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Archive for January, 2018

NSFW Links: Jan 31, 2018

January 31, 2018 Leave a comment

These links are NSFW. Will post something more intellectual tomorrow.

Reverse Cowgirl Cuties: Jan 26, 2018 – Amateur cuties doing it, reverse cowgirl style.

Wet Beach Cuties: Jan 31, 2018 – Amateur cuties walking in water near the shore.

Enjoy! Comments?

Categories: Uncategorized

Some Initial Thoughts on the Larry Nassar Trial, Verdict and Scandal

January 27, 2018 9 comments

By now, almost all of you have heard about the very public trial and conviction of Larry Nassar for sexually molesting what appears to be almost every single underage girl who was a serious contender for a spot of the national gymnastics team of USA from the early- 1990s till 2015 or 2016. Many MSM-types and assorted average idiots with poor memory are up in arms about how something so outrageous was allowed to continue for so many years and to so many girls. However, scandals of this type and scale are a routine occurrence in the history of sports in USA. Some of you might remember a similar scandal from a few years ago involving the football program at Penn State perpetrated by Jerry Sandusky.

In fact, sexual and other abuse of children has a rich history in more than a few sectors of the american economy- and you will soon see why I invoked the concept of ‘economy’ in a post about Larry Nassar. Nor does the sports sector have a monopoly on pulling off the most outlandish examples of such behavior. The entertainment sector has no shortage of child abusers.. just ask Bryan Singer, Kevin Spacey, Joel Kramer and many other whose exploits have not yet seen the light of day. Even the staid political sector has more than a few people like Dennis Hastert, Mark Foley and others who have not yet been publicly exposed.

To put it another way, there seems to be no shortage of rich and famous people (mostly men) in USA who have sexual interests in underage, often very underage, boys and girls. But this post is not about why certain rich and powerful (mostly white men) are into children- in more ways than one. Instead, we will focus on why so many of these rich and famous men were able to get away with absolutely appalling behavior towards, and abuses of, children. I mean.. have you ever wondered why Larry Nassar, Jerry Sandusky, Bryan Singer, Dennis Hastert and others was able to get away with their behavior for so long and why were they were tried and convicted only after some truly embarrassing facts became public.

So let us start by talking about the main reason which is behind almost every single case of large-scale child sexual abuse becoming public. It comes down to one, or a few, victims accusing the perpetrators years after the fact and in a public forum where the institutions which sheltered these scumbags could not longer afford to ignore them. Yes, you heard me right, I said “afford to ignore them”. The decision-making behavior of institutions in USA, and most individuals who staff them, is entirely driven by monetary considerations to the exclusion of all others. For all the bullshit pseudo-moral public stances displayed by public and private institutions in USA, their decisions have always been solely guided by the need to make more money or, at least, lose less of it.

As some of you might remember, Jerry Sandusky’s sexual interest in boys were well-known to those working with him in that football coaching program. However, they never tried to do anything about it (other than sidelining him a bit) until the scandal became too embarrassing and catastrophically expensive for the university. That is right.. they started really caring about it only after realizing that they would lose tens of millions through court cases and reduced revenues for their football program. I can bet you that USA Gymnastics and Michigan State University must have deliberately ignored more than a few complainants made by young girls and their parents before things ‘got out of hand’ in late 2015.

Interestingly, or sickeningly, the first girl who accused Larry Nassar of sexual abuse was a child of his close family friends. To make a long story short, he started sexually abusing her when she was 6 years old and only stopped once she told her parents at 12. Curiously, her parents did not believe the story at that time and for many years after that even though she never wavered from it. But why? What would make parents of the girl who was consistently accusing their famous family friend of sexual abuse ignore their daughters repeated assertions? Could it have been that her parents thought that maintaining a friendly relationship with Larry Nassar was a better economic or social deal than believing their own daughter?

