Matt Yglesias resigns from the presumed-progressive community — with prejudice

George Orwell (my emphasis):

“In our time, political speech and writing are largely the defense of the indefensible. Things like the continuance of British rule in India, the Russian purges and deportations, the dropping of atom bombs on Japan, can indeed be defended, but only by arguments which are too brutal for most people to face, and which do not square with the professed aims of political parties.

… Defenseless villages are bombarded from the air, the inhabitants driven out into the countryside, the cattle machine-gunned, the huts set on fire with incendiary bullets: this is called pacification.

Millions of peasants are robbed of their farms and sent trudging along the roads with no more than they can carry: this is called transfer of population or rectification of frontiers.

People are imprisoned for years without trial, or shot in the back of the neck or sent to die of scurvy in Arctic lumber camps: this is called elimination of unreliable elements.”

–George Orwell, “Politics and the English Language

Matt Yglesias (my emphasis):

Different Places Have Different Safety Rules and That’s OK

It’s very plausible that one reason American workplaces have gotten safer over the decades is that we now tend to outsource a lot of factory-explosion-risk to places like Bangladesh where 87 people just died in a building collapse. This kind of consideration leads Erik Loomis to the conclusion that we need a unified global standard for safety[.] …

I think that’s wrong. … The reason is that while having a safe job is good, money is also good [and] there are very good reasons for Bangladeshi people to make different choices in this regard than Americans.

–Matthew Yglesias,

Thus speaks a man with enough money to be able to choose a safe job. More to the point, thus speaks a man whose comfortable life is financed by people whose forced risk of death he exploits to his professional benefit.

If Matthew Yglesias were ever a liberal or a progressive — hint: despite his bio, no, he never was one — he has in this essay ripped the last shred of the last mask from his last face. The faux-progressive community (the world of presumed-progressives) has permanently lost one of its own.

How does he recover from this stunning Orwellian self-branding? Shorter Matt Yg:

My professional life is built on your forced suffering.
Silly of you to have made that choice.

Metropolis-metropolis-1927-15539876-1641-1152_SMALLERAs Orwell might have written, “Dying in a wage-slave factory: this is called making bad choices.” Matt Yglesias lives by selling their choiceless pain; it’s how he keeps in Wheaties. Looks like a two-fer, I think, at least for him — a well-financed meal, plus that tasty moral high ground for dessert.

David Atkins comments here. Erik Loomis replies here. All good reads, with one exception: Dear Mr. Loomis, Matt Yg is not the “left side of the political spectrum” — he’s an apologist to the left for the sins of our Barons and Betters, in the same sense that Rush Limbaugh is an apologist to the right for those same sins. Same soup; different sales pitch.

Our Barons and Betters are monsters, monomaniacs, slaves to hubris and greed, bringers of death and pain. Our Betters send men to Iraq. They force children into factories in China and women into slave-work in the Marianas. They employ death squads to murder union leaders in Colombia. They would roll across your body with a truck if there was a dollar in it for them and immunity from prosecution.

The actual left never wanted our Barons to begin with, but I don’t think we’ll be grouping Yglesias with that left again. Me, I have him in a different group.


To follow or send links: @Gaius_Publius

Gaius Publius is a professional writer living on the West Coast of the United States.

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100 Responses to “Matt Yglesias resigns from the presumed-progressive community — with prejudice”

  1. doubtthat says:

    I just want to point out these two comments from Yglesias’ follow-up:

    “Bangladesh’s citizens deserve honest and uncorrupt government rather than government that’s excessively under the sway of the interests of apparel factory owners.”

    “And while I’m not really sure what Americans can constructively do to get better enforcement of building codes in Bangladesh, it’s pretty clear that we can do less to poison the atmosphere and more to open our doors to people seeking better opportunities for themselves.”

    Why do those apparel factories have such political sway? American companies, unlike garment workers, have a choice: use their sway over the local government to, at a minimum, aid in the enforcement of existing codes (do their own inspections of their subcontractors, incentivize proper working conditions – even conditions set by local standards…) or they can try to bleed every fucking cent out of those countries, extorting the maximum amount of profit and using their influence for that reason alone.

    Even if you grant the supposedly high-minded premise of Yglesias’ post, the apologetics and acceptance of the “inevitable” still fails.

