June 21, 2018

Elites feel for 3rd world children, who seem more authentically human than their own robotic striver spawn

The absolute hysteria that the elites have shown over the past week about the Central American immigrant "kids in cages" is not the response they would show if those kids were from the first world. The profound disconnect between their response toward the children of their own nation and those of less developed nations is a sign of a broken moral compass, and none of the usual explanations for the outta-whack state of affairs seem to be correct.

A healthy moral sense devotes more attention to domains where the person or some group they belong to can make a difference. That's how we recognize the shameful deflection when the liberal elites ask why Trump is meeting with a human rights abuser like Kim Jong-un, when they do not ask why Trump met with an even worse offender like Mohammad bin Salman. Kim is not our ally, and won't change his behavior just because we pressure him to. Bin Salman is our #1 ally, and would respond to our pressure, lest he lose the material and intangible goodies we provide him with. Worrying about Trump legitimizing Kim is morally pointless, worrying about Trump legitimizing bin Salman is morally worthwhile.

Maybe you could worry about both of Trump's meetings with those leaders, but you could not worry more about the Kim meeting than about the bin Salman meeting.

Now, if the elites are so concerned over children who are in a pitiful state, why not start right here at home? It's not as though everyone's kids in this country are doing A-OK. The elites might respond that they worry more about the immigrant children because they're poor, whereas their own kids are rich, and even those of the middle-class are wealthier than the immigrant kids. But then they ignore the large swaths of American children who are not wealthier than the immigrant kids. There are plenty of places right here where rural whites and urban blacks are not exactly living in what you would call first-world comfort.

Oh sure, there's the once-a-year feature story on the lead-polluted water of Flint, Michigan, or the heat system getting shut off during winter in Baltimore public schools. Then it's right back to obsessing over immigrants for the rest of the year, which is a far more recurring topic of theirs, and one they report on with much greater emotional investment. The chronic plight of urban blacks has been totally sidelined in favor of attention to immigrants.

When they do mention Flint or Baltimore, it's more of an empty ritual -- something they know they're supposed to do, and they go through the motions, but their heart is not in it, and it's not part of a larger and longer-term vision of theirs for a better society. Their moral vision for improving the lot of the non-white people of the world is to open our borders to 10 billion foreigners, and hope that there's still enough wealth to go around for all of them. They can't have an impact at that level, so why bother? Whereas focusing on blacks in America is something they can have a huge impact on -- and yet, just half-hearted ritualistic expressions of concern.

Of course, the elites care even less about white American children who are in a pitiful state, but it is not about race. They scarcely care more about African-American children than about Euro-American children, since almost all of their effort goes to immigrant and foreign children. And some major cases are not even very non-white -- look at how apoplectic the elites go after seeing dead children in Syria, during each chemical hoax du jour. Syrians are pretty white, especially compared to African-Americans -- and yet, we don't see the elites foaming at the mouth to start another war on behalf of dead black children in America, like they do about children in Syria.

So what's going on with the outta-whack moral sense of today's elites, whether liberal or conservative?

A cynical response is that the elites are just crying crocodile tears in order to advance their globalist agenda -- whether the goal is to import hordes of cheap labor to boost corporate profits, to culturally replace what they feel is an embarrassing American culture, or whatever else.

We can reject that, as with most lazy cynical answers, since it only captures a tiny slice of the elites. A big chunk truly feel morally invested in the fate of poor Guatemalan children, while feeling almost nothing similar for poor African-American children, or poor white-American children.

And the phenomenon is broader than just trying to incorporate the Guatemalans into the American nation -- the elites feel more deeply for Guatemalan children even when they're understood to be living in Guatemala itself for the rest of their lives. And again, that's true for elites on both the left and the right, albeit with different rationalizations for their similar behavior of ignoring poor Americans in favor of poor foreigners -- alleviating global poverty for the left, saving all of God's children for the right.

Another cynical response is "virtue signaling," meaning the elites don't bother sympathizing with American children because that's easy or cheap to do, whereas sympathizing with third-world children is somehow harder or more costly to do, so that their moral posing is really a kind of status contest amongst themselves. Who can out-do the others in obsessing over the children of unfamiliar and alien cultures?

But if that were true, we would see the "most obscure band / film / author" phenomenon -- the elites would resort to ever more exotic cultures to sympathize with the plight of pitiful children, just as they do in fact for the cuisine of other cultures. It's amateur to signal your knowledge and appreciation of Mexican food -- but make it Salvadorean food, and you've upped the ante.

In this framework, only a beginning poser would try to score points by sympathizing with Central American immigrants -- too geographically close to us, too familiar from their immense numbers in our country, and therefore too over-exposed in our public mind as stereotypical immigrants. But make it those Rohingya people who the media have been trying to turn into a storyline, and you'd rack up a higher score. ("Oh... you've never heard of the Rohingya...?")

And yet the elites continue to pay little attention to the Rohingya, the Tibetans, and other truly more exotic cultures than the Guatemalans or the Syrians. The "costly signaling" model does not work here.

These and other lazy cynical answers all presume that this elite behavior is part of a well-functioning machine -- that their moral obsession over third-world immigrants is somehow serving a more fundamental goal of theirs, whatever we may think about that goal. This is the fallacy of thinking that all traits are optimal for the individuals possessing them, presumably because they would otherwise be weeded out by some form of competition. On such a brief time scale as we are observing our elites, how do we know that these traits are not in fact mal-adaptive to their own goals?

Consider their slowly and hazily dawning awareness that by pushing so forcefully for open borders, they have triggered a backlash that will end up not only closing the borders, but deporting a large chunk of illegals who thought they were already in the clear. Too much immigration leads to zero immigration.

And before too long, they'll start to understand how 10 billion people living in America would wreck our welfare state worse than any Tea Party scheme. Liberals go to pains to preserve the welfare state in political contexts that do not touch on immigration.

As I said at the outset, this elite behavior is clearly a sign of their being broken, outta-whack, misaligned. It is not 3-D chess for globalists. But what precisely is the nature of this broken moral compass?

Quite simply, I think our elites don't view American children as authentic human beings, as a result of our children being micro-programmed, as though they were cutting-edge robots, in our hyper-competitive and status-striving climate. Program them to eat the right kind of organic breakfast foods, program them to play the right sports in pre-school, program them to ace the pre-pre-pre-school admissions exam, program them to play the right instruments when they get home from pre-pre-pre-school, and on and on and on.

Striver parents are terrified that their kids won't grow up to be strivers like them, so they leave nothing to chance or free will. Just program the hell out of the kids, and that's their best shot at making it in adulthood. The children's eventual social status depends entirely on the parents properly nano-tuning their programming during childhood.

If that's your conception of the parent-child relationship, then of course you won't conceive of the child as a real human being. They're not even sentient, like a pet. Sidenote: people train their children as though they were pets, and resort to owning pets to fill the void left by raising robo-kids. Their pets are treated as though they were the real children -- left alone from programming, and behaving all natural.

When these elites think of third-world cultures, they sense that there are no elites there like there are here -- sure, there are elites, but attaining that status does not come from a war of all against all, a Darwinian survival of the fittest, AKA meritocracy. They sense the elites inherit large tracts of productive land, or political office, or whatever it is. In our elites' mind, the third-world parents don't turn childrearing into micro-programming, since there is no hyper-competitive admissions process for pre-schools, colleges, internships, and professional firms.

The children from such a culture will appear to be more authentic as human beings, making them suitable targets for sympathy -- unlike the robo-kids of our society, who don't even register as sentient.

Our elites view all children from the third world this way -- naturally the children of poor foreigners, who don't go to college, but even those from relatively better-off families, who don't have to go through the dehumanizing process of striver programming. That shows that our elite's sympathy is not just about being materially poor -- you can be relatively well-off, as long as your parents didn't turn you into a robot in order to attain that comfortable status.

And our elites project their own kids' robo-traits onto those of American children writ large. After all, such a large share of kids in America go to college, and an even larger share are put through regimens to prepare them for college, even if they decide not to. The elites may assume that our education system treats every child as college material, so they must all get cranked through the striver grinder, just like the elite kids.

Whether that's true or not, doesn't matter. It's the elite's perception that matters. And they talk in such broadbrush terms about "our society" and "our children" that they wouldn't see exceptions even if they were there among urban blacks or rural whites, who may not robotize their children like the strivers in the elite zip codes do. Out of sight, out of mind for the elites.

American children as synthetic, third-world children as natural -- that's what's behind this whole warped morality phenomenon. And it's a sign of something wrong, namely the degree to which today's parents treat childrearing as though it were engineering a machine to optimally compete in Battle Bots, as all of society tunes in to watch their performance -- the machine's performance, and by extension the engineer's.

