Management Madness

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

Two years ago, no one could work from home. Everyone had to come to the office so managers could supervise employees to ensure quality customer service and high productivity.

Last year no one could come to the office. Everyone had to work from home to protect employees from the deadliest virus ever known. Without management supervising us, productivity actually went up.

Starting in November, everyone must work from home, and everyone must come to the office, half and half. It’s a “hybrid” which sounds smart and trendy but actually combines the worst of both worlds. We’re doing it because . . . well, nobody really knows why, exactly. It just is. And since everyone is coming to the office but the deadly virus pandemic is still in effect, everyone must be vaccinated, even those who don’t want to work in the office, who are more productive working at home and who would prefer to continue working from home. Nope, must come to the office, must be vaccinated. And wear a mask plus move your desks six feet apart. But if we’re vaccinated and the vaccine protects us, why wear masks/social distance? If the vaccine doesn’t protect us (and masks/social distance weren’t safe enough to protect us last year), why are we back in the office instead of working from home?

Business magazines are asking what lessons we learned from Covid. Improvements in efficiency, distance working, employee satisfaction . . . no, none of them. We have learned no lessons and have no intention of learning any. It’s our way or the highway. Further proof that the whole thing was not a medical crisis, it was a political stunt.

Joe Doakes

If Dr. Fauci went on CNN and declared wearing aluminum foil Capri pants reduce the spread, I would expect edicts to follow shortly.

This Is What “Building Back Better” Looks Like

Black unemployment, after hitting historic lows under “the most racist president ever”, is bouncing back up under Corn Pop’s pal:

Of course, the last jobs report produced about 1/3 the jobs expected. l

But at least things are going swimmingly along the Mexico border and in Afghanistan…

Unexpected Consequences

Andy Richter is, by a very liberal definition, a “Hollywood star“, having gotten his start as Conan O’Briens, for lack of a better term, “comic“ foil, I shouldn’t be too uncharitable; comedy is hard, and O’Brien proves it.

But time flies, and Richter has a kid who’s going off to college.

Well, trying to:

In the very, very long Twitter thread that followed, Richter evidenced no sense of connecting his plight with the eviction moratorium that has been strangling the rental industry for the past year and a half.

It’s a pretty domestic (if needlessly snide) representation of Big Populist Left’s entire approach to, well, pretty much everything:

Consequences

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

Some people believe today’s high housing prices are due to stimulus payments. All those people getting unemployment checks and $1,400 gifts are using them to bid $50-60,000 over the market for houses. I don’t think so. I think realtors are correct: there’s a shortage of houses for sale, about 40% lower inventory than normal. Low supply, high price, basic economics.

A person who lost his job during the Covid pandemic could sell his house and reap the equity, but then he’d have nowhere to live. During the moratorium on foreclosures, he can live in the house rent-free. And there’s always the hope he may get back on his feet, the government may offer an assistance program, he might win the lottery, something might work out that he can keep the house. Psychologically, people in financial distress hang on too long, they end up staying until they’re evicted because they can’t downsize and shed debt fast enough. Their houses are being artificially withheld from the market because of the moratorium on foreclosures.

Even if they did sell, there are increasingly fewer places to rent because landlords can’t evict tenants during the eviction moratorium (recently extended to next June). Fewer available apartments, higher rent, basic economics.

Ramsey County’s normal foreclosure rate is about 300-400 per year in good times (2000-2003 and again 2017-2019): people died, got divorced, lost their jobs, etc. Foreclosures dropped to single digits in April 2020 when the moratorium took effect. There’s a 15 month backlog of ordinary foreclosures and if the economy stutters when inflation causes interest rates to rise, there could be a great deal more coming. Hundreds of bank-owned properties will flood the market in a short period. Banks dump properties cheap. High supply, low price, basic economics again.

Sale prices will drop. Appraisers see the value of comparable sales dropping – appraised values drop. You won’t be able to sell sell your house for what it was worth in 2021 because the appraisal won’t support the sale price. It’s the 2008 downward spiral all over again.

