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Forbes and the "Self-Made" Label

by cactus

Forbes and the “Self-Made” Label

I’m kinda busy these days, but this topic is small pet peeve of mine: what the heck is up with Forbes and the “self-made” label? On occasion, I’ve gone through the Forbes 400 list of richest Americans and marveled at who Forbes manages to decide qualifies as self-made.

Case in point. Take Aubrey McClendon, head of Chesapeake Energy, the largest independent gas producer in the US. His great-uncle was a governor and a three-time senator, and also co-founded a large oil company. His father worked for the company for 35 years, and one imagines he wasn’t a janitor or nightwatchman.

McClenond himself will tell you:

I had some early financial advantages in life that probably let me take a chance or two that I wouldn’t have been able to

But to Forbes, McClendon is a self-made man.

A few spots up from McClendon is another self-made dude (according to Forbes), Paul Tudor Jones II. The “II” is not an automatic marker of wealth, but it should have been a tip-off to Forbes that perhaps it was worth visiting “teh google”, which would have been kind enough to guide them toward this interview:

I already had an appreciation for trading because my uncle, Billy Dunavant, was a very successful cotton trader. In 1976, after I finished college, I went to my uncle and asked him if he could help me get started as a trader. he sent me to Eli Tullis, a famous cotton trader, who lived in New Orleans. Eli is the best trader I know, he told me. I went down to see Eli and he offered me a job on the floor of the New York Cotton Exchange.

And the name “Dunavant” should have rung a bell to Forbes – after all, Forbes ranks Dunavant Enerprises as one of the 400 largest private firms in the US. Another thirty seconds of “research” would have told the folks at Forbes this:

His paternal grandfather, Colonel William P. Dunavant, was in the railroad business and created one of the main cotton transporting railroads of the time, a railroad that grew into the southern leg of the famous Frisco Railroad. Billy’s father, William Dunavant, began working for T. J. White and Company at the age of twenty-one. After White retired, the company was passed to William Dunavant; however, because of the untimely death of his father in 1961, Billy Dunavant took over the company at the age of twenty-nine.

I’ll concede that a stream of events where all this is true and Tudor Jones was none-the-less a penniless guy who pulled himself up by his bootstraps in a way that the rest of us were just too lazy to accomplish. It does seem unlikely, though. A more reasonable description of events is that this is another example (I’ve had a post or two on this in the past) that Forbes simply has a tendency label some very unlikely individuals as being self-made. And from what I can tell, this is a Forbes thing; most of the folks Forbes gives this label to that the rest of us might not don’t go around insisting they’re self-made. (I believe I recall one counter-example.) So what’s up with Forbes and the use of this label?
by cactus

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Same labels, same old stuff

One Salient Oversight sends some thoughts from down under on recycling labels:

Think of the common labels thrown out against political opponents these
days. What sort of political thinking would be labelled in the following

* The propagation of ideas like Darwinism, Marxism, the teachings of
Nietzche, Liberalism, Socialism, Communism and Anarchism.
* A focus on Utopianism that is actually unattainable because of the
underlying conspiracy within the group.
* A movement towards materialism.
* Supporting supranational entities notions such as World Government.
* A control of the media to promote these evil ideas, under the
guise of a “free press” (which is actually controlled by the conspiracy).
* Sexual licence.
* An opposition to Christianity and a promotion of secularism and
atheism – but with an actual evil religion under girding it.

All those descriptions can quite easily be seen as being directed by
conservatives against progressives. Consider the following:

* Conservatives often use progressive ideas as a pejorative, and
will quite easily label a progressive by a general term. Labelling them
as “communists”, for example, even though they don’t espouse Communism.
* An argument that progressive ideas are based upon a vision of a
“false utopia”.
* An argument that progressives cannot tolerate faith and are
inherently materialist.
* Complete opposition to any notion that supranational entities like
the United Nations and the European Union are useful. Such entities are
either threats to freedom or full of incompetents. Those who support
such entities are thus evil.
* That the “Mainstream Media” is inherently “liberal” and has an
agenda to promote a particular point of view under the guise of the
“free press”.
* That sexual licence promoted by progressives will end up leading
to the destruction of traditional marriage and enforced sexual
perversions (like paedophilia and bestiality).
* That a conspiracy of progressives is trying to destroy
Christianity and replace it with atheism, and that such a conspiracy
has, at its base, Satanic and pagan influences.

