Tag: Vox

AOC policy adviser to put billionaires on public assistance

Apparently America’s billionaire problem is out of control.  It seems like you can’t even walk down the street anymore without tripping over some shady billionaire announcing a new business venture, buying a professional sports team, or giving millions to charitable foundations.  AOC policy adviser Dan Riffle would like to change that. Going by the Twitter title “Every Billionaire is a policy Failure,” Dan has a plan to rid America of its billionaires within our lifetime. In fact, the plan would so thoroughly inoculate the United States from the scourge of billionaires, that most former sufferers would fall helplessly into the massive social safety net created by their absence.

In an interview with Vox, Dan the Policy Man kicks around a federal tax rate that would most effectively relieve a billionaire sufferer of all that needless cash.  His boss, AOC, has floated the idea of a 70 percent top rate. Dan has tweeted that he could talk her up to 90. In the Vox interview, he describes trying to come up with a catchy Twitter name that would succinctly distill his policy position.  He started with, “Tax income over $5 million at 99 percent.” That didn’t roll off the tongue well enough for him. Not because the idea was in any way objectionable, it just wasn’t succinct enough for him. That’s when he came up with the epically memeable “Every Billionaire is a policy Failure.”  You may have caught the EBIAPF Challenge on YouTube, or seen someone wearing the t-shirt. 

Granted, a billion dollars is a lot of money, but Riffle isn’t just talking about taxing the shit out of galactic riches.  When asked to define extreme wealth, he replies, “I don’t know where exactly we can draw the line… But at some point there has to be an upper bound, right?  If you have $5 million, you can live off the interest of that and be a one percenter. There’s nothing in this world that anybody wants or needs to do that you can’t do with, let’s say, $10-$15 million.”  

Riffle has already stated what he’d do to five million, he’d have Uncle Sam take 99 percent.  That leaves the taxpayer with $50,000. Not a bad take home, right? Except that Uncle Sam also withholds for Social Security and Medicare with state and local deducting additional percentage points.  Does it not occur to the policy adviser to U.S Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez that, if you take 99% of someone’s income, any additional percent of withholding will leave the taxpayer broke or owing additional taxes for which they have no income remaining?  Even if federal withholding is only 90% – the number he’s going to talk AOC into – that still wipes out the taxpayer’s income for the year, no matter how large that income may be. I guess you have to be a policy adviser in Washington to understand how the math works on that one, because if you’re just seated at your kitchen table, the numbers don’t add up.   

Not content to just tax income, Riffle goes on to suggest forcing owners to divest from their companies, creating “democratic control over society’s resources.”  The idea is to relieve a Bill Gates or a Jeff Bezos of their company’s stock once its value exceeds $10 million. “There’s other ways that you can force the divestiture of an owner of a company once we hit a certain threshold,” Riffle explains.  “Having more democratic control over society’s resources would be helpful, and having more democratic control over a company’s resources would be beneficial for that company as well.” So, in other words, you’ve done really well for yourself here, Jeff, but we’re going to take democratic control of that $100 billion in Amazon stock you own, and we’re going to democratically take over the company you built and control it from here forward.  This sounds a lot like the kind of democracy they used to practice in the German Democratic Republic (the former East Germany), or they currently practice in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea). 

If the interviewer can be excused for not pushing back on what seem to be rather extreme policy proposals, it’s because the proposals themselves would almost certainly achieve its stated goal of complete eradication of all American billionaires and multimillionaires within a very short span of time.  They would almost certainly flee for billionaire friendly countries like China, Germany, Russia, Great Britain, India, France, and Canada to name a few nations that seem to be most severely plagued by burdensome billionaires. Once gone we would need to seal our borders against their return, only then could we truly enjoy our riches to rags utopia.

Media releases News Pyramid guidelines, recommends five full servings of bullshit per day

Mainstream media outlets today released their 2019 News Pyramid guidelines for recommended daily allowances of news consumption, and there seems to be agreement among experts on one thing – Americans need more bullshit in their news diet.

“Most mainstream news organizations are recommending Americans get at least five full servings of bullshit per day,” says guidelines contributor Brian Stelter, host of CNN’s Reliable Sources.  

