Is The Economy Fake?


The tabs today suggest a very provocative question to which the answer is yes, and that question is: “is the economy fake?” The answer may surprise you if you didn’t read the previous sentence!

Layoffs are Fake: Liz Lopatto tried to find out why tech companies with “tens of billions, often hundreds of billions of dollars, collectively, in reserves” are doing layoffs, and the answer seems to be because other tech companies are doing them, and to meet an arbitrary “good company, buy the stock” number in investors’ current financial models.

Food Prices are Fake: Last week in Vice, Roshan Abraham tried to find out why eggs are so damn expensive, and it’s mainly because Cal-Maine, the distributor that controls 20% of the market, decided to make literally ten times more profit:

Feed and fuel costs also went up between 2021 and 2022 by about 22 percent, according to an investor call from Cal-Maine this month, but you would hardly know it from the company’s ten-fold increase in profits, which went from $50 million to $535 million in 2022. Its gross margins—the money leftover after paying for direct costs—likewise went up 40 percent.

Wages are Fake: Abraham followed up with another story on the gig economy as algorithmic wage gambling:

From a driver's point of view, every time they log in to work they are essentially gambling for wages, as the algorithm provides no reason why those wages are what they are.

Toot by “What?” with a photo of a public transit ad that appears to be half for Volkswagen and half for KFC, and in its entire glory reads: “A car powered on free range chickens & designed by a team of hand picked potatoes. Experience driving on mushrooms and coke.”

Rents are Fake: Post-Covid New York rents have doubled or more and desperate prospective tenants, unwillingly suborned into a burgeoning property-owner pay-pig kink scene, are told they must offer “cuck money” above the asking rent right from the start. Demand seems to be crushing supply, but in Curbed Lane Brown tried to find any evidence that NYC isn’t still losing residents, and was unable to. He doesn’t really solve the Case of the Eye-Watering Rents, but he does at least establish that it’s not because New Yorkers came “flooding back” from the country after Covid, and it is because something screwy is going on.

OnlyFans is Fake: And something screwy is going on in porn too, but not the way you’d expect. Eliza McLamb wrote about her “year as a hot girl for hire,” managing other peoples’ OnlyFans accounts, in a first-person view of the inside of an industry Ezra Marcus wrote about from the outside in the Times Magazine last year.

The Media is Fake: Luke Winkie chronicled the ways “professional writer” is an increasingly fake job. Carlos Watson is somehow still at it, months after all the printing on my ironically purchased OZY Media t-shirt has worn off. And “the Associated Press has deleted a tweet giving guidance on AP style that went viral over its inclusion of ‘the’ French as a term to be avoided.” “People experiencing Francophony,” please.

Snacks are Fake: Apparently you can walk into Subway and get a sandwich that’s just cheese and two whole bottles of ranch dressing? Please… my wets. Meet the incredible selfless entrepreneurs that have left lucrative careers behind to solve climate change with… snacks? Fixing the environmental crisis that capitalism created with more capitalism is a real “drink yourself sober” idea, can’t wait to see how that works out for us all. Speaking of which: Fireball “cinnamon shots” do not contain whiskey.

Male Competence Has Always Been Fake: This one isn’t a new idea to anyone who isn’t male but in Fortune, Ross McCammon explored his own male workplace mediocrity (and mine).

That’s Lowell:

Today in Crabs: In an unheard-of outbreak of coöperation between fishermen, the entire Kodiak tanner crab fleet has stayed at the dock for two weeks now rather than accept impossibly low prices from crab processors. And if you’re willing to go sit still at the beach for hours, here’s how to get a pedicure from crabs. (CW: crabs, feet.)

Four examples of the black bear caught ‘posing’ by a motion-activated wildlife camera near Boulder, Colorado, US.

Things we’ll look back on in the future and cringe at: this post. Aussies scour the desert for a little radioactive cappy that some bogan truckie dropped off the ute. No worries, mate, she’ll be right. “I’m in danger!” Jaya Saxena remembers the Four Loko that was:

I had a few sips of the purple concoction. It tasted of the artificial tang of Smarties with a foreboding bitterness; the sun set over the skyline, and then—nothing. I was told later that we ate pizza, that I called my partner, that I ran... somewhere, and that I hadn’t even finished my can.

Trophy for the “World’s Best CSS Developer” which has overflowed all of its bounding boxes and desperately needs to be rewritten with flexbox.

Finally: In Popula Tom Scocca examined the New York Times’s “plain old-fashioned newspaper crusade” against transgender kids. This piece deserves a much bigger audience. Like, an audience at least the size of the one to whom the Times has delivered 15,000 words and counting of soft bigotry and concern-trolling on the utterly absent “dangers” of transitioning to children.

Today’s Song: Kareem Rahma, “Really Rich Parents”

Be a Tabs Intern: I keep forgetting to mention it but I’m bringing back the legendary Tabs internship next year. You should apply! Or tell your writer friend about it? All the info is here. I know it discourages questions but low-key if you do have questions, feel free to ask, I’m nice.1 If you want to help fund the interns, buy a subscription. I’m not planning to do sponsors this time, although I do have a merch idea, so keep an eye out for that.

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