November 16, 2017

Why don't Democrat elites need tax cuts?

One of the sharpest divides between the Dems and GOP is tax policy, with Republicans never having seen a tax cut they didn't push for, and Democrats resisting the cut.

The standard story based on the different values and conceptual worldviews of the two parties is that Republicans argue on grounds of fairness that we must allow rich people to keep more of their money, whether annual income or accumulated wealth, while Democrats argue on grounds of providing for the citizenry that we must not cut taxes since that will deprive the government of funding for its public goods and services.

But, remembering that ideology is just a rationalization of crude underlying material interests, we reject that approach and ask instead -- why don't Democrat elites benefit from tax cuts, in the way GOP elites do? They don't ask for tax cuts because they don't get much out of them at a material level, not because they have a system of inviolable values that leads them inexorably toward that policy conclusion.

Democrat elites may get something out of tax cuts -- how could they not, when the rich pay most of the taxes, and all elites are rich? But they don't get as much as the GOP elites would, so tax cuts would shift the "balance of power" toward the economic factions that control the GOP. Societal control is a zero-sum game between warring coalitions of economic sectors.

So, what about the nature of their industries makes the GOP elite factions gain far more than the Democrat elite factions from tax cuts or tax reform?

Recall that the Democrats represent the informational industries that scale up easily, where the cost of materials and labor are not rate-limiting steps on profit growth or market share expansion. Finance, media, digital / internet companies. The Republicans represent the material industries that are physically constrained and are rate-limited in their growth by the cost of materials and labor. Military-industrial complex, agriculture, energy / resource extraction.

Rather than try to solve the problem at the general level first, let's start with a particular example and get some intuition. Consider the estate tax -- this is a tax not on income, but total wealth owned by a person. When this person dies and wants to pass that wealth on to others, it is taxed. Only estates valued at over $5 million are subject to the top tax rate of 40%, affecting only the top 0.2% of estates. So, only the incredibly wealthy are affected by the estate tax.

Still, why aren't stinking-rich Democrats calling to abolish the estate tax like their stinking-rich GOP rivals? Because the form of that wealth differs -- for an elite Republican, it may be a mega-farm in the Great Plains worth $10 million, while for an elite Democrat it may be a bank account with $10 million in it. One is material, the other is virtual. The material is particular and distinct, the virtual is general and fungible.

When it comes time to avoid the tax man, wealth in a form that is physically constrained will be harder to hide, while wealth in a form that is fungible and intangible will be easier to "move" out of the cross-hairs.

Tax laws are enforced by governments, and there is no government above the level of nations -- no international army that conscripts soldiers from the entire global population, no international IRS that levies taxes on the entire global population.

So "moving out of the cross-hairs" of the tax man means getting that wealth outside of the jurisdiction of the United States government -- or of the British, German, etc. governments. The safe spots that the global rich use to hide their wealth from their own government's taxation and other regulations are tax havens like the Cayman Islands, Swiss banks, and so on.

Yet some factions of the rich can move their wealth into bank accounts in the Caymans or Switzerland far more easily than other elite factions.

That great big farm in the middle of Kansas may be worth $10 million, but that doesn't mean they can literally uproot the farm, transplant it onto the physical land within the borders of some tax haven, pass it on entirely to their inheritors, and have it continue to serve as a form of wealth to the inheritors at a similar value.

Digging up a mega-farm, moving it over, transplanting it, etc., would cost more than the value of the farm itself. The climate of the tax haven might not be the same as where the farm came from, the host's subterranean geology might be hostile to the transplanted farm, and so on and so forth.

Even if the physical environments were a perfect match, how are the inheritors supposed to derive income or wealth from a farm that now lies in the Cayman Islands? Is it going to yield the same level of output, sold at the same prices, producing a similar income stream as when it was back in Kansas?

Maybe it was heavily subsidized by the government's farm bill back in the US, and since the Cayman Islands are tax-free, they don't have much revenue to direct toward farm subsidies. And then there's the cost of shipping their corn or soybeans to other countries, since the Caymans and Switzerland are not big enough in population to give a similar demand for corn or soy as there was when the consumers were the American population.

