Thursday, September 11, 2008

The Principle of Substitution and Sit-Com Politics

I think it is right and proper to talk politics on the anniversary of 9/11. As we all know by now, it is not the external threats which could bring down the nation, its liberty and its people, but internal financial and political erosion created and abetted by Americans themselves.

At numerous points in the Republican convention, the word went out that this was "the most critical election in history," or equivalent. That's hyperbole, of course; the truly critical election will be in 2012, when the nation's financial health has declined to crisis levels.

One technique I find useful in cutting through bias and propaganda is "the principle of substitution." Here's how it works.

Would Sarah Palin be as popular if she was a brown-skinned Hispanic instead of a Caucasian? In other words, if we substitute a brown Palin for a white Palin, what is revealed by that substitution? If her personality and experience were identical, then why would voters' responses be different? (Please don't claim they wouldn't be.)

If the Democrats had nominated a Brown-skinned Hispanic female with 18 months experience in a major political office, would the Republican attack-dog media be claiming she was well-qualified to be president? And would they back down from their attacks when they were accused of "media bias"?

If the Republican vice-presidential candidate were a southern white male, and he delivered the same sarcastic sit-com one-liners as Sarah Palin did in her speech, would he be lauded as "qualified" and "an asset to the team and party", or viewed as just another airhead who reads the Tele-Prompter well?

If a major party convention was 99% Hispanic, black and Asian, would you feel that this party "represented America"?

Background item: here are the basic ethnic populations, based on the 2008 U.S. Census:
Non-Hispanic whites: 68% Hispanic: 15% African Americans: 12% Asian American: 5%
If the Democratic ticket were reversed, and Joe Biden was the presidential candidate and Obama the vice-presidential candidate, how would voters respond?

What if Sarah Palin was the Republican candidate for president, and John McCain her running mate?

Would Sarah Palin be seen as qualified to be president if she were a one-term U.S. Senator?
You get the idea. You can't have it both ways at once. If Sarah Palin would be qualified to be president as a one-term U.S. senator, then so is Obama. If he is unqualified, then so is she. Had she run for president in the primary, she would have been a novelty item, not a serious candidate. Yet here she is, a step away from the presidency, teamed with the the oldest candidate ever.

Continuing the theme from yesterday's entry:

There are only two truly important points about this election:

1. there is no political will to make the radical changes needed to repair U.S. liberties and finances, and so this president will be a caretaker until 2012.

2. the only "winner" in this election will be the special interest groups of the two parties.
The investment banks, commercial banks and other Wall Street types will of course be bailed out and offered numerous opportunities to continue to pillage the global economy regardless of who is president. The Republicans will make half-hearted efforts to place enough toothless regulations on the law books to make it appear like they care about reining in Wall Street, while the Democrats will attempt a bit harsher regulations and more bailouts of the hapless homeowners. Republicans, of course, won't even bother trying to bail out the homeowners; that wouldn't be "free markets at work."

Yes, the Republicans are undoubtedly the biggest, most blatant hypocrites in recorded history. They had 6 years of total political control 2001-2007 and they used their power to eviscerate U.S. liberties and the U.S. economy and add trillions in needless debt to the penury they have guaranteed for our children and grandchildren.

The ineffectual Democratic Congress has done nothing the past two years to rein in the pillaging; they claim the Repubs have stymied them. Let's be generous and say the Republicans have not yielded the power to enrich their pals graciously.

So if McCain and Palin win then the plunder goes to the fossil fuel industry, Wall Street, bankers, defense contractors, private mercenary armies, the chemical and mining industries, pharmaceutical companies, quasi-religious government-funded pet projects, etc. If the Democrats manage the seemingly impossible and actually win, then the plunder will go to the unions, trial attorneys, the sickcare/healthcare complex, the education industry, the alternative energy industry, and of course Wall Street and the bankers who will need continuing bailouts regardless of who is nominally in power.

Both parties will enlarge the deficit to astounding levels; the only difference will be the excuses provided for this destruction of future generation's wealth.

I know little of this will be popular, but this is what you get when you read a contrarian's contrarian site.

Don't take it personally, but if you're white like me, then the odds that you understand the black, Hispanic or Asian experience in America are low. The only way you can possibly claim to understand non-white experience is via two experiences:

1. Living for an extended (non-vacation) time as a visible minority in a potentially hostile environment, and 2. if there are non-whites in your immediate family whom you have come to know very well--and I mean so well they will trust you with memories and stories that they would normally keep private from white folk.