Now some of you might think that very idea that parents in USA often care more about their own ability to make more money and increase their illusory social standing stems from my prejudices. But is that so? Have you ever encountered mothers who push their daughters into beauty contests, sports, dance, cheerleading, acting etc? Or what about parents who push their sons into various sports programs? How do you explain their zeal at pushing their kids into areas where they could make a lot of money and become famous quickly? Also, why don’t you see a similar zeal among parents who want their kids to become physicians, computer programmers or work in large financial institutions?

Have you ever considered that certain professions and occupations attract driven parents because the potential financial payoffs occur much sooner and are therefore far more likely to directly benefit them than say.. if their child ends up in some high paying professional career a couple of decades from now. My point is that a significant percentage of parents in USA would not care about somebody like Larry Nassar fingering their semi-pubsecent daughters as long as she got to be on the team which went on to win medals at some large competition. Similarly, famous institutions with extensive statements on ‘protecting children’ do not care if their coach, physio or doctor is putting his fingers or penis inside the very children they claim to ‘protect’- as long as the team won medals, enrollment was up and the money stream kept on flowing.

In other words, most of the public and media “outrage” towards Larry Nassar is a uniquely american kabuki act. They are only acting shocked and outraged at him to convince themselves (and others) that they are ‘good’ people.. really ‘good’ people. You can bet that almost every single of all those empty moral posers would look the other way if their children were getting Nassar-ed and Sandusky-ed, as long as doing so was profitable and did not expose them to public humiliation. If you think that I am being too cynical about the nature of society in USA, just look around yourself. There is no shortage of people willing to sell their soul and access to their kids for a decent amount of money and some status.

Similarly, there is no shortage of people in USA who will publicly fellate the most sociopathic and horrible examples of human beings if doing so gets them access to nice jobs and exclusive parties. Just ask all the media-types and politicians who love to pose with Henry Kissinger, George W Bush, Bill Clinton and tons of similar people. I should also point out that almost nobody was willing to say a bad word in public about Harvey Weinstein and others like him before the scandals became too hard to cover up. To summarize, Larry Nassar could not have done what he did without indirect support from institutions he worked for and tacit acceptance by a society which cares about nothing beyond money and short-term fame.

Will write another post on this topic based on further developments and comments.

What do you think? Comments?

More Thoughts on Aziz Ansari “Sexual Assault” Scandal: Jan 20, 2018

January 20, 2018 37 comments

In my previous post on this topic, I wrote that latent racism and a miscalculation about the social standing of white womanhood in 2017 were major factors contributing to the accusations leveled by that woman against Aziz Ansari. The woman in question would not have dared to make those accusations unless she felt it was possible to get away with making them, given the significant amount of contrary evidence in her own testimony. In some respects, this case is eerily similar to another recent backfire for the ‘MeToo’ and Time’s Up’ movement.

How many of you have followed the aftermath of similar accusations against a journalist known as Jordan Chariton? To make a long story short, one of his female colleagues cheated on her husband with him and later accused him of sexual assault. The result of this malicious rumor and its dissemination by an other journalist, or two, resulted in him being fired by TYT- who was his main employer at that time. He has since sued HuffPost, which was one of main redistributors of that libelous report. As of time of writing this post, Jordan has reached a settlement with ‘The Intercept’ (for republishing that libelous claim) and TYT.

Now, some of you might say that this supports the idea that such claims against more well-known men are not inspired by racism- since Jordan Chariton is white. Well.. I never said that such claims were always due to racism. However, for reasons which I shall go into soon, race played a major role in the claims made by the accuser of Aziz Ansari. To start with, she accused Aziz of sexual assault even though her own account of that event did not support her contention. The woman who accused Jordan Chariton of sexual assault kept on altering her story to the point where later versions of her story clearly contradicted her initial version.

The point I am trying to make is that the woman who accused Jordan Chariton at least tried to change her story to make it sound like a sexual assault. In contrast, the woman who accused Aziz Ansari tried to extend the definition of sexual assault to new and highly problematic levels- specifically withdrawing consent after the encounter was consummated. In case you have not read her original account, it is clear that she never verbally communicated her desire to end the encounter to Aziz. Nor did he force her to participate in an act (such as penetrative sex) when she overtly refused to do so.

