BRIEFLY NOTED: For 2021-05-10 Mo, & Anti-Anti Tory Little-Englandism
Things that went whizzing by that I want to remember...
A Snippet from a Dialogue: Anti-Anti Tory Little Englandism:
Kephalos: I am pretty sure that—within the population of Great Britain—the Tories are a marked minority. And—yet—they could easily be governing with a pretty comfortable margin for the next 10 years. It is kind of unnerving how a minority faction has—more or less—run the joint ever since “the strange death of Liberal England”. Even when Blair and Gordon were PMs—they still had to triangulate. And—perhaps the strangest thing of all – the Conservatives have run the joint, but everyone else gets blamed for (i) haphazard retreat from Empire and (ii) relative economic decline. Its almost as if the Conservative are “alcoholic Daddy” who everyone is supposed to clean up after…
Thrasymakhos: “Almost”? The Tories are a minority in Great Britain. There is, however, a durable majority that would rather see the Tories rule than Labour rule. They would like somebody else—not, of course, them; heavens forbid!—to rid them of feather-bedding union members, officious bureaucrats, and uppity women; and ensure that the Pakies are kept in their place.
This majority can be overcome when Labour’s leadership persuades the electorate that it is really a centrist Liberal Party in disguise. The problem is that the base and the cadres very strongly disagree with this “New Labour” position. And Blair and Brown were incapable of constructing any alternative organizational base.
Otherwise, no matter how badly the Tories cock it up, they are not enablers of feather-bedding union members, officious bureaucrats, uppity women, and Pakies…
Ask not, American Democrats, for whom the bell tolls…
& a Must-Read Paragraph:
Ah. The tell. the word “bribe” along with “least ambitious” and “couches” tells us what is really going on here. The principal objection to restaurants paying their workers more turns out to be that restaurant workers don’t deserve more:
Tyler Cowen: From the Comments, on Restaurant Labor & UI: ‘The Restarauter: “After tips these employees are making $25 to $35 per hour. Not bad for a job that requires no formal training. We start our back of the house cooks at $17 hour and up. For full time employees we also offer health insurance. We are still having major problems finding employees. I have ads for employees that get zero responses…”. Slocum: "As a business owner, just how big a bidding war would you want to get into just to be able to bribe the least ambitious prospects into getting off their couches?…
There were expectations of up to a million new jobs—seasonally adjusted—in the American nonfarm economy between the March and April payroll employment survey weeks. Certainly the general expectation was for more than 600,000. Instead, there were only 266,000. This is, as Tim Duy wrote, “the kind of miss that makes you fundamentally rethink your understanding of where the economy is right now”.
But that was not what happened on Friday.
A large number of people were set up to cry, after what they expected to be another 750,000 new-jobs number, that the continuation of expanded unemployment benefits was keeping the slackers from finding new jobs—that labor supply was constrained, and so we were about to have inflation. Thus—they were primed to say—the very strong jobs number (the number that, in actual fact, we did not get)—was powerful evidence that WE NEEDED TO STOP GIVING PEOPLE GENEROUS UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS NOW.
We did not get that strong number. We got, in context, the relatively weak 266,000 number. And yet the usual suspects said that the weak jobs number was powerful evidence that WE NEEDED TO STOP GIVING PEOPLE GENEROUS UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS NOW.
As University of Michigan economics professor Justin Wolfers snarked:
If counterfactual-you would have interpreted a strong payroll report as evidence that labor demand was running ahead of labor supply stoking concerns about ‘labor shortage’, then you shouldn’t also be in the business of seeing a weak payrolls report and yelling ‘labor shortage’.
Labor demand may well run ahead of labor supply this spring and summer and fall. We do not yet know. Both are depressed. Both are expanding rapidly. The trick is to keep them in balance. We need to (a) avoid leaving a lot of people hungry who then cannot find jobs. We also need to (c) avoid leaving a lot of businesses that should be producing (d) without workers because of depressed labor supply that we could take steps to boost. So far, the demand-running-ahead-of-labor supply “shortage” narrative—the claim that we need to immediately take big steps to boost labor supply, especially by cutting off expanded unemployment benefits to induce people without childcare and those who are still scared of the virus to have to go back to work—is flunking as an explanation of this most recent number.
