Peter Coy | Worker Overtime Pay Is Dying. It Shouldn’t Be. – The New York Times

Opinion Writer

“Time and a half for overtime is one of the best-known and most important protections for workers in the United States. Yet many employers routinely undermine the protection by misclassifying workers as managers and thereby making them ineligible for overtime pay.

The extent to which employers game the overtime system was made starkly clear in January in a working paper published by the National Bureau of Economic Research. The title says it all: “Too Many Managers: The Strategic Use of Titles to Avoid Overtime Payments.” “Food cart manager,” “price scanning coordinator,” “carpet shampoo manager,” “lead shower door installer,” “grooming manager” and “director of first impressions” (for a front desk clerk) are some of the “fake-sounding” titles uncovered by the authors, Lauren Cohen of Harvard Business School and Umit Gurun and N. Bugra Ozel of the University of Texas at Dallas School of Management.

I talked to three people who want to make it harder for employers to misclassify workers: Nick Hanauer, a wealthy entrepreneur who founded Civic Ventures, a public policy incubator in Seattle; Heidi Shierholz, the president of the Economic Policy Institute, a think tank focused on low- and middle-income workers; and David Weil, who ran the wage and hour division of the Department of Labor during the Obama administration but was rejected by the Senate for the same job in the Biden administration.”

Opinion | Gary Hart: The  “New Church Committee’ Is an Outrage – The New York Times

Mr. Hart is a former United States senator from Colorado and the author of, most recently, “The Republic of Conscience.”

“To legitimize otherwise questionable investigations, Congress occasionally labels them after a previous successful effort. Thus, the new Republican-controlled House of Representatives’ proposed select committee, which plans to investigate the “weaponization of government,” is being described as “the new Church committee,” after the group of senators who investigated the F.B.I., the C.I.A. and other groups from 1975-76.

As the last surviving member of the original Church committee, named after its chairman, the late Senator Frank Church of Idaho, I have a particular interest in distinguishing what we accomplished then and what authoritarian Republicans seem to have in mind now.

The outlines of the committee, which Rep. Jim Jordan will assemble, remain vague. Reading between the rhetorical lines, proponents appear to believe agencies of the national government have targeted, and perhaps are still targeting, right-of-center individuals and groups, possibly including individuals and right-wing militia groups that participated in the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrectionist attack on the Capitol.

That is almost completely at odds with the purpose of the original Church committee, which was founded in response to widespread abuses by government intelligence agencies. While we sought to protect the constitutional rights and freedoms of American citizens, we were also bound to protect the integrity of the intelligence and security agencies, which were founded to protect those freedoms, too.

Our committee brought U.S. intelligence agencies under congressional scrutiny to prevent the violation of the privacy rights of American citizens, and to halt covert operations abroad that violated our constitutional principles. Rather than strengthening the oversight of federal agencies, the new committee seems designed to prevent law enforcement and intelligence agencies from enforcing the law — specifically, laws against insurrectionist activity in our own democracy.

It is one thing to intercept phone calls from people organizing a peaceful civil rights march and quite another to intercept phone calls from people organizing an assault on the Capitol to impede the certification of a national election.”

Mihir A. Desai | The Crypto Collapse and the End of Magical Thinking – The New York Times

Mr. Desai is a professor at Harvard Business School and Harvard Law School.

“At a guest lecture at a military academy when the price of a single Bitcoin neared $60,000, I was asked, as finance professors often are, what I thought about cryptocurrencies. Rather than respond with my usual skepticism, I polled the students. More than half of attendees had traded cryptocurrencies, often financed by loans.

I was stunned. How could this population of young people come to spend time and energy in this way? And these students were hardly alone. The appetite for crypto has been most pronounced among Gen Z and millennials. Those groups became investors in the past 15 years at previously unseen rates and with exceedingly optimistic expectations.

I have come to view cryptocurrencies not simply as exotic assets but as a manifestation of a magical thinking that had come to infect part of the generation who grew up in the aftermath of the Great Recession — and American capitalism, more broadly.

For these purposes, magical thinking is the assumption that favored conditions will continue on forever without regard for history. It is the minimizing of constraints and trade-offs in favor of techno-utopianism and the exclusive emphasis on positive outcomes and novelty. It is the conflation of virtue with commerce.

Where did this ideology come from? An exceptional period of low interest rates and excess liquidity provided the fertile soil for fantastical dreams to flourish. Pervasive consumer-facing technology allowed individuals to believe that the latest platform company or arrogant tech entrepreneur could change everything. Anger after the 2008 global financial crisis created a receptivity to radical economic solutions, and disappointment with traditional politics displaced social ambitions onto the world of commerce. The hothouse of Covid’s peaks turbocharged all these impulses as we sat bored in front of screens, fueled by seemingly free money.

With Bitcoin now trading at around $17,000, and amid declining stock valuations and tech sector layoffs, these ideas have begun to crack. The unwinding of magical thinking will dominate this decade in painful but ultimately restorative ways — and that unwinding will be most painful to the generation conditioned to believe these fantasies.”

