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Two Things Can Be True at Once: Class Warfare Edition

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Matt Yglesias quotes Cory Booker:

“I am so frustrated with the obvious changes going on between my dad’s age and now,” said Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) delivering a stem-winder of a midday keynote address Tuesday at the Ideas Conference, hosted in Washington by the Center for American Progress to celebrate its 15th anniversary. “It’s like we inherited this incredible house from our parents and we trashed it.”

….Without stinting the importance of the civil rights movement, he also argued Tuesday that “you don’t even need to use race as one of the lenses” to understand how kids born into low-income families are disadvantaged in life. He said explicitly that when he read Hillbilly Elegy and other work about poor rural whites, it reminded him of his neighbors in Newark. “My neighbors are incredible folks who work hard — in many cases, they work harder — than their parents did, but they’re making less money.”

Here’s the closest I can come to showing how median income has changed over the past half century for Booker’s neighbors in Newark:

This chart is not perfect. “Newark” includes the entire Newark metro area, not just the city itself. And there’s no data for median income, so I had to perform a rough-and-ready conversion of per-capita income to median income based on national data. That said, this chart probably understates Newark’s income growth anyway. It includes only ordinary wage income, not income from dividends or interest or capital gains or Social Security or any other government transfers. Nor does it include noncash income like Medicaid or CHIP. If you add in all those things, the life of the average Newark resident hasn’t gotten 50 percent better since 1975, it’s gotten more like 100 percent better.

I find myself in a weirdly precarious position these days. I pretty firmly believe that the explosion of income inequality since 1980 has been a disaster for America. Sluggish income growth, which eventually turned into completely stagnant income growth, has sapped the spirit of the average middle-class worker, who grew up still believing that life was supposed to get better and better every year thanks to the growth of the American economy. By the early 90s that had turned into a faint memory, and after 2000 it was just a sick joke. Meanwhile, the rich just kept on getting richer and richer as wages were squeezed in order to set aside a bigger and bigger share of corporate profits for executives and wealthy shareholders. The whole thing was profoundly disheartening. What was the point of that whole “fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work” thing if lawyers and CEOs and Wall Street bankers were just going to hoover up all the money for themselves?

And yet, even in the era of Trump, Booker’s hyperbole bothers me because I think it motivates unwarranted despair more than it motivates action. For him to say that folks in Newark are working harder than they were 30 or 40 years ago is almost certainly untrue, and to say they’re making less money is absolutely untrue. I hate to hear stuff like this partly because I value the truth, but even more so because telling people how miserable they are makes them discouraged, not raring for a fight.

That said, Booker would be a good messenger for the message Democrats should embrace: unapologetic class warfare that doesn’t pretend we’re all miserable wretches. Bernie Sanders tried the class warfare part of this, of course, but Booker has a couple of big advantages over Sanders. First, he’s not a socialist. He grew up in a comfortable, suburban, middle-class household, and that makes him a much more acceptable messenger.¹ Second, he’s black, which means that he knows (or should know) how to deliver this message without the racial tone deafness that sometimes dogged Sanders.

This is the main point of Yglesias’ post, in fact. The question is, how do Democrats run a racially sensitive presidential campaign without alienating the working-class white voters they need? One answer is to run a class-based campaign that will obviously benefit people of color, but without actually saying so explicitly. This is sort of a mirror-image dog whistle: blacks and Hispanics understand and accept what you’re not saying, while white folks don’t know anything is happening at all. Barack Obama did this on a smallish scale, but in the same way that Sarah Palin paved the way for a more effective Palin, perhaps Sanders paved the way for a more effective Sanders.

A more effective Sanders couldn’t expect much corporate support. But the fact is that a class-based campaign doesn’t really have to be especially anti-corporate. You can be fully in favor of a business-friendly economic climate (as I am) while also believing that the profits it generates should be more broadly shared (as I do). And if Trump has re-taught us anything, it’s that people love enemies. For Trump, it was China. For Booker it could be Wall Street. Why not?

¹Maybe this is fair, maybe it’s not. But it’s true. Politics isn’t always fair.

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jepler
1 day ago
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or the alternative, in which your graph does not represent reality. PCE and CPI seem to exclude housing, health care, and education. And if I understand the author right, they took per-capita (average/mean) income data and "converted" it to median data somehow? average income is the view on income that tends to hide inequality. I have failed to find a nice graph of 50-year poverty levels in NJ or Newark, but I have my suspicions about what they will show.
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bug of the day

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urtica posted a photo:

bug of the day

Sphinx Butt! (More of the Abbott’s sphinx from the other night)



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jepler
1 day ago
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[takes picture to hairdresser, points excitedly]
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Should The Media Cover Tesla Accidents?

