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On post-Brexit Britain and the future of conservatism



The message of the end of austerity has certainly reached the Center for Policy Studies (CPS). On June 10, the CPS launched Post-Brexit Britain, a new collection of essays edited by George Freeman, written largely by his fellow 2010 MP recruiters. CPS rented the largest room at 1 George Street, a huge hall adorned with gilding and portraits of bearded Victorians, and treated guests not only to decent sandwiches, but also to champagne and scones with cream and strawberries. Several leadership candidates such as Sajid Javid and Dominic Raab made speeches. Penny Mordaunt cackled like a mother hen (I wonder if her decision not to run in this leadership election could prove that she is the most sensitive student in the class of 2010). Mr. Freeman loudly declared that his book gives the party “a new conservatism for a new generation” and the intellectual tools it needs to fight the resurgent far left.

His enthusiasm is infectious. But he asks too much. His book is more like a priest’s egg than a Viagra pill capable of resurrecting a flagging conservative philosophy, not to mention a hand grenade aimed at the headquarters of Corbinism. In his preface, Mr. Freeman rightly argues that the Conservative Party is facing a crisis of the same magnitude as it faced in 1848, 1901, and 1945. to the fact that Thatcherism offers no obvious solution to pressing problems like overcrowded suburban trains. Various participants are also addressing issues that conservatives have shied away from, such as the importance of devolution.

However, much of the book demonstrates how difficult it is for a party to get intellectual refueling while still in government. Matt Hancock’s head of health secretary is startlingly bad: predictable praise for technological innovation, devoid of interesting examples, and written in a string of clichés. (One well-read Tory quipped that the fact that the chapter was so bad proved that it was written by its supposed author and not by an assistant.) The book as a whole is noticeably free from detailed discussion of such topics as social assistance. (the issue that killed the party in the last election) or corporate reform. The Conservative Party as a whole will have to do more than that if it is to make a strong case against the resurgent far-left Labor Party.


Great cover pack this week New statesman to “Closing the Conservative Mind” (with the promise of more!). Robert Saunders argues that the Conservative Party has always been a party of ideas much more than it wants to pretend: its resurgence in the 1940s and especially in the 1980s was due to its willingness to embrace radical new thinking about the basic building blocks of society. . But now, instead of ideas, the party has nothing but the ideology of kamikaze (“Brexit or crash”) and empty faith in markets and technologies (see above). Theresa May was an idea-free zone (compare her to Lord Salisbury or Arthur Balfour). Boris Johnson, her almost certain successor, is no longer an intellectual, despite his ability to quote Latin tags. There are some interesting thinkers in the party, like Jesse Norman and Rory Stewart (both sadly old Etonians), but it’s much more the party of Gavin Williamson, a former fireplace salesman who boasts of a lack of interest in political theory. than a party of these eccentric “reading men”.

The job is well done. But can’t this apply equally well to liberal thinking or Labor thinking – or perhaps to Western thinking in general? The Blair-Cameron-Clinton liberalism that dominated politics in the 1990s and early 2000s has run its course. This liberalism was based on a simple formula: just add social liberalism to economic liberalism and you have the ingredients of a good society. More astute observers of politics have always known that this is too good to be true: Daniel Bell, in his book The Cultural Contradictions of Capitalism, demonstrated that social liberalism can destroy the moral capital that forms the basis of economic liberalism.

But over the past few years, we have learned that Mr. Bell rather underestimated the contradictions of his position. The biggest problems that most capitalist societies currently face stem from the extremes of both forms of liberalism. The excesses of economic liberalism have given us giant corporations that stifle competition and, in the case of Internet companies, develop a sinister form of surveillance capitalism. The excesses of social liberalism have given us various forms of social breakdown that can be seen in the most extreme manifestations in America: a record number of broken families; an epidemic of drugs, especially opioids; millions of men who have dropped out of the labor force and lead a life of petty crime and binge watching TV. It is unfair to blame only social liberalism for these problems. They have a lot to do with the destruction of manufacturing jobs and the legacy of slavery. But social liberalism clearly has something to do with it: loosening inhibitions on self-destructive behavior leads people to make decisions that, in the long run, may leave them either addicted to drugs or lacking the skills or self-discipline to become productive members of society. A prime example of the collapse of dual liberalism is San Francisco, where hundreds of homeless drug addicts live on the streets, and tech billionaires and would-be billionaires must dodge piles of human feces as they go to the latest sushi craze. compound.

