272 Comments
author

Hey everyone! I'm officially starting today and will be monitoring/chatting with you all in the comment section from here on out. Let's keep it substantive and civil!

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Welcome 🥂

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author

I've got big shoes to fill!

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Look, there's no need to make fun of Milan's weirdly big feet.

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You know what they say about blog moderators with big feet don't you?

[waits a beat]

They go on to become podcasters with advertising deals from "big & tall" clothing retailers.

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If you're looking for troublemakers just search for "David", they're usually the culprits.

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Welcome, Ben! As with Maya, I recommend shivving somebody here on your first day to show you mean business.

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Find the most considered, substantive comment, and tear it to shreds.

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Nov 27, 2023Liked by Ben Krauss

Welcome!

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Nov 27, 2023Liked by Ben Krauss

Hi Ben, welcome! It was great to meet you at the happy hour, and it's nice to see you here.

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"Let me ask you something. When you come in on Monday and you're not feeling real well, does anyone ever say to you, "We are calling on the company to publicly reckon with the movement-wide crisis we are in; dismantle our white, owning-class culture: and to publicly commit to using the tens of millions of dollars we have to equip our base, and build multi-racial, crossclass community power for a Green New Deal..."?

"No. No, man. Shit, no, man. I believe you'd get your ass kicked sayin' something like that, man."

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And they took my stapler, and I never got any birthday cake!

IYKYK

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Close.

damnitfeelsgoodtobeagangsta.mp3

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Uncivil and unsubstantive.

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"Owning-class culture" in particular drew a snort-laugh. New tome of Groups lingo just dropped.

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I was genuinely intrigued by that one, I have to say. Who are the owning class, and what is their culture? As far as Groups lingo goes, of course the whole issue is a MacGuffin; they don't know and don't care. But sociologically it actually sounds like a great question, the sort of thing a Max Weber or Thorstein Veblen of our times might take on.

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founding

"Most of the work doesn’t happen in the big group meetings that are formal and on the record. Most of the work actually happens through one-on-one meetings and the relationships."

"Instead, Weber was facilitating Zoom sessions to sort through his organization’s culture."

The first quoted section is just as true of businesses as it is of drafting legislation. Trying to use a Zoom to build or change an organization's culture is hopelessly inefficient -- it takes years of in-person work to do it well; on Zoom it might take a decade or more if it is possible at all. I know most employees like the freedom, the lack of a commute, the flexibility to do other things. But I'm convinced the era of remote workers being the norm is something successful companies will abandon.

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The groups' hiring base is now convinced that in-person work is a capitalist plot to contaminate their bodily fluids or something.

If you wonder how this affects their perception of blue-collar jobs, by the way, they think they're basically all exploitative. I'm not pulling this stuff out of my ass here either.

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At my organization, the senior leadership and young people starting out their careers want to be in office.

Most resistant are the middle management, which usually are people in the stage of life with young families and the flexibility of work from home is hugely beneficial.

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author

Can attest that the vast majority of my twenty-something year old friends have now transitioned into wanting in-person office jobs

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Learning, growing, socializing, networking.

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My experience is the opposite. As a middle manager with a young family I hate working remote because:

1. I spend all day on Zoom, which sucks.

2. Onboarding, training, and personnel development is much more difficult.

3. But most importantly, my kids don’t understand “Dad is working,” which causes frequent conflicts despite my having a reasonably good home office.

I feel strongly that working outside the home is better for the kids. With work from home they have learned that even though I’m home I’m not available, and they don’t understand this changes before and after work.

In my industry few companies have gone RTO, and while I’ve looked I have not been able to find a good job that *isnt* all remote.

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Nov 27, 2023·edited Nov 27, 2023

I have a young family and appreciate the flexibility of work from home, though I agree it's confusing to kids about where work begins and ends for parents.

My office makes us all come in every other Wednesday, and that's fine - there's a lot of socializing among coworkers and that's helpful. But then we also have to come in another day each pay period, and it's pretty pointless because people pick different days and the office is 90% empty. Why commute an hour each way to do Zoom calls in an empty office?

I think the big issue goes back to one of Matt's crusades - YIMBY. I don't think most people hate offices - what they mostly dislike is stressful commutes that eat up so much of their day. Building a lot more housing close to jobs would help.

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I'm in tech, and my team/coworkers are spread out all over the world. If I'm forced into the office, I have the commute and I *still* need to do all my meetings on zoom.

If a business is truly located in a single location, or perhaps two, being in the office makes sense. But if the org is distributed around the world (and let's be real, businesses do this to save costs) then you're stuck on zoom one way or another, might as well be at home.

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Exactly. There are times where it would be nice to be in the same place as the people I'm on a project with, sure. But the team is currently in Massachusetts, Ohio, Italy, the UK, Spain, and a few other places, so precisely what office would we do that in?

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Yeah, same. I'm in tech and I prefer to work in the office, but my current job simply doesn't have an office and my previous job had one, but none of the people I actually interacted with were there, so I didn't go in because the thing I don't like is being on zoom all day, not "being on zoom all day at home."

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I don’t understand how you’re supposed to have a kid in the same metro area as a job. I’m an extraordinarily well compensated professional even for my area, and 1BR is the absolute top of my means.

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I don't get how you train an onboard people if they all are remote. It's a huge issue where I work.

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That's one of many reasons why we were all remote for about three months!

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I keep hearing "young people don't actually care that much about WFH" and some surveys even back it up, but it's so far from my personal experience.

Everyone I know who is 25-30 works remotely as much as they are able to. It is perceived of as a major benefit. I guess I just socialize with people who don't have aspirations of climbing the corporate ladder?