  2. karmanot says:

    220 or 440?

  3. karmanot says:

    We can thank conservative gays like Board of Supervisor Scott Wiener for stunts like this. He cultivates the up and coming straight Yuppies, who have profited on the gentrification of Noe Valley and the Castro by the GLTBQ communities and whose bourgeois sensibilities are offended by alternate cultures.

  4. Bill_Perdue says:

    That’s just bizarre.

    And it’s not really about you at all. It’s about classes in struggle. If you owned a small business, in a capitalist context, you’d go out of business if you didn’t exploit and make a profit. Profit extracted involuntarily from wages is theft. Full Stop. End of Story.

    Even more bizarre is this “I think your dichotomy is anti-intellectual, because being uneducated is tied to morality.” Please be so kind as to tell us how Hillary Clinton, with a degree from Yale Law, or Bill Clinton, a Rhodes Scholar, or Bush2, anther Yale graduate who also got a degree from Harvard, or Obama, a constitutional scholar have any morals at all.They’re racists, mad dog warmongers and union busters.

    To rise to the top in American politics these pepple have to become gangsters and lap dogs of the rich. How is that anything but amoral and indecent.

    When I first posted I thought I was just clarifying what you said and making it real, but now I see that we have rather extreme disagreements. I am amazed at your reply.

  5. Alan Lewis says:

    Speaking of selling out, SF Pride has over-ruled its grand marshal selection committee (made up of grand marshals from the past) and cancelled the choice of Bradley Manning as Grand Marshal — not wanting to let a few thousand dead brown people stand between them and their Democratic Party cocktail weenies.

  6. Sweetie says:

    I don’t accept that dichotomy, because even if I were to be in a managerial/ownership position I would not want to exploit people. True stewards of society are not predators. I believe that there can be populist managers.

    I think your dichotomy is anti-intellectual, because being uneducated is tied to morality.

  7. karmanot says:


  8. karmanot says:


  9. Anthony McCarthy says:

    Remarkably few people who are considered liberals are actually liberal, most of them are a species of libertarian who merely don’t want to disallow abortion, sexual acts or drug use. Which they might share with liberals but which, in themselves, don’t comprise liberalism. Liberals aren’t libertarians, they oppose the exploitation of the weak no matter whose lifestyle suffers for it.

  10. Copito says:

    This is Yglesias’ ‘not enough pollution in Africa’ moment, like that other master of economic common-sense, Larry Summers. There’s something about living in that capitalism-is-rational-and-logical bullshit bubble that sends even the most apparently sane blue-dog round the bend eventually….

    Probably mainlining the cognitive dissonance Kool Aid.

  11. Kim_Kaufman says:

    Yes, and the Dems helped it happen and, in fact, made it happen. Which is why Bill Clinton became the bankers’ whore because he knew he was killing off the last of the Democratic party’s labor support.

  12. Kim_Kaufman says:

    Mr. Yglesias is a careerist. As Ian Welsh has suggested as a strategy for these kinds of people, he should be shunned, publicly shamed.

  13. clarknt67 says:

    Or that the power to make workplace safety regulations lies in the hands of the “Bangladeshi people.” In the broadest scene I suppose that’s true if they’re a democracy. But in reality, if you talked to the people, I bet they’d prefer to work in factories that don’t explode.

  14. clarknt67 says:

    Wow. He thinks “the Bangladeshi people” are making the choice to work in unsafe workplaces? I rather think it isn’t the people but the government.

  15. ComradeRutherford says:

    In USA corruption is legal only when bribing legislators, it is called ‘lobbying’.

  16. SufferinSuccotash StuporMundi says:

    Governor Goodhair probably made a big deal out of the cartoon in order to divert attention from the issue of regulation–all them gay Left Coasters puttin’ down Texass, etc., etc.

  17. SufferinSuccotash StuporMundi says:

    We’re getting there…

  18. Michael in Cambridge says:

    Let’s do a thought experiment. The building that collapses and crushes 100 workers is a hotel in Dacca. 100 American tourists are also killed. Will Iglesias tell us that the tourists knew the risk they were taking when they went to a cheap country – and that’s just how it is? Because globalization. Somehow I don’t think so.