And then there is Labor thinking. The Labor Party responded to the collapse of neoliberalism not by trying to create a new progressive synthesis, but by re-embracing one of the bloodiest ideologies of the 20th century. Jeremy Corbyn, the man who makes Theresa May look like an intellectual, has surrounded himself with hardline Marxists like Andrew Murray and Seamus Milne. pages of David Kot’s book “Companion Travelers”. John McDonnell, the Shadow Chancellor, is undoubtedly one of the smartest men in Parliament, inclined to reinforce his Trotskyism with ideas borrowed from other traditions, especially the cooperative one, and able to use new ideas (such as taking 10% of the shares into state ownership) for old purposes. But the fact that he is such an energetic walker should not hide from us the fact that he is going in the wrong direction and is trying to bring his country off the cliff. As long as this gang is in power, Labor’s mind is not so much closed as dead.


V New statesman the cover more or less coincides with the publication of George Will’s new great work, a 640-page study of conservatism called “Conservative Sensibility” (Mr. Will says he chose “sensibility” over “reason” because “reason” was already occupied by Russell Kirk). The “Conservative Sensibility” – a stream of philosophical reflection on the great American and European conservative traditions – is proof that at least one conservative mind is still open. Mr. Will still surpasses all his rivals in his ability to combine high thinking with a shrewd ability to understand everyday American politics. The reception of the book is also evidence that it was not only conservative minds that were closed: when, as a Princeton graduate, he recently approached a group of Princeton students, these privileged children decided to turn their backs on him for various unknown intellectual sins. But Mr. Will’s book also implicitly supports the thesis of closing the conservative mind: it’s hard to imagine any of today’s embittered young conservatives of the “movement” who would have lasted fifty years in journalism like Mr. Will, and still have enough strength. to, let’s say, release a big book at 78 years old.

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‘Rocky and bumpy’ economy where wages rise and inflation persists



Inflation is not as high as last year. The job market is not that hot. The economy is slowing down. But all this is not happening as quickly and smoothly as Federal Reserve officials would like.

The latest data came on Friday when a series of government reports painted a picture of an economy broadly moving in the direction policymakers want but taking its time to get there.

“We knew inflation was going to be unsustainable and bumpy,” said Megan Green, chief economist at the Kroll Institute. “We have found a peak in inflation, but it will not be a smooth decline.”

Consumer prices rose 4.2 percent in March from a year ago, according to the Fed’s preferred measure of inflation, the Personal Consumer Spending Index, the Commerce Department said Friday. It was the slowest rate of inflation in almost two years, compared to a peak of 7 percent last summer.

But after excluding food and fuel prices, the closely watched “core” index remained almost stable last month. That figure was up 4.6% year-on-year from 4.7% on the previous reading, a figure that has been revised up slightly.

Wages, meanwhile, continue to rise rapidly – good news for workers trying to keep up with rising costs of living, but likely a source of concern for the Fed.

Labor Department data on Friday showed private sector wages rose 5.1% in March from a year earlier. This was the same growth rate as in December and fell short of forecasters’ expectations of a slight slowdown. The broader measure of remuneration growth, which includes the value of benefits as well as wages, actually picked up slightly in the first quarter.

The Fed has been raising interest rates for more than a year in an attempt to cool the economy and bring inflation down to the central bank’s target of 2 percent a year. Friday’s data is likely to bolster policymakers’ confidence that their job is not done yet – many expect officials to raise rates by a quarter of a percentage point to just over 5 percent when they meet next week. This will be the 10th consecutive rate hike by the central bank.

