By Lambert Strether of Corrente.
Bird Song of the Day
Western Kingbird, Lake, Oregon, United States. “Dawn song from willow tree [This is the “dawn song” or “Regularly Repeated Vocalization” following BNA and W. J. Smith.]”
“But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature?” –James Madison, Federalist 51
“Here’s food for thought, had Ahab time to think; but Ahab never thinks; he only feels, feels, feels” –Herman Melville, Moby Dick
“So many of the social reactions that strike us as psychological are in fact a rational management of symbolic capital.” –Pierre Bourdieu, Classification Struggles
“Biden team eyes end of Covid emergency declaration and shift in Covid team” [Politico]. “Senior Biden officials are targeting an end to the emergency designation for Covid as soon as the spring, after debating doing so last summer and taking a pass, three people with knowledge of the matter told POLITICO. Should they do so, such a move would represent a major pivot point in the country’s battle with the pandemic. The decision, which has not yet been finalized amid more immediate efforts to manage a recent spike in Covid cases, would trigger a complex restructuring of major elements of the federal response — and set the stage for the eventual shifting of greater responsibility for vaccines and treatments to the private market. It would kickstart a transition away from the White House-led crisis operation and toward treating the virus as a continuous long-term threat. And for President Joe Biden, who campaigned on eliminating the virus, it would symbolize a measure of progress toward an early pledge that has proven far more difficult than anticipated to keep.” • What “battle”?
“Biden’s Education Department just proposed a new way to make monthly student-loan payments ‘more affordable and manageable than ever before’” [Business Insider]. Wowsers. ” the department said that the new IDR plan would require borrowers to pay no more than 5% of their discretionary income monthly on their undergraduate student loans — down from the current 10%, and it would also prevent interest from adding onto a borrower’s principal balance. Rather than creating an entirely new plan, as a fact sheet said, the department will amend the Revised Pay As You Earn (REPAYE) plan, which was created in 2016 to calculate borrowers’ monthly payments based on their discretionary income.” • The Secretary of Education is Miguel Cardona. We don’t hear much from him. Is it too much to ask that this effort won’t be butchered like all the others?
“Joe Biden’s claim to presidential greatness” [Financial Times]. My stomach is cast-iron. “But Biden’s effectiveness as president stems in large part from his Reaganite ability to set a clear direction for policy and then to delegate. The Democrats on Capitol Hill have done the heavy lifting to get legislation through Congress. The president’s national security staff have organised policy on Ukraine. Biden has presided but he has not tried to micromanage policy. A second term may seem too much of a stretch. But throughout his political career, Biden has shown a capacity to surprise and confound his critics. Don’t bet against him doing it again.” • I’m sure they juice him up before they wheel him out. That doens’t matter. Biden is still the best politician in the Democrat Party. Who’s better?
“Fulton special grand jury completes Trump investigation” [Atlanta Journal-Constitution]. “The Fulton County special grand jury that has spent the last eight months examining potential criminal interference in Georgia’s 2020 presidential election has completed its work and is being dissolved, according to the judge overseeing the high-profile panel. In a brief order issued Monday, Fulton Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney wrote that the grand jury has fulfilled its duties to his satisfaction…. McBurney also scheduled a hearing on Jan. 24, during which parties — including the Fulton District Attorney’s office that advised the jury, the news media and, presumably, investigation targets — will argue whether the grand jury’s report should be made public. Jurors recommended that their report be published, McBurney said.”
“McCarthy’s concessions spur fears of potential default, government shutdown” [The Hill]. “The concessions Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) agreed to in a bid to appease conservative rebels set up showdowns this year with Senate Democrats and President Biden on the debt limit and the annual spending bills — heightening the danger of a national default or a government shutdown, political strategists say. McCarthy’s promises all but guarantee a standoff with Senate Democrats and Biden later this year, particularly those to attach spending cuts to legislation to raise the debt limit and to cap discretionary spending at fiscal 2022 levels. Democrats have refused to negotiate adding spending cuts or other fiscal reforms to any debt limit legislation over the past decade.” • More auto-kinbaku-ji. And you’ll pry the debt limit out of liberal Democrats cold, dead hands, exactly as with the filibuster.