  19. lynchie says:

    Thanks for the link. He still maintains different strokes but then goes on to say he wants to write about what he knows about. Which in this case is nothing. He does how ever get pissy about the reaction to his first article. Poor baby.

  20. lynchie says:

    That’s why I’ll be shitting in his happy meal. I call that manufacturing. You would be surprised if you knew how many times workers spit, blow snot and the like on our food because they are treated like slaves and constantly threatened with firing.

  21. lynchie says:

    Yeah the “choice” word. They love to throw that up when saying if you don’t like your job you have a “choice”. Yet they push for right to work legislation and contracts that prevent you from working in the same field if you are fired or laid off. We have few choices in what we do. Job, food and most of all our elected officials.

  22. lynchie says:

    The only ones who revere the constitution are the gun nuts.

  23. lynchie says:

    She loves her some face time on tv and don’t forget the money. Faux outrage is about all she can muster. She now Mr. Ed (Shultz) in speaking to the choir and offering no solutions, no options and kissing the ring.

  24. lynchie says:

    It is and has always been about money. They close their eyes to the plight of their workers. They live in gated communities, travel on private jets which we underwrite the a tax write off for them, drive only in limos, have doormen and private security so they never interact with “the help”. When the odd mishap occurs, an explosion, collapse, fire, etc. occurs they regret the loss of profits but no the loss of life. In West, Texas I have heard little from the owners of the company. Recently congress tried to pass a bill deregulating even further what the EPA can do about fertilizer companies.

    Yes, but it would roll back regulations rather than strengthen them. Eleven representatives — one Democrat and 10 Republicans — sponsored a bill in
    February that would limit the EPA’s regulatory authority over
    fertilizer plants. It has been endorsed by industry groups such as the
    Fertilizer Institute. Kathy Mathers, a spokeswoman for the Fertilizer
    Institute, told ProPublica that the group supports the bill because it
    would more clearly spell out how the EPA can regulate the industry.

  25. lynchie says:

    Lately there has been a resurgence of getting rid of minimum wages and how that will bring the jobs back.

  26. lynchie says:

    Oh I am sure he has heard of the Shirtwaist fire and like Delay simply ignores the plight of lesser people. We are also referred to as cannon fodder in wars by the Generals and elected officials. They of course are there for the glory of winning we bury our dead and try to make sense out of heartless, cruel leaders who fill their own pockets at the expense of the poor, elderly and defenseless. But you know we have ourselves to blame because we still dream of a leader who can transform our plight into something which gives us hope for the lives of our children. Obama is probably the biggest disappointment in my lifetime but it was because I saw the need for change after Bush/Clinton/Bush and the spiral down the toilet this country was on. We the 99% are easily duped perhaps because we don’t understand how evil and debased the 1% can be.

  27. BeccaM says:

    I suspect men like Yglesias won’t comprehend the depravity of what he’s suggesting until the workers finally revolt — as they did in the Robber Baron era — and his ilk end up lined up against a wall, in blindfolds.

  28. Bill_Perdue says:

    To clarify, it’s workers vrs owner, bosses and managers and has been for almost 200 years.

    Here’s clarity, from 1848. The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles.

    Freeman and slave, patrician and plebian, lord and serf, guild-master and journeyman, in a word, oppressor and oppressed, stood in constant opposition to one another, carried on an uninterrupted, now hidden, now open fight, a fight that each time ended, either in a revolutionary reconstitution of society at large, or in the common ruin of the contending classes.

    In the earlier epochs of history, we find almost everywhere a complicated arrangement of society into various orders, a manifold gradation of social rank. In ancient Rome we have patricians, knights, plebians, slaves; in the Middle Ages, feudal lords, vassals, guild-masters, journeymen, apprentices, serfs; in almost all of these classes, again, subordinate gradations.

    The modern bourgeois society that has sprouted from the ruins of feudal society has not done away with class antagonisms. It has but established new classes, new conditions of oppression, new forms of struggle in place of the old ones.