While the guidelines don’t specify between print, television, or social media content, most experts agree cable news is an excellent source of the kind of fact-free, speculative nonsense of which most Americans could benefit.  A healthy diet of bullshit journalism has the additional benefit of providing confirmation of the consumer’s beliefs and ideology, while at the same time pointing out that everyone who doesn’t hold the same views is evil and wrong.

The next level on the News Pyramid calls for four daily servings of partisan propaganda. While most Americans try to avoid eating their propaganda, the report notes the necessity of its daily consumption for the functioning of a healthy democracy.  “Don’t worry if you’re left or right, Republican or Democrat,” the guidelines state, “there’s a news organization out there ready to satisfy your partisan hunger.”

In what signals a change from recent years, the new News Pyramid guidelines raise the recommended daily allowance of conspiracy content from two to three servings per day. Experts warn, however, consumers of news should only get their conspiracy from authoritative sources. Rachel Maddow, Vox, and the New York Times are all considered excellent sources of conspiracy content and should be chosen over the empty, non-authoritative conspiracy musings of YouTube.

“Two ‘hit pieces’ per day are essential to a healthy news diet,” according to the new guidelines.  Some journalists take great pleasure in writing ‘hit pieces’ because they recall an adolescent superficiality and pettiness, so consumers should indulge the writer’s childish impulses by reading them.  Although they can be found at almost every news source, the New Yorker and Vox are exceptionally proficient at this brand of juvenile journalism.

Finally, the news consumer should make sure to save room for at least one serving of Jim Acosta per day.  The new guidelines cite Acosta as that rare guilty pleasure that almost as often becomes the news as reports it.  If news dieters follow these simple recommendations, they can become almost as confused and clueless as some of the journalists who report it.

Vox spends walkout suppressing free speech, burning content and torching YouTube

Vox journalists went into their walkout Thursday riding and endorphin induced euphoria, stemming from their successful campaign to reduce the amount of free speech millions of Americans enjoy.  How better to celebrate their victory than with a content burning bonfire and a strategy session to build on the momentum gained from their latest successful endeavor to suppress free expression?

As the bonfire blazed, Vox journalists patted themselves on the back and felt even more emboldened to demand higher than market wages of Vox management for their successful efforts at internet censorship.  After all, censoring YouTube doesn’t just benefit Vox writers, it has the potential to enhance the company’s bottom line as well.

Vox journalists could barely contain their elation from seeing content creator after content creator on the YouTube platform go up in flames from the fire they had lit. Among the victims were history teachers and academic videos, as well as the work of prominent journalists that sought to educate about hate, not promote it.

Unrepentant and sensing they had their opponents bloodied but not beaten, Vox journalists penned “An open letter to YouTube’s CEO” where they demanded the platform update it’s standards to censor even more speech:

“Without a serious change to YouTube’s interpretation of its standards, Crowder is free to continue to make videos where he hurls slurs at journalists and creators, who will then keep getting hit with the same sort of harassment, invective, and dangerous leaking of personal information that Carlos has continued to experience from Crowder’s fans.”

Apparently, Vox’s bonfire brainstorming session worked, as they hit upon resurrecting the old argument of blaming the content creators for the actions of the consumers of said content.  A stroke of brilliance on the part of Vox journalists, the tactic was once successfully deployed when John Hinckley blamed Jodie Foster and the movie Taxi Driver for his assassination attempt on Ronald Reagan.  (Warning: Vox Millennials, don’t try watching Taxi Driver at home alone, it will trigger the shit out of you.) More importantly, Vox has successfully rallied much of the mainstream media to join it’s effort to torch independent journalists, educators, and content creators.

As the fires subside and the Vox Adpocalypse gives way to a new dawning Voxtopia, the media company has positioned itself nicely to be one of the “authoritative sources” YouTube will now begin directing its traffic toward.  Having successfully punched down on the independent voices of both the marginalised and non-marginalised alike, the required reading of white liberal elites, Vox, can now resume it’s authoritative role as explainer of news and protector of the historically marginalised, who are now free to just shut up and listen.  