The government knew that its panic reaction to Covid would throw millions of people out of work, making them unable to afford their mortgages, sending them into foreclosure, and exacerbating the homeless crisis. The Band-Aid approach was a moratorium on foreclosures and evictions. But that’s just a Band-Aid, it doesn’t solve the underlying problem of people out of work, unable to repay their loans. There’s a storm coming. It has nothing to do with stimulus payments.

Of course, there is one way housing prices don’t fall:

Shovel pandemic relief money to the politically well-connected who will stash it in safe currencies; continue endless ‘temporary’ moratoria on foreclosures and evictions to keep masses quiet even as landlords go broke; extend/increase unemployment benefits to hide the destruction of the working economy; and allow hyper-inflation to conceal the destruction of middle-class savings/wealth. Your house will be worth a million dollars, which will be just enough to buy a loaf of bread. Zimbabwe, Argentina . . . America?

If I was one of the well-connected people able to stash my wealth to ride out the ensuing global crash, that might actually be considered a feature, not a bug. I wonder who else is thinking that way?

Joe Doakes

Thinking? Of course.

Able to act?

When The World Is Insane, Satire Is Pointless: Part CXXXIV

Remember earlier in this week, when I ran the video of Seth Dillon of Babylon Bee echoing my complaint that when the world is insane, satire is impossible?

I had one of those moments at something like 2AM, when the cat woke me up and I checked thje news.

I read a news story that I thought was either a weird dream at best, or a not-especially-deft bit of satire by some Babylon Bee knockoff at worst. I went back to bed.

And woke up to find it was neither:

Victoria’s Secret is replacing its supermodel angels with seven high-profile women known for their accomplishments rather than their figures in its evolving brand to help “inspire women.”

The lingerie company announced on Wednesday that its new VS Collective campaign aims to “positively impact the lives of women” with its products, experiences and initiatives.

The campaign also includes new partnerships with professional soccer player Megan Rapinoe, actor and producer Priyanka Chopra Jonas, world champion free skier Eileen Gu, model, refugee and mental wellness supporter Adut Akech, body advocate and model  Paloma Elsesser, journalist Amanda de Cadenet and LGBTQIA+ activist Valentina Sampaio.

Look – I kind of got Viotoria’s Secret’s 2019 decision to ditch the “Angels” and their annual cheeseca; not being a marketer, I’m not sure what the net pros and cons of “pelting your target demographic with images of women that were mostly fantasy objects for men” versus “selling the idea that you kind of are that fantasy, for that special someone, if you buy our unmentionables”.

I suppose it’d be more or less like having Wilt Chamberlain endorse an Erectils Dysfunction remedy; half of the audience might think “THAT’LL HELP ME BANG 20,000 WOMEN TOO!”, and the other half could get…inteimidated?

I guess I’ll let the marketeers market.

So while I can intellectually understand the idea that Victoria’s Secret might shy away from their harem of supermodel “Angels” (complete with some of the more Hefner-y aspects of that image), and simultaneously the idea of feminists wanting companies to use more examples of female empowerment in marketing…

…I guess I’m struggling to see where or why a business and industry that produces lingerie, a milieu which ostensibly exists to make women feel sexy for their significant others, sees itself as a vehicle for that sort of empowerment.

Especially given the role models they’ve selected. The linked article lists :

…actor and producer Priyanka Chopra Jonas, world champion free skier Eileen Gu, model, refugee and mental wellness supporter Adut Akech, body advocate and model  Paloma Elsesser, journalist Amanda de Cadenet and LGBTQIA+ activist Valentina Sampaio

…most of whom fit fairly squarely into the modern current western notion of “beauty”…

…and probably the most “controversial” of the picks…

…Megan Rapinoe, a woman whose entire claim to fame is successfully chasing a ball around a field and stridently proclaiming the dominant social narrative on cue in front of cameras, and who also matches the current western notion of beauty, if you have a secret thing for Reinhard Heydrich.

Beiing neither a lingerie buyer, a second-wave feminist nor a Heydrophile, I am probably not the one to comment.

I’m still trying to figure out if Victoria’s Secret, the brand, is…:

  • terminally beset by executives under the spell of “woke” culture
  • trying to “shock” its way out of a market doldrum

Either way, I think I’m gonna buy stock in whatever VS’s more traditional competitors might be. It just seems…market-prudent.