“Unpacking the House GOP’s new rules: A handy guide to the changes” [Politico]. “Republicans have killed Democrats’ “pay-as-you-go” rule, often shorthanded as PAYGO. It had required legislation that would add to the deficit to be offset with tax increases or spending cuts. The GOP has replaced PAYGO with what it’s calling CUTGO, which requires mandatory spending increases to be offset only with equal or greater decreases in mandatory spending — no new taxes allowed. The GOP last put this into place in the 112th Congress. That doesn’t mean that deficit-increasing tax cuts are off the table. The CUTGO rule only requires offsets if bills would increase mandatory spending within a five-year or 10-year budget window. For example, Republicans could pass extensions of the 2017 Trump tax cuts, some of which have set to expire in 2025 (while others already have).”
“Episode 240 – We Need To Talk About Kevin (w/ Thomas Frank)” (podcast) [Bad Faith]. “Whenever something crazy is going down in Congress, Thomas Frank is here to talk about it. We chatted while the Capitol was stormed on 1/6, and now the historian, writer, and populism expert returns to Bad Faith as the House Republicans struggle to meet the 218-vote threshold to elect a Speaker. Inside: discussions about the parallels between this historical moment and the ones Frank has written about, the wisdom of Force The Vote, and whether Briahna is right to be jealous of the rogue Republicans in this moment.” • Good to see Frank out and about.
Democrats en Déshabillé
Patient readers, it seems that people are actually reading the back-dated post! But I have not updated it, and there are many updates. So I will have to do that. –lambert
I have moved my standing remarks on the Democrat Party (“the Democrat Party is a rotting corpse that can’t bury itself”) to a separate, back-dated post, to which I will periodically add material, summarizing the addition here in a “live” Water Cooler. (Hopefully, some Bourdieu.) It turns out that defining the Democrat Party is, in fact, a hard problem. I do think the paragraph that follows is on point all the way back to 2016, if not before:
The Democrat Party is the political expression of the class power of PMC, their base (lucidly explained by Thomas Frank in Listen, Liberal!). ; if the Democrat Party did not exist, the PMC would have to invent it. . (“PMC” modulo “class expatriates,” of course.) Second, all the working parts of the Party reinforce each other. Leave aside characterizing the relationships between elements of the Party (ka-ching, but not entirely) those elements comprise a network — a Flex Net? An iron octagon? — of funders, vendors, apparatchiks, electeds, NGOs, and miscellaneous mercenaries, with assets in the press and the intelligence community.
Note, of course, that the class power of the PMC both expresses and is limited by other classes; oligarchs and American gentry (see ‘industrial model’ of Ferguson, Jorgensen, and Jie) and the working class spring to mind. Suck up, kick down.