This likely applies more broadly than just children, too. Even adults in America are perceived by our elites to not really be human, given the dehumanizing system they are all a part of in our hyper-competitive climate. But adults from poor third-world cultures? Our elites doubt that their way of life is as dehumanizing as ours, so they must be more wholly human than American adults, and hence more suitable as targets for sympathy.

It's not really a Noble Savage worldview, since the poor immigrants are not hunter-gatherers. They come from cultures with a government, sedentary residence, agricultural economies perhaps with some of our off-shored manufacturing plants, permanent elites, religious hierarchies, and other elements of complex societies.

It's more about our hyper-competitive, credentialist, groping for a post-industrial utopia whose outcome feels increasingly uncertain. The third-world cultures certainly don't have that going on.

What is the solution? It is to channel our awareness of the broken moral compass into changing the underlying problem. First, by drawing the elite's attention to their outta-whack priorities -- they should be more concerned with struggling Americans than struggling Guatemalans, since we control America but do not control Guatemala. Then, by pointing out the root cause of the elite's misaligned priorities -- seeing their fellow Americans as not really human, due to being cogs in a dehumanizing machine, which they assume does not apply in Guatemala.

Finally, to make that the central task -- to dial down the psychotic levels of competitiveness in our society. If it keeps going any further, it will blow up the society in a civil war. And even if that were to be avoided, it is still producing more dehumanized people on the other side of the striver grinder, and that in turn makes it easier for our elites to treat them callously rather than charitably.

We have to unseat the reigning ethos of anti-social ambition, and replace it with pro-social restraint. And we must replace the warped focus on fixing the whole world with fixing America -- where we can actually succeed.

June 20, 2018

DC blacks pass higher min wage: Employers of immigrants hardest hit

Voters in DC have approved Initiative 77, which will gradually raise the minimum wage for tipped workers to be the same as it is for non-tipped workers. It's currently only $3.33, compared to $12.50 for non-tipped workers. If the workers' tips plus the barebones wage falls short of the general minimum wage, the employer is supposed to make up the difference. But in practice, greedy employers stiff their workers for that difference, and the Labor Department has little power to investigate, charge, and collect the unpaid wages from the employers. That leaves the workers making well below the general minimum wage.

You can read more about the issues in this explainer from Vox, but what really matters is that this will move the DC economy one step closer toward abolishing cheap labor, and thereby drying up the demand for immigration. Whether they realize it or not -- mostly they do not -- the progressive Democrats are helping to send immigrants back to their home countries, once they can no longer get jobs here. And they will not be getting hired as commonly if the minimum wage shoots up.

The whole purpose of immigrants being here is to serve as a vast pool of cheap labor for greedy and lazy employers who want to enjoy higher profit margins without actually having to improve their business model or product -- just by firing their well-paid American employees and replacing them with cheap foreigners instead. Wow, what a brilliant insight, what a singular innovation! The employers' greed, laziness, sociopathy, and treason ought to be punished, not rewarded.

All the Democrats need to do now is to play up the fact that those workers who will get fired when the minimum wage goes up will be illegal immigrants, and that primarily African-American citizens will be taking those jobs instead. By framing immigration in class terms, and by attacking employers rather than the immigrant workers themselves, the Democrats can steal the immigration issue from the GOP. And, solve the problem more efficiently -- punishing one small business owner vs. tracking down the dozen immigrants he employs.

And since the Democrats are not controlled by the material sectors, like those relating to food, they can credibly threaten to keep raising the minimum wage, which will not affect the sectors that do control their party -- informational sectors like finance, tech, and the media, which are not dependent on armies of cheap foreigners, either here or abroad.

With Initiative 77 passed, some businesses will stay open, only with fewer immigrants and more (African-)Americans on their payroll. Other businesses will have to close down, because their business model is so pathetically defective that it fails just from having to pay their workers the minimum wage. That is all for the better -- we want good businesses to stay open, not shitty ones that can only be propped up by the government looking the other way while the employers pay their workers $4 an hour and stiff them for the rest that they owe to meet the full minimum wage.

As that happens more broadly, it will affect entire sectors, driving out the bad and replacing them with the good. When a crappy restaurant or hair salon closes down because they can't turn a profit if forced to pay their workers the minimum wage, the source of their financing will have to find another destination.

Remember, nobody puts up their own money to operate any business -- they're all getting loans from banks, selling equity through a stock market, issuing bonds, or whatever else. Once those funds can no longer go to the crappy businesses, they will necessarily be routed to those that are profitable under the higher minimum wage -- such as a manufacturing plant instead of a third-tier restaurant. Food-related jobs will dwindle, while manufacturing jobs will rise, shifting workers from low-paid jobs into high-paid jobs, not just improving their lives but narrowing inequality between them and the rich.

A higher minimum wage will be a crucial component of the new Bernie-era industrial policy to revolutionize our economy out of the dead-end shitty service model that our elites have driven us into during the Reagan era, and back to one with robust manufacturing and industry.

Which group of voters deserves credit for this big first step? The blacks of DC, not the yuppie whites (he means high-end neighborhoods in the NW):

Black people in DC are not looking ahead to the effects of a higher minimum wage on the employment prospects for immigrants -- but even if you pointed it out to them, they would not give an utter shit about a bunch of poor weepy Mexicans who won't get hired at all if they can no longer serve as dirt-cheap replacements for (African-)American workers. "I got mine, BITCH -- now go on and get yours, BACK IN MEXICO."

Obviously none of those blacks will ever vote for Trump or the GOP, and that's perfectly fine. We aren't trying to drive them to the GOP -- who would instantly lower the minimum wage and bring back the cheap-labor foreigners anyway. The goal is to have both major parties acting to restrict immigration -- by fomenting a loud and angry pro-American worker movement within the re-aligning Democrat base itself, albeit on class terms and attacking greedy employers rather than the immigrant workers. But if blacks use the occasion to air some of their grievances against immigrants, so much the better.

Immigrants don't vote, especially if they're illegal, and they lower the material standard of living for everyone, except their corporate bosses who enjoy higher profits from cheaper labor, which widens inequality at both ends of the spectrum. They are the last thing the Democrats need to win elections. The path toward recovery for the Dems is to amp up their African-American base -- and they don't care about pointless identity politics anymore, except for a few dead-end Boomers. They want more cash in their pocket, simple as that. Jack up the minimum wage to $20 an hour, and there go all the illegal immigrants back to wherever they came from, with black people giving zero fucks when that happens.

That will also help to drive a wedge between the black base and the neoliberal elites within the party, who not only want to keep the minimum wage down (see the NW section of the map), but who want to transform their base to include all non-whites -- even if most of those other non-whites don't vote, and lower the standard of living for blacks. African-Americans are the only reliable non-white bloc of voters for the Democrats, they can't stand the other unreliable non-white groups, and unlike the other non-white groups who live in either deep red or deep blue states, blacks live in swingy states where they could actually make a difference, especially in the Rust Belt.

Neoliberal yuppie whites will never understand that, but they don't need to -- they just need to be shouted down by their angry black base who demand a $20 minimum wage, regardless if that means Mexicans returning to Mexico when they can no longer work for pennies on the American dollar. Hopefully that winds up purging the neoliberals from the party leadership, and leading to their replacement by blacks and whites who are just looking out for the American worker, and not the cheap labor legions of literally the entire world.

Let this be a lesson to any remaining populists and nationalists on the GOP side -- there's nothing worth voting for on the Republican side's primaries. It's more effective to channel your votes, donations, and efforts into making the Democrat party an alternative to corporate-globalist Republicanism.

June 19, 2018

Is Jared Ivanka's gay BFF? And elite degeneracy in marriage generally

Although the 2016 election has spurred widespread interest in the anthropology of the working class in Flyover Country, that's only one half of the story -- the immiseration of the lower 90% of the population. The other half of where we are, and why we're here, is the over-production of elites (or at least aspiring elites) in the power centers of the nation, and their striving, hyper-competitiveness, decadence, and degeneracy.

Where are all the longform field studies of that group of people? Nowhere, since that would hurt the same elite that controls and produces content for the media sector. You would never even see that in a lowbrow Fox News feature, given that the conservative GOP elites are just as degenerate as the liberal Democrat elites.

Reality shows like the Real Housewives series give a little glimpse of elite decadence, but you can tell they leave out the really good stuff. In particular, they don't focus on the transactional nature of all their relationships, and how that poisons both the material and social domains of life. We only occasionally see their domestic staff, who are entirely foreigners being exploited as cheap labor, and never see the Americans who are left out of work by greedy elites. And they avoid the multiple lies that these people are living to pursue greater wealth and status.

One of those lies is the sham marriage, debasing one of the most sacred relationships into an utterly transactional one -- whoever can most optimally enhance my current and future wealth and status. This is the now ubiquitous "power couple" phenomenon whose initial explosion accompanied the neoliberal transition of the 1980s.

