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Time to Telework
The New York Times Shows Why the Blue Model Is Doomed
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  • Anthony

    “American society increasingly mistakes intelligence for human worth.”

    Is blue model demise (as so labeled) or red model option (as so thought) mitigating cultural changes that leave 80 million Americans on left side of normal curve with so few economic institutional options? Really, culturally, “there’s a lot of work to be done.” See:

    • QET

      I haven’t read the article, but I’m curious to know how it is that “cultural changes”–what cultural changes, exactly?–have deprived such an enormous number of “economic institution options.” I myself would attribute the lack of opportunity to technologocal development. Certainly everything influences everything else, meaning that technological development can be expected to work cultural change, but I’d like to know more specifically what you are referring to.

      As for your opening sentence, two thoughts: first, this is not just an American phenomenon but a Western one. Since the demise of Christianity, with its transcendental morality of human worth, ideas about worth have necessarily centered on ordinary human capacities such as productivity and intelligence. Lamenting this is what Nietzsche called naive: “Naivete: as if morality could survive when the God who sanctions it is missing!”

      Second, what American society (and not only American society) in fact mistakes is conformity for intelligence. So far from having any definite ideas of what constitutes human worth, the American Left-liberal elite can no longer even understand what constitutes intelligence, having had no exposure to it in all their upbringing (in this today;s Left differs essentially from the Left of the early and mid-20th century).

      • Anthony

        I suggest reading Atlantic article for tie in to WRM’s sentiment. Still, referenced cultural change are those inherent in WRM’s short precis on “political philosophy and economic system” mentioned (I infer since 1970s).

        • QET

          I just read it. Quickly, I admit, but I don’t think I missed anything. Typical Atlantic dreck; stuff like this is why I canceled my subscription long ago.

          Even a quick read is enough to disclose that the real problem is not that American society (whatever/whoever that is in the writer’s mind) mistakes intelligence for human worth, but that we (by whom I mean the class of people who publish their opinions in places like The Atlantic) no longer have any coherent idea of what constitutes human worth. The closest the writer gets to any kind of positive statement of that concept is “measures of virtually every desirable outcome typically correlated with high IQ.” Elsewhere he effectively defines human worth as self-esteem (how very Age of Aquarius), and identifies self-esteem with certain kinds of employment. So that human worth is ultimately a function of productivity, and he advises that the superior intelligences among us re-order the shape of the pen in which the herd of common humanity lives out its low-intelligence existence. Whatever else his thoughts might be, original they aren’t.

          • Jim__L

            Government of the philosopher-kings, by the philosopher-kinds, for the philosopher-kings… which Trump is primed to destroy.

            It’s the story of the decade, and honestly has been so since Brooks rhapsodized about “perfectly creased pants”.

          • QET

            This is the $64,000 question. On certain issues, Trump seems ready and eager to flout the elite “consensus,” but on others he seems just as willing to reinforce it. Which is why I am having such a hard time deciding on him one way or the other.

          • CosmotKat

            Good point on Trump. He seems to be running to elect Hillary, but appealing to those who just have axes to grind and like the fact he is flaunting convention by taking a no holds barred approach and telling the media to pi$$ off.

          • Jim__L

            I don’t trust anything about the man except his will to power.

            Where do you suppose that would lead him?

          • QET

            Well, I am more concerned with the will to power of the thousands and thousands of federal bureaucrats inhabiting all of the regulatory agencies and churning out new restrictive regulations by the truckload covering more and more of our daily lives. I don’t see either candidate as willing to prune those vines, so the handful of “big picture” issues they and the media focus on are all that I have to go on. Focusing on those is like focusing on the clouds on the horizon that maybe you think could become funnel clouds, while meantime the federal agency river has flooded and the water is creeping inexorably toward your house.

            If Trump’s will leads him to control immigration, then good. Beyond that, I’m not certain I see any appreciable difference between his will and Clinton Incorporated’s will.

