Divide and conquer with aggregate statistics

The Atlantic has long been on my list of faux left publications. Nevertheless, because it was getting a lot of comment, I read the piece by Matthew Stewart, The 9.9 Percent Is the New American Aristocracy

I found it to be a blatant attempt to divide the leftwing, and to give more credibility to rightwing stereotypes about "liberals", by using aggregate statistics. That is, using averages and correlation to imply causation and intent.

This is the way the widely derided neoclassical economists think. Their DSGE model reduces the entire economy to one rational worker.

The DSGE model populates its simplified economy with exactly one single combined worker, owner, consumer, everything else who plans ahead carefully, lives forever; and one important consequence of this representative-agent assumption is that there are no conflicts of interest, no incompatible expectations, no deceptions. This all-purpose decision maker essentially runs the economy according to its own preferences—not directly, of course, the economy has to operate through generally well-behaved markets and prices.

Robert Solow, Building a science of economics for the real world

This is exactly what Mr. Stewart has done. He has used statistics to create an "average" professional worker, and then he imputes motives and agency to that statistical construct.

The goal of the article is to blame the so-called 9.9%, which I will refer to as the "professional class", for failing to stop the machinations of the 0.01% ("the elites"). The purpose of the article is to crack the 1%-99% meme, to break the solidarity that threatens the the elites. The very use of "9.9%" is an unsubtle reference to the meme under attack. It would be very good for the elites to have the working class hate the professional class - instead of the elites who are the driving force behind the inequality. It would be "let's you and him fight".

In fact, historians and statisticians have long noted that 90-10 distribution pop up in many places in all kinds of societies. For example, there was actually a 90-10 rule put in place with the original GI Bill. In Victorian England, the "middle class" was 10% of the population, the same collection of doctors, lawyers, and bureaucrats that Mr. Stewart cites. 90-10 (sometimes 85-15) class divides seem to be a sociological law of nature. Instead, in his title, he conflates being a well-paid house n***** servant of the aristocracy with being the aristocracy.

People on this site are well aware that it took the active involvement of the government to create the very large middle class of the New Deal/Great Society era. Now that the neoliberals have trashed government, society is reverting to the 90-10 Victorian distribution. Mr. Stewart wants to blame that on the professional classes, instead of the elites who dynamited our government.

Mr. Stewart's goal is to impute malign agency to what is merely a sturdy statistical fact. If you are at all math oriented, you have heard of the "unfair subway" problem. (If not, read the two paragraph problem/answer here.) Mr. Stewart wants the reader to blame the professional classes for working within the constraints of the train schedule written by the elites.

Mr. Stewart sounds like a Republican when he goes after "tax breaks", again blaming the professionals while ignoring the massive tax giveaways to the rich and to corporations.

Our false protests about paying all the taxes, however, sound like songs of innocence compared with our mastery of the art of having the taxes returned to us. The income-tax system that so offended my grandfather has had the unintended effect of creating a highly discreet category of government expenditures. They’re called “tax breaks,” but it’s better to think of them as handouts that spare the government the inconvenience of collecting the money in the first place. In theory, tax expenditures can be used to support any number of worthy social purposes, and a few of them, such as the earned income-tax credit, do actually go to those with a lower income. But more commonly, because their value is usually a function of the amount of money individuals have in the first place, and those individuals’ marginal tax rates, the benefits flow uphill.

Let us count our blessings: Every year, the federal government doles out tax expenditures through deductions for retirement savings (worth $137 billion in 2013); employer-sponsored health plans ($250 billion); mortgage-interest payments ($70 billion); and, sweetest of all, income from watching the value of your home, stock portfolio, and private-equity partnerships grow ($161 billion). In total, federal tax expenditures exceeded $900 billion in 2013. That’s more than the cost of Medicare, more than the cost of Medicaid, more than the cost of all other federal safety-net programs put together. And—such is the beauty of the system—51 percent of those handouts went to the top quintile of earners, and 39 percent to the top decile.

Gee, Mr. Stewart, maybe you should look at how rollback of government regulations created the real estate bubble and enriched the banksters, instead of blaming citizens for using tools that were created under different circumstances and frozen in their form by a completely dysfunctional, lobbyist-run government. Maybe you should look at how the deliberate lack of regulation has driven the price of drugs and surgery to ridiculous levels not found anywhere else in the first world, pricing insurance out of sight. Maybe you should consider that if the government hadn't allowed corporations to shirk their pension obligations through restructuring and bankruptcy, people wouldn't need to rely on IRAs.

But, no. Mr. Stewart blames the top bit of the former middle class for having sufficient means to use mechanisms that were long since in place. Mr. Stewart implies that what little is left of transfer payments from the elites should be eliminated. How Republican / Libertarian of him.

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I will be honest. The article real set me off, because I felt that I was being caricatured, badly, by statistical gamesmanship. According to his statistics, before I retired, I was almost in his statistically defined professional class. Therefore, by his strawman "average" professional, I must have all the attitudes, biases, and greed that he imputes to the average.

In reality, I was a scientific professional, but I didn't make enough money by his definition. Of course, some coworkers and many bosses did meet them. I have acquaintances who live in Brookline; and, yeah, it is toney. But, other than the astronomical housing prices, the ambiance of the place hardly makes me run for torches and pitchforks. Its just a rich suburb where the roads are still well-paved, and the school system still works.

But to Mr. Stewart, its an evil "golden zipcode". To drive that point home, he adds "kitchen remodeler" to the "latte drinking, sushi eating, Volvo driving" smear of liberals.

If you do run into a neighbor, you might have a conversation like this: “Our kitchen remodel went way over budget. We had to fight just to get the tile guy to show up!”

Gee, thanks for caricaturing me. Any time I needed to remodel a thirty year old kitchen that was falling apart, I'm apparently an entitled asshole who is insenstive to the people he invites into his home. And, this is one of the few instances where Mr. Stewart actually deigns to offer us a (derogatory and imaginary) vignette instead of more statistical manipulation. With this attitude, its no wonder he stuck to statistics. Since Mr. Stewart goes into great detail about his family background, I would venture a guess that his sneering at professionals represents his own resentments, not mine.

Finally (and most people's eyes will glaze over), as a mathematically literate person, I recognize the game he is playing. He is taking advantage of the "cognitive illusions" uncovered by the famous psychologists, Tversky and Kahneman

Stewart repeatedly deploys the conjunction fallacy to impute more than the data implies. There are also many uses of "loss aversion" to rile up the losers in society. The constant use of these well known psychological games makes it difficult to directly target what is wrong with this article, and that is why it is so dangerous.

The problem with the article is not that the facts Mr. Stewart manufactures; its the motivations that he ascribes. He is busy blackening the name of ALL professionals, when many of them are of the anti-Hillary, progressive stripe. He trashes their concerns constantly as nothing more than self-serving hypocrisy.

With localized wealth comes localized political power, and not just of the kind that shows up in voting booths. Which brings us back to the depopulation paradox. Given the social and cultural capital that flows through wealthy neighborhoods, is it any wonder that we can defend our turf in the zoning wars? We have lots of ways to make that sound public-spirited. It’s all about saving the local environment, preserving the historic character of the neighborhood, and avoiding overcrowding. In reality, it’s about hoarding power and opportunity inside the walls of our own castles. This is what aristocracies do.

Wow, let's reinterpret every good intention of the left as nothing more than pretentious selfishness. Yeah, Climate Change is all about the "local environment". Stopping fracking is all about the local environment. What selective attention!

All in all, Mr. Stewart sets out to submerge any good intentions of parts of the so-called liberal citizenry in the worst babbitry of their suburban abodes. Given the length of the rebuttal needed to call him out, I would say he has succeeded in his goal.

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The Aspie Corner's picture

And charity is the opiate of rich SOBs like Bill Gates, The Koch Bros, George Soros, etc. I have my own problems with segments of the professional class, mainly Human Resources and their shitty practices in terms of hiring and wage/benefit setting in favor of unscrupulous executives and greedy shareholders, but the professional class as a whole isn't that far up on the ladder above most workers.

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Modern education is little more than toeing the line for the capitalist pigs.

Guerrilla Liberalism won't liberate the US or the world from the iron fist of capital.

arendt's picture

@The Aspie Corner

That is a point worth repeating. To the super-rich, professionals, janitors, what's the difference? We pay both groups chump change (for us) to provide services.

This attempt to promote the professional class as aristocrats is garbage. Mr. Stewart is stoking the very resentment he purports to deplore.

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Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal's picture

@The Aspie Corner They don't have the power. One should always look for who has the actual power, just like one should always follow the money.

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Actually, the issue at stake is patriotism. You must return to your world and put an end to the Commies. All it takes are a few good men.
--Q

Exit polls not involving George W. Bush or Hillary Clinton tend to be quite accurate.
--Doug Hatlem

dance you monster's picture

Let me preface this comment by saying I'm from that 10% class culturally, though not so financially (my career was in non-profit institutions of learning), just so everyone knows where I am coming from.

To dive in, you take apart Mr. Stewart's statistical analysis rather well, making it clear that his argument suffers the same drawbacks as any statistical analysis will: it relies on a mean of all who are analyzed at the expense of the specific deviations of any individual case. Many individuals within or near Stewart's threshold of 10% will differ from the mean and circumstances and motivations he ascribes to the whole. We are not robots.

That said, it seems to me you, arendt, are going to the opposite extreme rather defensively. And I do commend your honesty in establishing why the article ticked you off. Just because some of the individuals analyzed do not conform to the blanket statement about the group does not mean that the statistical conclusions are unsound in the context of the model, but only that the model is flawed, as every statistical model is.

That, too, does not mean that statistical analyses should be discarded altogether. They should just be understood to have their limitations.

So what do we conclude about Stewart's summaries from his investigation?