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This is seriously geographically dependent in my experience, but I've seen such cases too.

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Nov 27, 2023·edited Nov 27, 2023

A lot of it seems to evaporate when the zoomers actually hit the workplace and realize that it isn't what /r/antiwork told them it would be. (Unless it is, in which case it's the company's problem.)

Or unless they have SoCiAl aNxIeTy.

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Do you know any young people? Or are you just making this all up? Maybe this is a thread to sit out because you're not adding anything to the conversation.

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Donors and boards should be going apeshit if any nonprofit is found to be paying any staffer who doesn’t absolutely need to be there a DC metro area living wage.

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You and I are in agreement on this and we disagree on a lot usually.

The only caveats I'd provide are the following:

- Sort of a duh statement but a lot of companies by the nature of the business or work involved are more set up to be fully or almost entirely remote than others. This is in part based on anecdotes from friends and family. But a few people I know really do have jobs that don't really require to be in the office at all.

- I don't think 5 days in the office will come back or should come back. I agree there is a real need to be in the office at least a few days a week for the reasons you lay out. But a good chunk of work at any white collar job does not really require face to face interaction. A lot is writing memos, data entry or basically paperwork that can be as easily done at home as the office.

- One thing I don't think enough companies have grappled with is if you're going to take advantage of the benefits of the 1-2 days a week people come to the office, you need to have some pretty set rules about one day a week everyone on a team or division needs to be in the office. Having a hybrid schedule where everyone is in the office on different days of the week kind of defeats the purpose.

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founding

Agree, Colin, though I think for the benefits to accrue it will take 3-4 days/week.

As an aside, a benefit of a place like these comments is that people can disagree without being (too) disagreeable. It makes this place different than, say, Reddit or Twitter or most message boards.

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Nov 27, 2023·edited Nov 27, 2023

A major issue is that the push to come back is driven by paranoia of old school types that if people aren't in arbitrary, panopticon like office environments they aren't working and the embarrassment of long term leases for empty offices sitting on balance sheets. It's completely reactionary, which is why you now hear about absurdities like people commuting a couple days a week to sit in empty offices. The smart approach is to take the opportunity to pivot, which requires figuring out where there is a real value to being in person and structuring schedules and space accordingly, which will of course vary by company, business, and type of work the person does. I think the (completely understandable) push back comes when back to in person just means a futile attempt to turn back the clock to a model that was already passed its expiration date in February of 2020.

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founding

The value of in-person, though, is very hard (impossible?) to schedule and plan around. The value is in the serendipitous encounters between people across the organization. Not only on a specific team or within a specific function, but across functions and levels of the organization. Plus, the culture-building effects of seeing how your coworkers and leaders behave around each other.

Those things transform a collection of activities and projects into a living organization. There are some functions that can work like you describe, but I think the true value-added ones cannot.

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I think that describes the abstract ideal of what in person work is rather than the actuality of what office life was like pre-pandemic. I have a pet theory that what really happened with remote work is an exposure of just how many offices were teeming with people that don't do much of anything all day but walk around having

*ahem* 'serendipitous encounters' and attending meetings about some other meeting with very little productive being done. Or at least the productivity was not anywhere near commensurate with the hours on site, but would be papered over by personality and office politics and the appearance of doing things.

Which isn't to say in person work never has value, and there are certain things that really do require it. The company I work for has found that there are certain training activities and an annual 'crunch' period where there may be a real benefit to having people on site. Other times the investment in space isn't worth the upside. To me it's really the laziness and lack of forward thinking by employers thats making this into a contentious issue, not the people who found they can get just as much or more done without losing hours of their lives in traffic jams, or on mass transit, or being in a particular place for a period of time for no reason other than to be seen by someone from across the room.

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The discourse around remote work distills to the fight between (1) a group of people who think employees will watch Netflix, listen to Spotify, and shop on Amazon all day unless they face the possibility of their direct supervisor (usually some middle manager) walking into their office at any time for a "serendipitous encounter," and (2) a group of people who think the first group of people are pompous self-righteous busybodies with nothing better to do than mind other people's business.

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founding

Axios has a report out this morning about the White House push to get Federal workers back in the office. The rationale provided is:

"It is really important to make sure that we're getting the new team trained," McDonough said. "And we're sharing that culture and there's no better way to do that than in person."

"Greater in-person presence is essential to our ability to problem-solve, build trust, and foster the community needed to tackle the global challenges USAID works on every day," USAID administrator Samantha Power said in a statement.

https://www.axios.com/2023/11/30/biden-zients-federal-workers-return-to-office

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Well said, John.

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I doubt that, the start ups I have worked with bend heavily towards remote models in order to avoid office costs and expand the talent pool. I think the business will point more towards remote models as older businesses are replaced.

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Survivorship bias makes us think "well all the cool startups are doing it!" is super persuasive. We should be more reserved. Lots of startups do all sorts of stupid things.

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My experience with start-ups is they are easily the most poorly run companies I've been around. As a former founder, this is certainly also a self indictment. What we built was barely functioning chaos. The fact we sold it is still surprising.

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This isn't an indictment of you, but I work for a start-up and what I have learned is that founders can be incredibly narrow-minded and stubborn, and are slow to respond to market forces.

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That's interesting. My experience is we were too open-minded. This is only with hindsight, but we raised way too much money and hired way too many people and chased too many potentially interesting opportunities rather than ruthlessly prioritizing a very narrow set of opportunities. Live and learn. I doubt I would ever raise from a VC again.