In other words, she accused him of sexual assault largely because the encounter failed to live up to her expectations. If that seems too harsh, consider that she by her own accounts went to his apartment on the first date, got naked with him and then engaged in repeated oral sex with him. Perhaps more importantly, she continued the encounter even after her allegedly felt that he was not “listening to her non-verbal communications of distress”. She was therefore a willing and enthusiastic participant in that encounter- when it occurred. So what happened afterwards? Why did she later start representing it as sexual assault, after the fact, rather than a date marred by poor sexual chemistry?

Part of the answer to that question can be found sprinkled throughout her account. To be specific, it is clear that she felt that Aziz did not live up to her sexual expectations after the encounter had started. Now, we can make all kinds of guesses as to why she felt like that- but it is clear that she knew who Aziz was and his general physical attributes before initiating said encounter. I mean.. if she did not want to have sex with short brown-skinned men, she did not have to approach him in the first place and then go on a date with him. And yet, she did all that and more. So why made her change the way she felt about it- after the encounter?

Let me put forth another idea about her motivations- specifically, that she is a ‘starfucker’ or ‘groupie’. I am sure most readers are aware that even pretty ugly men who are famous, or infamous, seem to get inordinate amounts of female sexual attention- which they would not receive if they were not famous. I can bet you that this woman would have given Aziz the time of the day if he had approached her before his entertainment career took off. Yet, after getting his own series on NetFlix and an award or two, it was she who approached and flirted with him.

But what went wrong? Why don’t other groupies (especially of musicians) complain about sexual assault regardless of the quality of sex? What made her answer the solicitation for such a story about Aziz Ansari by that webzine?

Here is what I think happened.. She correctly guessed that having sex with Aziz Ansari was a sure thing given his known preference for white women and his relatively newfound fame. Maybe she wanted it to be another notch on her proverbial ‘celebrity’ bedpost. However the combination of a lack of sexual chemistry between them and the less than enthusiastic reception from her friends after confessing to casual sex with a non-white guy made it necessary for her to reframe that incident as a sexual assault. She got her chance when the webzine that published her account began soliciting for such stories about Aziz Ansari.

She could now try to rewrite her less than stellar sexual encounter with a semi-famous non-white guy as sexual assault- thereby freeing her (in her mind) from any personal agency or role in that encounter. But perhaps, the single most important factor behind her willingness to share her story with that webzine was the following calculation- who would the public support.. an anonymous young white girl or a swarthy non-white man? As it turns out, she miscalculated pretty badly since 2018 is a very different from 1998 or even 2008- when that calculation was last viable.

Change in american society, racial demographics and communication technology over the last two decades have made the tired “wholesome young white girl sexually abused by swarthy non-white guy” shtick fundamentally nonviable. Furthermore, most men and more than a few women seem to have realized that and attempts to legitimize withdrawal of sexual consent after the fact would be highly problematic and quickly thin out most male support for other feminist causes- which is something they cannot afford, at least for now. Might write another part in this series depending on future developments and reader comments.

What do you think? Comments?

First Thoughts on Aziz Ansari “Sexual Assault” Scandal: Jan 16, 2018

January 16, 2018 36 comments

By now, most of you might have come across one or more articles on the Aziz Ansari “sexual assault” scandal. In case you have not, here are a few takes- Aziz Ansari Is Guilty Of Not Being a Mind Reader; Before We Burn Aziz Ansari Perhaps Some Self-Reflection Is in Order and The Humiliation of Aziz Ansari. Of course, there are also the white feminist moron types pushing this incident as yet another opportunity to push their agenda even further- #MeToo hasn’t gone too far—it’s just getting started; Aziz Ansari Is The Creep Every Woman Deals With; No, the woman’s story about a night with Aziz Ansari isn’t the worst thing to happen to #MeToo and How the Aziz Ansari Allegations Opened Up a New Frontier in the #MeToo Conversation. To put it another way, every mediocre female journalist with an opinion, or axe to grind, is writing about this news item.