I don't have statistics to back me up, just a heckuvabunch of decades of living here for anecdotal observations, but from those I am far less inclined than you seem to be to dismiss the agency of that 10%, not just the 0.1%, in bringing us where we stand today. That 10% was, as you note, responding to the opportunities that were presented to them by the 0.1%, but by accepting and using and defending those opportunities (which includes the whole meritocratic structure they climbed) the 10%, the professional class as a whole, did cement those opportunities in place, largely for themselves and others like themselves instead of for all in the society. The 10% (collectively) locked in what the 0.1% wanted. There was agency in that. Indeed, that's what many of us argue is wrong about the Clintons of this nation: in their desire to climb above a middle class, they acted to reduce the middle class and crush the lower classes. I'm not inclined to give them a pass for that as just responding to what the Kochs of this world offered them.

This is a statistical argument, which is flawed by definition when it seeks uniform patterns out of a cacophony of disparate individual responses. Yup, Stewart's article is flawed. But again, I personally am of the conviction that a lot more than just a few billionaires are culpable in bringing us to a place where social cohesion and simple human survival are threatened. Different folks are culpable in different ways and to different degrees, but we all have some piece of the blame to share. So what do we do with that now?

Just my $0.02.

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arendt's picture

@dance you monster

I don't have statistics to back me up, just a heckuvabunch of decades of living here for anecdotal observations, but from those I am far less inclined than you seem to be to dismiss the agency of that 10%, not just the 0.1%, in bringing us where we stand today. That 10% was, as you note, responding to the opportunities that were presented to them by the 0.1%, but by accepting and using and defending those opportunities (which includes the whole meritocratic structure they climbed) the 10%, the professional class as a whole, did cement those opportunities in place, largely for themselves and others like themselves instead of for all in the society. The 10% (collectively) locked in what the 0.1% wanted. There was agency in that. Indeed, that's what many of us argue is wrong about the Clintons of this nation: in their desire to climb above a middle class, they acted to reduce the middle class and crush the lower classes. I'm not inclined to give them a pass for that as just responding to what the Kochs of this world offered them.

I completely get where you are coming from. When I first read the article, before I could put my finger on how I was being manipulated, I said similar things to myself.

But, the whole point of the article is to make ALL professionals (I refuse to buy into this divisive 10% meme.) into Clintonites. The whole progressive movement over the last ten years has been about calling out the neoliberal cabal that the Clintons head. This has been in the face of the constant barrage from not only the VRWC, but also the lamestream media, that everything the Clintons have done is "liberal". This article is more of the same. It refuses to disentangle progressives from neoliberals.

If he had phrased it about the professionals who support Clinton (or the ones who blatantly support Trump), I would be completely on board.

The 10% (collectively) locked in what the 0.1% wanted. There was agency in that. Indeed, that's what many of us argue is wrong about the Clintons of this nation

I disagree about agency. My question for you is:

By what means could the professional class have resisted the move to inequality?

It is a "belling the cat" problem. (See the oft-quoted Princeton study that says that only the elites opinions matter in the creation of laws.) The creation of toney suburbs was driven by the bubble in housing prices, which was driven by getting all kinds of regulations repealed, which was enabled because we are not a democracy, but an oligarchy. The very definition of oligarchy prevents us from claiming that it could be as big as 10%. The use of the word "aristocracy" ascribes power to people who don't have any in an oligarchy.

I recall a 1994 Time magazine cover that talked about how marketers had decided to eliminate the middle from products. They had Nieman Marcus and WalMart. Everything in between was toast - Sears, Penneys, etc. It was the same in so many parts of life. The choice of being in the middle was just removed. People could pick (if they had the means) rich or poor, but not middle. This was the time when "gated communities" got a lot of publicity. Funny, not one word about gated communities (full of paranoid greedheads) from Mr. Stewart. He only has time to pillory people who live in traditional suburbs that mutated slowly into the provocation they are today.

I agree with all the bad things Stewart and you say about the neoliberal assholes who revel in their relative richness. I just refuse to be made responsible for them. Its similar to the US taxpayer being on the hook to bail out the banks in 2009. The elites made the mess, and they blamed it on the suckers they had fleeced. Then they fleeced them again.

Yeah, the professional class are selfish. This is hardly a new or leftwing phenomenon. Lawyers and doctors have been around for a long time, but Stewart is using them to smear decent folks who are basically being made an offer they can't refuse: live in a nice place but shut up politically; or fight the elites, and we will fire your ass and you will soon live in a ghetto.

I think the whole argument about agency leaves out the issue of implicit threat. Is a coerced choice a choice? You might argue that all the professionals have to lose are some perks. I would argue that, outside these toney places, America is rapidly descending to Third World conditions. The threat that your kids will grow up in a ghetto, get bad schooling, etc. is a real threat; and it keeps the more progressive minded of the professionals from acting on their beliefs.

Anyway, an interesting discussion, which could continue. I have to run errands, but will be back later.

Thanks for your contribution.

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dance you monster's picture

@arendt

You ask, rightly I think, . . .

By what means could the professional class have resisted the move to inequality?

My answer: by rejecting it.

Every one of the persons who accepted the ladder they were presented made an individual choice. The explosion of students seeking professional degrees from the mid-1970s on, conforming or hewing to a proposed pathway instead of using college as a place to explore other ideas and perspectives, wasn't forced upon them all of a sudden. Yeah, student loans made that choice more pragmatic (the perfect place to slip in that loaded adjective, I suggest). And those individuals who elected (another loaded word choice) to reject that ladder, or to climb it only to become a pro bono lawyer or country doctor instead of the "successful" versions of those professions, made a choice, too. That's agency. By choosing the less successful, more morally defensible path, some people paid a price: less wealth. And they were in the minority by far. Most who pursued professional degrees in the '70s and thereafter did so for the money and "position" (which is mostly about money). It's why we used to call them sellouts. You don't hear that term much anymore since almost everybody became a sellout.

It was possible to resist, either by rejecting the ladder altogether or by using the platform it provided to subvert the intentions the 0.1% had in putting that ladder there. I know. I was offered that ladder, and because the ladder I was offered was the extra-special one to influence, I was given "the talk." An actual talk, where I was made to understand that I should not deviate in the slightest from the expected path that ladder offered. You don't think TPTB will do these histrionic things, but they do. It was creepy. Long story short, I climbed that ladder, not very non-deviationally, and at the top I subverted things much more and paid the price. That's why I am culturally of the "elite" but not financially so. No regrets, though, and I'm doing something else more sustainable now. That subversion at the top was an important thing to do, and it made a little but valuable impact. I'm doing more of a global scale now, with my new projects, but each path had its purpose. My point is, I know the hurdles and the traps that people face as they approach and choose to climb that ladder or not, and it is a choice, one that each individual defines his or her life and values in making. That is agency. And individual agency explored by many individuals becomes collective agency that can bring change. That's what change is. I don't think we can take any choice for granted as not being agency in greater outcomes.

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arendt's picture

@dance you monster

Every one of the persons who accepted the ladder they were presented made an individual choice. The explosion of students seeking professional degrees from the mid-1970s on, conforming or hewing to a proposed pathway instead of using college as a place to explore other ideas and perspectives, wasn't forced upon them all of a sudden.

In what follows, please keep in mind that I am what economist call a "strucuralist" or an "institutionalist". That is, I think that the governing structure does impact individual choices. In economics that means I do not buy the idea that laissez faire idea of "individual choice" is all one must consider.

The choice you are referring to ("conforming to a proposed pathway") underwent drastic revision over a period of ten or more years. In the 1960s, there were several almost-zero tuition colleges and universities - CCNY and U. California come to mind. By 1980, when the reactionary wave got up speed, those places became a lot less liberal and a lot more expensive. But they didn't put up a billboard saying so. That institutional change matters to me. In regard to your point about choice, it says some people signed up for one thing, and by the time they finished it was something else. The course change was slow enough to fool an entire generation.

Some places did try to preserve the liberal idea of education as broadening the mind for a least a few years, before they corporatized the university. So, while what you say is true in some cases in the 1970s, it is untrue in others. I myself went to a quality state university for grad school; and I never felt any pressure to do anything but complete my degree. No one told me I must work or think in any particular way. Of course, I was in science, not in social studies (meant generically ala C.P. Snow, not meant as a slur.)

And those individuals who elected (another loaded word choice) to reject that ladder, or to climb it only to become a pro bono lawyer or country doctor instead of the "successful" versions of those professions, made a choice, too. That's agency. By choosing the less successful, more morally defensible path, some people paid a price: less wealth. And they were in the minority by far. Most who pursued professional degrees in the '70s and thereafter did so for the money and "position" (which is mostly about money).

I don't think this addresses my question, because I don't think that dropping out stops the elites. The Japanese have a saying:

You can't get to the moon by climbing a tree.

It means that starting out in the right direction does not guarantee you will reach your destination. In the present discussion, I don't think that dropping out, even millions of people dropping out, would by itself have stopped the elite takeover.*** Why? Because the number of leadership/active positions on offer to run the elites' institutions is tiny compared to the number of workers. (This has gotten worse and worse as computers have gotten more powerful.)

***Would a million people shooting rifles at B-52s at 40,000 feet change things? No, because the bombers are strategic (i.e., institutional) and untouchable by non-strategic means.***

The elites would still have all the sellouts they needed to run things. That is, millions of dropouts would not have affected the institution of elite dominance. To do that would require an organized opposition, a program. But that is exactly what the elite proved itself quite capable of suppressing. Yeah, the dropouts can be country doctors; but they can't affect national policy by doing just that.

Another angle on this small minority needed - ponerology. That is, as businesses and governments (those institutions again) became more bureaucratic, impersonal, and (most importantly) fluid, it became easier for sociopaths to get ahead. So, small number needed to run the organization plus sociopaths gunning for the top positions, and you get the kind of shithole institutions we have today.