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Ah, I see the differences between our companies. We have some VC funding, but most of our work comes from product-development contracts with much larger customers, but a lot of those products don't morph into something that can be sold on the open market because customers keep changing what they want.

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> I doubt I would ever raise from a VC again.

What would you rather do instead?

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founding

I'm curious: How many startups have you worked for and why did you leave the ones you did?

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These are companies I have worked with as our contractors.

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Non-commuting and flexibility is of great value, so imagine that successful companies with finding middle ground to optimize that value with that of face to face interactions.

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Two days in. Two days at home. One day to do all the errands and clean. Two days to nap.

Repeat.

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A coworker friend and I recently confessed to each other that we’d come to treat WFH Fridays as basically being “on call” and otherwise doing stuff around the house. Wonder why no one ever seems to call on Friday....

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I work 4-10s.

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Is this actually a Zoom issue, though, or being expected to solve racism before anything else can be addressed?

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Don't be ridiculous, obviously you can only solve racism after you solve capitalism.

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With enough capitalism, anyone racist will eventually be outcompeted by those who take advantage of otherwise-underrated non-white talent.

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I'm still guessing a hybrid model will be a median, and with much variance depending on the profession. Some jobs need to fully be in person, and some jobs can be best fully remote.

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founding

Some jobs can definitely be remote. I've seen the rise in low-cost centers in Mexico, India and Eastern Europe (among others) for such things as back-office accounting, software coding, customer call centers and the like. I think the Zoom technology will expand these options for companies who have been reluctant -- for either cost or complexity reasons -- to embrace that model.

I remain skeptical that the core, value-added functions of a company will be mostly remote, though. Just as one example, the experience of remote learning -- and the best organizations are learning all the time -- makes me think it is unlikely to be the norm going forward.

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Some of us do not like those things! Or more correctly but less pithily, we recognize the *extraordinary* tradeoffs they represent.

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Yeah, I wonder how far this would have gotten if O’Keefe had aired his concerns in person rather than on the company channel or if he'd spent significant time in the office with the other people working at the organization. It's really hard to get nuance through text, zoom messages etc. Zoom meetings are a bit better, but you're still talking over one another because you can't see everyone's body language.

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I find it odd that some people "root" for or against remote work.

Obviously, there are many types of organizations - some operate best in-person and some operate best remotely.

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I was prepared to make a comment along the lines of “the ‘climate left’ is just the woke left” before even getting to the main portion of the article, and was subsequently amazed by what I read (even though I knew about these collapses happening at the time).

As we all know, “woke” is an external label given to an ideology that refuses to name itself. This isn’t entirely new, Evangelicals/Salafis will call themselves “Christians”/“Muslims”, but what is unusual is the extreme hostility directed to those who try to name it. This impedes reasonable discussion of things like “why did all the climate people all of a sudden start having a racial cage match?”

Of course, we know the answer. All of these people are hugely woke. There’s no room for non-wokes in the “climate movement,” and there’s certainly not much room for anyone who says “hey, we should start talking about CO2 again instead of taking 8 weeks off the job to call each other racist.” Ergo, there isn’t really a “climate left” anymore.

And I’m sure anyone who has actually talked to a Hasan Piker-addled zoomer realizes that to them “climate” and “capitalism” and “patriarchy” and “racism” are all the same thing. These people can’t be climate-focused, it would be like asking a devout Muslim what his favorite of the five pillars is.

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Nov 27, 2023·edited Nov 27, 2023

I really enjoy never having heard of "influencers" who are apparently toxic such as Hasan Piker, at the risk of being tangential. I have my faire share of pointless stress of course but it make it all the more satisfying to be immune to influencers others have, to my mind, fallen prey to.

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I wish I had never heard of that guy too.

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“Woke” was originally the name they gave themselves, but then their opponents started using it to criticize them, so they dropped it like a hot potato and redefined it as a slur. Now they don’t want to have a clear name of any kind because they like being able to claim that all names for them are slurs and that anyone who names them is an evil bigot. They want to establish their ideology as a universal orthodoxy that no one can challenge, and they don’t care how many logical fallacies it takes to make that happen.

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I am deleting my comments from the subthread consisting of emotional responses to the asinine remark about Twitter. I shouldn’t be responding to things that don’t merit responses.

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dude, you should spend less time on Xitter.

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Nov 27, 2023·edited Nov 27, 2023

These very-online abstractions you're dealing with are hardly representative, or practical, other than fueling a psychodrama.

And if you're citing Hasan Piker, I can guarantee you spend too much time consuming Xitter content and drama.

And like honestly, what do you have to prove by demonstrating either?

(Have I surprised you, that I do, in fact, have the capability, despite your assumptions?)

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founding

C'mon, João. We can all be passionate sometimes, but for the sake of all please keep the personal attacks to the Reddits and Twitters of the world.

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So you’re mad at me for responding angrily to a stupid, insulting reply to a comment that people seemed to generally find insightful?

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I do think that the term woke as a description of ideology was adopted by the social justice left first as a name for themselves. They just abandoned it very quickly when they realized how unpopular it was.

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deletedNov 27, 2023·edited Nov 27, 2023
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Sure, but you're presumably not talking about activist types.

And that level of differentiation is something I haven't seen too much of myself. Realistically I consider the average TikTok zoomer to be basically equivalent to an OANN/TruthSocial Trumper: each believes in an internally-consistent-enough political narrative and considers that a part of their personal identity. Some take it a bit further and become activists or whatever, but most are just performing tribe membership.

