Monday’s Forum

FILED UNDER: Open Forum
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Kurtz says:
  2. wr says:

    Hey — are we allowed to self-promote here? Because HBO Asia just released a trailer for the show I co-created and wrote for them.

    (If this is violating TOS, please feel free to delete!)

    https://www.facebook.com/HBOAsia/posts/10163875444970613

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  3. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Kurtz:

    On the same token, I’ve seen anecdotal reports of employers having difficulty hiring because potential employees are reluctant to accept what amounts to an effective pay cut relative to the often inflated income they’re receiving as a result of blanket adjustments to unemployment compensation.

    I like the other proposal that was floated – capping the enhancement at some percentage – I believe the level touted was 70% – of pre-shutdown compensation. That way, those suffering are still backstopped while we don’t inadvertently create a disincentive to returning to the workforce for those who are able to do so.

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  4. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    I’ve seen anecdotal reports of employers having difficulty hiring because potential employees are reluctant to accept what amounts to an effective pay cut

    First…I doubt this is a very widespread problem.
    And second…isn’t the fact that we have people making less than $600 a week a much bigger problem? That’s the conversation we should be having.

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  5. gVOR08 says:

    @Kurtz: Don’t people understand that taxes create a pool of money for contractors and grifters? It’s a sin against nature to use that money to help ordinary citizens.

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  6. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl:

    As I said, the reports were anecdotal, but jumping to conclusions that support pre-conceived notions – in either direction – isn’t beneficial.

    You misunderstand how it works. It isn’t “here’s $600 total per week”. It’s “here is an additional $600 per week, over and above whatever the state was already going to be paying you in unemployment compensation”.

    We effectively gave everybody collecting unemployment a $15 per hour bonus because it was the quickest way to get something through Congress and get money flowing. It wouldn’t be the first time that we failed to consider the repercussions of legislation enacted at light speed.

    And no – I don’t think that somebody earning $600 per week is problematic. It’s what everybody on the left has been loudly calling for the minimum wage to be set at.

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  7. Tyrell says:

    Whatever happened to “speed reading”?

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  8. Kathy says:

    Saturday’s newspapers in Mexico reported 71,000 excess deaths so far in 2020. Meaning deaths due to COVID-19 must be higher than the 43,000 or so officially recorded.

    When the story of this pandemic is written, I hope someone finds and explanation for why so many world leaders decided taking massive casualties was just fine.

    Sure, at the start we didn’t know what to do exactly, nor what would work and what wouldn’t. everyone made mistakes, many did the wrong thing at the right time, and so on. But by April we knew how to contain the virus, and in too many countries not containing it seemed preferable.

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  9. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    And no – I don’t think that somebody earning $600 per week is problematic. It’s what everybody on the left has been loudly calling for the minimum wage to be set at.

    Yes…the minimum wage is currently half of that…and hasn’t changed in over a decade.

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  10. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl:

    The Federal minimum wage is. The fact is that the Federal minimum wage figure isn’t reality in the majority of states, who have state mandated minimum wage figures in excess of the federal figure.

    To be frank though, that’s tangential to the subject here. CNBC ran a piece indicating that two-thirds of those who were unemployed were actually receiving more income from this modified unemployment package than they’d received when they’d been working. In some cases as much as 200%. We effectively gave them a raise to be unemployed. It’s not difficult to see how that policy would create a disincentive to returning to work. Why would you, when you’ll earn less? That’s bad policy.

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  11. Teve says:

    @Kathy:

    When the story of this pandemic is written, I hope someone finds and explanation for why so many world leaders decided taking massive casualties was just fine.

    I presume Mexico has the equivalent of our Trump voters?

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  12. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Kurtz: “The hoi poloi need to work for slave wages until they are of no use to us anymore and then must die.”

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  13. wr says:

    @HarvardLaw92: “That’s bad policy.”

    Unless we actually want to keep people home so that we have a chance at stopping the spread of this virus. Then it’s good policy.

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  14. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl: Yes, but for some reason, THAT conversation always turns to “see, I told you the safety net is too secure; all those girls–any time they want a raise, they just find some young buck and pump out another baby.”

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl: To be fair, it may be that HL92’s view–which I don’t entirely disagree with–comes from living in a country where the Covid-19 curve has been flattened more successfully so that the concern there is to shift back to more overall productivity since they can BOTH have people be safe at work and ramp their economy back up.

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  15. Kathy says:

    The problem is right here.

    Productivity grows, but wages don’t. That makes the average employee grossly underpaid. You can’t blame them if when given a better income, they opt to keep taking it.

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  16. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @wr:

    Unless we actually want to keep people home so that we have a chance at stopping the spread of this virus. Then it’s good policy.

    Since when does keeping people home require paying them more than they were already earning? I don’t disagree, but it seems like paying them exactly what they were already earning should be incentive enough to accomplish that. I mean, after all, we successfully shut down pretty much the entire country here and didn’t pay anybody more than they were already earning, so it isn’t like it can’t be done.

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  17. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Kathy:

    When the story of this pandemic is written, I hope someone finds and explanation for why so many world leaders decided taking massive casualties was just fine.

    Because capital preservation and expansion is job one in any market economy based society. Or is that my inner Marxist trying to claw his way back into prominence again?

    @Kathy: And now you’re back on that whole people ought to get paid for working thing again. No wonder they don’t let you play with the nice children anymore. 🙁

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  18. Kathy says:

    @Teve:

    No, not really.

    I’m frankly stumped as to why King Manuel Andres has acted so stupidly. Less so as to why people refuse to take the pandemic more seriously.

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  19. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Kathy:

    You can’t blame them if when given a better income, they opt to keep taking it.