Until the 1980s, Congress was a club. Members socialized with each other, knew each other for decades, cut deals, and knew who was a shit. Many companies were family owned. Corporations promoted from within. All those institutional factors mitigated against the kind of selfishness we are both decrying. And they all got destroyed in the go-go 80s, with corporate raiders and Newt Gingrich-style take-no-prisoners politics.

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To go back to the original point about agency (versus institutions), here's another question:

Why are professionals who use the financial breaks on offer somehow "immoral" (bad choice of words, but in a rush) while working class people who shop at WalMart are merely "unknowingly working against their own interests"?

That is, is Stewart implying that it takes an money to be immoral? He does not address the issue of what the workers would do if they had access to tax breaks.

In my experience, Americans have embraced capitalist ideology across the board. "Its a Wonderful Life" is a museum piece. Most people just want to grab the best deal on offer, and also are too busy to be making abstract judgments in the midst of their hectic daily lives. To blame professionals more than grocery clerks for failing to have the 50,000 foot view seems like divide and conquer manipulation to me.

---------------

I was given "the talk." An actual talk, where I was made to understand that I should not deviate in the slightest from the expected path that ladder offered. You don't think TPTB will do these histrionic things, but they do. It was creepy. Long story short, I climbed that ladder, not very non-deviationally, and at the top I subverted things much more and paid the price. That's why I am culturally of the "elite" but not financially so. No regrets, though, and I'm doing something else more sustainable now.

That is an amazing first person story. I commend you for being a human being inside an inhuman system. That is exactly the kind of institutional work that must be done to bring these people down.

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Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal's picture

@arendt If Americans love the status quo so much, why were we so susceptible to the Hope and Change speech? And why did so many fall away from Obama when it became evident that he wasn't going to change anything? If capitalism, at least in its current heartless and world-destroying version, is so popular, then why did Bernie Sanders' campaign take off beyond his or anybody's ability to predict? How could that guy, with no institutional support, no big money, no name recognition, little charisma and less physical attractiveness, end up coming within an ace of beating Hillary Clinton on one speech? All he did was give the same speech over and over again. That's all it took. What was at the heart of that speech? A critique of the current capitalism and its control over government.

This reading of the American people would have been more accurate in the 1980s. It has been inaccurate for over a decade now, possibly more.

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Actually, the issue at stake is patriotism. You must return to your world and put an end to the Commies. All it takes are a few good men.
--Q

Exit polls not involving George W. Bush or Hillary Clinton tend to be quite accurate.
--Doug Hatlem

arendt's picture

@Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal

I think this is my comment that you are replying to (only thing I don't like about c99p is how hard it is to figure out what is a response to what):

In what follows, please keep in mind that I am what economist call a "strucuralist" or an "institutionalist". That is, I think that the governing structure does impact individual choices. In economics that means I do not buy the idea that laissez faire idea of "individual choice" is all one must consider.

As a structuralist, I would say individual Americans want the things you say they want, and try to get them, for example via Bernie. I would say it is the institutions(e.g., DNC) that block the will of the people.

I don't get where you are coming from. It could be a simple misunderstanding.

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Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal's picture

@arendt I must have responded to something other than what I intended. Too late to fix it now. Sorry!

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Actually, the issue at stake is patriotism. You must return to your world and put an end to the Commies. All it takes are a few good men.
--Q

Exit polls not involving George W. Bush or Hillary Clinton tend to be quite accurate.
--Doug Hatlem

@dance you monster Sounds stupid, doesn't it?

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dance you monster's picture

@The Voice In the Wilderness

That sounds stupid because it's a false choice, and you know that, so why proffer it in an otherwise reasonable and hopefully insightful conversation? You bring the level down with such nonsense. and why make c99 a place of lowered discourse?

Anyone who had the intelligence and fortitude to become a doctor could (a) apply those skills where they'd do the most good regardless of income to the practitioner, or (b) find another thing to do besides janitoring. There are more than two career paths in this world.

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@dance you monster
I have, after the corporations flooded the market with H1-B programmers. It's a lot better to work in an air conditioned office wearing a tie and sitting in a chair than wearing a coverall in a hot plant with your greasy fingers fumbling with a sharp gear trying to insert it while lying on your back inside a machine. So don't tell me about false choices.

You can sneer at the professions all you want but they are not the right wingers. Blue collar workers are the right wingers.

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The Aspie Corner's picture

@The Voice In the Wilderness People with disabilities are deliberately kept out of the running for professional class jobs. Programs like Voc Rehab may offer things like Supported Employment, help with obtaining college degrees and some help with medical issues, but it ain't worth a damn because the pigs won't even give us a fair shake when the Supported Employment ends and the cameras go away.

I say this as someone who has been in and out of Voc Rehab many times throughout the past 16 years and having been through THREE different forms of Supported Employment, all with (supposedly) glowing reviews and references. But they said they couldn't hire me because I didn't have a drivers' license. If that doesn't smack of Ableism, I don't know what does.

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Modern education is little more than toeing the line for the capitalist pigs.

Guerrilla Liberalism won't liberate the US or the world from the iron fist of capital.

dance you monster's picture

@The Voice In the Wilderness

You ask if I have ever done manual labor. I was away from my keyboard today doing manual labor, thank you very much. I've been a carpenter in the distant past (some framing, mostly finish carpentry and cabinetmaking). I've also been a bartender, but that is not really manual labor in my mind; nevertheless, my laboring background made it easier to talk with working stiffs who were our principal customers. I have the highest respect for those who work with their hands. And now I am farming after a sort (the sustainable thing I mentioned, which is a fusion of farming and nurseryman with a global rescue thrust as the earth warms), as folks looking in on StudentofEarth's open threads would recall. Today, all day, I was clearing brush -- really, that is a thing, not just a pose by Republican presidents. Just me and the bugs and brush in the summer sun, on a weekend (when you were in air conditioning and shade online), as farming has no such thing as a day off. I'll be doing manual labor tomorrow, too.

Nowhere did I sneer at professions. I used to be a professional, and I still collaborate with professionals almost every day. Seems to me you are the one sneering at the working class, despising their manual labor, reducing their every activity or ambition to being a janitor.

This thread is old, and we are not adding anything useful since you made it about us; let's move on.

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@dance you monster
That you wanted to free the professionals so that they could do jobs that they really wanted.

I apologize for misreading. Print is not like a face to face discussion.

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Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal's picture

@The Voice In the Wilderness Are we pretending that we have the choice?

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Actually, the issue at stake is patriotism. You must return to your world and put an end to the Commies. All it takes are a few good men.
--Q

Exit polls not involving George W. Bush or Hillary Clinton tend to be quite accurate.
--Doug Hatlem

k9disc's picture

wielded to remove our sense of civil and human rights.

White Privilege is the full assumption of human and civil rights as outlined in the Constitution without impediment from authority and/or society. The idea of basic human rights and human dignity and full protection with freedom from molestation from the law is not a privilege. It is basic human rights and human dignity.

To label it "privilege" in the academic sense is fine, but to launch that loaded vehicle into the national dialogue and national fabric is probably not a good idea. It leads, directly, to crabs in a bucket.

White Privilege, as a weapon, hides the bogeyman and places targets on the backs of potential allies - allies who have some pull and sway with expanding demographics and economic and social power.

This piece (as you described it - too long and bullshitty for me to finish) seems to do the same, and also seems to do the same from the same POV and with the same manipulative intent.

I don't see how it fits strategically in politics from the Democrats, as this is their only constituency. It does fit Republican strategy, though, as it is prepping to make whipping boys out of the rich while leaving the wealthy out of the picture entirely.

Kind of like the weaponized White Privilege makes whipping boys out of the Bernie Bros and class conscious while conveniently leaving the political Establishment out of it.

@arendt

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“Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.” ~ Sun Tzu

arendt's picture

@k9disc

(other weaponized labels) hide the bogeyman and places targets on the backs of potential allies - allies who have some pull and sway with expanding demographics and economic and social power.

This piece (as you described it - too long and bullshitty for me to finish) seems to do the same, and also seems to do the same from the same POV and with the same manipulative intent.

----

I guess I have been lied to so many times, in ever more subtle and powerful ways, that I look at every public utterance (as opposed to private conversation) with an eye to who is speaking and whom they are trying to manipulate. I am happy to see I am not alone in finding this lengthy screed to be manipulative.

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13 users have voted.
Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal's picture

@k9disc k9, you have hit the proverbial nail on the head. When anti-racism movements started talking about privilege and ceased talking about rights, they became, wittingly or unwittingly, tools of the powerful. You'll notice how rarely rights are spoken of by any liberal movement these days. They appear not even to notice that their language--and thus their aims--have changed.

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7 users have voted.

Actually, the issue at stake is patriotism. You must return to your world and put an end to the Commies. All it takes are a few good men.
--Q

Exit polls not involving George W. Bush or Hillary Clinton tend to be quite accurate.
--Doug Hatlem

Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal's picture

@dance you monster @dance you monster I disagree with you, obviously. I'm not sure how you can believe that Rachel Maddow, for instance, has as much power as Warren Buffet, Lloyd Blankfein, or David Koch. It seems quite clear to me that they could smash her like a bug, just as it seems clear that she is their employee. That's true of a fair amount of the 10%. The .01% are their bosses. They are the managers; that means that the bosses are above them.

However, I do agree with you on this:

a lot more than just a few billionaires are culpable in bringing us to a place where social cohesion and simple human survival are threatened.

Certainly, that's true, and in most cases, those decisions were made in the 80s and early 90s, which is when our society was redesigned. I'm not actually trying to make a case for morally letting the upper-middles off the hook. I'm saying that arguments that emphasize the culpability of the upper-middles generally are trying to get the uppers off the hook, and in fact take them out of consideration entirely. An argument that talks about the 10% vs the 90% and spends its time talking about the managerial class has neatly ended the discussion of the people who actually own this society.