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I think that's right, "woke" doesn't meaningfully exist among rank and file Democratic party voters, who have always been less ideological than Republicans. Rather, it describes a sincere attempt post-2012 to *aggregate* and *intellectualize* the party's many interest groups. You also see this aggregation phenomenon on the economy issue; median voters distrust the Democratic party right now, but do not name a specific one-off policy. There's no "woke" Democratic voter just like there's no "pro-inflation" Democratic voter; the party is too diverse for an equivalent of a "MAGA Republican." But there is Democratic governance.

And it is the results of that governance that disturb voters, and which fosters a strong folk suspicion that Republicans governed the economy better in 2017-2020. I think this is rational; it's hard to know if Democrats would sacrifice another two years of their marginal income for much greater spending on interest groups (and thus return of inflation) if given another trifecta. But it's a very frustrating experience for a Democratic partisan, because it seems quite unfair and murky from their point of view, like RFK Jr. rambling about some conspiracy theory.

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This is the definitive hate read. God do I despise these bullshit left wing policy groups that would rather accuse each other of being racist and push for communism than actually show up for a meeting with the president. Reading this also makes me dislike Biden’s admin more for catering to these idiots in the first place.

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I’m loling. It’s a real hate read alright, written for a managerial class whose biggest put-down is “you’re so dumb you took the wrong meetings!”

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I’ve decided to take this as a compliment

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Seems like a pretty legit putdown if aimed at somebody whose whole job is taking the right meetings.

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"You could have met the president but instead you had to deal with a middle manager who decided to mutiny" *could* be phrased as "you took the wrong meetings", if you want to be a huge jerk.

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Nah, it was a smart move to bring them into the fold and let them implode all on their own. If he had ignored them then they could have been united in opposition to the establishment. By letting them be part of the establishment he made them swallow the poison pill that would cause their demise. Dark Brandon FTW!

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"Protest Disorder (Syndrome)"

That's genius! I've not heard that before. Well done.

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Nov 27, 2023·edited Nov 27, 2023

In May 2019 I took my middle-school daughter and some of her friends to St. Paul for Minnesota's youth climate protest, one of the rallies happening across the country that day. Walking to the capitol building with thousands of young people was inspiring, and I felt hope. But then we got there and the speeches started.

As I recall it, there was almost no discussion of actual policy goals related to climate change; there might have been some talk of stopping pipelines, but that was it. There was, on the other hand, a lot of discussion of identity. Young people were heralded as the first BIPOC leaders of local climate groups. They didn't talk about what they were going to do as leaders; the important thing was the fact of leadership by someone who was a minority. Speakers talked about intersectionality and the disparate impact of environmental harms on minorities. The dubious claim was made that a European-style garbage incinerator in Minneapolis is evidence of systemic racism--never mind that there's no good evidence it's a source of pollution at all, much less that it contributes to climate change, and that it's situated in a neighborhood of young, mostly white, professionals.

When the speakers on the program were through, the microphone was open for anyone to offer comments. A young white man took the opportunity to suggest vegetarianism as a way of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. A following speaker, a white woman, lambasted this comment as racially insensitive. She yelled that it failed to consider that many BIPOC people don't have the economic resources to buy healthy vegetarian options, and it might be contrary to their cultures.

Maybe a reduction in eating animal products is a good way to fight climate change, and maybe it isn't. In any case, it was just about the only concrete idea for addressing the actual issue that anyone offered all afternoon. But rather than a discussion of it on the merits, it was angrily shut down as being racist.

It was disheartening.

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I had a similar experience in 2016 after Trump's election. Freaked out by the result, I went to a local Indivisible meeting where "action plans" and the like were supposed to be discussed, but it turned into an open-mic competition about which racial group was about to be harmed the worst by Trump. It soured me on activist culture and everything I've seen in the years since has only dimmed my view further.

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I kind of get the impression that for a lot of people in the climate movement, climate change something that we really need to address. But it's also an opportunity to get some of their less popular policies passed if you link them to climate change policies because if we're in a climate change emergency, you can't just refuse to pass a climate bill because it's got some provisions that are from the nuttier end of the social justice movement.

The thing about stuff like this is that it often turns off people with technical expertise to help come up with realistic policy solutions. And we need more people who can do the calculations to determine what effect each policy is likely to have.

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There have been many thousands of words written in the paper about people talking about the garbage burner and not a lot of the people quoted are willing to point out which direction the literal wind blows. They are afraid :(

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Away from people, or towards?

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Away from the neighborhood that everyone claims to be extremely concerned about.

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I really hope that the next left leaning admin realizes what a waste of time trying to build bridges with the NGO left is and just doesn't bother. All this has done is made the bills we've passed less effective, the president less popular, and the Groups TM more confident in their murder suicide tactics.

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Yes, this!

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I'm usually the one at least semi defending Progressive activists and yet I read this post and thought "You've got to be kidding me". This sentence in particular was just infuriating "At the end of March 2021, Alex O’Keefe, among the first Black hires of the Sunrise Movement and a member of management, dropped a long manifesto, signed by three others, into the organization’s Slack account, indicting the leadership for a culture of white supremacy." This Alex O'Keefe person should fired. This is a coup attempt plain and simple; a play to feed your own ego and inflate your own importance at the cost of actually accomplishing the goals your org. is trying to accomplish.

This whole excerpt and previous Matt posts on the same topic actually make me think of Frederick The Great of all things. Specifically, his famous quote "he who defends everything defends nothing". He was obviously talking specifically about military strategy; you have limited resources, if you try to defend every nook of your border, you're troops will stretched to thin and you'll lose. But I think it applies to this situation with Sunrise and similar orgs. You can adjust the aphorism to "he who prioritizes everything prioritizes nothing". And this excerpt is possibly a paradigm example of this. Sunrise had an opportunity to actually influence policy and to quote Robert DeNiro "You blew iiittttt!!!".