    I don’t, not remotely. They’d have to be stupid not to, but that doesn’t make it good economic policy. Point was that you can’t keep huge segments of a workforce unemployed and being subsidized far and above the value of their labor indefinitely. Unless the goal is to collapse an economy anyway. Eventually it has to start functioning again, which means this disincentive will have to be removed.

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  20. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    far and above the value of their labor indefinitely.

    Annnnnnnd there’s the disconnect. Is it rational/moral/justifiable to value the worth of labor at below subsistence for large portions of the society? Who decides this?

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  21. Kathy says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    And what if the value of their labor is deliberately understated? Why should they go to work for what is increasingly clear to be unfair wages?

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  22. MarkedMan says:

    @Tyrell: Tyrell, Sometimes you just make my day.

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  23. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    I don’t think that you can introduce morality into the picture, because that is unavoidably subjective. I might consider it moral that someone can afford housing, food and utilities, while someone else might consider a moral wage to enable them to buy a new car every year. Add in that the morality approach comes across as preachy and stops people who otherwise might be open to being convinced from listening.

    It’s more productive to consider it in an economic sense. If I pay workers more, I’ll arguably have more customers for my products, and in the end analysis, I’ll end up prospering even more than I would have had I just paid them market minimum. Banks, for example, don’t give employees fee-free accounts because they’re nice. They do it to encourage those employees to keep their wages within the bank, increasing its assets available for profit making activities. Henry Ford didn’t pay his workers double the prevailing wage because he was a nice guy. He paid it to stabilize his workforce and to enable them to buy his cars.

    And it worked.

    Coming at someone with the “you suck because you won’t do this” approach gets you nowhere. Coming at them with the “you will actually make more money by doing this” approach does.

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  24. MarkedMan says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: I don’t disagree, but is the pandemic really the event triggering a resolution of this? It may be, but we are definitely rolling the dice. And if we are wrong then we are going to end up with more fatalities plus economic collapse.

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  25. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Kathy:

    Why should they go to work for what is increasingly clear to be unfair wages?

    Nobody is saying that they should. That said, nobody is forcing them to either. It’s a trade-off – stability and a predictable income at a lower rate of reward versus instability (entrepreneurship) with the potential for a higher rate of reward.

    That said, see the above. The premise is good, but the argument being used to push it is bad. You’re never going to get anywhere appealing to the morality of capitalists. Certainly won’t get anywhere by disparaging it.

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  26. Joe says:

    we successfully shut down pretty much the entire country here and didn’t pay anybody more than they were already earning

    But, HarvardLaw92, aren’t you arguing

    two-thirds of those who were unemployed were actually receiving more income from this modified unemployment package[?]

    If that was the case, it may actually require affirmative incentives keep people home from work. We don’t know entirely and there are clearly people who would rather be at work and people who would look for any excuse to stay home. Ideally, we would be roughly matching wages so people didn’t win or lose by staying home and could judge whether to do so was in the best interest of themselves and their communities. But every element of that computation is fraught with subjective elements that would be very hard to build into a single policy.

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  27. MarkedMan says:

    Note to admins:
    I’m still getting an error page when I try to the comment manager. This happening to anyone else?

    Sometimes, OTB randomly signs me up to get email notifications of threads. Normally I can just click on the comment manager link and it takes me to where I can turn this off. But either that link is broken or the link is correct but the comment manager is broken.

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  28. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Joe:

    I was contrasting two approaches. France pursued an approach that continued income at prior levels, but did not increase it, with respect to those sidelined by virus control measures. (note that contrary to popular opinion, compensation here isn’t generally that much better than it is in the US. Minimum wage here is about €9.50 per hour (it’s set monthly instead of hourly. I used a 40 hour work week to derive it).

    The US, in comparison, took a quick approach that granted a blanket subsidy to every worker, regardless of prior income level, of $600. This amount was added to the existing unemployment compensation those workers received from state unemployment compensation programs. The net result was that, when added together, for a very large portion of those affected (2/3rds per CNBC, although I haven’t verified that), those figures represented a premium relative to prior compensation.

    Short version: In France, the unemployed just kept on getting paid like there had never been a virus. In the US, a whole lot of them got a raise.

    That’s what I argued above. At best, we should be doing nothing more than ensuring that prior compensation levels continue unabated, which is basically what France did. It worked quite well.

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  29. Kathy says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    That said, see the above. The premise is good, but the argument being used to push it is bad. You’re never going to get anywhere appealing to the morality of capitalists. Certainly won’t get anywhere by disparaging it.

    I seriously don’t see what else to appeal to. The moral case for capitalism has been made in several ways. Rand did it from an individualistic perspective, others from a more traditional altruistic one. And some of these arguments have merits. The point is that the capitalist system, or elements of it, are accepted in moral terms.

    Well, lately it’s not doing much for the vast majority of individuals, nor for society as a whole. But the argument is still used to justify tax breaks (they’ll produce more jobs), bailouts (they will save jobs), and easing regulations (they will save and produce more jobs). even when we get huge cash reserves, dividend payments, and stock buybacks.

    The flaw in many such arguments, IMO, is the assumptions that most people are moral, and that most people are sane. We are seeing a great dela of callousness, and outright insanity. And that tends to be justified in moral terms, too, as in creating stockholder value.

    So what’s left?

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  30. Bob@Youngstown says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    I like the other proposal that was floated – capping the enhancement at some percentage – I believe the level touted was 70% – of pre-shutdown compensation.

    How would you accomplish that?

    If I understand it correctly, all persons who receive unemployment at the state level also get a check from the US treasury for 600/week for every week that they also get state UC, regardless of the amount of the state benefit.

    I could see it working (total UC at 70%) if the states were administering the total UC package (with the federal portion being reimbursed to the state). But as it is now, it seems that the Federal disbursement is made without regard to amount that the state provides, resulting in a significant number of beneficiaries receiving over 100% of their pre-Covid earnings.