    Our epoch, the epoch of the bourgeoisie, possesses, however, this distinct feature: it has simplified class antagonisms. Society as a whole is more and more splitting up into two great hostile camps, into two great classes directly facing each other — bourgeoisie and proletariat. (1)

    However you express this is the essence of the fight with the middle classes – shop owners, small business owners, professionals, government and military officials – permanently swaying back and forth between the major contenders, pretending to be independent, sitting on the fence and finally ending up in no mans land, dodging bullets from both sides.

  29. Choiceless and Voiceless says:

    That sounds about right and jibes with the period in our own country, in the 60s and 70s, when union membership was about 30% and just happened to be our greatest period of economic growth, income equality and educational opportunities. Union membership is down to 7-8% now and the income gap is widening, income levels are stagnant for the vast majority and the good jobs with benefits are disappearing, downgraded or offshored. Union voices are getting fainter and money is now speech and corporations are people, my friend.

  30. nicho says:

    My classmate’s sister-in-law makes $600 an hour giving lap dances.

  31. karmanot says:


  32. Clevelandchick says:

    ‘We’ haven’t but a lot of stupid Americans have, but now they’re not agreeing with the consequences of deregulation – regulation has seen a surge in popularity. We shall see how far this goes…I guess there was a big explosion at a tar sands refinery in Detroit tonight. Of course they locate these things in places only poor people live.

  33. Mike Meyer says:

    I believe that if 1/3 of the WORLD’S JOBS were unionized in some form or another, MUCH of the poor&dangerous working conditions would soon disappear. With the expansion of the net such may soon be possible.

  34. Sweetie says:

    It’s the same here. The corruption just has different clothes.

  35. Sweetie says:

    The “left/right” dichotomy is a ruse.

    The real dichotomy is plutocracy vs. populism.

  36. Sweetie says:

    “Who they are going to vote for doesn’t matter: without
    exception they are going to vote for an American politician: a lawyer
    or a businessman, someone belongs to one of a few available political
    categories, all of them misnomers designed to confuse the public.
    There are those who call themselves conservatives, and who are in
    fact not conservatives at all but free market liberals. There are
    those who call themselves libertarians, but who either are not libertarians at all, or have somehow
    forgotten their anarchist-socialist roots, and who are in fact also free
    market liberals. Then there are the ‘liberals,’ who are also free
    market liberals but aspire to being nice, whereas the rest of the
    free market liberals are nasty.

    But nobody here wants to be called a
    “liberal,” because in this topsy-turvy political universe it has
    become little more than a term of abuse. It takes a long time to
    explain this nonsense to visitors from abroad, and when you round out
    the explanation by saying that these distinctions don’t actually
    matter—because no matter what these politicians call themselves
    they are all state-capitalists who have been exhibiting quite a few
    fascist tendencies of late—the visitors inevitably feel that you
    have wasted their time.

    But if you try to explain this nonsense
    to a domestic audience, it will be you who will feel that your time
    has been wasted. US voters are easy marks for political tricksters,
    and it is probably something that just can’t be helped. The neatest
    trick is getting them to vote against their class interest.” — Orlov

  37. Sweetie says:

    That he’s from an Ivy League school makes perfect sense. It’s what I guessed.

  38. Sweetie says:

    She has no intention of being canned from her cushy gig at MSNBC.

  39. Sweetie says:

    Twinkies are being made again, without unionized workers but with a CEO.

  40. Corey says:

    Never heard of this nit wit and glad of that, I already am unimpressed enough with so many who call the sleeves democrats or liberals …. Like the president for example.

  41. karmanot says:


  42. jynucytymyro says:

    my classmate’s sister-in-law makes $68 an hour on the laptop. She has been without a job for ten months but last month her pay check was $14532 just working on the laptop for a few hours. Read more on  Jive8.c­om

  43. lmsinca says:

    Did you happen to see the cartoon in the Sacramento Bee that has Rick Perry fuming?

    Ha, these guys don’t like it very much when we tell people the truth.

  44. GaiusPublius says:

    Glad to see you back in the commentarium, MG1 !


  45. GaiusPublius says:

    People in India know that the entire system is corrupt top to bottom, and I mean all of that literally. I’ve heard about VPs of high-tech companies shaken down at airports for bribes.

    I suspect that Bangladesh is the same, known-corrupt from top to toe. Otherwise, I agree, Imsinca. Thanks for the comment.


