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unrepentant progress

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Name: Wouldn\'t you love to know?
Gender: Do not display
Home country: USA
Current location: The internet
Member since: Sun Mar 24, 2013, 02:10 PM
Number of posts: 611

Journal Archives

The '80s: The Decade That Made Us

This looks interesting, but based on the show synopsis it sounds like NatGeo will be making a dive into bad history territory. This was the thing that irked me so much about David Sirota's book "Back to Our Future" too -- trying to pin everything in the contemporary world on the 1980s is irresponsible. Much of what we saw in the '80s from Reaganism to personal computing was brewing long before then.

"It's, like, totally tubular. The '80s: The Decade That Made Us isn't about nostalgia; it's about the history of our modern world that spawned political, technological, cultural, and social revolutions that began in the United States and went on to dominate the world. This cultural programming event is the defining biography of a generation. It's about a decade of people, decisions, and inventions that changed our future, told from the perspective of the unknowing history makers who lived these iconic moments. We worked out, worked harder, played harder and consumed more—because the 1980s was the decade when we went forward to the future. The first launch of the Space Shuttle triggered a technological explosion in global communications that gave birth to our modern love affair with smartphones; Madonna rolled around on stage in a wedding dress, sending shock waves through a celebrity-hungry world that can’t get enough of Lady Gaga and Katy Perry today. These and other incredible stories reveal surprising, unexpected details and twists and turns from a decade you only thought you knew. Narrated by an original member of the "Brat Pack," Rob Lowe, The '80s will put us back in touch with our inner Valley Girl by reliving the music, inspirational sports moments, and scenes from iconic movies and TV shows, as well as the very best (and worst) of hair and fashion."
Posted by unrepentant progress | Tue Apr 9, 2013, 08:39 PM (7 replies)

The Lady's Not For Turning

Contrary to popular (or at least leftist) myth, neoliberals are not untrammeled individualists. In many ways, they’re not that different from traditional conservatives: that is, they see individuals embedded in social institutions like the church or the family or schools—all institutions, it should be said, that are hierarchical and undemocratic. ... What often gets lost in these debates is what I think is the real, or at least a main, thrust of neoliberalism, according to some of its most interesting and important theoreticians (and its actual practice): not to liberate the individual or to deregulate the marketplace, but to shift power from government ... to the private authority of fathers and owners.

Posted by unrepentant progress | Mon Apr 8, 2013, 02:56 PM (2 replies)

Unfit To Report

Some more solid reporting about Chana Joffe-Walt and her hit piece on disability beneficiaries from Mark Ames at NSFWCorp. The original is paywalled, but you can read the full piece at the link.

So the mystery of Chana Joffe-Walt’s ideological baggage is solved: She’s an austerity-theorist, just like her boss Adam Davidson and just like their show’s sole sponsor, Ally Bank (which just happened to take over $17 billion in taxpayer bailout money). No blame from Chana Joffe-Walt for the financial industry, despite all the illegal, fraudulent, corrupt things they’ve been caught doing over and over and over to profit off debt. No, Chana believes it’s all the teachers, postal workers, and lake-dryer-uppers’ fault. She also wants you to know that without “difficult” choices, such as robbing your pensions and reducing your income, America will turn into Greece, that terrible place, full of lake-dryer-uppers.

Chana Joffe-Walt’s job, selling bank propaganda to ostensibly progressive media, seems to run in her family. Chana’s brother, Benjamin Joffe-Walt, works in the heart of the Mega-Bank propaganda business, as a Washington DC-based “Strategic Communications & Public Relations Specialist” currently heading Change.org’s public relations.

Benjamin is using Change.org exactly the same way his sister is using NPR: exploiting a trusted source to churn out corporate PR. Change.org used to be one of the most successful progressive grassroots organizing outfits, a site for online petitions that translate into political action. Then late last year, Change.org was furtively taken over by the PR industry, monetizing the credibility Change.org had built up and making it available to front-groups, the public relations industry and advertisers.

Posted by unrepentant progress | Sun Apr 7, 2013, 09:53 PM (3 replies)


Had dinner the Thursday night before last with a group of disability scholars, educators, advocates, and writer and poet-activists with disabilities. Talk around the table touched on many things, but kept coming back around to this story on NPR's This American Life, Unfit for Work: The Startling Rise in Disability in America, by Chana Joffe-Walt. What's “startling” to Joffe-Walt isn't that there's been a rise in the number of disabled Americans, but that there's been a rise in the number of people with "disabilities" collecting disability benefits instead of going out and earning a paycheck.

It's an exasperating piece, exemplifying much of what's wrong with elite journalism and for that reason will probably earn Joffe-Walt all kinds of awards, rewards, and plaudits from her peers. The consensus among my dinner companions was that it ought to earn her a place in hell or at least some remedial time in their classrooms.