* * *
“Russian trolls on Twitter had little influence on 2016 voters” [WaPo]. “Russian influence operations on Twitter in the 2016 presidential election reached relatively few users, most of whom were highly partisan Republicans, and the Russian accounts had no measurable impact in changing minds or influencing voter behavior, according to a study out this morning. The study, which the New York University Center for Social Media and Politics helmed, explores the limits of what Russian disinformation and misinformation was able to achieve on one major social media platform in the 2016 elections. ‘My personal sense coming out of this is that this got way overhyped,” Josh Tucker, one of the report’s authors who is also the co-director of the New York University center, told me about the meaningfulness of the Russian tweets. ‘Now we’re looking back at data and we can see how concentrated this was in one small portion of the population, and how the fact that people who were being exposed to these were really, really likely to vote for Trump,’ Tucker said. ‘And then we have this data to show we can’t find any relationship between being exposed to these tweets and people’s change in attitudes.’ • Hilarity ensues, because of course all this was obvious from the very beginning. And it’s been out in plain sight all the time; the Times, after all, published an archive of “Russian” memes. Who could believe they would influence anyone? Besides credulous liberal Democrats, I mean.There was Buff Bernie;
And who could forget:
“We will beat it together” sorta sums up the whole sorry RussiaGate saga, doesn’t it? Anyhow, now that we see that these 9/11 airplnes missed the Twin Towers completely, can we now cauterize the cancerous organs of state security that metastasized all over our First Amendment rights? Not a chance! Here’s the study–
“Exposure to the Russian Internet Research Agency foreign influence campaign on Twitter in the 2016 US election and its relationship to attitudes and voting behavior” [Nature]. “. Using longitudinal survey data from US respondents linked to their Twitter feeds, we quantify the relationship between exposure to the Russian foreign influence campaign and attitudes and voting behavior in the 2016 US election. We demonstrate, first, that exposure to Russian disinformation accounts was heavily concentrated: only 1% of users accounted for 70% of exposures. Second, exposure was concentrated among users who strongly identified as Republicans. Third, exposure to the Russian influence campaign was eclipsed by content from domestic news media and politicians. Finally, we find no evidence of a meaningful relationship between exposure to the Russian foreign influence campaign and changes in attitudes, polarization, or voting behavior. The results have implications for understanding the limits of election interference campaigns on social media.” • Greenwald comments:
The findings from the survey itself are even more striking.
It only took 6 years for “data” to prove the obvious: in an election where oligarchs spend trillions; CIA/FBI/DHS are involved; major media corporations are doing everything possible, a few Twitter bots are irrelevant. pic.twitter.com/YIo8n7pf0F
— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) January 9, 2023
Our Famously Free Press
Berenson’s “Twitter Files” effort sank like a stone:
1/ My first #TwitterFiles report: how @scottgottliebmd – a top Pfizer board member – used the same Twitter lobbyist as the White House to suppress debate on Covid vaccines, INCLUDING FROM A FELLOW HEAD OF @US_FDA!
— Alex Berenson (@AlexBerenson) January 9, 2023
Partly, no doubt, because who wants to attack a sanctified institution like Pfizer, but also because Berenson wrote four tweets and then blog-whored his site! (Every other Twitter Files report has been written in full on Twitter. So I don’t know what makes Berenson special. Like I said, they should have put a reporter on it. Which Berenson, sadly, once was….)
Lambert here: I am but a humble tapewatcher, but unlike Eric Topol, I’m not calling a surge, because the last peak was Biden’s Omicron debacle, and after an Everest like that, what’s left? Topol’s view is the establishment view: Hospital-centric. Mine is infection-centric. I do not see the universal acceleration or doubling in cases that I would expect to see based on past surges.
I am calling a “Something Awful.” It’s gonna be bad, in some new way, and we don’t know how, yet (but see here for immune system dysregulation, which is looking pretty awful). Wastewater has taken off in New York, Chicago, San Francisco, and Los Angeles, right on time, two weeks after Thanksgiving. Those are not only in themselves large cities, they are all the sites of international airports (reminiscent of the initial surge in spring 2020, which emanated, via air travel, from New York). Wastewater is a leading indicator for cases, which in turn lead hospitalization (and death). In addition, positivity has reached its highest level ever, at least at Walgreens, and BQ.1* has taken over, closely followed by XBB, and both are immunue escape variants. UPDATE The rise of XBB in the Northeast is very concerning. The effects of all our holiday travel should be playing out in the next two weeks, and we are one week in.
Stay safe out there!
