Peter Coy | A Spirit of Gratitude Is Healthy for Society – The New York Times

Opinion Writer

“Greetings as we approach the 400th anniversary of the first Thanksgiving celebration. The Pilgrims in 1621 had much to be thankful for. They had arrived a year earlier with “no friends to wellcome them, nor inns to entertaine or refresh their weatherbeaten bodys, no houses or much less townes to repaire too, to seeke for succoure,” in the words of their leader, William Bradford. The Wampanoags, hoping the white settlers would help them fight other tribes, helped them survive the harsh winter. The wary allies celebrated that fall with a feast of turkeys, ducks and venison, although probably not cranberry sauce or pumpkin pie.

What does giving thanks have to do with economics? A lot, actually. I apologize if this sounds like an imitation of a David Brooks column, but the truth is that a spirit of gratitude motivates precisely the behaviors that a successful economy requires, particularly patience and generosity. For this newsletter I interviewed David DeSteno, a professor of psychology at Northeastern University (about 35 miles from where the Pilgrims landed), who is one of the leading authorities on the social effects of gratitude.

DeSteno’s recent papers include “Gratitude Reduces Consumption of Depleting Resources,” completed last year with Shanyu Kates, and “The Grateful Don’t Cheat: Gratitude as a Fount of Virtue” written with Fred Duong, Daniel Lim and Kates and published in Psychological Science in 2019. He published a book this year titled “How God Works: The Science Behind the Benefits of Religion.” I also recommend a talk that he gave at Google in 2018 on the topic of gratitude.”

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NYT Comment:
Thank you Peter Coy. I just sent the following to your newsletter email:
I just turned 69 yesterday, and it is very tempting to say, What is there to be grateful for? I quickly smile, to communicate the intended humor, and my loving partner chirps back, Well, consider the alternative. I’m grateful for a beautiful partner, house, family, and friends. I’d like to include neighbors, but they refuse to speak to me, for not being just as Republican as they are, or something. I was never good at keeping my opinions to myself.
I am grateful for having Peter Coy in my life, first at Business Week, which I have subscribed to for decades, and now, at the New York Times. I deeply respect journalists who work hard to figure things out and explain them. That is what I aspire to do every day, as I read and write about climate change and the sixth extinction.
I’ve just added to my new manuscript, a joke reported the other day by Thomas Friedman, that he heard at the Cop 26 climate summit in Glasgow. Two planets are talking to each other, One looks like a beautiful blue marble, and the other a dirty brown ball. “What on earth happened to you?” the beautiful planet asks the brown one. “I had Homo Sapiens,” answers the brown planet. “Don’t worry,” says the blue planet. “They don’t last long.”
Yours, David
Author of: “The Tay Son Rebellion, Historical Fiction of Eighteenth-Century Vietnam” Blogging at: InconvenientNews.Net,

Paul Krugman  | What Europe Can Teach Us About Jobs – The New York Times

“Americans have a hard time learning from foreign experience. Our size and the role of English as an international language (which reduces our incentive to learn other tongues) conspire to make us oblivious to alternative ways of living and the possibilities of change.

Our insularity may be especially damaging when it comes to countries with whom we have a lot in common. Western Europe is our technological equal; labor productivity in northern Europe is just a little below productivity here. But Europe’s policies and institutions are very unlike ours, and we could learn a lot by looking at how those differences have played out. Unfortunately, any suggestion that Europe does something we might want to emulate tends to be shouted down with cries of “socialism.”

“. . .  Finally, let me offer a speculative hypothesis: Perhaps one reason Europeans aren’t engaging in an American-style Great Resignation is that they don’t hate their jobs quite as much.

Anecdotally, one factor behind Americans’ unwillingness to return to their old jobs is that enforced idleness during the pandemic gave many people a chance to reconsider their life choices — and a significant number may have realized that low-paying jobs with lousy working conditions weren’t worth having.

Of course, Europe is by no means a worker’s paradise. But some jobs that are grueling and poorly paid here are less awful on the other side of the Atlantic. Famously, in Denmark McDonald’s pays more than $20 an hour and offers six weeks of paid vacation each year. That may be an exceptional case, but the U.S. does stand out among wealthy countries for having a low minimum wage, for offering very little vacation time and for failing to offer parental and sick leave. Maybe the poor quality of U.S. jobs is one reason so many American workers are reluctant to return.