If you haven't lived through these experiences, well, then you can't understand non-white experience. Claims to the contrary no matter how well-meaning are necessarily false, no matter how sincere you may feel about being open to other's experiences.

If you don't really know much about the African-American experience, then it's easy to trash Michelle Obama's thesis and all the rest of the "anti-white" material which is attributed to them. It's tough being accused of being an Oreo and few choose that ostracism.

if you do actually know a bit about the African-American experience, then you will understand without me explaining it how Obama does not really share the same "blackness" as it is commonly understood in America, i.e. with roots inextricably bound to slavery; he is a Cosmopolitan with African and Caucasian blood. Many other African-Americans are in fact African or Caribbean immigrants; they have yet another experience of America.

I don't want to claim anything more than a nominal grasp of these gradations, and that grasp is based not on some intellectual enterprise but on three experiences: living in African-American Detroit in the summer of 1968, in an area where there were two Caucasian families (just a guess, I never saw any others); going to a school in multi-ethnic Hawaii in which there were four Caucasian students, my brother and I, the principal's daughter and the town doctor's daughter; and my sister's long marriage to an Air Force vet from Cincinnati who happened to be black. My stepmom is brown-skinned Mexican-American (American-born) and my wife is Asian-American.

Welcome to the "real America" for millions of us with mixed-heritage families and children.
A lot has changed in 40 years, but it's still instructive to re-read the classic Black Like Me .
It would be just as extraordinary were a brown-skinned (i.e. non-Caucasian) Hispanic or another visibly mixed-race citizen were a presidential or V.P. candidate.

If you are unfamiliar with the notion of a Cosmopolitan America, I can recommend these three books. As always, I list the listings so you can read what other people think of the book; you can always check them out of the local library, unless Sarah Palin got there first and banned them:
Cosmopolitanism: Ethics in a World of Strangers
The Ethics of Identity
The Ethics of Authenticity

These are somewhat pedantic/academic, but there is some good material here despite that obstacle.

I think the possibility of McCain being incapacitated while in office is simple realism. Yes, he comes from hardy stock, but the presidency is a very demanding job. Not only that, but there is a historical precedent: Woodrow Wilson was an invalid for a significant period of his presidency, during which time his wife essentially stood in as president. Here's the full story:
When the cheering stopped: The last years of Woodrow Wilson

Let's be honest: Is there any evidence that Sarah Palin is ready to deal with Putin, or Hu Jin-Tao, or a nuclear, unstable Pakistan and/or North Korea? Please don't insult my intelligence by answering yes. Would you say that if she were the Democrat V.P. candidate? Of course you wouldn't. You'd declare her completely unqualified by experience and training to take over as president in what could well be nuclear-war scenarios.

We all know the drill here in America: we love underdogs and new faces, and Sarah Palin is like the bench-warmer who is called up for the clutch shot from behind the three-point line (I employ a basketball analogy because she was a guard on her high school team. So was I; so yea for point guards. I was also a benchwarmer on the football team and ran a little track (badly), so of course I love all sports analogies.)

You can hear the crowd's swelling roar of support; the coach is shouting over the din into the media microphone, screaming the usual sports platitudes like, "the kid's got a lot of heart."
Running a campaign is not the same as running an administration. You really think you can body-slam Putin with some snarky sit-com comedy zingers? Yes, Sarah Palin would win the presidency over both the black guy and Grandpa if the election were held tomorrow, but that does not mean that when spirits cool she is qualified or the best candidate. She is loved as a new media star and a sit-com worthy comic with great speechwriters, and a Mom and rising star in Alaskan politics and an all-around swell person everyone likes.

None of which is remotely related to being a good president. I know that hurts everyone who wants Sarah Palin to win as one of the classic underdogs of all time--"She's coming round the near turn, a half-length behind the leader, wait, she's gaining on Black Guy and Old Demo, what a burst of pure power, the crowd is going wild, she's ahead by a nose, now she's breaking away, can you believe it, a longshot is about to win the presidency! What a tremendous race, folks, the exictement is off the scale!"

(I also like horseracing, another rich pool of analogies.)