There seem to be two distinct types of reaction to this story- even within the supposedly “liberal” media-sphere. On one side, you have the more pragmatic people who see that retrospective classification of bad or awkward sex into sexual assault would be disastrous for the long-term success of any worthwhile ‘MeToo’ type moment. On the other side you have more than a few young women fame-seekers.. I mean ‘third-wave feminists’ who are trying to use this incident to get their 15 minutes of fame and perhaps a career upgrade. The second group is, of course, willfully oblivious to the fact almost all male support for any ‘MeToo’ type moment would evaporate very quickly once they see other guys being accused of sexual assault for merely having less than stellar sexual chemistry- especially in the internet age.

What do I think about all this? And why did I wait for a couple of days before writting on a topic which I could have posted about within an hour of that story spreading on Twitter? To make a long story short, I have been through a similar situation many years ago- and yes, everything turned out well for me. But before we go there, let us talk about how the strategies which worked for me then can still be used, perhaps even more effectively, by somebody in Aziz Ansari’s situation. The very short version of what worked for me in such situation is as follows: a] extremely aggressive but plausible counter-allegations against the accuser invoking inherent white racism; b] making anybody involved in adjudicating such a situation tread very lightly for the fear of being exposed as a racist and c] researching and exposing anything said, written or implied by people adjudicating such a matter that shows evidence of even a slight racial bias.

So, here are my thoughts on this alleged scandal. Firstly, I think there is a strong racial component to this story. Some of you might disagree, but my considerable experience over all the years suggests that this particular incident would never have been publicized the way it was if Aziz Ansari was white. Some might say.. ” but, haven’t most of the celebrities shamed by the #MeToo movement been white?”. And my answer to that is- White celebrities exposed by this movement so far like Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, Charlie Rose etc did things which are either clearly criminal or were gross abuses of their power to employ the people they are accused of assaulting. Aziz Ansari’s “crime” was that the delusional white girl he hooked up with was not impressed enough by the sexual encounter- though she did (by her own admission) blow him a couple of times on her own free will.

Now tell me, how many white celebrities have been recently accused of sexual assault because the sexual experience was less than stellar (according to the woman). Now I am not saying that such a thing won’t occur in the future, but let us face the obvious.. what are the chances that one of the few semi-famous non-white people in the entertainment industry just so happened to be the first semi-famous person in USA accused of sexual assault by a white women because the sexual experience was not stellar- according to her. While I can certainly go into the theories put forth by other people, as well as my own, on why this delusional racist white women accused Aziz Anasri of sexual assault- let us instead focus on the far more important question. How did we reach the point where a woman can accuse a guy (even if he is non-white) of sexual assault just because the consensual sex was mediocre or awkward?

A simpler way to understand this issue is to consider the conditions under which people will provide false testimony. While some people might lie under oath to escape prosecution, others do it because they think or feel that doing so carries little to no personal downside. For example, accounts of medieval trials of witches and ‘secret jews’ by local authorities or the church are rife with blindingly obvious examples of ludicrous exaggeration, pile-ons by multiple witnesses, exhortations to protect the virtues of white christian women and an otherwise lack of anything which looks like due legal process. Paradoxically, accounts of common civil and criminal trials from the same era or even the same set of judges show far more consideration being given to contemporary evidentiary standards, detailed testimony, punishment for perjury and far greater adherence to something approaching due process. But why? Why were some perpetrators treated so differently from others?

In my opinion, it comes down to who is being accused and who is doing the accusing. To put it another way, an accuser who is a relatively higher position in that society as compared to the accused can typically get way with perjury, lies, bullshit, exaggerations beyond what he or she could get away if the accused was of a higher social station than her. Some of you might protest.. “but Aziz Ansari is a multi-millionaire semi-famous person in the entertainment industry”. And to that, my answer is- the delusional racist woman who accused him of sexual assault is white and still thinks that her relative social station is higher than that of a non-white man such as Ansari- as was the case twenty years ago. As it turns out, she miscalculated badly and her relative social position in relation to someone like Ansari is rather different in 2018 than 1998. But racist idiots will learn no other way.

