Monday, September 5, 2022

Last Call For A Trussed-Up Turkey

Liz Truss got 57.4% of the vote, and Rishi Sunak received 42.6%. That means, of the four Conservative party leaders elected after a ballot of the whole membership, she is the only one to have secured less than 60% of the vote.

At 82.6%, the turnout was lower than it was in the ballot that saw Boris Johnson elected in 2019. But it was higher than in 2001 and in 2005 (when the party was in opposition, and the result counted for less.)

In 2001 Iain Duncan Smith beat Ken Clarke in the final ballot with 60.7% of the vote over Clarke’s 39.3%. Turnout was 78.3%.

In 2005 David Cameron beat David Davis in the final ballot with 67.6% of the vote over Davis’s 32.3%. Turnout was 78.4%.

And in 2019 Boris Johnson beat Jeremy Hunt in the final ballot with 66.4% of the vote over Hunt’s 33.6%. Turnout was 87.4%.
I don't expect Truss to last long. The disastrous Brexit mistake under Boris Johnson has led to the UK economy facing the brink of recession.

Liz Truss will become the UK’s next prime minister with the economy on the brink of recession, according to figures that show private sector activity fell last month as businesses struggle with soaring costs.

The latest snapshot from S&P Global and the Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply (Cips) revealed a “severe and accelerated” decline in manufacturing output in August, alongside weaker activity in the UK’s dominant service sector.

The monthly business survey, which is closely watched by the government and the Bank of England for early warning signs from the economy, found growing worries over soaring inflation and a marked reduction in confidence among firms.

Cost pressures remained extremely elevated, linked to rising prices for energy and fuel as Russia’s war in Ukraine further drives up costs on the wholesale market. Unlike households, businesses do not benefit from an energy price cap.

“The incoming prime minister will be dealing with an economy that is facing a heightened risk of recession,” said Chris Williamson, the chief business economist at S&P Global Market Intelligence, with the British economy facing a “deteriorating labour market and persistent elevated price pressures linked to the soaring cost of energy”.

The monthly purchasing managers’ index from S&P/Cips fell to 49.6 in August, down from 52.1 in July. Any reading above 50 suggests growth in private sector activity.

The figures come as some economists suggested Britain’s economy slipped into recession this summer as households tightened their belts amid the cost of living crisis. The Bank of England has forecast inflation will peak above 13%, the highest level since the early 1980s, and projects a lengthy recession starting in the final quarter of the year.

Economists at Goldman Sachs said last week that inflation could peak above 22%, close to matching the postwar record set in 1975, if current high wholesale energy prices are sustained into the new year.

In her acceptance speech after beating Rishi Sunak in the Conservative leadership race, Truss pledged to “deliver a bold plan to cut taxes and grow the economy”, and also “deal with people’s energy bills” ahead of a tough winter for households and businesses.
The return of Thatcherite hell for the UK seems assured at this point. It's going to be a very long winter...or if things get as bad as they seem to be headed towards, a very short winter for Truss's government.


Laboring Daily

This Labor Day, Gallup finds support for labor unions to not only be the highest in my lifetime, but the highest dating back to 1965.

Seventy-one percent of Americans now approve of labor unions. Although statistically similar to last year's 68%, it is up from 64% before the pandemic and is the highest Gallup has recorded on this measure since 1965.

These data are from Gallup's annual Work and Education survey, collected Aug. 1-23.

The latest approval figure comes amid a burst of 2022 union victories across the country, with high-profile successes at major American corporations such as Amazon and Starbucks. The National Labor Relations Board reported a 57% increase in union election petitions filed during the first six months of fiscal year 2021.

Support for labor unions was highest in the 1950s, when three in four Americans said they approved. Support only dipped below the 50% mark once, in 2009, but has improved in the 13 years since and now sits at a level last seen nearly 60 years ago.

Sixteen percent of Americans live in a household where at least one resident is a union member. This includes U.S. adults who report that they themselves are a union member (6%), those who say someone else in their home is a member (7%), and those who say they and someone else in their household belong to unions (3%).

The net 16% union household figure is within the 14% to 21% range Gallup has recorded since 2001.

Gallup also polled union members and nonunion members June 13-23 in a separate online Gallup Panel survey about union membership.

Membership is highest among front-line and production workers, of whom one in five (20%) are union members.

About one in 10 workers in healthcare and social assistance (13%), white-collar positions (11%), and administrative and clerical roles (10%) are union members.

Workers in managerial roles (6%) are the least likely to be members of unions.

That sharp drop for union support in 2009 was from the auto bailout battle, when Republicans like Mitt Romney demonized the $17.4 billion bailout of the industry that saved a million jobs, and blamed the UAW.

Some 13 years later, unions have more than recovered their reputation, and today they are more important than ever.

Support for unions needs to be matched by union participation, though. The problem remains that the majority of non-unionized workers say they have no interest whatsoever in joining a union.

That needs to change.