There are lots of factors depressing labor supply right now: Ongoing pandemic fears, lack of access to childcare, closed schools, retirements given the skew of disease mortality, and so forth. There is also, as Tim Duy says, “the fundamental issue that firing happens more quickly than hiring. The matching process involved in hiring is simply more time consuming”. And yet those calling for expanded labor supply right now focus on the necessity to immediately stop enhanced unemployment benefits. Now I do not believe thtat there are zero people who would be back at work if not for enhanced unemployment benefits. But my judgment is that they were and are doing more good in terms of providing income support to people who have been devastated, economically, by the plague. I see little evidence against that belief. And after Friday I see even less.
Yet there has been a doubling-down. George Mason economist Tyler Cowen, for example, approvingly quoted a restaurant owner from the Pacific Northwest who said that he (a) was paying wages at or above the minimum wage of $13.69/hour, (b) major problems finding employees, and yet (c) could not, in the long run, pay people $15/hour when they were only giving him $7/hour of value.
Note that this is not quite coherent: If a job slot would only provide $7/hour of value, it makes no sense to hire workers at $13.69/hour or more for it, and so you do not try. The Pacific Northwest is going to a $15/hour minimum wage, and so restaurants will raise their prices and reorganize their workflows so that workers do provide $15/hour of value—the belief that some people are $7/hour people and that is always and everywhere the value of the work they do is… just wrong.
And yet that belief is strong. For Tyler quotes—also approvingly—a guy named Slocum. Slocum says: “As a business owner, just how big a bidding war would you want to get into just to be able to bribe the least ambitious prospects into getting off their couches?”
This, I think, is the tell as to what is really going on here. The words “bribe” along with “least ambitious” and “couches”. At the bottom, the objection is that in the current economy it looks as though restaurants will wind up paying their workers more, and this is a violation of the natural order. Why? Because restaurant workers are low-class people. They don’t deserve more. How horrible that the workings of the market economy make the job creators engage in a “bidding war” for their services, when they ought to be grateful for any crumbs.
As Matt Yglesias snarked: “the restaurant owner Tyler Cowen is platforming here… [is making] an argument in favor of serfdom…”
I do find it striking how often people who are most strongly in favor of following the logic of the market are also the most insistent that the government must rig the market to make it give enormous social power to people like them of whom they approve, and no social power to other people, who are not like them and of whom they disapprove.
Asianometry: Samsung Foundry vs TSMC:
Very Briefly Noted:
Mike Butcher: The TechCrunch Survey of Dutch Tech Hubs: Calling Delft, Eindhoven, Rotterdam, Utrecht… <https://techcrunch.com/2021/04/29/the-techcrunch-survey-of-dutch-tech-hubs-calling-delft-eindhoven-rotterdam-utrecht/>
Patrick Iber: ’As someone who believes that our grading systems are deeply broken and has been experimenting and refining un-grading systems… <https://twitter.com/PatrickIber/status/1391777253852393476>
George Pearkes: ’Free idea for Fed reporters: do a compare/contrast of how dovish the central bank is this recovery vs last using Mester as a proxy…. Mester was an avowed hawk during liftoff last time, and this time she’s in lock-step with the more dovish governors. It’s fascinating… <https://twitter.com/pearkes/status/1391764165845528580>
Maria Konnikov: The Confidence Game: Why We Fall for It… Every Time<https://books.google.com/books?id=zdVhCAAAQBAJ>
Dean Baker: The Fighting Isn’t Over: Review of The Ten Year War, by Jonathan Cohn: ‘To sum up the book I wanted Cohn to write, there was a lot of silliness in the debate around Obamacare, but the program’s benefits have actually been undersold… it is a… bigger f–king deal than most people recognize, even its supporters. I wish this book had done more to make that clear… <https://cepr.net/the-fighting-isnt-over-review-of-the-ten-year-war-by-jonathan-cohn/>
Jim Sleeper: What “Politics” Does to History: The Saga of Henry Kissinger & George Shultz’s Right-Hand Man: ‘A better admonition to conferencegoers would have been “De mortuis nil nisi veritas”…. “Hill was forced to resign from the Foreign Service after it became clear that he had concealed evidence of Shultz’s extensive knowledge of the Iran-Contra scandal from federal agents”… <https://www.salon.com/2021/05/08/what-politics-does-to-history-the-saga-of-henry-kissinger-and-george-shultzs-right-hand-man/>