With F.B.I. Search, U.S. Escalates Global Fight Over Chinese Police Outposts – The New York Times

Megha Rajagopalan and 

Megha Rajagopalan, a former China correspondent, reported from London and countries across Europe. William K. Rashbaum reported from New York, where he has spent three decades covering crime.

6 MIN READ

“The nondescript, six-story office building on a busy street in New York’s Chinatown lists several mundane businesses on its lobby directory, including an engineering company, an acupuncturist and an accounting firm.

A more remarkable enterprise, on the third floor, is unlisted: a Chinese outpost suspected of conducting police operations without jurisdiction or diplomatic approval — one of more than 100 such outfits around the world that are unnerving diplomats and intelligence agents.”

Carlos Lozada | I Looked Behind the Curtain of American History, and This Is What I Found – The New York Times

Opinion Columnist

“In the realm of folklore and ancient traditions, myths are tales forever retold for their wisdom and underlying truths. Their impossibility is part of their appeal; few would pause to debunk the physics of Icarus’s wings before warning against flying too close to the sun.

In the worlds of journalism and history, however, myths are viewed as pernicious creatures that obscure more than they illuminate. They must be hunted and destroyed so that the real story can assume its proper perch. Puncturing these myths is a matter of duty and an assertion of expertise. “Actually” becomes an honored adverb.

I can claim some experience in this effort, not as a debunker of myths but as a clearinghouse for them. When I served as the editor of The Washington Post’s Sunday Outlook section several years ago, I assigned and edited dozens of “5 Myths” articles in which experts tackled the most common fallacies surrounding subjects in the news. This regular exercise forced me to wrestle with the form’s basic challenges: How entrenched and widespread must a misconception be to count as an honest-to-badness myth? What is the difference between a conclusive debunking and a conflicting interpretation? And who is qualified to upend a myth or disqualified from doing so?

These questions came up frequently as I read “Myth America: Historians Take On the Biggest Legends and Lies About Our Past,” a collection published this month and edited by Kevin M. Kruse and Julian E. Zelizer, historians at Princeton. The book, which the editors describe as an “intervention” in long-running public discussions on American politics, economics and culture, is an authoritative and fitting contribution to the myth-busting genre — authoritative for the quality of the contributions and the scope of its enterprise, fitting because it captures in one volume the possibilities and pitfalls of the form. When you face down so many myths in quick succession, the values that underpin the effort grow sharper, even if the value of myths themselves grows murkier. All of our national delusions should be exposed, but I’m not sure all should be excised. Do not some myths serve a valid purpose?”

“. . . . . Zelizer writes that the notion of a revolutionary Reagan era did not emerge spontaneously but was “born out of an explicit political strategy” aimed at exaggerating both conservative strength and liberal weakness. This is another recurring conclusion of “Myth America” — that many of our national mythologies are not the product of good-faith misunderstandings or organically divergent viewpoints that become entrenched over time, but rather of deliberate efforts at mythmaking. The notions that free enterprise is inseparable from broader American freedoms, that voting fraud is ubiquitous, that the feminist movement is anti-family — in this telling, they are myths peddled or exaggerated, for nefarious purposes, by the right.”

Richard H. Pildes – Why the Fringiest Fringe of the G.O.P. Now Has So Much Power Over the Party – The New York Times

Mr. Pildes is a legal scholar who analyzes the intersection of politics and law and how they affect our democracy.

“For the first time in nearly a century, we have witnessed the stunning spectacle of a Republican Party so fractured, it has struggled in multiple rounds of balloting to choose a speaker of the House. This Washington drama reflects larger structural forces that are changing American democracy.

Revolutions in communications and technology have transformed our democracy in more profound ways than just the more familiar issues of misinformation, hate speech and the like. They have enabled individual members of Congress to function, even thrive, as free agents. They have flattened institutional authority, including that of the political parties and their leaders. They have allowed individuals and groups to more easily mobilize and sustain opposition to government action and help fuel intense factional conflicts within the parties that leadership has greater difficulty controlling than in the past.

Through cable television and social media, even politicians in their first years in office can cultivate a national audience. When Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez entered Congress, she already had nine million followers on the major social media platforms, more than four times the number for Speaker Nancy Pelosi and an order of magnitude more than any other Democrat in the House. Recognizing the power social media provides, Representative Matt Gaetz, Republican of Florida and a provocateur in the opposition to Kevin McCarthy’s speakership bid, has said he wants to be the A.O.C. of the right.”

PolitiFact | Rick Scott ‘oversaw the largest Medicare fraud’ in U.S. history, Florida Democratic Party says

“First, Gov. Rick Scott scared the bejesus out of seniors with an online ad claiming that Medicare rate cuts would lead them to lose access to their doctors, hospitals and preventive care.

Then, the Florida Democratic Party fired back at Scott, issuing a press release that called Scott “the ultimate Medicare thief.”

The Democrats were referring to Scott’s prior tenure as CEO of Columbia/HCA about a decade ago, when the hospital company was fined $1.7 billion for Medicare fraud.