Sounds terrible doesn’t it? Or maybe it sounds true. Or maybe, just
maybe, someone came up with the same sort of thing during the late
nineteenth century (Protocols of the Elders of Zion) and directed it towards a societal group that they
thought was destroying the world?

In the case of the late nineteenth century, these beliefs were outright
lies that were fabricated with the intention of creating ill-will and
hatred towards their “enemy”. It therefore gives you an idea of how
these people – even those today – think.
This one by reader One Salient Oversight

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Mike sends a response to rdan on off-label drugs

It is evident that this will lead to less pressure on the Drug Companies
to get their drugs approved by the FDA. I would suggest that we consider
letting the market help. i.e.

1) If a drug is prescribed off-label, then the patient be permitted
to return it to the drug store for a full refund, no questions asked. —
Obviously many people might be helped, and others would not bother to try to
get a refund, but it would encourage the Drug Company to test the drug to be
able to sell it without the possibility of having ineffective drugs being

2) If a drug is being prescribed off-label, with the cooperation of
the Drug Company, then the patient can go to court and have a presumption
that the drug is the cause of any reasonable harm to the patient. Obviously
one would want a judge to eliminate unreasonable cases, but if it is
reasonable that the off-label use of the drug might have caused the damage,
then the encouraged off-label use would lead to an assumption of guilt until
proven by the preponderance of evidence otherwise.

Obviously the details of these can be adjusted to make them more
reasonable, but their purpose is to let the Drug Company have some reasons
for testing their drugs and for not encouraging their off-label use unless
they feel they are safe and effective.

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Off label drug pushers

FDA doesn’t just approve drugs, it approves drugs for specific uses. However, doctors can prescribe drugs for unapproved, or “off-label,” uses.

Under a law that expired in 2006, pharmaceutical reps were legally able to distribute journal articles touting the benefits of off-label uses. But, according to the Associated Press, FDA maintained some regulatory oversight: “Under the expired law, companies had to submit reprints of articles to the FDA before sending them to doctors. That way, the articles’ accuracy could be reviewed.”

If FDA chooses to finalize this policy, which it published today as “proposed guidance,” drug companies would be able to use journal articles to market off-label uses willy-nilly. The AP article continues, “Under the new proposal, drug companies don’t have to submit articles.”

Off-label use of drugs is big business. According to The Wall Street Journal, “[FDA] is stepping into a high-stakes business issue, because off-label uses of prescription drugs are a mainstay of the industry — an estimated 21% of drug use overall, according to a 2006 analysis published in the Archives of Internal Medicine.”

According to Merrill Goozner at the GoozNews blog, the pharmaceutical lobby pushed for FDA to go forward with the policy which will be a boon for the industry:

So what was in today’s proposed guidance? It pretty much gives industry everything it was looking for. It would allow drug salespersons to drop off article reprints as long as they came from a peer-reviewed journal that had a conflict-of-interest disclosure policy. Articles from industry-funded supplements would not be allowed…

Note what isn’t in the policy: It doesn’t say that the studies of unapproved uses must be from randomized controlled clinical trials, which is the gold standard of medical research.

Rep. Henry Waxman(D-CA) caught wind of this policy last November and asked FDA to refrain from going forward.

We probably will get exactly what we wish for, and then get blamed for the result. I call it sneered at..”Suckers!!”

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Thoughts on the War on Terror as a Label

I have a vague recollection of GW saying something to the effect that if we change our behavior or lifestyle, the terrorists have won. (Anyone have the quote?) As I was waiting, barefoot, for my carry-on, my flip-flops (the easiest thing to travel in these days), my laptop and my cell-phone to clear the X-ray machine, I looked over at the octogenarian lady standing next to me waiting for her belongings. Then I reflected on the fact that GW has not flown commercially since at least the year 2000.