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  31. Mister Bluster says:

    @MarkedMan:..comment manager.

    Where do you see anything labeled Comment Manager? I can’t find it.

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  32. CSK says:

    MarkedMan:That happens to me constantly.

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  33. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Bob@Youngstown:

    That was my point – they took the easiest and quickest path to getting money into peoples’ hands as quickly as possible without necessarily thinking the ramifications through to the other side.

    States generally handle unemployment compensation. They already know, or should already know, how much these folks are being paid, so it should be fairly simple for them to calculate whatever additional amounts are necessary to get them to a determined threshold. I just used 70% as an example because I’d seen that one tossed about, but ideally I think that 100% is probably more advisable given what Congress was trying to achieve in approving the funding.

    From there, it just becomes a matter of weekly / however often is necessary transfers from Treasury to 50 state treasuries to cover the additional costs. State treasuries all operate within Fed, so the transfers would even be same day / worst case next day.

    I know that here, employers just kept on paying their furloughed employees and are reimbursed by the government. That might be too complex to implement in an economy the size of the US, but it certainly beats just throwing a random amount of money at as many people as possible I’d think.

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  34. Monala says:

    I thought I recalled that the $600 was based on an average, so I checked, and found this on CNBC:

    This analysis is based on $976 in lost weekly wages and a $373 weekly unemployment benefit for the average unemployed person in the first quarter of 2020, according to most recent data from the Labor Department.

    Being an average, the extra $600 probably worked out to less than full wages for some, more than full wages for others. However, it’s easier to dispense the same amount than to calculate the exact amount needed to replace lost wages per unemployed worker.

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  35. Sleeping Dog says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    The French approach, that was pioneered by Germany for the great recession, would be a far better method and this was discussed at the time of the first Covid aid bill. As I recall, the French method wasn’t pursued, because the US Treasury had no way of identifying who would qualify, nor a method for dispensing the funds to the qualifiers. Funding it through the state unemployment system alleviated these issues, but introduced others.

    Going forward, setting the compensation at a % of prior earnings makes some sense, but introduces other inequities. The $600 was above the states unemployment compensation rate and for most part was intended as a subsidy to keep those parts of the economy going that could remain open. If state A has a unemployment benefit of $300/week, while state B is 500/wk for the same prior earnings, the Feds will end up providing a greater subsidy for states that have lower benefit levels.

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  36. MarkedMan says:

    @Mister Bluster: When I get an email notification, at the bottom is a message to click a link to manage my subscriptions. Clicking that link takes me to an OTB page headed “Comment Manager”. Normally there are checkboxes allowing me turn off notifications for any thread I’m subscribed to, but since at least this weekend I get this instead, “ There has been a critical error on your website.

    Learn more about debugging in WordPress.”

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  37. Michael Reynolds says:

    @wr:

    Hey — are we allowed to self-promote here?

    Gee, I hope so. I’d have been banned long ago.

    The show looks amazing. I hope it comes to the US. Beautiful work.

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  38. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Sleeping Dog:

    I agree. I think that the point I was working towards in my mind (and perhaps didn’t explain well) was that the ideal response would probably have been to implement the French / German concept, but utilize the state unemployment agencies instead of the individual employers, to accomplish it. I honestly have zero qualms with making those furloughed whole at 100% of prior earnings. It makes perfect sense from a variety of perspectives to do so.

    In a sense, the US probably created its own mess by waiting until the last possible second to do anything. It was inevitable under that scenario that whatever was done would be clumsy and have unintended consequences.

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  39. DrDaveT says:

    @Sleeping Dog:

    As I recall, the French method wasn’t pursued, because the US Treasury had no way of identifying who would qualify, nor a method for dispensing the funds to the qualifiers.

    This.

    The people who lobby to keep people’s personal business private from The Gummint have done a good job. The Gummint doesn’t know who out there really needs relief, or how to reach them. Heck, with the dysfunction of the census, they don’t even know who’s out there somewhere.

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  40. flat earth luddite says:

    @HarvardLaw92:
    Well, no, actually, that’s not how it worked. At least not in Oregon, where, 4 months into this fuster-cluck, the backlog of unpaid unemployment claims has dropped from over 100,000 to ONLY 70,000 people who have file a claim and haven’t received ANY unemployment benefits.

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  41. flat earth luddite says:

    @CSK: And here I thought it was just me. Comments blocked as spam, contact administrator. See, Cracker, I told you I don’t get to play with you nice kids!

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  42. Tim Syrek says:

    @HarvardLaw92: I assume they mean 70% of gross income? if so thats not bad I guess

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  43. Kathy says:

    On lighter topics, when video streaming services starting sprouting like mushrooms after a rainstorm, I thought it would be hard for consumers to keep up. Watching shows one might be interested in, could require several long-term subscriptions. That’s far harder, and likely more expensive, than the old way of doing things with cable companies.

    I thought some kind of aggregator model was needed. I also imagined no such model could work. Who’d give up what streaming rights to whom and how much would they charge?

    So I was surprised perusing the Amazon streaming app, that there are additional “channels” for other streaming services, like HBO. I’ve no idea is it includes all their programming or not, but that’s about what I had in mind. of course, these require an additional fee on top of what Amazon charges, but at least they’re all concentrated in one place, and should therefore be easier to manage.

    Me, I no longer watch much TV. I also find it tiresome to browse through the made-up genres in these apps and websites. So I pretty much subscribe to one service, watch some shows that interest me, browse a little, then unsubscribe until there’s a new season of some show I’m following.

