blogging for michigan
michigan liberal
new deal 2.0
strange death of liberal america

joe bageant
blended purple
breaking ranks
critiques of libertarianism
death by car
divorce your car
fare-free michigan
'good communication skills'
occasional links & commentary
jack saturday
solidarity economy
trench coat exposed
ultimate superset
underclass rising

anarchist writers
anarhilisme
angel economics
collectif emma goldman
dead time pacifies
robert graham
ideas & action
institute for anarchist studies
poor richard
property is theft!
queering the singularity
spaces of hope
truth, reason & liberty

19 December 2007

Quotations with links


"... a long time ago I decided that there is no privacy in anything digital (which is both a beautiful and a terrifying thing, depending on how much you know about technology). Knowing a bit myself, but not quite enough, I've decided to try and flood the network with as much information about myself as possible in the naive and desperate hope that by creating more positive and truthful information I can counter whatever lies may someday be advanced against what I'm really up to."--Chris Messina quoted by Brian C. Russell


"To the non-expert there seems to be an alarming freeness among economists to rather arbitrarily hold some things to be totally fixed and others to be totally elastic while a willingness to overlook that a lot of life is sticky, and no place more perhaps than in price."--Bruce Webb


"9/11--the bad cop's best friend (and it turns out there are a lot of bad cops.)"--Randolph Fritz


"Of course Aristide has been 'polarizing'. That is like saying that two men kissing on the quad at Oral Roberts University is polarizing. If you don't want to be polarizing figure in Haiti, just accept the continued super-exploitation of 95 percent of the population with equanimity. Despite being a priest, Aristide would have none of that.
"--Louis Proyect


"With all that we have learned, we should be helping our heterosexual brothers and sisters out of their state-defined prisons, not volunteering to join them there."--Jane Rule, quoted by Women's Space


"Just look at average nation-to-nation trade talks. 'Cooperate to remain competitive' 'Remain competitive in a cooperative manner' ???? That's not going to work. Smashmouth competition is really not conducive to loving cooperation."--Wingnut - MaStars


"I'm paraphrasing Bruce Sterling here, but if you give a totalitarian government a hammer, they'll beat you on the head with it. If you distribute hammers to the population of a relatively free society, they'll build houses. Modern information technologies are the hammers and we all have them (the digital divide notwithstanding) and so does the government. We need to be realistic about that and get on with the house-building."--Bill Simmon


"A rough definition of money is 'the ability to make other people work'."--Borisas Cimbleris


"Another thing that the 'local God' learned to teach his disciples... is to 'frown-down-upon' layers BELOW any given layer... and think of those lower layers... as 'lessers' and 'servants to your layer'. And... KEEP LAYERS BELOW YOURS BROKE AND SCRAMBLING FOR BUX... (good for dutifulness) and... MAKE THEM BLAME/FIGHT-WITH EACH OTHER ON THEIR OWN LAYER over the problem(s). "--Wingnut - MaStars


"The relationship between God and humanity is that of omniscient father and obedient child. Those personalities who broke out of that and displayed intellectual curiosity (Eve) or a certain brassy chutzpah (Lucifer) which I think of as indispensable qualities of a revolutionary (to say nothing of a sense of humor), certainly did not advance very far in God's system."--Stacia


"It's hard to understand all this right-wing fury at the friggin' CIA, for god's sake. But throughout history, insane evil leaders have spent most of their time being insanely angry at the people who share the same evil goals but want to go about it in a more rational manner."--Jonathan Schwarz

08 December 2007

Quotations with links


"The narrowminded variety of libertarians, who can see only one threat to markets and freedom - bureaucrats. Ignoring all of human history, this oversimplifying silliness has rendered libertarianism a joke, in the one country where it had a chance."--David Brin


"People don't look for allies when they love, but they do when they hate or become obsessed with a cause."--..::*Sunnely*::..


"Thus, the academe becomes the ideological home for the rationalizations and analyses for the 'free markets,' 'free trade,' and 'deregulation and privatization' which are relentlessly hammered home by the U.P. School of Economics. But our neo-liberal friends neglect to tell us that their prescription is based on freedom for business but discrimination against and repression for the laboring poor."--Roland G. Simbulan


"I've heard more than one activist posit that technology is a creature of the capitalist state. Bullshit. That's like saying reading, writing and basic mathematics are tools of the state and we should reject them."--antisocialite


"The dominance of players like Google is not a fact of nature, but a design decision, so this investigation into the realism of distributed alternatives is very important."--Michel Bauwens


"In particular I direct your attention to the latter parts of the letter where [Samuel] Konkin explicitly claims that there is nothing at all wrong with torture, cops, jails, chains, whips, etc. He says that, as Anarchists, people like myself should have no problem with such things per se, but should object to them only when people are jailed, whipped etc., by some state or government."--Fred Woodworth