          • tbraton

            You are totally ignoring the clear difference between Hillary and Trump on foreign policy. Ms. Hillary voted for the Iraq War as a Senator in 2002 and didn’t concede she had made a mistake until years later, losing the nomination to Obama in 2008 as a result. As Obama’s SOS, she pushed for the Libyan War over the strong opposition of SOD Gates. She also pushed for our involvement in Ukraine. As a candidate, she has advocated “no-fly zones” over Syria in defiance of U.S. law and the UN treaty that threaten the possibility of WWIII with Russia. Trump has opposed each of those initiatives. On the foreign policy issues alone, Trump is a clear choice over Hillary. Why do you think Billy Kristol and the powers that be in Washington are so opposed to Trump?

          • Hominid

            His will is more for attention than power.

          • f1b0nacc1

            As opposed to Hillary who is ‘all the consensus, all the time’?
            Not a tough call here….

          • QET

            That assumes that I am compelled to vote for one of them. I will never vote for Hillary. Ever. But I have to say that Trump’s appearing to be open to the terrorist watch list gun prohibition thing really speaks poorly of him.

          • f1b0nacc1

            I understand, and while I share your concerns about Trump, he isn’t likely to get much support from the GOP, while Hillary will get the usual tribal lock-step from the Dems. Hence she is far, far more dangerous (think: SCOTUS nominees) than Trump could ever be.

            Regarding your comment that you don’t have to vote for either of them…unless you are not a frequent voter, or live in a partisan state (CA, TX, etc.) you don’t get that luxury. I live in a swing(ish) state, so I have no real choice. A failure to vote is a vote for Hillary, however much I may despise Trump.

            Just reread that…I apologize for the hectoring tone.

          • QET

            Not at all. Our politics today seem more consequential than they have at any other point in my adult lifetime so some extra concern and intensity is warranted. I live in a reliably Blue state that will likely go for Hillary 70-30 so my vote will not matter. But even if it did, I am just not convinced that Trump would be the better alternative. I really want to believe that, though, so maybe I’ll yet convince myself.

          • f1b0nacc1

            If the Dem nominee wasn’t Hillary Clinton, and if the SCOTUS didn’t hang in the balance, I suspect that I wouldn’t be as confident of my choice either. Trump is a loathsome vulgarian, and I have little use for him, but he is (in my belief, at least) preferable to her.

          • Hominid

            Clinton is a criminal and a traitor.

          • f1b0nacc1

            Come now…lets not insult criminals and traitors that way

          • Hominid

            Trump is a fraud.

          • Anthony

            qet, I read material that informs no matter its perceived ideological leanings (as I don’t write here to reinforce a prevailing view point – no axe to grind nor resentments to express). Similarly, WRM wrote a brief piece on New York Times’ article foreshadowing so-call blue model constraints – nothing new there, as WRM has been critiquing ‘that” from inception. I added another perspective – not blue or red but American implied cultural (economic) changes, just maybe relative to status quo.

            One of your favorites (Friedrich Nietzsche) has been quoted: you have your way. I have my way. As for the right way, the correct way, and the only way, it does not exist (my only caveat to quote is “where applicable”).

          • Fred

            I read material that informs no matter its perceived ideological leanings

            So bias and “cognitive distortion” do not affect arguments you agree with, only those you don’t. Apparently you’ve switched fallacies from ad hominem to special pleading. Is that progress?

    • Galileo2

      Sorry, we can’t find that page.
      Please try the Menu or Search.

      Was it this one instead?

      • Anthony

        Yes and yesterday it lead directly to it! Thanks.

  • QET

    “More and more” as per the NYT article can easily mean going from 200 to 500 or 2000 to 5000, when the only development worth mentioning will be when it goes from 2 million to 5 million or, really, 5 million to 10+ million. Perhaps those thresholds have been reached, but I doubt it. For one thing, they would have been plastered all over that NYT article if they were the case.

    Regardless, the article carries on in fine blue model tradition. Part of the blue model is the media propaganda. . .er, salesmanship. . .necessary to sustain it through decade after decade of growing corpulence, then morbid obesity, then death. And the media propaganda dutifully resort, as here, to anecdote when the data don’t favor their preference, notwithstanding St. Pelosi’s rebuke that the plural of anecdote is not data.

    An additional essential component of the blue model is revealed by the following: “The collaboration with Creative Portland has resulted in a new nonprofit effort, Work in Place. There’s an economic research project underway with the University of Southern Maine, some panel discussions and networking events, as well as planning for a national summit on how to harness the changes that work in place will bring to organizations, families, cities and regions.”