We could argue forever about how much agency the upper-middle class has, and whether or not it is their moral failings that have brought us to this pass. For me, the place where the rubber hits the road is this: the function of a managerial class is to take the heat off the boss and allow him to remain invisible. Therefore, whatever the faults of the managerial class are--and god knows I've seen a lot of them, residing as I do at the very bottom of that class--focusing our ire on them is not in our best interest. It is not in our best interest to allow the .01% to erase themselves from discourse. It is not in our best interest to allow the .01% to deflect blame onto others.

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6 users have voted.

Actually, the issue at stake is patriotism. You must return to your world and put an end to the Commies. All it takes are a few good men.
--Q

Exit polls not involving George W. Bush or Hillary Clinton tend to be quite accurate.
--Doug Hatlem

arendt's picture

@Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal

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3 users have voted.
dance you monster's picture

@Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal

I'm getting kinda tired of people misrepresenting my arguments to be nothing more than a foil for their own.

I do not let the 0.01% off the hook by noting that the 10% also have had agency. Some had such agency willingly, even gleefully. Those who were resigned to their circumstances still should not be let off with a "just following orders" defense. By the way, when you bring up Rachel M, her reportage noticeably shifted the same week as Markos's did, after a certain lunch they shared. At the time, I thought, "They just got 'the talk.'" I do hold Rachel accountable for her part in protecting the 0.01%. She's rich, doesn't need the money; she wants to be what she is.

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1 user has voted.
divineorder's picture

@dance you monster

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1 user has voted.

A truth of the nuclear age/climate change: we can no longer have endless war and survive on this planet. Oh sh*t.

arendt's picture

@dance you monster

It is the equivalent of "Bill Gates walks into a bar, and the average income is $1B." The aggregation is the original sin of the article.

I object to the lumping of BOTH ends of a very rapidly changing distribution into the same bucket. Any statistician doing a variance test or a t-test would reject this means of aggregating the data.

As CSTMS says, it is hiding the agency of the 0.01% behind the professional (house **gg**) class. And, as I say, it is trying to blame folks like me, who are not quite rich enough professionals, but who do despise the neoliberal assholes that make up the majority of the professional class.

For me, the whole argument is GIGO (garbage in, garbage out). Stewart draws an arbitrary bucket (well, not arbitrary, because he intends to create the false picture that CSTMS and I are arguing against from the two ends of the distribution) and then draws the conclusions he desires. Another purpose of Stewart's bad bucket is to erase the term neoliberal from the picture. These folks (and people like me) are some statistic (9.9%). They are not neoliberals. They are not even "professionals", which was my coinage. Stewart never once in ~15,000 words uses the word neoliberal. That ought to be a clue.

Can't you see that this 9.9% label is the equivalent of the store calling its workers "associates", and its customers "guests". It is attempt to shift perceptions. In this case to shift them away from the 0.01% neoliberal elitists. (And I use the number 0.01% because it is a legitimate bucket, not some made up line in the sand.)

Ms. Arendt, the philosophy major, always says that if you accept the premises, you accept the argument. I reject the premise - this arbitrary way of dividing up the populace. Once I have rejected the premise, I refuse to be drawn into arguments that DEPEND UPON the premise, like how much "agency" the so-called 9.9% have. The minute you start debating that, you have bought the premise. Its Debate 101. But they stopped teaching debate in most high schools decades ago.

You want to talk about agency, well the professional class has about as much agency as the head butler at Downton Abbey. He does what he is told, speaks well of his masters, and is well paid for that. I never did what I was told, and I never spoke well of them; but Stewart puts me in the bucket nevertheless.

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3 users have voted.
dance you monster's picture

@arendt

Every argument that stands on a statistical mean is flawed. You state just here that "the neoliberal assholes that make up the majority of the professional class" exist. A majority -- your phrasing -- thus a statistic. I am arguing that they have some culpability in what we are living today as a society. I would even argue that some of those Trump voters out there voted as they did in reaction to what those neoliberal assholes (who overwhelmingly backed Hillary) have been doing to them individually and collectively over the years. Trump didn't sneer at janitors as one poster here did.

So, Stewart's article didn't acknowledge that some professionals aren't neoliberal asshole destroyers of society and the planet. That's merely the problem with using a statistical mean as the sole basis for an argument. The poster here that I was interacting with before also didn't acknowledge that some blue collar workers aren't right wing -- just as flawed a statement that didn't get pushback here. But let's forego whataboutism.

A responsible discussion by Stewart would have considered the outliers as much as the statistical center. There is every bit as much to be learned from what isn't in a picture as what is. I concede all of this and don't know why you want to fight me on it.

My point is that there is some truth to the proposition that the professional class (generally speaking, not you personally perhaps, and it applies more to the managerial segment than to doctors or architects or scientists or other skilled professionals) -- a class that as you and CStMS argue was given its opportunity to get ahead as long as it shielded the tippy-top neoliberal or libertarian or conservative assholes from pitchforks -- was perfectly happy to let this arrangement and its intended consequences develop as they have, as long as they, the denizens of middle management, benefited from it. The 10% (generally speaking) thought, if it served the 0.01% well, it could escape the hell that will befall the 90%. Most of them still think that.

There is no one -- no one -- who should not be closely examining himself or herself to see where he or she falls in the sense of agency for what has become of this society. It's easy to point and say "He's the one who done this!" and assume that means the accuser is without any fault. It's a common feature of political blogging. And that big easy is most often wrong, in nature or in degree.

Now I need to get back to that manual labor thingy. Thanks for the essay and the discussion.

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1 user has voted.
arendt's picture

@dance you monster

We agree that the article is statistical game playing. So, let's cut to the chase and ask what is the goal of the game playing.

My contention is that the goal is to create a leftwing object of hatred, a caricature to mirror the deplorables caricature. And, like the deplorables, that caricature is all about signifiers and cliches and stereotypes. This article attempts is to hide the creation of a strawman behind some statistical flummery. To me, Stewart's description is to the professional class what a Chicken McNugget is to real chicken. It is a heavily processed, adulterated product full of duplicitous marketer claims akin to "contains real chicken".

I never bought the deplorables 2-minute hate. I understand where the working class is coming from. I understand that it was their jobs sent overseas, their taxes wasted on a massive MIC, their towns ruined while professionals withdrew into a ghetto. Yes, some of those people are racist and sexist and boorish and ignorant. But I refuse to throw them all into a bucket so I can hate them.

Likewise, some professionals are greedy, self-centered, hypocrites. Again, I refuse to throw them all in the same bucket. Like the workers, they did not cause the situation. (The 0.01% caused the situation.) The professionals are just as at the mercy of events as the workers. It just so happens that in their case, events go in their favor. Before you think I' m making excuses for them, what I'm doing is speaking to your concern about "agency". Professionals weren't agents when the bank lending started the housing bubble. They weren't agents when colleges started cranking up tuitions to pay for the corporatization of universities that was jump-started by the cutoff of government funds. They are just members of the somewhat lucky sperm club. (That is, they are well off, but not rich.)

The beginnings of their financial success could have been as simple as inheriting a house in a good town in the 1980s, when housing prices were going ballistic. Mortgages or rents consume from 25% to 50% of disposable income. To have that handled is a huge leg up. Also, a house in a good town means quality schooling. But all of that just happened to the lucky professionals as the elites moved the tectonic plates of America.

----

Inside Stewart's statistical sausage factory:

I already cited the avoidance of the term "neoliberal". Instead, the term "Gatsby Curve" is pressed upon us. Upon another re-skim, I was struck by the fact that the bulk of the article focuses on houses and education and nice neighborhoods. Not only are these differences modest compared to the yawing gap between the elites and everyone else, they are also pure advertising stereotypes. Stewart focuses on these lifestyle signifiers; but he ignores strategic policies. He ignores them because the elites and the professionals are not in policy lockstep at all. And it is policies which have driven the division of America.

The article makes a big deal out of some statistics. But let's look at the statistics that the article avoided. The article avoided mentioning those bipartisan things wanted by everyone (except the elites). Opinion polls show bipartisan majorities in favor of:

Progressive taxation (Polls Show Consistent, Widespread Support for New Taxes to Support Investment)
Less military spending
Fewer overseas bases
Fewer foreign wars
More infrastructure spending.
More green jobs (jobs for working class installers, etc.)
Less government surveillance (https://www.monmouth.edu/polling-institute/reports/monmouthpoll_us_031918/)
Gun control
Net neutrality

I could go on, but my point is how the author ignores areas of bipartisan agreement to focus on areas of disagreement that lend themselves to stereotyping. (Of course, I have to cite opinion polls, because money owns real politics.) It wouldn't work for him to point out that majorities across the board (including professionals) want the super rich taxed more. That disagrees with his narrative that professionals and the working class are in different buckets. Ditto for reducing our obscene levels of military spending in order to have money for social programs.

When you subtract the McNuggetizing statistics, all that is left is the push to reify the professional class into the sole hate object of the working class, with the superrich left completely out of the picture. It is deep sociological propaganda, the kind you can buy when you own the media lock, stock certificate, and oil barrel. I'm not buying it; and neither should you.

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dance you monster's picture

@arendt

Ms. Arendt, the philosophy major, always says that if you accept the premises, you accept the argument.

Ms. Arendt is wrong. Or potentially wrong, I should say. If a premise is flawed, the argument fails or at the very least is flawed -- that much is true. But one can proceed with secure premises and extrapolate utter nonsense from them, in which case the premises are sound and the argument is not.

This isn't particularly pertinent to this discussion, which hinges on the accuracy of the premises, but it is pertinent to philosophy.

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1 user has voted.
arendt's picture

@dance you monster

I suppose, if one wanted to, one could go around finding exceptions to every bit of cultural shorthand.