"Think of Kerry denying he supported gay marriage -- and recognize that the same sort of people who thought that would win him support are now inside the control room at ClintonHQ"--Lawrence Lessig


"Today, institutionalized education is nothing more than an occupational army standing in a country formerly called education, and its main order is to prevent that something happens. It does not create something, it does not even try to teach anything. It only >shows the instruments< of today's society, the crude and cruel rules of sheer competition, and exterminates any spaces and processes that could get out of control, that could create something dangerous."--Christoph Spehr


"There is no liberty where the outcome is already determined; under such a presumptive and authoritarian logic, security always trumps freedom."--Michael


"As a practice, detournement reflected a contradiction between the recognition that fighting on the same terrain as the enemy is a seductive but inevitable trap, and the desire to occupy the buildings of power under a new name. This contradiction crystallized in the hijacking metaphor: detourne was a verb commonly used to describe the hijacking of a plane."--Joanne Richardson


"What we need to make clear is: in the war between [the] US and Islamists, between the two poles of terrorism, we do not need to support either. We must condemn both. We should form a third pole, a third voice to oppose both."--Azar Majedi


"Progressives have ceded the physical world to 'markets' and technocratic experts--never a good strategy. Technology has become a democracy-free zone."--Christopher Csikszentmihalyi


"There's nothing like having a good repository, and keeping a good lookout, not waiting at home for things to fall into the lap, but prowling about like a wolf for the prey."--Jeremy Belknap


"Every great advance in natural knowledge has involved the absolute rejection of authority."--Thomas Huxley


"If people who hold views that the candidate doesn't agree with, and they give to us, that's their loss."--a spokesperson for the Ron Paul campaign


"If all have plenty, then interaction can be of a solely noneconomic nature, and economics as a science is mere stupidity."--trhurler


"It is likely that genetic engineering will remain unpopular and controversial so long as it remains a centralized activity in the hands of large corporations."--Freeman Dyson


"the people who control institutions care first and foremost about their power within the institution rather than the power of the institution itself. Thus, they would rather the institution 'fail' while they remain in power within the institution than for the institution to 'succeed' if that requires them to lose power within the institution."--Jon Schwartz, quoted by Woody

Web "to do" list


A file in which I accumulate links and searches to check out next time I manage to get my hands on a public access computer...


as


"asperger technical"

tvo autism


biz


10 stupid mistakes of newly self-employed


blog


free blogspot templates

blogdigger local

free blogspot templates


comp


how flash memory works

debian grimoire


dissent


"404 willis"

lansing infoshop

radgeek

gaba

antiauthoritarian

tiny revolution


earth


autumn ridge detention dam


econ


futurist economics

trade & inequality


edu


feral scholar

capital & universities (pdf)


fash


un chapeau sur ma tête


finance


insurance tips

predatory lending association


folkx


joe vialls

patrick flanagan

thomas mulholland

tovarishch tony

penguin of doom

onion volcano

john robb

joanne richardson

junnever


food


eating less meat

hasty pastry


gt


female brains in male bodies


hood


work & finding a job

using nurudin jauhari's degree

(expletive deleted) no-compete clauses


info


gapminder

open content

open knowledge initiative

sheeple beware

avoiding data centralization

p2p in a nutshell

how buying a sell phone works

how municipal wi-fi works

disrespect copyrights!

the neurocommons

public knowledge

michigan community information corps

"privacy is dead" dvd

"cypherpunks anti license"

electro hippies collective

transparency@sunclipse


lex


solove on exhibitionist law

collateral sanctions


med


longevity medicine=basic healthcare


music


guide to buying riaa-free cd's

f*ck guitar center

binary detroit


net


peek-a-booty

mg2


nethack


barney the dinosaur

spellbook of create familiar


opinion


strange death of liberal america

evil liberal propaganda network

sick of survival

mutualist

why capitalism & democracy don't mix

antifa portal

alan de smet's quotebag

call me lefty


paranoia


sousveillance

surveillance

privacy redefined

war on photography

national security archive


philanthropy


give one get one


physics


everett vindicated


politics


notes on 21st century socialism

"pendulum swing"

retire joe knollenberg

to err is truman

feinstein the new lieberman

social democracy in benin

2 party system=criminal conspiracy

communalism

"interstitial strategy"


psych


decognition


radio


sirius vs. xm

how hd radio works

progressive talk in san diego


realestate


san francisco community land trust


religion


atheist experience

challenge religion

pietism not simple anti-sacerdotalism

lalon phokir

bible@wikiality


sf


nesci community

earth hits wiki


soc


cooperation eventually trumps conflict

design your own utopia

are you a sheeple?

stigma net

endarkenment

don't call me generation x


space


chronos

ephemeris 1.0

o'neill colonies


tech


product hacking

new tech benefit only rich & powerful?

