Morning Ed: Labor {2017.03.21.T}

I think the only job where this happens in the US is to be an astronaut.

Unless I were desperate for a job, this would be a dealbreaker for me.

Fixing employee morale may be simpler than we think.

Well-worn territory for around here, but… gulp. Alan Watts was arguing that UBI was the only way back in the 60’s. On the other hand, we can really only identify one occupation that automation has completely eliminated.

Soda taxes giveth jobs, and they taketh jobs away.

Allard Dembe is suspicious of a four day workweek (4/10). He seems to be relying pretty heavily on research of the deleterious effects of 60 hour workweeks, though.

Take off work! Go shopping!

Take off work! We need to know if you’re a crook!


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Will Truman is a former professional gearhead who is presently a stay-at-home father in the Mountain East. He has moved around frequently, having lived in six places since 2003, ranging from rural outposts to major metropolitan areas. He also writes fiction, when he finds the time. ...more →

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140 thoughts on “Morning Ed: Labor {2017.03.21.T}

  1. The Silent Partner Marketing firm is taking on liberal “snowflakes” in an effort to weed out the hundreds of applications they have received. The company has developed a survey to vet potential employees by asking key questions about themselves.

    No, they didn’t.

    There is a term in software engineering, where programmers publicize that they are working on some remarkable feature of some tech product, knowing that they’ll never get that feature completed or delivered, but will get some PR out of it. The term escapes me, but this story is the equivalent of whatever that is called.

    These guys didn’t create a “snowflake test” to screen employers. They created a snowflake test to get their story picked up by the internet #content mills.

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    • These guys didn’t create a “snowflake test” to screen employers. They created a snowflake test to get their story picked up by the internet #content mills.

      On what basis do you call BS? Do you have some inside knowledge?

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      • Here’s one hint. How are they getting hundreds of applications when they don’t have any link to jobs (or careers) on their website and none listed on LinkedIn.

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    • Yeah, after reading this story and ruminating on it, I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s a PR story rather than a leading indicator of anything.

      From the story:

      “We work very, very closely with a lot of police departments and so you need to be comfortable and willing to support the men and women who serve and protect,” he explained.

      Reyes revealed that other companies have offered him “significant” amounts of money to design a similar test for them. Some creative requests have come in the form of snowflake-themed gifts like a snowblower and large cut-out snowflakes.

      The company’s website explains that their organization is based solely on family, faith and forward thinking.

      “Political correctness be damned. We are who we are and have what we have because of a greater good,” the description states.

      THE GREATER GOOD

      Anyway, I visited their website.

      It was only then that I saw the word “Marketing” and understood what I was seeing and said “Oh. The Snowflake Test is also marketing. It’s marketing in the age of Trump.”

      That said, “Corporate Culture” is something that we’re going to be hearing a lot more about in the coming years and the extent to which Corporate Culture needs to change to accommodate new hires and how much new hires need to change to accommodate themselves to the Corporate Culture.

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  2. Jobs in China: Nice pic of the Shanghai skyline of Pudong.

    Your comment seems spot on. :)

    Employee Morale: Top pics: 1) No micromanaging boss who focused on making sure your work is done not how many hours you’re in the facility. 2) 9/80 work schedule. Clear concise communication about expectations, battle rhythm, and deadlines. 3) Supportive and appreciative of your efforts.

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  3. All I can say is, if I were given an early afternoon off (along with everyone else, I presume) to go shopping, I wouldn’t go shopping…

    “Here, leave early on Friday afternoon! Go to the mall! Just like all the other harried workers AND the retired people who are bored AND teens who just got off school!”

    Though maybe having to live in Japan’s cities burns one’s hatred of being in a giant crowd out of one….

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  4. 1. How about Hollywood star or celebrity?

    3. There is a culture against positive reinforcement though even if its as simple as a thank you or congratulations. The reward for competently doing your job is basically nothing in American culture.

    4. If beer drinking counts as shopping, I’m all for it.

    5. Interesting tactic. I can’t imagine not taking an extended vacation for 11 years. What do you do with all that money if you don’t have time to spend it on something that would make you a little happy?

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    • “The reward for competently doing your job is basically nothing in American culture.”

      This is one of the hardest lessons I had to learn as an adult. Kids in America, esp. smart compliant kids, are over-praised, and it’s a hard transition going from that to having to realize that if someone isn’t screaming at you for having screwed up, you’re probably doing okay.

      Though I would also say a huge morale-killer for me is micromanagement, and the fact that in the past I’ve had higher ups who were too chicken-livered to confront someone breaking a rule, so they made the rules all the more onerous for the rest of us. (For a while, our “sick day policy” would have been so hard for me to fulfill all its requirements that I would have just taught sick. Because a few people abused the policy, they changed it so that it was basically impossible for people who taught early classes and lived alone to meet the “reporting” requirement)

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    • A friend of mine just finished a multiyear project that she was given glowing reviews on from her bosses and customers. However, at her annual review, she was given a crappy raise & a low retention rating with no real reason why (the explanation was weasel worded).

      I’d be surprised, except crap like that is common there, especially among younger employees (seniority rules).

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      • And I got glowing reviews from my chair, and then was told in peer-review that I wasn’t doing something right, something I had never been warned about, and something that many other people aren’t doing anyway.

        It’s hard not to feel a little bit bitter but I am telling myself the point of “peer review” is not to tell us “You’re good, keep on keepin’ on” but to tell us “you are deficient in some way” no matter how good we actually are.