But what's the point, unless you are still arguing third hand about the content of Stewart's article?

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Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal's picture

@dance you monster I think we're just miscommunicating.

I'm not making a moral argument; you are making a moral argument. Our arguments have different aims, but are talking about two extraordinarily closely-related things. So it's no wonder we're misunderstanding each other.

I certainly didn't intend to use you as a straw man. I hope that the straw-man tactic is something I never do (I consider it kind of contemptible).

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1 user has voted.

Actually, the issue at stake is patriotism. You must return to your world and put an end to the Commies. All it takes are a few good men.
--Q

Exit polls not involving George W. Bush or Hillary Clinton tend to be quite accurate.
--Doug Hatlem

detroitmechworks's picture

He envisioned a future of High Tech people who couldn't function without their machines, and the rest of humanity either left to rot or enslaved to feed the machine.

Of courser, the only humans to survive in his vision of the future were the ones that didn't depend on machines. (And some even WORSE humans who left to go to space, and came back as totally entitled shitheads who saw nothing wrong with razing the earth for resources like locusts and then moving on.)

Yes, it's bleak as hell, and a vision of the future we should try to escape. Through those exact "Liberal Pretentions". The evolutionary dead end is being convinced that we can continue to change the environment to suit our needs. We need to change out lifestyles to match our environment. Even remodeling a kitchen is doing good because of the simple concept of REUSING material and space instead of demanding more like a damn locust.

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9 users have voted.

I do not pretend I know what I do not know.

arendt's picture

@detroitmechworks

Wikipedia has only an Australian politician.

Google brings up zoologists, dentists, silicon valley gurus, etc.

Is he still alive? How can I find out something about him?

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6 users have voted.
detroitmechworks's picture

@arendt Sorry, I just realized I've been screwing up his name for a LONG time. Kept thinking it was Douglas when it's Dougal.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dougal_Dixon

He wrote a series of books on possible evolutions after man in the late Eighties and Early 90s.

Man After Man is the one I'm referring to as his most dystopian/negative view of the future. After Man is one where he assumes H. Sapiens has gone extinct.

I haven't read many of the others, but his theories were later proven correct on Dinosaurs when recent excavations discovered that many of the later dinosaurs evolved along patterns he suggested was logical.

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10 users have voted.

I do not pretend I know what I do not know.

arendt's picture

@detroitmechworks

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5 users have voted.
studentofearth's picture

may not realize they are as vulnerable to the current economic, social and legal policies as those on the lower level of the economic and social ladder.

Imagine yourself on the socioeconomic ladder with one end of a rubber band around your ankle and the other around your parents’ rung. The strength of the rubber determines how hard it is for you to escape the rung on which you were born. If your parents are high on the ladder, the band will pull you up should you fall; if they are low, it will drag you down when you start to rise. Economists represent this concept with a number they call “intergenerational earnings elasticity,” or IGE, which measures how much of a child’s deviation from average income can be accounted for by the parents’ income. An IGE of zero means that there’s no relationship at all between parents’ income and that of their offspring. An IGE of one says that the destiny of a child is to end up right where she came into the world.

Individuals raised in relative prosperity may not fully comprehend how hard life can become when sick, old, poor, disabled or caught up in the legal system.

I have often listened to some say "If I loose my job there is always flipping hamburgers or being a maid". Not always. "If the kids loose the house they can move in with us". Not if your house is sold to pay for your medical care, nursing home or becomes a confiscated asset because someone had illicit drugs on the property. "I can always get food stamps." Do you know the eligibility in your state? "I can always grow food." Need food while waiting for a crop, money for seed and insects could kill the plants first.

The power of professional boards which have protected the entry of competition into economic areas is a target for removal. The 2015 Supreme Court decision State Professional Board members are not protected from Federal antitrust laws was a good beginning.

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18 users have voted.

Still yourself, deep water can absorb many disturbances with minimal reaction.
--When the opening appears release yourself.

@studentofearth
In Alabama you have to have a job to get Food stamps or Medicaid.
They used to allow volunteer work, but not any more. And if you are too sick to work, just crawl into a hole and die.

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12 users have voted.
divineorder's picture

@The Voice In the Wilderness so indelicately claimed from the floor of the House during HCR was the Republicans' plan "Get sick and die." We later learned that was the Obama/EstabDem plan as well.

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13 users have voted.

A truth of the nuclear age/climate change: we can no longer have endless war and survive on this planet. Oh sh*t.

Big Al's picture

ain't gonna happen. Whether we like it or not, there are differences among the people and even agreeing that the 1% or .01% are the problem isn't going to happen, let alone going after them. Particularly when it comes to opposition to capitalism and support for socialism (real socialism, not the fake DSA kind).

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9 users have voted.
Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal's picture

@Big Al @Big Al Of course there are differences. What we all agree on is that we should have power over the conditions of our lives, what most Americans would call "having a say," and the .01% are preventing us from doing that.

Occupy's one demand was that Obama break the corporate control over the government. Most people agreed on that regardless of what else they disagreed about.

We can get back to the disagreements when they matter again. Right now, they don't mean shit, because it doesn't matter what we think.

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5 users have voted.

Actually, the issue at stake is patriotism. You must return to your world and put an end to the Commies. All it takes are a few good men.
--Q

Exit polls not involving George W. Bush or Hillary Clinton tend to be quite accurate.
--Doug Hatlem

Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal's picture

@Big Al We're not going to have a movement of the 99% because the .01% has military technology that makes our guns look like bows and arrows by comparison, and also because the .01% controls all major cultural and economic infrastructure, resulting in the 99% being poor, sick, exhausted, demoralized, and often horribly propagandized.

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6 users have voted.

Actually, the issue at stake is patriotism. You must return to your world and put an end to the Commies. All it takes are a few good men.
--Q

Exit polls not involving George W. Bush or Hillary Clinton tend to be quite accurate.
--Doug Hatlem

but your anger may be somewhat off. If you are like me there was a time that the 9.9% existed, but not the way portrayed in the article. These professions weren't set out as the steeping stones that were other peoples faces. There were plenty of idealistic students/professionals hoping to bring their skill to rural and poor areas. But in the 80's, well, greed got good. What the author portrays is real. I can't say it's 100% applicable to everyone in the 9.9%, but boy today it rings true to me.

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11 users have voted.
arendt's picture

@Snode

I certainly agree with you that things changed:

The choice you are referring to ("conforming to a proposed pathway") underwent drastic revision over a period of ten or more years. In the 1960s, there were several almost-zero tuition colleges and universities - CCNY and U. California come to mind. By 1980, when the reactionary wave got up speed, those places became a lot less liberal and a lot more expensive. But they didn't put up a billboard saying so. That institutional change matters to me. In regard to your point about choice, it says some people signed up for one thing, and by the time they finished it was something else. The course change was slow enough to fool an entire generation.

Some places did try to preserve the liberal idea of education as broadening the mind for a least a few years, before they corporatized the university. So, while what you say is true in some cases in the 1970s, it is untrue in others.

Also, for me, the term "the professions" is always a bit off. I was a working scientist my entire career. Never got into management (probably too flaky for that). I never considered scientists to be in the same category as lawyers, managers, or doctors. Scientists did it (and as much as the finances allow it, still do) for the love of science, for the intellectual challenge, for the discovery, for making a difference. So, my outrage may simply be from being lumped in with the professions. Although, we don't appear in Stewart's thumbnail description:

lawyers, doctors, dentists, mid-level investment bankers, M.B.A.s with opaque job titles, and assorted other professionals

The scientists I worked with for forty years never fit the kind of grasping, selfishness Stewart portrays. Of course, there were always the career-oriented apple polishers who couldn't wait to get into management.

But, I agree with you that

in the 80's, well, greed got good. What the author portrays is real.

I just object to the way in which the author portrays it, and how he manages to lump progressives in with neoliberals while ignoring the super-rich.

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14 users have voted.

@arendt I remember yes, more educated people made money, but the towns doctor wasn't at the top. The local car dealer, or small factory owner or judge made more. Banking was boring and not the casino it has become. Scientists, professors, lawyers, were professionals but there didn't seem to be the gulf between the shopkeeper, sales people, mechanics as today. And those professionals mostly pursued the path they wanted to pursue. I don't remember anyone saying, do this work and you'll be rich.

When I was a kid the adults would talk about what they did in the war (not in depth) and there was a sort of acknowledgement of respect to each other. Maybe that made a difference. Today I don't know, what does a 2nd generation yuppie look like?

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16 users have voted.
arendt's picture

@Snode

The past is a foreign country. They do things differently there.

I recall all the things you mention.

However, TPTB have changed the rules in the US so much that the life I remember leading sounds like it was lived on Mars. How to tell some 20-something about that life in a way that registers becomes ever more difficult. TPTB are engaged in historical revisionism worthy of Stalin.

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15 users have voted.

@Snode we can blame Jack Welch for the shift in culture.

My Granddad and dad both became 1% by simply working hard - no financial shenanigans, no family connections, etc. My Grand-dad was not even educated beyond high-school; my dad put himself (mostly) through engineering school (it was doable back then)

The notion of firing people just for the sake of firing them would have never entered their minds.

Somehow, the quick fix became the thing to do and people became disposable, and here we are.

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10 users have voted.

dfarrah

Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal's picture

@dfarrah Check out the Powell memo, and you'll see where it changed. Of course, that leaves out the role the CIA and Hoover's FBI had in the process, but it's a good start.

That's when the wealthy were corrupted beyond the ordinary average corruptions of wealth and became morally and spiritually broken as a class. They became destroyers. There are, of course, dissidents from that class, as there are everywhere, god bless 'em. But not many, I think.

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6 users have voted.