The farm also provided living space for the owning family to build large houses and keep a watch over the crop cultivation -- are the inheritors going to relocate to live in the Caymans in order to stay physically connected with their farm, and to check on its operation?

These difficulties in avoiding the jurisdiction of the tax-payer's national government will generalize from mega-farms in Kansas to all material sources of wealth -- an oil field in Texas cannot be shipped out and parked in the Caymans, and neither can a coal mine in West Virginia, or a defense industry factory in South Carolina (for reasons of national security, these are the least likely factories to be off-shored).

Because the informational sectors of the economy do not rely on material production, they don't own a whole lot of real assets -- some choice real estate for their corporate headquarters, a nice home or two, but not the very life-blood of their company, which are instead based on abstractions like contracts.

That means a far larger share of their total wealth is financial, i.e. stocks and stock derivatives, as well as some cold hard cash. It's not that material sector elites don't also own a lot of stock -- but as a share of their total wealth, it's smaller because of all the real assets in the mix (barrels of oil, head of cattle, soldiers under command, etc.).

And the easily scalable nature of informational sectors means that they are more globalist in supplying customers. Aside from some client states (including a few big ones), the Pentagon does not own or control the militaries of the rest of the world. The oil companies do not own or control the oil in oil-rich nations (those dreams died in the 1970s when all the Middle Eastern countries nationalized their oil fields). Nor do the mega-farms in the Great Plains own or control the farms in other countries.

They compete with the militaries, oil fields, and farms of other nations, but do not always wipe out the competition. Especially since the 1970s, the military and oil sectors have largely failed to take over their international competitors. The big farms have done relatively better, especially with NAFTA opening up the Mexican market to highly subsidized American agriculture that comes with low prices.

The informational sectors, however, have totally swamped their international competitors. They are not only the only game in town in America, but in most of the rest of the world. Google, Hollywood, Wall Street investors.

That means that a far larger share of profits will be earned abroad for informational sectors, and a relatively larger share earned domestically for material sectors. And since income in the form of profits is effectively taxed where it is made, the informational sectors can more easily avoid the IRS, which only has effective jurisdiction over profits made in America. And since the informational sectors are generally the only game in the entire world, they can bully foreign governments into not taxing them very much.

Given how lengthy the tax code is, this overview has only scratched the surface. But the basic intuition is pretty clear -- because the informational sectors are more global in operation, and hold more of their wealth in financial assets, it is easier for them to dodge the tax man in America. And even if they would benefit from a tax cut here, it would benefit their rival factions of the elite stratum even more, and tip the balance of power toward their enemies.

It has nothing to do with liberal or conservative "first principles," and let us never speak of "values" again when analyzing tax policy.

In terms of fairness, the material sectors do have a point that they are unfairly taxed compared to the informational sectors. But the solution is not to let both sides of the elite get away with abandoning their subjects -- it is to rein in the informational side and soak them as well as the material side. Break up these info-age monopolies so that they cannot earn so much profit abroad without having to spread that wealth around back home, and threaten to seize the assets located in America from entities who stash so much of their wealth in tax havens abroad.


  1. I think you might be interested in this article from Jacobin ( I can tell you're not a left winger by any means, but the article attempts to explain the New Deal Coalition and it's displacement by Clintonism in terms of the industries that supported the Democratic Party in the 30s, why they did, and why they ceased to support New Deal policies and supported Third Way neoliberalism instead. For example, the businesses that supported Democrats in the 30s weren't terribly labor intensive, meaning that they didn't stand to lose much from throwing labor a bone in the form of things like the Fair Labor Standards Act of Wagner Act. All in all, it's getting to be a nice compare and contrast with right wing material analysis here and left wing material analysis more broadly, keep it up.

  2. Economically the Trump supporters are more "leftist" than "rightist," as the terms are actually used. But more moderate / conservative on social-cultural issues. And nationalist rather than globalist on any issue.

    I voted Nader in 2000 (volunteered on campus, attended rally, protested outside presidential debates in Boston when they tripled the polling requirement just to keep out third parties), went to Quebec City in 2001 to protest the Free Trade Area of the Americas (NAFTA for the entire hemisphere), marched against the Iraq War before it even began, and so on and so forth.