OK, so few of these people care for each other, and are sticking together purely to pool their resources and rise a few orders of magnitude in status, which they could not reach on their own. Big deal. But there are sham marriages, and then there are sham marriages. After a point, it becomes insulting and sacrilegious toward marriage and the family.

One of the most common, yet least discussed, forms of the power couple sham marriage is the closeted homosexual whose overweening ambition prevents him (or sometimes her) from coming out, lest it damage the value of his brand even slightly, and the beard-wife he chooses to publicly disguise his deviant sexual nature.

The beard is happy to go along with this because she is more driven by material ambition than by maternal or wifely goals -- and if some high-status guy is going to pool his resources with hers, to level up their joint wealth, then who cares if he never wants sex. In fact, maybe that's a selling point! A hypothetical hour of physical intimacy would be one less hour devoted to social climbing, wealth accumulation, and conspicuous consumption. No potential for intimacy means no checks on her ambition -- or his.

If one of the two does happen to have a sex drive, then they will satisfy it outside of their marriage, again making relationships transactional. Their paramour would just serve to get them off, since their chosen spouse cannot, in principle.

The media did no investigation into whether Obama was gay, as he seemed and as he later semi-admitted when he left office. The conservatives didn't go there either, not just the liberal part of the media. Conservatives were more interested in whether he was born in America, touching on the theme of nationalism. But we are not being infiltrated by devious foreigners against the will of our own elites -- the main source of societal rot these days is elite callousness and degeneracy, from within our own nation.

It would not be the homosexual behavior per se that marked Obama's elite degeneracy, but the corruption of timeless and crucial institutions like marriage and the family, in the service of overweening ambition. It would be hard enough to get elected president while half-black -- imagine if he were also known to be on the down-low. Welp, gotta get a wifey then.

If it were just to blend in with normal people, that would be one thing. But the elite homo-beard power couple is a case of the elites cynically co-opting institutions for their own crass material benefit, not to restrain their own deviance and deliver that social benefit to others.

Now, though, that there's a Republican-controlled White House, wouldn't the liberal media be interested in pursuing similar storylines, without having to worry about damaging their own party? Not about Trump, of course -- while he and Melania obviously have no real relationship, he's not living a second lie on top of that by being homosexual.

Rather, the question is why the media have never asked about Jared Kushner and Ivanka? I first thought something was off about him when they were photographed on vacation in Hawaii in December 2016, and he either shaves his body or has no natural body hair. Plus the babyface, and the fact that he weighs 100 lbs, signaled pedomorphy, or resembling a pre-adolescent child, which is the defining trait of ewww-girls-are-yucky syndrome (see my posts from 2012 and '13). Then when he spoke on camera, I really thought something was up -- he has the voice of a 9 year-old boy. Talk about pedomorphy, yikes.

But I've been laying off that topic until something more substantial came out from all the leakers and sources -- yet, nothing so far. That is, until this post at Blind Gossip, which has a solid track record with inside sources in the entertainment sector. In it, someone who went to college with both Kushner and Natalie Portman (both unnamed but easily inferred by the commenters), floats the idea that Jared is gay to explain why he never showed any interest in Portman, who had a big crush on him when they were friends, at a time when every guy wanted her:

It is very disconcerting to hear her going after him like that [calling him a "supervillain"] because when we were in college, she totally had a crush on him! He never really reciprocated, which I thought was weird because every guy in school wanted to date her. I thought he might be gay because she had dated a gay guy before and seemed to be attracted to that type, but that is not something that I would just come out and ask him.

Even if he didn't want to date her, at least he should have wanted to bang her -- every other guy did back then, especially if she was more or less offering herself. What early 2000s college dude would have turned that down? And did he not date or bang any other girls in college? This source says she's uncertain whether or not he's gay, which sounds like she can't point to exculpatory evidence like the other girls he was with, or who he even expressed a desire for.

Sidenote: it may run in the family. Some of the BG commenters say they've always thought Jared was gay, and add that his brother Joshua must be gay as well, as suggested by his own sham relationship with beard Karlie Kloss. Why did that raise their suspicions? Because according to a history of not-so-blind items at BG -- most recently this post -- Karlie Kloss and Taylor Swift have been a secret couple for several years. Kloss would then be using Joshua Kushner as a beard just as much as he would be using her as a beard. Taylor Swift has her own long list of closeted homosexual celebrities with whom she has had mutual bearding relationships, such as Harry Styles of One Direction.

If Ivanka is in fact Jared's beard, I can totally see Trump being not just OK with it, but breathing a sigh of relief. He has spontaneously and repeatedly expressed sexual jealousy over Ivanka since at least the 2000s. And he told Stormy Daniels "you look like my daughter" before banging her. This fits into a broader pattern with Trump, as reviewed in the third section of this post, that he is sexually attracted to people he is supposed to be forbidden from having, based on their social relationship to him. That includes prostitutes, other men's wives, workplace subordinates, and yes even his own flesh and blood daughter.

Who could she possibly bring home to that kind of daddy without sending him into a fit of jealous rage over some other guy getting to bang his daughter? The only solution would be a homosexual -- no potential trespass on what Trump sees as his own sexual property. Since his own marriage is transactional, he would see no problem if his daughter's were as well -- beyond the standard power couple, to the point of being a beard.

Hell, maybe Trump even suggested or demanded it of her in the first place! "No daughter of mine is gonna have sex with some guy who isn't her father." Or maybe it was more roundabout and what's-in-it-for-you, about how she could not just avoid her father's constant interference, but how it would free up more of her time for career and social ambitions, not to mention being a more progressive and modern way to do the whole marriage thingie. She's not a staunch traditionalist, so she would have gone for that appeal.

Who knows for sure what the deal is with their particular relationship. But it's striking how there's zero interest from the media. And not because they have some kind of code against outing homosexuals, or raising the possibility -- they would do that in a heartbeat if it hit a sub-elite figure like a regionally popular Christian pastor. But they circle the wagons around fellow members of the elite class, whether left or right, if knowledge of widespread elite degeneracy would break out from an honest investigation and portrayal of how our elites live these days.

June 15, 2018

Vamps get vulnerable, as portraits come back into vogue

As the cultural climate has mellowed out into its vulnerable refractory phase, after the manic phase of the early 2010s, I've noticed a return of the vulnerable persona in portraits that I mostly associate with the ads and music videos of the late '80s (another refractory phase, after the early '80s manic phase).

Surveying these changes over multiple full cycles will wait for another post. The basic impression is that the manic phase is more likely to produce portraits of women who are smiling, laughing, and assertive, while the following refractory phase shows women who are more insecure, nervous, wounded, etc.

For now, we'll study some of the defining traits of the new style, or revived style, that began around 2015. It's most striking when these traits are shown by figures whose usual persona is a vamp trading on her sex appeal, as appearing fragile, self-doubting, or pensive would contradict their normal presentation of being composed, self-assured, and carefree. Instead of staging an act to provoke an intended reaction from others, they are going more natural and studying the audience's response to their more low-key intimate persona, uncertain of how they'll be received.

NB: there are two NSFW nudes at the end.

First, a totally unrecognizable Taylor Swift at the end of 2014 (Wonderland):

Her usual vampy look is raised upper eyelids and eyebrows, to indicate that she's noticing you, but also raised lower eyelids, in a kind of protective squint. Usually her lips are pouty to telegraph kissy-kissy, or closed in a subtle smirk. Her hair usually acts as a mask to cover her forehead, ears, and vertical part of her jawline, and is usually highly stylized.

In the portraits above, her eyebrows rest at a normal level, the upper and lower eyelids are both lowered, and the lips are parted, giving her a more mellow and open expression than her usual stiff, hamming-it-up expression. Her body language is engaging you in a back-and-forth conversation, instead of delivering a one-way rehearsed performance to the audience.

Her tresses being pulled away from the face is like taking off her hair-mask, and their wet-and-tousled state gives them an intimate just-out-of-the-shower look, rather than the meticulously sculpted look of a professional stage performer.

Adding to the natural impression are darker and furrier eyebrows, darker hair, and varied skin tone (just bronzer around the periphery), as opposed to her usual mask-like look of nano-sculpted eybrows, lightened hair, and uniform heavy make-up.

The shoulders leaning slightly off-kilter and forward, with the head tilted to the side, make her look uncertain and questioning about how you're going to respond to her, in contrast to her usual posture of shoulders drawn back and head balanced, certain and confident that her audience is receiving her performance well.

Next, the not-so-wild child Charli XCX in 2015 (Miss Vogue):

During the last manic phase, her expressions were highly animated, although by now she has sunken into a more strung-out, almost combative poker-faced look. Here we catch a glimpse of her being more natural and casual, open without being exhibitionistic, and still vulnerable without being defensive.

