Models Are Better Than Numbers


 

Onion pickersWA

Arthur Rothstein photo. Onion Pickers. Rice County, MN. 1939. FSA/LOC.

Weekly I write about the psychology and social impact of political economy, but really I’m writing about the ways and means of power. Power is the prize, campaigning is its pursuit. Ideas (and personality!) can put you behind or ahead. What I see is two parties with mass shifts to personalities with incomplete ideas that have tapped into the yearnings of separate generations: one old, wishful, after comfort; the other, young, resentful of the yoke of limits, ready for its collective selfie.

Numbers matter. In an odd way, they bind the world–through rent, wages, healthcare, education, savings, even media (cable rates!). I love cashmere; I wear cotton–thrift purchased. Can Friedman be right? My heritage makes me a skeptic who resists magic thinking–too many stories of “fritter trees” covered up the cruelty of slavery–despite dour projections and predictions, Walmart parking lots (and baskets!) are full. Suffering is hidden.

But Bernie’s program is not about poverty, it’s about the American middle–America itself. A shift in wealth. Government policy that underlines progress and dampens individual shocks. I’m doubtful that it addresses racism; raising wages for the unemployed doesn’t work (neither do tax cuts!); a new model is absent in the offerings of Cornel West or Killer Mike. That model does exist, the Research Triangle (NC), its collective/inclusive, value-based model grows and innovates for all classes with spectacular success–and little notice.

Varieties of Voodoo – The New York Times http://nyti.ms/1Q56Qzh

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