Cory Doctorow: ’#Pluralistic is my multi-channel publishing effort—a project to push the limits of #POSSE (post own site, share everywhere) that allows me to maintain control over my work while still meeting my audience where they are, on platforms whose scale makes them hard to rely on… <https://pluralistic.net>
Roy Edroso: ‘It’s like they speak a secret language—one I’m not even sure their subscribers speak: The Washington Times: "NEWS ALERT: Americans eager for ‘revenge travel’ battered by speed bumps: Americans eager to travel are running into rising gas prices, ever-shifting travel rules, and a shortage of foreign workers who fill seasonal jobs at U.S. parks and resorts… <https://twitter.com/edroso/status/1391747125256630276/photo/1>
Matt: The point for <strike>conservative populists</strike> neofascists is not and has never been to “deliver good jobs to working-class people”. It is to deliver a dream of sociological dominance and eminence to working class people of the Volk while entrenching and magnifying the current property distribution-based hierarchy of elite social power. Yes, it is good that you appeal to the better nature of Josh Hawley—it is a useful lesson to others who watch you make such an appeal, and then see it go nowhere. But you should not expect success:
Matthew Yglesias: Conservative Populists Should Embrace Housing Deregulation: ‘I want to try to pull out and convince everyone that reforming zoning is just good… if you care about racial justice… if you’re a yuppie… if you’re a free-market ideologue… if you’re a populist who… wants to deliver good jobs to working-class people…. The one really clear idea conservative populists have on economics is that if we got rid of the less-educated immigrants, it would help the less-educated natives. I don’t think that this is right, but we’re not going to get anywhere by insisting on disagreeing about that. What I hope restrictionists will concede, however, is that immigration restriction is not a sufficient answer to working-class economic struggles…
Here John Maynard Keynes provides his brief for High Geithnerism: the financiers and the CEOs have us by the plums, so we must do our best to appease them:
John Maynard Keynes (1936): The General Theory of Employment, Interest & Money: ‘Enterprise which depends on hopes stretching into the future benefits the community…. But… reasonable calculation… [must be] supplemented and supported by animal spirits, so that the thought of ultimate loss which often overtakes pioneers, as experience undoubtedly tells us and them, is put aside…. This means, unfortunately, not only that slumps and depressions are exaggerated in degree, but that economic prosperity is excessively dependent on a political and social atmosphere which is congenial to the average business man. If the fear of a Labour Government or a New Deal depresses enterprise, this need not be the result… of… calculation or… a plot with political intent;—it is the mere consequence of upsetting the delicate balance of spontaneous optimism…. We must have regard… to the nerves and hysteria and even the digestions… of those upon whose spontaneous activity it largely depends…
This is a fascinating perspective on what Liz Cheney is trying to do:
Yastreblanky: Maybe She’s Just Smarter than Kevin: ‘An interesting claim…. Liz Cheney seems to think there is evidence she has the politics right, and party management… hide[s] the evidence from members: “When staff from the NRCC… explain[ed] the… latest polling in… battleground[s]… they left out a key finding about Trump’s weakness…. Trump’s unfavorable ratings were 15 points higher than his favorable ones in the core districts…. Cheney was alarmed… because Republican campaign officials had also left out bad Trump polling news at a March retreat…”. The districts… would be… ones that came out particularly close in 2020, or that Republicans flipped…. Trump hated… [and] President Biden is very popular…. Cheney’s calculation is … that the party doesn’t have a chance of winning the House unless individual members are allowed to detach themselves from Trump… while the safe Republican seats will remain safe…. It’s reassuring to… think of Cheney not as some kind of unexpectedly noble martyr… but merely smarter than McCarthy…. Fear rules among Republicans, McCarthy especially, and probably some kind of PTSD (Post-Trumpatic Stress Disorder) from which it will take them time to recover. She may be right, technically, but it’s not going to do her much good…
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