  46. lmsinca says:

    It’s my understanding that the people in the factory didn’t “choose” jobs over safety, they expected both, the same way we do here. There were numerous violations and lots of head turning and warnings that were ignored. It’s very similar to West, TX in that the owners knew the risks they were taking and took them anyway. Money.

    Yglesias is wrong, as usual, in his entire premise.

  47. Seriously? Gaaah. Where are my blood pressure pills.

    (Also, Ms. Fox, it’s not like there’s an infinite supply of fast-food jobs any more than there’s an infinite number of any other kind of job. I daresay you’ve got some notion that all some lazy poor person needs to do is walk into a McDonalds off the street any time he wants and be gainfully employed that afternoon.)

  48. The point is well made; you’re right, it is something I neglected to consider. And it’s more to the point as well. Yglesias, in his short follow-up ( )to the original editorial, basically ends with a shrug: what can we do? But we can do something, as you say.

  49. karmanot says:

    Little privileged Matty probably doesn’t know enough history to remember the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire. He’d probably blame the burned women and deaths on the fact they didn’t have enough sense to not work in a locked unsafe building. More up to date is the memory of Tom Delay praising god in the Marianas for women willing to work for slave wages ,locked in barbed wire fetid camps and forced to have abortions by the Chinese company and its guards who controlled them under the American Protectorate.

  50. karmanot says:

    It’s only a matter of time before child labor laws are abolished in the regressive states. After all it will teach kids the dignity of hard work and enable them to buy hot lunches at McDonald’s instead of leeching off tax payers at free school meals.

  51. Silversalty says:

    Oh, regarding the “supports,” Kristof wrote a column describing the benefits of child labor in ‘under developed nations.’

  52. Choiceless and Voiceless says:

    We’ve already agreed to this with our own little 3rd world, Texas, leading the way and with republican governors racing to see who can pass Right to Work laws quicker. Regulations are of little consequence if they are ignored –Bangladesh or West, TX, take your pick. An inspector hadn’t been inside the fertilizer plant since the 80s. Atleast the Bangladeshi officials had the conscience to declare the building unsafe, unlike ours.

  53. Silversalty says:

    I didn’t write that Kristof “supports” underage prostitution but he did a couple of columns on it and he and the times did a week long series on the subject. Both reminded more of a Channel 5 (Metro Media then) in NYC series on prostution in NYC with the regular ads showing street walkers while the actual “coverage” described little of the problem.

  54. Choiceless and Voiceless says:

    His article that Bangladeshis gladly and willingly chose the roulette wheel of survival; ie starve or possibly be crushed to death, is like the Matriarch of Compassion, Barbara Bush, saying that poor New Orleanians after Katrina had the choice to be homeless and dispatched by bus to shelters. You know, losing your home and family members and living in the Astrodome, is a step up on the economic ladder for these poor people. They should be grateful.

  55. Papa Bear says:

    Mamma Bear is back in college and taking history and government classes. She’s decided that all our problems stem from the idea of “manifest destiny” being applied by corporations.

    So far, I can’t argue against her logic…

  56. Papa Bear says:

    “noblesse oblige without the oblige” — thanks karmanot, I’ll be using that!

  57. Papa Bear says:

    At first I thought, “They wouldn’t have time! After all, they’re supposed to provide janitorial services for the schools — remember?” But then I realized that McDonald’s needs people on the second shift as well…

  58. Indigo says:

    Rachel, are you here? Do it, call Mr. President on his giving-away-the-store. Do it! Really, you need to if you’re going to loose the Obot rep.

  59. Clevelandchick says:

    Wow. What a despicable little weenie. We stopped having fires in factories with trapped workers here in the US because of REGULATION. We stopped having building collapse on people because of REGULATION. That regulation was passed at the demand of the people. That little asshat would chip one of his perfectly manicured nails typing too fast waxing hysteric about how much it would hurt the American economy if India or China dared to pass regulations like ours to protect their people. What’s he saying? We can have the jobs back if we agree to risk our lives working menial jobs for almost no pay in sweatshops? God how I want to smack Yglesias in the face with a coal shovel.

  60. karmanot says:

    Let’s add the repellant Thomas Friedman to the list.