I voted for McCain in 2000, over Bush. I have this vain, foolish hope that perhaps McCain has the strength of character to stand up to the withering storm of criticism he would receive from his party and the generally gutless entitlement-addicted American populace were he to call for the necessary sacrifices from everyone to set the nation on a sound fiscal footing. I hope he has the audacity to abolish the Federal Reserve and let the banking industry go broke, and to restore the rights taken away from us via the Orwellian "Patriot Act."

Who knows, maybe he will have that courage and conviction when the financial chips are down and the country needs radical surgery to become healthy again.

But I can't vote for any Republican this election. That would be rewarding the party hacks and greedy leeches who have mortally wounded American liberties and finances, and caused the deaths of thousands of fine young Americans for what now appears to be Imperial Fantasy or Imperial Over-Reach. There is no excuse, folks; the Republicans controlled both the Administration and the Congress. The game was theirs to win or lose, and they blew it.

I also object to the slimy smear-campaign the Republican operatives used so effectively on John McCain in 2000. Now they're at it again against Obama, and even if I loathe the man I cannot approve or abide another election in which whispered invective ends up winning the election. (McCain, you may recall, was "whisper-smeared" by Republicans in 2000 as being unstable and crazy as a result of his experiences as a prisoner of war.)

That's the Republican Way of Victory for you--take a certified war hero and turn his suffering into the cause of his supposed nuttiness--is that orwellian or what? So he was a loose cannon eight years ago and now he's a maverick? There is literally no shame in the Republican party machinery, and this proves it without a doubt.

I am not alone in my views that Libertarian-minded voters cannot reward the Republicans with another victory. Widely respected bloggers Karl Denninger and Mish have both gone on record saying that the Republican record of malfeasance does not deserve a "yes" vote.

And despite the cheering and the snappy sarcastic one-liners, Sarah Palin is simply and obviously unqualified to to be president. If you have any doubt, imagine her as the Democratic VP candidate. Case closed.

So my choice is to not vote, vote for a third-party candidate, or hold my nose and vote Democratic, knowing that the party's ability and desire to pander is fully equal to the Republican's. Nonetheless, if Obama were incapacitated, Joe Biden is qualified to assume the presidency. You can disagree with him, but you must grant him the experience to assume the presidency.

If it is true that we are judged by the company we keep, i.e. our supporters, then here is another reason to vote Not Republican: the Gulf Oil exporting states have lowered the price of oil and gasoline just in time to boost McCain's chances:
"Maverick McCain" and the Resurrection of the US$ (Gary Dorsch, courtesy of U.Doran)

Let's face it (pun intended), the Republicans do not really do a great job of representing the 32% of America which is not Caucasian or the 67% of the whites who are not wealthy member of the elite PTB. Their convention was visibly the GOPOWP (grand old party of white people). Nothing wrong with that, of course, just like there would be nothing wrong with a political party whose convention was 99% non-white Americans. Perfectly legal.

But I would prefer to vote for a Cosmopolitan who was like someone in my own family, preferably a fiscal conservative and a Libertarian who sought Transparency in all things over endless regulation. Alas, all I have as a choice is a more-or-less standard-issue tax-and spend-Democrat who is light on foreign policy experience. So I can either vote for him or a third-party candidate.

There are a few major accomplishments of the Republican-Bush years. Bush did a good job contributing U.S. tax dollars to anti-HIV programs in Africa, and his quiet diplomacy yielded excellent results in North Korea--given our zero leverage over North Korea other than turning it into a sheet of glass (nuke it til it glows), the wackiness of Kim Il-Jong and the reluctant "allies" we have in South Korea and China. Good job, state department.

Nonetheless, these accomplishments do not cancel out the taking away of rights, the basically unlimited domestic spying, selling the Iraq War under false pretenses, standing by while Wall Street strip-mined the U.S. and global economies, then issuing the losers on Wall Street a trillion dollars of taxpayer money in one bailout after another.

I have to chuckle at the breathless blogosphere fear that Obama might "put black people first," as if Caucasians will suddenly be powerless. In case you haven't noticed, the Powers That Be who own 2/3 of all the nation's wealth and all its media, and who own the politicians of both parties lock, stock and barrel are 99.8% white. (How much real power do even black multi-millionaires like Bill Cosby and Oprah really wield? Basically zero. Ditto the Hispanic and Asian multi-millionaires.)

