Saturday, November 19, 2016
Trump election shows us who we truly are
People are going to go through the data pretty extensively, but by now we have come to the conclusion that the Democrat/Republican split is not too far from 4 years ago.
Trump picked up some white men and lost some women votes. Hillary did not pick up enough women to compensate. More minorities voted for Trump than for the previous guy, somehow.
This supports the hypothesis that groups will vote strategically to place themselves as high up in the social totem pole as they possibly can. 53% of white women voted Trump. This is despite all the very un-PC things Trump said and did. These women made the calculation that it's more important to keep the racism than it is to fight for gender equality. Better to deal with the bastards they know than the others who look and behave different. It is a rational choice, albeit a disheartening one. White feminism is going to lose a lot of support over this one. If they have proven that their preferred world order is a profoundly unequal one, why would anyone else lift a finger for their cause?
That said, I am in general not too angry at people who supported Trump. The world changed a lot in the last generation. The social norms just one generations ago is now openly ridiculed. Not an insignificant number of people see that every social, political, and economic change in the last three decades resulted in the lowering of their status. They see the institutions that were supposed to safeguard their interest stab them in the back. Immigrants refuse to assimilate and instead stick to their own enclaves. Now one person comes and promise to throw a wrench into this machine, and appears to not be afraid of pissing off anybody. He disrespects the very institutions who have been perceived to be hurting the interest of people it's supposed to look after without consequences. It is very easy to view him favorably.
Maybe this is hindsight bias, but I have long suspected Trump to be smarter than he looks. It actually makes a lot of sense for him to run a campaign turning out his base. Black people was never going to vote for him anyways, Hispanics and other immigrants overwhelmingly go democrat and is unlikely to vote Republican no matter how conciliatory any republican try to sound. The base of republicans will never allow a genuine re calibration of racial dynamics in their country. What's the point of trying to win them when he was able to get the white vote out. Now that he has proven that he can win without giving minorities anything at all, what incentive does future politicians to be inclusive?
While I'm not a US citizen, the results of a Trump presidency is going to affect me pretty profoundly since America is what it is. However, taking a few steps back, the struggles people are having now is the same struggle people have been having for generations. Immigrants have a long history of being marginalized and reminded that no, there is a ceiling, if you try to pierce it there will be a backlash. I don't think it is a coincidence that Trump follows immediately after Obama, who is actually a pretty capable politician whom most of America is still pretty okay with. I have a sneaking suspicion that Kellie Leitch is going to go pretty far in her quest for power.
We are seeing a global backlash against more openness. This is because the gatekeepers too often co-operate with capital at the expense of labor. People are not stupid. They can see what's happening. When all they have is one lever to push, whether brexit, or Trump, or whatever else, people will push it to send a message.
So, what now? Same as always, really. Do what you can with what you have. Try and look out for yourself but not at the expense of your people. Make it so that the next person who is just like you will have it a little bit easier than you. Maybe one day, in a time far from now, we won't ever need to have this discussion again.
Sunday, November 6, 2016
Post at Penelope Trunk about Feminism and the prevailing norm about gender roles versus society expectations of it. Very much worth a read.
Fertility rate and childcare
When we talk about women trying to work while they take care of kids, there’s a lot of finger pointing: maternity leave laws should change, companies should provide flexible jobs, men should do more emotional labor…. But what we really need is for women to stop lying about their choices, achievements and struggles. A key step toward institutional reform is for women to be honest about what they are able to do and the resources that have to do it with.
I suspect that falling fertility rates has a lot to do with the role we expect women(and men) to take on when the alternative is just so much better. Comparing my friends who has kids vs my friends who doesn't. It's a very large sacrifice to have kids even for the ones who are happily married. For single, successful women with moderate amounts of disposable income, the trade off seems like a no-brainer.
Monday, March 7, 2016
So allow me to summarize. Greece never really had the ability nor intention to live within its means. The country has always been subsidized in one way or another. There were some geopolitical considerations that had an interest in ensuring that Greece was not a failed state. This was pretty clear from the outset when Greek joined the Eurozone. It would need a material transfer of wealth from the rest of Europe, be it in the form of artificially low interest rates, capital transfer, whichever that allows Greek people to punch above their weight in terms of their capacity to produce versus the way the country consumed. For awhile this worked. Greece was granted European status and all the markets regarded Greece as more safe than it actually was. In 2010, after the financial crises, it became clear that Greece as a whole owed too much and would not be able to pay back. So at this point the Europeans came up with a solution: let Greece nationalize their private debt, give the Greek nation a bigass loan so that the previous debt can be repaid. So now the problem becomes how is Greece going to pay this new debt. Well, they tried, and they tried very hard. They cut services down to a minimum. They paid everyone they can as little as they can and tried to collect taxes even on the previous uncollectibles. This wasn't enough, however, and it will never be enough for several reasons. So now we have a situation where Greece keeps gutting its citizens welfare, paying what it can, while they work out deal after deal. Looks suspiciously like they're going to try to squeeze everything out of Greece while they can. One day there will be a reckoning, and they will discover non-compliance is probably the best course of action.