        It sucks, and it is probably going to eventually break me a little.

        (And I suspect if I correct the “fault,” next go-round, I’ll be found to have slacked off on something else. I wish I were better at shrugging and going “Meh” over the whole thing but I’m a perfectionist and some days I feel like the job is all I have going for me, so I can’t, quite)

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        • filly,
          Yeah, let me say this. There are editors out there that are collossal, total dicks, just to avoid folks like you going off in depressive shit like this. Theory is: if you hate the hell out of your editor, you’ll fix the damn copy right, just for spite.

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          • They’re my colleagues so I can’t hate them.

            “Can’t” as in “my psychological make-up prevents me from,” not “can’t” as in “I’d get in trouble if I did.”

            I see your point though. I’m trying to tell myself it’s a stupid game and the only way to win is not to get emotionally invested, maybe eventually I’ll learn that.

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      • The best manager I’ve had had two key pieces of wisdom for me as I was starting to manage people:

        1) As soon as you arrive, start training your replacement. A team with one or more people who can do at least some of your management tasks is a team that will survive when you’re overloaded/absent. It also allows you to be promoted because there’s an easy path of succession to take your seat.

        2) Performance appraisal results should absolutely never be a surprise to your employee. It should be a formality where you commit what you both already know and agree on to paper for HR. If they’re surprised, you’re doing a crap job of communicating expectations to your employee and it is 100% your fault. You have mismanaged a resource for a year and you’re only now getting around to making a course correction. That was bad for the team’s productivity, and you hurt somebody’s career by neglecting your primary responsibility.

        In my experience, those are two incredibly valuable rules and very few people live by them. Rule 2 is violated constantly. I can’t count the number of times I’ve talked to people who came out of annual reviews stunned at the result.

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          • When the startup I worked at was acquired by a bunch of financial engineering types, it turned out that we were a tiny slice of the overall operation and were making the lion’s share of their profits. So they sent the CFO down to schmooze with us an give us a rallying speech about what a good job we were doing. During that speech he:

            1) Consistently referred to us only as resources.
            2) Indicated very clearly that he didn’t have the first clue what we did.
            3) Basically said, “We’ve discovered that you’re worth more money working for us than if we were to break you down an recycle your constituent molecules to use in other products, so good job!”

            Quite a pep talk. It rattled everybody. And it also drove home something I had always kind of believed: Top level business guys give engineers grief for a lack of people skills, but except when they’re dealing with their own kind, their people skills aren’t really any better. Except for the salesmen, they don’t seem to be able to talk to a normal person any more than a basement dwelling firmware designer.

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            • tf,
              you should meet the businessmen I know. Quite a lot more panache.
              I know the “worst agent in Hollywood” (his words). Apparently finding a show to cast one of his clients was too much work — so he hawked an entirely new show, with the actor to star.

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            • I suspect what constitutes good “people skills” differ from group to group and that they are not fungible. I have good people skills with my (fellow scientist and professor) colleagues; my people skills with salesmen are terrible – I am borderline rude and tend to give monosyllabic answers when the cheerful dude from JoVe or whereever calls up trying to sell me stuff. (And yet, “borderline rude” doesn’t seem to end the phone call any faster, which is my goal. I HAVE hung up on the BioTechniques people, multiple times)

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              • I’ve decided that cold-calling and door-to-door salespeople don’t fall under the category of “normal human interaction” and are not deserving of any of our social norms of conversation. They’re asking questions that they know the answer to and normal manners requires that I answer them and waste my time until we get to the sales pitch that we both know is coming. This isn’t a normal human social interaction. This is carefully designed abuse of our communication protocols. I typically just hang up on people as soon as I realize they’re selling something.

                I’ve also learned that I don’t have to “pretend not to be home” in order to avoid being rude to the person ringing my doorbell. I can just not answer the door. I work from home, so I’m often interrupted more than once a day. Once I realized that there was nothing social about the interaction, life got easier. Now I can look up, make eye contact through my front window, and then go back to my work without bothering to answer the door. The person on the porch is a little confused as to why I don’t follow through with my obvious social obligation to stop working and talk to them, but they eventually leave.

                And I’m the type of person normally who feels a deep gut-punch if I realize I’ve transgressed against a social norm and upset somebody. It’s all about freeing your mind. These rules aren’t physical constants and people who abuse them don’t deserve their protection.

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  5. Automation and UBI: The first link is from the American Enterprise Institute. If the AEI is worried about the social effects of automation than you know the problem is serious. You can’t waive away the concerns of people devoted to free market economics the way you can leftist academics. Knowing human history, nothing will be done. Not the robot tax or capital tax to slow down automation or UBI. The most adamant and ideological of free marketers, smash the state anarcho-capitalists, and computer programmers will be the willing lackeys of the wealthy and press forward regardless of the human and societal costs. There will be no stopping them.

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    • LeeEsq,

      To your point, I thought the most compelling sentence in that article was the tweet from Sean T:

      “I understand creative destruction as well as anyone, but if the “destruction” moves faster than the “creative”, it’s a problem.”

      Personally, I like his framing of the issue since he knocks the normative shine off what’s basically a descriptive theoretical principle by using it to highlight the negative consequences of too much economic churn. The problem, of course, is figuring out what to do about it.