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Long-time Slashdot reader rufey writes: Last weekend a Tesla vehicle was involved in a crash near Salt Lake City Utah while its Autopilot feature was enabled. The Tesla, a Model S, crashed into the rear end of a fire department utility truck, which was stopped at a red light, at an estimated speed of 60 MPH. "The car appeared not to brake before impact, police said. The driver, whom police have not named, was taken to a hospital with a broken foot," according to the Associated Press. "The driver of the fire truck suffered whiplash and was not taken to a hospital."
Elon Musk tweeted about the accident:

It's super messed up that a Tesla crash resulting in a broken ankle is front page news and the ~40,000 people who died in US auto accidents alone in past year get almost no coverage. What's actually amazing about this accident is that a Model S hit a fire truck at 60mph and the driver only broke an ankle. An impact at that speed usually results in severe injury or death.

The Associated Press defended their news coverage Friday, arguing that the facts show that "not all Tesla crashes end the same way." They also fact-check Elon Musk's claim that "probability of fatality is much lower in a Tesla," reporting that it's impossible to verify since Tesla won't release the number of miles driven by their cars or the number of fatalities. "There have been at least three already this year and a check of 2016 NHTSA fatal crash data -- the most recent year available -- shows five deaths in Tesla vehicles."

Slashdot reader Reygle argues the real issue is with the drivers in the Autopilot cars. "Someone unwilling to pay attention to the road shouldn't be allowed anywhere near that road ever again."


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jepler
1 day ago
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absolutely more coverage needs to be shown on companies who claim their cars are radically safer than other cars.
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fxer
1 day ago
hear that, we're coming for you Volvo
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Reflections of Venus and Moon

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Reflections of Venus and Moon

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jepler
2 days ago
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this was pretty much the scene last night. except, without the ocean. and with cloudy haze. and with the glare of city lights. and some trees. and the photo I tried to take was awful on my cellphone. still, it was beautiful.
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glenn
2 days ago
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Waterloo, Canada
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Floating Pacific Island Is In the Works With Its Own Government, Cryptocurrency

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An anonymous reader quotes a report from CNBC: Nathalie Mezza-Garcia is a political scientist turned "seavangelesse" -- her term for an evangelist in favor of living off the grid -- and on the ocean. Mezza-Garcia spoke with CNBC's Matthew Taylor about what she sees as the trouble with governments, and why she believes tech startups should head to Tahiti. This seavangelesse is a researcher for the Blue Frontiers and Seasteading Institute's highly-anticipated Floating Island Project. The project is a pilot program in partnership with the government of French Polynesia, which will see 300 homes built on an island that runs under its own governance, using a cryptocurrency called Varyon.

"Once we can see how this first island works, we will have a proof of concept to plan for islands to house climate refugees," she said. The project is funded through philanthropic donations via the Seasteading Institute and Blue Frontiers, which sells tokens of the cryptocurrency Varyon. The pilot island is expected to be completed by 2022 and cost up to $50 million. As well as offering a home for the displaced, the self-contained islands are designed to function as business centers that are beyond the influence of government regulation.

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jepler
2 days ago
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.. or is it just an ARG promoting a survival-horror movie? only time will tell.
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Canonical Shares Desktop Plans For Ubuntu 18.10

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Canonical's Will Cooke on Friday talked about the features the company is working on for Ubuntu 18.10 "Cosmic Cuttlefish" cycle. He writes: We're also adding some new features which we didn't get done in time for the main 18.04 release. Specifically: Unlock with your fingerprint, Thunderbolt settings via GNOME Control Center, and XDG Portals support for snap.

GNOME Software improvements
We're having a week long sprint in June to map out exactly how we want the software store to work, how we want to present information and to improve the overall UX of GNOME Software. We've invited GNOME developers along to work with Ubuntu's design team and developers to discuss ideas and plan the work. I'll report back from the sprint in June.

Snap start-up time
Snapcraft have added the ability for us to move some application set up from first run to build time. This will significantly improve desktop application first time start up performance, but there is still more we can do.

Chromium as a snap
Chromium is becoming very hard to build on older releases of Ubuntu as it uses a number of features of modern C++ compilers. Snaps can help us solve a lot of those problems and so we propose to ship Chromium only as a snap from 18.10 onwards, and also to retire Chromium as a deb in Trusty. If you're still running Trusty you can get the latest Chromium as a snap right now.
In addition, Ubuntu team is also working on introducing improvements to power consumption, adding support for DLNA, so that users could share media directly from their desktop to DLNA clients (without having to install and configure extra packages), and improved phone integration by shipping GS Connect as part of the desktop, the GNOME port of KDE Connect. Additional changelog here.
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jepler
2 days ago
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canonical plans to stop maintaining important, major software in ".deb" format: first on the block, chromium browser.
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futurile
2 days ago
Yup, because FOSS changed and it's becoming increasingly hard to maintain dependencies. Logically you switch to atomic and static installs.
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sirshannon
1 day ago
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2018: the year of Linux on the desktop.
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