“Rick Scott is saying Democrats are committing Medicare robbery, when in fact he’s the ultimate Medicare thief. He lost the right to accuse Democrats of raiding Medicare when he oversaw the largest Medicare fraud in the nation’s history. Rick Scott’s company stole money that should have gone to health care for seniors,” said Florida Democratic Party spokesman Joshua Karp in the Feb. 25 press release.

Separately, we have fact-checked Scott’s claim “we are seeing dramatic rate cuts” to Medicare that will affect people’s choice of doctor, hospital and preventive care. We concluded that Scott had failed to say that the rate cut only applies to Medicare Advantage, and thus only affects a fraction of all Medicare beneficiaries. Also, it could be several months before we know the actual impact of the cut which could vary county by county. We rated Scott’s claim Mostly False.

Here, we’ll fact-check the Democratic counter-attack that Scott “oversaw the largest Medicare fraud in the nation’s history.” ”

Source: PolitiFact | Rick Scott ‘oversaw the largest Medicare fraud’ in U.S. history, Florida Democratic Party says

David Brooks | The Sad Tales of George Santos – The New York Times

“What would it be like to be so ashamed of your life that you felt compelled to invent a new one?

Most of us don’t feel compelled to do that. Most of us take the actual events of our lives, including the failures and frailties, and we gradually construct coherent narratives about who we are. Those autobiographical narratives are always being updated as time passes — and, of course, tend to be at least modestly self-flattering. But for most of us, the life narrative we tell both the world and ourselves gives us a stable sense of identity. It helps us name what we’ve learned from experience and what meaning our life holds. It helps us make our biggest decisions. As the philosopher Alasdair MacIntyre once observed, you can’t know what to do unless you know what story you are a part of.

A reasonably accurate and coherent autobiographical narrative is one of the most important things a person can have. If you don’t have a real story, you don’t have a real self.”

David Lindsay Jr.
NYT Comment:

Excellent and thoughtful, David Brooks. Thank you. How about a follow up and this crook. Is a recall possible, how would it come about, and what is needed if it is not available, for starters. It would also be interesting to hear you respond to to you many critics in the comments. You made impressive points about psychology, which is one of your beats that you cover.

InconvenientNews.net.

Carlos Lozada | How the House of Trump Was Built – The New York Times

Opinion Columnist

When journalists write books on the presidency of Donald Trump, they tend to choose one of three options. They write about personality, they write about paper, or they write about people.

This choice not only determines what kinds of work they produce but also affects how their audiences interpret Trump’s continuing influence over American life. In personality-driven narratives, the former president’s uniqueness and unpredictability render him mesmerizing but always verging on self-destruction; after all, when you suck all the air out of the room, you risk bursting. Writers who focus on paper — meaning the investigations, memos and ritual documentation of Washington, which Trump challenged with equal measures of deliberation and carelessness — depict his presidency as a tug between disruption and procedure, as the political system and Trump resisted and adapted to each other. An emphasis on people tells the story of Trump’s craven enablers, his true believers, his embattled opponents and, looking ahead, his most opportunistic imitators.”

Letter from David Lindsay

to: letters@nytimes.com,  NYT Managing Editor <nytnews@nytimes.com>

” One of the great questions of this time has always been whether Trump changed the country or revealed it more clearly. The answer is yes; it is both. He changed America by revealing it. On Jan. 6, Trump was the man who could win the country back for those who yearned for him long before they imagined him. If he can’t do it, someone like him will do. Or someone like him, perhaps, but more so.  .”

But it probably would have been better if it allowed comments. It is my experience that the finest essays at the NYT can stand up to scrutiny and even attacks.  I even have a little niche, often defending centrist writers, who are attacked by the left wing mob that likes so much to like each other’s comments. This essay expanded our already extensive knowledge of one of the greatest conmen and grifters of our age. It is way past time that the Department of Justice take him down. And yet, the irony of my desire, is that he is now the not so secret weapon for the moderate democrats. When he falls, the right, and the fossil fuel corporations,  will probably be strengthened, and the environmental movement weakened. And woe is US. The scientist say we have only about 8 years to turn our great ship around, before hitting the icebergs.

David Lindsay

blogging at InconvenientNews.net

How Joe Manchin Aided Coal  and Earned Millions – The New York Times

Christopher Flavelle and 

14 MIN READ

“GRANT TOWN, W.Va. — On a hilltop overlooking Paw Paw Creek, 15 miles south of the Pennsylvania border, looms a fortresslike structure with a single smokestack, the only viable business in a dying Appalachian town.

The Grant Town power plant is also the link between the coal industry and the personal finances of Joe Manchin III, the Democrat who rose through state politics to reach the United States Senate, where, through the vagaries of electoral politics, he is now the single most important figure shaping the nation’s energy and climate policy.

Mr. Manchin’s ties to the Grant Town plant date to 1987, when he had just been elected to the West Virginia Senate, a part-time job with base pay of $6,500. His family’s carpet business was struggling.

Opportunity arrived in the form of two developers who wanted to build a power plant in Grant Town, just outside Mr. Manchin’s district. Mr. Manchin, whose grandfather went to work in the mines at age 9 and whose uncle died in a mining accident, helped the developers clear bureaucratic hurdles.