Friday links! Dueling hacks edition

Kim Jong Un approves of cinnamon twists.

We all know that the most effective form of government is a powerful chief executive who inherited his position and never got a chance to fail. When times are tough, you want a rich kid with a long resume in the family business. That’s how my grandparents’ generation won World War II: their parents won World War I. But what happens when two Little Lord Fauntleroy types1 square off? If you were to pit, say, Fred Trump’s kid against the cleverest public-school graduates in New York, you know who would win. Same goes for Kim Jong Il’s kid against the savviest apparatchiks in North Korea. When two such people square off, though, the resourcefulness that comes from being sucked up to your whole life cancels out on both sides. They are left with only their positions to defend them, plus their unimaginable wealth. Today is Friday, and two of the biggest assholes in the world are ready to win a nuclear war. Won’t you pit hack against hack with me?

First, the good news: “dotard” rhymes with “goatherd” and is not an offensive coinage of Kim’s invention. It’s just one of those words North Korea finds in its antiquated Korean-English dictionaries when it’s time to threaten the United States. Kim’s official statement in response to Trump’s threat to “totally destroy” North Korea is chock full of fun language, including these vigorous closing remarks:

I am now thinking hard about what response he could have expected when he allowed such eccentric words to trip off his tongue. Whatever Trump might have expected, he will face results beyond his expectation. I will surely and definitely tame the mentally deranged U.S. dotard with fire.

I’m not gonna lie: “tame the dotard with fire” is pretty cool. I assume these two will meet at one of their vacation homes to settle this matter with knives in one hand and torches in the other, but maybe they will have their respective nations’ non-rich people fight it out instead.

Meanwhile, Trump met with African leaders who were in New York for the UN General Assembly, taking a moment to praise the health care system of “Nambia.” Uh-oh! [spring noise] Looks like old Facts-Be-Wrong has done it again! What country could he possibly mean? It couldn’t be Namibia, a nation that is one letter off from “Nambia” and sounds similar. I guess the only sensible explanation is that the president is talking nonsense again, like the moron he is. For those of us in the #Resistance, the upside is that this gaffe provides fresh fodder for our genius satirists, e.g. Bill Maher.

Covfefe! At first I was like, no he didn’t, but he totally went there. It’s funny because “covfefe” is also an obvious mistake that became a sufficiently known reference to substitute for jokes. We shouldn’t come down too hard on Maher, though. Sure, he’s a multimillionaire comedian specializing is political humor who produced this garbage, but in his defense, dozens of Twitter users came up with the same gag. It’s almost like it’s the first idea anyone would have. But again, let’s not attack Maher just because he’s famous. He’s nowhere close to the biggest hack on Twitter—a title that surely belongs to this account.

Bigly! Covfefe! Hold my [beer]! Who says computers can’t write jokes? Unless this joke was written by a human being, in which case I welcome nuclear fire.

Meanwhile, in topics that aren’t funny at all, millions of Americans are poor.2 It’s probably because they don’t have jobs. The solution, then, is to get them into the labor force, either by creating jobs they can do or teaching them new skills. It makes perfect sense, until you consider that 80% of nonearners are elderly, children, or disabled. That striking statistic comes from Matt Bruenig, who has written this clear and methodical explanation of why more jobs won’t fix poverty. The vast majority of the non-working poor are people we don’t want to work: the aforementioned children, elderly and people with disabilities, as well as students and primary caregivers. The unemployed only count for 1.2% of nonearners. Trying to address poverty by moving these people into the workforce is like trying to address obesity by cutting your hair. If you want to do something about poverty, Bruenig says:

…expand the coverage of the welfare state as well as the generosity of its benefits. Every child should get a modest monthly stipend paid to their parents. Minimum benefit levels for old-age and disability pensions should be increased. Students should get a living grant. Carers should get paid leave and caretaker allowances. Unemployed people should get higher benefits, and some minimum level of benefits should be available to new labor market entrants who have not yet secured a job. It is through these kinds of reforms that serious poverty reduction will ultimately be made.

Anyway, that’s socialism. For a vigorous counterargument, here’s Trump economic advisor Stephen Moore, who told CNN that “people want insurance for their own families, not for other people’s families.” Sage advice.

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