From the post-election issue 2016:
“Ever since Wednesday morning, every time I show up at the office there’s [Sarah] Rea, eyes red, spontaneously bawling over Clinton’s electoral defeat.
On Thursday morning, on my way into the office, she texted me to ask if I could bring her a green smoothie from Stellar Brew.
Shouldn’t you make it a red smoothie in honor of the President-Elect? I texted back.
You know, they produce some fairly obscene emojis these days … “
What a difference four years make. It looks like Trump has been voted out and Ms. Rea not only left The Sheet, but got into politics, and won a seat on the Mammoth Town Council.
Well … the election result was seemingly depressing for everyone. Which may be a blessing.
Republicans look like they’ll lose the White House, but Moscow Mitch McConnell seems poised to remain the Senate Majority Leader and the Democrats’ House majority has been trimmed.
Perhaps what we can look forward to then, is gridlock, but without all the noise, the race-baiting, the cozying up to Putin. There may even be days where we don’t think about who’s President.
Sleepy Joe may provide the nap we all need.
Bet you Donald Trump wishes he hadn’t trashed Sen. John McCain for the past five years. McCain is certainly looking down on this election somewhere with a wry grin. What if Arizona represents the difference between a win and a loss?
If Biden is ultimately declared the victor, he’ll be the first President since Bush I who’s not a Baby Boomer. The boomers have held the presidency for 28 years (Clinton, Bush II, Obama, Trump). But it’s pretty sad the nation had to skew older to find a leader. The Silent Generation, of which Biden is a part, has never elected a president. Neither has Generation X (1965-1980). Some speculate Biden won’t last four years in office and Generation X might get its first president the old-fashioned way – by heredity (Kamala Harris).
What’s also interesting (at least to me) is that Millennials overtook Boomers as the greatest share of U.S. population last year, and overall, Millennials plus Gen Z outnumber Boomers plus Gen X by 42.5% to 41%.
So what has occurred while the Boomers have occupied the White House? Well, they’ve presided over an absolute tectonic shift when it comes to wealth distribution and income inequality.
Consider this nugget from Kurt Andersen’s book “Evil Geniuses.” In 1830, the richest 1% of Americans controlled about 10% of the wealth. This represented half of the take of Britain’s 1%.
This ratio in America, the 1% controlling about 10%, held true until the end of the 1970s.
Four decades later, our 1% now controls 20% – just like 19th century England.
Now this is good if you’re rich, ‘cause you’ve gotten richer. This is not so good for everybody else, though the rich may object to this, citing technological advances which have benefitted the masses, Smartphones, Disney+ and internet porn.
What’s been amazing about this development (rising income inequality) is that the rich have managed to distract “everybody else” into turning against each other as opposed to turning against the rich. Very clever.
How have they pulled this off? I’ve got a must-read for you. “Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World” by Anand Giridharadas.
The general theme: The rich have become so powerful that they’ve managed to buy off and/or co-opt their critics and opposition.
“The only thing better than controlling money and power is to control the efforts to question the distribution of money and power. The only thing better than being a fox is being a fox asked to watch over hens.”
In a chapter called “The Critic and the Thought Leader,” Giridharadas eviscerates the TED talk crowd.
The thought leader is described as someone who tends to “know one big thing and believe that their important idea will change the world.” They are true believers, optimists, uplifting. They go easy on the powerful, because the powerful hire them and make their careers and buy their books. And they emphasize hopeful solutions over systemic change.
As TED organizer Bruno Giussani says, “You need to cut some of your moral corners or some of your convictions in order to package your ideas to make them palatable.”
Giridharadas differentiates the “thought leader” from the dying breed he describes as the “public intellectual.” The public intellectual is a wide-ranging critic and foe of power whose duty is to point out when the emperor has no clothes.
Criticize too harshly and the moneyed elite won’t book your TED talk.
As Michael Porter of Harvard Business School observes, “America is more interested than ever in the problem of inequality and social fracture, and more dependent than ever on explainers who happen to be in good odor with billionaires.”
