Roundup, Jan. 4, 2019

By R.
Chicago Mercantile Exchange, Nov. 1984
Chicago Mercantile Exchange, 1984, photograph, November 1984; (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth43320/m1/1/ accessed January 4, 2019), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Cattle Raisers Museum.

The degree to which America’s economic engine has been strapped to the stock market is truly baffling. Decades ago, we ceased to have an economy based on the manufacturing of physical goods and instead transitioned to something much more opaque, based on what I guess you could call the manufacturing of wealth. Which is to say, the richest families in the country got rich by doing some random shit, like inventing blue jeans or distributing lead-based paint, and then stayed rich by throwing their money at stuff — real estate, bonds, venture capital, the buying and selling of third-party debt, but most of all, stocks — designed to produce even more money without any labor. It is magic, in a way, or if you want to get biblical, an act of creation that’s nothing short of emulating God.

The 2018 Farm Bill kept the payment limitation threshold at $900,000 a year in adjusted gross income instead of lowering it to the $700,000 limit that was in the Senate version. Even more troubling is the expansion of those who are allowed to receive farm program payments to more distant relatives of farmers including first cousins, nieces, and nephews, even if they aren’t directly involved in agricultural production.

No French politician really knows what to do with the gilets jaunes. In the early weeks of the protests, many commentators in the French media simply assumed that the movement would become a boon for far-right politicians like Le Pen and her niece Marion Maréchal. Though there have been scenes across France of men in yellow vests making anti-Semitic gestures or attempting to block migrants from crossing the border, it appears these worries were premature. Far right “populists” have failed to shape the movement in their own image—at least for now.

HAL

There is now more code than ever, but it is increasingly difficult to find anyone who has their hands on the wheel. Individual agency is on the wane. Most of us, most of the time, are following instructions delivered to us by computers rather than the other way around. The digital revolution has come full circle and the next revolution, an analog revolution, has begun. None dare speak its name.