Begging For A Catastophe

I can see why the likes of Tide Pod Evita and Ilhan Omar prate and gabble on about minimum wage increase. It’ll never cost any of them anything.

But when I hear Gen-Y and younger people yapping about it, I am almost tempted to ask – have any of you actually thought about this…

…and then I remember.- nobody’s taught critical thought in decades. It’s why the Democrats bounced back after the nineties.

Anyway – it turns out the actual economy obeys that most basic Econ101 principle – you can not make someone pay more or less for something than they would naturally pay for it without having consequences.

Because it’s true:

From an article that one long pullquote after another:

Some new research — “Evidence of The Unintended Labor Scheduling Implications of The Minimum Wages” — shows that every $1 an hour increase in government-mandated minimum wages (“political wage-setting”) leads to the following (mostly) adverse outcomes:

And those outcomes includew:

  • a 27% increase in the total number of workers scheduled to work each week
  • a 20.8% decrease in the average number of hours each employee worked per week
  • a 13.6% decrease in the total wage compensation of an average minimum wage worker
  • a 23% decrease in the percentage of employees working more than 20 hours per week (making them eligible for retirement benefits)
  • a 14.9% decrease in the percentage of employees working more than 30 hours per week (making them eligible for health care benefits)
  • a 33% increase in fluctuations in the number of hours worked per week
  • a 9.5% increase in fluctuations in the number of hours worked per day
  • a 9.8% increase in fluctuations of shift start times and
  • average net losses of at least $1,590 per year per employee, equivalent to 11.6% of workers’ total compensation (assuming that workers were able to use their reduced hours to work a second job — an assumption which may not hold true for many employees).

It might be tempting to say “people who advocate for higher minimum wages are trying to make the poor poorer and more dependent”.

And I”m mat a loss for why they’d be wrong.

Systemic

It’s the position of this blog that you can tell everything you need to know about what people and companies really think by observing where their money goes – especially money that is intended to get people to give them more money back.

Especially advertising.

As we’ve noted in the past:

So – what does that tell us about “the System” and what it really believes?

Our Ad

Ads don’t appear by accident.

Least of all television ads, with their high production costs and long lead-times. If you see something in a television ad, especially an “agency” spot (produced by an ad agency, as opposed to something shot at a store or TV station for a local merchant, you may be assured someone thought about the message it was portraying.

A lot.

As we’ve discussed recently, the high numbers of African-Americans in TV commercials challenge the idea that Americans are innately racist. If an add offends someone on some visceral level, it’s just not going to work.

With that in mind, I direct your attention to the latest round of commercials for “Hy Vee”, the national grocery chain, and what HyVee thinks it says about their customers. Both spots are done to the tune of the ’80s song Our House, by the British ska group “Madness”.

Here’s the first one, which came out over the winter:

Note the imagery (amid all the HyVee products):

  • Mom is the executive rushing off to the high-power job.
  • Dad is not only getting the kids ready for school. Not only is he kind of a bumbler, like most TV ad dads, but he looks like a buffoon.

Now, there’s nothing wrong with dads taking care of kids. I spent 20 years doing it, 11 of ’em mostly by myself, several more covering the day shift and working nights to save daycare. Fathers pulling their weight is nothing new.

But it’s not an unreasonable assumption that, in the typical family – whether two-parent or not – a woman is still making a lot of the shopping decisions. And HyVee, one of the major retailers, believes that not only is the image of the woman being the high-speed executive bread-winner one that appeals to those consumers, but showing hubby as a hapless buffoon who’d be lost without her appeals as well.

It’s hardly a novel observation.

HyVee has a new “Our House” spot out – it’s not out on Youtube just yet, so I can’t post it here just yet. And when I first saw it – with its improbably pretty mom cleaning the house to a fine sheen with her array of HyVee products, and a pronounced “Father Knows Best” vibe, I briefly thought “Ooofda – how did this get greenlit? The feministasi are going to have a cow.”.

Then I mentally caught myself. “There’s going to be a whammy”.

And sure enough – Dad finally came home. And he reminded me of Rip Taylor, if Rip Taylor were playing a Gestapo agent (sans long black trench coat – this agent was dressed like, well, Rip Taylor in a HyVee commercial) – simultaneously petulant and way below Mom’s league.