We see again the importance of the tilted head (perhaps even resting on something for support) to indicate uncertainty or insecurity, and lips that are parted enough to not look silent, but not agape to the point of looking like a vampy put-on.

Portraits shot from farther back can make use of the arms and hands in a way that close-ups cannot. One or both arms held in front of the torso is a defensive posture -- more so if the legs too are raised in front of the torso, suggesting the fetal position. And yet as long as the head is not turned away, and as long as the gaze is not averted or stereotyped, we don't get the impression of her being aloof or anti-social. The juxtaposition of body language cues that are both open and closed conveys more a sense of uncertainty and insecurity -- revealing herself, but also nervous about how you're going to respond.

That tension is enhanced by the subtle use of hands that are clasped, fingers curled inward, or seeming to be in the middle of fidgeting with a prop in order to channel and alleviate her anxiety.

Rounding out the songbirds is Camila Cabello in 2015 (Teen Vogue):

Her usual persona is sultry, with heavily drooping eyelids and yawning-open lips. That drowsy combination suggests someone whose consciousness and internal self-monitor has shut off, and is on an animal-like autopilot, sleepwalking through her activities. But here we see her eyes opened more than usual (though still semi-narrowed), with eyebrows slightly raised as well, giving us a half-inquisitive look. The lips are closed more than usual, though still parted enough to convey openness to a conversation.

Although her hands are not directly in view, simply including the upper part of her arms and shoulders shows that they are held close to the torso, and there's a hint that they are bent at the elbow, crossing over in front, perhaps clasped over her lap. At any rate, they're not held apart from her sides or up in the air, as she usually does to convey confidence and strength.

Here she looks more protective with her arms and hands, while still being open in her facial expression -- seeking validation but also nervous, as though she were awaiting an uncertain verdict.

Next, Kim Kardashian in 2016 (Wonderland):

She used to make over-the-top selfie faces during the early 2010s, before settling into the wide-eyed and stone-faced expression she wears these days. But merely lacking expression does not signal vulnerability. In this portrait, she still has that same basic stone face, although her eyes are narrowed a bit instead of open wide as usual -- concentrating on something -- and downcast as well. She looks lost in thought and wistful.

The rest of her body language makes up for what is close to her usual face. Her neck is bent over, head tilted to the side, hand slowly fidgeting with her hair or trying to massage her scalp, all giving an impression of weariness and wanting to alleviate tension.

The use of reverse perspective works well here, since if we saw her from her front, it would look like she was turning her face away from us, as though to say don't bother me, I just want to brood by myself right now. But shot from behind, she's actually turning her head in order to reveal her face, which would otherwise be obscured by the back of her head. The resulting contrast between open and closed signals conveys insecurity and vulnerability.

Her sister Kylie Jenner, also in 2016 (also Wonderland):

Like her sister, she is usually stone-faced these days, or vamping it up with overly narrowed eyes and pouty lips. Here, the tilted head gives an inquisitive look, enhanced by the peak of the eyebrow appearing to be even more raised when it's the top of a slope rather than one end of a horizontal line. Her arms are crossed over in front, as her hands fidget with her hairbrush. Her body is turned in 3/4 perspective, although her face is looking at us straight-on. And she's resting against the sink rather than standing upright.

These combined open and awkward signals create an impression of someone who is insecure about her looks or worth, who is opening up enough so that the viewer can evaluate, but who is also nervous enough about the uncertain verdict that she's preparing to close herself off just in case.

There's another portrait from the same shoot where her whole body is facing the viewer straight-on, while standing upright, head balanced, arms hanging off to either side, and where the hairbrush is just dangling in one hand rather than being fidgeted with. It gives off such a different vibe -- a more direct posture, mixed with narrowed eyes and pouty lips, to look like a vamp.

Finally, while most media portraits these days are of singers, actresses, and reality TV stars, there are still a handful of models out there, who just do the modeling thing.

Here's Emily Ratajkowski in 2017 (LOVE):

Unlike her performance in the "Blurred Lines" video during the manic phase, where she's merrily bouncing around the set, including at times moving right toward the camera, she looks more closed-off and anxious in this portrait. She is open to the extent of being stark naked and looking at the viewer, but her body is turned perpendicular to us -- almost as retreating as if she had her back to us. Her body looks fragile, with the back and shoulders hunched over, and resting against a set piece rather than standing up straight.

Her arms are not crossed over in front of her torso, but they have a similar effect by being placed squarely between her body and the viewer, given the profile perspective. Their harsh angle, locked elbow, and jutting toward the viewer all make them feel like defensive obstructions, lest anyone get too close. Her hands are nervously occupied holding onto the set piece.

She's not vamping up her facial expression as usual, although she does not have enough emotional range to strike the precise note she's looking for. But it's in the direction of "fear," a subdued deer-in-headlights look. A fearful facial expression combined with a stark naked body that is turned away from us looks more than just vulnerable. It's disquieting, and looks more like she fears getting molested by the viewer (as though the viewer-director just asked her to cross the line in filming what she was promised would be a "tasteful" scene), or that someone who is facing her (out of frame) has given her the creeps in a professional setting and she's turning her face toward us with an expression asking "WTF just happened?" and is imploring us for help.

As a recent post pointed out, feminism goes through phases in tandem with the cultural excitement cycle. During the manic phase of the early 2010s, it was "exhibitionism as feminism," if you got it flaunt it, don't body-shame me, etc. As of the late 2010s, during the vulnerable phase, it's shifted to a defensive and protective posture, as fear of male predators begins to spread. This contrast could not be any more stark than in Ratajkowski's performances between the "Blurred Lines" video in 2013 and the portrait above in 2017.

The photographer, Patrick Demarchelier, is one of the masters of portraits using it-girl models. This one reminds me of another, also during a vulnerable phase of the cultural excitement cycle, back in 1986 with Christy Turlington:

She doesn't have the same fearful eyes and agape lips that Ratajkowski does, but there's still a seemingly contradictory mix of signals -- a topless upper body though semi-covered by her locks, with the lower body appearing to have been hastily covered up with whatever was within reach, body turned somewhat away in 3/4 perspective, crossing her arms defiantly, and looking at us with an accusatory gaze, although leavened with levity by her raised eyebrow, as though she's saying tsk-tsk to a naughty man-child who she doesn't mind humoring, rather than being paralyzed by shock before a downright predator.

Manic phases may produce better examples of culture that is brief in duration, like song and dance, but for things that are supposed to be frozen or permanent, like naturalistic portraits, the post-manic phases do it better. Intense energy does not work well in a portrait, since it breaks our suspension of disbelief that we're watching the subject continuing to pose, in a kind of not-so-exciting movie. Fleeting manic energy reminds us that the portrait was just a snapshot of one moment, and that there's no point in paying attention longer than the initial instant.

June 12, 2018

Good first step in Korea, real change awaits Bernie re-alignment, media to become Know-Nothing rump of defunct Democrat party

Although no major changes were made to the situation in the Korean peninsula, that was not expected for a summit called on such short notice. Indeed, no major changes can ever happen so long as the militarist institutions control the dominant frame-setting party of an era.

A recent post reviewed the status of where the three main nations are in their re-alignments. South Korea is the furthest along, beginning with Kim Dae-jung's election in 1997, and which the current president Moon Jae-in is also a part of. The old militarist coalition is so weak that their most recent president got impeached and removed from office. North Korea is beginning its re-alignment under Kim Jong-un, seeking peace and re-unification with the South, and achieving nuclear weapons status in order to protect that process from American militarist interference.

Sadly, though, the re-alignment has not yet begun here. Trump is a disjunctive, end-of-an-era president, who mixes up the old way and the new way, ultimately constrained by the sclerotic Establishment of his long-dominant party.

In true disjunctive fashion, he reiterated at the press conference (going back to campaign trail speeches) that he wants the US armed forces out of Korea altogether -- something no one else from our Reaganite era would have said, whether they were dominant Republicans or opposition Democrats. Winding down our presence there will have to wait for a new era when the militarist institutions are not in control of the dominant party, meaning the Bernie re-alignment.

At least for now, though, we do appear to be getting a little hint of what's to come, again in true disjunctive fashion. If it's true, according to Trump, that we will be freezing the US-SK wargames right on the NK border, that will be a first step toward real change. The Pentagon and other parts of the Deep State can easily sabotage this promise, and are already undoubtedly hard at work to undo it before it really goes into effect. But if they are unsuccessful, the freezing of the wargames will be one crucial step that Trump takes to pave the way for the post-Reaganite re-aligners of the upcoming Bernie era.

