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Monday, January 13, 2014

America In 140 Characters or Less

Posted by on Mon, Jan 13, 2014 at 4:13 PM

I can't stop thinking about this tweet, which I read over the weekend:

You know how sometimes you're thinking about a problem over and over again and then someone breezes past and restates the problem in a sentence that makes you look at everything in a whole new light? That's what this did for me, except the "whole new light" is basically depressing as fuck.


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cressona 1
Whether intentionally or subconsciously, Umair Haque's quip is clearly derived from English philosopher Thomas Hobbes's description of the "natural state" of humanity were it not for political community: "the life of man, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short."

I've been thinking about Hobbes quite a bit lately because, in in our globalized, hyper-capitalist, "World Is Flat" civilization, life has become all too "Hobbesian." Hobbes had another phrase for this "natural state," a "war of all against all," that I keep coming back to when I consider today's labor markets.

Posted by cressona on January 13, 2014 at 4:32 PM · Report this
Will in Seattle 2
Sounds like the Roaring 20s
Posted by Will in Seattle on January 13, 2014 at 4:38 PM · Report this
Unregistered User 3
I'd wager the middle two are true, but do statistics back up the first and last adjectives?
Posted by Unregistered User on January 13, 2014 at 4:40 PM · Report this
undead ayn rand 4
"You know how sometimes you're thinking about a problem over and over again and then someone breezes past and restates the problem in a sentence that makes you look at everything in a whole new light? That's what this did for me, except the "whole new light" is basically depressing as fuck."

Isn't that something persons have been stating since well before the time of Socrates?

Life hasn't been necessarily "getting better", but some statements have been parroted throughout every generation.
Posted by undead ayn rand on January 13, 2014 at 4:45 PM · Report this
Well, Paul, these are unexpected sentiments from you, not the usual cheerleading for the 100% neocon Obama administration.

Perhaps there is hope for human evolution after all.

8 million full-time jobs lost, 2 million (unknown categories) created (1 4-hour temp jobs equals new job creation; one hour of paid employment in the previous month of their stats equals employment. A temp job is counted twice under new job creation in the rare times it becomes regular (not necessarily full-time, you know) employment.

Over 20% unemployment has been the norm in America since 1999, and all the so-called assumptions and bullcrap doesn't change that factoid!

Posted by sgt_doom on January 13, 2014 at 5:24 PM · Report this
@3 for some demographics, yes. In particular for women at lower formal education levels.
Posted by Christopher J on January 13, 2014 at 5:31 PM · Report this
Max Solomon 7
things are more like they are now than they've ever been before.
Posted by Max Solomon on January 13, 2014 at 5:31 PM · Report this
I should clarify.... I ws referring to the shorter part.
Posted by Christopher J on January 13, 2014 at 5:31 PM · Report this
biffp 9
"For almost forty years Republicans have pursued a divide-and-conquer strategy intended to convince working-class whites that the poor were their enemies. The big news is it’s starting to backfire."

- Robert Reich
Posted by biffp on January 13, 2014 at 5:32 PM · Report this
coolio 10
It's a pointless statement. And like like undead ayn rand pointed out. Someone has been saying that every generation.

Show me a statement that can offer insight to why certain thing are bad. Why is life getting harder? Or how to change things. Then maybe you are actually saying something worth talking about.

Pessimism is so boring.
Posted by coolio on January 13, 2014 at 5:39 PM · Report this
Such misleading reporting by the official government agencies, like those perennial clowns at the NBER (Martin Feldstein, which criminal corporation are you a director at now?), reminds one of pseudo-econ, Catherine Mann, during her stint at the Peterson Institute (then called the Institute of Intrnational Economics) when she would claim that for every American job offshored, two new jobs would be magically and miraculously created in America, much like those Elves at the Keebler Cookie Factory and their capitalist magic.

When pressed to prove those numbers, pseudo-econ Mann could only mumble about her "assumption" in much the same manner this and previous administrations keep claiming "assumptions" when they finagle those employment numbers, unemployment numbers, GDP growth numbers (latest one based upon increase in debt, which is counted, and that $1 trillion the Fed spent on buying back the junk paper from the top banksters so they could create more junk paper), etc.