Naturally, considering their conditions, situations, experiences, and interests, they were furious at the many ways they felt Joffe-Walt had failed to address real and serious issues regarding disabilities and had implicitly maligned all people with disabilities as cheats and layabouts.

They were in agreement that Joffe-Walt is a complete ignoramus on the subject of disability and they had lots of recommendations for books and articles she should have read and scholars and activists she should have spoken with. But most of them were academics and academics live on the belief that a little reading and a little education can do wonders.


After reading Lance's post, read this open letter from former commissioners of the Social Security Administration:

As former Commissioners of the Social Security Administration (SSA), we write to express our significant concerns regarding a series recently aired on This American Life, All Things Considered, and National Public Radio stations across the U.S. ("Unfit for Work: The Startling Rise of Disability in America". Our nation’s Social Security system serves as a vital lifeline for millions of individuals with severe disabilities. We feel compelled to share our unique insight into the Social Security system because we know firsthand the dangers of mischaracterizing the disability programs via sensational,anecdote-based media accounts, leaving vulnerable beneficiaries to pick up the pieces....
Posted by unrepentant progress | Sun Apr 7, 2013, 08:04 PM (11 replies)

Don't Hate Her Because She's Successful

Employers take note, Americans, especially American women, can be easily convinced to forgo money if it's not enough money to be flaunted or if something else can be.

The same should apply to men, the difference is working men have an Act I backstory: two generations ago and back the whole game for men was the money, the lifestyle, the house/wife/car-- getting rich. I'm no fan of unions but they played it straight: if you're going to sacrifice your whole life and lower back for the benefit of a faceless corporation then you've got to get paid. But young, aspirational women can be convinced that working longer, "a seat at the table", "promotions" to management-- these are worthy goals: Sandberg said so.

Just because my posts have lots of typos doesn't mean I'm lazy. I am not saying not to work hard, I am not saying not to run out the clock, I'm saying it has to be meaningful, it has to lead somewhere, it has to be for something, and if it doesn't then at least it has to pay. Amazingly on purpose, in the cacophony of economic debates, it's no longer acceptable to talk money. You can talk about unemployment vs. employment, class, titles, debt, growth, seats at table-- but not money, unless they are actors or sports stars. If I told you Katniss was making $10M or $90M you wouldn't know the difference, but try to get $1/hr more from your manager and you find out what a dollar is worth. "I'd like to see you take on more initiative," says your manager, "then maybe we can come up with some solutions that are right for both of us." I'm sorry, is a guy with a Blackberry and a Fox News app telling me I need to stay until 7 but I'm not worth $1/hr more?

None of this has anything to do with feminism, stop saying that word, it's meaningless. This trick applies to men, too, let's go back to Zuckerberg and his hoodie: off of half a century of "the clothes make the man" and "don't dress for the job you have, dress for the job you want", the right to NOT have to get dressed up is sold to men as a perk, but look at the alchemy: it is 100% certain that if you think it's wicked that your job has casual everydays, then you are smart, get paid way less than you are worth and, most importantly, you will never dare ask for more money. Eventually dressing down will be sold as aspirational for women, but don't sweat it, wearing sneakers is a pro-feminist act, after all, they're made almost exclusively by women.

Posted by unrepentant progress | Sun Apr 7, 2013, 08:01 PM (0 replies)

As Republicans Hail Hayek, Their Plans Advance Friedman

As he undertook an American lecture tour in 1944, Hayek expressed frustration that many of his most ardent acolytes seemed not to have read the book. Although “The Road to Serfdom” expressed deep anxieties about central planning, it was also explicit about the positive role that government could play. “Probably nothing has done so much harm to the liberal cause,” Hayek wrote, as a “wooden insistence” on “laissez-faire.”

Hayek was quick to point out a number of areas where regulations might be beneficial, including the restriction of excessive working hours, the maintenance of sanitary conditions and the control of poisonous substances. And he argued that the price system became “ineffective” when property owners weren’t charged for the damages they caused; hence the need to regulate deforestation, farming, and the smoke and noise produced by factories. “In such instances,” he wrote, “we must find some substitute for the regulation by the price mechanism.”

Much of the contemporary animus against excessive regulation more closely resembles ideas first brought into general circulation by Milton Friedman. Where Hayek perceived a host of areas that might be improved by regulation, Friedman saw almost none.

In the 1960s, although very few among even his closest allies shared such views, Friedman advocated for the abolition of almost every regulatory arm of the federal government. He argued that the agencies with famous abbreviations -- the ICC, FCC, FDA -- should all be shuttered to grant greater discretion to consumers, whose actions Friedman viewed as the most reliable record of public opinion. If doctors and dentists would be allowed to practice without licensing requirements, he said, the cost of care would plunge, yielding benefits that far outweighed any dangers that uncertified practitioners might pose. (If one proved inept with a drill, Friedman reasoned, consumer preferences would soon take that into account.)

Posted by unrepentant progress | Thu Mar 28, 2013, 09:41 PM (2 replies)
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