The rest is mechanics. We're not wired to walk in someone else's shoes, it's not our first instinct.
Showing up with empathy is difficult, hard to outsource and will wear you out.
But it's precisely what we need from you.
PUT AI TO WORK JUNE 26-27, 2017: TRAINING JUNE 27-29, 2017: TUTORIALS & CONFERENCE NEW YORK, NY
A big barrier to robots being applied in certain jobs is the problem of manipulating various sorts of objects. In walks Soft Robotics patented manipulators:
Like Rethink, Soft comes out of Boston’s remarkably fertile university-to-commercial pipeline — in this case, George Whitesides’ lab at Harvard . The idea and, indeed, the products, are simple: plastic “fingers” that can grip and lift almost anything with great agility. There are 51 patents on those fingers and the system, which is designed to integrate as a robot component (see Rethink), is comparatively cheap. The most expensive set up comes with 6 fingers and runs about $11K. Replacement fingers cost roughly $150 per.
In its first year as a business. Soft has racked up $1 million in sales, which will likely grow by orders of magnitude over the next few years. The biggest problem right now is keeping up with orders. To begin, they’re focusing on the food industry, replacing lots of jobs that are pretty terrible jobs with high turnover. That’s a huge topic for another day. Anyway, the flex-finger auto-hands are really good at making donuts, putting cupcakes in containers and picking tomatoes…
Two of the nine ‘computerisation bottlenecks’ identified by Frey and Osborne in The Future of Employment are finger dexterity and manual dexterity, both of which are the focus of Soft Robotics fingers.
The design of the fingers is inspired by octopus tentacles: hentai!
It’s true that a mechanic wielding wrenches is not paid that hourly rate — the shop’s cash flow must cover sophisticated diagnostic tools and contribute its share toward the dealership’s prime real estate. But top-level technicians in the field can earn $100,000 a year after achieving master mechanic status and five years of experience, said Robert Paganini, president of the Mahwah, N.J., campus of Lincoln Technical Institute.
So, it would be logical to conclude, applicants must be banging on dealership doors for those jobs.
Not quite: It’s the dealerships and auto manufacturers banging on doors, eagerly seeking out candidates at job fairs, trade schools and events for veterans. The shortage of qualified technicians is so acute that a year ago, BMW of North America began its own recruiting program, making its pitch to students at postsecondary technical schools and career fairs. While that may be a common practice for multinational corporations, it’s unusual in that the job openings will be at independently owned BMW franchises.
Paul Krugman zeroes in on the hollowness at the center of Trump policy: Trump’s immaturity.
Every report from inside the White House conveys the impression that Trump is like a temperamental child, bored by details and easily frustrated when things don’t go his way; being an effective staffer seems to involve finding ways to make him feel good and take his mind off news that he feels makes him look bad.
If he says he wants something, no matter how ridiculous, you say, “Yes, Mr. President!”; at most, you try to minimize the damage.
Right now, by all accounts, the child-man in chief is in a snit over the prospect of news stories that review his first 100 days and conclude that he hasn’t achieved much if anything (because he hasn’t). So last week he announced the imminent release of something he could call a tax plan.
According to The Times, this left Treasury staff — who were nowhere near having a plan ready to go — “speechless.” But nobody dared tell him it couldn’t be done. Instead, they released … something, with nobody sure what it means.
And the absence of a real tax plan isn’t the only thing the inner circle apparently doesn’t dare tell him.
Krugman’s right: the twilight-zoneness of Trump’s 100 days makes it hard to fathom what’s going on in the White House. I think Trump’s going crazy in slow motion.
The rich-poor gap – the difference in annual income between households in the top 20 percent and those in the bottom 20 percent – ballooned by $29,200 to $189,600 between 2010 and 2015, based on Bloomberg calculations using U.S. Census Bureau data.
Computers and robots are taking over many types of tasks, shoving aside some workers while boosting the productivity of specialized employees, contributing to the gap.
“Technological developments have increasingly replaced low- and mid-skilled jobs while complementing higher-skilled jobs,” said Chad Sparber, an associate professor and chair of the economic department at Colgate University.
This shift is predicted to continue. About 38 percent of U.S. jobs could be at high risk of automation by the early 2030s, according to a study by PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP. The “most-exposed” industries include retail and wholesale trade, transportation and storage, and manufacturing, with less-educated workers facing the biggest challenges.