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  44. Mister Bluster says:

    @MarkedMan:..eMail notification

    The eMail address I use for OTB is not used for anything else so I never check it. Now that you have jogged my memory about eMail notification and Comment Manager I guess I should give it a look and see what’s up with that.

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  45. wr says:

    @HarvardLaw92: I think I’m misunderstanding you. What I’m reading is that before — which I take to be the previous $600 payments — we were not paying people more than they were making, but if we do it again, we will. I know this is not what you mean, but I’m having trouble seeing what you do mean.

    That said, the main reason they decided on the lump sum $600 payment instead of sums targeted around the recipient’s income was that state unemployment agencies were deemed incapable of handling multiple different payment levels with computers last updated around the time of Apollo 11. And when you add in Republican-run states like Florida where they deliberately designed a system that would make it almost impossible to collect benefits the difficulty became astronomical.

    I haven’t seen anything to suggest this has been fixed over the last few months…

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  46. wr says:

    @HarvardLaw92: “Eventually it has to start functioning again, which means this disincentive will have to be removed.”

    On that I think everyone here agrees. The point of contention is whether you can make the economy function merely by starving people into going back to jobs where they may well catch a fatal disease, or do we need to make serious inroads into stopping the spread first…

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  47. wr says:

    @Michael Reynolds: Thanks!

    HBO’s foreign shows are all available on their apps. You go to series and scroll down the list to international. I don’t quite get the timing, but I think they show up here once they’ve completed their initial fun, which should mean mid-October for this…

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  48. Tim Syrek says:

    is the 70 percent calculated by gross income

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  49. flat earth luddite says:

    @flat earth luddite: oops, I guess I was wrong. 2 entries in one day, a personal record! Sorry for the disturbance, I’ll go back to my cave now. Carry on!

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  50. Jen says:

    @Kathy: Agreed, with a bunch of different services, it’s overkill–no one can keep up.

    Our Xfinity package includes Netflix and we have Amazon Prime so we can access that too. We pay for Disney+ and Sundance Now. Even this many seems annoying and excessive to me. Every so often I’ll think I want to watch something on Hulu, but I’ll be dam#ed if I’m paying for another bloody service. Nope.

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  51. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @flat earth luddite:

    That’s inexcusable, agreed.

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  52. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @wr:

    I think I’m misunderstanding you. What I’m reading is that before — which I take to be the previous $600 payments — we were not paying people more than they were making, but if we do it again, we will. I know this is not what you mean, but I’m having trouble seeing what you do mean.

    It’s complex and I’m probably not doing the best job of explaining it, sorry. Those furloughed as a result of this virus are receiving some percentage of their former income (the rates vary between states) from unemployment compensation, which is handled by their states. Congress passed legislation which is paying all of those folks an additional $600 per week.

    So, basically, they collect whatever they’re paid from state unemployment, and they collect the $600 from the feds as well. When you add those amounts together, for many folks (again, going off of CNBC about 2/3rds of them, I haven’t validated) the total received is more than they were previously being paid when they were working. In some cases as much as double, but the numbers I’ve seen indicate that the average is about 134%.

    I agree with you about the mess of having states handle it though, much more so after flat earth’s comment, which frankly shocked me. It’s an argument for taking states out of the equation in the future and just moving to a national unemployment scheme.

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  53. Michael Reynolds says:

    I hope everyone has enjoyed the latest round of polls:

    North Carolina: Biden by 7.
    Florida: 5
    Arizona 4 and 5.
    Michigan: 6 and 12
    Pennsylvania: 3.
    Ohio: Trump by 1.

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  54. Bob@Youngstown says:

    @wr:

    state unemployment agencies were deemed incapable

    Whether they were capable or not, IMO, the federal govt would have great reluctance in relying on state UC determinations to hand out billions of federal $. While I agree with HL92 premise, that federal supplements to State UC should not exceed prior earnings, I just don’t see how the Federal government can set up limiting factors without A) setting up their own UC boards or B) allowing the state to control the federal outlay.

    It does occur to me that, considering the Trump disdain for allowing states to conduct elections (MAIL BALLOT FRAUD !!) as they see fit, that attitude of distrust of local control, would also translate into unfounded claims of federal UC supplement abuse.

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  55. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @HarvardLaw92: Clearly you and I disagree on the morality point, which is fine because I’m admittedly more of an absolutist. This is why I gave multiple options from which to choose the rationale for less than subsistence wage levels.

    @MarkedMan: I dunno. I’m certainly willing to embrace that the discussion going on here is more neo-con/Say’s Law/HL29 trolling the progs/-type crap, but I thought I’d take the higher road for a change. My inner Marxist is growing fat and lazy from all the feeding it’s getting these days.

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  56. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @flat earth luddite: I don’t understand what you guyz are talking about well enough to follow what the complaint is even. When I get emails from OTB, I just delete them and when my comment goes into moderation, I let the fates decide.

    And here, you thought YOU were the luddite. 😉

    ETA: What IS interesting in my case is that I get email from OtB in BOTH my inbox and my spam box. Wazzup wi dat?

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  57. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Kathy: Heh… I find that Roku with Hulu and CBS All Access–because I like to watch some live TV and CBS has the highest ratio of desirable programs at the moment–I have all the TV I can watch. I even discovered a backlogged show that I missed recently–now I have 18 episodes of that to watch.

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  58. Kathy says:

    @Jen:

    You should try living outside the US.

    There’s no CBS streaming in Mexico. So Discovery is on Netflix, but Picard is on Amazon. Fortunately I feel no loyalty to either service, so I can switch between them as I please. For Netflix, I’m waiting for season 3 of Discovery.

    I had intended to use the one month free offer by Amazon, and then cancel it, but I forgot to do that and I’ve already been hit with one month’s payment. So I’m streaming Lodge 49 (hopefully by the third episode something interesting will happen).