    During that anti-globalization period of the early 2000s, the "leftists" kept saying good things about the "rightists" like Perot, Buchanan, et al. who stood where they did on the economic and political questions, even if they differed on social-cultural matters. So I gave them the benefit of the doubt and kept an open mind on them.

    Now that I'm less liberal than a college student, I've drifted more toward the Perot side. But it's really not that different from the Nader 2000 platform, including closing the Southern border to keep out cheap labor, invasive species, and pathogens that could trigger epidemics among human populations.

    You'd be surprised -- or maybe not, by now -- at how many hardcore Trump supporters come from a similar background.

  3. Other taxes that discriminate against material vs. informational sectors:

    - Payroll tax

    Industries that are more labor-intensive require more man-hours to expand market share / profits. Only so many hours can be squeezed out of each worker, so this means hiring more workers. Each new worker is a new ding on the payroll tax.

    You can say that workers pay the tax rather than the employer, but the employers would still rather not have to pay it and either keep it as more profit (likely) or higher wages to attract better quality workers (unlikely). Not to mention the administrative costs of complying with the tax affecting so many workers under them.

    Informational sectors don't hire lots of people, indeed they expand by consolidating and downsizing their workforce in sheer numbers -- not simply replacing expensive workers with cheap workers. There are no more jobs in Democrat sectors like tech, media, and finance.

    That relieves these sectors of the hassle and waste of payroll taxes.

    Solution: tax some measure of output or number of customers served. That avoids discriminating by how labor-intensive the process is that produced the output and served the customers. Tax the size of their fiefdom, in essence.

    - Sales tax

    These taxes are levied at the physical point of sale. Material sectors sell their product all over the physical space, incurring higher levels of the tax than those that operate in a digital market or overseas market.

    Most relevant case now is Amazon vs. brick-and-mortar retailers. Those pennies of sales tax per dollar really add up over billions of dollars of sales. In an industry with razor-thin profit margins, a business model that incurs an extra 7% cost from sales tax is going to lose out to a competing model that evades it by operating over the internet.

    Solution: tax internet commerce like physical commerce, and break up monopolies to prevent so much of their profits coming from overseas where they can bully the governments into not paying tax.

  4. The stuff about Nader and the border does remind me that it's always a good thing to point out that Cesar Chavez was against things like the Bracero Program and that his group would patrol the border to catch and turn away illegals because he knew the effect it would have both on the American worker (completely undermining them) and the illegal worker (exploitation), issues that we're seeing now.

    Of course he kind of cucked out in the 1970s and 80s but if someone like him could see the problems caused by a weak border and rampant illegal immigration this shouldn't be hard for people nowadays. As you show, even during the bygone era of 17 years ago this was not a particularly controversial position.

    It's really only in the last 10 that the shift has occurred as identity politics and social issues that serve only to divide have taken stronger root. Likewise, where the right in this country is still obsessed with Reagan and pretending it's still the mid-1980s, the left continues to believe that it's still 2005 and they're fighitng (and have never stopped fighting) the spectre of George W. Bush. A politics stuck in the past with the issues of today crudely Frankensteined onto it.

  5. I'm curious, what made you end up becoming less liberal on social issues such that you went from being a Nader supporter to a Trump supporter?

  6. Witnessing the effects of unchained liberalism up close.

    You may have a few gay friends or acquaintances in college, but you don't really know what they do. After college, you find yourself in a mixed-sex group that wants to go out for the night but includes two gays who insist on going to dance at the gay club. I'd rather be surrounded by girls, but it's not like it's going to be the worst thing in the world...

    Huh... is that...? Is that a close-up porno shot of some guy's schlong drilling another guy's anus, on three separate TV monitors, right there in the main area of the club? That's not normal.

    Huh... is that...? What's that room that the guys are filing into? "The dark room," where they go to do whatever with whoever and pick up who knows what diseases before never seeing each other again? That's not normal...

    You can tell that even the girls were creeped out by the gay club, and only the most dissociated fag hag could possibly go there on a regular basis and say "yeah no biggie about the hardcore anal porno videos visible from the dance floor" and "yeah no biggie about the dozens of new syphilis cases spread tonight".