timmins technologies


tv


dvd recorder

neuros osd


war


information about the private army


wmd


doomsday weapon

nuking nukes


wymyn


why i am a feminist

17 November 2007

Quotations with links


"In order to get a walkable community you need density, and in order to get more density you need a regional mass transit system. It just boggles my mind that an area this size doesn't have mass transit."--Jana Ecker


"The only college degrees worth having are in the 'thousand year old professions' such as law, architecture, civil engineering, medicine."--John Lawrence


"Politicians, industrial managers, academic administrators, and other leaders often say that innovation is critical to the future of civilization, our country, their company, etc. But in practice, these same people often act as if innovation is an evil that must be suppressed, or at least tightly controlled."--Ronald B. Standler


(ideology: where you no longer have ideas but the ideas have you).--precari-punx


"When someone acts as a Roman in Rome, it doesn't promote Rome. It promotes itself."--Sharon Golan

Web "to do" list


A file in which I accumulate links and searches to check out next time I manage to get my hands on a public access computer...


arts


strictly no photography

house of doom


as


don't cure autism now!

autscape


bio


"cdesign proponentsists"


blog


blogger templates

google webmaster tools


comp


read this to learn c

"command line" ephemeris


dissent


disloyal opposition

"counter institution"

antiinstitutionalism

"anti institutionalism"

freeculture

@h+


econ


tragedy of the anticommons

totac@26econ

totac@p2p

anticommons theory & practice


edu


raduniv


finance


cash now illegal


folkx


nick denardis

alison hymes

brooke


gis


geourl


hood


want a job? submit your dna

education, careers, jobs, employment


info


kommunikationsguerilla

information liberation

how stuff works


libris


book fair deemed security threat


net


download tor

download torpark

truly free account

xerobank browser

cyberspace as place


nethack


hell hound

beartrap


opinion


sheeple


politics


pick any two

02 November 2007

More quotations with links


"For the transhumanist movement to grow and become a serious challenge to their opposites, the bio-Luddites, they will need to distance themselves from their elitist anarcho-capitalist roots and clarify commitments to liberal democratic institutions, values and public policies."--James Hughes Ph.D.


"In Greek 'necessity'- anangke, serves also as the word for 'force,' 'constraint,' 'compulsion,' 'violence,' and 'duress.'"--Earl Shorris quoted by Jack Saturday


"Although their effect is similar, the economic laws which come into operation in an exchange economy such as capitalism are not natural laws, since they arise out of a specific set of social relationships existing between human beings."--Alan Johnstone


"Sure we need to survive, but let's acknowledge the desperation under this drive to take everything we do, are or think and try to get cash for it. It reminds me of a young child who shows her father a drawing. He playfully offers her a dollar for it and 15 minutes later she comes back with 5 more. What got lost there in between the first spontaneous artwork and the 5 subsequent calculated ones?"--szoutewelle


"Although some might disagree with me, I think the biopunk movement is pro-clone. Anything to change the way humans breed is a Good Thing. It gets us out of the mommy-daddy-baby continuum."--Annalee Newitz


"There is no third party payment scheme that allows me to ignore the fact that your time is 'worth' over twenty times per hour more than what I earn when I am working in the employ of others."--Roger N. Meyer


"I remember reading up on Carlyle in the months following 911. It was the firm that both the Bushes and bin Ladens held stock in. The private ownership dynamic certainly has had negative consequences for the public."--Bretton Jones

web "to do" list


as


hooked on stimming!

positive stims

stim list

autism, genius and greatness


bio


clone rights united front

ribofunk

free alba!

techsploitation


econ


what is preferensism?

new rules


edu


covert curriculum

10 reasons not to go to college


finance


cdo

siv


food


premier bacon


gt


forcing boys to be boys

gender shock


hood


precari-punx

creativity in science and engineering

personnel looks at all the trivial surface stuff


info


what is datablogging?

john tropea on datablogging

underground systems


lex


"reparative therapy"=child abuse (pdf)


med


drug induced movement disorders


opinion


mensa calgary


paranoia


absolute tyranny


philosophy


berube on nanosocialism

viridian design


politics


impact of authoritarian conservatism, part 3


queer


gay today

calculated compassion

square pegs


transit


transportation riders united

31 October 2007

The aristocracy of push


The market economy is a tool which the more assertive use quite effectively to extract both producer and consumer surplus from the less assertive. The market economy is thus a meritocracy of assertiveness. That it is probably also a meritocracy of other things seems plausible, but this is of little consolation when there are few help wanted ads in fields other than sales or collections. The fact that well over 90% of openings are unadvertised is of little consolation when you don't have a (expletive deleted) "network."