Even if the Deep State is successful at sabotaging the freezing of wargames, at least Trump called them out as "provocative," which they certainly are. Gee, why are you guys developing nuclear weapons when we keep simulating invasions and nuclear attacks right along your border, year after year like clockwork? He also called them a huge waste of money, which they certainly are. Hopefully at least one of those phrases manages to shift the consensus here on these pointless provocations.

Lastly, the media are trying their hardest to shut themselves out from the re-alignment. You don't see the finance sector -- the senior partner of the Democrat coalition -- trying to stir up nuclear war with North Korea. Not really the tech sector either. But all of these ignorant morons in the press, closely partnering with the intel faction within the Deep State, keep trying to out-hawk the Republican president on North Korea.

First of all, nobody will ever buy the idea that a liberal Democrat coalition will out-hawk a conservative Republican coalition. So why bother? It's futile. If voters, donors, or elite institutions wanted hawkish policies on North Korea, guess who they're going to support -- not the liberals or even moderates, and not the Democrats.

More importantly, they still fail to recognize that the opposition's job during a disjunctive phase is to out-do the would-be re-aligner from the dominant party, on the issues that make him an unorthodox end-of-an-era figure. That would be populism, industrial protectionism, and anti-interventionism for Trump. When the opposition tries to oppose the disjunctive leader by countering his unorthodox qualities, they fail to imitate the successful, and secure their irrelevance.

Nobody wants elitism, free trade deals, or global military occupation by Uncle Sam -- if we did, we would have voted for literally anyone other than Trump in the 2016 primary, and we would have voted for neoliberalism incarnate in the general election. Cycles only run in one direction, so if that is what the opposition is offering to counter the dominant-party leader, then they are done for. We can't re-wind the cycle back before all of these unorthodox ideas won a primary and general election against all odds.

Rather, the job is to steal these unorthodox positions from the would-be re-aligner, who again has very little ability to deliver the goods on them, being constrained so tightly by the dominant party that he belongs to, and which built the entire system he is trying to alter against their vested interests.

In this case, it means the opposition will be a Democrat like Tulsi Gabbard, who is even more eager and willing than Trump to pull America's military presence out of the Korean peninsula. And not belonging to a party that is controlled by the military or the weapons manufacturers, she could actually deliver the goods on that issue.

The losers on the Democrat side will be those who want to manage the status quo, only with a more liberal or diplomatic approach. But it's not the '90s anymore, and no one wants the West Wing version of the opposition. All these dumbass wonks who want to oppose Trump by drawing out our military exit from Korea for as long as possible, will have no future in the upcoming re-alignment period. Their places will be taken instead by those who compete over how fast and unconditionally we can just get the fuck out of Korea already, after 70 years of pointless and wasteful occupation.

During re-alignment, the name of the game is cutting the Gordian Knot. In Korea, it means simply pulling out, and letting the North and South work things out under their already serving re-aligning figures.

The more that the Democrats adhere to countering the highly favored unorthodox positions of the disjunctive president, the more that they will end their party as it currently exists. That would make them like the Whigs in the end of the Jacksonian era, right before the Civil War. They would be replaced by Bernie's populist party, akin to Lincoln's Republican party.

Each major episode we see of Democrats trying to out-do Trump on adherence to Reaganite orthodoxy, we increase the odds that they do end up committing suicide as a party, just like the Whigs, and even running their own third-party candidate in 2020, akin to the Know-Nothing Fillmore candidacy of 1856, which prolonged the disjunctive end of the Jacksonian era, and made the Civil War far worse for having pressure-cooked an additional four years.

And now we have a better sense of which factions among the opposition that obstruction would come from. It's not the banks or broader finance sector, at least on the militarist issues -- a great relief, given their senior rank in the Democrat coalition. The tech sector is more squishy, eager to partner with the intel agencies and Pentagon, and folding like crazy under the pressure to keep Russia and other figments of our imagination from hacking the election. But that seems to be more a cover-your-ass reaction by the tech sector, in the face of such hysteria from other sectors in their coalition.

No, the main source of obstruction is the media and their partners in the intel agencies. They are defined by shaping the consensus on some issue, so they are the most naturally inclined toward resisting a re-alignment away from the old way and toward the new way. The finance sector can adapt, as long as they know what the new rules are. Same with tech. They're more opportunistic, working with what they've got. The consensus-shapers in the propaganda sector -- at the nexus between the media and the intel agencies -- cannot just go along with a paradigm shift, since it would mean someone else had been re-shaping the consensus, not them.

When it comes to Bernie vs. Pence in 2020, watch out for Rachel Maddow and Anderson Cooper launching a vote-splitting ticket for the Neutral Consensus Respecter party.

June 11, 2018

Trump inverts trade theme from campaign, letting wrong-doers skate while punishing non-factors

By now the president has found out that he can't single-handedly take on the combined de-industrializing institutions that control the GOP -- the Chamber of Commerce, National Association of Manufacturers, agribusiness, etc. These are the labor-intensive sectors of the economy responsible for passing NAFTA, sending jobs and factories out of our country and into cheap labor colonies like Mexico, China, India, Vietnam, and elsewhere.

During the 2016 campaign, Trump identified the American operators of these businesses as the enemy -- frequently holding up Carrier, an A/C manufacturer, as a vivid example. Also Ford Motors, Nabisco, and others. They were moving their plants to Mexico? Well, how about a big fat 35% tariff on everything they make there and try to bring back into the US market? That would totally counter-act the greedy American executives' attempt to generate higher profits simply by slashing labor costs, sending the work to Mexico instead of Michigan.

As a rule, executives should only be rewarded for improving their company's products -- providing a higher quality and quantity for a lower price. Or inventing entirely new products. They must be punished for cutting labor costs, since that is not an invention or product improvement. It doesn't take a genius to figure out that you can boost profits by slashing labor costs, it only takes a sociopath. By rewarding their cheap-labor programs, we are breeding the executive class to be dull-witted, lazy, and predatory, rather than ingenious, industrious, and pro-social.

Since taking office and getting immediately cock-blocked by the de-industrial lobbies, as well as every politician in his own dominant party, the president has given up on taking the fight to the anti-American executives who have destroyed the economy that once used to support a large prosperous middle and working class. He no longer harangues flagrant violators of his former campaign slogan to "Hire American," like when Harley Davidson just shut down their plant in Kansas City, in order to move production over to Thailand.

He also doesn't put any pressure on the cheap labor colonies themselves. Quite the contrary -- he just helped save a telecom cartel in China, complaining about US policies that were costing too many Chinese jobs. And he's not only capitulated to Mexico on NAFTA, but on the never-to-be-built wall as well. Really, how hard would it be just for symbolic theatrical value to keep demanding that Mexico will pay for The Wall? He doesn't even bother with the empty symbolism anymore.

He's never attacked Vietnam, despite their soaring trade surplus against the US. He used to mention them on the campaign trail as one we've got to watch out for, how Vietnam is the next China, etc. But he's surrendered on that front too -- even rhetorically, let alone substantively.

The leaders of these cheap labor colonies are the recipients of stolen goods -- our manufacturing sector -- rather than the thieves themselves (the American executives). However, Trump doesn't go after either group involved.

The only party he's interested in picking fights with are Canada, Japan, Germany, and by extension the EU.

Contra the liberal airheads, no one cares if these are "historic allies" since the motive for that alliance is long gone -- WWII and the Cold War. No one cares about preserving zombie alliances as some kind of diplomatic cargo cult. Maintaining that alliance costs the US an absolute fortune, for which we get nothing in return, aside from the imperial operators at the top level of the Pentagon and State Dept.

Nevertheless, these are not cheap labor colonies, and they therefore have little to do with the de-industrialization of our economy. When Carrier, Ford, and Nabisco close down a plant in Indiana, Wisconsin, or Michigan, they are not sending the work to be done in Canada, Germany, or Japan. Wages are too high there, and the whole point is to slash labor costs.

Some of them do benefit from our providing their military needs more or less for free -- South Korea, Japan, Germany, Italy -- which frees up a lot of their government's funds to invest in their domestic industries, making them much more competitive internationally. But even if we ended that practice, and their manufactured goods became more expensive, that would not return factories back here.

Our tool-makers did not get wiped out because the German tool-makers were heavily subsidized due to their government not having to pay for national defense (taken care of by Uncle Sam) -- but because our greedy executives and stockholders shut down the American factory and sent production to China, Mexico, or India, and sold the product back into our market with shameless American branding, despite being made in the third world.

The only one of the countries whose national defense we provide that is still something of a cheap labor colony is South Korea, although less and less so recently as their standard of living improves and their workers expect higher wages, similar to Japan's trajectory. And who's the one country that Trump never bitch-slaps about how heavily our provision of military needs only serves to subsidize their industries, which wipes out our own industries back home? Why, South Korea.