    As I noted before, here and there you find some really interesting shows, which would never have been made in the era of broadcast/cable. So it’s worth, perhaps, to keep a subscription at all time sand browse now and then.

    Two things about Amazon frustrate me no end. One is that some movies, for some reason, are only available dubbed into Spanish. I hate dubbing, even for cartoons. I prefer to see the film as made. The other is that app takes a long time to get playing, and then half the time it shows a clip fo some other show first. I concede it may be my first generation Chromecast is slow, but I got no such delay with Netflix.

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  59. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    I think that, at the end of the day, the best approach is probably the one that is likeliest to succeed. In agreement with Kathy though, that depends on realistic self-interest being considered from a broader viewpoint. Selling that to the shareholders might not be the easiest approach.

    The bottom line is that paying workers more satisfies both of our motivating factors. Morally, it’s defensible. Economically, it’s good policy. From the perspective of the bottom line, in the broader view it’s good for longer-term profits as well. When you can be morally correct and make more money to boot, it’s a no brainer I’d think.

    It’s just a question of how best to sell it and convince folks of that reality.

    (No trolling, I assure you. I’m deliberately focusing on more neutral topics where debate is / should be possible and avoiding any articles dealing with that particular hot button subject where it is not).

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  60. Sleeping Dog says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    We’re essentially in agreement and to @flatluddite’s point about the mess that many state unemployment offices are, that is often by intent. Some states, Fla in particular, make the unemployment process, qualification and continued benefits, so difficult that they hope to force people out of the system. Others, NH being one, have a low benefit cap in order to keep unemployment taxes low on employers. Neither system works for those who are unemployed to do no fault of their own.

    Unemployment should be a national system, administered by the states, so that all the rules and procedures are the same. The benefit should be set a a % of prior income.

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  61. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Kathy:

    I have the same problem. Folks in the US take the enormous variety of what’s available there for granted. What exists here for streaming isn’t as good, and the movies tend to be (badly) overdubbed in French. I ended up having a VPN server installed in the Baltimore house, which enables me to watch all of them as though I were in the US. It has its limitations (try streaming across continents – buffering, buffering, buffering), but for the most part it works reasonably well enough to be useful.

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  62. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Sleeping Dog:

    Unemployment should be a national system, administered by the states, so that all the rules and procedures are the same. The benefit should be set a a % of prior income.

    Absolutely agree

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  63. Gustopher says:

    @HarvardLaw92: We are staggering around, quickly patching together a social safety net that we don’t really have, in the face of an epidemic. There are going to be winners and losers and some unintended consequences.

    I’d put it in the hands of the states — go with $600 at the federal level, and allow states to set a lower level if they so choose. If Alabama wants to “encourage workforce participation”, then they can go for it.

    Mostly, I want to see the fallout from states trying to turn away “free money” because I want to watch the world burn.

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  64. EddieinCA says:

    @wr:

    CONGRATS!!! WOOT!!!! I can’t wait to see it.

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  65. EddieInCA says:

    Somebody above quoted this below, and I’m too lazy to go back and look who:

    The US, in comparison, took a quick approach that granted a blanket subsidy to every worker, regardless of prior income level, of $600. This amount was added to the existing unemployment compensation those workers received from state unemployment compensation programs. The net result was that, when added together, for a very large portion of those affected (2/3rds per CNBC, although I haven’t verified that), those figures represented a premium relative to prior compensation.

    We have a saying in the Production side of TV and Film: “If you make $40 an hour as a union film/tv employee in Los Angeles, you’re lucky if you can afford a two bedroom apartment in a decent part of the Valley. If you make $40 an hour as a union film/tv employee in Georgia or North Carolina, you have a house, a second house on a lake, and a boat.”

    $600 a week doesn’t go far in NYC, LA, or Seattle where a good one bedroom apartment goes for $2500-$3000 per month. $600 a week goes really, really far in Mobile, Pensacola, Baton Rouge, or Tulsa.

    It was, and is, idiotic to give all Americans the same amount, regardless of circumstances.

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  66. EddieInCA says:

    Please release me from the hell of moderation.

    Thank you.

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  67. Gustopher says:

    @wr: That looks… complicated. Probably good complicated.

    One thing I noticed was that there doesn’t seem to be as much of a “type” of actor who gets cast in it as American shows have. Given that I am semi-faceblind, I appreciate that. Everyone looked distinct, while in American shows I am often trying to figure out who is who based on hair color and sometimes discover that one character was actually two. The Expanse seems to consist almost entirely of dark haired people in bad lighting… utterly unwatchable to me.

    I swear, far too many actors cast in American shows and movies look the same. Except for Colm Meaney, and even he has a doppelganger who acted in The Crying Game.

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  68. DrDaveT says:
  69. Mister Bluster says:

    @HarvardLaw92:..Those furloughed as a result of this virus are receiving some percentage of their former income (the rates vary between states) from unemployment compensation, which is handled by their states. Congress passed legislation which is paying all of those folks an additional $600 per week.

    My brother who lives in California had been working at home and then was laid off and drawing unemployment before the $600/week Federal supplement started. He just had to text me recently to let me know he was now receiving Unemployment Insurance Benefits of $2200+ every two weeks including the Federal contribution. I don’t know what he makes when he is working. I suspect it could be more than that.

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  70. MarkedMan says:

    @wr: Beat of luck with that. I hope it gets subtitles and made available here as it looks like my kind of show.

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  71. MarkedMan says:

    @Kathy: The same is true for Apple TV. I believe both services get a cut if you subscribe from within their system.