According to the (expletive deleted) economics textbooks, extraction of surplus from producers or consumers is associated with incomplete information, price discrimination and market power (monopoly and monopsony). It seems obvious to me that pure assertiveness can also accomplish this result, quite independently of the competitive or informational condition of an industry. After all, everyone knows that the squeaky wheel gets the grease.

web "to do" list


26 October 2007

"Earlier in the morning, and the reason why an officer was in McDonald's in the first place, was that there had been a robbery. One officer responded to the robbery call. On the other hand, there were at least three police cruisers on the scene and six or seven officers involved to sort out the alleged crime of a homeless woman needing to use the bathroom. What is wrong with this picture?"--Mike Rhodes


"Our future includes such things as, kidnapping for extortion (since only the living body of the truly rich is worth anything now), giving rise to the power of the 'gated community'; meaning that we should expect to see more almost medaeval walled areas within our cities, leaving behind the similarly medaeval ghettos."--Murdock


"In a world without walls or fences, what need have we for windows and gates"--cht


"In order to create a revolution that can put an end to all domination, it is necessary to put an end to the tendency we all have to submit."--Venomous Butterfly


"...if we insist on remaining affluent we will need to remain heavily armed."--Ted Trainer


"For many people it no longer makes sense to organize around their work situation. Our work is constantly changing, it is never really defined."--Jacobito


"I always thought the rolodex factor was something strongly implied, but never discussed. ... Now people are explicit about and even screaming about their rolodexes. I guess that’s the market economy in action."--Elisa

still another web "to do" list


10 October 2007

Still more quotations with links


"...the fundamental structure of a market economy--reliable information."--David Mulholland


"...you do not win ARGUMENTS against Fascists, you must win WARS against them."--Woody


"You either want a single-payer system in this country [Canada] or you want an American-style system. And don't kid yourself that there's anything in between."--Shirley Douglas


"To all the precarious workers, both natives and migrants, men and women. To the contortionists of flexibility and the acrobats of everyday life. To the temporary workers and contractors, ..."--Mayday Milan Call


"It's a very uniting thing to see different people from the same generation working their 9-to-5 placeholder gigs, waiting for their real lives to begin." ~ Joe Reid


"Among other things, the Terms and Conditions forbid the practice of science (e.g. trying to understand how a program works, its underlying operational principles, etc.)."--Steve Mann


"The worker who takes home the paycheck and typically buys "toys" and has a commute is contributing to global ecocide and corporate domination. It's almost counter-intuitive that a non-worker or welfare recipient is living as the better planetary citizen, even if by happenstance."--Jan Lundberg


"When we complain about the targeted market junk mail we receive because someone has discovered personal information about us, it is like complaining about the bad smell from our gas stove, rather than complaining about the fact that our stove is leaking."--Steve Mann


"Ecological economics pioneer Robert Costanza likens conventional economics to a bucket full of water that's ready to tip. All it needs is one sharp jolt. So, let's kick it over"--adbusters


"If Oliver Twist has no money to buy a crust of bread, his zero allotment is 'efficient.'"--Max Sawicky


"If capitalists are not happy with things, they make it clear that it
is their ball and unless you follow their rules they are
taking their ball home and then no one can play."--Eric Nilsson


"We need to go beyond market freedom into human freedom."--Anarcho


"It's hard to be functional when you have to spend all your time and energy focusing on making eye contact and not tapping your feet..."--Jennifer McIlwee Myers


"...the problem with pounding a square peg in a round hole is not that the hammering is hard work. It's that you are destroying the peg."--Paul Collins


"All paid employments absorb and degrade the mind."--Aristotle


"Where the Danes provide their unemployed with up to 80 percent of their previous salary and the Germans provide them with 60 percent, America has deregulated the rich while throwing a growing portion of its working class in jail."--Daniel Lazare


"Whereas the common modern word for labour, work and worker in the Latin based languages like French, Spanish, Italian, etc. is trabajo and travail (from the Latin tripalium, or 'instrument of torture')"--Michael Seidman


"information wants to be free and the resolution wants to be high."--Ryan Singel

Blogging meme



By way of Asperger Square 8



1. Is there a regular time of day when you compose your posts?



No, although my most creative writing occurs during the hours when everything is possible; after midnight.



2. Do you prefer to write a certain number of posts per week (or per month)?



No. My output is very sporadic.



3. Are you more likely to write a post when you're happy about the topic, or do you mainly blog when you feel like ranting?



Mainly ranting. But I strive for conflict-free language, a project very much facilitated by the fact that I do all my composing offline.



4. Do you write from notes or an outline, or are your posts mostly spontaneous?



Most of my longer posts start as a "bulleted list", with paragraph text filled in. Most recent example in this form is Time for the mitten to bite the hand



I rarely post anything spontaneously, although I did in a more innocent time.



5. Do you try to maintain a central theme for your blog and avoid random topics that don't fit the theme?



No. I started the blog as a "containment bucket" so as to avoid posting overly-opinionated content at my "ecumenical" projects (both of which are really hurting for read/write participants other than myself, BTW), pubwan scratchpad and vagrant netizen tribe. It has evolved to include both opinionated and unopinionated essays on any subject that isn't clearly apropos to the other two venues.