• “The coronavirus is speaking. It’s saying it’s not done with us.” [Eric Topol, WaPo]. “[XBB1.5,] the new dominant strain shows that the virus is always evolving to spread more quickly and infect us more efficiently. That should serve as a wake-up call for the country to re-invest in new vaccines, treatments and pandemic monitoring…. Americans can take some comfort in the combined immunity from the country’s massive numbers of infections, reinfections, vaccinations and boosters. That should blunt the effect of XBB.1.5. Still, we have already seen the levels of covid hospitalizations in the United States reach their highest level in almost 11 months, and we’re not done with this wave yet…. The implications of XBB.1.5 are also much bigger than just this formidable variant. The virus is talking to us, and it is telling us it has many more ways to evolve. It is revealing that it not only can fake out or elude our immune response, but can also get better at penetrating our cells. What will happen next? Will we see a whole new family of variants arise that are distinct from the omicron family? It is entirely possible… We’ve moved from complacency to frank capitulation at just the wrong time. If XBB.1.5 is telling us one thing, it’s that we can’t be oblivious. We’re all tired, but we’re up against a force that isn’t. We have the intelligence, resourcefulness and ingenuity to finally get ahead of the virus, but politics and unwillingness to invest are holding us back. We cannot afford that gridlock.” • Assuming good faith, of course.
• “XBB.1.5 is the latest COVID-19 subvariant: What you need to know” [Yahoo News]. “XBB.1.5 has a few mutations in it which may give it some growth advantage over other variants, [Toronto epidemiologist Isaac Bogoch] explains. So far, it’s been found in over 30 counties, including Canada. However, while it appears to have some growth advantage, it’s not to the same extent that it was initially thought to have. ‘A few weeks ago, the CDC XBB.1.5 to represent over 40 per cent of all COVID samples in the United States,’ he says. ‘It was actually based on more places reporting data to represent closer to 20 per cent of sequence samples.’ While XBB.1.5 been shown to ‘wiggle around’ our protective immunity and cause reinfection, Bogoch says it’s not seeing the degree of exponential growth it was initially thought to have.” • So, my hermeneutic of suspicion regarding CDC projections turns out to be right (yet again). Now, XBB.1.5 is growing impressively fast, as the CDC variant charts (below) show. Just not as fast as CDC projected.
• “SARS-CoV-2 replication in airway epithelia requires motile cilia and microvillar reprogramming” [Cell (ChrisRUEcon)]. Important. From the Abstract: “Using primary nasal epithelial organoid cultures, we found that the virus attaches to motile cilia via the ACE2 receptor. . Depleting cilia blocks infection for SARS-CoV-2 and other respiratory viruses. SARS-CoV-2 progeny attach to airway microvilli 24 h post-infection and trigger formation of apically extended and , supporting …. Importantly, Omicron variants bind with higher affinity to motile cilia and show accelerated viral entry. Our work suggests that motile cilia, microvilli, and mucociliary-dependent mucus flow are critical for efficient virus replication in nasal epithelia.” • First time I’ve heard a mechanism for nasal infection described. Here is the graphical abstract:
So us nasal spray stans might not have been wrong! More–
• “Stanford Medicine scientists pinpoint COVID-19 virus’s entry and exit ports inside our noses” (press release) [Stanford Medicine]. “Somebody just coughed on you. On a plane. At a dinner party. In a supermarket line. If only there were a ‘morning after’ nasal spray that could knock out respiratory viruses’ ability to colonize your nose and throat. In a study publishing today in the print issue of Cell [above], Peter Jackson, PhD, a Stanford Medicine professor of pathology and of microbiology and immunology, and his colleagues brought that possibility closer to reality by pinpointing the routes that SARS-CoV-2, the COVID-19 virus, takes to enter and exit cells in our nasal cavity. ‘,’ Jackson said.” • A “morning after” nasal spray is the exact use case for the Vaill CoviTRAP nasal spray developed in Thailand (see NC here, and — not to be unfair to Jackson — here: “A smallish Southeast Asian country was able to develop this technology, secure approval, produce, and bring it to market while we in the rich West sat on our pasty white fundaments and, to put it politely, twiddled our fingers. Ye Gods!”).