Actually, the issue at stake is patriotism. You must return to your world and put an end to the Commies. All it takes are a few good men.
--Q

Exit polls not involving George W. Bush or Hillary Clinton tend to be quite accurate.
--Doug Hatlem

Big Al's picture

@arendt identify with the democratic party, just take a look at Daily Kos. Which is why I would never call myself a progressive, not to mention I don't agree with that position, i.e., we don't need progress, we need radical change.
But for most people, progressives are synonymous with democrats, i.e., those of the neoliberal imperialist democratic party.

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6 users have voted.
arendt's picture

@Big Al

Most progressives are in effect neoliberals as they also identify with the democratic party, just take a look at Daily Kos.

In my thinking, KOS and his ilk are Clintonites (and thus neoliberals). They are running a purge on what I call progressives. To me, progressives don't buy the neoliberal lies or the Clinton worship. That's why KOS through the Bernie supporters out.

Maybe the corporate media has convinced the non-politics junkies that progressives are neoliberals. Certainly that is what the not-leftish Atlantic article I'm rebutting here claims.

If you feel that "progressive" has been hijacked, do you have a name for my kind of leftie?

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16 users have voted.
Big Al's picture

@arendt Hell even Markos, the little CIA dude, calls himself a progressive. At least he used to. When I first went there I thought I was a liberal, but they shot that out of the water. I never even tried progressive, that's part of why I left that place although I never belonged because I've never been a dem either. I was basically a troll that eventually got banned.

But ya, check this out:

"How did Markos Moulitsas Zúñiga, founder and publisher of the Daily Kos—the largest progressive community blog in the United States—go from a Reagan-loving conservative to a successful entrepreneur in the progressive movement?"

https://www.thenation.com/article/markos-moulitsas-zuniga-i-was-republic...

As for what you should call yourself, can't help you, I'm not that familiar with your views. I can say if I identify myself as anything now it's usually as a radical because it describes the type of politics and changes I believe are necessary.

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9 users have voted.
arendt's picture

@Big Al

Essentially, the corporate media has defined MM to be a "progressive", and that's that.

Of course, I have lambasted The Nation as another phony liberal, Identity Politics, Russiagate publication, so I'm hardly surprised your quote comes from them.

I feel like this game is the inverse of Israeli politics. There, you can't call someone a Zionist, you can't call them a Likudnik, you can't call them a Settler. Under penalty of being labeled an anti-Semite, you are reduced to verbose circumlocutions that cripple any attempt to make a point.

Here, the game seems to be to steal whatever label the liberals, progressives, ??? use to claim some territory. Its quite effective, clearly. Now lefties have to play 20 questions to figure out if they are on the same wavelength.

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15 users have voted.

@arendt

an oldie,but a goodie

Here, the game seems to be to steal whatever label the liberals, progressives, ??? use to claim some territory. Its quite effective

.

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5 users have voted.
Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal's picture

@arendt It is quite effective, in the sense that we can't take any public space. You have to clearly identify yourself to do that.

But as for the game of twenty questions, well, it doesn't take that many to figure out if I'm on the same page with someone. Usually if they aren't they reveal themselves pretty quickly. There are many clear pointers. For instance, anyone who goes to the news for the truth is not on my wavelength. Anyone who believes that removing Trump will make things better is also not on my wavelength. It's all about whether or not you see that the current political discourse is mainly fraudulent.

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5 users have voted.

Actually, the issue at stake is patriotism. You must return to your world and put an end to the Commies. All it takes are a few good men.
--Q

Exit polls not involving George W. Bush or Hillary Clinton tend to be quite accurate.
--Doug Hatlem

divineorder's picture

@Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal every year, each year with a different subtitle on the invitation.

We used to be on the same wavelength. Then he because a local campaign worker for Her.

This year the subtitle is something about 'the Next Blue Wave.' That, of course, remains to be seen, may not even be needed or wanted, might lead to a quicker next big extinction.

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2 users have voted.

A truth of the nuclear age/climate change: we can no longer have endless war and survive on this planet. Oh sh*t.

Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal's picture

@Big Al I generally stick with "socialist" or "leftist." They can't co-opt the things they've defined as the Devil.

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7 users have voted.

Actually, the issue at stake is patriotism. You must return to your world and put an end to the Commies. All it takes are a few good men.
--Q

Exit polls not involving George W. Bush or Hillary Clinton tend to be quite accurate.
--Doug Hatlem

gulfgal98's picture

@Big Al diminishing those that you want to destroy. That is why Markos and his ilk call themselves progressive when all they are is neoliberals. By being minimally socially progressive, they feel they have the right to call themselves as such. But in effect, they are diluting the true nature of real progressivism. People like Markos are the ones who serve to continue to divide the rest of us. They are among the useful idiots of the oligarchy.

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5 users have voted.

"I don't want to run the empire, I want to bring it down!" ~Dr. Cornel West

"Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable." John F Kennedy

arendt's picture

@gulfgal98

He knows exactly what he's doing. I wouldn't be surprised if his whole setup was authorized by the Deep State, right down to the early "raid" on his house, that merely gave him street cred without harming him in any way.

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7 users have voted.
gulfgal98's picture

@arendt always CIA?

Excellent essay. I wish I was as well read and versed as you and so many of the commenters here.

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5 users have voted.

"I don't want to run the empire, I want to bring it down!" ~Dr. Cornel West

"Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable." John F Kennedy

divineorder's picture

@gulfgal98

Excellent essay. I wish I was as well read and versed as you and so many of the commenters here.

Even though I had come across and read the article on my own somehow, found it to make some sense but knew on some level things had radically changed from what the author was describing, I did not have the time (I'm on an extended trip lasting some months) to try and analyze it, nor did I have the background that so many of the commenters here have to debate its merits or lack or merit.

BTW when ever I read your comments it reminds me I still want to go back and read your series on neoliberalism. Some day....

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1 user has voted.

A truth of the nuclear age/climate change: we can no longer have endless war and survive on this planet. Oh sh*t.

@arendt

Scientists did it (and as much as the finances allow it, still do) for the love of science, for the intellectual challenge, for the discovery, for making a difference

As one colleague (who billed $100 an hour) told me, "And they pay me. I'd do it for free if I had too." I still program myself, and for free (Open Source, giving back to the community). There are doctors who don;t charge indigent patients, but fewer now that most have become corporate employees. My doctor was in a partnership with another doctor. She smiled a lot in those days and spent more time with patients. Then they sold out to a medical corporation because they were being squeezed. Then that corporation was bought by a hospital. then that hospital merged with another hospital. Then a third hospital bought the merged pair. Two more mergers and the Chicago area will be a medical monopoly. Now she is harried, cannot make her own appointments, has less time per patient, looks haggard as she swoops in after you have described your symptoms to a nurse and had your vitals taken by another nurse, looks at the chart (computer screen), diagnoses, and rushes out to the next patient. No smiles anymore. No conversations. Last year, we brought her two organic peaches from our back yard. They happened to be ripe at the time of my annual exam. I got a big smile and I thought she was going to start crying (while smiling). No human interactions anymore. Another doctor, also a woman and a top bone specialist, looked so beaten down like an old horse that has been worked too long. She asked me about the mechanics of applying for Social Security and Medicare! She hated stopping her practice but the treadmill was getting too hard. I suggested that after retiring she might volunteer at a free clinic a few days a week. She seemed to brighten up at that idea. So, she still wants to be a doctor. She just wants out of the medical machine.

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Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal's picture

@arendt That's because this is an article with ill intent. It is a piece of propaganda with an evil aim.

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6 users have voted.

Actually, the issue at stake is patriotism. You must return to your world and put an end to the Commies. All it takes are a few good men.
--Q

Exit polls not involving George W. Bush or Hillary Clinton tend to be quite accurate.
--Doug Hatlem

k9disc's picture

I had an interesting idea while reading this thread.

Seems to me that we're talking about value towards change in speaking out or in actions. This does happen at the micro scale, but not at the macro.

We do have this kind of action and agency within our tribes, but outside the tribe, at orders of magnitude above tribe level, the action and agency reduces dramatically.

Positive vs Negative Liberty comes into play here too. As soon as we scale up above a certain number, Negative Liberty (no impediments to my agency) becomes the only sensible option. But on the tribal level, it's all about Positive Liberty (together we can go to the moon).

Within a macro-sociopolitical system that is securely moored in the Negative Liberty, there is only the option to particpate or opt out, which is perfectly OK at the tribal level. "That's fine." and go find another group. Agency. Call it flexible social markets. The constant churning of flexible social markets is of strong benefit to our society.

This exact argument was made by Alan Greenspan for the health and well being of American economy was tied to the ease of firing people and their resultant tumble through unemployment, re-education, and job-seeking.

The reason that I mention it is that it isn't a bad argument at the micro-level, and isn't a bad argument when it isn't something mission critical like making enough money to live on or access to health care.

Most tribal situations are about Positive Liberty: Together we can go to the moon.

All of American meritocracy is about Negative Liberty: Nobody but me can make me do things.

DYM and arendt, you guys are looking at this from different social perspectives: micro and macro, and I think you are also caught up on Positive and Negative Liberty.

I find it fascinating that we are getting our Positive Liberty social expression at the micro or tribal level, but at the macro level we, as a People are compelled to feel disempowered; it's almost like it's designed that way.

Thanks for the amazing discussion, everyone.

@arendt

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1 user has voted.

“Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.” ~ Sun Tzu

there are more than two classes.
Let's not forget the role of the petti bourgeoisie, as described by Marx.
They work with the working class but identify with the wealthy. They are critical in protecting the elites.

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arendt's picture

@gjohnsit

Trump voters worship rich people and find knowledge workers to be jumped up, irritating clowns. That's exactly what 1900s-era petit bourgeoisie felt.

But, those folks are neither Clintonites nor progressives.

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@arendt .....

To describe Trump voters as wealth-worshipers, as if the entire US isn't captivated by wealth, is ridiculous.