Calling it a “War on Terror” means one day, when we win, we’ll be able to go back to the days when we weren’t fighting. Put another way… one day we’ll be able to go back to the days before our carry-on items were scrutinized this carefully. That day will never come, even if every last islamofascist is rounded up and GW has Osama’s testicles in a jar of formaldehyde sitting on the mantle. Calling it a “War on Terror” is just silly.

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NY Times Calculator Mislabels Salaries as Wealth

Dean Baker has a lot of praise for this calculator:

The NYT has a very nice feature in today’s paper, a calculator that allows you to see how wages have grown over the last four decades. You can make comparisons for a wide variety of demographic characteristics, occupations, and industries. You can even plus your own info in and see how you’re doing compared to your peers. This is nice, it’s giving people real information. That’s what newspapers are supposed to do.

I agree but I have one nitpick with the title which talks about “wealth” whereas the calculator graphs real salaries. Their instructions continue the error in terminology by calling this salary calculator a “wealth calculator”. Could someone let the New York Times know that stocks and flows are different concepts.

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Pork Barrel Spending Labeled “Fiscal Responsibility”

An AP story carried by CNN shows that the White House was paid many visits by “Republican activists Grover Norquist and Ralph Reed” over the past 6 years. White House spokeswoman Dana Perino had an odd way of excusing the visits by Mr. Norquist:

He is one of a number of individuals who worked to advance fiscal responsibility, which is one of the key aspects of the president’s agenda

I seriously doubt Mr. Norquist asked Karl Rove if the pork barrel spending for his clients could be reduced.

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THIS makes me VERY happy.

I go to fairly extreme lengths to avoid buying products from companies that do testing on animals. Ology bar soap and liquid hand soap, which I get at Walgreens, is a favorite, but also Alberto Culver products and a shampoo brand I pick up at Dollar Tree (my mind is blanking on the brand, and I don’t have any right now)*, and Argan Oil of Morocco, which is available at Walgreens and Walmart, for a nice touch after shampooing.

Okay, the extreme lengths are just reading labels and googling brands.  But still ….

It’s nice that soon (although not soon enough) I won’t be so limited.  But I’ll still remember the brands that did this voluntarily.

Go Humane Society!


TYPO-CORRECTED 6/9 at 1:33 p.m


*It’s White Rain. Added 6/9 at 3:02 p.m.


UPDATE: In the comments thread, reader Longtooth posted a link to this article published at Huffington Post today about the palm oil industry.  That article in turn links to this one published at HuffPost last September. Added 6/9 at 4:54 p.m.

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Jon Chait rhymes with Click Bait

I find Jon Chait extremely interesting and stimulating. I often check his blog and regret the rareness of his posts (look who’s typing). He usually overstates his case and has an even the liberal New Republic hippy punching background.

This subtitle is pure click bait

How Can Hillary Clinton Win the Bernie Sanders Vote?
By moving to the … right? That’s what the data says.

In the post Chait argues that the (surprisingly useful) concepts of Left and Right can’t capture the diversity of political views. In particular he notes the NBC-Survey Monkey result that a majority of people who support Sanders but not Clinton over Trump describe their orientation as “Moderate” placing themselves to the right of the median Clinton supporter.

It is clearly true that many people supported Sanders’s nomination for reasons other than his leftism — Chait notes that he keeps noting this. He puts it well

As I argued a month ago, Sanders has tapped into a good-government tradition that has run through a century of progressive politics, and animated campaigns by figures like Adlai Stevenson, Eugene McCarthy, George McGovern, Jimmy Carter, Gary Hart, Jerry Brown, Howard Dean, and Barack Obama. Sanders has the image of an authentic, independent, non-corporate conviction candidate that contrasts perfectly against Clinton’s scandal-tainted persona.

