Monday, March 9, 2020

Last Call For It's The Jobs, Stupid

Eric Levitz at New York Magazine explains why people younger than me love Bernie, and that's because of how screwed they are over college loans and the job market that no longer needs white collar workers.

Thanks to a combination of the Obama era’s slow but steady wage and employment gains – and the Trump presidency’s bonanza of deficit-spending and loose money – America has returned to something resembling full employment. The percentage of Americans who are looking for a job but can’t find one is now near half-century lows. And yet, the “full employment economy” that awaits this year’s graduating class looks quite different than the one that welcomed their Gen-X and Boomer predecessors. In earlier boom-times, the labor market evinced an insatiable demand for white-collar workers. Today’s, by contrast, has more aspiring professionals than it knows what to do with. And the same can be said of the economy that greeted matriculating Corbynites in the U.K.

Put differently: Even as the price of a college diploma has risen nigh-exponentially (thereby forcing the rising generation of college graduates to saddle themselves with onerous debts), the value of such diplomas on the U.S. job market has rapidly depreciated. And there is little reason to believe that this state of affairs will change, no matter how long the present boom is sustained. According to the Labor Department’s estimates, the five fastest-growing occupations in the United States over the next ten years will be solar panel installers, wind turbine technicians, home health aides, personal care aides, and occupational therapy assistants. Not a single one of those jobs requires a four-year college diploma. Only occupational therapy assistants need an associate’s degree.

Throughout my (1990s) childhood and adolescence, leaders in both major parties heralded the arrival of a “knowledge economy,” and attributed rising income inequality to a “skills gap.” Our economic system was still capable of providing a broad middle-class with high-wage, high-quality jobs; it just needed more Americans to accrue the levels of skill and education that the jobs of tomorrow required. There was an endless supply of cushy, professional-class posts awaiting those who answered our economy’s demand for highly educated workers. Economic security would come to those who did their homework.

But this story has proven to be little more than a self-flattering delusion of our (highly educated) political class. Our economy only needs so many lawyers, consultants, and financial analysts (let alone, journalists). Nor, as presently structured, can it sustain an ever-growing caste of well-remunerated coders. We have a lot of elderly people who need help going to the bathroom, and a lot of manual labor that our robots aren’t dexterous enough to perform. Most of the work that our society truly needs to get done every day doesn’t require elite academic or intellectual capacities. And thanks to the collapse of the American labor movement, most that blue and pink-collar work pays terribly. The two occupations poised to add the most jobs to our economy over the next 10 years — home and personal care aides — pay an average salary of about $24,000 a year.

A vulgar Marxist looking at Bloomberg’s chart might predict that the college students and graduates of less prestigious, public universities – who have been most disserved by the “knowledge economy” myth – would be even more inclined towards leftwing politics than their Ivy League peers. And the results of the New Hamshire primary lend creedence to that view: While Pete Buttigieg held his own in the town of Hanover, home to Dartmouth, Sanders cleaned his clock in the precincts surrounding the University of New Hampshire.

To be sure, college graduates still account for a minority of Americans under 35. But whereas this white-collar subsection of previous rising generations was predisposed to view the market economy more favorably than their less educated peers, millennial matriculators largely don’t. In fact, the overeducated, precariously employed college graduate is the modal millennial socialist.

Which makes sense: Tell a subset of your population that they are entitled to economic security if they play by certain rules, provide them with four years of training in critical thinking and access to a world-class library – then deny them the opportunities they were promised, while affixing an anchor of debt around their necks – and you’ve got a recipe for a revolutionary vanguard.

So yes, I see why Millennials love Bernie Sanders.

The problem is Boomers and even Gen Xers are far, far more likely to vote.

Orange Meltdown, Con't

The NYSE hit limit down, 7% loss, about 15 minutes into the session today.  Trading resumed and the bloodbath ended up with the Dow down some 2,000 points and some $5 trillion in market value up in smoke since last month's highs.

Meanwhile Trump is losing his marbles. Gabe Sherman:

Trump’s efforts to take control of the story himself have so far failed. A source said Trump was pleased with ratings for the Fox News town hall last Thursday, but he was furious with how he looked on television. “Trump said afterwards that the lighting was bad,” a source briefed on the conversation said. “He said, ‘We need Bill Shine back in here. Bill would never allow this.’”

Trump’s press conference on Friday at the CDC was a Trumpian classic, heavy on braggadocio and almost entirely lacking a sense of the seriousness of the crisis. “I like this stuff. I really get it,” Trump told reporters, his face partly hidden under a red “Keep America Great” hat. “People are surprised that I understand it. Every one of these doctors say, ‘How do you know so much about this?’ Maybe I have a natural ability. Maybe I should’ve done that instead of running for president.” At another point Trump compared the situation to the Ukraine shakedown. “The [coronavirus] tests are all perfect. Like the letter was perfect. The transcription was perfect,” he said.

