As you may have heard, Republicans in the House passed their bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act yesterday. No longer will kids with cancer, women who had C-sections, and other drains on the system force the cost of their care onto real Americans by buying health insurance. No longer will insurers labor under the burdensome system of regulations that has depressed their soaring profits since 2010. Now freedom rings. Before doing the deed, the GOP caucus pumped itself up with a basement rendition of “Taking Care of Business”—fortunately, no one present could perceive irony—and celebrated afterward with Bud Light and a bus trip to the White House. Never mind that the Senate plans to scrap their bill and start over. The important thing is that House Republicans sent a message. Today is Friday, and America’s only functioning political party is hell-bent on cashing in while it can. Won’t you try not to get sick with me?
First, the good news: the US economy has nearly achieved full employment, probably thanks to intangible effects occurring over the past 100 days. The bad news is that hourly wages continue to stagnate. Neil Irwin at the Upshot reports that unemployment is down, stock prices are up, and all the indicators of a strong economy are in place, except for the part where get paid more to work. That part is barely keeping pace with inflation. It’s almost as though employers, who normally offer better wages to entice workers as the employment rate approaches full, realized they don’t need to do that in an environment where even a brief period of joblessness can destroy most people’s lives.
That doesn’t make sense, though, because employers don’t act as a cabal, deliberately keeping wages low so they don’t have to compete for employees. There’s no system in place to incentivize that kind of behavior. On a completely unrelated note, this graph shows the stock prices of United Airlines and American Airlines during the same week—when United knocked out a passenger and dragged him off an oversold flight, and American announced an 8% raise for pilots and attendants:
Stockholders kind of don’t like it when you publicly assault a customer, but they really don’t like it when you raise pay. This system is totally sustainable, though. Workers don’t need to get paid more; they can just live off the dividends from their stock holdings, like regular people. They would be wise to do so, since American politics currently contains one socially conservative party of the investor class and one socially liberal party of the investor class. Don’t believe me? Ask Priorities USA’s poll of people who voted for Obama in 2012 and Trump in 2016. A terrifying 42% of them said that Democrats’ economic policies would favor the wealthy, compared to only 21% who said the same thing about Trump. There are a lot of reasons that shocking number would emerge, including that the poll started with people who voted Trump. Those people are idiots. But idiots are a huge bloc of the voting public, and if Democrats can’t convey to them the fundamental policy difference between the two parties, we’re in trouble.
Speaking of terrifying perceptions, FiveThirtyEight has found that Republicans believe Christians suffer more discrimination than trans people. By an overwhelming margin, they also rated black people less discriminated against than whites. Behold:
This worldview is strange and frightening to me. What kind of contemporary American life convinces you that Christians are more persecuted than Muslims, or that white people suffer more discrimination than blacks? Are the respondents to this poll just so het up about political correctness that they say such things out of spite? Maybe the correct explanation here is also the most obvious: people’s faculties of compassion and understanding are most powerful when directed at themselves.
For others, there is the knee. I assume you guys are all big Muay Thai fans, and you have already seen this video. But if you haven’t, take a moment to learn how to smash people’s floating ribs.
You know what convinces another person to stop fighting you much better than punching him in the head? Kneeing him in the body. You don’t hear about people losing street fights because the first thing they did was break their kneecaps, either. If they aren’t wrapped, your hands are for grabbing. Anyway, I have strong opinions about this and the wage economy. Plus rap: