"Joy and pleasure are as real as pain and sorrow and one must learn what they have to teach. . . ." -- Sean Russell, from Gatherer of Clouds

"If you're not having fun, you're not doing it right." -- Helyn D. Goldenberg

"I love you and I'm not afraid." -- Evanescence, "My Last Breath"

“If I hear ‘not allowed’ much oftener,” said Sam, “I’m going to get angry.” -- J.R.R. Tolkien, from Lord of the Rings

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Today's Must-Read

This post at Mahablog, on -- well, the best I can summarize is "ideology vs. the economy." She quotes from this commentary by Paul Krugman:

Never mind that the economic models underlying such assertions have failed dramatically in practice, that the people who say such things have been predicting runaway inflation and soaring interest rates year after year and keep being wrong; these aren’t the kind of people who reconsider their views in the light of evidence. Never mind the obvious point that the private sector doesn’t and won’t supply most kinds of infrastructure, from local roads to sewer systems; such distinctions have been lost amid the chants of private sector good, government bad.

I might point out that we're dealing with a mindset that prioritizes faith over evidence, that reveres authority, no matter how unqualified, and that is impervious to facts.

Maha makes a telling point:

I can never tell how much they believe their own crap, but basically we’re dealing with people who are long on ideological theory and short on experience. Unfortunately, you can say the same thing for most of our Captains of Industry, most of whom have no idea how the products they are selling actually get made.

It’s like a perfect storm of derp. The people in charge of things, public and private, have no idea how stuff gets done and no idea what stuff needs to get done. And the country is at their capricious and greedy mercy.

It became obvious to me long ago that major Republican "economic policy wonk" Paul Ryan had no idea what he was talking about. Unfortunately, he's not alone, and these people are in control of the country.

Oh, and in case you were wondering about how the equivalent philosophy plays out in the corporate sector, here's the example that blows all that to hell:

The madness of the holiday shopping season has come to this: It's no longer notable when a retailer says it will stay open on Thanksgiving Day. Instead, it makes headlines when one says it's going to close.

Warehouse chain Costco recently confirmed just that, explaining the decision as a thank-you to its workers. "Our employees work especially hard during the holiday season and we simply believe that they deserve the opportunity to spend Thanksgiving with their families," a spokesperson told the Web site ThinkProgress. "Nothing more complicated than that."

The decision is in keeping with the ethos at Costco, which has long shrugged off Wall Street's complaints about how well it pays its retail workers (Costco even gave raises during the recession). A 2013 report put the company's average hourly wage at $20.89, far above the minimum wage. It showers employees with good benefits, from low health-insurance premiums to matching and profit-sharing contributions in their 401(k) plans.

Note to WalMart and friends: You can pay your employees a living wage, give them good benefits, and still make money. That's the way the country used to run, and it worked just fine.

(A footnote: I gleaned from somewhere this morning that Macy's, after facing blowback last year for opening on Thanksgiving evening, will open earlier this year. I avoid Macy's in Chicago -- it used to be Marshall Field's, which was the best department store anywhere, not only in quality of goods but in customer service. My sister suggested I check them out when I was looking at TVs, because I might be able to score a deal if they had something good on sale. The State Street store, which used to be Field's flagship, doesn't even carry TVs. Sic transit gloria.)

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