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About EricNR

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  1. EricNR

    EPISODE 610 - Taking Our Jobs

    Andrew and Jonathan wandered off from the caller's main question, so I want to make a few points. First, I take exception to his premise that immigrant workers are willing to work for less. Anyone who works and lives in the US faces the same housing costs, the same transportation costs, the same food costs and the same consumer culture telling us to buy, buy, buy. There's no reason an immigrant worker would be able or willing to work for less than a citizen. Unless... immigrants jobs are by definition more precarious. The HB-1 visa is tied to the "sponsoring employer". Although it is possible to transfer to a new sponsoring employer, this is a bureaucratic hurdle not present for citizens looking for new and better positions. HB-1 workers are also far more vulnerable to unemployment as they may lose their visa status. This encourages them to take the first available job rather than hold out for better wages and conditions. There may be other issues as well. When a significant fraction of the workforce is more exploitable it holds down wages for everyone. But the answer is not to restrict the number of immigrant workers, but rather to reform the visa rules to ensure that immigrant workers are able to demand equal wages. Second, it is sometimes argued that even if immigrant workers are not different from citizens, having a larger pool of IT labor available suppresses wages for IT workers. This may be true, but only if the market for IT services is saturated. If there is still potential untapped demand in the IT industry, increasing the labor pool will simply allow existing firms to expand and new firms to form, increasing demand for IT labor along with supply. There may even be multiplier effects where expansion in one firm creates new demand and new jobs for subsidiary services. Conditions vary based on the overall economic climate and the maturity of the specific industry, but often increasing the workforce increases the size of the economy rather than increasing labor competition. And economic growth is a requirement for prosperity in capitalism. Third, it may be possible for skilled workers in certain industries to maintain their wage premiums by organizing to restrict access to their special skills. However, this effort is almost invariably racist (and sexist, and anti-immigrant). The easiest way create an exclusive group is to base that exclusion on fault lines of identity and privilege already present in society. This can be seen in the whole racist history of skilled craft unions in the US. In addition to being racist, restricting access is, at best, a short-term strategy. As an industry matures over the long-run, employers will find ways to erode skilled wage premiums, whether by attracting a larger workforce, shifting production geographically, or changing technology to make the skills obsolete. The real goal for workers should be to improve wages and conditions for everyone. Of course, that's easier said than done.
  2. EricNR

    The Visitor (1979)

    I saw this recently on TCM and it is wonderfully insane. The full film is available on youtube in HD. https://www.youtube....h?v=MSdtSkAPHnY And here's some background on how the movie got made: http://badassdigest.com/2013/10/22/how-john-huston-sam-peckinpah-and-shelley-winters-ended-up-in-italian-weird/
  3. I think the trend outlined in this article explains much: The Middle Class is Steadily Eroding. Just Ask the Business World. Entertainment is driven by advertising to consumer spending. Increasingly that spending is concentrated in a smaller and smaller fraction of society. So entertainment increasingly caters to people with the highest incomes and portrays their lifestyles as normal.
  4. EricNR

    EPISODE 575 - Is Race a Construct?

    Andrew, Kristina, and fellow racecars, You may be interested in the work of Barbara Jean Fields on today's topic. For an intro, you can listen to an interview with Doug Henwood (the interview proper starts at minute 5). For an old classic of hers on the origins of racism and racial ideology see, Slavery, Race and Ideology in the United States of America. She too expresses concern that "race is a social construct" is too easy a phrase that tends to be used to stop the discussion and minimize racism. But her basic argument is somewhat similar, that racism is real but race is not. So we should be wary of even well-meaning, progressive arguments that take for granted the reality of race and racial categories as such.
  5. EricNR


    A slapstick comedy/horror/drama written by the Cohen brothers and directed by Sam Raimi, each in their sophmore outing: it's Crimewave (1985)! This was Raimi's first time working on a studio production and apparently it didn't go well. The wikipedia page for the film has long section on the production problems taken mainly from Bruce Campbell's memoir. Here's a paragraph plot summary (from Film Junk): The movie follows two psychotic hitmen who double as exterminators (played by Brion James and Paul Smith). They are hired by the co-owner of a security company to eliminate his partner, who is trying to sell the business behind his back to Renaldo aka โ€œThe Heelโ€ (Bruce Campbell). Along the way a number of people accidentally cross paths with the hitmen, leading to a series of goofy chase scenes and cartoony murders, until they encounter a nerdy security technician (Reed Birney) who is trying to win the heart of a girl (Sheree J. Wilson). You can watch the entire movie on YouTube, but for a taste, here' . There's just so much material. I think it would make a great podcast. Even if they don't use it, every fan of bad movies should watch this film. "Here's one for all the folks everywhere!"