    Yup, the blue model lives on even in this purported evolutionary advance: “a new nonprofit effort”; “economic research project” “panel discussions and networking” and even a planned “national summit.” Yeah, I can really feel the winds of change blowing here. Not.

    • Jim__L

      Strictly speaking, the term anecdote can be equivalent to the term datum, whose plural is in fact data.

      • QET

        Strictly speaking, yes; but politically speaking, when the anecdote undermines the Democrats’ ideological preferences, no. Then it must be shamed into non-datum(a)-ness.

      • Hominid

        You’re scientifically illiterate.

  • Jim__L

    Bravo, Professor Mead!

    Can you please talk about this on the News Hour, and whatever other platforms you can reach? You’ll be doing a service to all of America that way — maybe even all of humanity.

  • Frank Natoli

    Whether or not the Blue Model is positively or negatively affected by the infinitesimal number of people who tele-commute is debatable. As a practical matter, the Slimes article is one more example of the Liberal penchant for what used to be called a freak show.
    Anybody who has anything to do with manufacturing, including engineers like me, ultimately needs to be hands-on, where the hardware is, and that’s not in a suburb of Portland ME.
    Anybody who has anything to do with any kind of human interaction, the entire medical profession, restaurants, stores, need to be hands-on.
    Why would anyone give a damn about a freak show?

    • Galileo2

      Whether or not the Blue Model is positively or negatively affected by the infinitesimal number of people who tele-commute is debatable.

      Not really. Maker-flight from the cities to the suburbes is well documented concerning collapsing tax bases in cities they leave, for example. So much so that the Obama Administration is using UN Agenda 21 agreement policies to impost ‘regionalism’, which is just a gimmick to force suburbs near cities to ‘share’ their tax revenues with said cities.

      The plan has three elements: 1) Inhibit suburban growth, and when possible encourage suburban re-migration to cities. This can be achieved, for example, through regional growth boundaries (as in Portland), or by relative neglect of highway-building and repair in favor of public transportation. 2) Force the urban poor into the suburbs through the imposition of low-income housing quotas. 3) Institute “regional tax-base sharing,” where a state forces upper-middle-class suburbs to transfer tax revenue to nearby cities and less-well-off inner-ring suburbs (as in Minneapolis/St. Paul).

  • jeburke

    WRM, and apparently, some Timesfolk need to get out more. Take a walk from the Times building near Times Square to the phalanx of office buildings up and down Sixth Avenue, then to Rockefeller Center, then on to the phalanx of office towers on Park, and so on. Then, let me know how long I must live to see those thousands of buildings emptied as millions decamp for Vermont to do their jobs online.

    Importantly, the Times itself puts out a product that, more than most, could be assembled online — but it’s not. A handful of famed columnists can phone in their copy. Everyone else has to show up.

  • zeusboredom

    This article makes is based on the flawed assumption that the only reason people live in cities is for work — and uses one anecdote for support. My guess is that Mr. Mead lives in the suburbs of New Haven and is the kind of person who couldn’t imagine moving into a city for any reason other than work.

    The paragraph with the most loaded language, weak premise, and that says the least, is this vague prognostication: “In the long run, people who live and work the way that the subject of the Times article does will simply not support the cumbersome procedures and institutions of the bureaucratic state as we know it.” It shows the writers animus regarding all things urban.

  • FriendlyGoat

    What is “progressive” is defending jobs which can support families whether performed on-site or off-site. We all know they are not growing in numbers sufficient for the actual population. The color of the model is not the point, other than this obsession at TAI always seems to be celebrating the impossible idea that everyone can prosper as a free-lancer or an Uber driver—–so let’s kill the other jobs they used to have ASAP.

  • bdlaacmm

    Back in 2007, during a weekly check-in, my wife’s manager delivered some unexpected good news: “You don’t have to be in the office to do this job,” she said. “You could work from wherever you want.”

    Well, maybe… this person was able to live his dream of overlooking Casco Bay, Maine, thanks to Lord knows how many families slaving away in China or somewhere (in surroundings far less picturesque than coastal Maine), to supply him with the physical paraphernalia necessary to maintaining his narcissistic lifestyle.