Wage data is the focus of Fed officials, who believe that a labor market that has many more jobs than workers to fill them is increasing wages at an exorbitant rate, fueling inflation. Other indicators suggested a larger slowdown in wage growth than Friday’s data showed, which is less timely but generally considered more reliable.

“If anyone at the Fed was hesitant about a rate hike in May,” Omair Sharif, founder of Inflation Insights, wrote in a note to clients on Friday, “wage data will likely force them to support at least one more hike.”

But the key question is what comes next. Central banks predicted in March that they might stop raising interest rates after their next move. Jerome H. Powell, Fed chairman, could explain after the central bank’s rate announcement next week if that’s still the case. The decision will depend on incoming economic and financial data.

Investors largely shrugged off Friday morning’s data, instead focusing on the week’s strong earnings report, which suggests that corporate America has not yet fully felt the impact of higher interest rates. The S&P 500 rose 0.5% in mid-trade. Yields on Treasury bonds, which track the government’s spending on additional borrowing and are sensitive to changes in interest rate expectations, eased slightly.

The Fed faces a delicate task as it seeks to raise borrowing costs just enough to discourage hiring and ease wage pressures, but not enough to cause companies to lay off workers en masse.

Higher interest rates have already taken their toll on investment in housing, manufacturing and business. And data from the Department of Commerce on Friday showed that consumers – the engine of the economic recovery today – are beginning to recede. After strong growth in January, consumer spending remained virtually flat in February and flat in March. Americans saved their earnings in March at the highest rate since December 2021, a sign that consumers may be getting more cautious.

“You’re seeing some of those resilience numbers that we had at the start of the year are really starting to come off a bit,” said Steven Juneau, an economist at Bank of America.

Many forecasters believe that the recovery will continue to slow in the coming months, or may have slowed already. The data for March does not capture the full impact of the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank and the financial turmoil that followed.

“If you look at the data as it was in the first quarter, you are left with the impression of still robust economic activity and inflation that is still too high and too constant,” said Gregory Dako, chief economist at EY. consulting firm formerly known as Ernst & Young. If there were real-time data on spending, credit standards and business investment, he said, “it would paint a very different picture than the data for the first quarter.”

The problem for Fed officials is that they can’t wait for better data to make decisions. Some data points to a more significant slowdown, but other signs indicate that consumers continue to spend and companies continue to raise prices.

“If we see inflation that requires us to pay extra, we will accept it,” said Brian Niccol, chief executive of the Chipotle burrito chain. while talking about income This week. “I think we have now demonstrated that we have price power.” The company raised menu prices by 10 percent in the first quarter compared to the same period last year.

Wage growth is a particularly sensitive issue for the Fed. Faster wage growth has helped workers, especially those at the bottom of the income ladder, keep up with rapidly rising prices. And most economists, both at the Fed and outside, say wage growth was not the main cause of the recent bout of high inflation.

But Fed officials fear that if companies need to keep raising wages, they will also have to keep raising prices. This could make it difficult to retreat solely from inflation, even despite the disruptions in the pandemic era that caused the initial price spike.

“It’s always nice for an employee to see more money in their paycheck,” said Corey Stahl, economist at job site Indeed. “But it’s also frustrating to walk into a store and pay $5 for a dozen eggs.”

Joe Rennison made a report.

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Amazon delivery drivers team up with carters



On Monday, Teamsters said a group of Amazon drivers and dispatchers in Southern California had joined the union and secured a pre-contract with their employer, an Amazon contractor, to be a first for the online store’s delivery network.

But Amazon said it had already notified the company that it was terminating its contract with the retail giant.

84 employees work for Battle-Tested Strategies, one of Amazon’s “delivery service partners” that delivers the “last mile” for Amazon. The drivers said the group, which works at the Amazon DAX8 facility in Palmdale, near Los Angeles, is the first of about 3,000 Amazon DSPs to form a union and reach an agreement.

