The Angle 09/29/2018

A simple idea: an article, a link, a quote, and an angle, because the bigger narrative is better.

Today: Looking for Mr. Good Jobs, The Nation vs. The Globe, Amazon is China, and A Comic From The Before Time, In The Long Long Ago

>“For US Manufacturers, Tariffs Offer Little Chance Of Past Productivity”  | Christian Science Monitor

“”The theory is you turn [imports] off, the jobs come back. That’s not really true … The buildings don’t exist. The people don’t exist. The machinery does not exist, to make the sorts of furniture that now gets imported,” said Alex Bernhardt Jr., chief executive and the company founder’s great grandson.

What the company needs now, executives say, is the open markets and steady economy that have allowed it to grow its workforce from below 800 at the end of the 2007-2009 recession to almost 1,500 today – partly on the basis of exports to China.”

The Angle> Looking for Mr. Good Job. Anyone waiting for “the good jobs” to come back will have a long wait indeed. Automation will ensure that these jobs be won’t be coming back in droves, and 30+ years of anti-union practices will depress what should be wages high enough to support a family with just one earner. (Oh, iPhones will be $3000 and there will be no pineapples at Christmas time.)

>“The Truth Is That Trump Has A Point About Globalisation”  | The Guardian

“The idea that the nation state would wither away was based on three separate arguments. The first was that the barriers to the global free movement of goods, services, people and money were economically inefficient and that removing them would lead to higher levels of growth. This has not been the case. Growth has been weaker and less evenly shared.

The second was that governments couldn’t resist globalisation even if they wanted to. This was broadly the view once adopted by Bill Clinton and Tony Blair, and now kept alive by Emmanuel Macron. The message to displaced workers was that the power of the market was – rather like a hurricane or a blizzard – an irresistible force of nature. This has always been a dubious argument because there is no such thing as a pure free market. Globalisation has been shaped by political decisions, which for the past four decades have favoured the interests of capital over labour.

Finally, it was argued that the trans-national nature of modern capitalism made the nation state obsolete. Put simply, if economics was increasingly global then politics had to go global, too. There is clearly something in this because financial markets impose constraints on individual governments and it would be preferable for there to be a form of global governance pushing for stability and prosperity for all. The problem is that to the extent such an institutional mechanism exists, it has been captured by the globalists. That is as true of the EU as it is of the IMF.”

The Angle> The Nation vs. The Globe. I think it’s more likely that Steve Bannon has a point about Globalization, and Trump, along with other paleoconservatives came along for the ride. Unfortunately, right now they’re sucking all the oxygen out of the room if you’re a globalization critic but not in favor of transforming America into a white ethno-state. To this end, I think 1) If you’re not at least ambivalent about immigration (there won’t be enough young workers to support transfer payments to retired workers, BUT there’s also evidence that immigration puts some downward pressure on wages for certain groups) then nothing you say about it should be taken seriously; and 2) Globalization was a massive wealth transfer from the American middle class to poor Chinese workers and the American upper class. If one’s analysis begins along these lines, then it’s perhaps possible to think through the false choice of Nation vs, Globe to something that looks like a postliberal world order.

>“Amazon’s Aggressive Anti-Union Tactics Revealed in Leaked 45-Minute Video” | TechCrunch

““We do not believe unions are in the best interest of our customers, our shareholders, or most importantly, our associates. Our business model is built upon speed, innovation, and customer obsession—things that are generally not associated with unions. When we lose sight of those critical focus areas we jeopardize everyone’s job security: yours, mine, and the associates’.””

The Angle> Amazon is China. In an era of lower returns on labor than on capital, corporations skimp on investments in low-skilled labor in order to produce shareholder value. It’s not surprising that the world’s second largest employer is anti-union. Rather, it should be expected, despite our lofty ideas from twenty years ago of what a tech company could be. Still, some of the other stuff about Amazon and labor: workers on food stamps, workers as “ambassadors” who counter negative media reports on social media, and that thing about the cages—that stuff is just messed up. But perhaps even more messed up is that I’m sure these practices occur in places where Amazon pays little if any state or local taxes at all, which means that taxpayers are funding this crap in exchange for cheap goods. In that sense, Amazon is China.

>“After ‘Forty Years Of Pointed Ears,’ ‘ElfQuest’ Ends Its Legendary Run”  | NPR

“[Wendy] Pini was already a working fantasy illustrator when she started drawing ElfQuest. It was 1978, and the time was right: Star Wars was huge, Lord of the Rings was on everyone’s shelves, so a comic about elves seeking a home on a planet not their own seemed like a sure bet. But there was just one problem: How do you get your comic into people’s hands when there are hardly any comics stores?

Greg Bennett is the co-owner of Big Planet Comics in Bethesda, Md. — and an ElfQuest fan — and he says that when the Pinis first started making the comic, modern distribution systems just didn’t exist. “That’s daring as heck, because there was no way to get that stuff out there then other than to go to conventions, sell it yourself, go store to store to store and hand sell it.”

The Angle> A Comic From The Before Time, The Long Long Ago. ”ElfQuest” is one of the few independent comics left that got its start before there was a direct market for comics. In that time, unless you could convince your dad to drive a few miles to an actual comic shop, you had to get them from the nearby convenience store, supermarket, or pharmacy. If you missed an issue you were out of luck and had to sift through back issues in a thrift store or the good will. Not having confidence that you could get a particular X-Men issue back then is what makes ElfQuest and its 40-year run an amazing feat.

@ProjectDex

IMAGE SOURCE: complex-664440_1920 (creative commons)

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