It's not because he's trying to make nice with them during negotiations about North Korea, since he keeps his hands off of every cheap labor colony, not just the one we're involved in high-stakes geopolitical negotiations with.

In fact, Trump's sense of defeat has become so ingrained that he doesn't even try to argue for our re-industrialization anymore -- bringing factories and jobs back. Instead it's about how to export more and more agricultural products -- one of the few things we still produce, as candidate-Trump used to mock on the campaign trail. ("Japan is sending us cars by the ship-load, and what do we send them? Beef. And wheat. And corn.")

Agriculture has never created a prosperous middle class anywhere on Earth in its 10,000-year history. It does create an elite class, unlike the hunter-gatherer economies that preceded it. But they don't pass their wealth on down the pyramid, since their underlings are not very value-adding. Slaving away in the fields doesn't add much value, since most people can sow and harvest their own crops -- why pay such a huge premium for someone else to do it for you? Mostly what you're paying for is the fact that some giant landowner has the productive land, and you don't, so doing your own agriculture isn't feasible.

Making your own steel, your own television, your own clothing, however -- not so easy to do, and worth a much higher premium. Especially when mass production gets invented, then the owners of a manufacturing plant can really start churning out these highly profitable items -- if only they can hire enough workers to operate it day-in and day-out. That leads them to pay much higher wages to unskilled or semi-skilled laborers. While the elite class gets richer with industrialization, the working class gets even richer, narrowing the inequality gap for the first and only time in human history.

There's no other way than industrialization, which is why backwards economies are so desperate to industrialize in a single generation -- so much so that they propel violent revolutionary movements to take over the government and economy. As we become more de-industrialized ourselves, I worry that we too will go in that direction when we re-industrialize. You'd hope that the elites would see that, and re-industrialize peacefully and pro-actively in order to avoid ending up like the Romanovs -- but they show all the signs of still being blind to the destruction they have caused by de-industrialization, so why bother getting out in front of a non-existent problem?

Trump got elected to try to peacefully negotiate the re-industrialization of our economy -- not to push even more agricultural products on foreign countries. Today's plantation owners already get subsidized out the ass by our government, they already make a killing in globalist free trade deals -- the cheap labor colonies get the factories, as long as our plantations get to wipe out their farms -- and none of them "Hire American". The former populist now openly brags about getting cheap-labor immigrants to work on the "farms" so that their greedy plantation owners do not have to pay decent wages to American citizens, or to invent or adopt new technology that would replace farm labor regardless of whether it was foreign or American.

The idea of him hounding Canada, who is nowhere near the top of economic threats to us, into buying more food products, when that sector has never been doing better, and is a key group behind our de-industrialization, is utterly ridiculous.

He only looks slightly less clueless or impotent when he tries to lower barriers to American cars in Asia or Europe. That's one industrially manufactured good that we still do make here, but we aren't going to re-industrialize the economy simply by making more cars for export. Maybe by punishing Ford for moving plants to Mexico, and forcing them back to Michigan. But not by trying to open up Japan or Germany to American cars -- which their citizens want absolutely nothing to do with.

Hey, big gas-guzzling American cars, and our more nationally distinctive pickup trucks, are not everyone's cup of tea. Lowering tariffs or raising quotas won't do anything to kick our car production into high gear, since the Big Three car-makers are nowhere near hitting their quotas already. If the re-industrialization of our economy depends on getting Europeans to buy Rams instead of Renaults, we're doomed.

Our peer nations are not the cause of our impoverishment, since we all enjoyed the Golden Age of Capitalism together during the mid-20th century. France was making cars, Germany was making cars, and America was making cars -- competition among this tier of nations did not matter. Germany made tools, and America made tools. Japan made televisions, and America made televisions. France made kitchen appliances, and America made kitchen appliances. Big deal!

(We were also supplying Japan's and Germany's national defense for that period as well, pointing again to the secondary rather than primary nature of that problem, vis-a-vis our de-industrialization.)

The real change that happened -- around 1980 -- was not competition from a foreign peer nation, but an internal betrayal by the executives of our own companies that made trucks, tools, televisions, and toasters. Our shuttered factories did not move to peer nations, where the wages were comparable to our own, but to cheap labor colonies in the third world.

Trump knows all of this, given his speeches from 2016 and before, but he seems to have begun rationalizing his GOP-obstructed plan to re-industrialize. Now he's no longer going to attack the "shithole countries" that all of our factories have been relocated to by the beneficiaries of the massive corporate tax cut -- he's going to stand up to a "worthy fuckin' adversary" like Canada or Germany. A fellow real, first-world country, not one of those fake wannabe up-and-comer countries. He can fold it in with his other rationalizations about going big or going home, dealing with winners rather than losers, and so on.

That bodes very poorly for the remainder of his disjunctive presidency, which was lame-duck from the get-go. He'll be picking fights with people who don't matter, while giving a pass to, or downright genuflecting to the real problems we face -- Saudi Arabia as the source of radical Islamic ideology and collective violence, China et al as the cheap labor colonies that receive our stolen manufacturing sector, and Mexico that keeps waving on hordes of immigrants across their border with us.

Again, the real fight to pick is with the American leaders who have made junior partners with these foreigners, especially the military brass and the executives of the material sectors in the economy. But if you did confront foreigners, it would be the Saudis, the Chinese, and the Mexicans -- not the Germans, the Japanese, or the Canadians (what a joke!).

The president has little time left to steer the Overton Window back in the direction of his historic 2016 campaign. All signs point to it shifting even further in its current wrong-headed direction. That will allow re-aligners on the Democrats' side like Bernie Sanders to easily steal back the trade issue in 2020, depriving the GOP of its tepid support from the Rust Belt, and ending their Reaganite reign for good.

June 8, 2018

Sexual song titles peak in warm-up phase of cultural excitement cycle

One of the most notable changes in pop music recently is the absence of sexually provocative song titles, or song lyrics. There's still innuendo, of course, but I mean words that offer no plausible deniability -- truly on-the-nose titles like "Get Off," "I Wanna Sex You Up," or "Smack That".

Instead, hit songs of the past few years are more likely to refer to physical exhaustion, fitting the mellow, vulnerable phase of the cultural excitement cycle that we've entered, which is like a refractory period after the previous manic phase of the cycle during the first half of the decade.

But we still have memories of pop music being really salacious -- when was that, exactly? Not during the manic phase, as it turns out, but during the restless, warm-up phase just before it. That is when people are no longer in the refractory stage of being incapable of stimulation, and are again able to get excited -- but they're just getting warmed up and doing exercises, not really taking off into the next spike of the manic phase just yet.

Overt sexual references are part of the effort to shock people into activity as they're emerging from the vulnerable refractory phase. We noted in that overview post on the warm-up phase that dance crazes take over, as people want to get their bodies moving again, but are still getting used to not being mellow and emo. So they need color-by-numbers dance motions that everybody can learn easily, and all take part collectively in without standing out as an awkward individual. The Twist, the Hustle, the Running Man, the Cupid Shuffle, and so on.

Something similar is going on with these provocative references -- they're more like a pep rally well in advance of the actual game, to get people in the right mood. Innuendo would not really shock people awake -- they need unambiguous, highly charged slogans to take them out of their ordinary mindset, and put them into a more pumped-up mindset, in preparation for the upcoming manic phase. The cheerleaders at the pep rally don't say, "We're better than we were last time," but "We're number one!" They don't say, "Let's play our best," but "Fight fight fight, kill kill kill!"

One last observation before getting to the history: these overtly sexual songs are generally not what you would put on a "doing it" mix tape or playlist. Since they're mostly from the warm-up phase of the cycle, there's a mismatch between the highly charged lyrics and the just-waking-up vibe that the song gives off. It's understandable given the role they play in the cycle -- trying to shock people awake after they're coming out of a slumber. Still, when you go back and listen to them again, and you're not in that warm-up phase yourself, they sound more cheesy and goofy than they did at the time -- like, what was all the scandal about? Wait until you're in the warm-up phase again, and then they'll resonate more.

In looking over the history of the Billboard Year-end Hot 100 charts, I noted the titles that had a clear reference to sexual activity. It didn't have to refer to full-on intercourse, just physical intimacy -- and something beyond ordinary kissing. That excludes innuendo like using "loving" or "love" to refer to physical activity, since it has a plausible main reading of "feeling love toward someone". I included titles with pronouns whose meaning is unambiguous, like "Touch It". And I included figurative language if there was no ambiguity or double-entendre -- "Ring My Bell" is obviously not about a literal bell that she wants you to ring. But "I Was Made for Lovin' You," for example, allows plausible deniability, and was excluded.

The cultural excitement cycle lasts 15 years, with three phases of five years each, and those five-year chunks match up well with the first half and second half of the decades. The warm-up phases are the early '60s, late '70s, early '90s, and late '00s. Following them are the manic phases of the late '60s, early '80s, late '90s, and early '10s. Then the vulnerable refractory phases of the early '70s, late '80s, early '00s, and late '10s.

