“Not Another Politician”

Love him or hate him, Donald Trump is not just another politician. He doesn’t play the game. I could go on and on about how the big problem in democracy right now is campaign finance, and that corporations have essentially bought both parties. But Donald Trump is the first guy who can honestly say they haven’t bought him. If he had a mind to, he could finance his entire campaign out of pocket and he honestly might.

All true. And he’s still as horrible as anybody or worse. “Not another politician” who is not beholden to anybody else is not a hope for everything good and wonderful. It’s a total nightmare. If the doctors in this country suck (and they mostly do), taking an ill relative to a witch or a soothsayer whose only qualification is that he’s never seen the inside of a medical school is – shockingly – not a solution.

The Black Hole

For the entire two weeks of the vacation I was telling myself, “Do not approach the computer! Whatever you do, stay away from the computer.” I heeded my own advice (the blogging was done form the phone) and was a very happy person.

Since I came back, I managed to stay away from the computer for a while but then I turned it on “just for a quick second”. . . and the nasty thing had me trapped for a long and painful time. I can say “no” to anybody and anything but the computer has me bent to its will every single time.

Easy Recipes

As usual, the presidential campaign is getting bogged in the discussions of feel-good non-issues.

It’s obvious that nobody is going to deport 11 million illegals. The cost and the logistics of that would be insane. But there is a huge number of simpletons who are choosing not to notice that any discussion of the mass deportation is a con man’s trick of distracting a mark while reaching into the poor sod’s pocket.

The same purpose is served by the endless discussions of the need to raise taxes on hedge fund managers. I could care less about hedge fund managers. Tax them to the gills, deport them and their anchor baby, track them like FedEx packages – whatever. But don’t talk about raising their taxes like it’s going to change the world.

There are about 7,000 hedge funds in the US. Many of them will go bust this year. Most of them don’t make that much money at all. Raising the taxes on the salaries of their managers should definitely be done but it’s not going to make a major difference to anything.

Easy recipes do not exist. The politician who offers you one is reaching into your pocket while you are distracted with the shiny bauble of a cutesy slogan.

By the way, have you noticed how all these feel-good easy recipes are about inflicting pain on somebody who is supposedly depriving (“robbing” is always the preferred term) you of something? The con man politician needs to convince you that somebody else is robbing you so that you don’t notice that it’s what he’s doing.

The Labor Market

This is a job seeker’s labor market, and workers feel secure enough to leave the jobs they don’t like:

Hires climbed to the highest level of the year at 5.12 million and the number of Americans voluntarily quitting their jobs climbed to 2.75 million from 2.73 million the prior month. The number of voluntary quits tends to rise when people are confident about job prospects.

Most people are so comfortable that they can’t stand good news, so here is what many will consider a welcome worrisome trend:

And the share of Americans participating in the labor force, at 62.6% in July, matched the lowest reading since 1977, a possible sign there’s a mismatch between job openings and job seekers.

I noticed this problem when we were looking for a departmental secretary. This is an office position that requires a very limited skill set. Yet out of the 8 people we considered, 5 were utterly unprepared for any office job. (Out of the remaining three, one was not a good fit on a personal level, one couldn’t decide if she wanted a job, and one we hired.)

We had to hire someone with an MA because candidates with lesser qualifications showed an extreme incapacity to conduct themselves properly in an office setting.

This is a serious problem on the job market these days: jobs that require nothing but a warm body are increasingly rare. In the meanwhile, the number of jobs that require a worker who is a confident denizen of the modern world is growing. And there are not enough people to fill these positions. For instance, one of the insurmountable obstacles for our candidates was the need to work with people from a wide variety of countries. The candidates were visibly (and sometimes offensively) uncomfortable with anybody who was not exactly like themselves. And how many jobs these days welcome this sort of thing?

A significant number of job seekers eventually give up the search altogether because there’s nothing they have that the job market is ever likely to need. Such people are unequipped to arrive at the real reason for their marginalization by the job market (if they were so equipped, they would easily get employed) and start coming up with all kinds of bizarre outlets for the anger this incomprehensible reality produces in them. The political consequences of this anger and confusion are easy to observe.