Sunday, 17 September 2017 - 7:11pm

Published by Matthew Davidson on Sun, 17/09/2017 - 7:11pm in

This week, I have been mostly reading:

  • My “Nonviolent” Stance Was Met With Heavily Armed Men — Logan Rimel of Radical Discipleship: I never felt safer than when I was near antifa. They came to defend people, to put their bodies between these armed white supremacists and those of us who could not or would not fight. They protected a lot of people that day, including groups of clergy. My safety (and safety is relative in these situations) was dependent upon their willingness to commit violence. In effect, I outsourced the sin of my violence to them. I asked them to get their hands dirty so I could keep mine clean. Do you understand? They took that up for me, for the clergy they shielded, for those of us in danger. We cannot claim to be pacifists or nonviolent when our safety requires another to commit violence, and we ask for that safety.
  • The First White President — Ta-Nehisi Coates in the Atlantic: Trump is the first president to have served in no public capacity before ascending to his perch. But more telling, Trump is also the first president to have publicly affirmed that his daughter is a “piece of ass.” The mind seizes trying to imagine a black man extolling the virtues of sexual assault on tape (“When you’re a star, they let you do it”), fending off multiple accusations of such assaults, immersed in multiple lawsuits for allegedly fraudulent business dealings, exhorting his followers to violence, and then strolling into the White House. But that is the point of white supremacy—to ensure that that which all others achieve with maximal effort, white people (particularly white men) achieve with minimal qualification. Barack Obama delivered to black people the hoary message that if they work twice as hard as white people, anything is possible. But Trump’s counter is persuasive: Work half as hard as black people, and even more is possible.
  • Humans are intrinsically anti neo-liberal — Bill Mitchell: One of the great casualties of this neo-liberal dark age that we are living through at present and which began in the 1980s (if not a little earlier) is that society has been subjugated to economy. In the 1980s, we began to live in economies rather than societies or communities.
  • Why Economists Have to Embrace Complexity to Avoid Disaster — Evonomics publishes an awe-inspiring excerpt from Steve Keen's new book: The reason that aggregating individual downward sloping demand curve[s] results in a market demand curve that can have any shape at all is simple to understand, but—for those raised in the mainstream tradition—very difficult to accept. The individual demand curve is derived by assuming that relative prices can change without affecting the consumer’s income. This assumption can’t be made when you consider all of society—which you must do when aggregating individual demand to derive a market demand curve—because changing relative prices will change relative incomes as well.
  • Capital is failing Australia not labour — Leith van Onselen at MacroBusiness: In 1974, the share of TFI taken by wages was 62%, whereas as at December 2016 it had fallen to just 53% – a 9% decline. By contrast, the share of TFI taken by profits was 17% in 1974, whereas as at December 2016 it had risen to 26% – a 9% increase. Moreover, the fall in workers’ share of TFI has nothing to do with productivity. […] Australian labour productivity (real GDP per hour worked) has risen by just under 80% since 1978, whereas real average compensation per employee has risen by just 28% over the same period.
  • An Open Letter to My Online Student — Peyton Burgess at McSweeny's Internet Tendency: Did you get my email regarding the Extra Credit assignment? You could benefit from the Extra Credit assignment. Many of you could benefit from it. Nobody has emailed me yet to say how generous it was of me to offer the Extra Credit assignment. Online Student, you have never responded, and I fear you never will.
  • Donald Trump has just met with the new leader of the secular world – Pope Francis — Robert Fisk, the Independent: For more and more, the Good Old Pope is coming to represent what the Trumps and Mays will not say: that the West has a moral duty to end its wars in the Middle East, to stop selling weapons to the killers of the Middle East and to treat the people of the Middle East with justice and dignity.
  • Meet the CamperForce, Amazon's Nomadic Retiree Army — Jessica Bruder in Wired: Many of the workers who joined Camper­Force were around traditional retirement age, in their sixties or even seventies. They were glad to have a job, even if it involved walking as many as 15 miles a day on the concrete floor of a warehouse. From a hiring perspective, the RVers were a dream labor force. They showed up on demand and dispersed just before Christmas in what the company cheerfully called a “taillight parade.” They asked for little in the way of benefits or protections. And though warehouse jobs were physically taxing—not an obvious fit for older bodies—recruiters came to see Camper­Force workers’ maturity as an asset. These were diligent, responsible employees. Their attendance rates were excellent.
  • The Dystopia We Signed Up For — Chelsea Manning in the New York TImes: The real power of mass data collection lies in the hand-tailored algorithms capable of sifting, sorting and identifying patterns within the data itself. When enough information is collected over time, governments and corporations can use or abuse those patterns to predict future human behavior. Our data establishes a “pattern of life” from seemingly harmless digital residue like cellphone tower pings, credit card transactions and web browsing histories.