Before the ballot can go into the ballot box, it passes through a scanning machine. If there are any problems with the ballot, like an overvote or an incorrectly marked choice, perhaps by circling instead of drawing the line or writing in a name as well as marking it -- problems like we heard about in Florida -- the ballot is rejected and the voter has the opportunity to try again. If the ballot is accepted it drops into a locked ballot box and can be used in a "hand count" to check whether the machine correctly tabulated the voters' choices.

When the polls close there are special procedures for making sure that only the voters' choices are counted. There are several "judges" who must independently verify several things. The number of ballots received before the polls opened must match the number voted, spoiled or remaining to be voted. The number voted must match the number of signatures from voters who showed up and voted. The marked ballots are guarded using special procedures, and are taken to the central counting location in one car with another judge in ANOTHER car following to make sure that those ballots make it there with no funny business along the way. Many other procedures are in place to guard against any kind of fraud or mistake.

Having experienced all of these procedures makes it all the more difficult for me to understand how any voting machine company would even THINK of trying to sell a voting machine that did not allow the voters a way to ascertain that their votes are correctly tabulated! How could they even imagine that any election official would do anything but laugh at the idea of purchasing and using such a machine? By the same token, it is inconceivable that any county election official would EVER have allowed such machines to be used!

Yet, we have voting machine companies that refuse to offer -- and receive the extra revenue for -- voting machines that provide the voter with a ballot they can look at that is clearly marked with their choices. And we have election officials who accept these machines and tell the voters to "just trust us."

It is my opinion that any election official that shows so little respect for the sanctity of the voting process that they would accept a machine that does not allow the voter a way to be sure that their vote is correctly counted and backed up should not be allowed to continue in that office! That official is in the wrong line of work, and needs to go be a realtor or something.

Fortunately, awareness of this issue is spreading. People are learning of the dangers of these new electronic voting machines that do not have a way for the voter to double-check that their choices are correctly tabulated. Already enough people are aware of the problem that I do not expect that election results from these machines will be accepted. Soon I expect that the public will demand that their election officials respect the need for procedures that reassure the public that their votes are correctly counted. Just telling the public to trust the machines is not enough.


Views Of The Media

This depressing Gallup Poll confirms what my own research has shown me. In the early 70's the Right started a well-funded campaign to push the public to the right. Telling the public that the media are liberal is just one part of the strategy. You can trace the specific funders and organizations involved. See this and this [large PDF, html coming soon] and the How They Do It series.

In the Gallup story, scroll down to the chart that shows public perceptions of the media over time:
"Gallup first asked Americans about their trust and confidence in the media back in the 1970s, but stopped at that point and didn't begin to use the question again until 1997.

There was a clear change in views of the media between these two periods of time. About 7 in 10 Americans said they had a great deal or fair amount of trust and confidence in the media in 1972, 1974, and 1976, perhaps reflecting public approval of the news media's role in uncovering the Watergate abuses of power. When Gallup picked up the question series again six years ago, however, the trust levels had fallen to the mid-50% range."
The Right's campaign really got going in the early-mid 70's, after the Heritage Foundation was started in 1973. It was well underway by the time Carter was President -- reflected in his "Malaise Speech," as I wrote about in this post. Looking back, the Right's attacks explain a lot about how Carter's presidency proceeded and is perceived now. Think about what is said about Carter, through the lens of knowing what they did to Clinton.

And think about the tremendous influence they now have on the public, 45% of whom think the media is "too liberal."

Splitting the State

I think this map shows some of the best boundaries for splitting California into two states, as has been discussed over the years.

What Were We Thinking?

This story, Leaker May Remain Elusive, Bush Suggests:
"President Bush said on Tuesday that he was not sure whether the Justice Department would determine who disclosed the identity of an undercover C.I.A. officer to journalists, but he pledged to provide investigators with "everything we know."
For a few minutes last week some of us thought maybe this time would be different. Maybe this time the press would get involved. Maybe this time a Bush crime would be exposed. Maybe this time there might be an honest investigation. Maybe this time something they had done would "stick" and the public would demand answers.

I mean, this was SERIOUS SHIT. The Party actually outed an undercover agent working to stop WMDs, as revenge for criticizing The Party. Serious consequences - the possibility of dead informants and agents, exposure of the network of companies and other covers the CIA used, and, of course, most importantly the WMD she was trying to stop now able to find other ways into the hands of those who would use them against us. Can't get much simpler and clearer than that.

What were we thinking?

The press was only waiting for The Party to feed them their new line -- there are lots of leaks, mushy liberals and the press are usually the culprits, and the President wants to stop these terrible leaks. The headline of today's story in the San Jose News, for example, presents Bush as the hero of the whole affair and the press as the bad guy: "Bush eager to find leaker":
Bush said he is eager to discover the identity of those who disclosed the name of CIA operative Valerie Plame, who is married to former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, a prominent critic on Bush's Iraq policy. . .

Bush said, ``Everything we know, the investigators will find out,'' but he told reporters: ``I have no idea whether we'll find out who the leaker is -- partially because, in all due respect to your profession -- you do a very good job of protecting the leakers.''
What were we thinking? The system isn't going to stop them because they ARE the system now. The Supreme Court is the system, and the Supreme Court put The Party in total control of all of the branches of our government. The Justice Department isn't going to investigate this - the Justice Department gave them a day's warning that they are going to ask for documents. The FBI is little more than the investigative branch of The Party - they're the ones who put all their resources into investigating Clinton instead of al-Queda. The Courts are now dominated by Federalist Society drones. The Congress refuses to look into this, but the Congress is run by The Party. And the press...

See the forest - these are the people who marketed tobacco to our kids. They are GOOD AT THIS. They convinced people to kill themselves and blame themselves for it, but first to hand over their money to them.

It's over. It's not just over but it was OUR FAULT and THEY ARE THE HEROS.


A Long-Ass Day

I just got back from working at the polls. All I can say is 6am to 9:30pm is one long-ass day. We were short-handed so I got one 20 minute break to run and get a sandwich.



Tuesday I am working at the polls. I have to be there at 6am, and probably won't be back home until after 10pm. Don't wait up for me.

DNC Voting Machines Resolution

Here is the relevant section of the DNC's resolution. There are a nuber of "Whereas" clauses, and a few "Be It Resolved" clauses, and this:
"BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the DNC goes on record demanding that all electronic voting equipment used in public elections must incorporate an accessible voter-verified paper audit trail as soon as practical, but in no case any later than the November 2004 general election."

Make these donuts with extra grease. This batch is for the chief of police.

Does anyone remember a tune from the early 80's that was a lot of guitars strumming a monotonous tonal thing for a long time, and then, just once, lyrics, shouted, "Make these donuts with extra grease. This batch is for the chief of police!" and then guitars again for a long time?