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.

Weaponized “Charity”

It’s been nine months since Minnesota landlords have been able to evict people for non-payment.

Charity? Well, sure – and an easy one for the State to pay for, since it’s all coming out of the pockets of landlords.

In Democrat parlance, landlords are an easy, cheap villain to demonize in order to rally support among renters. They’ve been the kick toy of both cities’ administrations for decades. The small, private landlord – a working stiff renting out his parents’ old houses or his own investment property – has been treated as a convenient Man in Black for a generation; there are urban non-profiteers who literally cannot refer to these people as anything but “slumlords”.

And the campaign has largely succeeded – both Minneapolis and Saint Paul have done a fine job of zoning, coding and harassing the small landlord out of existence in the Cities (replaced largely with public housing authorities who are, frequently, slumlords, by the way).

So – is the “eviction moratorium” an act of charity, or just another way for the DFL-addled state to help the cities finish extincting the small landlord?

The state’s defense to this lawsuit may help provide some answers to that.

Subsequent Order Effects

You are playing pool in a bar. You strike the cue ball with the cue stick and the cue ball moves. That is a First Order Effect. The cue ball moves in response to your striking it with the cue stick.

The cue ball rolls along until it strikes another ball, perhaps the 10. The 10-ball moves. That is a Second Order effect of your cue stick action. The 10-ball rolls along until it strikes the 8-ball, knocking it into the pocket and causing you to lose the game. That is a Third Order effect of your cue stick action. They all result from your action. They are direct, predictable, foreseeable results and good pool players know better than to take that shot.

Governor Walz issues Executive Orders based on the First Order effects. He orders the bar closed to prevent the spread of Covid, the bar is closed, First Order Effect. What are the Second Order effects? The bartender and wait staff lose their jobs. They can’t pay their rent. They’re looking at eviction and homelessness, the Second Order Effect. They apply for unemployment and welfare, which increases the state budget deficit, leaving less money available for schools and local government aid, the Third Order Effect.

These are direct, predictable, foreseeable results and good Governors (in other states) know better than to implement those policies.

Joe Doakes

And if we had a caste of journalists who actually worked to tell the story, as opposed to logrolling people into compliance with the narrative they’ve been given, people would know this.

Follow The Absence Of Money

A friend of the blog emails:

St Paul City Councilmember Mitra Jalali says that capitalism crushed a local alternative weekly.

I’m scratching my head at this because the print and online versions were free. So, if they couldn’t survive by giving away whatever they had, how did capitalism crush them? One would think something free would “crush” something more expensive. That’s usually what is said of Walmart- they offer things so cheaply that the small businesses can’t compete. In this case, what is the issue? Free publications can’t compete with more expensive subscription news? Or is it actually can’t compete with better sources online that are also free? Is that capitalism? I guess maybe it is because we here in the USA do have lots of choice and are also free to start another weekly in City Pages place. So, if that choice and opportunity bothers Mitra Jalali, just what alternative does she want for us? 

I suspect councilwoman Jalali – who was “Mitra Jalali-Nelson” until having a hint of Scandinavian became a negative in Metro DFL politics – knows this.

I suspect she, like all DFL pols, knows her voters don’t think about it all that hard, and that nobody in the media is ever going to make an issue of it.

Intended Consequences

Remember President Obama’s Cash for Clunkers program?  Trade in an old
car for a more fuel-efficient one, get up to $4,500 in federal rebate
money.  Your clunker was crushed.  The effect of the program was to
distort the used car market, driving up prices of starter vehicles for
the young and poor, making it harder for them to get to work.  The
distortion took months to settle out.

Remember the Obama administration pushing mortgages for minority
borrowers?  It was actually possible to get into a house with less
out-of-pocket investment than getting into an apartment; I saw lots of
examples in the land records.  The effect of that program was to distort
the lending market and when sub-prime mortgages crashed, it took a
decade for the foreclosures and bankruptcies to settle out.

Governor Walz issued his Stay Home order closing businesses and throwing
more than a million Minnesotans out of work (we know this because a
million people filed for unemployment, which is not available to youth,
part-time, casual, contract or small business owners; therefore, the
total who lost their incomes is much, much higher).  The mortgage
delinquency rate is the highest in 20 years but Congress put
foreclosures of federally insured mortgages are on hold and Governor
Walz imposed a moratorium on evictions. The effect is to distort the
housing market again.  There’s a flood of foreclosures and evictions
coming down the pike as soon as the pandemic restrictions are lifted. 
That flood will cause a slump in home values as lenders dump foreclosed
homes, which will drive home prices down, which will be reflected in
worse economic numbers for whomever is President at the time.  It may
take years to settle out, again.

None of this was unforeseen.  The foreseeable consequences of the lock
down were ignored in order to gin up support for mail in voting to make
the election easier to steal.  The cost of that decision is going up
every day.

Joe Doakes

This is what happens when there’s no real check on power.

Waves

There is no Third Wave of Covid cases.  There was no Second Wave.  This is still the First Wave. 