Companies’ use of temporary and part-time employees to cut costs also may be widening the disparity, with wage growth failing to keep up with rising residential and basic-necessity expenses. As the divide grows, hardships increase for the bottom 20 percent. Affordable housing, for example, is in short supply nationwide, forcing workers to find shelter further from their jobs and endure lengthier and costlier commutes. Rental costs rose nationally by 3.9 percent in March from a year earlier, according to the Labor Department.
There’s an uncomfortable feeling in the tech industry that we did something wrong, that in following our credo of “move fast and break things”, some of what we knocked down were the load-bearing walls of our democracy.
Everything moves in the direction of greater surveillance.
He is a strong dissident voice, countering the techno-utopian unicornism that generally dominate discussion of tech culture.
In any setting where attention is convertible into money, social media will always reward drama, dissent, conflict, iconoclasm and strife. There will be no comparable rewards for cooperation, de-escalation, consensus-building, or compromise, qualities that are essential for the slow work of building a movement.
(h/t Scott Rosenberg)
I am reminded of my recent 10 work skills for the postnormal era, where I touched on Complex Ethics, and postnormal traumatic stress syndrome:
The decline in faith, the break in identification with trusted organizations (government, religion, unions, nationalism), and the apparent collapse of the social contract all contribute to what I call postnormal traumatic stress syndrome: we are stressed beyond the breaking point by the postnormal world, but it’s not in the past. We are not past that stress: it’s an on-going state; permanent, and seemingly inescapable.
We live in a time of dilemmas, not simple problem solving. The tools we have shaped are making a new world, and it has purpose. But the purpose is not necessarily making a better world for all of us. Maybe just for some.
Science is in the midst of a data crisis. Last year, there were more than 1.2 million new papers published in the biomedical sciences alone, bringing the total number of peer-reviewed biomedical papers to over 26 million. However, the average scientist reads only about 250 papers a year. Meanwhile, the quality of the scientific literature has been in decline. Some recent studies found that the majority of biomedical papers were irreproducible.
The twin challenges of too much quantity and too little quality are rooted in the finite neurological capacity of the human mind. Scientists are deriving hypotheses from a smaller and smaller fraction of our collective knowledge and consequently, more and more, asking the wrong questions, or asking ones that have already been answered. Also, human creativity seems to depend increasingly on the stochasticity of previous experiences – particular life events that allow a researcher to notice something others do not. Although chance has always been a factor in scientific discovery, it is currently playing a much larger role than it should.
One promising strategy to overcome the current crisis is to integrate machines and artificial intelligence in the scientific process. Machines have greater memory and higher computational capacity than the human brain. Automation of the scientific process could greatly increase the rate of discovery. It could even begin another scientific revolution. That huge possibility hinges on an equally huge question: can scientific discovery really be automated?
Of course it can.
Sara's Organic Food, has been making some serious waves in Egypt's farming world. The company's produce is preferred by some of Cairo's best culinary minds and receives high praise for its quality. But that's only one part of the story.
Nour's entrepreneurial spirit has just won her one of the world's most prestigious accolades for women, the Cartier Women's Initiative Awards. On Wednesday April 12th, in a fabulous awards ceremony held in Singapore, Nour officially became 2017's Middle East and North Africa Laureate of the award; joining the ranks of some pretty tremendous women from around the world...[more]
While we debate the upsides and pitfalls of moving away from 20th century hierarchies, into wirearchies, and self-managed systems like holacracies and more… There’s a monk in Newark, New Jersey who created 21st century organizational strategies and structures back in the 1970s. We can learn a lot from Father Edwin Leahy.
There’s a sleazy undertone in the ride-hailing sector. I won’t get into the seemingly endless issues involving Uber–the sexual harassment, the bro culture, the regulatory shenanigans, the mistreatment/misclassification of drivers–but even a competitor like Juno, that founder Talmon Marco attempted to position as driver-friendly, nows seems to be reneging on promises to drivers. In particular, the much-touted stock ownership program, where drivers could earn Juno stock, has been shut down immediately on the announcement of Juno being acquired by competitor Gett.
Juno said today that it had been acquired by Gett, another ride-hailing company in New York, in a deal priced at $200 million. Under the terms of the deal, Marco and his three co-founders, as well as the rest of Juno’s employees, will join Gett to run its New York team. The services will merge and rebrand as “Juno by Gett.” And in an email to drivers, “Juno & Gett Are Joining Forces,” Juno said its stock program had been terminated, “effective immediately.”
Griswold and the New York Observer detail various payment agreements to drivers, buying back their stock at less than 2 cents each, which is less than a tenth of the $0.20 per share price advertised to drivers last year.
