Oh My God, The Wages!

January 10th, 2015

There was consternation on CNBC yesterday after the Employment Situation report showed a drop in wages. I find this hilarious because CNBC is the media flagship of neoliberalism, America’s national ideology, and the beating heart of neoliberalism is low wages.

The primary goal of our economic policy is to beat down wages via the mass off-shoring of jobs, and the mass immigration of cheap labor. Not to mention flat-out criminal corporate wage-theft (keep reading). Yes, this is an evil policy, but it is a successful one. Very successful, as evidenced by the massive increase in corporate profits. Devouring the middle class might be the most-profitable economic policy ever.

The talking heads on CNBC should have been celebrating. Instead, they are baffled that their ideology isn’t producing a land of rainbows, lollipops, and puppy dogs. What a bunch of brainwashed buffoons.

To illustrate, imagine a planter growing cotton on a thousand acres. Then he bribes the government to run-off the Native Americans living next door, buys the land, and doubles the size of his plantation. Now he needs more workers, so he goes to the market and purchases a hundred more slaves. That night, he drinks a toast to himself: “I am a great jobs creator!” But wages have not improved; they were $0.00 per hour before, and are still $0.00 now.

What is happening in the USA isn’t too much different. Recently, one of our fabulous jobs-creators in Silicon Valley did something similar. They flew in eight workers from India, made them work 120 hours per week, and paid them only $1.21 per hour. Now, let me point out something that might not have occurred to you: $1.21 per hour is lot closer to $0.00 per hour (slavery) than it is to the California minimum wage of $9 per hour.

That is a microcosm of what is happening in the USA. America’s once mighty middle-class workforce has, to a great extent, been either eliminated by off-shoring, or replaced by a massive foreign scab workforce tens-of-millions strong.

And what can Janet Yellen do about that? Absolutely nothing. The best she can do is keep rates low, and pray, but low rates cannot even put a dent in neoliberalism. Ultimately, it’s not her job, and she has no power to stop the forces driving wages lower.

If you are a neoliberal baffled by the lack of wage growth, may I suggest a psychiatrist skilled in cult deprogramming?

Further reading: Here is the story that I mentioned above: “Bay Area Tech Company Caught Paying Imported Workers $1.21 per Hour.” Management’s excuse was they thought that they could pay India’s minimum wage; that somehow U.S. and California laws do not apply to immigrant workers. Do they also think that they could go to Sudan and purchase slaves, and keep them slaves in California? Maybe they do. Maybe management’s homes should be searched. Interesting fact: back in the 1990’s, I worked for a software company in Silicon Valley that had offices in the same building as the company in the story, Electronics for Imaging. What if Janet Yellen parachuted into EFI’s offices? What could she do? Not a damn thing.

Funny: Mohamed El-Erian calls it the “wage puzzle.” Story here.

Forty Acres of Sand and a Camel

December 21st, 2014

How much money do you think that Vladimir Putin had to spend to conquer Crimea? Could it be anywhere near the trillion dollars that we spent conquering Iraq? I doubt it. Sure, Crimea is much smaller than Iraq, and Crimea is right next door to Russia, but why was it such a cakewalk for Putin compared to our decade-long debacle in Iraq? Is Putin a military genius? Are Russian forces that much superior to ours? No. Putin had some help from Joe Stalin.

Stalin frog-marched the Tatars out of Crimea, and surged in ethnic Russian settlers. Today, ethnic Russians are a majority in Crimea, so they didn’t have any ethnic motivation to resist Putin’s invasion.

Stalin surged Russians settlers into numerous other nations from the Baltics in Europe to Uzbekistan in Central Asia, to the Kurile Islands north of Japan. As we speak, Beijing is surging Han Chinese into Tibet and Xinjiang, Israeli settlers are colonizing the West Bank, and the Catholic Church has always expanded its demographic footprint by encouraging large families. My Catholic parents had five children, and there were other Catholic families in my neighborhood with double that number.

And that’s how efficient imperial conquest is done. That’s how we got Texas from Mexico (and that’s how Mexico will get it back). In 1824, Mexico opened up Texas to legal immigration. Six years later, there were twice as many Americans in Texas as there were Mexicans. Oops. Five years after that, the immigrants (who did not assimilate) fielded an army and defeated all the Mexican troops in the state.

Today, we have not sent any settlers to Afghanistan or Iraq, and hardly anybody expects that our conquests will “stick.” Hell, we have already lost a big chunk of Iraq to the Islamic State.