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  6. 1. I am with JR here. The firm probably did this for free PR in friendly media and to generate clients. That being said, discrimination based on political affiliation is not banned federally and only a few states protect for it. Though you can probably make cases for it to be connected to some other protected status.

    2. I suspect that the morale issue and the four day week issue are all connected. Employers still want the most work and dedication for the least money. My leftier inclinations make me think a lot of corporate heads also want our subservience like we are feudal serfs who know our place. The Japanese article stated that the new policy came about because of a 24 year old who committed suicide because of Karoshi (overwork). There was a link to an article that Japan has a decades long problem with death by overwork.

    The solution to suicide from overwork seems simple to me, strictly go aganist it. But this is something that we seem loathe to do and always brings out pearl clutching.

    I am not aganist working late if there is work to be done. But I never understood working late just to work late. But there are enough people willing to do this and who think it is very important. My experiences in employment law and hearing other employment lawyers (including on the defense side) make me think that a lot of bosses think “I pay you slightly above minimum wage in salary and should be able to get 80 hours a week from you.”)

    The humane way always seems to lose out.

    I am skeptical of UBI because of the above attitudes, “those who don’t work don’t eat.” Interestingly some UBI attitudes and proponents bring out my inner conservative because even I think they are making pie in the sky demands.

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    • 1. I thought the most interesting bit was that “snowflake” is functionally defined as “anyone whose attitude I dislike.” Has the use of the term already devolved to this point, or is this an outlier?

      Assuming that this is not merely a publicity stunt, what it seems to really be is a politics filter. Even assuming that it doesn’t run directly afoul of any anti-discrimination statute, it is a perfect recipe for a toxic workplace, with anyone who complains dismissed as a “snowflake.”

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      • I’m sure there’s a lawsuit in there somewhere. It might not be a successful one, but for a small company it’s still an expense.

        As for whether it’s a PR stunt, the company is a PR company, so I’d guess yes.

        As for the meaning of “snowflake”, the guy struck some anti-liberal notes, but also some anti-snowflake ones (like privilege). Interestingly for us OT’ers, he doesn’t have a problem with crying.

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        • There are a few states that have lifestyle protection laws which prevent employers from taking any adverse reaction for any lawful activity done out of work hours. Interestingly, the tobacco industry was the driving force behind these laws.

          The trick is that sometimes politics can hurt inside and outside a company and that ever squishy line of when do you reflect on the company and when you don’t. The other tricky line is when does politics intersect with some other protected status (which also varies by state).

          So I don’t think these lawsuits are necessarily losers in court. Even a real edge case could force a small company to have an expense and settle.

          The questions also seemed very vague and like a parody of liberalism rather than actually meant to weed anyone out? One of the questions was “What does America mean to you?” I’m liberal and can easily come up with a positive answer that goes hand in hand with my liberalism. Like “America is the country that said “Give me your tired…your poor…your huddled masses…and allowed by great-grandparents to flee religious prosecution and worship freely in the United States” or “America is the nation that did not embrace authoritarian politics because of the Great Depression and instead embraced the humanitarianism of the New Deal.”

          Did this trigger anything? Based on the article he seems to expect liberals to say something like “America is the great Satan…..” when confronted with that question.

          But this is the all-troll economy.

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          • This is a silly story. It means nothing. That said, if the point of the question is to weed out liberals (or people unwilling to hide their liberalism), a positive liberal answer to that question would be as telling as a negative liberal answer. The guy indicated that he wasn’t looking to weed out just snowflakes but liberals as well.

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          • Did this trigger anything?

            Absolutely yes. That is unmistakably the liberal answer to the question. Recall when Obama pissed off the Republicans by talking about American exceptionalism in terms of our exceptionally high ideals that we should strive to live up to. That is not the right answer to a Republican.

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  7. If Trump is not a snowflake, then I don’t know who is.

    Okay, an orange snowflake. But still.

    In fact, I can think of a whole bunch of conservative snowflakes, who just fall to pieces when someone says something that bruises their little white egos.

    But I think that this new “liberal snowflake” meme sort of misses out on what a snowflake is. Snowflakes are not just fragile, they’re unique, one of a kind, special. Or they think they are.

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  8. Too bad Philly isn’t offering job retraining for those Pepsi employees so they could apply for the pre-K teaching positions. The saddest thing about the article is the expectation from the local gov that the company should just continue to employ these folks because the company made a profit. I’d like a job where I get paid to show up but don’t do any work. Maybe the Philly government was thinking of a union job?

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  9. Apparently Allard Dembe’s suspicions are sufficient…doesn’t even require a link. We’re suspicious too, Allard; suspicious indeed.

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      • Anecdotal evidence at LGM discussion implies that it is wide-spread and for a variety of factors.

        1. States have apparently made it much harder for teenagers to get a license than when I learned in the late 1990s. There are also more restrictive factors about when, where, and whom teenagers can drive. So driving a car is no longer really freedom for teenagers. From what I hear, a lot of schools have also gotten rid of driver’s ed because of budget cuts and testing requirements for other subjects so now parents need to teach or dish out more cash for private lessons.

        2. Social media makes it much easier to hang “with” your friends without a physical presence. Also you don’t need to go to the movies as much with streaming on demand now.

        3. Uber/Lyft in certain areas

        4. Expenses and broke millennials.

        5. A lot of people including rural dwellers just have very small geographic borders.

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    • Huh. It’s almost as if there’s actually not an anti-cop movement in the US, but instead a lack of confidence that police will be held accountable for unjust killings of people from certain groups.