Which brings me to an under-discussed aspect of the current economic scene: Europe’s comparative success in getting workers idled by the pandemic back into the labor force.”

David Lindsay.   Amen.  Here are the two top comments at the NYT:

Times Pick

How can we possibly learn anything from France, the socialist dump? Have you ever been there? It’s terrible, all they have is great food and beautiful parks, amazing museums, walkable cities with excellent public transit, and a culture that values time with friends and family.

9 Replies724 Recommended
Socrates commented November 29

Downtown Verona, NJ Nov. 29

Europeans understand inherently that they are part of society. Many Americans fail to grasp the concept of society, preferring the catastrophic and ludicrous myth of “individualism” that has produced moral, intellectual and economic poverty for tens of millions of Americans. They pretend that millionaires and CEOs built companies all by themselves and they fall for that nonsensical myth and they blindly worship “individual” success. No doubt that there are many talented CEOs and business owners who were the driving forces behind their company’s successes, but they all needed a staff and government infrastructure and a stable society to build that success. But Americans have tolerated the broad daylight highway robbery transfer of wealth from worker wages to CEO and executive wages for fifty years now, aided and abetted by the marketing of largely unregulated “capitalism” and greed to the great detriment of workers, who increasingly are relegated to poverty wages. CEO compensation in the USA grew 940% from 1978 to 2019 while typical worker compensation rose just 12% during that time. CEO’s and executives are not gods or superheroes; they’re just people. The federal minimum wage in the USA has been frozen at $7.25 per hour since July 2009, thanks in large part to America’s vulture capitalist culture feverishly peddled to Americans by billionaire right-wing profiteers. America’s vulture capitalists need to be regulated and taxed back to civilization and a decent society.

21 Replies695 Recommended

Europe Looks to Nuclear Power to Meet Climate Goals – The New York Times

“PARIS — European countries desperate for a long-term and reliable source of energy to help reach ambitious climate goals are turning to an answer that caused earlier generations to shudder: nuclear power.

Poland wants a fleet of smaller nuclear power stations to help end its reliance on coal. Britain is betting on Rolls-Royce to produce cheap modular reactors to complement wind and solar energy. And in France, President Emmanuel Macron plans to build on the nation’s huge nuclear program.

As world leaders pledge to avert a climate catastrophe, the nuclear industry sees an opportunity for a revival. Sidelined for years after the disasters at Fukushima and Chernobyl, advocates are wrangling to win recognition of nuclear energy, alongside solar and wind, as an acceptable source of clean power.

More than half a dozen European countries recently announced plans to build a new generation of nuclear reactors. Some are smaller and cheaper than older designs, occupying the space of two football fields and costing a fraction of the price of standard nuclear plants. The Biden administration is also backing such technology as a tool of “mass decarbonization” for the United States.”

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NYT comment:
Thank you Liz Alderman and Stanley Reed for this fascinating report. I also enjoyed the top 20 or 30 comments, which were impressively pro-nuclear, and well informed. I hope you write a lot more on this important subject. One article could pick up on some of the comments, and chase down some sources.
What I am most keen to read about, is what are the technical changes in the new nuclear designs. Is the Bill Gates team nuclear plant superior or inferior to the one now being promoted by Rolls Royce? et cetera. Gates describes his new plant broadly in a Netflix documentary, Inside Bill’s Brain, part three. I recently read that there might be as many as 20 new designs of this next generation of relatively safe nuclear plants.
I would like to know what their similarities and differences are, and where to go to get more details, if I am able to follow along on the technical discussion. And again, Thanks for this great work. David blogs at InconvenientNews.Net

Esau McCaulley | I Grew Up Poor. How Am I Supposed to Raise My Middle-Class Kids? – The New York Times

Contributing Opinion Writer

“Every year on Thanksgiving, my children experience something I rarely did when I was growing up. They see their father, mother and siblings all gathered around a family meal with plenty of food to spare. It is so utterly normal to them that they do not even note it. Thanksgiving is just another day of warmth and security.

