Friday Reads: Oh, I wish I wasn’t in the Land of SurrealityPosted: December 10, 2021
Hi Sky Dancers!
I really had hoped that last year’s elections and dump of Trump would calm the country down. I can tell you that my street is already seeing infrastructure improvements. I lost water all day long while contractors cut out a huge–and I mean huge–old steel sewer pipe out of the street to replace it with PVC. This will be at least a year-long process. This pipe was put in the street before my parents were born. There are many more like it to be replaced.
I can only think about these pipes being formed in someplace where there were thousands of real steelers working up North. They were likely put on trains that could reach a place where they could be floated on barges to their home down here. That pipe was at least 20 feet underground and was large enough for a good-sized man to crawl through it using hands and knees. I’m now curious about what kind of cranes they had back in the day because that pipe likely weighed a lot. So, think back to those years where the dawn of the last century met science, technology, and progress. That picture of pipes placed in Boston in 1909 looked a lot like the one they pulled out of the cross street on my block.
I bugged the crew with so many questions that they offered to get me sloggers and let me watch while they used an iron saw to take it apart. I unfortunately, had to teach but this little girl that loved her building sets and her sandbox dump trucks would have been there in a minute if I could have.
So, I have messy, smelly, life-interrupting proof of infrastructure projects! Why do I feel so little progress is being made to get out of the mess the Republicans have made of this country this century? Well, let me share some headlines with you.
This is from David Leonhardt writing for The New York Times: “Covid Malaise. Why do Americans say the economy is in rough shape? Because it is.” I’m writing this as I watched 3 neighbors get booted from their apartments with a 5-day notice after the release of the evictions block by the Federal Government. I’m also aware that there was money available to their landlords and it appears a bunch of small landlords are booting their tenants and using the money to upgrade the property to seek higher rents instead of keeping renters in place. Yes, I’m just full of anecdotal evidence today!
Offices remain eerily empty. Airlines have canceled thousands of flights. Subways and buses are running less often. Schools sometimes call off entire days of class. Consumers waste time waiting in store lines. Annual inflation has reached its highest level in three decades.
Does this sound like a healthy economy to you?
But I think the answer to this supposed paradox is that it’s not really a paradox: Americans think the economy is in rough shape because the economy is in rough shape.
Sure, some major statistics look good, and they reflect true economic strengths, including the state of families’ finances. But the economy is more than a household balance sheet; it is the combined experience of working, shopping and interacting in society. Americans evidently understand the distinction: In an Associated Press poll, 64 percent describe their personal finances as good — and only 35 percent describe the national economy as good.
There are plenty of reasons. Many services don’t function as well as they used to, largely because of supply-chain problems and labor shortages. Rising prices are cutting into paychecks, especially for working-class households. People spend less time socializing. The unending nature of the pandemic — the masks, Covid tests, Zoom meetings and anxiety-producing runny noses — is wearying.
While some of these disruptions are minor inconveniences, others are causing serious troubles. The increase in social isolation has harmed both physical and mental health. Americans’ blood pressure has risen. Fatal drug overdoses have soared, with a growing toll among Black Americans. A report this week from the surgeon general found that depression, anxiety, impulsive behavior and attempted suicides had all risen among children and adolescents.
“It would be a tragedy if we beat back one public health crisis only to allow another to grow in its place,” Dr. Vivek Murthy, the surgeon general, wrote.
Schools are a particular source of frustration. Last year, the closure of in-person school caused large learning losses. This year, teachers have the near-impossible task of trying to help students make up for lost time, which has left many teachers feeling burned out.
I feel like I’m living in a developing country. Inflation is rising. It’s about at levels it was during the Reagan years though. It’s nowhere near peak Nixon level. This is from Jeff Cox at CNBC. Actually, when a country is growing, inflation is not unusual. Nor is it unusual when a country is reeling from a shock like the Covid-19 epidemic that was badly mishandled by the Trump Regime.
Inflation accelerated at its fastest pace since 1982 in November, the Labor Department said Friday, putting pressure on the economic recovery and raising the stakes for the Federal Reserve.