      The fact that the cops were arrested before the end of the week and are now on trial for murder in this case doesn’t actually help that perception.

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        • No, I think the cop is being tried because the prosecutors believe there is enough evidence to support the indictment and justify bringing it to trial.

          I also think there are a significant number of people who lack confidence that, when cops commit crimes in their communities against people who look like them, the police will be held to the same standards. That lack of confidence, whether you think it justified or not, is dangerous and not enough police departments and elected officials seem to be doing much to address it.

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            • “It’s important to note that all Rundle had to do to show she cared was to charge the prison guards with a crime.”

              A line like that ruins an article’s credibility. It doesn’t contradict the truth of the story, but it makes me hesitant. And there’s nothing riding on my reading/believing the story anyway, so I guess I’ll close my browser and go to lunch.

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              • I have no idea what the New Times is, but the article, bias aside, is well sourced to more mainstream outlets.

                The kicker for me was that the water was set to 180 degrees and the guy was there for 2 hours, but somehow that is not considered “dangerous” by the state attorney.

                I mean, sure, a momentary contact with 180 degree water is not dangerous, and if the victim avoided standing under the water, he would not have scalding burns, but that isn’t how heat damage works. The room temperature just had to get above 140 degrees for more than an hour to cause serious injury (by causing his body fat to liquefy).

                Perhaps the guards didn’t realize those conditions wouldn’t be dangerous, but as I’ve said before, if a couple of young men without state issued badges did this, their realization of the danger would only matter with regard to the severity of the charges they faced.

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                  • I did, and I stand by my assertion that if the victim was just a mentally ill man on the street, and the accused were 4 young men who locked him in a hot sauna for many hours, they’d be up on charges. But because it is a prison setting and the men are guards, a whole lot of claims are summarily dismissed and a whole lot of deference is given to the agents of the state.

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                    • Those aren’t comparable though. The inmate soiled himself and was forced to take a shower. If four young men on the street forced someone into a shower it would be kidnapping and assault at the very least. A better comparison would be if this were a mental hospital.

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                        • It’s one of the problems with government, that it often sets itself above the laws it demands the citizenry follows.

                          I mean, I can understand certain, limited exceptions where government gets a pass, but abusing mentally ill prisoners is a stretch to me.

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                          • “It’s one of the problems with government, that it often sets itself above the laws it demands the citizenry follows.”

                            No, no, no, not my point at all. I’m saying that the very functions of government – collecting taxes, enforcing regulations, fighting wars – are illegal for private individuals. You need to separate the wiggle room that a government is granted in enforcing laws (very little, in my opinion) and the actions of government which are by nature communal and backed by force.

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                      • Doesn’t it matter that these folks were charged (ETA: charged as in given a formal responsibility) with securing this man’s wellbeing?

                        Did their actions contribute to his death?
                        Were these actions justifiable?

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                        • Certainly, the government has duties to take care of people taken into custody; breach of those duties is a civil matter. Any jury presiding over a criminal case will be instructed that mere negligence is insufficient to convict. They are going to hear the medical examiner’s report that the cause of death was accidental, in first part based upon undiagnosed heart problems. The questions to be asked are what actions did any of the accused take that were performed with the intent to harm the decedent, or were taken in reckless disregard of human life.

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                • The kicker for me was that the water was set to 180 degrees and the guy was there for 2 hours

                  The report says the boiler servicing this shower was supposed to be set btw/ 100 and 120 degrees, and it was checked monthly by private safety inspectors. The tank for the wing was 80 gallons and water would become cooler the longer the water ran (sounds like it was undersized, a second boiler was out-of-operation), and one inmate asked about the shower complained it was too cold. A couple days later an inspector placed a meat thermometer under the faucet in room adjoining the faucet and it read 160 degrees in the morning and later that afternoon it read 125 degrees. The medical examiner concluded that the temperature could not have been 160 degrees, because there were no signs of burns on the body.

                  It looks like a crappy case to me, which would start with trying to prove the medical examiner’s assessment was completely wrong, not simply not as convincing as another theory.

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                    • So then is your theory of the case that the nurses lied about the burns? Remember, the prosecutor has to have a coherent theory about what happened, and believe he can persuade a jury based on the facts of the case.

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                      • No, the nurses didn’t lie about the burns, they also didn’t lie about his skin sloughing off.

                        One fact is undisputed: Rainey’s skin was peeling off his body when he was pulled out of the shower.

                        Absent some evidence of a pre-existing condition, this would be a direct result of the layer of fat under his skin having rendered due to the heat. The skin itself does not have to burn as such (first degree burns usually begin on exposed skin at about 120 degrees, but that varies from person to person; most adults can easily withstand 120 degrees for prolonged periods).

                        So scalding doesn’t have to happen, no burns need be in evidence.

                        Hell, the guy might have died had the water been only at 120 degrees, if the room reached 120 for a long enough time, he could have died from heat stroke (basic heat transfer – if the room is at 120, then his body can not exchange heat with the environment and his internal body temp will climb past 104, which is heat stroke, which is quite fatal if untreated).

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                      • I don’t know if I have to flesh that statement out, but my point is that if there are conflicting statements, the prosecutor needs a good reason to back certain of them and disregard others. You point out that there’s no need for there to have been burns for his fat to have been liquefied. But in making that statement you’re disregarding the autopsy and the nurses’ statements. Might be right, might not. I’m willing to believe that the prosecutor looked at the evidence and made a sound conclusion until a more credible argument is made that he didn’t.