• “Circulating Spike Protein Detected in Post–COVID-19 mRNA Vaccine Myocarditis” [Circulation]. n = 16. “Immunoprofiling of vaccinated adolescents and young adults revealed that the mRNA vaccine–induced immune responses did not differ between individuals who developed myocarditis and individuals who did not. However, free spike antigen was detected in the blood of adolescents and young adults who developed post-mRNA vaccine myocarditis, advancing insight into its potential underlying cause.” • The spikes are bad. No reason little spike factories can’t have a special way to be worse (in some individuals). A layperson’s summary, well worth a read–
“Spikes Out: A COVID Mystery” [MedScape]. “In 12 out of 16 kids with myocarditis, the researchers were able to measure free spike protein in the blood — that is to say spike protein, not bound by anti-spike antibodies. These free spikes were present in — wait for it — zero of the 45 control patients. That makes spike protein itself our prime suspect. J’accuse free spike protein! Of course, all good detectives need to wrap up the case with a good story: How was it all done? And here’s where we could use Agatha Christie’s help. How could this all work? The vaccine gets injected; mRNA is taken up into cells, where spike protein is generated and released, generating antibody and T-cell responses all the while. Those responses rapidly clear that spike protein from the system — this has been demonstrated in multiple studies — in adults, at least. But in some small number of people, apparently, spike protein is not cleared. Why? It makes no damn sense. Compels me, though. Some have suggested that inadvertent intravenous injection of vaccine, compared with the appropriate intramuscular route, might distribute the vaccine to sites with less immune surveillance. But that is definitely not proven yet. We are on the path for sure, but this is, as Benoit Blanc would say, a twisted web — and we are not finished untangling it. Not yet.” • No mechanism yet. But with studies like this, and the nasal study above, it does seem that we are getting closer to an account.
• “Investigation of the effect of COVID-19 on sperm count, motility, and morphology” [Journal of Medical Virology]. From the Abstract: “Two groups were selected (100 men had and recovered from COVID-19, and 100 men never had COVID-19) spermiograms from both groups were analyzed in accordance with the World Health Organization standards. The sperm concentration of the COVID-19 negative group was significantly higher than those in the COVID-19 positive group. No statistically significant difference was detected between the groups for sperm motility and morphology. It was observed that men with COVID-19 had decreased sperm concentrations suggesting that COVID-19 may have a negative effect on male fertility. However, in the long term, more comprehensive studies with a large sample size are needed to understand better the changes in sperm concentration.” • More study needed….
• Maskstravaganza: “Long-haul flight passengers should wear face masks: WHO” [Bloomberg]. “Passengers on long-haul flights should be advised to wear masks and it’s not unreasonable for Europe to adopt travel restrictions as COVID-19 cases surge in China and the US, World Health Organization officials said. ‘A threat could come from a new variant of concern anywhere, anytime,’ Hans Kluge, the WHO’s regional director for Europe, said at a briefing in Copenhagen.” • We don’t “advise” passengers to put on their seatbelts, or “advise” them to place their seatbacks and traytables “in their upright and locked position.” We require it. Why this incredible weakness, this flaccidity, on measures to protect the public’s health?
• “Effectiveness of influenza vaccination against SARS-CoV-2 infection among healthcare workers in Qatar” [Journal of Infection and Public Health]. n= 30,774. “This matched, test-negative, case-control study was implemented on a population of 30,774 healthcare workers (HCWs) in Qatar during the 2020 annual influenza vaccination campaign, September 17, 2020-December 31, 2020, before introduction of COVID-19 vaccination…. Recent influenza vaccination is associated with a significant reduction in the risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection and COVID-19 severity.” • Granted, this is the 2020 strain. It had occurred to me that for the current variants, Covid protection from flu vaccine might be a factor in this winter’s oddly behaving numbers. However, my impression is that total flu vaccination is down (CDC and search are not especially helpful on this). If so, so much for that theory. Readers?
At least Alabama isn’t all blue anymore.
The previous map:
NOTE: I shall most certainly not be using the CDC’s new “Community Level” metric. Because CDC has combined a leading indicator (cases) with a lagging one (hospitalization) their new metric is a poor warning sign of a surge, and a poor way to assess personal risk. In addition, Covid is a disease you don’t want to get. Even if you are not hospitalized, you can suffer from Long Covid, vascular issues, and neurological issues. That the “green map” (which Topol calls a “capitulation” and a “deception”) is still up and being taken seriously verges on the criminal.