At the macroeconomic view, Juno is perhaps simply a small, failed experiment in the burgeoning ride-hailing marketplace. But for the Juno drivers who held out hope for a piece of the pie, it’s another example of being at the mercy of the whims of the owners of the ride-hailing services, who seemingly can do whatever they want and get away with it.
It was in 2004 when I first gave serious thought to self-employment. I was employed as a designer, and after work one day I picked up a hefty ankle injury playing football. Unable to walk for a couple of weeks meant time away from the office, but I easily got my work done from home. Back at the office I couldn’t shake the thought of life in my own studio, and within the year I’d given my notice.
Looking back, twelve years on, I really had very little idea what I was getting into. If you’re thinking of making that same move, here are a few of the pros and cons I’ve experienced throughout my time as an independent designer.
Mossant poster, by Leonetto Capiello, 1938.
No more nine to five, Monday to Friday. No more forcing yourself out of bed to generate someone else’s profits. If I have an appointment at the dentist, need to visit the bank, or if I just want to walk along the coast, I don’t need permission. A routine is still important, setting certain hours when clients can reach you, but in general, you’ll have a lot more flexibility with your time.
I’ve worked with clients in more than 30 countries, in almost every time zone. In my early days, taking full responsibility for every project detail was completely new, and I wasn’t careful enough about setting boundaries. Being woken by a client calling in the middle of the night is hardly ideal.
If you charge your clients what your boss might’ve charged for your time, and you take your boss out of the equation, you earn more money. There aren’t any predetermined income brackets that someone puts you in, no annual pay reviews where you try to convince your superiors that you’re worth more — in self-employment, it’s up to you to determine what your skills are worth. That was an incentive for me, but also led to one of my biggest headaches…
People can give you some indication of what figure to show on your project quotes, but no-one knows your education and work history like you do. No-one knows the level of effort and attention to detail you put into every project. No-one knows that you sometimes see anchor points when you close your eyes. This is your call, and you’ll always question what you decide, whether you win the project or not.
That’s why you’re in it for the long haul. Ask yourself how many of your friends and family truly love the jobs they’re doing, how many of them work to pay the bills and support their families. It makes me incredibly thankful.
A client might disappear without making final payment. A mistake from someone you bring on board to help might mean taking the blame yourself. Some people think that because you love your job, you’ll happily work for free. It’s not all roses.
And you have a huge advantage over bigger businesses. No need for meeting after meeting before a marketing campaign or before changing the focus of what you do. Go ahead. You’re in charge. At the beginning I solely wanted to work with local clients — meeting face-to-face so I could build a stronger relationship. So I got my stationery printed at a local shop, dusted off my portfolio, dressed the part and hit the streets. Was I successful? Not really, but I was trying. I was putting myself in front of potential clients, only needing a few days of preparation.
In hindsight, I was at my most naïve when first starting out. My business name was the cringeworthy New Dawn Graphics, with a website made to appear like I was a team of designers rather than just me. I became increasingly uncomfortable with the generic name until finally branding myself under my personal name. I was much happier, but branding definitely wasn’t the end of the mistakes I’d make.
Friends going on a last-minute trip? Festival tickets suddenly become available? More stressed than normal lately? There’s no longer the need to juggle your time off around your colleagues’ prebooked holidays. Your only concern is with your clients. Treat them well. Then treat yourself. There’s no boss to give you a Christmas bonus or tell you to have the rest of the day off. That’s on you. Don’t let it slip.
No paid sick days or maternity/paternity leave, either.
Design, branding, marketing, communications, project management, accounting, IT, web development — just a few of the hats you’ll wear. In my days of formal education I took a post-grad course in management. I don’t manage a team, but what I learned has definitely helped with the non-design side of business.
At some point you’ll want to be a designer when you need to be a negotiator, or you’ll want to be using your sketchpad when you need to travel for a site visit. Don’t ignore the other hats, no matter how uncomfortable the fit.
Clients can just as easily be halfway around the world as they can the other side of town. What I still find strange is that my clients are mostly overseas, and it’s rare when I have the pleasure of meeting in person. But the best part of working with different people is how the nature of their businesses changes with almost every project. With one I’ll need to learn about surfing, with another about tequila, another about fashion, medical advances, digital music… The things you’re paid to study are limited only by the clients you choose to work with.
You can’t beat meeting face-to-face for building a relationship, so I’m unlikely to create the strongest of bonds through phone and video calls. That doesn’t mean I can’t surpass expectations. It’s just that I won’t always be in the room to see any delight. There’s a positive in there, though — I’ve saved a ton of time that would’ve been spent traveling to and from meetings.