I will probably write a second post on this topic based on future developments in that story and reader comments.

What do you think? Comments?

Could Oprah Winfrey Win Against Donald Trump in 2020 Election: 2

January 14, 2018 7 comments

In the previous post of this series, I wrote about why Oprah Winfrey might be a much better presidential candidate for the democratic party that most of it current slate of generic neoliberal candidates. Some readers appeared to think that I was endorsing such an action. The truth is a bit different. The point I was trying to make was that somebody like Oprah was far more likely to win a presidential election against Trump or any other republican than somebody like Booker, Gillibrand, Harris or any other talentless neoliberal fraud.

Having said that, let us now try to answer some of the potential objections raised in the comment section of that post..

1] More than one person (1, 2) noted that Oprah does not seem to have any overall principle and that she is just a far more successful main-stream female version of Alex Jones. You know what.. I can certainly agree with both those points. But then ask yourself- what was the guiding principle behind Clinton, Bush43, Obama, Trump and pretty much every person elected to that office? Were they in it for anything beyond gaining power, becoming famous and using it to make money in their later years.Can you think of a single president who ran for office for reasons that were not completely selfish and self-serving?

Also, when did people who pushed scams and lies become ineligible for that office to date? Do you remember Bush41 and his infamous pledge on taxes and lies about Iraqi atrocities in Kuwait? What about the many lies, scams and neoliberal deregulations pushed by Clinton42? What about Bush43 and his extremely expensive lies about Iraqi WMDs? What about Obama44 and his many lies about standing up for the average person? To make a long story short, most people elected to be president have always been greedy, vain and amoral hucksters. An Oprah presidency would not represent a deviation from this established norm.

2] One comment (3) suggested that white and latino men would not vote for a black woman. But would that matter? You see, the majority of white men have voted for the republican presidential candidate for the last 20-30 years. Guess what, we still had Clinton42, Obama44 and almost had Gore and Kerry. To put it another way, the vote of white men is not that important for democratic candidates in the presidential election. In fact, HRC could have won in 2016 if the number of blacks voting for her was similar to Obama in 2012. Democrats know that they will not get the majority of blue-collar white male votes.

One of the more interesting effects of Trump’s presidency has been the extent to which it has resulted in increased support for democrats among Hispanics, especially the younger ones. In other words, it would be extremely easy for democrats to gain new Hispanic voters and increase turnout even if their candidate was a black woman. While latino men may not like voting for a black woman, the other option (a republican presidency and congress) is far worse. So, ya, I do not foresee much of a problem with getting latino men to vote for a black woman.

3] I also think that her lack of professional political experience is no barrier to people voting for her, largely because so many “professional” politicians at both the national and state level have not delivered for anybody other than themselves and their rich donors. Also, that is the reason Trump won the republican nomination and the presidency. In other words, her lack of political experience is actually a plus if she decides to run for the presidency. Furthermore, even a brief overview of her interviews over the years suggests that she is a very smart woman- even if she has used that talent mainly to enrich herself.

The election of Trump in 2016 has also changed public expectations of who is seen as electable and what speech or behavior such a person can get away with. Even a series of major scandal concocted by right-wing media types about Oprah is unlikely to affect her chances of winning the democratic candidacy or presidency, largely because democratic and, increasingly, unaffiliated voters simply do not care as long as the person in question was seen as an improvement over Trump. Also, the negative effects of ‘tax reforms’ and other neoliberal policies passed by the republicans will be too evident in 2020 for people to care about some right-wing media inspired personal gossip about the democratic candidate.