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Nov 27, 2023·edited Nov 27, 2023

> among the first Black hires of the Sunrise Movement

There's a certain kind of person who tends to get hired when liberal organizations decide they need to institute minority quotas, as exemplified by this guy.

I've talked about this on here before, but my very liberal company was ahead of the "reckoning" curve by about 2 years and due to some internal politics hired a bunch of activist-types, because when your goal is to improve the top-line minority representation numbers they are *very* easy to find (literally, search "queer POC" in linkedin, for example). We did some COVID-related layoffs and almost every single one of them was let go, because they didn't do anything except disrupt.

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The truth is any kind of race-conscious hiring is morally repugnant and counterproductive by definition. You should hire whoever is likely to do the best job, period.

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The crappy part is, there is almost certainly plenty of qualified Black/Hispanic/POC candidates for the jobs required and your company likely hired the people they did for the PR and suffered the consequences.

This is going to sound like a weird digression, but this reminds me of debates over $15 minimum wage. Like just raising the wage to $15 is going to disproportionately help POC given realities of socioeconomic stratification. No need to add social/racial justice angle; you end up harming your cause as you make it that much harder to pass legislation.

In this case, no need to look for activist key words on LinkedIn. In fact, the appropriate candidates who probably would be good at the job are probably less likely to have all these buzzwords.

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Not legal advice, but I would be genuinely concerned that screening résumés based on inclusion of pronouns could violate some state anti-discrimination laws on the theory that people who include such information are disproportionately likely to be "sexual minorities." Probably want to check with your legal department (or outside labor & employment counsel) about that if you haven't already.

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The daily (hourly?) push and pull I feel between "Always write down everything!" and "Never write down anything!"...

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When you snort some blow you don’t have to tell the cops you’re doing so either.

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This is a publicly accessible blog post. I have no clue whether it's possible to extract an IP address or other information from comments and/or user profiles here that would enable someone to track down a commenter IRL, but my (totally not legal advice) two cents would be to not mention doing anything unlawful in comments or at least not mention it in a way that suggests you are actively doing it today, as compared to did it many years ago.

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At worst this is tortious, but there's no mens rea. Not the blow, I mean.

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I would just like to say that the reason to not do things that have either a discriminatory intent or a discriminatory effect shouldn't be done because they are wrong, irrespective of whether they are illegal and irrespective of the likelihood you'll get caught.

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My job extensively involves counseling people on compliance with laws/regulations or otherwise avoiding doing things that are likely to get them sued. The moral dimensions of that are a separate issue. (There are many things that are immoral that are lawful and probably almost as many thing that are moral that are unlawful.)

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As a follow up. In my "I'll semi defend the far left" role, I'll say that it's not entirely wrong to see fighting climate change as intricately tied to racial justice. Freeways and highways were famously not just plunked down through major cities, but plunked down in predominantly African American neighborhoods. Those same freeways very likely increased lead exposure in the air thereby helping fuel the major crime rise of the 70s and 80s.

Probably the most famous example where environmental justice and racial justice are tied at the hip.

So having said that. Let's say Alex is right. Let's say Sunrise was not centering "racial justice" concerns nearly enough and therefore was contributing to Ta-Nahesi Coates formulation* of "white supremacy". You're way of confronting this is a manifesto to the entire company indicting the current leadership?! Considering this person is new and literally hired by the leadership, the fact that he didn't even think to bring this up privately and say "hey, I think we need to prioritize racial justice concerns more", but instead writes a manifesto that's now made it into a book is the part where I'm most on board with a) this was fireable and quite frankly the leadership likely has a defamation of character suit if they wanted to go down that road b) this was 80% this person's ego.

*Another place where the fact that Coates is a much better writer than most humans ended up harming his own cause. His Atlantic essays, whatever you may think of their ultimate arguments, had a certain amount of subtlety and rigor. Manifestos like this I think I can safely say are not subtle.

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Coates has world-class writing skills. Unfortunately they are accompanied by fairly pedestrian (and often bad) ideas. I think the same thing of Freddie DeBoer. Both great writers, though.

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I actually think Coates got too high on his own supply and started writing in this portentous way that really drags.

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Freddie is a really smart guy and a great writer; unfortunately, he tends to see everything through the lens of Marxist class analysis even when it's totally inappropriate. He tried to interpret Hesse's "Demian" in Marxist terms even though the book is obviously based in early 20th century European theosophy/occultism thought (about which he seems to know nothing). He also, like many Marxists, has an inner Stalin that comes out when people take a discussion somewhere he doesn't want it to go, which is why I'm no longer one of his subscribers.

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He publicly falsely accused someone of sexually assault and rape. Pobody's nerfect, but jeez.

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Freddie has discussed this openly and apologized. He suffers from bipolar disorder. That accusation, if it's the one I'm familiar with, happened during a manic phase in the period when he was still resisting the notion that he had a problem that he couldn't control without the help of prescription medication. As of the time I canceled my subscription to his Substack, Freddie had been on meds for a few years and was doing much better.

It's really a cheap shot and a low blow to drag this up again. He knows he was wrong, and he's taken responsibility for his mental health.

If you're thinking, "Okay, he's got mental issues, but he still shouldn't have done THAT," then you have no clue about mental illness.

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I kind of...think the same.

I've read both on and off for 20 years now and my memory is that I didn't have nearly as much disagreement with either's ideas years ago. They've sort of both gone down (I'll be polite) interesting paths around the same time. And in both cases, I increasingly started thinking "I don't know dude" when it came to what they actually wanted to advocate.