Not having to climb into a freezing car each winter morning and crawl through rush-hour traffic is a good reminder of why I chose to go it alone. I save that time and fuel and spend it elsewhere.
When your job’s where you live, it’s easy to work long hours, and can be tough to switch off. There’s always a temptation to reply to a few emails or to make a few design changes after the more traditional working hours are over and when your family want your company. Self-discipline is essential.
The sun’s shining, blue skies to the horizon — not a day to be indoors. Get the laptop and head to the park, beach, countryside, beer garden. Or, leave the laptop at home. Take the rest of the day off.
Now I know why I don’t trust people who don’t swear:
The next time someone tells you to watch your language, feel free to tell them to fuck off.
Sure, swearing is considered poor form in certain settings—like courts, classrooms, and most offices. But people who do it may be more trustworthy, according to a new three-part study analyzing swearing and straightforwardness in individuals and society.
“The consistent findings across the studies suggest that the positive relation between profanity and honesty is robust, and that the relationship found at the individual level indeed translates to the society level,” concludes the final paper, set to be published in the journal of Psychological and Personality Science this year.
Gilad Feldman of the Department of Work and Psychology in Maastricht University in the Netherlands led an international research team whose goal was to resolve a conflict in social science, which is split on the matter of swearing and straightforwardness. On the one hand, using profanity is taboo and people who do so may be more inclined to break other social norms, including committing crimes of dishonesty—and so swearing has been associated with moral turpitude, the paper explains. On the other hand, blurting curses is positively associated with authenticity in certain situations—for example, people accused of crimes who are actually innocent are more inclined to swear during interrogations than those who are guilty and denying their crime, other studies have found.
And if you don’t like it, blow me.
The Cult of Done Manifesto
Bre Pettis and Kio Stark
There are three states of being.
Not knowing, action and completion.
Accept that everything is a draft.
It helps to get done.
There is no editing stage.
Pretending you know what you’re doing
is almost the same as knowing what you
are doing, so just accept that you know
what you’re doing even if you don’t
and do it.
Banish procrastination. If you wait more
than a week to get an idea done, abandon it.
The point of being done is not to finish but
to get other things done.
Once you’re done you can throw it away.
Laugh at perfection. It’s boring and keeps
you from being done.
People without dirty hands are wrong.
Doing something makes you right.
Failure counts as done. So do mistakes.
Destruction is a variant of done.
If you have an idea and publish it on the
internet, that counts as a ghost of done.
Done is the engine of more.
Topography of Typography El Lissitzky
1 The words on the printed surface are taken in by seeing, not by hearing.
2 One communicates meanings through the convention of words; meaning attains form through letters.
3 Economy of expression - optics not phonetics.
4 The design of the book-space, set according to the constraints of printing mechanics,
must correspond to the tensions and pressures of the content
5 The design Of the book-space using process blocks which implement the new optics.
The supernatural reality of the perfected eye.
6 The continuous sequence of pages — the bioscopic book.
7 The new book demands the new writer. Inkpot and quill pen are dead.
8 The printed surface transcends space and time. The printed surface, the infinity of books, must be transcended
I’m an alien, it seems.
We’re stuck in a low-inflation world: low price gas, too much capacity for steel and other commodities, and a glut of workers looking for work. Plus, no Trump infrastructure stimulus:
Trump administration plans that seemed to point toward higher inflation and higher interest rates are looking like vaporware. A large-scale infrastructure investment program, for example, could push both interest rates and inflation higher in the United States. But so far the administration’s focus on infrastructure has not translated to specific policy ideas.
The combination of powerful long-term forces and policy gridlock in Washington means that we probably won’t see some magical moment when the low-inflation monster has been vanquished. Rather, the world is going to have to keep climbing out the hard way.
The Chinese debt overhang may be getting hangier, with huge implications for the world economic system:
The Chinese government has begun an urgent effort to discourage companies from guaranteeing one another’s bank debts, ordering local banking regulators across the country to file comprehensive reports by the end of the month on the problem. But sussing out the extent could be difficult.
“Because of the limited transparency and disclosure,” said Grace Wu, a senior director and the head of China bank ratings at Fitch Ratings, “it’s hard to know where the true risk lies.”