  61. karmanot says:

    Exactly, That reminds me of Virginia Fox ( she of the Republican Chairman of the Education Committee) arguing that hot school lunches should be abolished because hungry children would be incentivised to find jobs at McDonald’s, earn a lunch and learn work ethics early in life.

  62. Choiceless and Voiceless says:

    You have stopped at the midlevel of choice here. Even Bangladeshi factory owners are operating under paper thin margins dictated by the those with the real power of choice–the American companies and retailers that contract out to them and who not only turn a blind eye, but actually discourage improvements in conditions. I mean these companies didn’t outsource halfway around the world for fun. Why do you think they left in the first place? Worker unions and regulations. And the consumers in the West who purchase their sweatshop produced goods keep it going. We like our crap cheap and we like a lot of it. This is where the real choice is. Americans have chosen the Buy More, Pay Less model of consumption, instead of the one of our parents, Buy Less, Pay More, which was inherently better for both the planet and people alike.

  63. karmanot says:

    Harvard does have its mistakes. Just think of Bunnypants Bush.

  64. karmanot says:

    t”he stuff that outraged him the most -abuse of workers – mattered least to the public.” That’s why America will fail big time and in our own lifetimes at that. Tocqueville nailed this country generations ago. Property and wealth are more important to Americans than liberty and democracy. He was right.

  65. karmanot says:

    ‘superficial’ key word for beltway bots. The world of cocktail hour seminars and noblesse oblige, without the oblige.

  66. karmanot says:

    He could have been talking about our roll model, the vicious colonialism of the British state.

  67. karmanot says:

    Even the most supposedly liberal and accomplished among them, Rachel Maddow, is an avid Obot, as is Ezra Kline. There are no MSM liberals. To find progressives like Matt Taibbi is rare enough.

  68. karmanot says:

    I think the basic answers to your four questions lies in the very nature of Capitalism itself. Read the 1840-50-s essays by Marx on Capitalism.

  69. MG1 says:

    One of the best explanations of the moral bankruptcy and brutal consequences of neoliberalism I have ever read.

  70. I didn’t know that.

    My point was that he could be aiming for a position comparable to that of Thomas Friedman at the NYT. Somebody who is untouchable no matter how much he screws up.

  71. dula says:

    There is no Left anything being represented in the corporate media or in politics…only those who define themselves as being on the Left.

  72. karmanot says:


  73. karmanot says:

    Good point, however, let’s define our terms a bit further and we’ll find that there is no corporate left wing media. Corporations are not what we consider ‘left’. The are hierarchical, non-democratic, not even remotely concerned with the public good, the welfare of the employees they exploit, or for that matter the America in which they operate. Anything a corporation that even puts forth as ‘leftist’ and civilly concerned is nothing but propaganda and lies. The pro community, Gulf viability and the BP Corp.’s ‘massive’ repairs and ‘caring’ propaganda being shilled over the media now is a perfect example

  74. Hue-Man says:

    First, April 28th is Workers’ Memorial Day in “…remembrance and action for workers killed, disabled, injured or made unwell by their work.”

    Second, why are we as a species incapable of learning from history? While seizing on the benefits of industrialization, the Chinese chose to ignore the air, land, and water pollution that the West suffered through in the 19th century. The Indian Sub-continent seems to be ignoring the industrial death traps of the West in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

    Third, coverage of the building collapse in Bangladesh explained that the owners would lose the entire month’s revenue as a penalty for late delivery which meant that the workers would not be paid. If the workers did not get paid, they would starve and be homeless until their next pay (in May).

    Finally, since it’s Workers’ Memorial Day tomorrow, I would add that poor regulation, poor monitoring, and corruption are causing deaths in our Western work-force. For many, they are not in a financial position to say NO.

    “[Canadian agricultural workers] Amarjit Kaur Bal, Sarabjit Kaur Sidhu and Sukhwinder Kaur Punia died on March 7, 2007, when a 15-passenger van carrying 17 women flipped onto a concrete median on Hwy. 1 [Trans Canada Highway] near the Sumas exit.
    An investigation revealed the driver of the vehicle didn’t have a proper licence and the van didn’t have properly inflated tires or enough seatbelts.”

  75. karmanot says:

    “Nicholas Kristof (supports child labor and exploits underage prostitution under the guise of concern)” Kistoff supports underage prostitution? That’s complete BS and I’m calling you on it.