    Some things just never change, do they? The prosperity of the American colonies was built upon the tears of African slaves dying on the Middle Passage or in the plantations of the New World. The prosperity of 20th Century America was built upon the tears of families wrenched from their ancestral farms and thrown into the mills and factories of the industrialized world. The “good news” of people like this careerist mentioned above is built upon the tears of Chinese workers choking in the fumes of a hyper-polluted continent vomiting out consumer goods that no one really needs.

    • Betty Rubble

      Had a telecommuting co-worker who was told that since he didn’t need to be in the office to do the job, someone in India could do it cheaper. He was laid off along with various others.

    • BrooklynNow

      Let’s not pretend this is unique to Americans. Since the dawn of agriculture, societies have a class structure and the upper class has always taken advantage of various class structures to leverage as much out for themselves as they can. Now they’re leveraging more out of foreign workers relative to domestic but the leveraging is still happening.

      The only issue: is bonded labor illegalized and is free labor SCARCE enough that the capital owners have to pay labor relatively high real wages or not.

      This is something that the US pseudo-“progressives,” who keep enabling our open borders to massive amounts of lower-skilled labor, don’t want to admit.

  • bruce rosner

    How many young people come to New York or Los Angeles every day to be stuck in big high tax over-regulated cities?

    • Galileo2

      A lot. Young people are idiots, by nature. But mostly because they aren’t having families and when they do, they move right back out. SF is infamous for this trend.

      • BrooklynNow

        Not exactly. A lot are looking for those jobs that you can’t telecommute with. Many go to colleges in metro areas. MOOCS have not replaced the cachet of a BA/BS yet.

  • obsinatepiper

    So I really must ask if you think that Leviathan will simply do nothing as the wings of the Butterfly of Freedom take flight? We may be allowed to work from home, but there will be a price to pay because Leviathan must be fed. Think on how that might play out.

  • Galileo2

    Yet, states…especially Blue States…levy income taxes on many of these people anyway. And until Congress finally acts to stop it, such outright interstate thievery will only increase.

    This predominantly impacts smaller firms, who do not have a physical presence in other states. So if you remain a W-2 employee of a firm in New York, but work out of your home in Florida, you have to pay income taxes to New York. Worse, if you live in another state that has an income tax as well (unlike Florida) you could end up paying income taxes both to NY as well as your resident state!

    …some states, such as New York, have regulations requiring both residents and non-residents to pay state income taxes on all income earned from a company that’s located in that state, even if the employee lives and works in a different state.

    If your employer requires you to live out of state, you may be able to escape non-resident taxes. But if you live out of state for your own sake, even if your employer agrees that it is a good idea, a “convenience of the employer” rule could require you to pay taxes in both states. New York, Delaware, Pennsylvania, and Nebraska all have these regulations, and New Jersey follows the same practice, though it doesn’t have a formal rule in place.

    Last year, the “Multi-State Worker Tax Fairness Act of 2014″ was introduced to Congress. Many telecommuters had high hopes for the bill, which proposed to prohibit states from imposing income taxes on non-residents who work from home, but it appears to have died in the 113th Congress. For now, as these confusing state regulations stand, you might be worried about your own tax liability. If you think you may be obligated to pay income taxes in more than one state, speak to a tax advisor or contact the department of taxation in the appropriate states.


  • publius74

    talk about an article that could have been expressed in one sentence. speaking of out dated forms, this article is one

  • Galileo2

    If it is dying, then why isn’t the Dem Party dying along with it?

    • BrooklynNow

      Because when you keep importing massive amounts of lower-skilled immigrants into an economy that rewards such labor less and less, most people in bottom third–not just the lower-skilled immigrants but also the ones they compete with– of the income ladder need income supports aka welfare to supplement their low real wages. Dems are seen as more generous with the income supports.

  • Left Coaster

    Manufacturers of carriage wheels had to learn the new technology of automobiles.

    Does the GOP really believe the carriage wheel jobs could have been saved just by whining and becoming angry?


  • Monte

    “fewer people will be stuck in big, high tax, over-regulated cities”

    And they’ll exchange Austin for Portland, ME, apparently, where the blue social model is utterly exploded and extinguished.