So apparently HyVee’s marketing department believes that an ad Dad who is a mass of caricatures, coming across as a spoiled, petulant martinet to his improbably gorgeous, clearly put-upon spouse, is not only not going to turn their audience off, but will in fact bring them out to the stores?

What does this say about…

…well, not “society”, per se, but the advertising industry’s view of society?

Consequences. Unintended And…

A friend of the blog emails:

Essentially this article blames the pandemic as the reason for higher Minneapolis property taxes next year.  The reason is because commercial real estate in the city has been jumping so much over the last 10 years before 2020, home owners have not seen as much increase in property taxes.  It’s all relative.  The city spend money like a drunken sailor and has been able to pass that on to the growing apartment buildings, restaurants, other commercial ventures that have popped up in the last 10 years.  That growth has halted and I predict commercial properties and values will decrease which will shift the burden to homeowners.  Get ready homeowners.

2020 has changed all that.  Part of the change is the pandemic as businesses realize they can keep workers working at home and reduce the amount of office space needed.  But it is also true that businesses will not move into a city that has no police force and allows blocks of businesses to be looted and burned.  Target is downsizing.  There wasn’t even a thought of the Canadian Pacific merger of having the headquarters in downtown Mpls where it is now.  Who thinks Minneapolis will see a Final Four or a Superbowl in the next 10 years?  The airheads running the city have created a bigger mess than just the pandemic.  I am glad to see my favorite establishment, Brit’s Pub, has re-opened but I am not tempted to go there even in daylight due to the dangerous downtown. 

Right now I am watching the discussion on the local Nextdoor.  People are noticing a big jump in their assessed home values yet their property taxes are stable and some even falling a bit.  The respite in tax increase this year is a big head fake.  The 2022 property taxes will increase mightily as these higher home values will shift a big piece of the real estate base from business to homeowners.  Maybe not if the city’s spending can be cut.  Unfortunately those cuts will likely come from the police force which is already being decimated by resignations and retirements.  The city can just recognize reality that they cannot retain and recruit enough badges.    My heart is sad for my beloved Minneapolis.  The local voters have been mislead by the local media and the chickens have come home to roost.  They will appeal to the state of MN for help.  God give backbones to the state legislature to say “NO.”  Just say “no” as Mpls voters caused this problem, they need to fix it.

Let this be a cautionary tale for other cities.  You don’t want this.

The same story can be said for all of Hennepin County. This will affect them as well.

Two observations.

First: when the MInnPost is too far to the middle for a Democrat machine…

Second: This is what a death spiral looks like.

See also: Detroit, Baltimore, Cleveland, Newark…

…well, you get the idea.

Money Pedals The World

SCENE: Mitch BERG is shoveling landscaping dirt into a wheelbarrow, distracted. Avery LIBRELLE pedals up the alleyway on, naturally, a recumbent fat-tire bike, catching BERG by surprise.

LIBRELLE: Merg!

BERG: Aaaaah, fffffffor crying out loud, Avery, long time no see. What’s…

LIBRELLE: America is built around structural racism.

BERG: Our “structurally racist” country elected a black president, twice, and we have a sitting Veep who is Black and South Asian.

LIBRELLE: Yeah, but that’s just politics.

BERG: OK. This country is capitalist, right?

LIBRELLE: Ugh. Yes. Ick.

BERG: And under capitalism – well, the parody of it you people observe – all things evolve back to money, right?

LIBRELLE: Ugh, yes. Awful.

BERG: Right. And there are few places in our society where “money” and the people who spend it are as attuned to peoples attitudes as in advertising.

And perhaps you’ve noticed – in advertising these days, “people of color” are represented waaaay out of proportion with their share of American demographics. And remember fifty years ago, when Norman Lear got all “transgressive” and cast a biracial couple as bit players on All in the Family? Pretty scandalous stuff, back then – but interracial couples are kinda the “it” thing in advertising these days.

Now – given the ad industry’s focus on consumer attitudes, and capitalism’s imperative to make money work, would advertisers be pushing “racial diversity” in ads if the general public, including the white middle class which makes up a large portion of advertisers targets, were just frothing with racial hate?