But what if we did send settlers? What if we gave them 40 acres of sand and a camel. The deal would be that if they could hold off the natives they would get the mineral rights to the oil that’s just a few inches below the sand in some parts of Iraq. (The camels would be used to haul weapons and ammo, not plow the sand.) But of course, we are too politically correct to use such a strategy, and that’s why we shouldn’t be in the empire business. We’re just not very good at it.

Note: “Forty Acres and a Mule” was a slogan in use after the Civil War when freed slaves sought to acquire land and the means to farm it.

People Take up Space, Mr. Rogan

November 22nd, 2014

Joe Rogan has an excellent podcast which you should listen to, but he does this thing that drives me crazy. Rogan complains about the traffic in Los Angeles where cars are equipped with speedometers that measure hours-per-mile instead of miles-per-hour. And simultaneously, Rogan supports mass immigration and the eradication of national borders. He never puts two and two together to realize that all of those immigrants take up space – including on the highways.

Suggestion for Mr. Rogan: The next time that you are sitting in traffic, take a look around at your fellow motorists and ask yourself: “How many of these people weren’t even in the country ten years ago?” Because quite a lot of them were not; about 10 million Californians are foreign-born.

Since Mr. Rogan graduated high school, we have brought in about 30 million legal immigrants, and there are perhaps another 10 million illegal’s here now. That’s more than the population of Canada (35 million) and the current population of California (38 million).

And the lion’s share of those immigrants have made a beeline for Rogan’s neighborhood. Among the states, California has long been the primary recipient of immigrants (see this).

But traffic is only a minor issue compared to California’s drought. The United Nations says that we may have to begin depopulating the state (see this).

Without the massive wave of immigration, would depopulation even be an issue for Los Angeles, Phoenix, or Las Vegas? Probably not. And how would we decide who gets kicked out? We can’t kick out the immigrants because that would be discriminatory. There would have to be a lottery, and if your number comes up, the Sheriff evicts you and gives you a one-way bus ticket to Ohio, which has plenty of water. Let’s hope that Mr. Rogan can stay in his beloved Los Angeles, and that his rigid libertarian ideology doesn’t backfire on him.

Bill Maher does the same thing: he supports mass immigration while complaining about the traffic. Here is one of his jokes (more here):

“My motto is: Let’s Kill The Right People. I’m pro-choice, I’m for assisted suicide, I’m for regular suicide. I’m for whatever gets the freeway moving. That’s what I’m for. It’s too crowded. The planet is too crowded and we need to promote death.”

And to that I say, get used to it. Because not only is the amount of legal immigration at an all time high, but they are increasing it. So far, this decade is running at a record rate of 1,031,712 per year. See my immigration charts.

As Mr. Maher might say: “New Rule! If you support mass immigration, you are not allowed to complain about the traffic, or the drought.”

Gay Passages from Moby Dick

November 15th, 2014

“There’s hogsheads of sperm ahead, Mr. Stubb, and that’s what ye came for. (Pull my boys!) Sperm, sperm’s the play!” -Moby Dick

In high school and college, I was never assigned to read Moby Dick. I’ve always wondered about that. How could it be that I was never forced to read such a famous book? Well, I have a theory now: it’s possible that the book was deemed to be “too gay” for us suburban students. I just finished reading it, and here are some quotes.

At the beginning of the book, before the Pequod sets sail, the main character, Ishmael, is looking for a hotel. But all the hotels are full, and his only option is to share a room with Queequeg, the savage harpooner. The room has one large bed and no heat, so they have to snuggle together for warmth. There is no explicit sex, but there is a lot narrative like this:

“We had lain thus in bed, chatting and napping at short intervals, and Queequeg now and then affectionately throwing his brown tattooed legs over mine, and then drawing them back; so entirely sociable and free and easy were we…” (Kindle 1082)

And this:

“As we were going along the people stared; not at Queequeg so much – for they were used to seeing cannibals like him in their streets, – but at seeing him and me upon such confidential terms. But we heeded them not…” (Kindle 1148)

And this:

“How it is I know not; but there is no place like a bed for confidential disclosures between friends. Man and wife, they say, there open the very bottom of their souls to each other; and some old couples often lie and chat over old times till nearly morning. Thus, then, in our hearts’ honeymoon, lay I and Queequeg – a cosy, loving pair.” (Kindle 1079)

After the Pequod leaves port, the love affair seems to come to an end, and the narrative turns to whaling, as you can imagine.

For some reason, sperm whales have about 100 barrels of oil inside of their heads. At first, people thought it was sperm, but that turned out to be wrong. It’s just some kind of mysterious oil. So, the word “sperm” in the context of whaling means the same thing as “whale oil.” Hence the quote at the top of the page (Kindle 3519); the sailors are excited by sperm because it is a valuable commodity, and they are rowing, pulling hard, to catch up with the whale.