From the Walgreen’s test positivity tracker, published January 10:
-2.1.%. Still down.
Wastewater data (CDC), January 6:
Too much grey. New York city down. Really?!
NOT UPDATED And MWRA data, January 5:
Lambert here: It’s beyond frustrating how slow the variant data is. Does nobody in the public health establishment get a promotion for tracking variants? Are there no grants? Is there a single lab that does this work, and everybody gets the results from them? [grinds teeth, bangs head on desk]. UPDATE Yes. See NC here on Pango. Every Friday, a stately, academic pace utterly incompatible with protecting yourself against a variant exhibiting doubling behavior.
NOT UPDATED Variant data, national (Walgreens), December 23:
Lambert here: BQ.1* dominates, XBB moving up fast. Note all the BQ subvariants; it’s almost like something’s encouraging them, like maybe a policy of mass infection. Sure hope none of ’em get lucky, like XBB.
NOT UPDATED Variant data, national (CDC), December 17 (Nowcast off):
Holy moley, XBB.1.5! (Makes clear that Region 2 (New England) varies greatly from the national average. Wouldn’t it be interesting if we ended up with different variants dominating different parts of the country.
• As a check, since New York is a BQ.1* hotbed, New York hospitalization, updated January 5:
A retreat from the steady rise I have found so concerning.
• Hospitalization data for Queens, updated December 31:
I don’t know whether this is a genuine jump or a backward revisions, but I’ve been waiting for Queens to move after the holidays, because (I assume) a lot of LGA/JFK workers live there, or at least commute through there.
Death rate (Our World in Data):
Total: 1,121,298 –
1,121,097 = 201 (201 * 365 = 73,365 deaths per year, today’s YouGenicist™ number for “living with” Covid (quite a bit higher than the minimizers would like, though they can talk themselves into anything. If the YouGenicist™ metric keeps chugging along like this, I may just have to decide this is what the powers-that-be consider “mission accomplished” for this particular tranche of death and disease).
Lambert here: Deaths lag, so we have a nice little jump here as a consequence of whatever it is we’ve been going through.
It’s nice that for deaths I have a simple, daily chart that just keeps chugging along, unlike everything else CDC and the White House are screwing up or letting go dark, good job.
Small Business Optimism: “United States Nfib Business Optimism Index” [Trading Economics]. “The NFIB Small Business Optimism Index in the United States declined to a six-month low of 89.8 in December of 2022, marking the 12th straight month below the 49-year average of 98 as sales and business conditions are expected to deteriorate. Expectations for better business conditions over the next six months worsened by 8 points to -51%. Also, the net percent of owners who expect real sales to be higher worsened by 2 points to -10%. On the positive side, 41% of owners reported job openings that were hard to fill, down 3 points but historically very high.”
Tech: “Social Quitting” [Cory Doctorow, Locus]. “When economists and sociologists theorize about social media, they emphasize ‘‘network effects.” A system has ‘‘network effects” if it gets more valuable as more people use it. You joined Facebook because you valued the company of the people who were already using it; once you joined, other people joined to hang out with you. Network effects are powerful drivers of rapid growth. They’re a positive feedback loop, a flywheel that gets faster and faster. But network effects cut both ways. If a system gets more valuable as it attracts more users, it also gets less valuable as it sheds users. The less valuable a system is to you, the easier it is to leave.”
Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 50 Neutral (previous close: 47 Neutral) [CNN]. One week ago: 36 (Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Jan 10 at 2:30 PM EST.