LIBRELLE: You notice skin color in ads?

BERG: I notice trends in advertising, a key part of the industry I grew up in and which is still my avocation.

LIBRELLE: That’s racist.

BERG: No, it’s utterly clinical. But shall I just ignore everyone’s race? Because that’s pretty much my default setting…

LIBRELLE: No, that’s racist, too…

BERG: So the only thing that’s not “racist” is shutting up and letting you tell me what to think?

LIBRELLE: Pretty much.

BERG: Naturally. Hey, loook (points into the distance) – a garbage truck!

(LIBRELLE looks around – giving BERG an opening to slip away) .

(And SCENE)

Voting With Our Dollars

Conservative calls for boycotts are a little frustrating. Partly because boycotts rarely do much good. And largely because conservative calls for boycotts usually involve companies I’ve never patrionized, goods I’ve never bought, services that have never served me at all.

Recent example: last month’s call to boycott Disney Plus and The Mandalorian over the politically-motivated and largely counterfactual firing of Gina Carano. But I’ve never subscribed to Disney, I’ve never watched Mandalorian (the last, “first” Lucas episodes of Star Wars put me off the entire franchise – I’ve literally watched not one second of Star Wars since…er, the one where Anakin became Darth, whatever that was called), and I can’t be bothered.

With that in mind?

I’ve never really been a big fan of online shopping.

No, it’s not because I’m a technology-averse middle-aged guy. I work in tech. I not only use technology, I design it (and, avocationally, spend a lot of time critiquing bad design). It’s hard to stay near the absolute bleeding edge…

…but then, shopping on line is not the bleeding edge of technology. It’s pretty much a commonplace these days.

I’ve just never liked buying things sight-unseen.

Oh, I’ve adapted a bit – I’ll buy USB cables and printer ink off of Amazon, once in a while – convenience is truly seductive.

But perhaps not seductive enough, anymore.

No pullquote. The whole thing is worth a read.

Dumb And Dumber And Dumber And Dumber…

Policy is downstream of politics.

Politics is downstream from culture.

Culture is shaped, to a disturbing extent, by people who want to try to influence it.

And it’s been a cultural cliché for generation that television in its many forms has an overwhelming influence on society.

And as someone who spent way more time in Ramsey County family court, and dealing with culture’s assumptions about fathers and children, the subject of how media treats fatherhood has been of far more than casual interest to me for a long time.

I’ve observed since the early days of this blog that much of modern culture’s perception of fathers seems to be derived from Fred Flintstone (if you’re lucky – the cartoon rendering of Jackie Gleason was much preferable to the neutered George Jetson, albeit similar in every other way).

The good news – sociological reasarch [1] shows I’m right.

The bad news – Flintstone is a throwback to the “good old days”. Modern media, more and more, is treating fathers like incompetent, mock-worthy, if in the end lovable buffoons:

…we studied how often sitcom dads were shown together with their kids within these scenes in three key parenting interactions: giving advice, setting rules or positively or negatively reinforcing their kids’ behavior. We wanted to see whether the interaction made the father look “humorously foolish” – showing poor judgment, being incompetent or acting childishly.

Interestingly, fathers were shown in fewer parenting situations in more recent sitcoms. And when fathers were parenting, it was depicted as humorously foolish in just over 50% of the relevant scenes in the 2000s and 2010s, compared with 18% in the 1980s and 31% in the 1990s sitcoms.

At least within scenes featuring disparagement humor, sitcom audiences, more often than not, are still being encouraged to laugh at dads’ parenting missteps and mistakes.

Thing is, as more children are raised in single-parent housholds (a majority, in many communities), and given that the vast majority of those households are female-led, popular entertainment is going to have a disproportional role in shaping how children feel about what fathers are supposed to be.

I don’t watch a lot of current network TV, so it’s fairly academic to me at the moment.

But I’ve also noticed, again for over the past twenty-plus years, that the way fathers are portrayed in commercial is equally condescending [2] – but that there’s a pattern to this.

Remember – nothing in major media advertising, least of all on network or cable TV, is accidental. Every ad, down to the lowliest 10-second sweeper spot, is focus-grouped to a fine sheen before it goes near a broadcaster. The subtext of every ad is as carefully tuned as the messages themselves.