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dfarrah

divineorder's picture

@dfarrah needs an explanation imo.

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2 users have voted.

A truth of the nuclear age/climate change: we can no longer have endless war and survive on this planet. Oh sh*t.

@divineorder the characterization is not factual and not fair?

To paint Trump voters as wealth-worshippers is not fair in our wealth-worshipping culture.

Geez, some people just don't get it. Trump was a revolt against the repub establishment as much as Bernie was on the dem side.

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dfarrah

Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal's picture

@dfarrah @dfarrah Trump was the right's Obama. I feel a great deal of sadness for those who followed him in good faith, while at the same time shaking my head at their racism.

And yes, they are racist, just not in the way that most of their critics assume. Most attacks on Trump supporters assume that they are all hateful spewing KKK-style racists who were drawn to Trump's racism. The truth is that some of them are hateful spewing racists, and the rest are racist in the sense that they are willing to put up with Trump's racist spewings because they think Trump is going to help them. It's the racism of selfishness, and indifference to others' pain, that for the most part characterizes Trump suporters. They're willing to put up with racists and racism in exchange for help.

It's more like this:

They're not going to get the help they sought, any more than we got help from Obama.

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5 users have voted.

Actually, the issue at stake is patriotism. You must return to your world and put an end to the Commies. All it takes are a few good men.
--Q

Exit polls not involving George W. Bush or Hillary Clinton tend to be quite accurate.
--Doug Hatlem

divineorder's picture

@Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal in several countries in discussions with fellow travelers and locals we have met along our travels.

Trump was the right's Obama.

I usually get to this in trying to give them some answer to the invariable question that goes something like "How could the American People vote for Trump over Clinton." Many of these get their news from corporate-owned sources in their home countries, so often trying to give them a full answer is just to heavy a lift.

Have to talk about media. The mass of people who have either quit voting or who are now independent. The reaction of many who voted for the Empty Suit and discovered he was a liar, and who were not going to vote or if they did, would vote for anyone who might have a chance of punishing the Dems. And so on....

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2 users have voted.

A truth of the nuclear age/climate change: we can no longer have endless war and survive on this planet. Oh sh*t.

@Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal believe that Trump is racist. Obnoxious, yes.

Trump won in historical dem states that he had no business winning. I don't believe that the voters who voted for BO, then swung to Trump, did so because of racism.

I believe that economics drove his victory (based on the electoral college).

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dfarrah

arendt's picture

@dfarrah

Trump voters have a specific take on what it means to be wealthy:

While professionals move in an increasingly secular world, working class whites are proud of their Christian morality and deeply resent being depicted as ignorant homophobes...in working class communities being a stay-at-home wife is a sign of elevated status and a much sought after luxury, not evidence of a backward attitude towards sex roles...working class people resent professionals but not the rich. Becoming rich is assumed to be the result of hard work, whereas professional wealth is regarded as the product of dubious entitlement, and professionals themselves are seen as phony and snobbish. So working class people tend to dream of self-employment as the only route to wealth that doesn’t involve forfeiting one’s character.

The Opposite of Identity Politics

My point, relevant to this essay about the professional class, is that Trump voters think the weatlth of the professional class is not legitimately acquired.

Of course, all Americans (except for a tiny minority) worship money. That wasn't the point of what I said. The point was the way Trump voters understand wealth - and how that relates to the trashing of the professional class by Matt Stewart.

Is that clear?

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Deja's picture

@arendt
Totally my own take, and slightly off topic but, based on being a stay-at-home-mom for about six years, then again for about two. Ewww! Both times it started out as them wanting to provide and "take care of" us outside, while I took care of us inside. It probably would have been a better view had my ex husband, and a later boyfriend, not claimed all the money as their own because they "earned it", even withholding grocery money. That made me hate them both with every ounce of my being for a good long while. I feel sorry for those who stay home. I, without fail, see them as handmaids who are likely abused, at least emotionally. Homeschool handmaids, even more so. *Shivers*

I'd rather live under a bridge and eat bugs/cat food than live under another person's thumb, ever, ever again!

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@arendt

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dfarrah

@gjohnsit anyone they want, so they do.

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dfarrah

@dfarrah
so they only buy a few people.
Not nearly enough.

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Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal's picture

@dfarrah They can't buy anyone. Those they can't buy, they bully. Since they're friends with people like the CIA, they *can* bully anyone.

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Actually, the issue at stake is patriotism. You must return to your world and put an end to the Commies. All it takes are a few good men.
--Q

Exit polls not involving George W. Bush or Hillary Clinton tend to be quite accurate.
--Doug Hatlem

@Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal @Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal Adelsons of the world can't buy politicians?

They can't buy loyalty from their higher placed employees?

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dfarrah

Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal's picture

@gjohnsit And one of the main ways they protect the elites is by deflecting the ire of the masses onto themselves so the elites don't have to bother with it.

I don't know about you, but I refuse to play. They can take their propaganda and stuff it. I know who's hurting me.

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6 users have voted.

Actually, the issue at stake is patriotism. You must return to your world and put an end to the Commies. All it takes are a few good men.
--Q

Exit polls not involving George W. Bush or Hillary Clinton tend to be quite accurate.
--Doug Hatlem

The "conjunction fallacy" - yes, the odds of Mary being a bank teller and a feeminist are only 45%, but the odds of her being a bank teller and not a feminist are only 2.5%, not 55% like the "fallacy" infers. It asssumes that Mary is a bank teller and must chose the other factor. The fallacy is in Boolean logic, not in reality.
There is a famous story: Two men are walking home after listening to a lecture by David Hume. One asks the other what he thought of Hume's philosophy. The other kicks a rock and says, "Thus I refute Hume."
There is a simple fact: the American professsional class, the upper 10% (or 9.9% if you want to be more accurate) is the Republican base, along with, but more so, than the racist working class. It (though only the majority of its members) are the enablers of the .1% and the true envy goals of the masses. "Everyone" (not everyone) admires Bill Gates, but really they are trying for the lifestyle of Dr. Richbastard. Even the "liberal" members of this class are subtle enablers; they will act altruistically, but dependent on their retaining their own lifestyle, a lifestyle others aspire to. (though perhaps without their generosity) This is natural and reasonable, they should not be blamed, but this tendency has been used to thwart their good intentions. It does not threaten, in fact it reinforces, the .1%.
You say individual actions are ineffectual unless they change the institution, and that is right, but institutions cannot be changed without changing the people that support those institutions, and those people must have the power to do so. Joe the bricklayer cannot overthrow the .1%, but if Dr. Richbastard stops thinking he's one of the .1% the whole edifice will crumble in a day.
Things like the mortgage interest deduction are particularly insideous because they are believed to be attainable. Tell some construction worker that you can deduct the capital gains from a CD bought between 9/15/1993 and 9/17/1993 from a bank in Italy (though the details are incorrect the example is real, from Who Pays The Taxes, Bartlett and Steele) their eyes glaze over, but he will support the mortgage interest deduction even though it only makes his house cost more and increases his chance of being foreclosed, even when millions of Americans proved it for him in 2008.
In short, I did not see the srticle as a divide and conquer tactic, but as a clarification of the real class divisions in our society and the consequences of them.

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A PROUD Hillary hater since 1993

arendt's picture

@doh1304

In short, I did not see the srticle as a divide and conquer tactic, but as a clarification of the real class divisions in our society and the consequences of them.

Yeah, but its a clarification that poures shit all over a major part of the leftwing by confusing it with a bunch of neoliberal professionals. You want to interpret what he is saying as "tough love". I just see it as abuse.

he will support the mortgage interest deduction even though it only makes his house cost more and increases his chance of being foreclosed, even when millions of Americans proved it for him in 2008.

Again, blaming the mortgage deduction (which has been around since before I was born) instead of blaming the people who gamed the entire housing market into a bubble is exactly the kind of Three Card monte that absolves the elites of their behind the scences manipulation of the entire economic and legal system. Mortgage deductions are a simple thing to explain. How reduced top bracket taxes free money to run up asset prices is not as easy. How usorious credit card and payday loan interest rates destroyed investing in industry, and how that caused banks to mostly invest in asset bubbles is another thing that is not easy to explain in an elevator speech to the unaware.

Hope I don't sound like I'm trashing you. I'm just defending my POV.

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@arendt

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@doh1304 "yes, the odds of Mary being a bank teller and a feeminist are only 45%, but the odds of her being a bank teller and not a feminist are only 2.5%, not 55% like the "fallacy" infers"

I thought the conjunction fallacy was the tendency of people to think that the probability of someone being this and that is higher than the person being just this.

Where does your 2.5% come from? If 45% of the women who are bank tellers are also feminists, and only 2.5% of bank tellers who are bank tellers are not feminists, what are the remaining women who are bank tellers?

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dfarrah

@dfarrah
By fallacious (misapplied boolean) logic the odds that Mary is a bank teller and not a feminist is 5% of 50%. In reality since Mary is a bank teller (100% not 50%) the odds that she is also a bank teller/feminist is 95%, not 45%. The conjunction fallacy is drawing a truth table (with 4 possible combinations) but erasing 2 of the 4 - then calculating as if the missing 2 still applies, when they don't. Does that make sense?
I think that my disagreemeent with Arendt is along the same lines. He is saying that the article is a divide and conquer tactic - it doesn't matter if the professional class, as a class, are 1% enablers. I am saying that the intention of the author is immaterial, since his basic premise, that the professional class as a class are 1% enablers, is factually corrrect. In other words, my half of the truth is better than your half of the truth.

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3 users have voted.

A PROUD Hillary hater since 1993

@doh1304 presenting two potential probability scenarios.

First, when you say the odds of Mary being a bank teller and a feminist is .x - you are talking about the p(mary is a bank teller) X p(mary is a feminist)= .x. Then you say Mary is a bank teller, you are no longer talking about the odds of Mary being a bank teller.