    That led down the rabbit hole of how much more likely they are to molest children, become serial killers, and at best be stunted in development at the "ewww, girls are yucky" stage of life.

    Back in 2012-13, I wrote a lot about gayness as pedomorphy, or resembling children. One of the most insightful theories I've come up with, if I do say so myself. No one else had even thought of it.

    That's only on one topic of social liberalism, but it encapsulates where the overall trend has led our society to. Gays need to be helped from themselves, not encouraged to make a sham of marriage by getting gay-married. I'm agnostic on whether they should stay single or get beard-married and try to blend in.

    1. Ron Unz:
      "But then, maybe a dozen years later, a good fraction of all the conservative funding began coming from Neocons like Singer, who were ardent gay-rights activists and advocates for Gay Marriage, while Andrew Sullivan, founder of the Gay-Marriage movement, had became one of the most influential conservative-leaning media pundits. So all the prominent conservatives, including Dreher, soon switched sides and began supporting Gay Marriage, or at least not actively opposing it. For example, I remember when the leader of the biggest conservative anti-Gay Marriage organization suddenly announced he’d totally changed his mind, and publicly endorsed Gay Marriage.

      In Dreher’s case, I seem to recall he wrote some column very mildly raising questions about the issue, then immediately issued a deep apology to Sullivan for any offence he might have possibly caused.

      (I hope I’m not getting any of my recollections a bit garbled here.)

      "The key factor underlying much of this sort of thing is the extreme financial fragility of DC pundits and thinktankers, and their abject terror at risking the unemployment lines. Basically, if the CEO of Coke announces a new soft drink strategy, all his mid-level marketing people naturally get into line behind it, and the exact analogy is true of all these 'mainstream opinion journalists.'"

  7. Then there was the incident with Bell Hooks, a black woman ID politics author / "activist" who had decent name and brand recognition among progressives back in the early 2000s, when I was into the anti-globalization and anti-imperialism movements.

    I wasn't into ID politics, but was willing to at least ally with such groups if they would support anti-glob anti-empire projects. And she wrote a book called "Class Matters," about how the cultural focus of the Left shouldn't eclipse the old class focus, and they both needed to be addressed.

    Sounds good!

    So she comes to give a speech on campus, and in the Q&A I ask her about the perspective in her new book Class Matters, which I happened to have a copy of and brought it up to show the audience while standing at the mic. I ask if, based on her views in that book, does she support the unionizing drive among the workers at the university bookstore?

    I was not one of them, just knew about it from word of mouth. And figured it would be a softball to let her say more about the "intersectional" importance of class, and how to practice what we preach about working-class politics.

    Oh how stupid of my class Leftist brain!

    She snapped back that "I don't know about that" union drive and doesn't want to comment on events she doesn't know about, as though I were trying to drag her into a factional civil war between two sides who she was unfamiliar with.

    You mean, workers and management? You're going to blow off the union drive because workers are some kind of foreign tribe who may be good or may be bad, and you don't know just yet?

    I don't remember exactly what else she said, but she basically shut down the whole attempt to discuss class, let alone practice what we preach by supporting an ongoing union drive right in our own community.

    I later found out she was a good friend with the black woman ID politics warrior who had just become the new university president. A worthless corporate neoliberal shill. So Bell Hooks must've thought I was trying to drive a wedge between the unionizing workers at the university bookstore and her BFF university president who wants nothing to do with paying workers higher wages or giving them better working conditions.

    My other class Leftist friends were shocked, too, when I'd gotten back to my seat, like "WTF just happened?" It was so surreal.

    That was the first in a long line of incidents where I figured out that identity politics will always over-ride class politics if you make people choose.

    There's a long history of that, especially in the South, where management hires black scabs to counteract a strike by white workers trying to unionize. That's why the union movement never took root in the South -- the elites could easily play the racial / ethnic tribes against one another and think about "what's in it for my tribe?" rather than "what's in it for my class?"

    So I want to eliminate ID politics as much as possible, and there goes most of the social-cultural liberal movement.