So here we have 68% of the populace (Caucasians) all screwed, blued and tattooed by their white Overlords in the PTB, and we're all supposed to be frantically worried that a black Cosmopolitan might take what is essentially a "bully pulpit" office? That really shows how thoroughly "consent" has been manufactured by the mainstream media and the attack-dog "conservative" media, who despite their puffed-up pride are merely lapdogs of the PTB, parroting absolutely safe and approved lines of propaganda.

Check this out if you are skeptical of how "consent" is easily manufactured just like plastic utensils and bloated BBQ grills doomed to be rusty landfill: Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media

It's almost like the southern plantation owners of the Old South who sold their poor brethren on the need to "defend our way of life" when slave ownership was reserved for the monied elite, not the foot soldiers of the Confederacy.

Note to Republicans: young Americans are really not as caught up in the racial politics of their elders. When you go to school with kids who are half Finnish and half-black, and half-filipino and half white, and so on, it gets increasingly difficult to sort out who the "enemy" is. Heck, we just found out our Peruvian neighbor is 1/8 Chinese, and she's rather proud of that basically invisible heritage.

When you join the U.S. Armed Forces, you receive an education in tolerance or you fail. It's that simple.

Regardless of his politics, Obama is the first candidate of the Third American Century--a Cosmopolitan. Some claimed Clinton was the "first president of the 21st century" but he was old school all the way--evangelical in his speech, a white southern small state governor--a winning combination dating back to Jimmy Carter and Nixon's "southern strategy."

Bush gave a good first impression of being "a uniter, not a divider," but by empowering Cheney and Karl Rove he divided the nation along bitter lines: the haves, who hid behind a phony banner of "free market ownership" and the rest of us.

I hope you understand the office of the president is essentially ceremonial. Yes, there are those occasional Executive Orders, but mostly it's ceremonial duties. The real Federal government is run by appointees and tens of thousands of people in the Pentagon, State, Treasury, the alphabet soup agencies (DIA, CIA, NSA, FDA, FDIC, NOAA, etc.)

So the real important question is: what is the quality of the new president's appointees and advisors? Are they all sycophants/yes-men, talentless cronies, or is there real talent and desire to serve something beyond personal greed? I would say based on his visible advisors, there is a fighting chance that Obama, as green as his is, might appoint some quality individuals. It certainly kept Clinton's presidency mostly on keel.

Since we're asking blunt questions: how could any Democratic adminstration be any worse than the last 8 years? I mean, what could they possibly do? Start another undeclared war that costs thousands of young Americans their lives and limbs? I don't think so. Enable and encourage another credit bubble that leaves the taxpayers saddled with trillions in losses to make Wall Street crooks whole? I don't think so. The robbing of even more rights from a dazed and confused American public? I don't think so.

So they end the Bush tax cuts which burdened our children needlessly with a trillion or two in never-will-be-paid-down debt. Big deal. That's like $250 a year to me and everyone else who makes $30K or less, and if you make $100K or more, bully for you, you can afford a few hundred more bucks in taxes. It's not the end of the world; the end of the world is dying in Iraq or losing two limbs or finding yourself deprived of basic rights by the Orwellian "Patriot Act" or dying of a drug interaction the gutted FDA didn't even know about. Oh, and if your loved one dies from pharmaceutical oversight, you can't sue anyone--tough luck, the Repubs took away your right to sue under "FDA preemption."

Bottom line: an Obama adminstration could not possibly be more damaging than the Repub Bush administration, amnd it is more likely to restore rights and cut the deficit than another Repub regime.

Is anyone else sick of hearing how likeable Sarah Palin is? I am sure John McCain is a humble, very likeable guy, who also has a hot temper. Fine. Obama and Biden are probably likeable in person, too, though I don't follow that "likeability" crap closely enough to know.

Like our dewy-eyed attachment to underdogs, we Americans love our likeable Everyman--which is why Reagan has been elevated to demi-god status, the hagiography extending to website which ask in lip-trembling awe, "What would Reagan do?"

Reagan left a horrible legacy of unending, ever-larger deficits, but what he did accomplish was done by sticking to a few simple basic principles. He touched "the third rail of American politics," Social Security, and survived. He kept a tough Federal Reserve chief, Paul Volker, and held firm while interest rates climbed to 16% and everyone screamed bloody murder. He outspent the Soviets back when the U.S. could afford sky-high deficits, and he was willing to cut farsighted deals with Gorbachev.