And I’ve noticed [3] that there’s a pattern:

  • Spots aimed at products most commonly aimed at guys (the social group, as opposed to “men”, the sex), products like beer and athletic gear, tools, blue-collar workers’ tools, vehicles bought for work (as opposed to lifestyle accessories), tend to portray women (if at all) as improbably attractive, but not as the focus of the spot/s.
  • Products aimed at women (by inference, women who lead or co-lead households, especially with children) are the ones that tend to show husbands as bumbling, dubiously competent, and very frequently not in their wives leagues, if you catch my drift.

Remembering that nothing in big-dollar advertising is accidental, what other conclusion is there than “Evidence tells advertisers that men see their women as ideal and attractive [which is sort of an evolutionary tautology], and women who spend money want to think that men – in general, and maybe their own – are hapless buffoons who’d be lying in their parents basements in a puddle of their own waste without them.”

Not sure that’s a great message for the young women or the young men of tomorrow.

[1] And yes, I now – sociology, like all soft sciences, is not a science. Soft science produces soft data, at best. And soft data is good enough for the point I’m making.

[2] Although somewhat less so if the fathers in the ads are black or Latino. And it seems that the fathers in mixed-race couples, who seem to make up a disproportionate number of couples in TV advertising these days, get portrayed pretty neutrally-to-favorably, although both of those observation are just that – impressions from a guy who doesn’t watch a whole lot of TV. Now, that would be an interesting study. And one ad that stuck out at me – the morning-TV spot for Hi-Vee supermarkets featuring the 1983 song “Our House” – indicates, albeit with a sample size of one, that even being a stay-at-home caretaker while the improbably gorgeous mom runs off to her office job doesn’t protect dad from that same level of condescension.

[3] Yep, anecdotally, not a controlled experiment bla bla bla.

Ivy League Alums Ponder Restraining Orders, Injunctions

David Hogg, who has built a very rewarding career slandering law-abiding gun owners, is his immense expertise from “gun safety” to industry. Seeking to “own” Mike Lindell [1], he announced last week he seeks to start a pillow company.

Last Friday, it turned out Hogg’s big idea had run into the same roadblock as his gun control agenda – reality:

That Harvard education is serving the lad well, isn’t it?

GameStop = Bidenism

The GameStop tempest-in-a-teapot in one graph:

Why it matters: several on-line stock brokers suddenly and simultaneously changed the rules for little guys. You can use our on-line discount stock brokerage account to sell your valuable stock to the big boys (thus bringing the price down), but you can’t buy more of it (which would have continued to push the price up). The rules which formerly were uniform have now become arbitrary.

Remind you of anything? Several states suddenly and simultaneously declaring house arrest to promote mailed voting? Several states suddenly and simultaneously kicking out election observers so they could count mailed ballots in secret? Social media sites suddenly and simultaneously kicking conservatives who questioned the counting of mailed ballots, off their platforms? And now several brokerages suddenly and simultaneously shutting down purchases of select stocks by select individuals, just when they need to buy them the most.
The big-shots are once again flexing their muscles against the ordinary working class peasants. It’s the hallmark of the new administration – rules for thee but not for me. Bidenism. It’s the way things are done, nowadays.
Oh, naturally, the liars and cheaters have excuses. We had to stop trading for your own good, the market was too volatile, prices were unsustainable, there was misinformation being circulated. Nobody believes any of that (a better lie would have been “we had to stop them, they were price-gouging”). Instead, everybody knows buying was stopped to protect the big-shot investment funds which had made disastrously bad investment decisions. The chart proves the lie.
Congress will harrumph, the White House will deny making phone calls to pressure people, the stock market board will meet to discuss rule changes for big-shots versus peasants, a bunch of investors will lose their shirts and lawyers will make a killing fighting over the scraps. Yawn, the same as always, nothing much will change.

Except everything has changed. Another naked emperor was seen, mocked and humiliated and in response, the peasants were punished for revealing the truth. The peasants won’t forget.
Joe Doakes

A Barrel With No Bottom. Ever.

Decades ago, in an effort to keep housing “affordable”, the city of New York imposed rent control. No existing rental unit could increase its price, absent jumping throught a Byzantine series of bureaucratic hoops.