Media flew too close to Bullshit Mountain…again

The distress call went out back in March when a tough talking, street fighting litigator from Los Angeles, the unlikely hero of the resistance media, found himself cross-examining a pair of handcuffs.  Thousands of media stories and pundit prognostications that had previously soared on the wings of this champion of the resistance, suddenly crashed and burned in the dense jungles of Bullshit Mountain. The distress call went unheeded, though.  The stories of bravery and heroism in the face of a maniacal king, the tales of a young prince with a law degree defending the besmirched honor of more than one fair maiden, and the adventures of a crusader for truth and justice lay forgotten, swallowed up by the canopy of dense excrement that envelopes Bullshit Mountain.

At the entrance to every cable news studio, there must exist a scanner of some sort, lined with precision quantum magnets, that can detect the remnants of stories that crashed on Bullshit Mountain and extract them from the brains of the show’s hosts and commentators.  Like something out of a Philip K. Dick novel, the Spotless Mind 3000 erases a reality they’ve spent months cultivating and promoting, and allows the commentator to move seamlessly onto another topic without acknowledging their culpability in crafting a stunning work of monumental bullshit.  What else could explain this sort of nonchalance in the face of what should be a realization that the previous several months of the journalist’s professional life has been a complete waste?

It’s creepy the way they shift gears.  How do you watch a narrative you’ve been spinning for months be reduced to ashes and not think to yourself, man, I really suck at my job? For many toiling in the real world, to have failed so miserably would have produced an existential reckoning accompanied by months of depression, and most likely loss of one’s occupation.  Granted, when the Mueller Report dropped, some cable news hosts and commentators were either visibly shaken, or mad as hell and unable to take it anymore. (Mueller really should have given them a trigger warning.)  However, after having their minds sanitized, many in the resistance media and its broadcast affiliates, CNN and MSNBC, without a moment of self-reflection, moved on from conspiracy and began to focus tremendous brain power on obstruction.    

Here is one journalist ruminating admiringly about the then resistance hero back in July of 2018.  No need to reveal the journalist’s identity. Let’s just say he’s a very prominent writer for an outfit with a name that starts with a V and ends with an X.  “Alternatively, if you’re a smart, young, hard-working lawyer with progressive political convictions, and you also like money going out and winning large verdicts against rich companies that broke the rules, this line of work suggests itself as one of the most ethical ways to get rich.”  So our resistance hero, prior to being charged with attempted extortion, bank and wire fraud, and stealing money from his clients, was engaged in one of the most ethical ways to get rich. Really?

Perhaps no one in the media could have known back in July of 2018 that Captain Resistance was nothing less than an honorable crusader for truth, justice, and the American way.  But, most likely, they didn’t want to know. Because this was the guy who was going to take down Trump and possibly steal his job. Once again, scores of media hacks bought into a wildly improbable narrative and proceeded to recklessly guide it to it’s inevitable conclusion: that of a steaming forgotten heap, smoldering on the slopes of Bullshit Mountain.

Vox writer triggered by Bret Easton Ellis’s White

Millennials can be a hard bunch to impress, and Vox writer, Constance Grady, is not going to be impressed by much acclaimed and occasionally maligned author Bret Easton Ellis.  When Ellis asserts in his book that Millennials often display an inability to view things in their context, he hadn’t accounted for Constance Grady, who last summer wrote a piece for Vox using the movie Sixteen Candles to provide “important context for the Brett Kavanaugh accusations.”  When Grady is looking for some background on eighties rape culture, she knows to go straight to the source for everything eighties: John Hughes movies.

White, according to Vox’s rating system, receives only one V out of a possible five.  Expressed as Roman numerals that would be I/V Vs. I guess if you hit a home run with the Vox crew, you score a V/V Vs.  That Vox is a sort of Millenial Home Companion, the low rating is not surprising as this book is highly critical of the demographic group.  True to Millennial form, Grady has to get the obligatory “racist” and “misogynist” accusations out of the way before the review even begins.

White is not a book about politics.  Ellis expresses few political views in the book beyond stating that he didn’t vote for Trump or Clinton.  It is a book that contrasts the American culture the author grew up in with our current one. Ellis bemoans the reality that our current culture is so obsessed with politics, at least among the entertainment and media elites on the coasts, and Ellis takes dead aim at the anti-Trump hysteria gripping much of the nation.  