State-level Michigan politics is a frequent topic, and another is speculative microeconomics. Recently I have begun to blog my "web to-do lists," and "quotation compilations." More about this under "rituals" (#6)



6. Are there any interesting rituals associated with your blogging?



Yes! All of my online activity, including blogging, is highly ritualized. This is an adaptation to the fact that I have no residential internet access, so all of my online activity is at the public library. My online and offline methodology is described in considerable detail at vagrant netizen (linked to above, #5)

30 September 2007

Meme



Via Le Colonel Chabert by way of love and terrorism.



- Grab the nearest book.

- Open the book to page 123.

- Find the fifth sentence.

- Post the text of the sentence in your journal along with these instructions.

- Don’t search around and look for the “coolest” book you can find. Do what’s actually next to you.



'The details of the following script are implementation-dependent.' (from 'Common LISP: The Reference', Franz Inc., 1988, Addison-Wesley')

More interesting quotations with links


"inquiry into the criminal question made plain that the great mass of crimes are crimes against property; even those crimes arising from jealousy are property crimes resulting from the notion of a right of property in flesh. Allowing property to be eradicated, both in practice and in spirit, no crimes are left but such are the acts of the mentally sick."--Voltairine De Cleyre


"One wonders how long such a system can last since most kleptocracies fail, bloodily, when there is no more wealth to loot. The powerful leave, and poor fight each other for what's left."--Kvatch


"Death To Memes! Up With People!"--William


"When the working class unites, there will be a lot of jobless labor leaders."--Eugene Debs


"...you do what your boss says because you've become dependent on your job..."--anon.(?)


"Look at the development of Christian theology: the paradox of salvation by good works versus salvation by faith would never exist had Christianity greater respect for critical thought."--Jason

another web "to do" list


ag


comments to nisc

white list faq

mad cowboy


arts


revenge over graffiti crackdown


as


national report on needs of adults with asperger

a different kind of asperger's

anorexia the female asperger's?

guide to the unwritten rules of life

asperger vs. bipolar

asperger rates skyrocketing

asperger blog

wrong planet

aspies for freedom

neurodiversity

autism hub

autism acceptance project

stims


astrology


aries moon

moon in aries


atrocity


palast taser senator kerry


bio


ubiquinone

guerrilla science


biz


lbo-talk

security ruf

yahoo! feeding frenzy

business under attack

dupermarket


car


the green automobile

"vehicularly housed"

inverse path


cat


all cats have asperger's


comp


torpark

$10 laptop

linux for anarchists

"common lisp"

pilot


dissent


strike the root

modesto anarcho main website

midwest action network

diy guide


earth


are cities green?


econ


a basic income for all

not economics

the world owes you a living

heard we might be having a recession

altruistic punishers

cooperation commons

is consumer really king?


edu


po' scholar fund

nontraditional graduate fellowship

vagabond scholar

acc suspension case


finance


credit crunch explained

havana charter


folkx


jack saturday

declan mccullagh

emily radcliffe

kate

kami pothukuchi


food


"food deserts"

"detroit black community food secutiry network"

ruth's hemp foods


gis


gisnet


gurd


a cop wrote it


history


dyer lum


hood


create more public sector jobs

operatic side of work

work hard

working less better for globe

blogging for a job

yours truly on networking


info


list of search engines

hacktivismo news

hacklabs

hacking for a cause

sunlight foundation mashup contest

riseup labs

free information

privatization of science

signal dilution

stop big media


jardin


about food not lawns

eugene food not lawns

arcata food not lawns

st. cloud food not lawns

bellingham food not lawns


kid


"child abuse" ptsd


lang


towards understanding e-prime


med


longevity pro+con

cholera epidemic iraq


nethack


spellbook of cone of cold


opinion


destroit

res0l0yx

sans-culotte

deep end of the pool

libertarian community

"collective autonomy"

andy the slack bastard

the experiment

eugene plawiuk

uruknet

moon of alabama

vjel

bohemian


paranoia


our post-privacy future

rorty interview

elites' religion of terrorism

technology in the active voice

armed robots pushed to police

spy drones vs. british sheeple

"public" satellite images may need censorship

big facebook

north korea said to have 600 hackers

panoptic web

mother may i?

"clergy response team"


philanthropy


orlando food not bombs


philosophy


anarchist philosophy

anarcho-transhumanism

democratic transhumanism

transhumanist socialism

fascist transhumanism


politics


democracy on the rocks

obey

unfluence

dual power strategy

kerryitis


religion


blog against theocracy

asperger atheists?

myth of secular moral chaos

the out campaign

brainwashing@jesus camp?


soc


breaking ranks


transit


"mass transit" detroit

taxicabs and public accommodation

coventry cybercar


war


buy them body armor

armed robots patrol iraq

fourth generation warfare

18 September 2007

Time for the mitten to bite the hand



It's time for the state of Michigan to bite the hand that ostensibly feeds it; that hand being the one-trick pony called the auto industry. I myself have lived in the metro Detroit area since the day I was born, so the "analysis" which follows is largely Detroit-based. Nevertheless, the same basic set of problems seems endemic to much if not most of America, and I'm not in the mood to wait even more decades for transportation policy to somehow materialize somewhere between the local and state levels. So I'll frame it as a state-level issue. So sue me.