4] We also cannot discount the possibility that Oprah might decide that promising single payer health care, inexpensive university education etc is a far better strategy than just sticking to the tired and discredited neoliberal line. She has, in the past, repeatedly shown a talent for picking up emerging trends which turned out to be highly profitable for her later. You should not, therefore, be surprised if she decides to go ‘full Bernie’. I should add that doing so would be quite easy for her since she has never been publicly associated with neoliberal policy positions in the past. Moreover, she could use her new public positions on those issues as a brand differentiator between her and other establishment democrats in the primaries.

Such a strategy would be particularly devastating against establishment democrats such as Booker, Harris and Gillibrand who are little better than third-rate actors spouting neoliberal “commonsense” bullshit. I mean.. why would consumers prefer third-rate imitators when they can get the first-class professional, especially if she goes full-bore populist. I should also point out that her long and generally well-liked tenure as a TV show host makes her far less likely to face the kind of public distrust and voter apathy that plagued HRCs campaign in 2016.

To be clear, I am not saying she would make a good, let alone great, president. My point is that she would be an almost unstoppable candidate in the current political environment and would likely win in a general election against Trump or any other republican candidate.

What do you think? Comments?

Could Oprah Winfrey Win Against Donald Trump in 2020 Election: 1

January 10, 2018 11 comments

By now, everyone on the internet must have read about rumors that the famous talk-show host and billionaire, Oprah Winfrey, is considering a run for the presidency in 2020. The public and media reaction thus far be divided into broad categories. Some see it as a bad idea and yet another sign at continued american decline into becoming an internationally irrelevant country. Others see it a good thing and believe she has a high chance of success. Here is my take on it..

1] First, let us start by looking at a list of democrats who might run for the party presidential ticket in 2020. With the notable exception of Bernie Sanders, other democratic candidates are simply incapable of inspiring enough non-voters and independents to go out and vote for them on election day. Even worse, many supposed rising “stars” such as Corey Booker, Joe Biden, Deval Patrick, Kamala Harris, Martin O’Malley, Kirsten Gillibrand etc are neoliberal clones who simply do not have the appeal such candidates used to have in the pre-2008 era.

In other words, with the exception of Bernie Sanders the democratic party simply does not have a possible 2020 presidential candidate who can inspire non-partisan voters to vote for him or her. As we saw in the 2016 election, the ability to inspire your own voters to come out and vote for you made all the difference between victory and defeat. Furthermore, the almost certain lack of improvement in condition for most people between now the 2020 election makes it highly likely that candidates who try to run as the harbingers of the old status quo will not win that election.

2] The democratic party’s pathetic and sad obsession with Trump’s alleged “collusion with Putin” and his mental health is unlikely to make any difference in the end. As I have said in previous posts, the obsession of establishment democrats and corporate media with the “russia collusion story” is increasingly seen by average people as signs of their desperation and frustration, rather than evidence of any real crime. I mean.. if democrats they had evidence for anything close to what they claim, Trump would have been impeached or jailed by now.

Most people outside of partisan democratic voters see all investigations into, and leaks about, “Trump-Russia” and “Trump-Putin” connections as little more than an attempt at witch-hunting by deep-state and establishment types. Most relevantly for 2020, almost a year of investigations and leaks have not improved the ratings of the democratic party and its electoral candidates beyond a level of statistical significance. Remember that the vaguely centrist democratic candidate for the recent Alabama senate election won by less than 2% even though the republican candidate was an alleged child molester and batshit crazy.

3] The election of Trump in 2016 has made every public figure of some fame and wealth start considering a run for some sort of electoral office. Why bribe.. I mean ‘lobby’ elected officials when you can just become one and pass laws and rules to benefit yourself? That is why people such as the rich aspie known as Mark Zuckerberg have demonstrated interest in running for public office- in his case, by pretending to act like a human being. And he is not alone. More than a few famous actors, rich public loudmouths and other assorted insufferables will seriously consider running for the 2020 democratic ticket, a seat in the house or governorship.