  8. Cultural relativism now apologizes for jihadist armies from Saudi Arabia slaughtering religious minorities in the Middle East, desecrating their shrines, and blockading their economies so that the targets are starving to death and dying of cholera.

    To criticize the Pentagon-supported Saudi Barbarians (Taleb) is now considered "Islamophobic".

    Back home, we constantly hear about why we need to let ourselves get blown up by religious fanatics just because they're Muslim religious fanatics, and to try to prevent terrorism or conquest by these fanatics would be "Islamophobic".

    You can say, well that's a perversion of the original intent of multiculturalism and cultural relativism.

    OK, so where's the other equally commonly held, and equally influential strain of multiculturalism that wants to isolate Saudi Arabia or even bomb it into oblivion, to save the Middle East and the whole rest of the world from their fanatic jihadist ideology and collective violence?


    Common sense conclusion: fuck cultural relativism.

  9. The one liberal cause I'm sympathetic to is feminism, not the ID politics / attention-whoring kind, but the kind that is trying to cope with the lack of stewardship by men.

    I'd lump that more in with economic liberalism, since women and men are primarily bonding for materialist reasons -- forming an economic unit that can enjoy some economies of scale (halving your rent or mortgage payment), and materially supporting the children.

    The overall trend during the neo-Gilded Age has been abdication of responsibilities toward others, and especially of the superiors toward the inferiors. In the kinship sphere, that means men abandoning women, leaving them to fend for themselves while the men pursue self-gratification uber alles.

    That's the change at the lowest material level. The epiphenomena are all the various forms of men mistreating and hating women, after having detached themselves from the economic role of providing husband and father. Aside from not providing much, they also aren't helpful in manly ways like being able to fix or repair things around the house.

    Women detaching themselves followed as a result, since they have more to lose from living single -- more vulnerable safety-wise, less able to maintain the fundamental systems of the home, less able to live in isolation, less satisfied from occasional random hook-ups, etc.

    No way they would have made that change first. It was men who stood more to gain, just like it was the managers and stockholders who stood more to gain by abandoning workers, with workers going into slacker mode afterwards, reasoning that there's no point in putting forth a strong work ethic when your reward will be stagnant wages at best, and at worst some foreigner taking your job (abroad or at home).

    Now, women trying to solve the problem on their own isn't going to go well because they're just complainers and naggers rather than fixers. That's what the tolerable kind of feminism is -- trying to nag men back into being responsible stewards over the shared male-female household and family unit.

    But you can see where they're coming from and feel their pain, and want to change society back to the old model.

    And of course, women are less likely to see economic factors (they are more focused on household-level stuff, and kinship factors). So getting men good-paying jobs again will go a long way to curing the ills that feminism complains about. Men can't be responsible stewards when they don't have good-paying jobs, so we need those manufacturing plants to come back to America rather than China, Mexico, and India.

    Otherwise our new third-world economy will produce third-world levels of men hating and abusing women.

  10. Thanks for sharing your experiences. I see the rise of identity politics correlating with cocooning. The Democrats screwed up by condescending to the identity politics people, and hopefully in the future they will move back in the other direction.

  11. The mention of cocooning does bring up something I've been thinking about lately which is the increasing (and possibly permanent) level of alienation that seems to be setting in in a way that goes beyond just "protection from the current world" or whatever. I was listening to a comedy podcast and one of the guys was talking about taking his kids to an arcade but a modern one. He mentioned how playing the games now took a card (no more tokens or quarters) and how the "tickets" were now virtual on another card that you took to a kiosk to redeem for your prize. Maybe it's just a product of having been a kid/grown up in the second arcade boom of the 90s but there was something about it that really struck me.

    During that time, of course, Street Fighter was big so you'd go to the arcade -- dedicated or in a bowling alley or wherever -- and put your quarter on the machine. You could kill an entire night in there playing guys you've never seen, who may have been older, younger, black, white, whatever. There was a bonding element to it. It's the kind of thing that absolutely cannot happen in the modern world with your kid or teenager and now even the act of just redeeming tickets for some cheap prizes has an added element of dehumanization to it.