By now many of the president’s advisers are numb to this kind of performance. “There’s very little that fazes anyone now,” a former official said. But one person who spoke to the president over the weekend saw the press conference as an ominous sign. “He’s just now waking up to the fact that this is bad, and he doesn’t know how to respond.”

As Trump pushes a nothing-to-see-here message in public, sources said he’s privately terrified about getting the virus. “Donald is a famous germaphobe. He hates it if someone is eating nachos and dips a chip back in after taking a bite. He calls them ‘double dippers,’” a prominent Republican said. Former Trump aide Sam Nunberg recalled Trump’s response to the last major outbreak in 2014. “When I worked for Trump, he was obsessed with Ebola,” Nunberg told me. (One Mar-a-Lago guest disputed this and said Trump was handshaking with gusto this past weekend. “He was acting like the opposite of a germaphobe,” the source said.)

Stories about Trump’s coronavirus fears have spread through the White House. Last week Trump told aides he’s afraid journalists will try to purposefully contract coronavirus to give it to him on Air Force One, a person close to the administration told me. The source also said Trump has asked the Secret Service to set up a screening program and bar anyone who has a cough from the White House grounds. “He’s definitely melting down over this,” the source said.

 Trump is going to crack and soon.  When he does, all bets are off.

Spies Like Us, Con't

With no sign that Rep. John Ratcliffe will be denied Senate confirmation by Mitch McConnell for Trump's new Director of National Intelligence, the nation's intelligence agencies brace for their new boss, and to see how they will be gutted to "drain the swamp", leaving our already badly damaged post-Snowden intelligence apparatus reeling and turning them into useless shells full of cronies loyal only to Trump and the nation vulnerable to outside meddling.

If confirmed, Ratcliffe will not only have to allay public concerns about the politicization of intelligence during an election year, he’ll also have to strike a delicate balance inside the administration between a demanding president seeking to rein in the so-called “deep state” and intelligence agencies that have long resented and resisted any perceived overreach from ODNI.
“When ODNI was first created, some of its proponents harbored grand ambitions, believing that the DNI could forcefully herd the 17 cats that make up the modern Intelligence Community,” said David Kris, the former assistant attorney general for DOJ’s national security division and a founder of Culper Partners.

But Kris said the role had since evolved, with subsequent DNIs focusing more on day-to-day bureaucratic issues, inter-agency coordination, and, sometimes, providing support in political battles.

John McLaughlin, who was serving as acting CIA director when the ODNI was established, initially opposed the concept when it was being debated in 2003-2004.

But, he said in an interview, the office “went through an evolution from 2004 through four directors,” reaching maximum effectiveness under James Clapper, who served as director of the Defense Intelligence Agency and the director of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency before taking over as DNI in 2010.

“Clapper figured out the secret,” McLaughlin said. “Let the agencies do their jobs and do only the things that the DNI alone is empowered (and authorized by the president) to do — mainly shaping the budget, coordinating tasking, briefing the president and Congress.”

How a Ratcliffe-led ODNI will view its responsibilities, however—and how Trump will empower the office as he seeks to tighten his grip on the intelligence community—is anyone’s guess.

The issue is particularly fraught given Russia’s continued interference in the presidential election, Trump’s reluctance to engage with his advisers on Russia’s malign activities, and his reported anger over Maguire’s willingness to brief congressional Democrats on the ongoing meddling.

What vexes intelligence veterans most, Priess said, is the prospect that a partisan director like Ratcliffe might take an active role in managing the President’s Daily Brief instead of letting analysts do their job -- substituting his personal opinions for the consensus view of the $70-plus billion intelligence community.

“That's the kind of thing that could prompt resignations of senior officials within the agencies,” Priess said, noting that Ratcliffe’s status as an outsider will make it more difficult to establish trust with the career officials.

Another concern “that’s not discussed nearly enough” is the role of ODNI’s legislative affairs office, said a former senior intelligence official.

“All of the legislative affairs offices in the intelligence community coordinate with, and often work through, ODNI legislative affairs,” the former official said. “So with a very partisan DNI, there could be some risk that you end up with a partisan shaping of what information goes to Congress.”

The risk is there even without a partisan leader. Maguire, the former acting DNI, pushed to cancel a public worldwide threats briefing to Congress last month because he did not want senior intelligence officials to be seen on-camera as disagreeing with the president on big issues such as Iran, Russia or North Korea, sources told POLITICO.

There's a very good chance that as ODNI, Ratcliffe will simply leave House Intelligence Committee Democrats out of the loop completely and only deal with Senate Republicans.  The Results would be disastrous to say the least, especially if Ratcliffe feeds Trump what he wants to hear and not what he needs to.

If you thought Trump was vulnerable to Russian manipulation before, wait until Ratcliffe throws out intelligence and substitutes his own opinions, analysis, and judgment on what intelligence agencies have to say.  Mass resignations of career intel professionals is exactly what Trump...and Putin...want.


Related Posts with Thumbnails