But why is this happening now? Why did it not occur in the past? Well.. the short answer is that most people have lost faith in experts or professionals, largely because they have been exposed as posturing incompetents and two-faced liars. In the case of democratic party, the two presidential terms of Obama were nothing more than an 8-year long neoliberal disaster for the 99%. That is why the democrats lost so many governorships and seats in state legislatures to republicans during that period. To put it another way, trying to win elections by invoking your ivy-league education, credentials or soaring rhetoric is no longer a viable strategy outside a few coastal states.

But what does any of this have to do with Oprah’s chances of winning as a democratic party candidate in 2020? What makes her more or less likely to win against Trump or any other republican candidate than your generic establishment democratic politician.

4] Oprah, in my opinion, is a far better presidential candidate for democrats than their stable of generic neoliberal types for the following reasons. a] She has massive name recognition and is seen as a political outsider, both of which helped Trump win the presidency in 2016. b] Having a connection with the democratic party but no strong positions on most major issues allows her to craft her positions on them in ways that are not possible for most other democratic candidates, and that again is similar to what helped Trump in 2016. c] She has very good media presence and the ability to play the media far better than so-called “professional” politicians, which is once again like Trump in 2016. d] She is a far smarter self-promoter and has a much better grasp of audience dynamics than “professional” politicians and Trump.

Now that I have told you how Oprah is like Trump, let me tell you about areas in which she is much better than him- starting with her life story. Unlike Trump, she can make the claim that she her success and wealth came from her own abilities, rather than inherited wealth. Also, she does not appear to have career-ending skeletons in her closet of the kind which might sink her presidential campaign. Furthermore, it would be very hard to successfully level personal criticism at her because she is a woman and black, both of which matter far more now and in 2020 than they did a decade or two ago. Now combine this with a way of disgust and dismay among democratic voters and independents towards Trump and republican politicians by 2020, and it is easy to see why somebody like Oprah could win a presidential election against Trump, or pretty much any establishment republican candidate, in 2020.

Will write the next part of this short series based on further developments in this area and reader comments to this post.

What do you think? Comments?

On Long Term Social, Economic and Cultural Effects of Job Insecurity: 3

January 7, 2018 12 comments

In the previous part of this series, I talked about how the upper-middle class and the aspirational types (the main lay supporters of neoliberalism) are now getting screwed over by the very ideology they enthusiastically supported. Now some of you might say.. “I have not seen that yet” or “I still see people in STEM getting good jobs, marrying, having kids” etc. To which I say, enjoy that delusion while you can still afford to bask in its fake promise of maintaining the status quo.

While believers in the old status quo might wish to continue in their belief that not much has changed, the reality is far different. There are however a couple of caveats we need to address. Firstly, the effects of job and career insecurity are not obvious if you look at the 65-and-over group within the upper-middle class. Most people in this group have good pensions, fully paid-off houses (often more than one) and other investments as they were the main beneficiaries of income and asset inflation which we saw until 2008.

The second group which has still not experienced the full assault of neoliberalism are credentialed professionals in certain areas such as medicine, older upper and middle management types etc. They have so far been partially protected from income and career instability because of their cartel-type behavior or residual usefulness to super-rich. The most important words in the previous sentence are “so far”. This will almost certainly change for credentialed professionals and many older management-types within the next decade for reasons beyond their control.

Of course, as many of you realize, the upper-middle class is larger than licensed doctors and the alumni of 10-15 business and law schools. Which brings us to other previously upper-middle class or inspirational type careers. Let us start by talking about professors (of all types) who work and teach at universities or colleges. Have you ever wondered how many of those who perform the jobs of professors (research or teaching) in such institutions are permanent employees and how many are casual or contract employees? And why does that matter?

The simple answer to that question is that between 70-90 % of those who perform that tasks traditionally associated with being a professor in post-secondary educational institutions are underpaid and overworked temporary employees. In teaching, this takes the form of ‘adjuncts’ who are hired each term and paid wages typically associated with janitorial staff. In research, this takes the form of post-docs, graduate students and research associates who have a slightly more secure income stream than adjuncts but almost no real chance for the promised upward career (and income) mobility.