Michigan needs a transportation policy whose primary goal is to make the (a?) car-free lifestyle feasible, without major inconvenience. Minor inconvenience is no small nuisance, but I vowed once never to promise anyone a rose garden. Obstacles to this desperately-needed public policy focus are numerous and seem intractable:



* Middle class attitudes



The mainstream kulture of the metro Detroit area seems to have a handful of preconceived notions about who is (or should be) in the market for mass transit. Demographic groups for whom mass transit is socially acceptable include the elderly, people of ability and perhaps the occasional high school student. This mainstream constituency does, of course, realize that there are other sorts of folx in the market for a bus ride, such as people too poor to afford a car, or people who have lost their license to DWI (driving while impaired or driving without insurance, take your pick). There seems to be an esteem gap between the "deserving carless" and the "undeserving carless." It is reasoned that with so many civic and philanthropic programs offering rides around town to the elderly and differently-abled, there should be no need for an "expensive" overhaul of what passes for mass transit.



* Prevailing human resources praxis



It never hurts to dress conservative for a J.O.B. interview, and in the Motor City, your car, like your wardrobe, tells the world who you are. Currently standing precedent has it that you can be fired for having an Air America bumper sticker on your car, at least in Colorado. It would stand to reason that arriving at a job interview in a transportation special makes about as much sense as wearing a dirty shirt for the occasion. The concept certainly isn't lost on the automotive segment of downmarket TV advertising around here; specifically used cars and the financing thereof. You see it in help wanted advertising, too--"must have reliable transportation," or even "must have own transportation." Some claim "articulate," in a help-wanted context, is a "code word." I have often wondered aloud whether, in de facto terms, "reliable transportation" is a code word for "late model transportation."



It's said that in the steak business, the role of salescrittership applies to the sizzle, not the steak. It's a very well-known fact that in the dealer-based segment of the used car market, the fast pitch is for the loan, not the car. The really vicious think about borrowed money in general is that it raises the lower limit on "stay afloat" income. This has several very profound implications for the employer-employee relationship. One is that the more money one needs for debt service, the less money one has available to squirrel away as "go to hell money." The more hand-to-mouth one's cash flow picture, the less "luxury" one has to take one's job and shove it, or more importantly, to take any kind of career-strategy risk. This is very important in an economic climate in which people are expected to be much more tolerant of both competition and risk than the previous few generations. The main$tream media describe the automobile as an instrument of personal freedom. For the lower middle class, the automobile is an (expletive deleted) albatross. In addition to car payments, gasoline and insurance are burdens that amount to a sizeable percentage of a below-average paycheck. To add injury to insult, insurance premiums tend to be inversely proportional to the ability to pay, thanks to redlining and "credlining."



* Michigan Vehicle Code



You know you're po' when your car gets orange-tagged.



The poor tax has gone up here in Michigan. The so-called "Driver Responsibility Law" broadens the criteria for police stops for DWI (driving without insurance). In addition to the $175 fine for DWI, there is a "Driver Responsibility Law" "fee" of $500 in three annual installments. Additionally, the in$urance industry assigns you to the so-called "risk pool," so of course what the public sector milks you for is just the tip of the iceberg. Let me make it absolutely clear that I do not advocate DWI. It's a question of whether the punishment fits the crime, and more importantly, a case study in political cowardice. The sad fact (as I see it) is that Governor Granholm is too DLC to have the stones to finance state government with (gasp!) taxes. Other auto-related de facto tax hikes of Granholm's first term include punitively high late fees on fees for driver's licenses, vehicle titles and registrations, etc. Perhaps the state shouldn't have to let its accounts receivable use it as a doormat. But who's really being trodden upon here?



It could be worse. Other states burden car owners, and disproportionately owners of older cars, with such things as emissions tests (and subsequent repair$) and $afety in$pection$.



* Metro-Detroit infrastructure



The Motor City is literally designed around the needs of the Motor. More to the point, it's built around certain assumptions about the good life. We've already discussed the assumption that car ownership or leasing is within reach of anyone who's not a total loser. One assumption underlying North American suburban communities in general is the assumption that high quality of life coincides with low population density.



The infrastructure implications of the automotive lifestyle as a prescriptive social norm are not limited to mass transit. Another casualty is sidewalks. Others include storefronts, public space, front porches as social space, destinations within walking distance, bicycling without serious head protection plus nerves of steel, etc. etc. etc.