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                        • I’m saying the prosecutor has everything they need, but they are claiming they need more to avoid having to file charges.

                          Let me put it another way, if a parent had left their child in a hot car, would this DA being looking for burn evidence before filing charges?

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                            • Sorry Pinky, I thought you were saying that DA obviously had no case, not that you just don’t have enough data to judge.

                              Personally, I think there is enough data to make a judgement on whether or not charges could be supported.

                              If I have any empathy for a DAs office, it’s in the reality that filing and prosecuting such charges is no easy thing, and a conviction is long shot absent some kind of confession of guilt.

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                          • To really make the analogy clear, lets use a day care center, where the staff certainly has some affirmative obligation to protect those in its care. Is there any doubt that a day care center, hell, make it a foster home, that used this method to control or punish its charges, would become public enemy number 1, and rightly so, if someone died due to this type of punishment. .

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                            • Going even further, every state has some form of mandated reporter law. The details vary from state to state, but in the states/areas I’ve worked (MA, NY, DC), as a teacher I had an obligation to report any suspected child abuse. If I fail to report, I can face criminal charges. And any reports made in good faith offer me criminal and civil immunity and protection from any retaliation.

                              So, even if I didn’t throw someone in the room, lock the door, or turn on the water… if I knew it happened, I’d have a legal obligation to report and would face charges if I didn’t.

                              Maybe we need some sort of analogous law for COs and the police.

                              ETA: More on NY’s law… http://ocfs.ny.gov/main/publications/Pub1159.pdf

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  10. The last one has been a thing for a very long time, just enforced by other entities. My father was a field auditor — this in the days before everything was on a computer — for a Midwestern insurance company that did a lot of business with small rural-ish firms. One of the company’s requirements for small banks was that every employee above a certain level had to take two weeks continuous vacation every year. On more than one occasion he brought home a story about someone who hadn’t taken a vacation day for years being forced out of the bank for ten business days, and the embezzlement scheme surfacing once they were not there to juggle the books continuously.

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  11. Re: employee morale.

    I heard a story (surely apocryphal) about a company that dimmed the lights a little bit each day (just a tiny amount) and then, after a month of this, turned all of the lights back on to 100% and announced that they’ve fixed the lighting problem! As a result of this, morale went up.

    Surely apocryphal.

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    • The argument that doesn’t make sense to me is the one about developers being “greedy”.

      It’s not about the people who would want to buy (or rent/lease) the product. It’s about the people who’d want to supply it.

      What the heck?

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      • I do appreciate that the article addresses the fact that land has a cost, and that developers have to make some money back (and landlords need to cover their costs.)

        But if this guy thinks that a 220 sf apartment will not be rented at the same price as a 280 sf one–that is, rented at “market rate”–he’s delusional.

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    • 1967: “Poor people need more housing! Build large buildings with lots of small affordable units!”

      1987: “Holy christ, these projects are horrible! Tear ’em down!”

      2017: “Poor people need more housing! Build large buildings with lots of small affordable units…”

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      • I suspect that the 220sqf rooms (dorm rooms, effectively) in Seattle will find themselves with less crime than Cabrini-Green found.

        Cabrini-Green worked fine… until the nearby factories closed.

        That’s when the trouble started.

        Seattle’s dorms, if populated with 20-somethings employed at various artisinal cold press intersectional coffee bars, will find themselves with surprisingly low crime rates.

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        • “Seattle’s dorms, if populated with 20-somethings employed at various artisinal cold press intersectional coffee bars, will find themselves with surprisingly low crime rates.”

          And, y’know, for the first five years or so, these dorms will be full of beard enthusiasts, and webcomic artists, and livestreamers, and people who have a more fulfilling and intimate relationship with their bicycle than they do with any actual humans.

          And then those people will move somewhere else, and the dorms will become The Place That Poor People Live Because It’s Cheap, and the flight of the interesting folks will accelerate, and then it’ll be “why did we let developers build these tiny crappy boxes, did they not assume that people had families and children and lives, knock all this down and build nice places”.

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          • And then those people will move somewhere else, and the dorms will become The Place That Poor People Live Because It’s Cheap

            Not if the poor people are priced out by fresh-outta-journalism-school artisanal Thai-style ice cream artists who are also looking for an apartment.

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            • But, yeah. The moment there ceases to be demand created by Freelance Music/Food Critics (who have a second job working as a clerk at a thrift store) looking for such apartments, the apartments will find themselves vacant for a month or so and then a little more open to finding people who have alternative guaranteed monthly income available to them.

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      • Go earlier.

        1930s: OMG these tenement slums are horrible. Tear them down and build apartment buildings with better ventilation and not controlled by slumlords. Interestingly these is a very early Superman comic where the Man of Steel destroys slums so the government comes in to build housing.

        1950s: OMG only blacks live in the public housing. Stop funding it. This happened in St. Louis. Support for public housing lasted longer in Boston because Irish-Catholics from South Boston lived in it well into the 1980s.

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    • “These beliefs are significant not only because they blocked progress to providing housing choices to thousands of mostly young, mostly moderate-income singles in Seattle…”

      Right because the most important thing in the world right now is accommodating the desires of young moderate-income singles. Surely a young moderate-income single is the sort of person who has created many commitments, family structures, deep roots in the community; the kind of person who could not possibly move to a cheap apartment in the exurbs without leaving a hollow shell of a community behind.