    Soemthing about that just seemed really grotesque. It made me think about the increasing trend towards automation we see in other stuff: fast food, for instance, or the push towards self-driving cars. People accept the fact that in another 20, 30 or however many years you won't be driving your own car anymore. They accept that even if factory jobs came back it'd all be robots doing it or that a kiosk will take a food order and eventually you'll go and get a meal (McDonald's or a normal restaurant) without having ever to interact with another person. That's just the way society is moving and there's nothing to do about it but accept it.

    But this extends even further. Look at modern architecture and cities where traces of a city's or country's cultural heritage are destroyed or hidden by glass monoliths that hold offices where everything is smooth and white and vague approximations of shapes are everywhere. Look at cars which have become little more in shape than amorphous blobs that look like nothing, the uniqueness slowly being choked out.

    It's things that might seem minor and superfluous but when taken together it all adds up. What might make one place or thing unique is subsumed by the globalist, cosmopolitan desire for a global monoculture. No place is truly unique beyond a parodic theme park approximation (take modern New York City for example), the things you own are just like everyone else's, the places you go to lack people and interaction thus becomes less person-to-person and and done through phone screens be it text, social media or whatever. You go to a place not to enjoy it but to get a lot of likes on Instagram. The sense of community is further eroded away, your home becomes flooded by people who do not speak your language, hold your customes and in fact demand you adhere to their foreign ways and you begin to lose another connection as your home is no longer your home.

    How this is countered I don't really know. It's all just streeam of consciousness rambling.

  12. Arcades were a public space for social rituals. It's not that the games themselves were the funnest thing in the world to be doing -- it was being around familiar strangers (people you don't know, but come from the same community or background), joining a team with them or a little friendly 1-on-1 competition, shooting the bull, talking shop, etc.

    After those social rituals faded away with the cocooning mindset taking over, the things and spaces that served them and hosted them faded away too.

    If you've seen these middle-aged guys with arcade cabinets in their homes, you can tell it doesn't do anything for them (or presumably any of the rest of us). It's a cargo cult arcade, without the social rituals that brought groups of people to such a space to play such machines in the first place. Not to mention that "some guy's basement" is not a public space.

    I feel the same way about home console video games. They were mostly an excuse for hanging out with friends, talking about stuff, and joining a team "activity".

    They must have been somewhat fun on their own, since we played them alone, but preferred having a friend there -- even if it was just one-player only. Someone to chat with, crack jokes about the game or anything going on in our lives, etc.

    Only for the really autistic kids was it primarily about the games themselves.

    1. I'm a 1984 birth and I loved home console video games, it was my favorite hobby. I definitely played them for the games themselves. It was fun having a friend or sibling to play them with, I gradually became a loner as I entered my teen years and beyond. To this day i'm used to playing video/computer games alone.

      I may be on the autistic spectrum I've never been diagnosed. I'm definitely strongly introverted and shy. I've always been a cocooner type. Agnostic your obviously an extroverted normie so you view video games very differently from an introvert.

  13. LOL at claims Ryan Seacrest harassed a woman rather than man:

    Lazy accuser who thought anyone would fall for Seacrest not being gay?

    Or Seacrest's PR team pre-emptively bearding him via sex harass accusation, before a real bombshell drops about him groping boys?

    1. Elsewhere, I saw levels of antifragility I didn't even know were possible and was in awe.


      that picture would fit nicely next to the definition of "gay smile"

  14. The 90s were a transition period - people moving into private spaces, but still interacting with each other. The mid-2000s, when crime briefly rose, was also a transition period, but in the other direction - going out into public, but not interacting with anybody. For instance, hanging out at the college library, but not talking.

  15. Still, I'm not sure that being in a private space is absolutely tied to cocooning. In the 80s, people who spent time in the private space were more likely to use their time more constructively or meaningfully. The terms "couch potato" and "bookworm" both used to apply to older generations, and reading real books has of course declined. Agnostic mentioned that back in the 80s, adults would stay home during weeknight evenings and watch Jeopardy, Wheel of Fortune, etc.