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I think it was about 2014 when Coates wrote that he believed the US was *literally*, 6 years into Obama's tenure, a white supremacist state akin to apartheid-era south africa.

How can you take a person seriously when they say things like that?

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Simple, you shouldn't.

Coates is actually an intelligent guy, but his obsession with seeing the world entirely in terms of racial issues unbalances him.

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founding

We need to get these conversations back on areas of disagreement. Agreeing with each other is probably disorienting for both of us. 😀

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Lol, same. Coates is an amazing writer, and part of it is that he says terrible things in a relatable way. He wrote that he wasn’t sad when the WTC towers fell, and while I thought his thesis was ridiculous, I powerfully connected with how bitter he was.

I also remember him writing about the fact that Obama married a woman with darker skin than his, which really struck me. It had never occurred to me what that might mean to the black community.

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Freddie is excellent on topics he knows well - mental health and education and (sometimes) the arts. But on economics and foreign policy, it's pabulum straight out of a sophomore seminar. I get the distinct impression he hasn't spent much time outside the U.S.

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I think I read only one ting by him. Wasn't at all impressed. Moved on.

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I like to say that I liked Ta-Nahesi Coates before he became Ta-Nahesi Coates™, in that a lot of his early stuff was pretty good, but he became too convinced of his own World Historical stature. (And frankly, given his recent work product, I think Coates himself regrets becoming Ta-Nahesi Coates™, since I believe he's working much more on non-journalistic/non-opinion piece writing these days.)

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Nov 27, 2023·edited Nov 27, 2023

I dunno, he's still out there doing stuff like this:

https://twitter.com/joshbegley/status/1720060272700760300?s=20

TLDR: Jim Crow America, Apartheid South Africa, and Palestine are *identical* political situations

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OK, I guess I was wrong . . . .

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What an idiot

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“… I'll say that it's not entirely wrong to see fighting climate change as intricately tied to racial justice”

Actually, it *is* entirely wrong. Fighting climate change is, with current technology, entirely about reducing global GHG emissions. That’s it. Crime surges due to environmental lead exposure did not increase GHG emissions, and therefore are not relevant to climate change. If you’re doing “environmental justice,” then you’re not serious about global GHG emissions. If you’re clamoring for “racial justice,” then, good for you (I guess - it depends on the details), but if you’re pretending it’s related to climate change, that’s all you’re doing - pretending.

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Fighting current greenhouse gas emissions only limits the future extent of atmospheric warming. It doesn't "solve" climate change. The only thing that will is removing enough CO2 from the atmosphere to get back to 1850s levels.

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Which is pointless to really invest in (other than R&D and pilots and industrial point source capture) until you get emissions low enough that removing CO2 from the atmosphere is reasonably close to cost effective vs. further emissions reductions. We'll need both in time. But one is *vastly* higher priority than the other.

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I doubt there is a “solve” in anything less than many decades, if not a few centuries. But “fighting” was the word Colin used, so I went with that. And “fighting current greenhouse gas emissions” is the only proven tool we’ve got at the moment.

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That misses cause and effect. They were put in minority neighborhoods because minorities are poor and poor people don't show up for NIMBY meetings. Making society less racist won't equal more poor people showing up to community input for infrastructure projects. The only way to solve that is to take veto power away from the wealthy white NIMBYs who wield it.

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Except they will veto any attempt to do so.

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My understanding is that the Sunrise Movement's position is that climate change is an existential threat and that we are in a climate crisis. If an organization truly believes we're in a climate emergency, why on earth would they drop all the climate work for several weeks in order to do work on racial justice within the organization? They could conceivably do both at the same time. And I'm very curious about what that white supremacy culture they identified was.

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Calling someone's bluff is usually the winning strategy in these types of squabbles. It's good to remind others --- and remember for yourself --- that everyone's replaceable. I'm sure there's a strong bias towards "addressing concerns" versus "managing" people, but if you're in charge you have a responsibility to not let your org get side tracked.

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I don’t know if that’s as true in voluntary organizations. Even in leadership roles, you are paid a pittance. It’s an ongoing challenge to keep people engaged. Someone you depend on may simply stop showing up, never to be heard from again.

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Organizations succeed when they are organized and disciplined. When they are disorganized and undisciplined, they fail. Anyone who shows a propensity for moving the organization in a more organized, more disciplined direction should be promoted; those who move it away from that should be fired.

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Niemöller was misunderstood. What he actually meant was “authoritarians start by going after widely disliked groups.”

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Sure, what I’m saying is that their problem is they have a fixed roster of “marginalized groups” that leads to effectively total ignorance of the point of the statement by Niemöller, which is “don’t let the government go after people via collective guilt/without due process” in an American context.

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No, the statement is originally in defense of classical liberal principles about collective guilt. Turning it the other way around is what wokes do.

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How strong, exactly, is the correlation between meetings with white house staffers and policy wins for the Sunrise movement? Would Manchin have been swayed one iota by much meetings? The extract suffers from NY Times-style dramatic officiousness, where access is too often equated with power. A necessary condition is not necessarily a sufficient one.

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But that’s not the point; the point is, this group threw away the *chance* to score policy wins for the sake of internal bickering.

I care about climate change, and I was facepalming repeatedly as I read the excerpt.

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I doubt Sunrise has technical expertise the admin needed to make policy choices and shape the legislation, so their input would be on the political side - could they offer carrots or sticks big enough to move key players in their direction.