      “Myth-busting”

      When conservatives do this for poor people we call it “boostraps thinking” and crap all over it.

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      • the kind of person who could not possibly move to a cheap apartment in the exurbs without leaving a hollow shell of a community behind.

        And yet, the city is wailing and gnashing its collective teeth about how young people can’t afford to live in the vibrant city of Seattle, and how poor people are being pushed out into the suburbs and exurbs and forced to drive many miles to their jobs in the city. Wailing about how Seattle is becoming a city just for the well to do, and how economic diversity is declining and how horrible it is! There is also the crying about how young families can’t afford to live in the urban core, because the prices on single family homes (detached or otherwise) are so high (which is a result of young, single people renting out single family homes as a group).

        I mean, shit or get off the pot. If you want young people to live in the urban core, and you want young families in the urban core, and you want economic diversity, you need to build housing for them. Or you can play around with rent control, because that’s worked so well in the past.

        As for ‘Projects’, part of the problem Jaybird already mentioned. Another factor was the massive low income density and lack of attendant services. What groups like Sightline envision is smaller buildings scattered all over the city, instead of concentrated like the Projects mostly were. Poverty/crime begets poverty/crime. Prevent poverty from being concentrated, and you avoid the dense crime.

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        • “And yet, the city is wailing and gnashing its collective teeth…”

          Is it the city that’s doing this? Or is it this guy? Because from the sound of this article, “the city” seems OK with not being full of superdensity buildings.

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          • Oh no, it’s the city government.

            Seattle has a massive homeless population, and the thing is, a lot of the homeless actually have jobs and are not mentally ill or addicts, but just can’t make enough to live in the city, and can’t afford to commute in.

            Note that the people who are making the rules that prevent smaller housing are not public servants, but are local professionals who are appointed to the committee. The city government doesn’t have a lot of leverage over the committee.

            ETA: So I hear, literally everyday, about the affordability problem in Seattle from city leaders, and so far their best solution is to raise $55M through a property tax hike to help address the homeless problem (because that won’t impact housing affordability in the city at all, nosiree).

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          • I’ll add one more thing. I personally don’t think the city gives a f*ck about affordable housing in Seattle, because after living out here for over 10 years now, it’s become pretty obvious that what is important to the political class is not actually helping people, but signaling your liberal/progressive bonafides that you really want to help, but you just don’t know what to do. And that is a direct result of the entrenched NIMBY-ism of the majority of the landowners who have been here since the 70’s.

            They* want everyone to know they care, and that something needs to be done, as long as that something doesn’t impact their property values or the character of their neighborhood**.

            *The entrenched

            **This is also why we can’t have things like extensive or intelligent commuter rail coverage

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            • Boulder has the exact same problem. City policy seems to be driven by two things: a) ensuring that property values continue to maximize and b) ensuring that only the “right” sorta people are “encouraged” to become residents within the city limits. All of this is sauteed in the gnashing lamentations of city planners and residents that high prices are destroying the wonderfully “diverse” (scare-quotes required!) community which made Boulder such a wonderful place to live and drew such wonderful diversity-loving people to Boulder.

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            • Well, , the difference is those NIMBY homeowners vote in low turnout local elections and the upset renter’s don’t. And I say that as a Seattle renter who has a very good deal at the moment.

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  12. we can really only identify one occupation that automation has completely eliminated

    I would love to know what job you reckon that is. I’m curious if it’s one of the jobs I thought of.

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  13. “10,000 people apply for a job in China”

    This seems, to me, to be tied into UBI. We have smartphones, Netflix, internet porn, easy calories in the form of processed foods. The modern good life is not making tons and tons of money; it is to know that you will never ever ever under any circumstances have to worry about not getting a paycheck on Friday.

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    • Oh, the article is from a while ago.

      The thing Dembe doesn’t address is that most people already do work ten-hour days; the 4/10 schedule just gives them credit for it.

      He also doesn’t recognize that creative workers are more productive with longer shifts, because there is often a warmup necessary to do truly useful creative work. Enforcing short shifts means that you cut off the actual productive time.

      He’s also completely ignoring commute time. If I only work four days a week, then that’s a 20% reduction in time spent commuting–and I think he’d certainly argue that reducing commute times has a significant benefit to health and welfare!

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  14. Speaking giving American born children of immigrants new jobs, is it just me, or would some people on the internet be happier if Ivanka Trump were just a ditzy socialite?

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  15. Semi OT: It is interesting to see liberals and conservatives view Senate questioning over the Frozen Trucker case very differently. Though I swear that conservatives are often just gob smacked that liberals have a dim view of textualism/originalism and how it always seems to favor corporate interests

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    • I’m more interested in how much opponents want to hang their hats on a single decision. If he is really objectionable, you’d think they’d have a much larger body of evidence to kick around.

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      • Gorsuch’s dissent in that decision is the kind of sophistry that seems more interested in a clever answer than basic issues of decency. I think Franken’s point is that it is absurd that the law would require someone to desk injury/death to risk their job.

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        • Sure, but that’s besides the point. The man has over 2700 judicial decisions, and Franken is hammering him about one that seems cruel*.

          *EGADS! A judge who issued a ruling some view as cruel! That never fricken happens, ever. Seriously, if we went over every ruling RGB, or Kagan, or Sotomayor issued, do you think we could find one or two that seems cruel?