When Covid was detected, the Governor issued a Stay Home order to “flatten the curve” so that we wouldn’t overwhelm our limited number of ICU rooms with Covid patients.  That would have meant leaving people to die in hallways and parking lots, untreated, for lack of ICU space. Instead, the plan was to slow the spread of the virus which would delay some Covid hospitalizations.  Rather than a massive surge, we’d see a continuous caseload that was within our ICU capacity.  And it worked . . . no hospital ICU were overwhelmed.

The Stay Home order was never intended to permanently halt Covid deaths.  We knew all along people were going to die, we just didn’t want them to die for lack of treatment in a Surge.  Instead, we wanted them to die more slowly, with treatment if possible.  That’s working, too.

Covid kills old sick people in nursing homes, which created nursing home bed vacancies. But nursing home beds don’t stay vacant – there’s always a waiting list.  New residents move in, they catch the virus from the existing patients or the staff, they die of Covid.  It’s not a wave issue, it’s a location issue.  Nursing homes are slaughterhouses. 

And it’s not going to end.  As the virus kills today’s old sick people, other sick people are aging.  Tomorrow’s old sick people are going to die of Covid, too.  And the day after that, and the month after that, and the year after that.  Because that’s what old sick people do in the nursing home: they die, of influenza, emphysema, cancer, diabetes and yes, of Covid.

Nothing President Trump could have done would have prevented the virus from acting according to its nature. It’s here to stay, just like other illnesses that kill old sick people.  Get used to it.

Joe Doakes

Lose that extra weight (if I did it, anyone can). Get your blood sugar and blood pressure under control (it ain’t easy, but your life may depend on it). Wear a mask and don’t be lingering around older people and people you know are vulnerable.

Start trying to rebuild the economy the Democrats have utterly f****d.

That’s the way forward.

We hope.

Pining For The Hipster Fjords

I do “get” nostalgia.

My first radio station – KEYJ, which became KQDJ during my senior year of high school – was one of the formative experiences of my life. 

But sometime around 2000, it changed from a local middle-of-the-road station to a “computer in a closet” station relaying ESPN Sportsradio and the occasional high school sports event.  They moved the studio from above the drugstore on mainstreet to a nondescript suite in a strip mall downwind from a Walmart.  I don’t drop by to visit, because it’s not the station it was when I was 16.  It’s not a radio station anyone in 1980 would have recognized at all. 

The past is a keen, formative memory.  The present is a 10 year old PC passing along people jabbering about the NBA.   

If it disappeared tomorrow, the memory would remain.  The present wouldn’t be lamented at all. 


The CIty Pages – which was the last survivor of an endless stream of “alternative” weekly tabloids (Twin Cities Reader, Nightbeat, Cake, Buzz, and no doubt others) that used to sit in bins outside record stores, co-ops and cafes all over town – has closed, effective whoah, that was fast:

“Since City Pages revenue is 100% driven by advertisers and events—and those investments have dropped precipitously—there’s no reasonable financial scenario that would enable us to continue operations in the face of this pandemic,” Star Tribune Chief Revenue Office Paul Kasbohm said in a statement. “Unfortunately, we foresee no meaningful recovery of these sectors or their advertising investments in the near future, leaving us no other options than to close City Pages.”

City Pages will stop publishing in print and online immediately, according to a news release. The last print edition of City Pages will be distributed this week.
The closure eliminates all City Pages positions.

I come not to praise the City Pages, but to bury it. But fairness demands a little clarity.

The City Pages were the last survivor of what used to be a bumper crop of freebie tabloids that popped up in bins outside restaurants, co-ops, record stores and bars. There were a bunch – Nightbeat in the eighties, Twin Cities Reader in the eighties and nineties, joined by Cake and Buzz and a few others in the nineties. The field winnowed down to just the City Pages by about 2000.

In the eighties, it was where writers like David Brauer, Brian Lambert and James Lileks got their starts – indeed, it was where Lileks gave me my first legit-media plug, 33 years ago.

And for a few years, in the ’90s and early 2000s, City Pages did some great journalism. They did more, better long-form and investigative reporting than the Strib or PiPress, at their best, under editor Steve “Don’t even think about singing ‘Oh Sherry’ around me” Perry. It was biased to the left to a fault. But beneath all that, the reporting was otherwise generally solid. And Perry could go off the reservation; in about 1997, Perry was the first journo in the Twin Cities to write that the swelling push for carry permit reform in Minnesota hadn’t brought blood to the streets of a couple dozen other states, wasn’t going to bring it to Minnesota, either.

When Perry left in 2005-ish (to return as editor of the Soros-funded attack-PR site Minnesota Monitor, which became the Minnesota Independent, and distinguished itself in journalistic glory under neither guise), the City Pages slid and slid hard. For most of the past 10-15 years, the paper’s “journalism” has been at best risible hackery, or incompetent hackery, self-parodying hackery, or sloppy gurgitations of DFL chanting points or, when female conservative politicians were involved, creepy panty-sniffing.

If the City Pages had been its 1998 self, its collapse would have been something to mourn, maybe, for some reason other than the nostalgia local establishment journos have been venting about.

But the City Pages of the 21st Century has been not a shadow, but a mockery, of anything of real value that it may once have been.