Loan guarantees are just part of a much broader debt challenge in China. The ratio of debt to economic output has soared since 2009 as the government has resorted to continuous monetary stimulus to prevent the economy from decelerating sharply. An International Monetary Fund analysis late last year suggested that the rise in China’s ratio was comparable to the increases in Japan’s, Thailand’s and Spain’s ratios before their respective financial crises over the past quarter-century.
Chinese economists have consistently argued that their country is uniquely able to handle high debt because it has little foreign debt and because the government’s control of the banking system allows it to respond quickly.
One of the paradoxes of China’s debt troubles is that the country is awash in debt, yet publicly listed or privately held companies can find it hard to borrow. The state-controlled banking system lends mainly to state-owned enterprises, which can seem like a good credit risk because they have implicit government guarantees.
In response, private companies often band together, guaranteeing one another’s borrowings, to give bank credit officers more confidence that loans will be repaid. The downside is that if one company runs into trouble, it can drag down the other companies that guaranteed its debts. Those other companies, in turn, can set off their own credit guarantees from yet more companies with no direct connection to the first one.
Check out the growth of Chinese debt.
Trump must be smoking the same dope Arthur Laffer was back in 1974, when he scribbled the so-called Laffer Curve on a napkin, coming up with the economic equivalent of a perpetual motion machine. He argued, and now Trump’s chiming in, that you can gain more taxes in the future by cutting taxes today.
Personally, I think we should call this the Wimpy Curve, after Popeye’s buddy, who would mooch pocket change by saying ‘I will gladly pay you Thursday for a hamburger today’.
Peter Baker pokes holes:
Critics scoffed at the math. “There is not a shred of evidence to support the secretary’s pay-for-itself claim,” said Jared Bernstein, a top White House economics adviser under Mr. Obama. “Sure, significantly faster growth would spin off more revenues. But there’s simply no empirical linkage between tax cuts and growth that’s both a lot faster and sustained.”
Douglas Holtz-Eakin, a former Congressional Budget Office director who advised Senator John McCain’s Republican presidential campaign in 2008, was equally skeptical. “I can imagine cutting the rate to 15 percent,” he said. “I can imagine growing a percentage point faster. I can imagine raising $2 trillion in revenue. I can’t imagine them being one and the same policy.”
N. Gregory Mankiw, a Harvard University economist who was chairman of the President’s Council of Economic Advisers under the younger Mr. Bush, said tax cut supporters exaggerate the possible growth benefits while opponents overemphasize the budgetary cost. “A reasonable rule of thumb, in my judgment, is that about one-third of the cost of tax cuts is recouped via faster economic growth,” he said.
In Mankiw’s right, we might get back 1/3 of the $2 trillion in tax revenue the cuts would eliminate, so this plan will only cost $1.4 trillion.
Trump’s proving beyond the shadow of a doubt he’s no populist, but instead trying to distribute the spoils of his conquest to the corporations and the wealthy, while cutting programs that benefit the working class that voted him into office.
Where’s Shakespeare when you need him?
Is that a habit?
If your instinct is to publish, to share, to instruct, to give away, to engage and to put it into the world, then 'save as draft' is a rare thing.
On the other hand, if you find yourself noodling then putting aside, waiting for perfect, you're on track to be waiting for a very long time.
[Tomorrow, Thursday April 27 is the first priority deadline for the next session of the altMBA. This is an intensive 30-day workshop that creates the habit of shipping. We help people learn to see, to take action, to make decisions and to cause change to happen. It might just be for you.]
As usual, the US is at the bottom of the industrialized nations, showing only 59% with a middle class income.
As the report states:
Overall, the middle-class share of the adult population fell in seven of the 11 Western European countries examined, mirroring the long-term shrinking of the middle class in the United States. In part, the shift out of the middle class is a sign of economic progress, irrespective of changes in household incomes overall. This is because the outward shift is accompanied by a move up the income ladder, into the upper-income tier, in all countries with a shrinking middle class.
At the same time, there is movement down the income ladder in most countries with a shrinking middle class. Overall, there is a greater movement up the income ladder than downward in most countries from 1991 to 2010, resulting in a general improvement in economic status.
Neckbuds. The very name of the product sounds like some ghastly outgrowth that you’d want to have excised from your body. I have never been a fan of this class of wireless-but-not-really headphones, owing to the wide range of compromises that they embody and the limited improvement in convenience they offer over a regular wired pair of earphones. But even the naffest of categories can be redeemed by a well designed product and I’ve finally found it in the $99 Byron BT buds from Beyerdynamic, the first neckbuds that I can actually recommend.