*Hold on for a second. I’m checking my armpits right now …
How, therefore, can media elites possibly be surprised that the Trump crowd thinks they’re full of shit? They are. They’re sell-outs for television appearances and book tours. Though it’s puzzling to me why the Trump crowd thinks Fox and Newsmax are somehow not in the same boat and not equally full of shit. A great mystery. That curiosity always seems to want to leave the highway by Exit 2.
Now look to your left. An advertisement for Mammoth Mountain. A key advertiser in this town. To Mammoth management’s credit, there’s been a fair give-and-take over the years. I’ve been critical at times, and have also taken a few broadsides from Rusty over the years. They’ve never ditched advertising in The Sheet, though that advertisement represents just the third one they’ve run since March.
We’re far more reliant on reader-support these days.
But you don’t run ads just to be nice or supportive. You run ‘em to make money. And the perception is you get more bang for your buck running ads on Google or Facebook than in newsprint. Especially in a general interest publication like this, because people tend to cherrypick media these days that aligns with their views (Everyone’s full of shit so I want to read something that reflects my shit back to me in a positive light).
I absolutely treasure the readers who torch me on a consistent basis, whatever their leaning. Heaven help a publication with a monochromatic readership.
But I digress. What a surprise. One does wonder about the nature of the future Mammoth Mountain relationship with local media and business. As Giridharadas lays out in his book:
Companies over the last generation have pursued a vision of globalization in which they owe nothing to any community (sound familiar?)
hey analyze data and then pursue opportunity. They’re agnostic about place. It doesn’t matter if that chase [for opportunity] severs them from their own community and their obligations to that community.
In the old days, said Michael Porter, a company might “have raised money from not far away, sourced its inouts from not far away, sold to customers not far awat, paid taxes to authoritiers not far away and when growth came, parked the profit in a bank not far away or reinvested it in a new venture not far away.”
Now? Anything goes. “It disrupted a pattern of companies behaving with a sense of citizenship.”
The conclusion: Companies flourish because of their freedom to escape and a community’s lack of leverage.
I’ll leave you with this. In the book, Giridharadas interviews billionaire venture capitalist Vinod Khosla. Khosla believes that because of the advance of technology, 7-8 out of every ten peoplein the not-too-distant future might not have steady work. The future for Khosla is an entertainment and political problem. “How do we keep them occupied and not revolting against the status quo?” He believes the solution lies in some form of wealth redistribution. Bribe the people to be well enough off or they’ll work for the changing system.
That is, if they can’t be distracted by social media, social issues and tribalism. A tip for Ms. Rea: Follow the damn money.
And from Page’s desk …
Mammoth Lakes Tourism Executive Director John Urdi reported at Wednesday’s MLT board meeting that despite a downturn in visitation during September due to heavy smoke in the area, TOT collection for the month was $622,202 or +1% over what he had budgeted. That said, September 2020 was still down $446,577 or 42% from 2019.
This put the year to date collections at nearly $2 million over what Urdi had budgeted and down $272,778, 8%, from 2019.
TBID collections for September came in at $133,558, which was down $18,904 and 12% from Urdi’s budget. Despite the bad month, TBID collections are at $908,772, up $303,993 or 50% above the budgeted amount.
Mammoth Mountain Ski Area representative Eric Clark gave a brief update on the Mountain with opening scheduled just 10 days away. “When I look out my window,” he said, “I do see a strip of joy (Broadway) … others might call it the strip of death.” That strip, he reported was the result of about 40 hours of snowmaking and was melting rapidly in the heat. He added that opening day may look different this year as MMSA plans to spread out the snow it makes at the lower levels before working higher up on the mountain.
This would mean more than one chair running on November 14 or shortly thereafter, with Chairs 2 (Stump Alley), 6 (Unbound), and the lower mountain gondola in play alongside Chair 1 at Main Lodge. Clark explained that MMSA hopes to keep skiers more spread out than in recent years and hopes that operating multiple lifts will reduce the potential for Covid-19 spread.