What does anybody hear about their strength in that area? Apart from that, were their contributions to the legislation productive or unproductive? Their release after the bill’s passage was unsurprising - they claimed credit for helping force through the biggest climate bill ever, while slamming the law as “incredibly flawed” and the D party for wanting “to give up, roll over, play nice” with Joe Manchin. Did they undermine dealmaking that might have traded Manchin his pipeline permit in the IRA (which he got later anyway) in return for more green concessions in the bill?

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Your first sentence is true and conveys 90% of the information found in the extract. Trying to bleed too much from one, moderately insightful, fact, is bad writing

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There were some other gems in there though. I liked this sentence, which seems perfectly platitudinous until you realize it's actually insane:

"Wording or decimal point tweaks at the last moment can have profound long-term implications, and Sunrise was positioned to be in the room to make sure the bill was as strong as possible."

What the hell are "decimal point tweaks," to say nothing of decimal point tweaks at the last moment??? Ponder that for a minute.

Does it ever happen that people are on the verge of closing a deal and somebody says, "Oh, hey, remember that number we were talking about a while back? Why don't we just make it, like, ten times bigger." "Yeah, sure, let's do it and be legends."

The best part is that if I can imagine anybody literally having a tweak-the-decimal-point approach to policy negotiation, it's the sort of people being profiled here.

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That sentence is insane in a very officious sort of way. It argues that those with “access” can change policy outcomes by an order of magnitude by behaving well. The problem is any bill the administration proposed had to go through the committee process in two chambers of congress.

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Perhaps two wrongs made a right in this case

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Does anyone have any lefty orgs who they think have been successful in pushing their agenda while avoiding infighting? (even if you disagree with their cause)

This q goes out to those of you who expressed a certain amount of schadenfreude at seeing the Sunrise implosion.

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I would say more professionalized groups, like the Sierra Club, though their goals are now out of step with what’s really needed. The ACLU is widely perceived as leftwing.

I’m not sure the current craze with starting an organization where anyone can start a chapter, which is then not answerable to any other chapter, is a good idea. It’s obviously a great way to get started. You can get a lot of members really fast, and everyone gets to pick the thing they are most passionate about.

I just know for the organization that I got really involved in, Indivisible, our focus was meeting with local lawmakers to pressure them. And we got those meetings! But they repeatedly asked us to work with multiple chapters so we could just have one meeting with a coherent agenda, rather than dozens of chapters each demanding their time. Which seemed self-evidently better to me, but nobody else wanted to do that.

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Ha, ironic for an organization called Indivisible.

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Employ America/pro-full employment groups more generally?

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Unions generally.

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Although it was on a different scale, I used to do wildlife habitat restoration volunteer work on the weekends, and the leader put together the workgroup by using 1/4 regulars, 1/2 intermittent participants, and 1/4 first-timers. Best work I've ever done. With very few exceptions, we all got along great. There was one trip where it was all regulars, and we all got on each other's nerves.

So I've become a proponent of assembling workgroups so there are a few dedicated old hands, some people that know the work and the people, and a few new people to teach.

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In case anyone is interested, this is from Alex O'Keefe's website:

"I was Creative Director of The Sunrise Movement, the generational movement to win a Green New Deal. I was often called “Mr. Green New Deal” for my visionary push to redefine climate movement..." "As a director of the Green New Deal campaign, I helped rewrite the United States’ climate agenda."

He's either a really important and accomplished fellow, or just has an extraordinary exalted view of himself.

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Extreme "close colleagues shall refer to me as Dr. Lastname" energy.

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When I graduated from law school and became ML Esq., I tried to get people to refer to me as "Squire L." shockingly, no one would go along with it.

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Presuming you have a JD, you could also go with "Doctor." (I had a law professor who told about how when the law school switched in the 1950s from offering LLB degrees to JD degrees, it sent a letter to all the members of the graduating class advising them that they could use the title, "Doctor," and that the reaction was overwhelmingly, "You've got to be kidding me.")

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One neat quirk of this is that law is the only profession where the doctorate precedes the master's in the sequence of degrees.

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They will soon be calling me MR. BREXIT!

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Needs an update: "I was Creative Director of the Sunrise Movement until I issued a Manifesto decrying that organization's racist DNA. Even though I am concerned about the climate, I am really truly driven by the racial makeup of every individual and I make equity my paramount mission whatever else may be on the agenda."

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Is "Creative Director" a typical management role in this kind of organization? It sounds more like a title I'd expect to see at a Broadway theater or dance company.

The whole conception of the position seems like it's asking for trouble -- like as if the expectation was specifically for this guy to treat his job as a form of performance art.

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In my experience, "creative" is usually correctly read as marketing and branding, which admittedly is something that an organization like Sunrise needs to be good at.

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I have never read a "manifesto" in the company Slack, never mind several. Have any of you?

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Nov 27, 2023·edited Nov 27, 2023

Not on a company slack. My kid's school has a slack for parents, and right around this same time, late pandemic, one of the parents on that slack posted a manifesto saying that the school needed to treat "teaching the kids antiracism" as a goal at the same level of priority as "teaching the kids math."

I said to my wife, "it's obviously a bad idea to engage with this, but I really want to."

She said, "Don't."

I didn't engage with it.

Nothing came of it.

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Of all the things I have never wanted to do, arguing on PTA Slack about antiracism is one of the things I have never wanted to do most of all.

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The very existence of a PTA Slack is cursed

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My fatal character flaw is wanting to argue with people.

The like ironic twist on that is recognizing the trait of "wants to argue with people" in other people and kind of sympathizing with them as they're making totally specious arguments against you.

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A benefit of working with a preponderance of non-Westerners is that this shit never happens.