I have many happy memories of the meals prepared by my single mother and my extended family during the holidays. I know well the debate between turkey and ham as the central dish. I was taught to recognize the difference between good and mediocre macaroni and cheese. I remember spades tournaments, games of dominoes and the rich tenor of Black male laughter. My family found happiness even when it was hard to come by.

The difference between my childhood Thanksgivings and those of my kids is the world that existed around the holiday. My mother was diagnosed with a brain tumor when I was in elementary school; she couldn’t work full time, so we lived mostly on government assistance. Our home was in Huntsville, Ala., some 100 miles northeast of Birmingham, the site of so many pivotal events of the civil rights movement. My little corner of the city, Northwest Huntsville, still bears the scars from redlining and the inadequate desegregation of its schools during the civil rights era.”

Greg Weiner | There Is Another Democrat A.O.C. Should Be Mad At – The New York Times

Mr. Weiner is a political scientist who was a senior Senate aide to Bob Kerrey, Democrat of Nebraska.

“Progressive Democrats in the House of Representatives can be forgiven their anxiety about whether Senators Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona will support the more than $1.8 trillion Build Back Better plan. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, for example, rues the two senators’ outsize influence, while her colleague Rashida Tlaib of Michigan worries that Mr. Manchin and Ms. Sinema are “corporate Dems” led astray by special interests.

But if disappointed progressives are looking for a Democrat to blame, they should consider directing their ire toward one of their party’s founders: James Madison. Madison’s Constitution was built to thwart exactly what Democrats have been attempting: a race against time to impose vast policies with narrow majorities. Madison believed that one important function of the Constitution was to ensure sustained consensus before popular majorities could prevail.

Democrats do represent a popular majority now. But for Madison, that “now” is the problem: He was less interested in a snapshot of a moment in constitutional time than in a time-lapse photograph showing that a majority had cohered. The more significant its desires, Madison thought, the longer that interval of coherence should be. The monumental scale of the Build Back Better plan consequently raises a difficult Madisonian question: Is a fleeting and narrow majority enough for making history?”

Interior Dept. Report on Drilling Is Mostly Silent on Climate Change – The New York Times

“WASHINGTON — The Interior Department on Friday recommended that the federal government raise the fees that oil and gas companies pay to drill on public lands — the first increase in those rent and royalty rates since 1920.

The long-awaited report recommended an overhaul of the rents and royalty fees charged for drilling both on land and offshore, noting one estimate that the government lost up to $12.4 billion in revenue from drilling on federal lands from 2010 through 2019 because royalty rates have been frozen for a century.

The Interior Department said its goal is to “better restore balance and transparency to public land and ocean management and deliver a fair and equitable return to American taxpayers.”

But the report was nearly silent about the climate impacts from the public drilling program. The United States Geological Survey estimates that drilling on public land and in federal waters is responsible for almost a quarter of the greenhouse gases generated by the United States that are warming the planet.”

Christopher Caldwell | Bankers Took Over the Climate Change Summit. That’s Bad For Democracy. – The New York Times

Mr. Caldwell is a contributing Opinion writer and the author of “The Age of Entitlement: America Since the Sixties” and “Reflections on the Revolution in Europe: Immigration, Islam and the West.”

“The big annual United Nations forum for debate on climate change ended this month in Glasgow in a way that left many attendees bewildered. Money men have taken the thing over.

COP26, as the event was called, was less like its predecessors and more like a second “Davos” — the January meeting of the World Economic Forum where the global economy’s moguls and regulators meet to map out our economic future. Dozens of private jets arrived for COP26, bringing investors and fossil-fuel lobbyists in embarrassing profusion. The finance writer Gillian Tett noted that between 2015 and today, the “tribe” of COP attendees had been transformed from one of “environment ministers, scientists and activists” to one of “business leaders, financiers and monetary officials.” That is bound to render the movement’s tactics and goals less democratic.