Five years after Boa Mistura’s first project in Vila Brasilândia, the art collective returned to the São Paulo favela to bring some poesía y mágica to the alleyways.
“In terms of process, one of the keys was the neighbours’ participation. All together, always with the kids in the lead, we were cleaning and painting the alleys. People feel even more proud of the resulting work when they are the co-authors.”
“Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.The most concise yet profound summary I've seen/heard regarding the mystery of marriage.
Everything He has--His love, His goodness, His power--becomes ours.
And everything we have--our sin, our shame, our past--becomes His.
Peter Goodman on the Euro:
Many argue that the euro was doomed from inception. It was conceived more as an idealistic reach for European cooperation than as a reasoned plan to manage a currency. The assumption was that shared money would spur greater European political integration.
Instead, the euro has devolved into a major source of political acrimony across the Continent.
In countries with their own money, bad economic times typically prompt governments to spend more to generate jobs and spur growth. Their currencies fall in value, making their goods cheaper on world markets and aiding exports.
But countries in the eurozone cannot fully avail themselves of those benefits. The currency comes with rules limiting the size of budget deficits. Faced with hard times, governments using the euro have been forced to intensify the hurt on ordinary people by cutting pensions and other public outlays.
The Nobel laureate economist Joseph E. Stiglitz has indicted the euro as a leading source of economic inequality that has divided European nations into two stark classes — creditor and debtor.
As Cyprus, Greece, Italy, Portugal and Spain have slid into debt crises in recent years, they have accused Germany of self-serving inflexibility in demanding strict adherence to debt limits while refusing to transfer wealth to those in trouble. Germany and other northern countries have accused their southern brethren of failing to carry out changes — like making it easier to fire workers — that would make them more competitive.
The crises have time and again exposed the structural flaws of the eurozone, and its tendency to generate more recrimination than action.
“You have a basic situation in the eurozone now where it’s like a half-built house,” said Jacob F. Kirkegaard, a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington. “As long as that persists, a large number of investors are going to have existential doubts about the euro.”
The European crisis of confidence continues, and even an outright defeat of Le Pen will not put an end to that.
Sylvie Kauffman manages to dismiss the rise of anti-EU sentiment in France without actually referencing the deep discord of the average French citizen living outside the metropolitan cities, where inequality, and the cumulative impacts of globalization have hollowed out France. Regarding the strong showing of the National Front’s Marine Le Pen and the upstart Emmanuel Macron, she says,
For Marine Le Pen’s supporters, the European Union is an abomination that violates national sovereignty and opens borders to mass immigration, while the eurozone prevents the French government from controlling its economic and monetary policy. To Mr. Macron, the European Union is the institution that can help France be a player and defend itself in a globalized world, while its open borders and common currency increase economic opportunities for its citizens. Basically, Europeans are stronger together.
This is the clear choice French voters will face in the second round on May 7. A choice between two starkly different visions of Europe, between two opposite outlooks on the world: an open world versus a world of borders and barriers, modernity versus conservatism. The political consensus, based on the European project and liberal values, that allowed two major mainstream parties to govern France alternately on the right and the left for the past three decades has been shattered.
Kauffman offers only the metropolitan characterization of Le Pen’s followers as being conservative and desiring a more closed model of national destiny. She drops the Macron-like statement, ‘Europeans are stronger together’ as a given, one that brooks no counter arguments.
She should read Christopher Caldwell’s on Christophe Guilluy (see The French, Coming Apart), and maybe then she’d tell at least a broader story. She seems to typify the metropolitan disdain for those who oppose globalism. Here’s Caldwell:
In France, political correctness is more than a ridiculous set of opinions; it’s also—and primarily—a tool of government coercion. Not only does it tilt any political discussion in favor of one set of arguments; it also gives the ruling class a doubt-expelling myth that provides a constant boost to morale and esprit de corps, much as class systems did in the days before democracy.
Kauffman notes that 8 of 11 candidates for president in the first round were anti-EU, or leaning that way, and that crop garnered 49.6% of the vote. The rural and poor, who live outside the major cities, and for whom the benefits of globalism have been denied, reject the aspirational chest thumping about so-called open society. Macron’s – and Kauffman’s – appeals to a more ‘open’, globalist France sound good to the upwardly mobile in the major cities of France, but don’t sound the same in the hinterlands.
Six missions after Apollo 11 amazed the world by going to the moon, Apollo 17 was the last trip.
It fell off the cultural radar. Flying to the moon, driving around and getting back safely wasn't interesting enough, apparently.