* Possible worker displacements



Change never seems to happen without both winners and losers. One can speculate that mass transit that actually works might decrease demand for used car salescritters, repo-critters, carjackers and perhaps others. Hopefully the governor's No Worker Left Behind bill will pass, and will provide sufficient educational benefits to allow them to re-train for other lines of work.



* Entry and exit costs



This arcane jargon comes from the dismal world of economic theory. One of the key difference between a monopoly market and a competitive market is the fact that in a monopoly market entry and exit costs are high, while in a competitive market they are low. By entry costs they mean how much it costs to set oneself up in a certain line of business. Exit costs, I think, have something to do with closing shop, selling or tearing down plant and facilities, environmental cleanup, and the like. Here, I am applying the concept not to entering or exiting being in business for oneself, but to exiting or entering the automotive lifestyle, which is to say entering or exiting the car-free lifestyle. Let's say you attempt to pro-rate (per daily commute, say) the multiple financial burdens of the automotive lifestyle--car price, loan interest, loan gotcha clauses, insurance premiums, insurance deductibles (probabilistically pro-rated, I guess), tax, title, registration, part$, $ervice, police $itations, turtle wax--the whole ball of whacks. Let's say for the sake of argument that your best guesstimate turns out to be more than bus fare. At first glance, it would appear to be a no-brainer. But there's a catch. If you stop driving your car you stop paying for gas and probably most of wear-and-tear (since you have an unstuffed garage). You should also qualify for one of the lower mileage brackets for insurance purposes. But you still need to keep your plates etc. current; the lion's share of that cost, of course, being that insurance is a prerequisite for registration. The obvious solution is simply to sell your car. The catch this time is that now you've taken the plunge and committed yourself to a 100% car-free lifestyle. By forking out $ on keeping your car "legal" you "keep your options open" for eventualities ranging from road trips to bus driver strikes to J.O.B. interviews not within walking distance of a bus stop. Once we're talking about keeping our options open, the math gets intractably hairy, but there's hope. One strategy people have devised for this conundrum is so-called "car sharing." From what I've heard, it sounds like a cooperative economics version of a rental car agency.



* Knee-jerk antisocialism



Part of the reason "public transportation" is a dirty word is because "public" is a dirty word. That's why, for example, the Michigan Department of Public Health was re-christened the Department of Community Health. That's also why, until this point in the present essay, I have used the nomenclature "mass transit." Another dirty word is "subsidy." There seems to be a blanket assumption that public transportation is paid for by taxpayers as well as fare-payers. It is hard to refute this claim when funding for the SMART bus system faces periodic millage renewal votes in Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties.



The fact of knee-jerk reaction against public subsidy can be attacked from several angles. One is to explore the question of whether subsidies for public transportation are more than offset by statutory impediments to its development or use. Another is to expose and document the role of government subsidy in putatively private transportation such as the personal automobile. I plan to start by reading verdant.net's essay Conspiracy to Destroy America's Streetcar Systems. A third approach, of course, is to question the conventional wisdom that the mixed economy (or subsidy in general) is inherently inefficient, bureaucratic or even anti-freedom. The conventional wisdom is that this is a public opinion non-starter in post-Reagan America, but there do seem to be some signs of a pendulum swing. At any rate, I'm only throwing ideas out there. Readers (if any) clearly have their own world-views, and it is simply hoped that an ideologically diverse coalition of citizens can form around a shared belief that mass transit is currently too small a slice of the transportation pie.



* The so-called "on-demand economy"



Conventional wisdom has it that certain traits are (in the aggregate) inherent in American culture (and hence economic behavior). It's unthinkable that car consumers will choose fuel economy over "performance" (except of course as a passing fad in reaction to gasoline price spikes). It's common knowledge that no middle class American will choose to take the bus to work. It's assumed that commuting in America will always be done in private automobiles, most often one person per car. A similar logic is deployed around more generic questions of energy policy. Solar and wind power will never catch on because American's will never accept energy sources that are not available "on demand." The idea that people may once again schedule economic and leisure activities around the day/night cycle, the wind, the tides, etc. is unthinkable.



Perhaps the best way to counteract stereotypes about what things Americans will or will not do is to do the things we're not supposed to, and make a point of being seen doing them. When the number of people seen at bus stops gets noticeably larger and larger, the things we have been told about ourselves so many times by the ma$$ media that we start to believe them, will start to lose their power.



There are many people calling on Michigan to develop a mass-transit-feasible lifestyle. There always have been. We must refuse to be relegated to the margins or dismissed as a fringe element in public opinion. We must insist that the main$tream media present mass transit as mainstream transit, not a charitable gesture by society to the deserving carless. We must not allow the continuation of current cultural norms that hold carlessness in lower esteem than homelessness (not, of course, that bigotry against the homeless is OK). Another future is possible. There is an annual political tradition in Michigan called the Mackinac [sp?] Conference, in which the state's political class goes to Mackinaw [sp?] Island to kiss up to its bu$ine$$ cla$$; traditionally understood to consist largely of the so-called Big 3 (now called the "traditional Big 3"). Now the business community is understood to be more functionally diverse, and more economic diversity is sought. The "Big 3" no longer employ a large portion of the local population. They are making a very conscious and obvious effort to engineer the "legacy" of "generous motors" out of their business models. In times like these, it would not be biting the hand that feeds us to make a studied effort at deep "cutbacks" in our consumption of automobiles.