I don't understand why you wouldn't use probability equations to determine the probabilities, or why you change the nature of your analysis by assigning Mary-bank teller 100%.

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dfarrah

@dfarrah
I misread the equation. It did not calculate the t/f as 95% 0f 100%, but as 95% 0f 50%. my bad.

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A PROUD Hillary hater since 1993

arendt's picture

@dfarrah

pointing out statistical gameplaying is a complete conversation killer.

That's why I only pointed in the general direction. These are math paradoxes that are usually taught in college or grad school. The average citizen is not going to have his mind changed by explaining the trickery involved.

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Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal's picture

@doh1304 The top 10% are not the Republican base. They were absolutely in Hillary's hip pocket. The majority of them are smug neoliberals, and they will support anybody who holds up their sense of entitlement, including lowering their taxes and continuing the policies of extraction that are dooming our society.

They are in the Bush/Clinton political camp, who are (ironically) a sort of managerial class themselves, working for the real bosses, who mainly reside in the financial, fossil fuel, and weaponsmaking industries--and in agencies like the CIA and the NSA. That's the political coalition most of the top 10% support.

However, that's not really the point. The point is that the top 10% don't hold the power, and fighting them is a waste of time. In fact, the whole point of fighting them is so that we will waste our time on hating them and spend our energy and resources there. As I said elsewhere, the whole function of a manager is to take heat off the boss.

There's a secondary, less important point, that all these statements are generalizations, and generalizations make good guideposts but poor dogmas. Of course there are people in the top 10%, and even in the top .01%, who dissent. It doesn't serve us to ignore those voices or exclude them.

It's important to keep our eyes on those we know to be actual wrongdoers. They've revealed themselves pretty clearly.

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7 users have voted.

Actually, the issue at stake is patriotism. You must return to your world and put an end to the Commies. All it takes are a few good men.
--Q

Exit polls not involving George W. Bush or Hillary Clinton tend to be quite accurate.
--Doug Hatlem

divineorder's picture

Good to see you slap this down in such an excellent fashion. Thanks.

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4 users have voted.

A truth of the nuclear age/climate change: we can no longer have endless war and survive on this planet. Oh sh*t.

we all know people like the author. He does a great job of describing a certain cohort that transcends political enmity. HER dems and conservative r's live side by side in these golden addresses and sent their kids to golden schools. But it's too broad a brush. These are the people we see running county and political state parties. They're the ones the party caters to, really. A lot of the benefits they can take advantage of are because of this. I think they feel that they could make it to 1% land. Yes, most of them are professional class, but not every professional is going to jump on this bandwagon. They ain't stupid. Mostly they are a group of people who have chosen a side, and have the ability enforce their interests.

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@Snode
On a certain level - the fear of the poor rising to their level and competing for their privilige - there is no difference between a Republican and a Hillary Dem. That's why Schumer thought they could pick up suburban Rs, because he thought that they would be turned off by Trump's racist rabble. He was wrong.
American politics has ossified - people have chosen their sides and will not change, period. A professional class Republican is a Republican, and "Trump is a pootie head" will never convince him to change. A professional class Democrat is extremely likely to be a class conscious DINO first and foremost, and that's a fact. It is also a fact that this class controls the day-to-day party (parties) and will not give up that power without bloodshed, because they consider it a matter of survival.

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6 users have voted.

A PROUD Hillary hater since 1993

@doh1304 " the fear of the poor rising to their level and competing for their privilige"

No way. The ones I know have no fear of that. They are so conceited, basking in their own superiority that they would laugh at how we could even think of that idea.

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Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal's picture

The goal of the article is to blame the so-called 9.9%, which I will refer to as the "professional class", for failing to stop the machinations of the 0.01% ("the elites"). The purpose of the article is to crack the 1%-99% meme, to break the solidarity that threatens the the elites. The very use of "9.9%" is an unsubtle reference to the meme under attack. It would be very good for the elites to have the working class hate the professional class - instead of the elites who are the driving force behind the inequality. It would be "let's you and him fight".

This attempt, largely successful already, to destroy Occupy's 1% vs 99% meme, and replace it with a 10% vs 90% meme, has been going on since Thomas Frank's Listen, Liberal. That's where I first saw it.

This isn't anything new; the whole purpose of a managerial class is to take the heat off the boss.

Thank you for writing this, however. It's good to see such analysis.

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8 users have voted.

Actually, the issue at stake is patriotism. You must return to your world and put an end to the Commies. All it takes are a few good men.
--Q

Exit polls not involving George W. Bush or Hillary Clinton tend to be quite accurate.
--Doug Hatlem

arendt's picture

@Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal

Hadn't bothered to read that one. Can you give a precis of where he drinks hands out the koolaid?

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CS in AZ's picture

@arendt

I haven’t read it either, but I found this article that explains where this 10% versus 90% thing comes from.

Thomas Frank’s new book Listen, Liberal: Or, Whatever Happened to the Party of the People? offers the fascinating premise that starting with the McGovern Commission of 1972 (which largely excommunicated Labor from having a large role in Democratic Party decision-making) and going into a full-out embrace of the “professional class” – i.e. the top 10% economically – the Democratic Party has largely abandoned the American working and middle class – the bottom 90%.

As Frank told me on my program recently, the doctor who delivered me in 1951 was almost certainly a Republican (then the party of the professional class), but today would almost certainly be a Democrat. In the 1950s and 1960s virtually the entire professional class (the top 10%) was Republican; today it’s virtually all Democratic.

In the late 1980s, the DLC Democrats (and now the Third Way/Clinton Democrats) embraced the professional class and embraced complex solutions to our nation’s problems. They consciously moved away from labor/working class and towards an elitist embrace of banksters, the emerging “geniuses” of Silicon Valley, and the college-educated at all levels.

Yep, so here we have the “banksters” categorized into a group that includes technology workers and “the college-educated at all levels” — and the idea of the “professional class” or 10% as part of the bad guys group. Just like “banksters” — a cutsie term that makes these international criminals seem almost fun somehow.

Anyway, here’s the link to the article that discusses more about Frank’s book and this division.

They abandoned the 90 percent: How the Reagan Revolution and Third Way politics led America to ruin

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Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal's picture

@CS in AZ The Reagan Revolution and Third Way Politics did lead America to ruin, but as I remember, there were a lot of non-ten-percenters who bought into this shit, and not just the working-class right wing. There were *a bunch* of former hippies who were not top-ten-percent who wanted to forget everything and think about how it was morning in America.

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0 users have voted.

Actually, the issue at stake is patriotism. You must return to your world and put an end to the Commies. All it takes are a few good men.
--Q

Exit polls not involving George W. Bush or Hillary Clinton tend to be quite accurate.
--Doug Hatlem

Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal's picture

@arendt It is sad; I like him.

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0 users have voted.

Actually, the issue at stake is patriotism. You must return to your world and put an end to the Commies. All it takes are a few good men.
--Q

Exit polls not involving George W. Bush or Hillary Clinton tend to be quite accurate.
--Doug Hatlem

@Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal
That makes him no less culpable. It just explains and humanizes him.
I was a taxi driver in SF. Every day I met a dozen people who honestly wanted my life to be as good as possible - as long as I stayed in my place. They would tip generously, but if I asked them to support me against the company all I got was a wing tip in the face.
Yes there is a difference. A lt. Calley will only commit an atrocity under extreme circumstances - he is a psychopath or thinks his life is threatened. mr. Scarsdale will do what he will do, just to retain his lifestyle. Psychopaths are rare, and we defenfd ourselves from them whenever we encounter one, but rich bastards are common and we let them act with impunity.

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A PROUD Hillary hater since 1993

Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal's picture

@doh1304 My eyes are on the boss. You're free to put your eyes on whatever you think will help you most. I'm not saying the upper-middles aren't assholes most of the time.

My eyes are on the fucker who has final decision-making power.

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0 users have voted.

Actually, the issue at stake is patriotism. You must return to your world and put an end to the Commies. All it takes are a few good men.
--Q

Exit polls not involving George W. Bush or Hillary Clinton tend to be quite accurate.
--Doug Hatlem

divineorder's picture

on this but would love to have you dissect this

Democracy Dies in the Blinding Light of Day
Murtaza Hussain

July 4 2018, 2:00 p.m.

https://theintercept.com/2018/07/04/how-democracy-ends-david-runciman-re...

Seem in the same vein as the article analyzed in this essay.

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A truth of the nuclear age/climate change: we can no longer have endless war and survive on this planet. Oh sh*t.

arendt's picture

Just buys the framing hook, line, and sinker. Not one word about the erasure of the 0.01%. No, just telling folks that the 9.9% have got "it" coming to them.

The Matthew Stewarts piece in The Atlantic on inequality is compelling, detailed, extensive, well-written, and ultimately obvious to non-zombies, especially those who have read any Chomsky. Marxists would just say the article presents their general observation that members of each economic class cooperate to protect their class interests, and then the Marxists would repeat their well-known overall conclusion that the needed remedy for a just political economy (a good society) is a breakup of this class hierarchy: the overthrow of the capitalists (the 1%ers) along with their bourgeois co-dependent enablers (the 9.9%ers) by the proletariat (the 90%ers).


How Will the Inequality Balloon Bust?

Fuck this shit. I told you so.

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Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal's picture

@arendt That's probably preparation for when the .01% throws the 9.9% to the masses while they make their calm getaway to whatever hidey-hole they've prepared for the end of the world.

If I were a politician or a media figure, I'd be worried. No, I'd be planning my own getaway very carefully.

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0 users have voted.

Actually, the issue at stake is patriotism. You must return to your world and put an end to the Commies. All it takes are a few good men.
--Q

Exit polls not involving George W. Bush or Hillary Clinton tend to be quite accurate.
--Doug Hatlem