Here are the on-the-nose sexual song titles for each five-year period, listed by the first year of the period. The chart conveys the rise-and-fall pattern over time, with the titles legible if you click the image. An appendix at the end of this post lists them all in an easier-to-read text format, if you're curious what all the examples are. Two entries in the chart have "..." to keep the columns from getting too wide; see the Appendix for the full titles.

The first warm-up phase was the early '60s, but did not have any examples because before the '70s, overtly sexual pop culture was largely absent. That was the Great Compression norm of "reining it in" rather than the laissez-faire norm that replaced it in the '70s. If the performers themselves did not refrain from overt references, the censors would have stepped in -- they censored movies, comic books, and TV, why not also music?

Even when the Midcentury censorship began to give way in the late '60s, there still aren't many overt song titles -- only "Hanky Panky" -- because they were already in the mood by that time, being in the manic phase, and didn't need to get whacked over the head to wake up from their slumber.

Then after the refractory phase of the early '70s, overt titles hit a local peak in the late '70s. It was not only disco songs like "Ring My Bell" but soft rock songs like "Kiss You All Over". The '80s had few overtly sexual titles. We understand why not in the emo late '80s, but during the early '80s manic phase, they didn't need provocative lyrics to get them excited -- they already were "So Excited".

Coming out of the late '80s slump, the early '90s had the most sexual song titles of all. But then just as fast as everyone began complaining about these scandalous songs these days, salacious titles fell off a cliff during the late '90s and hit a nadir during the emo early '00s. During the next manic phase of the late '90s, everyone was already in a bouncy mood and didn't need waking up like they did in the early '90s.

There was another "Sexual Eruption" during the "Promiscuous" warm-up phase of the late '00s, the most recent of these peaks. The Britney Spears song "If U Seek Amy" is spoken as "F-U-C-K Me". It's not a clever double-entendre, since the context only allows one reading: "All the boys and all the girls want to If U Seek Amy". During the next manic phase of the early '10s, we see again the lack of need to wake people up -- they already are at that point -- and the continued absence during today's refractory phase. There are still two years left in this period, but we won't see a surge by then. Starting around 2020, though, these on-the-nose references will ramp up again.

Aside from the 15-year excitement cycle, we also see the 30-some year cycle of outgoing vs. cocooning social behavior, which closely tracks the rising vs. falling-crime cycle. So the peaks get higher from the late '70s to the early '90s, and then a lower peak in the late '00s. Generally the outgoing and rising-crime climate is more intense and sexualized than the cocooning and falling-crime climate. The crime rate is bound to start its long rise again circa 2020, but it will only be beginning. So I don't think the next peak will be as big as the one from the early '90s, or perhaps even from the late '00s.

Related phenomenon from the original post on the warm-up phase, dance song titles with salacious body part references:

Before the laissez-faire era of "if it feels good, do it" that began in the 1970s, the dance craze period of the early '60s didn't have salacious body part references, but there was "Finger Poppin' Time," "Snap Your Fingers," and "I Want to Hold Your Hand" (not specifically about dancing, but that's the most likely context). By late '70s, there were more direct references: "(Shake, Shake, Shake) Shake Your Booty," "Shake Your Body (Down to the Ground)," and "Shake Your Groove Thing". From the early '90s, "Baby Got Back" and "Rump Shaker". And from the late 2000s, "My Humps," "Hips Don't Lie," and "Ms. New Booty".



Hanky Panky


Feel Like Makin' Love
Let's Get It On


Ring My Bell
Get Off
Kiss You All Over
Do You Wanna Make Love
Feel Like Makin' Love


Making Love Out of Nothing at All
Making Love
Sexual Healing


Touch Me (I Want Your Body)
Like a Virgin
I Want Your Sex


I'll Make Love to You
Your Body's Callin'
Stroke You Up
Bump n' Grind
Knockin' da Boots
Freak Me
Humpin' Around
I Touch Myself
Touch Me (All Night Long)
Humpty Dance
Rub You the Right Way
All I Wanna Do Is Make Love to You
Do Me!
I Wanna Sex You Up


Touch It
Touch Me, Tease Me
Doin' It
Freek'n You
Sex and Candy


I Just Wanna Love U (Give It 2 Me)
Get It On Tonite


If U Seek Amy
Bust It Baby
Touch My Body
Get It Shawty
I Wanna Fuck You
Touch It
Smack That
Grind with Me
Birthday Sex
Sexual Eruption
Sexy Love


Bang Bang
Get Lucky


Love Me Harder

June 7, 2018

Higher min wage replaces crappy jobs with good jobs, as banks shift funding from unprofitable to profitable businesses

As we near the end of the Reaganite neoliberal period, and enter into a Bernie-led populist period, it's crucial to wake everybody up to the orthodox myths of the past several decades -- some of which have become so ingrained that we don't even question them, even those on the opposition left.

At the highest level, there will be a shift in values, principles, and priorities -- away from the Reaganite priority of "profits over people". That priority has led to all sorts of policies that have crushed wages while sending profits through the roof: making workers compete against each other to enrich their employers, deregulating corporations so that they can form anti-competitive cartels that fleece their workers and consumers, off-shoring manufacturing to cheap labor colonies or hauling in millions of immigrants to be exploited as cheap labor, and so on and so forth.

As we move toward the principle of "people over profits," the policies that stem from the new priority will run up against all kinds of naysaying from the beneficiaries of the old order. That is not important, since they will never be converted. The group that we do need to concern ourselves with is people who sense that something has gone wrong, but they aren't sure whether the new way is going to be better than the old way. We do need good convincing arguments for them.

That's equally true for grassroots voters as for politicians -- as Gen X and Millennials become more represented in government, displacing the Me Generation of Silents and Boomers, politicians will become more open to arguments for a whole new way of running our society, after it has fallen into such undeniable disrepair.

One such policy I've written about before is tariffs -- we will enact them far more broadly than the ones that Trump has placed on steel from certain countries, which is not a whole lot different from what George W. Bush did back in 2002-'03. The main worry is that tariffs will raise prices to consumers of goods that use steel in their production process, as the producers "pass along" their higher cost of materials to their consumers.

That will not happen in a sector that has competition among firms, since one firm that tried to jack up its prices to pass along their higher costs, would price themselves out of the market, as their competitors who did not jack up their prices would steal market share from the greedy firms. Hence, tariffs lead to lower profit margins, as materials costs increase while prices to the consumer stay roughly the same.

If the sector is not competitive, that is a reflection of the Reaganite model where we have deregulated society so much that corporations can get bigger and bigger, swallow up all their competitors, and merge vertically so that they control all steps of the production chain. That monopolistic status allows a small group of wealthy and powerful people to dictate terms to everybody else. Obviously in the new order, they will be broken up in order to restore competition -- among businesses, to benefit their workers and consumers, as their own profits fall from their currently inflated values.

This point about "higher costs" being "passed along" generalizes.

Nowhere do we see Reaganite hysteria about higher costs on such open display as with raising the minimum wage. Neoliberals claim, just as they do about higher costs of materials, that higher costs of labor to the employers will result in higher prices to consumers, in order to pass along those costs. But for the same reason as before, they are dead wrong: higher wages mean lower profit margins, not higher prices for consumers, due to competition among businesses on the dimension of price.

They make a related claim on phony humanitarian grounds, that raising the price of labor will result in less of it being purchased -- in other words, the affected workers would be employed for fewer hours, or maybe fired altogether, apparently bungling the attempt by the wage-hikers to make their status better. This argument does not appear for materials because that stuff is not human, and there are no heartstrings to tug about under-utilized quantities of steel if its costs were to rise.

Some well-meaning proponents of raising the minimum wage say that the quality of labor will improve if it is paid a higher price. I get the reasoning, and it may be true, but we have to make stronger arguments than this one. First, employers do not care about higher quality labor at a higher price -- if they did, they would still be employing Americans rather than sending the work to be done by cheap slaves in Indonesia, or bringing Indonesian immigrants here. And second, we are not going to accept the framing of "what's in it for the employer?" -- that has been the prevailing value system for the past 40 years, and we see where it's gotten us. We're going to assume that the quality of labor is no better or worse when it is paid more.

The naive supply-side view is a non-starter since "buying less labor" would mean the employers are now short-staffed -- if they reduce the man-hours of their workforce, in order to keep payroll expenses the same in the face of a higher minimum wage, then their output takes a nosedive. That would slash their revenues, and total profits. They could not squeeze more productivity out of their workers since they're getting paid the higher minimum wage unconditionally -- the government doesn't require them to work 50% harder in order for the minimum wage to go up by 50%.