Melville also uses the word “erect” quite a lot:

“The savage stood erect there” (Kindle 3540)

“erecting himself” (Kindle 3548)

“an erect posture” (Kindle 3554)

“erect attitude” (Kindle 3565)

“erected crests of enraged serpents” (Kindle 3609)

“the body was erect” (Kindle 3763)

“Of erections, how few are domed like St. Peter’s!” (Kindle 4854)

“horses only show their erected ears” (Kindle 7502)

“her three firm-seated graceful masts erectly poised” (Kindle 7626)

“he stood erect” (Kindle 7700)

“the erect spar” (Kindle 8665)

Here’s a few more phrases:

“Flask mounted upon gigantic Daggoo” (Kindle 3556)

“Tashtego has to ram his long pole harder and harder, and deeper and deeper” (Kindle 5336)

“Don’t ye love sperm?” (Kindle 5509)

“Jerk him off” (Kindle 7896)

“for bettor or for worse, we two, for the time, were wedded” (Kindle 8822)

After catching a whale, the sailors would have to butcher it and process the oil so that it could be stored in barrels until the end of the voyage. The oil often had waxy lumps, and the sailors had to squeeze them down into oil. Ishmael loved that particular task:

“Squeeze! squeeze! squeeze! all the morning long; I squeezed that sperm till I myself almost melted into it; I squeezed that sperm till a strange sort of insanity came over me; and I found myself unwittingly squeezing my co-laborers’ hands in it, mistaking their hands for the gentle globules. Such an abounding, affectionate, friendly, loving feeling did this avocation beget; that at last I was continually squeezing their hands, and looking up into their eyes sentimentally; as much as to say, – Oh! my dear fellow beings, why should we longer cherish any social acerbities, or know the slightest ill-humor or envy! Come; let us squeeze hands all round; nay, let us all squeeze ourselves into each other; let us squeeze ourselves universally into the very milk and sperm of kindness. Would that I could keep squeezing that sperm for ever!” (Kindle 6450)

Turns out, Melville wrote love letters to Nathaniel Hawthorne, not that there’s anything wrong with that… He also worked on a whaler, jumped ship, and spent a month living with the natives on the Marquesas Islands of French Polynesia. Getting is savage-freak on, no doubt.

I’m not sure why Moby Dick is so famous. It seemed terribly long-winded to me. And Melville’s characters didn’t strike me as real. In fact, they reminded me of Ayn Rand’s cardboard characters. I did enjoy learning about whaling, which is a fascinating subject, and the book is packed with many clever turns of phrase.

Whaling in a nutshell: Scientists don’t know why whales have oil in their heads, but they have some theories. You might think that a whale could just dive down and evade the whalers, but whales are mammals and have to come up for air. So, the whalers would just wait them out. A whaling ship didn’t chase whales itself, but put smaller boats in the water that had oars, as well as sails. That way they were not dependent on the wind. Sometimes they could row as fast as the whale could swim; sometimes not. While they had muskets, they didn’t shoot whales because they might just sink to the bottom. You wanted to harpoon them, with a rope attached to the harpoon so that you cold reel them in. And for that, you had to get up close and personal, which as you can imagine, was quite dangerous, especially considering that the whales didn’t appreciate being harpooned. You might think that a harpooned whale could just pull a boat under, or drag it around for weeks. But apparently, they bleed out from even the small wounds made by harpoons, so they are more vulnerable than they look.

Note: I loaded the Project Gutenberg version of Moby Dick onto my Kindle and read it there. So, that’s what the Kindle locations refer to. That text didn’t show the original page numbers.

I Am Against Ebola

October 18th, 2014

Let the record show that I am against the importation of Ebola carriers into the USA.

If you told me a month ago that I would have to take a stand against Ebola, I would have thought that you were crazy. But with the incomprehensible emergence of a pro-Ebola political faction, here we are. To see an example of an Ebola-booster, tune into The Daily Show with knucklehead Jon Stewart.

One of the things the pro-Ebola faction tells us is that “science” says that we have nothing to worry about. Really? Note to idiots: the science is not complete until we have a vaccine and a cure! Ebola was discovered thirty-eight years ago, and your alleged science is still totally helpless against it.

Some science that is.

And what if Vladimir Putin were sending 150 potential Ebola-carriers into our airports each day? Would we just shrug it off? Or would we declare it a bio-warfare attack and launch nuclear missiles at Russia?