  76. karmanot says:

    Thank you Gaius for finally pouring salt on than slugs tail. It had to be done and is a great public service.

  77. Indigo says:

    Speaking of MSM faux liberals, isn’t it about time somebody with a forum called Mr. President on his BS?

  78. Dear Christ, that Slate editorial is probably the stupidest thing I’ll have read all week. Bummed that unionized, better-paying manufacturing jobs (which Yglesias has the nerve to consider “unskilled”) are fading away and being replaced by underpaid, precarious service-sector jobs? No problem, let’s just call those service-sector jobs manufacturing jobs. Problem solved! I love also the heavy dose of patronizing assumption that fast-food work gets slight regard not because such jobs make no money, bring no benefits and in general offer no future, but because we elitist liberals “deride” such jobs and turn up our snobby noses at them when in fact they’re the ticket to riches or something. (I’m reminded a little of Little Bush’s snide assertion that we opposed the invasion of Iraq because we were cultural snobs who didn’t believe that the people of Iraq deserved freedom or were capable of it.)

  79. olandp says:

    I recall my Congressperson, Corinne Brown, testifying before the BRAC in the 90s. She basically said that Craig Field should stay open because we ignore environmental regulation and would cost the defense department less money because we would let them pollute without consequence.

  80. emjayay says:

    Yes, yes, and yes. OK, free trade/globalisation is good economically in many ways for both us and them, and since container shipping the impediment to imports of the cost of shipping has also disappeared. The damage to health and safety of the workers and population in general not to mention the environment of other coutries and in fact the world has been off shored. Meanwhile, this has drastically reduced the power of workers here to achieve a decent life, as you detailed. There is an enormous difference in unemployment slightly below the frictional level and a couple of points above. Corporations (shareholders and management) enormously benefit from even 6% unemployment vs. 3%. And of course the unemployment levels are much worse of considered by area or industry. This is a big part (not all) of diverting the wealth of the country to the 1%.

    Besides tariffs, maybe there are other mechanisms to achieve similar results. The pressure on Apple and occasionally garment makers etc. and their little responses is one tiny step. Maybe something like Dolphin Safe Tuna certification (I know, of course that is compromised) for products based on worker safety or environmental responsibility or living wage or all three in that country. Retailers would be shamed into not selling non-certified products (well as long as consumers actually didn’t buy them.) Anyway, tariffs or Good Products or whatever mechanism would probably result in three fourths of imports disappearing.

  81. pappyvet says:

    “Thus did a handful of rapacious citizens come to control all that was worth controlling in America. Thus was the savage and stupid and entirely inappropriate and unnecessary and humorless American class system created. Honest, industrious, peaceful citizens were classed as bloodsuckers, if they asked to be paid a living wage. And they saw that praise was reserved henceforth for those who devised means of getting paid enormously for committing crimes against which no laws had been passed. Thus the American dream turned belly up, turned green, bobbed to the scummy surface of cupidity unlimited, filled with gas, went bang in the noonday sun.” Kurt Vonnegut

  82. Phil Perspective says:

    You realize that MY is in fact employed under the same corporate umbrella as the Washington Post, right? This is from the bottom of the main page where MY calls home:

    Slate is published by The Slate Group, a Division of the Washington Post Company

  83. Tatts says:

    Thank God people are finally calling him on his B.S..

    Yglesias was an embarrassment when he was on Think Progress (and the reason I dropped their RSS feed). He always blamed the wrong people. He didn’t think that people should have a say in commercial developments in their neighborhoods (using D.C. as a case) and he blamed regulations rather than an architect for problems with an apartment building whose design had to be modified to meet code. That one was the last straw for me; it was so illogical and superficial.

  84. Mike Meyer says:


  85. zerosumgame0005 says:

    pardon my “French” as grandaddy used to say, but dear gawd what a Cheney!

  86. condew says:

    We really need to bring tariffs back; when you can manufacture anywhere under any conditions and still sell in the U.S., these unsafe working conditions is what results. It could be a simple as low tariffs for injuries and deaths per thousand that is below industry averages, high tarrifs for high injuries and deaths, and if the injuries and deaths per thousand is excessive, then you just can’t sell your products in the United States.