And the miracle of the internet, which connects billions of people, instantly, is something we all take for granted after less than a generation.
Is it any wonder that your magnificent Facebook post or clever tweet isn't racking up ever more likes?
Christopher Caldwell subtitles his City Journal piece about Christophe Guilluy A social thinker illuminates his country’s populist divide. This is someone I have never heard of, perhaps since his several books have not been translated from the French, yet. But Guilluy seems to be something like Paul Mason in this rejection of the industrial era’s left versus right dialectic, and instead finding a cleavage between the globalist, urban elite – whether conservative or liberal – and the rural, disenfranchised working class.
At the heart of Guilluy’s inquiry is globalization. Internationalizing the division of labor has brought significant economic efficiencies. But it has also brought inequalities unseen for a century, demographic upheaval, and cultural disruption. Now we face the question of what—if anything—we should do about it.
A process that Guilluy calls métropolisation has cut French society in two. In 16 dynamic urban areas (Paris, Lyon, Marseille, Aix-en-Provence, Toulouse, Lille, Bordeaux, Nice, Nantes, Strasbourg, Grenoble, Rennes, Rouen, Toulon, Douai-Lens, and Montpellier), the world’s resources have proved a profitable complement to those found in France. These urban areas are home to all the country’s educational and financial institutions, as well as almost all its corporations and the many well-paying jobs that go with them. Here, too, are the individuals—the entrepreneurs and engineers and CEOs, the fashion designers and models, the film directors and chefs and other “symbolic analysts,” as Robert Reich once called them—who shape the country’s tastes, form its opinions, and renew its prestige. Cheap labor, tariff-free consumer goods, and new markets of billions of people have made globalization a windfall for such prosperous places. But globalization has had no such galvanizing effect on the rest of France. Cities that were lively for hundreds of years—Tarbes, Agen, Albi, Béziers—are now, to use Guilluy’s word, “desertified,” haunted by the empty storefronts and blighted downtowns that Rust Belt Americans know well.
Guilluy doubts that anyplace exists in France’s new economy for working people as we’ve traditionally understood them. Paris offers the most striking case. As it has prospered, the City of Light has stratified, resembling, in this regard, London or American cities such as New York and San Francisco. It’s a place for millionaires, immigrants, tourists, and the young, with no room for the median Frenchman. Paris now drives out the people once thought of as synonymous with the city.
Yet economic opportunities for those unable to prosper in Paris are lacking elsewhere in France. Journalists and politicians assume that the stratification of France’s flourishing metropoles results from a glitch in the workings of globalization. Somehow, the rich parts of France have failed to impart their magical formula to the poor ones. Fixing the problem, at least for certain politicians and policy experts, involves coming up with a clever shortcut: perhaps, say, if Romorantin had free wireless, its citizens would soon find themselves wealthy, too. Guilluy disagrees. For him, there’s no reason to expect that Paris (and France’s other dynamic spots) will generate a new middle class or to assume that broad-based prosperity will develop elsewhere in the country (which happens to be where the majority of the population live). If he is right, we can understand why every major Western country has seen the rise of political movements taking aim at the present system.
Guilluy takes on the manifold layers of ‘political correctness’, and suggests that the manipulation of what can and cannot be spoken of, and in what terms, is a means to control discourse:
In France, political correctness is more than a ridiculous set of opinions; it’s also—and primarily—a tool of government coercion. Not only does it tilt any political discussion in favor of one set of arguments; it also gives the ruling class a doubt-expelling myth that provides a constant boost to morale and esprit de corps, much as class systems did in the days before democracy. People tend to snicker when the question of political correctness is raised: its practitioners because no one wants to be thought politically correct; and its targets because no one wants to admit to being coerced. But it determines the current polarity in French politics. Where you stand depends largely on whether you believe that antiracism is a sincere response to a genuine upsurge of public hatred or an opportunistic posture for elites seeking to justify their rule.
Guilluy is ambivalent on the question. He sees deep historical and economic processes at work behind the evolution of France’s residential spaces. “There has been no plan to ‘expel the poor,’ no conspiracy,” he writes. “Just a strict application of market principles.” But he is moving toward a more politically engaged view that the rhetoric of an “open society” is “a smokescreen meant to hide the emergence of a closed society, walled off for the benefit of the upper classes.”
I hope someone will take on the task of translating Guilluy, or at least that more English observers will dig into his thought and writing. At the very least, I will be using his metropolitanism and considering his take on the changes below the surface in France and other industrialized nations in the postnormal.