  16. " The mid-2000s, when crime briefly rose, was also a transition period, but in the other direction - going out into public, "


    Crime was really high in the early 90's, then gradually waned after 1993. And the early 2000's were a continuation of trends that started in the late 90's. According the Youth risk behavior survey, violence among teens diminished in the late 90's and continued to fall in every year thereafter, to the point that 2013 and 2015 indicate the lowest levels of violence among teens "ever" recorded (going back to 1991). Drug use actually went up in the late 90's....Then fell considerably in the mid-late 2000's. During the initial White Death revelation, Steve Sailer brought up research (from what source I do not know) showing that people born from '79-'84 did more drugs than those born in the late 60's/early 70's as well as those born after 1984.

    Sex among all generations was much more common in the 60's-90's. In the 2000's, X-ers and Millennials started having a lot less sex (X-ers had youthful sex and teen pregnancies that outdid even the young Boomers, but still young-ish X-ers were "saved" by the drastic reduction in hedonism that happened in the 2000's and 2010's, whereas middle-aged Boomers were out of control in the 70's/early 80's and were only somewhat better behaved in the late 80's and 90's.

    "Agnostic mentioned that back in the 80s, adults would stay home during weeknight evenings and watch Jeopardy, Wheel of Fortune, etc."

    There's something to that, but at the same time plenty of them were also going to peer parties (kids not necessarily included), bars, clubs, etc. And this persisted into the 90's, the 90's really being the last decade to have any remaining shred of the free wheeling culture created by the Silents And Boomers in the 60's and 70's, which most X-ers and early Millennials only briefly got to sample in the mid 70's-90's.

  17. "It's not that the games themselves were the funnest thing in the world to be doing -"

    Yeah, arcade ops back then wanted the games to be a pain the ass, because they didn't want a player or his buddies monopolizing the machine for hours. The kids hanging out there wanted to play for a while; if skilled players were hogging the machines, the other patrons would get bored and leave.

    Also, the colorful arcade environment was enhanced by the (relative) stakes of the games. Loud music and sound effects, flashing lights and bright colors ,money being exchanged, being among strangers, and so forth it was all pretty stimulating

  18. Going back to the sophistication topic, back in the late 60's-early 90's, teens and adults tried to cultivate a "mature" identity, which didn't necessarily have a consistent basis; some adults read a lot and tried to be worldly, others grew their hair out and wore trucker and biker jackets.

    The thing is that today's SWPLs aren't as "deep" as their 70's and 80's equivalents were, while today's proles are more brashly crude compared to their more tough and no-nonsense 70's and 80's equivalents. It's hard to become and stay developed when so many people are hard to reach. Right now, with stuff like the Walking Dead (proles) or House of Cards (swpls), it's evident how LARPY each social class is. The SWPL intellect is seldom engaged or challenged, so they try and compensate with supposedly "deep" or "complex" pop culture. Meanwhile, the prole body is seldom engaged or challenged anymore, so they try and compensate with survivalist garbage. Note that survivalism, DIY, etc. really took off in the 90's and is still with us; 80's prole feed was about locking horns with a specific enemy person or small group, and rising to the occasion after which you resumed a happy life with your family and friends. Insecure cocooners these days fantasize about basically being the top dog in a scorched Earth scenario, where most people are idiots or sleazeballs who we are to never become dependent on. What do you expect from DIY culture in which an inability to welcome people into your home (or approach such people for help) spurs people to think that they can do "it all".

    The odd thing is that back in the 70's and 80's, people did indeed have the guts to do certain pretty big things that cocooners would balk at doing these days. Like for example, making a movie. In the 70's and 80's, "small-time" investors would work with producers and directors to make and distribute a lot of movies independently. Ironically, the "Independent" craze of the 90's was a shimmering mirage; nerds and elitists thought they were watching in Important and Authentic Movement, in reality movie production became much more corporate and regimented in the 90's. While movie snobs toasted the production houses that became synonymous with arty "indy" product (like Miramax), they conveniently forgot to notice that truly Independent production and distribution had taken a major hit by that point. Mid-major companies that were capable of mass-appeal (New Line, Orion, Avco-Embassy, American Int. Pictures) in the 70's and 80's disbanded or were folded into mega-companies by the early 90's. And this was a canary in the cocooning coal mine; Orion made Wall Street, Robocop, Silence of the Lambs, and so forth during an outgoing time. By 1993, the company was dead, and with it's death we'd lose more of our ability to get more quirky and personal mid-budget movies. Similarly, New Line was bought by TBS in early 1994, and though it ostensibly remained "independent", you'd be a fool to think that corporate ownership has no effect on creativity. Now, if you will, imagine if the movie production climate of 1995 was retroactive to 1983; A big chunk of the 80's soul would be ripped out.