For environmentalists, COP26 ended in disarray, with the world’s two largest coal-burning countries, China and India, refusing to sign on to a phaseout of that dirtiest of fuels. For the finance industry, prospects were rosier. The new Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero united 450 financial institutions around a “private-sector” plan to move the world to so-called net-zero carbon emissions. Bank of America, BlackRock, Goldman Sachs, Vanguard and Wells Fargo have signed on. Insurers (like Lloyds), ratings agencies (like Moody’s), pension funds (like the California Public Employees’ Retirement System) and financial-service providers (like Bloomberg) have also given their backing. They are ready to roll even if the COP activists are not.

The group is fronted by Mark Carney, a former Goldman Sachs executive and a former governor of both the Bank of Canada and the Bank of England, who is now the United Nations “special envoy” for climate and finance. About $130 trillion was said to be at the alliance’s disposal. That is serious money. It is more than the world generates in a year, and about six times the gross domestic product of the United States.

The alliance’s plan is vague. It involves “driving upward convergence around corporate and financial institution net-zero transition plans” and using financial “levers” to impose carbon-neutral rules on economic actors. The upshot: The alliance wouldn’t disburse the funds on climate “projects.” It would direct how those funds could be invested, favoring behaviors the finance industry deemed virtuous and freezing out those it deemed not. This would be an extraordinary concentration of political power in bankers’ hands — exactly the place where prudence might counsel us to fear power most.”

David Lindsay:  I don’t agree with this writer Caldwell that the bankers jumping in is bad news, it is great news. We need all the help we can get, and his concern that democracy is more important than anything else, is strange. Democracy hasn’t been working at all in taking climate change seriously. . So if the banks and insurance companies can put pressure on governments, better than not. This is the best news I read since I read Bill Gates new book, “How to Avoid a Climate Disaster.”

Binyamin Appelbaum | End the Trump-Biden Tariffs – The New York Times

Mr. Appelbaum is a member of the editorial board.

“Tariffs on imports from China have refilled the employee parking lot at Stoughton Trailers in Evansville, Wis. The company makes chassis, the wheeled steel frames that carry cargo containers around the country. Chassis from China are now prohibitively expensive, Stoughton is hiring hundreds of workers — and the rest of us are paying for those jobs.

The tariffs have contributed to a shortage of chassis in the middle of an import boom, one reason that American ports are gridlocked. Tariffs also drive up prices. American chassis are beginning to roll off production lines, but they cost more than pretariff Chinese chassis, which raises the price of everything that travels by chassis.

In slapping tariffs on chassis and a wide range of other goods in 2018, President Donald Trump loudly insisted China was cheating by subsidizing its export industries. Tariffs, he promised, would shelter American manufacturers from unfair competition. President Biden has maintained the tariffs. The federal government is on pace to collect more money in tariffs this year than in any previous year.”

Bret Stephens | Can Liberals Survive Progressivism? – The New York Times

Opinion Columnist

It’s been nearly 30 years since then-Gov. Bill Clinton took a break from the campaign trail to oversee the execution of death-row inmate Ricky Ray Rector. Morally, it may have been repugnant to kill a man so mentally handicapped by a failed suicide attempt that he set aside the pecan pie of his last meal because he was “saving it for later.”

Politically, it was essential.

By the early 1990s the American left had spent a generation earning a soft-on-crime image in an era of growing lawlessness. In 1988, Mike Dukakis secured the Democrats’ third landslide loss thanks in no small part to his stalwart opposition to the death penalty. Four years later, it was difficult to imagine any Democrat reaching the White House without a literal blood sacrifice to the gods of law and order.”

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NYT Comment:
Great column Bret, but, I disagree with the following: “It’s the basis on which the United States was able to make its streets far safer from around 1995 to 2015, when crime rates kept going down — above all to the benefit of the very minority communities that progressives claim to champion.” Mr. Stephens, apparently, hasn’t yet read, “Freakonomics” by Stephen J. Dubner and Steven Levitt, which refers to research about the amazing correlation between the drop of crime, and the legalization of abortion almost exactly 20 years earlier. Police Chiefs across the country took credit for a drop in crime that was probably caused by reductions in unwanted children. Unfortunately, for the far left, this observation doesn’t negate the rest of Stephen’s analysis. Pramila Jayapal and her friends on the far left, are delivering the country back to the Trumpistas. So much for mitigating climate change.