PS Guy Sorman has an additional article at City Journal, A New Political Spectrum, addressing the notion of a new political realignment along open versus closed society instead of the old left versus right.
The ‘#Resistance’ is moving beyond improvised demonstrations and shouting down politicians at town halls, and developing 21st century tools to deepen and broaden opposition to Trump and his movement:
For the past several election cycles, the major parties have sought to hedge against the fickle feelings of the electorate with cold, hard statistics. Data has become at least as prized as a powerful stump speech for turning out voters. Now the #resistance is getting its own number-crunchers.
Flippable has emerged as one of the darlings of the movement, founded on the conviction that progressives need to pick their battles wisely—that is, where the data tells them they have the best chance of winning. Founded by three former Hillary Clinton campaign staffers devastated by the election results, Flippable crowdsources funding to help turn red districts blue.
Right now, the nonprofit is targeting special elections for state legislative seats, such as a recent state senate race in Delaware for which Flippable raised $130,000. (Their candidate won.) Because such elections tend to pop up in isolation, Flippable can focus on them closely. Choosing which races to target becomes much tougher when, say, 100 races happen at once, as will be the case with Virginia’s House of Delegates election this November. It will become tougher still in 2018 when thousands of state legislative seats will be up for grabs across the country.
To prepare for the onslaught, Flippable has just released its own predictive model to pinpoint which districts it believes are the most competitive for Democrats (the most “flippable”). Now, it’s testing the model out by choosing five Virginia state house races for its community of 50,000 donors to target via a political action committee set up by Flippable. The approach sounds wonky in theory. In practice, it means Flippable is giving grassroots donors access to the kind of sophisticated data science typically only deployed by establishment institutions like the Democratic National Committee or the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee.
Until now, contributing to these races through the Democratic party has been a kind of “black box,” says Catherine Vaughan, co-founder of Flippable. “They might say, ‘Give to this umbrella organization, and we’ll allocate the funds,‘” Vaughan says. Donors have no way of knowing whether it’s polls, personality, or backdoor politicking leading the party to back one candidate over another. At a time when American trust in institutions is at an all-time low, Flippable’s founders want to bring transparency to the process.
Flippable is focusing on state elections, in part because state legislatures control redistricting, which can lead to gerrymandering so that GOP candidates can benefit in state and national elections. Likewsie, they control voter ID laws, and voter registration.
All politics is local, in the final analysis. So they are focusing there, first. Because anger isn’t enough, as Lapowsky said.
Krugman pulls the pants down on the shambling zombie voodoo economics that Trump and the GOP are using to advance tax cuts for the rich:
History offers not a shred of support for faith in the pro-growth effects of tax cuts.
Oh, and let’s not forget recent experiences at the state level. Sam Brownback, governor of Kansas, slashed taxes in what he called a “real live experiment” in conservative fiscal policy. But the growth he promised never came, while a fiscal crisis did. At the same time, Jerry Brown’s California raised taxes, leading to proclamations from the right that the state was committing “economic suicide”; in fact, the state has experienced impressive employment and economic growth.
In other words, supply-side economics is a classic example of a zombie doctrine: a view that should have been killed by the evidence long ago, but just keeps shambling along, eating politicians’ brains. Why, then, does it persist? Because it offers a rationale for lower taxes on the wealthy — and as Upton Sinclair noted long ago, it’s difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding it.
Still, Donald Trump was supposed to be different. Guess what: he isn’t.
He’s no populist, despite adopting Bannon’s rhetoric to delude the gullible and disenchanted, and now he’s being coopted by mainstream GOP doctrine. How will they square Trumptax with his supposed populist policy direction? He will simply tell the Big Lie: he will say that cutting taxes on the rich will benefit the little people. He will say the money will trickle down, as the rich and the corporations will be free to make investments, hiring more workers, and gearing up to compete. He’ll say Reagan made him do it.
But it will all be revealed to be the Big Lie, apparent to anyone who wants to look closely at the results. But, you watch, as we get to the midterm elections, and Trump’s policies are increasingly understood to be hollow and shallow, he will find other reasons, other enemies, to blame for his failed policies. Perhaps he will blame his own team and the mainstream Republicans that have coopted him? Start listening for this theme, where Trump begins to hint that if these policies don’t work, it’s the fault of congress and his economic advisors.
Krugman wonders about Trump in this cage:
The fact is that the Trump agenda so far is absolutely indistinguishable from what one might have expected from, say, Ted Cruz. It’s just voodoo with extra bad math. Was that what his supporters expected?