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  72. Kathy says:

    @MarkedMan:

    I’ve no idea if we have Apple TV in Mexico. Ever since I briefly owned an iphone 4 some years back, I decided the less I know about Apple, the happier I am 🙂

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  73. flat earth luddite says:

    The hapless, extremely annoying shock troops of the culture wars are picking a fight about facemasks

    (The Guardian) “First Dog On The Moon.” “Qarens” and “Qevins”

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  74. Teve says:

    @Kathy: I’m probably about to switch back to Apple. They don’t track you and mine your data nearly like Google does.

    Hopefully the 12s come out in September.

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  75. Gustopher says:

    Covid-ball is not going well. While I wish baseball players no specific ill-will, I do hope people look at the experience there and say “Huh, if some of the wealthiest people taking the most precautions are getting sick, maybe we need to rethink a few things about school reopenings.”

    And then actually rethink a few things. Get some plans in place that aren’t just hoping for the best.

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  76. de stijl says:

    @Mister Bluster:

    I haven’t looked at my authentication e-mail address in a decade. It’s purpose is that it exists.

    It is probably chock full of spam and detritus. I don’t care.

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  77. de stijl says:

    @wr:

    Congrats!

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  78. Kathy says:

    Oh, it turns out we do have Apple TV available in Mexico. (curiosity got the best of me). The only show in their lineup I found of interest was Foundation, which is yet to premiere.

    Interest is a relative term. Hollywood seems really good at mangling Asimov’s work. Also, the notable aspect of the whole Foundation series is what doesn’t happen, which is the premise of the literal Foundation to begin with.

    On more important matters, Moderna’s vaccine has officially begun phase 3 trials. This is where the vaccines is measured for effectiveness, how good is it at preventing people from getting infected with SARS-CoV-2 and thence from developing COVID-19.

    it’s worth noting that developing a vaccine as far as phase 3 trial in months is nothing short of remarkable by historical vaccine standards. I think the previous record was 4 years. That said, we’ll see whether the vaccine works or not.

    I’ll remind you Moderna’s vaccine requires two doses, given 28 days apart. This concerns me greatly. Think about the difficulty of getting some people to show up once to get a flu shot, now imagine if they have to show up twice. Not to mention you don’t get immunity, or at least not the immune reaction, after the first dose. I fear many people will think themselves invulnerable after one shot, and at once, to boot (everything takes time, even vaccines). I’m pessimistic enough that I will predict huge spikes among those taking their first dose of Moderna, if/when it becomes available (and assuming it does work).

    it’s one thing to get a flu shot in advance of flu season, then carry on with your normal life (in non-pandemic years). It is quite another to get half the vaccine for a raging epidemic, then throw all caution to the wind.

    There’s also the matter of how effective the vaccine is. If, say, 30% of those who receive it can still contract COVID-19, that’s still good, provided we keep social distancing, wearing masks, avoiding crowds, etc for weeks after the wave of vaccinations.

    As the virus runs into the walls of immunity, ti will decline in ability to spread. But it behooves everyone to protect the random 30% who won’t develop immunity, because we can’t say who they are. It might be us.

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  79. CSK says:

    Nina Turner, the co-chair of the Sanders campaign, was quoted in The Atlantic today as saying that endorsing the Biden campaign would be like “eating a bowl of shit.”

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  80. Sleeping Dog says:

    @CSK:

    It’s good though. 🙂

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  81. de stijl says:

    @CSK:

    Then Nina Turner doesn’t know shit. She should. She’s senior in a campaign. Her naivety is not my concern.

    Purity people are a bane.

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  82. inhumans99 says:

    I just wanted to drop in to say wow…I received an email from the CA Sec. Of State reminding me to be ready for the election coming up in only 99 days!! Time flies when you are having fun.

    No wonder Trump has tried to pivot and become the elder statesman that everyone looks to for advice regarding the pandemic. I still say good luck with that…stories about the FL Baseball team having to quarantine most of their team are not what you want to see in the White House.

    Instead, Politico has a story up that indicated that Trump really has decided to go all in on assuming that installing more Conservative judges on the bench between now and Nov will help him get re-elected…again, good luck with that.

    Trump’s pivot to taking the pandemic seriously is way too little way too late in the game and with 99 days to go (soon to be 98) it is becoming the understatement of the year to say he is running out of time to convince folks that the better to go with the devil you know than the one you don’t strategy is the best one to adopt…oh wait, people know Biden pretty well by now and actually like the guy, yup our President just might be out of luck come this November. Hey, at least he will have plenty of time to play golf after the election.

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  83. Michael Cain says:

    @wr:

    That said, the main reason they decided on the lump sum $600 payment instead of sums targeted around the recipient’s income was that state unemployment agencies were deemed incapable of handling multiple different payment levels with computers last updated around the time of Apollo 11. And when you add in Republican-run states like Florida where they deliberately designed a system that would make it almost impossible to collect benefits the difficulty became astronomical.

    Bingo. Eg, New Jersey putting out a call for Cobol programmers to donate their time because NJ’s unemployment system is written in old Cobol and runs on old hardware and the state’s revenue was imploding at the same time so they couldn’t hire people to do the work. Many states have intake systems scaled to handle X hundred new claims per week, where X is a small number. I know of one case that existed not all that long ago where state law required unemployment applications to be submitted on paper. The state Dept of Labor had put together an online signup front end which then printed the application at the DOL office, where a clerk ran it through a scanner and OCR.

    I spent time as a budget analyst for a state legislature. For reasons I’ve never fully understood, state legislators are incredibly reluctant to spend money on software systems.

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  84. Kathy says:

    @inhumans99:

    Hey, at least he will have plenty of time to play golf after the election.

    Isn’t it cruel to tease Donald the Idiot like that? Everyone knows there’s no golf in prison.

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  85. Kurtz says:

    @HarvardLaw92: @Kathy:

    And no – I don’t think that somebody earning $600 per week is problematic. It’s what everybody on the left has been loudly calling for the minimum wage to be set at.