Americans are still enamored of the Reagan model. Unfortunately, the "likeable" Reagan model is easily confused with the Clinton model, in which getting high approval ratings is paramount.

In sum: I cannot in good conscience reward the slimball Republican thieves and liars with another four years of executive power, and I cannot in good conscience place an unqualified tyro one step away from the presidency.

I don't think a McCain presidency would be all that terrible, and it might be great; but count me out of supporting a Palin presidency.

For another perspective, here is some irreverent commentary from my longtime friend and fellow politcal junkie G.F.B.:

I'm more convinced that the Repubs are going to win this thing. I read some blogger this morning who was saying that the secret to Republican success is that the Republican Chieftains think the American public are idiots and conduct their campaigns accordingly. Therefore things that are important to those Uppity Elitists, like the truth, consistency, logic, historical reference, and worldview are completely unimportant because the people who are interested in those thing are such a small minority of voters.

Republicans look out at and survey the American voting public and rightly surmise that most of those voters would rather watch a candidate that travels with a trained chimp who rides a unicycle, smokes a cigar, and occasionally flings poo than listen to a candidate talk about economic trade agreements, oil embargoes, and reproductive rights.

The Republicans, like all popular entertainers, understand that giving the audience what it wants and expects is the key to success. You go to a Tony Bennett concert to hear him singing about Leaving His Heart in San Francisco, and you will be totally unhappy and upset if starts singing about How He Likes Big Butts and He Cannot Lie.

The Democrats are more like the "sensitive" Rock Stars who, once they get an audience, want to stop playing their top-forty hits at every concert stop and work on their Rock Opera, because they feel like they are obligated to expand the musical horizons of the audience, forgetting (unlike the Republicans, who are keenly aware) that the young couple is attending because the top-forty hit was the young lady's favorite song, and the young man knows that if she is happy, his chances of getting laid go up, despite how bad the music is . . . .

And I've also been thinking about John McCain - jeeze, he spent 5 years as a POW, sacrificed so much to support America only to be forced by the back-room Party Chiefs to take on a running mate who wants to burn books and and take direction from God as to which wars to fight. It's hard to smile when you have to keep your lips closed to prevent the bile from projecting onto the first three rows of delegates.

And for what? If he wins, his winning proves that country is largely populated by morons. Being elected homecoming King loses it's luster, if you ask me, if the senior class consists of lepers, perverts and the mentally challenged.

Which kind of makes McCain more pathetic, in my eyes. He is smart enough to know that what he is doing goes against every "classic" american ideal, and forever casts him in the role of an opportunist, removing any moral authority all the sacrifices he has made might have granted to him.

I think a number of things are clear to me now:
1) The world is what it is.
2) Social and economic "Justice" is granted only by the largess of the wealthy.
3) As Philip Dick, wrote in Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep: "Everything is true," he said. "Everything anybody as ever thought."

I wrote that I reckoned McCain's luck would hold, hence he would win; G.F.B. wrote back:

The "luck" you refer to is the difference between a candidate that has the Party Chieftains support (remember it was already decided that the party heads wanted Bush, who was nothing more than a ventriloquist's dummy for them in 2000) and a candidate who is running against their wishes . . . .

But when you have the Party Chieftains support, doors open, things get done . . . horse heads appear in beds . . . compromising pictures of opposing candidates are discretely shown to delegates . . . in short, the way is cleared for you.

Because the Repubs understand that there is nothing good that government can do for the public (in the traditional sense of "public good"), they instead see government as a hole in the ground to strip mine as completely as they can. And because the party in power gets to keep, distribute and control all the ore removed it's a game worth being played for keeps . . . . and to keep all but their own operatives in office in any way they can. Disgusting, revolting work - but that what keeps the riff-raff out.

A true politician never minds slathering on the dung-scented after shave - because it keeps those whiners (such as myself) with sensitive noses at bay.

The ultimate irony is that the system works - you get the votes, you get the power. And that process is independent of the moral purity of the candidate.

Books of related interest:

Life without any regulations--rats and dead workers in the sausage:
The Jungle

What happens when everyone wants to be an American Idol or rap star:
The Cultural Contradictions of Capitalism

Reader commentaries:

Steve R.
To put a finer point on todays post "Let's just cut to the chase, shall we? ": will a Democratic victory only prolong the inevitable? And conversely, will a Republican Victory hasten creative destruction of the old American political and economic paradigm?