In the second paragraph of her review, Grady highlights an Ellis exchange in a New Yorker interview by Isaac Chotiner as a ‘gotcha moment’.  It doesn’t need to be quoted here. The whole interview is an embarrassment… for Chotiner. Outrage cranked up to eleven, Chotiner drops all pretense of professionalism and runs down the list of Trump’s most deplorable moments, trying to get Ellis to admit that Trump is the worst scoundrel history has ever manufactured, but fails to get Ellis’s outrage to register above a three.  The behavior of the interviewer only serves to illustrate Ellis’s point that many on the left lose all rationality when it comes to talking about Trump.

Grady admonishes Ellis for writing a book about politics when he claims to find politics ridiculous.  Curiously, however, several paragraphs later, she claims as a fact “that there is no such thing as non-political art”.  According to this line of reasoning, the simple act of a writer putting pen to paper is political. In Grady’s world, how can Ellis write anything that isn’t political?

Ellis’s complaint is that he can’t go out for dinner or drinks without his companions bringing up how Trump stole the election or that he’s a stooge of the Russians; and even in Ellis’s own home, his Millennial partner, distraught over a Trump presidency, has shut himself in, relapsed into addiction and essentially put his life on hold.  Ellis’s lament is not political, it’s an argument against permitting politics to rule one’s life and sap all the enjoyment out of it. It is a call to take a deep breath, calm the fuck down, and preserve your sanity. Predictably, Grady’s comeback is to hit the outrage switch by reminding everyone of the “children who are being kept in cages”.  This is the inevitable retort whenever anyone calls for rationality, or a more restrained response to Trump’s provocations. Why do Grady and Chotiner think that the appropriate response to Ellis’s criticism of years of anxious liberal hand-wringing over Trump is to try to elicit more of it by rehashing all the outrage inducing talking points? Have they ever considered that maybe Trump is playing them, or that maybe it gives his supporters a boner to watch the so-called liberal elites lose their shit?   

Ultimately, Grady concludes that White is simply boring.  The Millennial Grady is not impressed with stories of what it’s like to become a famous, best-selling novelist at the age of 23, shortly after graduating college.  Stories of cocaine snorting and running with celebrities dull her to death, and she can’t engage with the author’s thoughts on movies or life growing up in the seventies.  In other words, she can’t empathize with the experiences of a white, gay middle-aged man. Big surprise.

Millennials like Grady think they’re inventing civilization after generations of human struggle through a primitive dark ages.  In her Sixteen Candles piece, she asserts, “In the 1980s, “rape” meant an attack from a stranger in a dark alley, not something that acquaintances did to each other at house parties where everyone knows each other.”  This statement is absurd, untrue and reveals an appalling ignorance of the culture she’s attempting to write about, leaving little wonder why she can’t engage with a writer like Ellis. But that’s okay.  If you’re ignorant and incurious, just make shit up. Vox will print it anyway.

Robot apocalypse skeptic, Ezra Klein, unconcerned about Midwest job losses

On the subject of the looming Robot Apocalypse, Ezra Klein sounds a lot like a climate change skeptic.  But the threat of working Americans losing their jobs to automation is much more real and present than the oceans overtaking Miami and New York.  In an August 2018 Ezra Klein Show podcast, guest Andrew Yang, a Democratic candidate for president, lays out a pretty convincing case for why Americans should take very seriously the prospect of massive job losses due to automation.

“The reason why Donald Trump won the election of 2016 is that we automated away 4 million manufacturing jobs in Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, the swing states he needed to win, between 2000 and 2015, and it’s about to get much, much worse because we’re about to triple down on the most common jobs in the US economy:  Administrative and clerical work, call center workers, food service workers, truck drivers and transportation, and manufacturing. Those five job categories comprise about half of American workers.”

Ezra Klein singles out the assertion that the midwest, and more broadly, areas of the country other than the coasts, have been the hardest hit by changes to the economy.  This is a sticking point for Klein so he “puts a pin” in this part of the conversation so he can “push back” on it later. You have to wonder why, with all that Yang is pointing out here, that this is a problem for Klein.  He asserts that people on the coasts are hurting as well, and just can’t bring himself to concede that the industrial midwest is particularly vulnerable and perhaps went for Trump in response.