But the ‘work’ is getting done.. right? Well.. not quite. Academic areas which have the worst degree of such neoliberal exploitation, such as biomedical research, also have the most amount of unreproducible research. As I might have mentioned in the past, the vast majority of biomedical research produced today is either the result of extreme cherry-picking, outright fraud, pedantry or clever rewriting of the obvious. There is a very good reason that progress in the sciences, as measured by products or services that improve the quality of your life, has gone down to almost zero over the last two decades- inspite of breathless fake press releases which suggest otherwise.

Ask yourself.. which great breakthrough benefiting the lives of more than a handful has come about from all the money ‘invested’ in biomedical scientific research over the last two decades?

Do you see any radically new or better drugs for diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, pain, alzheimers, schizophrenia, depression, various types of kidney failure, coronary and cerebrovascular disease.. you know, the sort of diseases that affect and kill most people. The conventional ‘explanation’ for this state of affairs is that all the ‘low lying fruit have been picked’. But is that really so? And how did people in previous decades go about finding effective treatments for diseases when they often “knew” much less about those diseases than we do today?

For all the hype about targeted genetic engineering through zinc finger nucleases, CRISPR/Cas9, TALEN, Gene Drive etc- how many people have been successfully cured of any disease with such methods? Now some of you might say.. “it is because of excessive regulatory or ethical considerations”. Sadly, that is not the case. Most human diseases (by number of affected people) with known genetic predispositions are not single or even ‘few’ gene diseases. To make a long story short, most disease conditions with a hereditary component are basically impossible to treat without highly risky large-scale genetic tinkering.

And this brings me to the issue of income and career security in the pharmaceutical industry. As some of you might remember, many hundreds of thousands in that corporate sector have lost their jobs and often their careers over the last decade. Even the most optimistic propaganda about the fate of these people has to acknowledge that things have been pretty bad for most people laid off during those years. But why did that happen in the first place? Why were there very few large layoffs in that sector for almost 50-60 years and why did so many of them occur between 2005-2013?

How could a corporate sector legendary for providing stable and well-paying jobs and careers for many decades start to resemble the american manufacturing sector after “free trade agreements” within less than eight years? Interestingly, I tackled this particular issue in one of my earliest posts on this blog. The short version of the story is the financialization, “new” management techniques and the obsession with productivity and metrics killed the proverbial goose who laid golden eggs. Nowadays pharma makes money by yearly increases on drug prices, stopping or co-opting generics after patents run out and a whole host of other “legal” shenanigans.

Who needs to develop new drugs when you can sell old stuff at increasingly higher prices. Also selling expensive niche and often barely effective drugs (aka most newer anti-cancer drugs) is another way to pad the financial spreadsheet. But have you ever wondered what happened to the lives and mental world of the couple hundred thousand people who got have had to abandon that field or even worse, swing from one insecure job in that area to the next? Before this happened, they used to be solidly upper-middle class and often spouted distinctly neoliberal beliefs about “competition”, “meritocracy” and other assorted BS.

Nowadays, the general sentiment among that group is that they were scammed. Some are more forgiving than others, but the dominant feeling among most of them is that they were exploited and abused. Oddly enough, you never heard sentiments like these from them before 2005-2008. I wonder why.. Even the ones who are still employed in that area after going through multiple layoff cycles have become extremely cynical people who now are more focused on pretending to work as expected than do anything innovative or profitable for their employers. It will be a long time, if ever, before the pharma sector recovers its ability to develop truly revolutionary new drugs.

Did I also mention that the demographic profile of western countries is also highly unfavorable for any spontaneous recovery in that area. The point I am trying to make here is that the two areas which I am most familiar with have undergone highly damaging and essentially irreversible changes with regards to income and career security. In the next part of this series, I will talk about the deleterious effects of neoliberalism on the income and career prospects of people in the area of general areas of information technologies and computer programming.

What do you think? Comments?