The “market” responded to the bureaucratic muddling – at first, creatively. The rent control stayed with the the renter. When the renter died or moved, the rental rate could move with the market. But the “ownership” of the rental could be passed down through any semblance of the original renters families – so children, nephews and nieces, stepchildren, further-order descendants, and utterly phony descendants – a fraud that was almost never investigated. Also, renters (and their descendants) could, and did, sublet, and even subdivide, apartments, renting the spaces out at much better than market rates and making a tidy profit on the deal. People are pretty creative when it comes to skirting rules, and New York City government is equally thud-witted and uncreative at creating the rules people skirt. It became almost

The second-order consequences were less salutary. While rents were frozen, utilities and property taxes were not – so landlords got squeezed hard. Landlords with sufficient means sold their properties to “co-ops”, or went condo, or found the few available loopholes – and there were very few, since the powers that be (and are) in New York treated landlords as a populist enemy to be demonized for political gain. The less affluent landlords fell behind on taxes. Squeezed by the city to pay up, repairs sufferend. Eventually these landlords stopped repairing their properties in less desirable areas, which quickly became even less desirable; vast swathes of Brooklyn, the Bronx, Queens and Harlem fell into deep blight, with block after block of apartments abandoned…

…in a city with an “affordable housing crisis” where even in the 1980s, it was impossible to find a place to live for under $2,000 a month in 1985 dollars (which is $4,500 to 5,000 today).

Of course, all that blight begat crime. By the late ’70s, much of New York was a shooting gallery, wit over 2,000 dead per year.

Of course, there is a lot of money in New York, and a lot of people want to be there, so the real estate didn’t sit idle for too long – begetting the third-order consequences: developers moved in, took over the blighted, abandoned real estate, and built it back up. Of course, given New York’s regulatory “zeal” and astronomical taxes, it wasn’t just any developers. It was the ones with enough money to do the building, to navigate the bureaucracy (read “Money”) and pay the taxes (read – “keep the money coming”). The up-front costs were high – and the rest was even higher.

So after decades of “rent control”, one can not live in a decent place on Manhattan with an income of less than $500,000 a year.

I write this to highlight the path that the Minneapolis City Council – known among those in the know as “the dumbest city council between Chicago and Los Angeles” – is drooling to drive Minneapolis down.

Neo-populist progressive economicallly-illiterate stupidity – a barrel that, in Minneapolis, has no bottom.

Truth Is More Boring Than Reality

Where did all the ammo go?

People hoping to get out the range without having to take out a second mortgage to afford to replace their stock are asking (as I might have, before all my guns fell into Superior).

The conspiracies are…colorful:

  • Companies are stockpiling their product to drive up demand
  • Ammo plants have shutdown completely
  • Ammo companies are in cahoots to stop selling to civilians and are now selling only to the Feds and law enforcement.
  • OJ bought all of it in his search for the real killers. 

The reality? More mundane:

Spread the word.

Planet Of The Humans, Part 5 – Fizzle On The Launchpad

In the eighties and nineties, the cultural clichés about young people getting started in life were Hollywood’s fables about the young and gorgeous, weighing offers for competing top-tier business and law schools, on their way toward earning a solid middle class income straight out of school.

Tom Cruise in Risky Business was looking at Harvard, but would settle for Penn State as a safety school. The brat packers in Bright Lights, Big City and The Secret Of My Success and Breakfast Club and, worst of the lot, Saint Elmo’s Fire, slid from the inevitable Evanston that John Hughes froze in time, to Big Ten or Ivy League credentials, to jobs in the big city, whence story devolved into plot devolved into genre.

Real life was a little more pedestrian – but there was opportunity out there. I could pack up everything I owned and trek off to an affordable-enough city – which Minneapolis was at the time – and with little more than a dream, find a trade to ply. and start the process of building a life.

Now, on the one hand, I think when I was in high school and college, people were realistic; my English major advisor never told anyone a BA in English was going to pave your way to success, the way kids over the past fifteen years have been sold on the idea.

Kids today are, at least for the moment, embracing the far left. Socialism is seen as not merely viable but preferable by a dispiriting number of younger people.

Why?