Yang continues to deliver the bad news:  “It takes no great leaps of the imagination to see how this is going to play out over the next handful of years.  Google recently demonstrated software that can do the job of an average call center worker, and there are still two and a half million call center workers in the United States making $14 an hour….Ten percent of workers work in retail and 30% of malls are going to close in the next ten years….If robot trucks hit the highways in the next five to ten years, what’s going to happen to the three and a half million truck drivers and the five million workers that work in truck stops, motels and diners in small towns around America that rely on a truck stopping periodically.  These are the changes we can see coming that are completely predictable.”

The important thing to remember is that Yang is talking about a process that is currently ongoing.  He is not staring into a crystal ball. He is citing historical data, as well as economic and industry data that projects for the future.  He points out that companies are making massive investments in these new technologies. These companies aren’t gambling on the future, they’re building it.  Ezra Klein, however, seems unconvinced.

“I am a skeptic of this vision of the economy.  The robots are coming for our jobs thesis…does not seem to be showing up in our economic data…Am I seeing something in the unemployment numbers, something in the productivity numbers, something somewhere in the economic sentiment numbers, something where I can say, ‘hey I feel this but I’m not seeing it.  Everybody seems to feel this is true but we’re not seeing it.”

Here’s where Klein sounds like a climate change skeptic.  He’s arguing that because the catastrophe is not yet showing up in the numbers, he doubts that it will ever take place.  He’s like President Trump tweeting about a cold winter day and saying, “so much for global warming.”

Yang’s shown him that the job losses are already occurring.  Many large traditional retail chains are dead or on life support.  Nobody argues that American manufacturing hasn’t been devastated by automation for going on 50 years now.  Many of these displaced workers have opted out of the workforce or gone on disability. As Yang says, “Almost half the displaced manufacturing workers in Michigan and Indiana left the workforce and never worked again, and about a quarter of them filed for disability and never worked again.”  Yang further points out that 1 in 5 males of prime working age were unemployed over the past year. And don’t try to bring the opioid crisis into the conversation, because Klein refuses to acknowledge economic insecurity plays a role in that tragedy.

Klein argues, without evidence, that the transformation of the economy will occur over a large time scale, as if this assertion by itself undercuts Yang’s facts and projections.  “One thing I see in this argument is a jump between something is going to happen over time and something is about to happen all at once.” Klein points out that the transition from an agricultural economy to an industrial based economy didn’t produce economic calamity.  Fair enough, and we can only hope the same happens in this case. Perhaps our robot masters will find ways to make the humans useful, but as of right now, no one can predict where the next round of jobs will come from. What is predictable, though, are massive job losses.   

As the conversation winds down, Klein returns to that pin he stuck in the discussion on the topic of midwestern states feeling the brunt of automation.  “I worry that we’ve got in this narrative that everything’s great on the coasts and there’s something going terribly wrong in the center, and it just kind of flattens this very lumpy story of progress in our country way too much, and also creates a narrative of resentment that, on the one hand, isn’t helpful but, on the other, is a bit untrue.  A lot of people suffer in California.”

The listener might be inclined to laugh at the hypocrisy and contradictions contained in this statement if Klein himself, hearing the cascade of bullshit pouring out of his mouth, hadn’t already beat the listener to it.  During the conversation, as Klein repeatedly sings the virtues of the current economy, he eventually stops himself, chuckles, and apologizes because it sounds like he’s gushing over the Trump economy.

Regarding the unhelpful narrative of resentment, Vox Media’s bread and butter is crafting and maintaining narratives of resentment.  Over the past two years, few groups have been more resented and more maligned by the elite media than the midwestern Trump voter. Klein and his crew would have everyone believe these voters were motivated by racism when they, rightly or wrongly, went for the guy who promised to bring their jobs back.  While no doubt some are all about building the wall, it’s been shown time and again that many of these voters supported Bernie in the primary, and not hearing what they needed to hear from HRC, swung for Trump. It would be nice to take back Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania in 2020, maybe even pick up Ohio.  But if liberal elites like Klein are unwilling to recognize people in those states that are hurting, we could be in for four more years of the unspeakable.