“This particular third-party company has a reputation for underperforming and was notified of its closure due to poor performance long before today’s announcement,” Amazon spokeswoman Eileen Hardes said in a statement. “This situation has more to do with a third-party company trying to divert attention from its history of default.”

Battle-Tested Strategies did not immediately respond to emails asking for comment.

The drivers said battle-tested strategies agreed to voluntarily recognize the union. The union also said it had a contract with the company and that workers called on Amazon to “comply with the terms” of that agreement, although Amazon would not have to do so if it no longer had a relationship with battle-tested strategies. .

“We deliver in an Amazon van dressed in Amazon uniforms, but when we reach out to Amazon, they ignore us.”

– Driver Rajpal Singh

Amazon DSP drivers drive around in Amazon-branded vehicles and deliver Amazon products to Amazon customers, but they don’t technically work for Amazon—they work for contractors like Battle-Tested Strategies.

In a statement released by the union, one DSP driver at DAX8, Rajpal Singh, said he wants more accountability from Amazon when it comes to working conditions for subcontracted drivers.

“We deliver in an Amazon van dressed in Amazon uniforms, but when we reach out to Amazon, they ignore us,” Singh said. “We have a lot of support, we are a union, and now they need to be listened to.”

Amazon shipping drivers don’t technically work for Amazon.

Unions, including the Teamsters, have struggled to organize Amazon’s huge delivery network, which includes not only drivers, but also warehouse pickers and packers – part of the company’s huge U.S. workforce of about 1 million people. Amazon’s organization is critical for drivers because Amazon can influence wages and working conditions throughout the logistics industry.

Last year, Teamsters announced the creation of a new division of Amazon within the union as part of their plan to break into retail.

Randy Corgan, director of the division, said in a statement Monday that DAX8 drivers are joining the union to “demand more from this company, including good pay, safe working conditions and respect.”

The union said drivers will vote in the coming weeks to accept their pre-contract with Battle-Tested Strategies. While details were not released, the union said the agreement includes “immediate pay increases” and “provisions that hold Amazon accountable for health and safety standards.”

The upstart Amazon Labor Union became the first working group to bring the Amazon venture together when it won an election last spring at JFK8 warehouse in New York. Now the union is trying to conclude the first collective agreement with the company.

This story has been updated with comments from Amazon.

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Bed Bath & Beyond Bankruptcy Files



“The appeal of owning Willy Wonka’s golden ticket — or the blue ticket — is gone,” Dancy said.

When Mr. Dancy called him on the Sunday after the bankruptcy news, he was getting ready to go to the store that same day with his husband and lots of coupons to buy sheets, a robot vacuum cleaner, a deep fryer, and everything else that slipped out of his hands.

“I just don’t want to go there and lose two grand, but I probably will,” Mr. Dancy said.

In August, the company announced an aggressive restructuring plan, saying it would close 150 stores and lay off more employees. Just days after the restructuring was announced, the retailer was hit by an emotional turmoil when its chief financial officer, Gustavo Arnal, passed away. Arnal’s death was ruled a suicide, according to the New York City Medical Examiner’s Office.

Suppliers of Bed Bath & Beyond got scared and demanded upfront payment. Sue Gove, who became permanent chief executive in October, said this resulted in inventory levels nearing 70 percent last holiday season.

The company avoided bankruptcy in early February after it came up with a plan to use a public offering of shares to raise more than $1 billion. The plan, backed by Hudson Bay Capital Management, was only good as long as Bed Bath & Beyond stock stayed above $1 a share. This month, Bed Bath & Beyond canceled that deal after its terms were violated. Its shares closed at 29 cents a share on Friday.

Meanwhile, sales continued to fall, robbing the company of the cash and confidence it needed to have suppliers deliver goods to its stores.

“It’s a death spiral,” said Neil Saunders, managing director of GlobalData’s retail division. “If you can’t get shares, you can’t sell. If you cannot make sales, your credit deteriorates. If your credit deteriorates, people are less willing to supply you. It seems that this circle cannot be broken.

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