Mosler’s “man with a gun” theory:
In preparation for my review of @stefeich‘s Currency of Politics, slowly entering the rabbit hole of theories of money. First stop, the Yap island and this incredible story in relation to its 𝑓𝑒𝑖 “currency”, as recounted by Keynes’ 1915 “The Island of Stone Money”. pic.twitter.com/adVJDgwr6V
— Pavlos Roufos (@PRoufos) January 9, 2023
Groves of Academe
University administrators have lost their minds:
SCHOOL OF SOCIAL WORK: The word ‘field’ and phrases such as ‘going into the field’ or ‘field work’ could be considered anti-black or anti-immigrant pic.twitter.com/FSxY2E7Jwi
— Matt Orfalea (@0rf) January 10, 2023
Besides the general idiocy, the wee problem is that practicum and field work are not synonyms. From Websters, practicum:
A course of study designed especially for the preparation of teachers and clinicians that involves the supervised practical application of previously studied theory
2: work done in the field (as by students) to gain practical experience and knowledge through firsthand observation
3: the gathering of anthropological or sociological data through the interviewing and observation of subjects in the field
“Conservatives take aim at tenure for university professors” [Associated Press]. “The trend reflects how conservative scrutiny of instruction related to race, gender and sexuality has extended from schools to higher education. But budget considerations also play a role. Tenured faculty numbers have been declining even in more liberal states. Universities are hiring more part-time, adjunct instructors amid declines in financial support from state governments.” • Plus more administrators, naturally. See above.
“Man Needs Sex and Violence, Not Top-Down ‘Meaning’” [Richard Hanania’s Newsletter]. I have to use a screenshot here because Substack’s HTML is horrid. See especially the highlighted portion:
Or could it be — hear me out — that decreased happiness had something to do with a million people dying?
“Rapid wage growth at the bottom has offset rising US inequality” [PNAS]. From October 2022, still germane. “US earnings inequality has not increased in the last decade. This marks the first sustained reversal of rising earnings inequality since 1980. We document this shift across eight data sources using worker surveys, employer-reported data, and administrative data. The reversal is due to a shrinking gap between low-wage and median-wage workers. In contrast, the gap between top and median workers has persisted. Rising pay for low-wage workers is not mainly due to the changing composition of workers or jobs, minimum wage increases, or workplace-specific sources of inequality. Instead, it is due to broadly rising pay in low-wage occupations, which has particularly benefited workers in tightening labor markets. Rebounding post–Great Recession labor demand at the bottom offset enduring drivers of inequality.” • Hence, liberal Democrats busting unions. Handy chart:
Over the last years, wages in the US have grown more strongly for low-income households (1st quartile) than for high-income households (4th quartile), thereby contributing to a decline in wage inequality. pic.twitter.com/KVfbhM7CzO
— Philipp Heimberger (@heimbergecon) January 9, 2023
This does not mean, of course, that the absolute levels low-wage occupations are anything like livable or humane.
News of the Wired
I am not feeling wired today.
Contact information for plants: Readers, feel free to contact me at lambert [UNDERSCORE] strether [DOT] corrente [AT] yahoo [DOT] com, to (a) find out how to send me a check if you are allergic to PayPal and (b) to find out how to send me images of plants. Vegetables are fine! Fungi and coral are deemed to be honorary plants! If you want your handle to appear as a credit, please place it at the start of your mail in parentheses: (thus). Otherwise, I will anonymize by using your initials. See the previous Water Cooler (with plant) here. From Katiebird:
Katiebird writes: “I don’t know if you can tell from this photo — This morning, we had fog down to the ground and freezing cold – 32 degrees. It made the trees look like we had an ice storm but it was just frozen fog…”
Readers, please send me more plants!
Readers: Water Cooler is a standalone entity not covered by the annual NC fundraiser. So if you see a link you especially like, or an item you wouldn’t see anywhere else, please do not hesitate to express your appreciation in tangible form. Remember, a tip jar is for tipping! Regular positive feedback both makes me feel good and lets me know I’m on the right track with coverage. When I get no donations for five or ten days I get worried. More tangibly, a constant trickle of donations helps me with expenses, and I factor in that trickle when setting fundraising goals:
Here is the screen that will appear, which I have helpfully annotated:
If you hate PayPal, you can email me at lambert [UNDERSCORE] strether [DOT] corrente [AT] yahoo [DOT] com, and I will give you directions on how to send a check. Thank you!