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          • IIRC, they get limited question time face-to-face. So…how else are they going to handle it except pick the most egregious examples of whatever they’re wanting to point out, good or bad?

            It’s a combative interview, for lack of a better term, so anyone should expect glossing over your ordinary work days in favor of talking about your high profile incidents — you know, the screw-ups, questionable calls, etc.

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            • Now I didn’t watch the whole thing, because I have a job and all, but my impression was that this wasn’t been used as indicative of a trend of pro-corporate decisions, but rather a single point of evidence. I could be wrong.

              IIRC correctly, I did like Gorsuch’s response to be labeled pro-corporate, which was basically, if you don’t want me to rule in favor of corporations, perhaps you shouldn’t write laws that favor corporations.

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    • Though I swear that conservatives are often just gob smacked that liberals have a dim view of textualism/originalism and how it always seems to favor corporate interests

      Saul, an awful lot of your comments hinge on the word “seems.” Anywhere, here’s Gorusch responding to the concern that you raise.

      The Supreme Court nominee also said it was unfair to pull out that one decision — out of more than 2,700 he has decided — to paint him as too pro-business.

      “I can point you to so many where I’ve found for a worker in an employment action,” Gorsuch said.

      Following along @oscar-gordan’s comment, I don’t understand what exactly the Democratic strategy is. I can grant that the Dems got screwed with Merrick Garland, but I’m not sure where to go from there. Gorsuch seems about the most qualified and reasonable candidate that Trump is going to put forth. Sometimes you just have to take your L and move on.

      What’s the end-game here? Keep the Supreme Court at eight justices for the next four years and hope for a Dem president and control of the Senate? I guess that’s a plan, but it’s a pretty risky one. What if the court loses another justice before then? What if the Dems don’t take the White House.

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        • If there are two open positions on the Supreme Court and Trump puts up reasonable nominees and the Democrats manage to block them, because they’re still smarting from Garland, that’s not a great look for them.

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          • From who’s vantage point?

            I do worry that if Dems mirror the behavior that the GOP employed during the Obama era, it will burn them in a way that it did not burn the GOP. And I’m not sure what to make of that or what can be done about that. If one side is more or less rewarded for “bad behavior” while another side is punished for it, I fear we are likely to get more bad behavior from the former and insufficient good behavior from the latter to turn the tide.

            And it is entirely possible this perspective is myopic in a fairly literal sense, in that I’m not thinking about the long-term ramifications. If the GOPs reward is 4 years of Trump, 2 years of a GOP Congress often at odds with their president, and Gorsuch on the Court all followed by a pretty big swing towards the Dems, maybe that isn’t much of a reward.

            ETA: And I think I’d rather be generally on the side of the party/people that does not reward bad behavior. But that offers little solace if we see a long-term pattern emerge.

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            • I was literally framing my response to your first paragraph, when you said exactly what i was going to say in your second paragraph. So when you say, “it will burn them in a way that it did not burn the GOP.,” I’ll just respond with your own words.

              If the GOPs reward is 4 years of Trump, 2 years of a GOP Congress often at odds with their president, and Gorsuch on the Court all followed by a pretty big swing towards the Dems, maybe that isn’t much of a reward.

              Put another way, when I ask people what the Dems strategy is, I often get a response about fairness and turnabout being fairplay. That’s fine, but it doesn’t answer the question.

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              • The reason I’m not fully confident that the GOP’s reward will be limited to the quoted section above is that limiting them to that is predicated on A) the Dems developing a sound strategy to push back against that and B) the American people opting for that sound strategy.

                I don’t know that I have much faith in either of those things happening.

                Of course, the GOP seems to be working really hard to set the bar for “sound Democratic strategy” at “stand on the sidelines and don’t say anything stupid while the GOP self-destructs and alienates the folks who gave them an electoral edge.”

                So, there is hope there.

                Another complicating factor is that it is possible that the GOP’s “reward” — something a guy like myself can point and laugh at — causes real harm to real people, GOP supporters and opponents alike. Something, something privilege. Of course, that is a very large window of opportunity for the Democrats to build their ‘sound strategy’ around.

                I remember that I got into it with, I believe, Damon just after the election when he asked whether liberals and Dems wanted their party to engage in the obstructionism that they decried from the GOP for the previous 8 years. My response was that I’d take a certain schadenfraude in them doing so but ultimately I wanted “my side” to engage in principled resistance but not knee-jerk obstructionism. For instance, I hope they support Paul’s efforts to address civil asset forfeiture regardless of the letter that comes after his name. If we look at Gorsuch’s nomination in a vacuum (possibly the hardest thing to really remain principled about in this moment), I don’t think I’d oppose him.

                The issue during that exchange was I was told that was still a form of obstructionism.

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                • If obstructionism is the Dems goal, they’re’ not doing it so well. Gorsuch has been easily batting back their lines of questioning and is very likely to get confirmed in the next few weeks.

                  It’s not obstructionism if you can’t manage to obstruct. And it’s not principled resistance when you’re going after the guy with very low information attacks. So far, Clickhole has had the best coverage of these hearings: http://www.clickhole.com/article/confirmation-bombshell-neil-gorsuch-has-rescinded–5797

                  So, I ask again, what is it? What’s the end game? The Dems don’t seem to be acting out of much strategery. It’s all reactive.