Generational Failure

The education system certainly plays a role – kids today get twelve years of “progressive” indoctrination. If you did it to dogs, you’d get them taken away.

And the post-secondary system, which has spent years turning college into a semi-private wealth transfer that grifts kids into unrealistic expectations, plays its role.

But even with all that, between college debt and a bulge of baby boom workers still in the workforce and the perverse incentives that impel companies to work toward short-term return rather than long-term growth and prosperity, there’s a solid case that this is a tough time to be an entry-level worker.

And those perverse incentives – like the college debt crisis itself – are downstream of government policy. Companies chasing an IPO, or a valuation bubble to draw mergers and acquisitions, draw away from the kind of focus that used to lead to companies building for and working toward the long term.

This hasn’t surprised anyone who’s been paying attention. And while Democrat-driven regulation bears plenty of blame, the GOP focus on benefitting business qua business, as opposed business as part of a free, sustainable market, is part of the problem as well.

30-40 years ago, America’s most recent golden age was built by people whose prospects were, as a sarcastic but on-point song of the era pointed out, so bright they had to wear shades. The breezy optimism of John Hughes movies was a caricature, but not a sarcastic one.

And optimistic people b uild golden ages.

We’re lacking both today.

To Think They Say Progressives Are Economic Illiterates

SCENE: Mitch BERG is at Fleet Farm, looking for new liners for his old chopper mittens. Engrossed in his search, he doesn’t notice Avery LIBRELLE walking around the corner, a quizzical look on hi…er, he…er, Avery’s face. LIBRELLE notices BERG.

LIBRELLE: Merg!

BERG: Uh, hi, Avery. What brings you out to Fleet Farm?

LIBRELLE: Picketing against the Navy and farmers!

BERG: Of course…

LIBRELLE: It’s time to tax the billionaires for all the excess profits they’ve been earning because of the deadly Trump pandemic.

BERG: So let me make sure I get this straight…

LIBRELLE: Uh, heteronormative…

BERG: Huh? Oh, for f…ranklin Delano Roosevelt’s sake. OK. Let me make sure I get this correct: you want to raise taxes on the e-commerce billionaires who are prospering mightily…

LIBRELLE: Yes.

BERG: …because the small businesses that were competing with them were destroyed by the government’s ham-fisted handling of the pandemic, which was imposed by the government that you now want to make the ultimate beneficiary of the government’s own dork-fingered, utterly catastrophic mis-handling of the response?

(But LIBRELLE has already wandered off, looking for wherever the ships are).

(And SCENE)

Train Of Usurpations

People who invested their lives and fortunes, who filled out forms and jumped through hoops, who passed background checks and credit checks and character checks, people who pay wages and taxes and fees and support the local schools, are dirty, rotten, low-down criminals who ought to be thrown in the hoosegow.  Keith Ellison is all over it.

From the article: “Two more courts have recognized the severity of the COVID-19 pandemic and the firm legal foundation of the State’s legitimate interest in putting a stop to it,” Ellison said.

Somehow, I doubt that. I’d bet a brand-new nickel the court didn’t listen to one minute of testimony from anybody about the Covid virus, its infectiousness or its fatality rate to determine whether Covid was actually a severe problem or not.  And I seriously doubt there was extensive briefing on the rational basis between the alleged problem and the Governor’s solution, which is the Constitutional standard for government restrictions that take away a vested property right.  Governor Walz’ restrictions are so arbitrary, so whimsical, so ridiculous that even the New York Times had to admit they were unscientific and bizarre.  I’d be surprised if a court found differently.

Instead, my guess is the court simply presumed the order was a valid exercise of executive power and like the Red Queen, skipped the trial to go directly to punishment.  As long as Democrats refuse to return power to the elected representatives of the people, Ellison will use the infinite power of the state to crush business owners, the courts will lie back and let him, and Minnesotans will continue to suffer.

When the political process is unavailing, the judicial system is unavailing, and the result is unjust, what’s the remedy?

Joe Doakes

Whatever it is, let’s f*****g get on with it.

Christmas Dinner Plans

Never heard of this guy and his Baltimore restaurant – but I like the cut of his jib.

Crab cakes are sounding mighty good for Christmas dinner at the moment.