Hooray for so-called post-autistic economics



They have a website: www.paecon.net



I must start by indicating my objection to the moniker. It plays into the stereotype of autistic people as lacking in empathy, sense of humor, and interests other than mathematics. It is unfortunate that an incipient school that has attracted feminist and afrocentric economists has a name that is a not-so-subtle jab at a demographic group. Ironically, the interests of some of the characteristic varieties of autistics are likely better served by the civil service exams of yesterday's mixed economy than the video resumes of today's neoclassical economy.


On June 21, 2000, so the story goes, economics students at the École Normale Supérieure circulated the petition against autism in economics. Perhaps a perception of political incorrectness in talk of autistic economists, like of autoerotic Buddhists, is due to things getting lost in translation. In any case, I think the nomenclature is unfortunate, but the concerns are worthy.


A "second economics department" has been established at the University of Notre Dame, and has of course been hailed as a mixed blessing for the heterodox or post-autistic economics communities. The post-autistic movement appears at this point not to be a school of economics but a movement. For now, it seems to have become a catch-all term for "schools other than neoclassical." Perhaps the terms "post-autistic economics" and "heterodox economics" are synonymous. The Notre Dame situation seems reminiscent of the treatment of computer programming in college catalogs in the 1980's: Typically there would be a department of Management Science teaching COBOL, and a department of Computer Science teaching "languages other than COBOL."


Consider the following sentence: "The autism of orthodoxy stems from its treatment of the human agent, who is mindless and does not interact with other agents." This seems more than mildly offensive to autistic people, and I don't think it's even a fair characterization of orthodox economics. For example, one of the orthodox teachings that troubles me the most is the strong efficiency hypothesis. This is used as the basis for the claim that prices incorporate all information. The implication is that people can and do convey information to the price mechanism without conveying it to other people. Autistic people tend to be outside the informational loop for reasons that include both disability issues and social exclusion by others. If anything, they have the most to lose under an economic order in which information access is not an entitlement. Ironically, they also possess firsthand knowledge of the fact that prices don't incorporate all information, e.g. the amount of "insider information" inherent in career "networking." Undoubtedly there are autistics working in the economics field, but they are surely are not representative of professional economists. Research careers, like careers in general, aggressively filter out those whose social "networking" skills are not above average.


So, don't blame autism for what's wrong with orthodox or neoclassical economics. But I'm so glad that there is finally some organized resistance within the economics community that I'm inclined to forgive as perhaps innocently naïve the packaging of their program.

Interesting quotations with links


"Money is about power, about testosterone."--Helen Caldecott, on The Time is Now


"...in America, the study of economic history was killed off with the Intellectual, the Social Activist, and the Teacher."--Stephen T. Ziliak


"Government is the entertainment division of the military industrial complex."--The late Frank Zappa, quoted by litbrit


"In the end, economic growth is, in more than a metaphoric sense, the largest pyramid scheme possible."--Mark Meritt quoted in Growth is Madness


"The human species was not born into a market economy."--Eliezer Yudkowsky


debt=indenture


"Class warfare is being waged in America and the wrong side is winning."- Bernie Sanders, In These Times


"There is no God but the logical structure of the universe, and Mohammed is not his prophet. "--Johnny Red


"Unless we establish an economic system that does not rely on expropriation and exploitation, no amount of aid or trade is going to end world poverty. It is worse than naïve; it is a deception to argue that it might."--Molly Scott Cato


“Being born is like being kidnapped. And then sold into slavery.”--Andy Warhol


"Where there is a monopoly the consumer is, of course, helpless, and where there is competition he is almost entirely at the mercy of advertising."--Walter Lippman, Drift and Mastery, 1914, quoted in Flagrancy to Reason


If your heart is free, the ground you're standing on is liberated territory. So Defend It!--anarcha


As bad as a “Mommy State” is, the idea of a “Daddy State” is infinitely more terrifying.--Jason McBrayer


"Capitalism is a system of pimps and whores. You are either a pimp, whore or a little of both."--Graeme


"For every Ph.D. there is an equal and opposite Ph.D."--Albert A. Bartlett


"Market capitalism is a restless system of experimentation in pursuit of sustainable rents based on private knowledge."--John Nightingale and Jason Potts


"You can automate the production of cars but you cannot automate the production of customers".--Walter Reuther


"How can a building owner that festoons his public surfaces with the visual intrusion of advertising into the public viewshed then object to personal grafitti?"--verdant.net


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