Thinking of Ms. Mann should remind us that she was a fellow at the Peterson Institute, established by David Rockefeller and his stooge, Peter G. Peterson, the co-founder of the Blackstone Group, and speaking of zero recovery and the Blackstone Group.......……
Posted by sgt_doom on January 13, 2014 at 5:40 PM · Report this
wilbur@work 12
What coolio said.


Although if spewing pointless commentary for the stranger is the pinnacle of your working career, then yes, there's reason to be depressed.
Posted by wilbur@work on January 13, 2014 at 5:59 PM · Report this
treefort 13
@10 FTW. First of all life expectancy is demonstrably increasing. The rest of it is the same whining that you hear every generation.
Posted by treefort on January 13, 2014 at 6:30 PM · Report this
Here's the data on life expectancy. It's increasing for all groups, and the gender and race gaps are shrinking.…
Posted by cgd on January 13, 2014 at 7:09 PM · Report this
undead ayn rand 15
@13: But how can he get his "sheeple" zingers in?!
Posted by undead ayn rand on January 13, 2014 at 7:10 PM · Report this
You're suggesting, completely unironically, that all of the USA's problems, including the dumbing down of society, can be summed up in a tweet? Good god man, I never thought I'd say this, but can you please just focus on the 2016 Republican Primary?
Posted by FPC on January 13, 2014 at 7:14 PM · Report this
Of the four claims, shorter is factually false, and the others are only true when using a short frame of reference.
Posted by Hanoumatoi on January 13, 2014 at 7:30 PM · Report this
Greenwood 18
Shorter, harder, dumber? Really? At the beginning of the 20th century, the at birth life expectancy was a little over 30. As science/technology progresses, education and literacy rates have gone up and up. I'd wager to guess that the amount of leisure time the average person has also significantly increased. "Nastier" is a fuzzy concept, but given changes in our society regarding gender/racial equality, I'd say life is a lot less nasty for a lot of people.
Posted by Greenwood on January 13, 2014 at 7:53 PM · Report this
Urgutha Forka 19
Oh, things are much MUCH better now than at almost any time in history. If you think life is short and nasty now, imagine living during Medieval times.

But I understand the sentiment.

Also, @7 clearly won this thread.
Posted by Urgutha Forka on January 13, 2014 at 7:59 PM · Report this
If my first name was Umair, I would be depressed too. Quit dragging us down! Your life sucks, mine is O.K.
Posted by longwayhome on January 13, 2014 at 8:33 PM · Report this
runswithnailclippers 21
shorter, nastier, harder, dumber?

Wasn't that a rejected Daft Punk lyric?
Posted by runswithnailclippers on January 14, 2014 at 3:10 AM · Report this
Life is not actually getting shorter. Yes, our life expectancy can and should be 2-3 years more than it is, but life expectancy is still very slowly increasing. Occasionally you see a provocative headline claiming this is changing, but so far the evidence produced to support this thesis fails back up that claim.
Posted by david jw on January 14, 2014 at 9:40 AM · Report this
your all the fashionable counterpart to the "young earthers". Its common knowledge among contemporary geneticists and anthropologists that indigenous cultures all over the world were far healthier and happier than anything we have going on here. [dental records check ya'll] The answer? Put down the technocratic crack pipe and go full hobo.
Posted by see: spencer wells pandoras seed lecture on January 14, 2014 at 11:06 AM · Report this
CBSeattle 24
You might want to think beyond the good old USA and look at the fact that things are much better worldwide. The whole global economy issue has had mixed results for us, but the impact on the poorest countries has been empirically excellent - longer life, higher standard of living, etc.
Posted by CBSeattle on January 14, 2014 at 11:07 AM · Report this
keshmeshi 25

The 20 percent millennial unemployment rate is a serious issue.
Posted by keshmeshi on January 14, 2014 at 2:26 PM · Report this
It takes a profound, willful ignorance of history, or an overwhelming narcissism to believe that anything about that tweet isn't nonsense.…
Posted by LJM on January 14, 2014 at 2:49 PM · Report this

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