The consumer price index, which measures the cost of a wide-ranging basket of goods and services, rose 0.8% for the month, good for a 6.8% pace on a year over year basis and the fastest rate since June 1982.
Excluding food and energy prices, so-called core CPI was up 0.5% for the month and 4.9% from a year ago, which itself was the sharpest pickup since mid-1991.
The Dow Jones estimate was for a 6.7% annual gain for headline CPI and 4.9% for core.
There is a difference between what’s called the headline CPI and the core CPI. Headline inflation is the total inflation in an economy. … It is different from core inflation, which excludes food and energy prices while calculating inflation. Food and energy are not included in core inflation because their prices are volatile. It makes headline inflation a more volatile measure than core inflation. The core is a more reliable measure of underlying price trends.
So, now this is looking less of a temporary surge which means policymakers will have to make decisions. This is especially relevant for the Federal Reserve Bank Board of Governors supported by information from its economists. This is from The Washington Post. and Rachel Siegel.
In time, it’s possible that lower gas and energy prices or unclogged supply chains can help steer prices back down to more sustainable levels. But there’s no telling when that will happen, and in the meantime, businesses and consumers could start to change their expectations of what’s still to come.
“Yes, inflation can abate, but what [policymakers] care about is, is it significant or insignificant to peoples’ lives and decision-making?” said Diane Swonk, chief economist at Grant Thornton. “This is inflation that’s not likely to be insignificant anytime soon, and that’s a problem.”
Financial markets appeared to shrug off the news, with the Dow Jones industrial average and the tech-heavy Nasdaq up slightly on Friday.
Inflation has emerged as a top political concern for voters ahead of the 2022 midterms, especially because the cost of food or gas is often a test for how people perceive the economy.
Republicans criticized the high inflation numbers, blaming Democrats’ stimulus as the culprit and warning against future legislative packages.
The problem with Republican criticism is that Trump’s massive tax cuts and his original Covid-19 payments are as responsible for this as anything the Biden administration has done to date. Most of those funds have yet to be circulated and after all, we’re still on the Trump Budget since it’s stalled in the Senate.
What is most unsettling to me are the continuing stories about the ongoing Trump coup. So little appears to be happening to punish the culprits in charge of the Trump Regime. This headline would be so Hollywood if it wasn’t real. From Reuters: “Kanye West publicist pressed Georgia election worker to confess to bogus fraud charges.”
Weeks after the 2020 election, a Chicago publicist for hip-hop artist Kanye West traveled to the suburban home of Ruby Freeman, a frightened Georgia election worker who was facing death threats after being falsely accused by former President Donald Trump of manipulating votes. The publicist knocked on the door and offered to help.
The visitor, Trevian Kutti, gave her name but didn’t say she worked for West, a longtime billionaire friend of Trump. She said she was sent by a “high-profile individual,” whom she didn’t identify, to give Freeman an urgent message: confess to Trump’s voter-fraud allegations, or people would come to her home in 48 hours, and she’d go to jail.
Freeman refused. This story of how an associate of a music mogul pressured a 62-year-old temporary election worker at the center of a Trump conspiracy theory is based on previously unreported police recordings and reports, legal filings, and Freeman’s first media interview since she was dragged into Trump’s attempt to reverse his election loss.
Kutti did not respond to requests for comment. Her biography for her work at the Women’s Global Initiative, a business networking group, identifies her as a member of “the Young Black Leadership Council under President Donald Trump.” It notes that in September 2018, she “was secured as publicist to Kanye West” and “now serves as West’s Director of Operations.”
Oh, and then there’s this:
Why is CNN trying to keep Trump in the headlines? Is it really because of the coup?
Nothing is more symbolic than this picture. Guess who didn’t wear a mask to Bob Dole’s funeral?
So, I’m going to putting some headlines up about the signaling the Supremes seem to be doing on taking down Roe V. Wade next. This makes me shake with anger. Women are headed back to chattel status on a state-by-state basis.
I am officially tired of this shit. What will the backlash from this be? I’m not sure how much more I got left in me.
Have a good, peaceful weekend.
What’s on your blogging and reading list today?