If this is completely true, it provides no support for Chait’s subtitle. The claim that politics can’t be reduced to left and right is combined with the assumption that politics can be reduced to left and right, so if Clinton shouldn’t move left, she should move right. The subtitle is mere contrarian provocation, that is, click bait. So is mine.

According to Chait’s actual logic, to win Sanders supporters who don’t support her, Clinton shoult convince them that she is more honest than Trump. Since he is a con man and pathological liar, this should be possible.

The interesting question is whether strong support for Sanders suggests that Democrats should move left. Chait argues against this noting that not all Sanders supporters are leftists. This doesn’t follow at all. The general assumption (certainly Chait’s and mine) was that the label “socialist” was electoral poison. It clearly isn’t. Sanders calls himself a Democratic Socialist and leads all recent general election polls . He leads general election polls in North Carolina ! This isn’t your father’s electorate.

On issue after issue, the main stream Democratic position is to the right of the median adult’s (although elected Democrats are shifting their positions quickly).

This is true on Social Security, Medicare (click and search for “increase spending”), marijuana, taxes on the wealthy and corporations, , Medicare, and Medicaid, and Medicare-for-all (click and search).

The surprising support for Sanders is not all due to surprising leftism. However, it is additional evidence (as if any were needed) that the views of ordinary people in the USA on bread and butter issues are well to the left of those which members of the elite imagine ordinary people have.

update: Clearly Hillary Clinton isn’t following Chait’s advice as Dara Lind notes “Think Hillary Clinton is pivoting to the center? Her new video sure isn’t.
It’s a celebration of protests and difficult women.” What does the savvy disciplined (ok calculating) Clinton up to ?

Here the original point of my original post (which I forgot to type) is that Clinton absolutely does have to worry about Sanders supporters who *tell pollsters* they will vote for her. People who don’t end up voting don’t admit they won’t. In fact, people who didn’t vote don’t all admit it when asked. The key question for Clinton (and for Democrats always) is “will young people vote ?”.

This means that the problem is to get people who definitely will not vote for Trump but may not vote at all enthusiastic. I think this means that a lefty tone is optimal. In any case, it sure seems that Clinton thinks this.

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How Trump Can Drive the Republican Establishment/1%ers to the Libertarian Party

Lot of angst out there among the Republican Establishment facing the Era of Trump. They are facing a candidate who combines a fatal toxic brew of nativism/racism with economic and foreign policy stances that (to the extent they are even coherent) go against every tenet of Conservative orthodoxy on both sides of the Reagan/Elder Bush divide: American leadership of international coalitions, hostility to taxes and the welfare state, willing submission to the power of free markets and free movement of (untaxed) capital. And so some in the #NeverTrump camp are floating the idea of an independent or third party candidate. But are faced with a fatal flaw: for practical purposes they can’t get on the ballot in enough States to be anything but a spoiler.

On the other hand there is an existing Party that has that ballot access and one that is in accord with the Republican establishment on most of the latter’s basic agenda. The Libertarian Party. And what are the main obstacle to a merger? Pot and gay marriage. And why does the Republican Establishment give a crap about either? Because they have been pandering to the Base dominated by white evangelicals. But those people have turned on the Establishment anyway and truth be told most of the 1% know plenty of gay people in New York or Silicon Valley and if they didn’t toke a little in college have kids and trusted subordinates that did.

So if they just give way on those two issues there is every prospect of forming a three way coalition of Establishment Republicans, Libertarians, and even Third Way/No Labelers. Maybe they can call it the Freedom and Property Party. Or if they have a sense of humor the Milton Friedman Property Party. Because as I have argued before classical Conservatism and classical Liberalism/Libertarianism share a common philosophical principle: that the only (or main) legitimate function of government is the protection of private property. With the main difference being that Conservatives define ‘property’ in a way that assumes patriarchal authority over the family/household.

Feel free to treat this post as a joke or snark. That is at least half of how I started it out. But I am talking myself into it.

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