  19. theo the kraut11/19/17, 6:02 AM

    > That's why the union movement never took root in the South -- the elites could easily play the racial / ethnic tribes against one another

    Karl Marx:
    [...] Owing to the constantly increasing concentration of leaseholds, Ireland constantly sends her own surplus to the English labour market, and thus forces down wages and lowers the material and moral position of the English working class.

    And most important of all! Every industrial and commercial centre in England now possesses a working class divided into two hostile camps, English proletarians and Irish proletarians. The ordinary English worker hates the Irish worker as a competitor who lowers his standard of life. In relation to the Irish worker he regards himself as a member of the ruling nation and consequently he becomes a tool of the English aristocrats and capitalists against Ireland, thus strengthening their domination over himself. He cherishes religious, social, and national prejudices against the Irish worker. His attitude towards him is much the same as that of the “poor whites” to the Negroes in the former slave states of the U.S.A.. The Irishman pays him back with interest in his own money. He sees in the English worker both the accomplice and the stupid tool of the English rulers in Ireland.

    This antagonism is artificially kept alive and intensified by the press, the pulpit, the comic papers, in short, by all the means at the disposal of the ruling classes. This antagonism is the secret of the impotence of the English working class, despite its organisation. It is the secret by which the capitalist class maintains its power. And the latter is quite aware of this.

  20. "Woof."

    Read the post:
    "The Cultural Euphoria from 2003 to 2006 - was 9/11 the cause?"

  21. Top 10 movies, 2003-2006 sorted by mpaa rating.

    G - 1
    PG - 2
    PG13 - 4
    R - 3

    G - 1
    PG - 4
    PG13 - 4
    R -1

    PG - 3
    PG13 - 6
    R - 1

    G - 1
    PG - 3
    PG13 - 6

    The 2003 slate was probably the last year in which the 1990's still held any influence on pop culture (some movies filmed in 2000 and 2001 actually got their release delayed by 9/11), thus how 3 R rated movies became popular. Terminator 3, whatever it's faults, at least didn't totally wimp out (2015's Genesys by comparison was PG-13). On a similar level, if you look at a popular music by year comp. on YouTube, it's around 2003 or 2004 that music starts to sound terribly bland and processed (gee, it looks like it's the 2000's that deserve the derision that the 80's get from many Gen X-ers). Nineties music was often simplistic and dry, but at least it had some recognizable humanity. Nu-metal fell out of fashion around 2003, but at least that music had attempts at anger and angst, whereas most music released after 2003 often seems lacking in any emotion at all.

    And as you can tell from '05 and '06, that's when we entered the dreaded PG-13 netherworld, when so many movies try to please everybody and end up pleasing no-one. Movies haven't been quotable for 15 years at this point, and we've been serialized to indifference since the mid 2000's (If I'd have listed the titles, trust me there's a lot of sequels that were popular back then).

    One of the things that stinks about the lack of interest in seeing R movies is that the audience knows that they won't get material candidly dealing with sex and such. In real life, nudity and gore exists. Yet in cocooning times, our lives get so boring that we act like we wouldn't deign to embarrass ourselves by seeing a pair of boobs in a public setting. I recently watched Silkwood (1983), a serious drama about a nuclear facility, and in one scene of camaderie/fooling around, Meryl Streep flashes several people! In our current Victorian era, most actresses think that nudity will derail their careers.

  22. The mistake in the Marxist analysis of racial / ethnic conflict is that it takes the "divide and conquer" of the economic elites as primary, so that racial conflict is a result that would disappear if there were no owners trying to divide and impoverish the working class.

    But ethnic tribalism is one of the most fundamental constants of human society, and human psychology.

    That's what allows present-day managers and stockholders to so easily divide the working class along ethnic lines -- they're pushing an open door, not struggling to breach one that is bolted shut.


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