                  Part of why I find these hearings so interesting is that they demonstrate just how screwed we are. Neither side seems to have a freaking clue as to what they’re doing. Gorsuch is having no problem at all handling the confirmation. I haven’t seen an exchange yet where he seems less reasonable than the Senator asking the question. I compare that to Trump’s Budget Director, Mulvaney, when asked a specious question about cutting funding to Meals on Wheels. He could have simply said something like, “That’s not correct. Meals on Wheels gets only 3% of its funding from that program and all the other sources of funding are left untouched in the President’s budget.” That would have been a sensible answer. That would have been a win. Instead, this administration is so committed to being combative and defining itself in opposition to the media, this dude goes on a tangent about how Meals on Wheels isn’t that great.

                  It’s like both parties right now are in a contest to see who can make the most unforced errors.

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                  • I don’t know what the Dems goal is. I was stating what my hope was.

                    I haven’t been following the hearings too closely. Interestingly, it was on at the gym yesterday but the sound was off. Just watching Gorsuch’s body language and demeanor, he seemed to be doing a great job. I realize that doesn’t matter nearly as much as what he says but it also doesn’t mean nothing.

                    I also can’t get over how much he looks like Anthony Bourdain and even seems to have some similar mannerisms.

                    Is it possible that the Dems are trying to signal to their base that they are standing firm against All Things Trump when in reality they are more carefully choosing their battles? That strategy might seem transparent and ineffective to you but I don’t know that you are who they are targeting? But who are they targeting? I really don’t know. Is it a ‘win’ for Franken if he can return to his voters and say, “Hey, I tried! I pushed him on the Frozen Trucker thing and I demanded an answer on Garland! But his nomination went through. How’d I vote? Oh, that doesn’t matter. FROZEN TRUCKER! And it’s only going to get worse if you don’t vote for me again.”

                    Even if that is a win, is a win for Franken a win for the Dems?

                    Hm… now that has me wondering…

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                    • Is it possible that the Dems are trying to signal to their base that they are standing firm against All Things Trump when in reality they are more carefully choosing their battles? That strategy might seem transparent and ineffective to you but I don’t know that you are who they are targeting?

                      I’m a big proponent of epistemic humility, but it has its limits. I’m not one of the people that Trump’s campaign was targeting, but I could tell it was working. I am partly one of the people that HRC’s campaign was targeting and I could tell that it was going to be partly ineffective. We can speak objectively about how the parties are doing and neither are them are being very effective right now.

                      I’m not saying that the Dems are ineffective, because I don’t like what they’re doing. I’m saying it, because they keep losing For the last several years I’ve watched the Democratic Party become satisfied with winning lots of moral victories, while the GOP racks up lots of electoral victories. Of course, the GOP has largely hollowed itself out to get those wins and now that they have control, I’ll be surprised if they have the integrity – meaning structural integrity; I know that they don’t have the other kind – to do anything of merit.

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                      • That second paragraph is about the best short summary of the current state of play I’ve read. Each party is disconnected from political reality in different ways: Dems satisfied to win moral victories while losing electoral ground; GOPs satisfied to gain electoral ground while losing their moral integrity.

                        And that’s why we have Trump…. well, a state of play where no one knows how to move forward with actual governance right now.

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                      • I’ll cosign ‘s praise on your summation.

                        Which sort of circles back to my initial question: Is our current system/society such that parties have to choose between moral wins/electoral loses and electoral wins/moral bankruptcy?

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                  • Both parties use every decent opportunity they get to make their case. It’s common to use confirmation hearings to get out your message. The minority party especially has to take advantage of every microphone they can. Don’t dismiss it as a fruitless effort.

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      • It’s signaling to their base that they’re resisting (er, #Resisting) Trump and to Senate Republicans that they’re willing to go tit-for-tat on blocking SCOTUS nominations (even if they don’t actually have the votes to block this one). I’m sure they’d prefer to keep the seat open until they have a Democratic President and Senate majority, but ultimately the outcome of the current fight is secondary to their goals.

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  16. Here’s a new thread for the vote on the AHCA.

    As of 10:00 am Pacific time, the status as best I can tell is that the bill is still evolving rapidly. Ryan is trying to capture Freedom Caucus votes by offering to eliminate the ACA’s Essential Health Benefits requirements. Experts are pointing out that doing so will crash the insurance market and increase the use of the federal subsidy.

    Vote expected at around 7:00 pm EST if at all.

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    • I’m expecting this to crater, myself. Ryan is beholden to too many of the wrong people, especially after sending up dozens and dozens and dozens of “just repeal it!” bills to someone that he *KNEW* wouldn’t sign them.

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      • I think it would be hilarious if they passed it and then Trump vetoed it and used its unpopular provisions to publicly flog and stab all of his supporters in the back. It’s not likely, but he’s such a complete agent of political chaos that the chance is nonzero. Hopefully somebody is convincing him right now that it’s such a radioactive bill that he can’t be associated with it, so he’ll switch to, “I’ve always been against it” mode and hang his people out to dry.

        Fingers crossed.

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      • FYI, the bill is polling at 17%. In a media context where it’s NOT the top story, in favor of the White House Russian Show.

        Trying to sell it Ryan is now talking about kicking out all the mandated coverage stuff (the stuff that makes it “insurance” as opposed to “Useless thing you pay money for”) and also now trying to see if they can repeal the pre-existing condition ban under reconciliation now.

        In short, he’s trying to increase support for the bill by making it publicly more unpopular AND more prone to catastrophe. Interesting strategy, to say the least.

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