    I’d leave how a factory meets the standard up to the country. I’d agree with YG that the method of achieving safety may be different in different economies.

    But this is just one aspect; our manufacturing base has been decimated not just by people being willing to work for less, but people willing to work without health care, retirement benefits, vacations, or even reasonable work hours. Not to mention environmental damage. All these things need to be figured into punitive tariffs. Let American factories at least compete on a level field, and not by a race to the bottom.

  87. Silversalty says:

    This is from the Nicholas Kristof (supports child labor and exploits underage prostitution under the guise of concern) and Thomas Friedman (FU and flat earth society) school of political critique. If you look closely I think you’ll find similar qualities in Ezra Klein (remember his detailed – LOL considering what’s happening now – support for Obamacare) and even Josh Marshall, though I still have some doubts about his journalistic direction.

    Also, I had instant concerns about John Aravosis with his recent call for forced questioning (providing evidence against oneself) of the wife of one of the alleged Boston marathon bombers. But that’s the power over general thought that corrupted media provides.

    In my life the time in America that most represented striving towards the supposed ideals of the American constitution (does anyone still see that document with bible like reverence?) was the ’60s. How quickly those ideals were crushed and demonized (DFH!).

  88. PeteWa says:

    wow, it is really nice to see it called like it is, much respect GP.

  89. There is the enticing prospect of being even better paid. Apologists and defenders of that ‘neoliberal agenda’ can dream of top flight jobs with one of the major news groups like the NYT and Washington Post.

  90. Riccardo Cabeza says:

    Matt Yg is a dumb kid who says stupid things occasionally. He is a MSM faux liberal in full troll mode. Why get worked up about it?

  91. Michael in Cambridge says:

    Wow. Very powerful. Thank you. (I thought of Anatole France, too.)

  92. tardigrades says:


  93. The Dark Avenger says:

    We should thank Matt, for removing all doubt what side he’s on, that of the moneyed people, like the family he comes from.


  94. …there are very good reasons for Bangladeshi people to make different choices in this regard than Americans. (emphasis mine)

    The use of the word “choice” is fatal, consistent with the right-wing assertion that poor citizens “choose” poverty by not working hard enough, depending on government handouts, and so forth.

    And as long as we’re talking about “choice”, the managers of the garment factories in the Bangladesh case “chose” to flout orders to evacuate the building while, conversely, the workers in those factories probably didn’t have much “choice” when they were ordered to return to work and intimidated into doing so.

  95. dula says:

    It’s easy for the corporate Left wing media. They will never have to suffer from the economic effects of Neoliberal policy. When someone brings up the damage inflicted by Clinton or Obama, they mumble something about how the lesser of two evils is all that is possible. When either of those two men walk out on stage they absolutely fawn all over them. Why are they so emotionally invested in Neoliberal leaders if they think they’re the terrible lesser of two evils we’re stuck with?

  96. I can recall hearing of this fellow finally backing off his support for Bush’s Bullshit invasion of Iraq.

    *** I was 21 years old and kind of a jerk. ***

    The thing to expect now is some sort of crawfishing, for he’s now 31 and a confirmed jerk.

    As for myself, I’ve had the guy pegged as useless from very early on, and stayed away from his output.

    But for this post I made a generic search of his name and turned up this:

    *** Why making a Chipotle burrito or a McDonald’s Big Mac should be considered manufacturing. ***

    He’s the type that’ll say anything those ‘paymasters’ want said if the price is right.

  97. GaiusPublius says:

    Excellent quotation! Thanks.


  98. GaiusPublius says:

    He earns his money extolling the neoliberal agenda — the economic system that encourages the creation of those Bangladeshi factories. He pimps for that project and is well paid to do it.


  99. SkippyFlipjack says:

    Matt’s life is “financed by people whose forced risk of death he exploits to his professional benefit.”? (Emphasis mine.) Really? The guy’s a blogger and econ writer. How does he benefit professionally from risk of death elsewhere in the world? (Personally, he probably benefits in the way we all do, with cheap cost of goods.)

  100. Mrs. Norman Maine says:

    “The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich and the poor alike to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal bread.” – Anatole France (Le Lys Rouge)

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