    I’m including Kathy here, because the link below includes what the minimum wage would have to be to match productivity gains.

    Not only is $15 an hour not enough in terms of living expenses in quite a few cities, it’s not commiserate with productivity gains over the last few decades.

    That would be a great thing, it would mean a large increase in pay for tens of millions of workers, but it is still very modest compared to what the minimum wage would be if it had kept pace with productivity growth. As is often mentioned, the purchasing power of the minimum wage hit its peak in 1968, at roughly $12 an hour in today’s dollars. However, productivity (output per hour work) has more than doubled over the last 52 years.[1]

    This means that if the minimum wage had kept pace with productivity growth it would be over $24 an hour today. Furthermore, if we go out four years to 2024, and we see normal inflation and productivity growth, a productivity adjusted minimum wage in that year would be almost $27 an hour, nearly twice the $15 an hour target.

    As Reynolds would undoubtedly point out, if the Left were to ask for a minimum wage more than $15 an hour, they would get laughed out of the room. In fact, in at least some influential circles, they already do.

    There seems to be a ton of discussion about bad incentive structures whenever the Left proposes legislation to alleveiate poverty and reduce economic inequalities. The few programs that do get implemented get watered down.

    When poor incentive structures for those in the higher income brackets come into sharp focus, nothing substantial happens to alter the status quo.

    The killing joke here is that the former conjures hand-wringing over moral hazards; the latter actually is a moral hazard. The collateral damage from poor behavior at the top falls largely on people who have nothing to do with the behavior.

    Not to mention that no one on the right wants to admit that their crowing about incentive structures is an implicit admission that economic policy mediates natural rights (read: control.)

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  86. Monala says:

    @Kathy: I did a quick search about the shingles vaccine (which also requires two doses), and found this article discussing how reminder calls regarding the second dose increase compliance. So it will take some work, but is doable.

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  87. EddieInCA says:

    @CSK:

    Nina Turner, the co-chair of the Sanders campaign, was quoted in The Atlantic today as saying that endorsing the Biden campaign would be like “eating a bowl of shit.”

    Nina Turner is, and has been, someone who can agree with you about 85% of the time, but will spend 100% of her time, telling you why you’re wrong on the 15%, and refuse to budge regardless of how it might help her.

    She’s one of those people who would rather lose with purity than win by building a coalition to make things better. Other in this world include Susan Sarandon, any Green voter, and most libertarians.

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  88. Monala says:

    @Kurtz:
    A thread on Twitter today asked whether, if you were Jeff Bezos, you would be willing to give up all your savings to solve world hunger and poverty. I don’t think the OP expected so many people to respond with “Yes!” and point out that even if Bezos gave away 99% of his income, he’d still be rich beyond m ost people’s wildest dreams.

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  89. Monala says:
  90. Michael Cain says:

    @Monala: At least in Colorado, Kaiser Permanente is nag, nag, nag about shots. Phone calls, e-mail, text… When I went to get my flu shot last fall I complained to the nurse about it. After the injection she clicked on something on her computer screen, then gave me a big grin and said, “There. The computer won’t nag you any more about flu shots.” Given that my age puts me in the high-risk group for Covid, I assume that as soon as Kaiser gets their hands on a vaccine I’ll be inundated.

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  91. Monala says:

    The US hit 150,000 deaths from Covid today.

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  92. CSK says:

    @Monala:
    Isn’t that swell. Another unparalleled triumph for President Lardass.

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  93. Tyrell says:

    @Michael Cain: I had the same problem with United. Then they told me how to go onto their site and easily change my preferences. I checked off on the emails, phone calls, and paper. They also mailed a magazine that wound up in the recycling barrel. If I want to know anything I go to their site. No more nagging for me.

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  94. Jim Brown 32 says:

    @CSK: Life comes at you fast–the longer you live the more inevitable your membership in the “eat shit” club. She should do like the rest of us–wash it down with a vodka and keep moving.

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  95. MarkedMan says:

    @Kathy: FWIW, Apple TV both their set top box and the free aggregator that goes with it. Since we don’t watch broadcast TV, the extremely simple Apple TV remote serves as our tv remote.

    Apple+ is their subscription service. I got it free for a year for some reason but have yet to watch anything.

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  96. Kathy says:

    @Monala:

    I’m going to say something I loathe hearing: it will have to be doable, because there may not be any alternatives.

    The way so many people have done just the wrong thing in response to the pandemic, from downplaying it, to fighting preventive measures, to fighting over masks, I’d put my money in not taking the vaccine, taking it wrong, misunderstanding what the effect is expected to be, etc.

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  97. CSK says:

    @Jim Brown 32:
    I’ll join you in that vodka.

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  98. Mikey says:

    Tucked away in the current proposal for coronavirus relief: $1.7 billion for a new FBI headquarters building.

    Not to begrudge the FBI a new headquarters building–the current one is literally crumbling–and the FBI’s leadership has been pushing for a long time to move its headquarters out of DC, to a suburban campus with nice things like parking and proximity to where many FBI employees actually live. The FBI would also be able to vacate a lot of leased space, saving millions of dollars each year, by consolidating personnel currently spread across the DC metro area into the new–and much more secure–headquarters facility.

    But here’s the catch–the proposed funding is ONLY for an FBI headquarters at the current location on Pennsylvania Avenue. This would require the astronomically expensive, inefficient, and utterly stupid process of: 1. moving all the FBI HQ employees to temporary locations all over the DC metro area; 2. tearing down the current HQ and removing its remains to somewhere else; 3. building the shiny new HQ on the same spot.

    One doesn’t need to be a construction project manager to figure out this will make everything exponentially more expensive and difficult.