  • keller23

    Not sure how this blows up the blue model. All it’s doing is moving the blue model to more areas. You think the leftie moving from San Francisco to Boise is going to adopt Boise values? Nope. What it will do is add a Democrat vote to Idaho. And the same goes with small cities/towns in Arizona, Utah, Wyoming and every other red state.

  • JD777

    That means the Democrats are going to have to import even more Democrat (illegal immigrant) voters quickly.

    • St Reformed

      Sadly, I have concluded that most voters vote emotionally, not logically; short-term, not for the long haul.
      They will not realize the building’s foundations are weak until it completely collapses.

  • allbuss84

    As these Democrats flee like rats from a sinking ship, they move to new territory and continue to vote in corrupt Democrats spreading the cancer they initially fled. Kinda like the refugees flooding into Europe.

  • Concernedresidentofearth

    Our taxes in California (Bay Area) are perhaps $15,000 in state taxes higher than in a state with no income tax. For that amount we get to live in the 4th most desirable tourist destination in the US (#2 and #3 are national parks, so I guess that makes us 2nd after Maui).

    Oh, and I can leave the Oakland Airport on a morning flight and be eating lunch on the beach in Maui that day.

    It’s totally worth it to be on vacation EVERY SINGLE DAY!

  • Right_Here

    Not to worry the Obama Administration to the rescue….

    We will simply federally mandate that the…..big, high tax, over-regulated cities. are magically transported to the Burbs

  • Bunky

    I’ve never received a paycheck from a “more human-centered and more rewarding place to work.”
    That’s some nonsense.

  • whidbeytom

    I was fortunate to be able to work at home or in a one person office for the better part of 30 years. Many, if not most, people can’t be successful working this way because they lack self discipline or have a need for the social interaction that one gets from working in an office.

  • Robert Catt

    Right the blue model is doomed. However what it means is that less and less will work, those that do will have to support the growing number of freeloaders resulting in less. Money designated for “Education” and “government” will have to go to the pensions rather than salaries resulting in less actual services. It’s working great in Venezuela don’t think it’s not coming here.

  • OKC3

    I respect Mr. Mead and I have read much of his commentary on the blue model. To everyone: “progressive” is a dirty word. Nothing good has been done in the name of the word progressive or by those who wear the label progressive. To be “progressive” is nothing to aspire to.
    Just a comment on Mr. Mead’s use of the dirty word “progressive.”

  • Chuck Pro

    Walter Russell Mead is the most thought provoking progressive thinker there is. I’m not a progressive, I tilt conservative. Yet I find his arguments and thoughts to be persuasive more often than not. No one’s mind really gets changed in modern politics because we are all deeply entrenched, but WRM makes me question my entrenchment almost daily.

    Love ya brother

  • PierrePendre

    More jobs will continue to require presence on-site than will become tele-commutable. When homeworking has been discussed before, the question has arisen of the loss of efficiency caused by the isolation of co-workers and the lack of personal interaction that is part of office and manufacturing life. People need human contact in a shared endeavour and not just at the water cooler How much time is expended and how many emails are exchanged to solve a problem that is fixed in seconds between people at adjoining desks or machines?

    The much bigger problem is what to do with the growing number of people who are unemployable in a modern economy through automation and the fact that they are ineducable. Millions of people are excluded from work in First World economies because they lack the intellectual capacity to join. Setting the minimum wage at a level which employers say is unaffordable is not the answer no matter how hard the Dems try to kid voters that they’ve found the magic wand.

    Assuming mass euthanasia is an idea whose time has still not come, one alternative is the social wage paid as a right by the state to everyone – children included – which is gradually becoming acceptable to European politicians as they continue to seek the point at which welfarism self-destructs. The theory is that it will pay for itself through economic growth and the elimination of existing entitlements which will be folded into the social wage. Please feel free to laugh at the idea of the cost being borne by economic growth which in Europe has the same status as the Dodo.

    However the shrinkage of employment works out, it is certain that it will be paid for through increased taxation by people in work whether they do that at home or in a traditional workplace.

    PS: Newspaper work is an example of the kind of activity that could be done from home by editors, sub-editors, advertising people, accounts and others. Is the NYT going down that road?

  • rentslave

    This is true for every profession but one:Sportsbetting.

    To do that,you must reside in Oy Vegas.

  • artvet2

    Good for you – now, how many millions in the American work force can do this?

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