With such a perspective, our choices at the ballot box can be seen to be about something much more than improving the chance of survival for the old paradigm. Given the inevitable collapse that you address so well, our choices are:

Which party will we provide the means to accelerate its self-destruction?
Under which party will the towers of our society collapse within their own footprint, thereby minimizing collateral damage?
Which party is willing to ask ALL the people to sacrifice according to the biblical precept "From those to whom much has been given, much will be asked -Luke 12:48"?

Which party will divide the remaining resources in a pattern favorable for the rise of fascism, fear and intolerance?

Which party will divide the remaining resources in a pattern favorable for the rise of a society that can learn from the past mistakes?

From which party is an inspired compassionate leader most likely to emerge? Which candidate appears most capable of grasping the needs of the country as a whole as posed by this moment in history?

I suppose the answer to all of these questions could be "neither"? But the experiment called election night 2008 is not designed to test a definitive choice in the stating of all of these hypotheses. We are at the point of the end of the old ways and a new beginning. We will soon have the answers to all of those questions.

What will be key is for all of us to observe the power struggles that swirl at all levels of government as the seat of central power quickly accelerates in collapse. We must always be ready to respond and speak the truth of justice and fairness and compassion when, in the midst of the melee, we see individuals grabbing for the exclusive control of resources upon which the life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for ALL of the people depend.

We must watch how power is wielded. Some can remain objective and effective in roles of power, while others are ineffective or quickly corrupted. Get involved, stay involved and remain eternally vigilant.

Thanks for putting it all together and refusing to make excuses!

Alberto R.
I have enjoyed very much the last many articles on your wonderful site. Thank you. Our current economic disaster and what is still to come has one very important reason: The total lack of "Financial Education" in our school system. I read one book every year.
The Richest Man in Babylon by George S. Clason.
This book showed me the Seven Cures for the Lean Purse.
1) Keep 1/10 of your earnings
2) Budget your expenses
3) Make the gold multiply (in my words: invest wisely)
4) Guard your treasures from loss
5) Own your own home
6) Insure future income (in my words: create passive income)
7) Increase your ability to learn (in my own words: Never stop learning)
A yearly reminder of these 7 cures has made me today a debt free man in a world where the opposite is the norm.

CHS: Alberto, excellent precepts. If only our government followed these common-sense fiscal rules.

New must-read essay by Chris Sullins: Dust and Shadow, Part 2
The reasons someone becomes a soldier are varied. At an individual level I would suspect they are little different from those given by warriors from across the planet from now to ages past. One can read “The Seven Military Classics of Ancient China” and see that the art of warfare, harnessing the motivations of men, and empire management has changed very little over the past two millennia.

During my deployment to Iraq. . . .

New Book Notes: My new "little book of big ideas," Weblogs & New Media: Marketing in Crisis is now available on for $10.99.

"Charles Hugh Smith's Weblogs & New Media: Marketing in Crisis is one of the most important business analyses I have ever read. It is the first to squarely face converging global crises from a business perspective: peak oil, climate change, resource depletion, and the junction of key social cycles will radically alter the business landscape in coming decades...."

An excerpt from Weblogs & New Media: Marketing in Crisis :

10. As supply/demand imbalances in FEW (food, energy, water) and the iron hand of demographics tightens its irreversible stranglehold on government's revenues and entitlement expenses, a global loss of faith in institutions will foster backlash/blowback and social disorder.

Expectations (i.e. our private inner maps of the future), lofted so high by the past 25 years of global expansion, cheap commodities and wealth creation via financial "innovations" (previously known as asset bubbles and debt), will be a powerfully destabilizing force globally.

It is a psychological truism that those with few expectations for betterment tend to persevere and be happy despite low status and income as they view themselves as sacrificing for the future benefit of the family and their children.

But those with high expectations for wealth, status, prestige, leisure and artistic expression find even modest disappointment a bitter gruel indeed. Thus the economic downturn in Hong Kong had little effect on the happiness of the city's many maids, but it exacted a devastating toll on their status/wealth-driven, high-expectation employers.

Thank you, Tom S. ($50), for your astonishingly generous contributions to this site. I am greatly honored by your support and readership.

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