So, the best-case scenario for employers is that they keep the number of man-hours the same as before -- to avoid plummeting output and total profits -- and eat the higher labor costs in the form of lower profit margins. But they still stay in business, turn a profit, and enjoy high social status as employers and managers and stockholders, rather than as workers.

However, it's possible that their profit margins could fall so much that they would no longer be profitable at all, no matter how they tried to re-jigger the man-hours in their workforce. This is the dreaded effect of a rise in the minimum wage causing the disappearance of an individual worker, or their workplace, or their workplace's entire parent company, or even that entire sector of the economy.

Unlike the scare tactics about "higher prices to consumers," which appeals to selfish individualism, this portrayal actually hits people where it hurts -- thinking about the effects on other people. What if we tried to help those poor people by raising the minimum wage, and it only resulted in their getting fired, their business shut down, and that whole sector of the economy going up in a puff of smoke?

I've never heard any well-meaning leftist, or even revolutionary, make the obvious counter-argument (and I was part of the anti-globalization movement circa 2000, so I came into plenty of contact with people and writers who should have figured it out).

Although some businesses will have to shut down when we raise the minimum wage, they will be replaced by new businesses -- or expansions of existing businesses -- that can survive and thrive in an economy where the minimum wage has been raised to $15. The minimum wage god does not close a door without opening a window.

It's actually a far less than divine agent who will come to the rescue -- it will be the banks and other actors in the finance sector. Not, of course, out of generosity, but out of self-preservation. No business starts up with the founder's own money -- they raise money from investors of various types (individuals, banks, etc.), and through a variety of arrangements (taking out a loan, issuing bonds, selling equity shares, etc.). And no business, once it is up and running, continues its ongoing existence with its own money -- it keeps its relationship with the finance sector, however that relationship may change.

The investors in the business do not want to do any work themselves -- they have a lot of money, and want that money to make money itself, rather than sit around losing value due to inflation. They want a return on their investment, and look for opportunities that seem more promising than the available alternatives.

If we raise the minimum wage to $15, that is like a changing selection pressure in evolution. It forces the individuals and groups to either adapt to it, or die out. Those that can meet the challenge will out-perform those that cannot, until the "unfit" are weeded out altogether, and only the "fittest" have survived. And we really shouldn't use scare-quotes around "unfit" -- if your business model sucks so bad that you can't turn a profit by paying your workers a decent wage, you deserve to go out of business. The government does not exist to protect the shitty businesses and shitty businessmen of the world, who can only make it in life if we let them hire slaves.

What is the currency of fitness? The ability to get financing from investors, which again is the lifeblood of the economy. If the minimum wage goes to $15, a whole lot of crappy foodie businesses are going to get shuttered -- those that absolutely require wages below $5 for food prep, wait staff, and the like. Why? Because they will be unable to turn a profit while still following the law, so investors will stop supplying them with loans, buying their stock, or however they're financing them.

And yet all that withdrawn investment will still be in search of some project to invest in -- they don't want it just sitting around idle, not earning a return, and losing value due to inflation. So they either put out a casting call, or maybe they get a knock on their door, to find new projects to invest in. Can you turn a profit in this new climate of a $15 minimum wage? If so, we'll invest in you! Please God, just send us the businesses that can thrive in this new environment, and we'll fund them!

So they find out that some manufacturing plant has been paying its workers at least $15 an hour, before during and after the change to the minimum wage law. Clearly they're able to survive in the new climate, so now they're going to get more funding than they've already got -- maybe they hire more workers at their plant, or open up new plants, perhaps in new parts of America that they weren't even in before.

And that manufacturing expansion will not only create more blue-collar jobs that pay a higher wage than food prep -- those blue-collar workers will need supervisors, plant managers, and all sorts of other white-collar and professional-managerial staff to run the expanded operation. Some may be hired in-house, but others may form their own firms that contract with the plants -- and that opens up a whole new series of projects to invest in, the support services for an expanding manufacturing sector. Now the finance sector is worrying less and less about their money not finding targets.

Unlike informational sectors of the economy, the professional support for a material sector, like manufacturing, grows in proportion to the output of the sector. If you want to produce 10 times as many cars, you're going to have to hire 10 times as many assembly workers, and 10 times as many professionals and managers to oversee that expanded workforce. Whereas if you want 10 times as much digital ad revenue for your search engine, you don't need to hire any more workers or more of their supervisors. You use your existing workers to figure out how to draw more users to your search engine, or how to co-opt or buy out your competitors. They're not producing content, so output is not a labor-intensive process requiring more man-hours to solve a larger-scale problem.

So, unlike the phony info-tech bubble of today's economy, where there are so few targets to invest in, but where each one gets a giant amount of investment -- in one with an expanding manufacturing sector, there will be ever more white-collar, possibly tech-related businesses ancillary to manufacturing that will provide plenty of targets for investment. That will make it less volatile as well -- you won't have all your eggs invested in FAANG's basket.

That's what the economy was like before Reagan -- a gigantic middle class that was plugged in, somehow, to manufacturing, and financed ultimately by the New York banks who were central to the New Deal coalition of FDR (a patrician from New York). Here is a reminder of the inflation-adjusted value of the minimum wage, which stayed near $10 (in today's terms) for most of the 1960s and '70s, only plummeting during the Reaganite era since then, losing around 30% of its value by now:

Once we start laying out this grand yet straightforward vision of how things will be after Reaganism, it will convince most normal people and keep them from worrying about the arguments made by neoliberal fear-mongers.

It will also get some buy-in from at least one of the major elite sectors of society -- finance. There will be no re-alignment without at least some degree of elite support. That doesn't mean giving the banks everything they want -- they've already been getting that. But just because they're a central sector of the dominant coalition doesn't mean they will get to dictate terms. They were central to the New Deal coalition, yet they still had Glass-Steagall and other regulations reining in their behavior. They accepted that, relative to the alternative where they were not a central member of the coalition -- where they would face even worse treatment.

After Reaganism, the elites of the material sectors will be the losers, as their profit margins get crushed. Some, like food service, will mostly vanish from the economy altogether, just like in the good old days. The workers in these sectors, however, will thrive for the first time in most people's living memory. The natural enemies of the material sectors are the informational sectors, and we can already see an opening to include them so that they get a central seat in society's planning, unlike today where they are part of the opposition coalition (Democrats under Reaganism).

They will face more regulations than they have recently, but other sectors will be regulated even more heavily -- steep tariffs that force manufacturers to bring plants back to this country instead of cheap labor colonies, jacked-up minimum wages (which will not affect the finance sector since they don't hire armies of low-paid slaves), and the like. Material sectors control the dominant party of the Reagan era, informational sectors are in the opposition.

As the populist mob begins to really howl for blood -- a trend that will absolutely explode during the next killer recession, due before November 2020 -- the elite sectors that control the opposition party had better get out in front of things, and provide an off-ramp for a decent chunk of the elites before they wind up in the guillotines.

The FDR New Deal model is exemplary, not the neoliberal Obama model where trillions of central bank liquidity has been given to the 1% to play around and gamble with, rather than financing the expansion of manufacturing or other sectors that pay high wages to the bottom 50% of the class pyramid.

If the Democrats refuse to follow history's orders, the elite sectors that control it should withdraw their support and start up a new party with most of the old Democrats carrying over, plus large swaths of former Trump voters jumping on the populist bandwagon. Call it the Populist Party.

Hopefully it doesn't come to the death of a major party that refuses to re-align itself, which would parallel the lead-up to the Civil War. In the meantime, the finance sector should be leaning as hard as they can on the Democrats to re-align in a New Deal direction, where although no sector got away with murder like they did during the bygone Gilded Age, the finance sector elites did better than the manufacturing sector elites, who had to put up with rising wages, labor unions, and de-globalized supply chains.

Related post: Raise the minimum wage to $20 to defeat the GOP and steal the immigration topic from them. This is just a special case of rising wages, whatever the cause -- say, if we directly outlawed employers from hiring foreigners, who are only hired now to undercut American wages.

There should still be some kind of laws against hiring cheap foreigners -- they can only be employed if they are paid 50% more than an American, say, like a tariff on foreign labor. But most of the problem is on the low-wage end, where simply raising the minimum wage would have the exact same effect as outlawing the hiring of foreigners -- but crucially, without turning the issue into one about race or ethnicity, and only referring to class and economics.

In today's world, making it primarily about race or ethnicity would make it too toxic. And indeed most of the liberals and Democrats used to support bans on hiring cheap foreigners, but only when it was framed as a class issue. Once the conservative culture warriors took it into an issue about ethnicity, they alienated the other side, and the issue lost its bipartisan consensus. We can only restore that bipartisan support if the issue has no ethnic connotations, and is only about raising the standard of living for working and middle-class Americans.