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I don’t work in an office, and do Indians like this stuff?

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My firm doesn't have Slack and I've frankly always been shocked at the stuff that I read about go out over Slack communications at various companies, non-profits, etc. to the point that I'm baffled as to why their management have allowed it to be used that way and how their legal departments haven't slapped the **** out of management until they turned either shut it down entirely or adopted and enforced a rigorous written policy about what is acceptable use of the service.

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We have a cooking channel; we have a gardening channel; we have a pet-photos channel. We do not have a manifesto channel!

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We have a cafecito channel, which sends an alert whenever one of my Cuban colleagues makes a fresh pot.

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Maybe a "Burn it to the ground!" mindset isn't the best way to deal with a problem that's literally caused by burning.

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I'm the guy who always kind of pushes the anti-anti-woke line and this piece, and others like it, have given me pause. I still find the woke and anti-woke equally annoying but it's getting harder and harder for me to pretend that the wokites aren't seriously damaging things.

Most of Sunrise's goals are alienating to me, but nevertheless I find this infuriating. It's like your left tackle choosing to Nancy Kerrigan your QB when there are 20 seconds left in the 4th quarter and you have no timeouts and it's 1st-and-Goal from the 9. What the hell are you idiots doing?

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The visual of that analogy is hilarious

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Crazy Eddie.

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Does the book cover the merits of the ask that the Biden Admin was considering?

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Does the author even KNOW what the most cost effective policy for reducing net CO2 emissions IS?

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CAP and trade? Smallest DWL?

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A friend of mine worked in progressive politics in Colorado for half a decade. She could have made more money waitressing, especially if she had worked the same, brutal hours. She shared a 3 bedroom apartment with two others and could barely keep her car running.

Activists who could make more if they quit are, almost tautologically, in it ti advance their ideas. Absent money, the biggest reason to subordinate one’s own priorities to group goals is solidarity, which is usually evanescent absent a truly charismatic leader or shared, materiel interests. Progressive groups that want loyal employees should pay more.

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People are loyal to an organization where they can be successful, where they have personal relationships, where they believe in the purpose and mission. Low pay is why they leave those places, but high pay doesn't engender that loyalty.

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Yeah, I don't know that Sunrise or any of those meetings actually would have influenced what really got passed in the end due to Sinema and Manchin. But, it's an interesting window into Leftist organization disfunction in any case.

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The extract could have been one sentence “Sunrise leader had to skip meetings with administration officials to manage internal equity disputes.”. The extract offers few facts beyond that, just preening

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RemovedNov 27, 2023·edited Nov 27, 2023
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normies don’t build political organizations. they watch stuff on tv and worry about their kids or girlfriends

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The Sunrise Movement has influence because journalists are sympathetic with its goals and give it coverage.

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Like pretty much all advocacy organizations, Sunrise is structured as multiple legal entities, sharing staff time across all of its entities but each maintaining its own budget and disclosure requirements. So you generally need to look in 2-3 places for these filings.

The Sunrise Movement filing you linked to is for their 501(c)4.

They also have a 501(c)3 called Sunrise Movement Education Fund (https://projects.propublica.org/nonprofits/organizations/464773036) which reported $14 million in revenue for that same year and an additional $47,858 in compensation for the executive director.

And there's a Sunrise PAC (https://www.opensecrets.org/political-action-committees-pacs/sunrise-pac/C00674697/summary/2022) which has revenue/expense reports filed with the FEC instead of the IRS.

They may have other legal entities too, but the c3/c4/pac combination is the most common for organizations that do a blend of issue advocacy, lobbying, and federal electoral work.

That said, as far as I can tell, none of this changes the overall picture that as of 2021 their total revenue and executive compensation were pretty impressively low considering their influence.

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Which means the head of the ACLU is making more than, oh, 98% of the people reading these comments. Nice job if you can get it. The NRA, meanwhile, has devolved, like much of the right, into a Bizarro World cult that's more interested in keeping their membership terrified of "the left" than in actually accomplishing anything.

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Any figures for rank and file political workers?

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450k - that's kinda insane too. 6mm - perverse.

The American idea of executive pay is a virus. And that 'we have to pay that otherwise private sector', cf Ford Foundation; museum heads; college football coaches. Until 2002, I ran an open book company with profit sharing, health care, leave, etc; it was profitable and purchased by a Fortune 100 corp for its culture and efficency. We didn't do anything of iphone like 'innovation' other than our corp structure; and we transmitted our values within our org. Everyone did well. There wasn't this accepted greed factor in salaries. Why this is the exception in the US...I just have never understood it.

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Do you mind sharing what your company was? I'm just curious to read more about that structure.

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I don't think it's that uncommon for employee owned companies to be open book? The billion dollar per year general contractor I worked at was open book. We had quarterly meetings where among other things we reviewed the balance sheet, discussed revenues and profits, and got a general update on company finances.

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I'd be glad to discuss with you privately; i think we can do this with the substack chat function. I'm a HS dropout, but well read; fiction is what taught me most; one of the things that stuck with me was how whaling ships ran - on shares etc etc; so i did that. Plus the books 'Natural Capitalism' and how Patagonia and SONY! were set up. Will 'follow' you and see if i can set up a chat that way

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deletedNov 27, 2023·edited Nov 27, 2023
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It's partially cultural plus cost of living plus "hidden pay."

I wouldn't accept a job like "head of MSF" without knowing that I could afford an apartment in the city center, a country house and a BMW to drive from one to the other. Oh, and first-class business travel.

I bet this guy gets all of that and the $250k is an addition.

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