Our Little White Supremacist Domestic Terrorism Problem, Con't

While we've seen years worth of white supremacist secession movements in western states like Idaho, rural California, Oregon, Utah and Montana, we also have to pay attention to the growing secessionist movement in New Hampshire, where the Free State movement is trying to take over local governments so that they can reach the goal of dismantling things like public schools and eventually seceding from the US.

The doormat outside Carla Gericke’s house carries the warning “Come back with a warrant.” It’s a stark reflection of her broad distrust of government bureaucracy, an attitude that is the driving force behind the Free State movement, which has led thousands of like-minded people to move to New Hampshire on a quixotic quest — to build a libertarian utopia.

Gericke helps lead that movement, and her agenda is broad and unapologetically radical. More than 6,000 people have relocated to New Hampshire since the effort was launched 21 years ago, according to its organizers. And while some dispute that claim, legislators on both sides of the aisle in Concord agree that Free Staters have come to wield outsize political influence.

Inside her home, Gericke explained why an independent New Hampshire is a good idea, why its public schools are hopelessly broken, why Washington, D.C., is pervasively corrupt, and why Free Staters who believe big government is the enemy of personal freedom are determined to turn society upside down.

“I’m a problem-solver, I’m a solutionist, I am an innovator, I’m a visionary,” said Gericke, a former corporate attorney who moved to New Hampshire from New York in 2008 as part of the Free State movement. “I want to take a swing at making one place better, and this is the place I picked.”

But where Gericke and other “porcupines” — a nickname Free Staters have adopted — see a blueprint for shrinking government and protecting the rights to privacy and private property, critics see a back-door assault on democracy itself.

Their end game, detractors say, is to infiltrate New Hampshire government at all levels — from select boards to the State House — with the aim of dismantling it. State support for public schools is a priority target.

“Their whole mission is to take over state government and to use the threat of secession as leverage” against the federal government, said Zandra Rice Hawkins, executive director of Granite State Progress, a progressive advocacy group.

Jeremy Kauffman, a Free State Project board member, describes democracy itself as a threat.

“Democracy is a soft form of communism that basically assures bad and dangerous people will be in power,” Kauffman said by e-mail. The Manchester resident, a tech entrepreneur, is running for US Senate as a Libertarian.

The movement began with a 2001 essay by Jason Sorens, then a Yale graduate student and now director of the Center for Ethics in Society at St. Anselm College in Manchester. The goal was at once simple and sweeping: attract 20,000 libertarians to a single state with a small population, get elected to public office, concentrate power, and enact change from the inside out.

In 2003, Free Staters chose New Hampshire, with its deep vein of conservatism and “Live Free or Die” motto, as their prospective homeland, and more than 19,000 people have since signed a pledge to move to the state, organizers said. Only a third of that number are estimated to have relocated so far, but Sorens said they have made a major impact.

“There’s been the emergence of a significant group of libertarian legislators, and some of them are in leadership” in Concord, the state capital, Sorens said. “I’ve been pleased overall with what we’ve achieved. I may have hoped that we would reach 20,000, but I’m not sure I ever expected we would.”

House majority leader Jason Osborne, for example, moved to New Hampshire from Ohio in 2010 as part of the Free State Project. Like many Free Staters, Osborne belongs to the Republican Party, something critics say masks the true intentions of many in the movement — using a major party as a Trojan horse to gain election.

Sorens estimated that as many as 40 percent of Free Staters favor secession.

The porcupines, so called because they portray themselves as harmless until provoked, have built a statewide support network for newcomers and member families already here.

Porcupine real-estate agents help find housing for the arrivals, others steer them to jobs, and weekly meetups, from pub gatherings to knitting circles, have sprung up across the state. The Free State Project also organizes PorcFest each summer, a weeklong celebration featuring a plethora of lectures and family activities.

In the recent past, “those not so misguided by the winning government’s indoctrination camps” have heard about the War for Southern Independence, according to a PorcFest schedule. That’s the epic, bloody conflict better known as the Civil War. Parents also have been invited to a discussion on the “Battle Over Raising Your Child.”

“Your rulers would like to do you the ‘favor’ of taking your children off your hands to ‘educate’ them (with a heavy dose of learning to revere their authority),” its summary read.

While the group often avoids the spotlight, it gained notoriety this year when a Free State legislator sponsored a bill seeking a constitutional amendment to allow New Hampshire to secede. The effort was resoundingly defeated.

Free Stater influence also played a role in the controversial two-week shutdown of the Gunstock ski resort, a popular recreational area in conservative Belknap County. Antigovernment activists briefly took control of the commission that runs the county-owned attraction; chaos ensued.

And a Free Stater who served as select board chair in rural Croydon succeeded in cutting that town’s school budget in half with a startling motion at a sparsely attended town meeting. When they learned what had happened, hundreds of voters rallied to restore the funding.
So far there's enough sane people to stop these local government takeovers.  But in the MAGA era, these groups are gaining more and more disaffected members, and Trump keeps calling for stochastic violence against America again and again.

Eventually these groups are going to answer that call.
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