    So why did Congressional Republicans specify it that way? Because Trump. Trump’s gaudy shitshow of a hotel (that ruined the once-wonderful Old Post Office Pavilion) is pretty much directly across Pennsylvania Avenue from FBI headquarters, and everyone knows if the government sells the current headquarters location to a developer, they will put a hotel there. That hotel will compete with Trump’s, which of course he can’t allow, and so now we have to engage in one of the most inane (and, again, ludicrously expensive) ways of putting up the new FBI headquarters.

    How many hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars will be blown on this mess? Who knows? But for Trump, that’s irrelevant. The unnecessary expense will benefit him, so fuck the American taxpayer. And of course his compliant toadies in the GOP, who have fatuously whined for years about “runaway spending,” will go along.

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  99. Tyrell says:

    @Mikey: The F.B.I. building was my favorite place to go when I went to DC. They had all kinds of displays, and we got to go down to their shooting range. I always got one of the target papers for a souvenir.
    To my disappointment, I never got to see Director Hoover.
    I had many relatives in the Washington area, so I would take the train up in the summers and stay with one of them for a week or so.

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  100. Michael Cain says:

    @Mikey:

    Tucked away in the current proposal for coronavirus relief: $1.7 billion for a new FBI headquarters building.

    If the Republicans will give me two-thirds of the House’s $3T relief bill, rather than the $800B the Senate has proposed, I’ll happily let them have a new FBI headquarters.

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  101. An Interested Party says:

    Nina Turner, the co-chair of the Sanders campaign, was quoted in The Atlantic today as saying that endorsing the Biden campaign would be like “eating a bowl of shit.”

    Oh? Then what would a second Trump term be like…

    By the way, going from Mikey’s comments about the FBI building to Tyrell’s comments about the FBI building shows what a surreal world we live in…

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  102. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @HarvardLaw92: I think that paying workers adequately is a no brainer, too. Sadly, I’ve seen too many managers (and owners of capital) who had no brains about money at all. Try telling most business owners that the money doesn’t always look better in their own pockets and tell me how you come out on that.

    In fairness though, the system is still has more better than it does worse. The problem is that worse is growing at a fair pace.

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  103. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @flat earth luddite: Aha! Found it. At least I think so. Cracker to the rescue yet again. [fist pump emoji here]

    @Gustopher: But, but, but… children are immune. And even if they’re not, THEY recover quickly.

    Why does everybody keep making such a big deal about a few kids getting the sniffles??????

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  104. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Kathy: Maybe not. I remember someone telling me that some Club Feds have Par 3 Pitch and putt courses.

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  105. de stijl says:

    @CSK:

    With you and JB32.

    Prefer brown liquor myself. Enjoying it now. Bourbon.

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  106. CSK says:

    @de stijl:
    I’m always happy to accommodate the drinking preferences of an OTBer.

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  107. de stijl says:

    The most anti-gubmint RW assholiest, boot-strappiest person I know lived off unemployment and SS because he fucked up his eye at work.

    Saw no hypocrisy whatsoever.

    Dude, you on the dole.

    One thing I’ve learned is that white people hate welfare unless it benefits them. Then hunky dorey. If it benefits minorities then it is a moral hazard and counter-productive and rubs them raw.

    The Reagan Welfare Queen in her Caddy and Young Bucks buying T-bones with government dollars meme is alive and well in the WWC to this day. The level of resentment is off the charts.

    Class solidarity escapes them.

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  108. de stijl says:

    @Mikey:

    Suburbanizing the the site of FBI HQ is a terrible idea.

    It is the seat of US federal law enforcement. It absolutely has to be in DC proper.

    I will allow the CIA enclave. Everyone knows about it, but it suits the narrative.

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  109. de stijl says:

    @Tyrell:

    To my disappointment I never got to to see Hoover as a cross-dressing dom which reportedly was his thing.

    Not my scene, but the tippity top of US law enforcement was not the guy you imagined.

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  110. de stijl says:

    @DrDaveT:

    The thing Doom got right was speed. You could motor way faster than the Nazi dudes.

    Level design was basic. Makes sense, little or no predecessor. I never could find all the secrets.

    Holy crap! That was so long ago!

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  111. Mikey says:

    @de stijl: The seat of US federal law enforcement is DoJ. They can stay where they are.

    Although if there’s any decent argument for keeping the FBI HQ where it is, it’s the proximity to main Justice. I don’t believe it overrides the many good reasons for moving HQ out of DC, but at least it’s valid.

    But it’s not the reason Trump wants to keep HQ where it is.

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  112. JoshJaaawsh says:

    @HarvardLaw92: oh please, that is such a piss poor excuse! If an employee is offered their (same) job back and refuses, the employer can and should report them to the unemployment office so they get cut off, and be required to repay any benefits received after they received their call back.
    The only people who legally qualify for unemployment are people who actually had a job recently, so it’s not like people who are collecting unemployment weren’t contributing to society before-hand.

    I could agree with cutting the benefit for people who were getting PUA (the people who don’t qualify for regular unemployment because they weren’t required to, or worked enough hours/ hadn’t paid enough into the state unemployment fund emough)… considering that’s where there’s been a lot of fraud and it would be possible to simply CHOOSE to not go back to your job if you were self-employed in the first place.

    On a completely different note though, would it be possible to change the federal bonus so that it just matches whatever one would normally receive from the state? That seems like it would be a simpler and more fair way to keep people from making more than they were before (most states aim to replace 40-50% of wages in normal circumstances right? A federal match would keep most from earning more than 100% their previous wages, and at the same time give a boost to help the millions unemployed in these extreme times.)
    or would it be harder to implement than it sounds? Or would it be illegal to give different amounts to people based on where they live? Just wondering!

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