astute political analysis

Lord I’m discouraged (about the economy)

President Obama gave another speech on the economy today. He gave one in Illinois last week, which was what I’ve heard called a “framing speech” — or more precisely, a pile of rhetoric and bullshit and blaming Republican congressional leaders for obstructionism and a laser-like focus on the federal debt — but he didn’t offer anything new in the way of policy.

Then he spoke in Jacksonville about the need for infrastructure development, because Jacksonville has big ports and such, and infrastructure aids the function of a healthy economy, and America’s infrastructure is generally in the shitter. But there wasn’t much in the way of specifics again.

Today the president got a little more specific — he offered up revising the corporate tax rate in exchange, which the GOP will like, for consideration of other proposals he’s made in the past that the administration thinks will spur job creation. Which was interesting. And who knows? Maybe Congressional Republicans will actually support some of the infrastructure spending bills.

I think Obama has got a couple more of these speeches coming up; I guess his White House is trying to get together one last push on economic policy before 2014 rolls around and everyone says fuck it and goes limp until the 2016 election. But one of the things I found incredibly interesting — and a good chunk of Twitter found interesting — was today’s Chattanooga speech took place at an Amazon dot com facility.

I drove through Chattanooga once on the highway, and I’m sure there are many legitimate reasons businesses would locate a facility there. Tax incentives, access to rail lines and highways, a skilled local workforce, an inherent revulsion to organized labor that is part of the climate of the south. Which is fine, fuck it; while in general I’m all for The Union, a paycheck beats unemployment, right? The unemployed would agree. I get that.

But then, there’s your boy Barack Obama giving a speech at an Amazon distribution facility. This guy who writes for Salon suggests that Amazon’s hefty lobbying footprint has a lot to do with landing a presidential appearance, but is that the only reason? Is that it? That can’t be it. Or maybe it is and I’m naive? I’m definitely naive.

But why would he speak there? Someone tell me. Working at Amazon does not a middle-class lifestyle make. In fact, working at somewhere like Amazon — a giant warehouse filled with imported goods, counting items in a bin with a barcode scanner — sucks. Amazon might pay its warehouse employees a dollar or two more an hour than do other giant retail operations, but it’s not the norm, and they also employ a ton of temp workers who are basically paid in packing peanuts and don’t receive benefits. Retail work, even as it expands as part of the economy, actually pays less now than when the recession began.

I don’t understand economics and politics. Bear that in mind. I read the business section, and I follow the news, and I go to bed each night exhausted and wide-eyed and confused. But: If retail distribution is what we’re going to hold up as the model of our new economy, if distribution warehouses are determined to be good backdrops where the president can do his politicking about expanding the American middle class, then it goes to figure — I figure —that the economy is fucked. Everyone working in retail, shopping and shopping and shopping, and adding nothing to the marketplace. No production, just consumption. What kind of economy is that?

And also, there’s got to be a metaphor in here somewhere, but Amazon sells a lot of dildos. Who knew?

I’m super tired

My mother and grandma are visiting town this week, and unfortunately my brother and sister-in-law already have a house guest planned.

So what does that mean, it means I’m getting house guests! It will either be my brother’s house guest (a Congolese PhD candidate studying agricultural management), or my mom, grandma, my grandma’s wheelchair and the cooler full of perishable food they’ve undoubtedly brought with them on the overnight train from South Bend. Someone or two will be staying with me in my dump apartment for like a week.

It’s gonna get heavy. My brother has been foreshadowing their arrival by quoting Genghis Khan, who would send peasants fleeing for cover as his horde would approach over the steppe:

“I am the punishment of God. If you had not committed great sins, God would not have sent a punishment like me upon you.”

Dang! Come on, bro, it’s just mom and grandma. We can handle it. I bet we’ll go to McDonald’s and get breakfast and senior coffees this weekend.

New rash

I got over my poison ivy rash a week or two ago, but I’ll be honest, every time I feel an itch anywhere that needs scratching, I hesitate. Poison ivy has me trained, man: Keep your hands to yourself, don’t spread the plague.

But it’s mostly gone. Mostly. And now I’ve got something new to contend with: sunburn! My brother-in-law’s good buddy lives in the DC area, and he’s cool as hell and he’s got a boat on the bay just south of Baltimore. So I got to bum around on the boat last weekend. And I naturally took my shirt off immediately after getting on the boat. And I naturally didn’t apply the sun screen evenly. And I naturally have a big, red splotch across half of my collarbone and snaking down my side into the small of my back.

But it wouldn’t be summer, I guess, without a little too much sun. I had a good time, and I got a flattering picture of myself out of it:

I am looking off, pensively, like a pro

I am looking off, pensively, like a boat pro

Yes! There it is, that’s me. That’s me getting a sunburn. And now for a soothing, cold shower. Good night.


1 comment so far

  1. CAT LADY (@AlishaMustafa) on

    you look skinny. take your mom up on mcdonalds.

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