Progressive Insurance abandons its Progressive Values

From June 2022, Progressive Insurance is Progressive, the company put a diversity and inclusion banner across its home page, dwarfing the “claims” button:

How about today?

They still have a Diversity & Inclusion link, but you need to scroll down two pages to find it. Unlike in 2022, the linked-to page makes no mention of 2SLGBTQQIA+ or any subset thereof. But this might be just an HTML coding mistake. The linked-to page is a generic “about” page and itself contains a Diversity & Inclusion link. That page does mention “LGBTQ” and “LGBT+”. The company has expert knowledge of what a miserable place the United States is for anyone but a white cisgender heterosexual non-immigrant person:

With so many acts of racism, homophobia, transphobia, and xenophobia in our communities, this is more important than ever. We stand in solidarity with communities of color, the LGBTQ community, and other marginalized groups, and we encourage our people to discuss these all-too-prevalent issues with our leadership team, one another, and our Employee Resource Groups.

(employees tasked with handling claims are supposed to spend at least part of their day discussing “racism, homophobia, transphobia, and xenophobia” with each other? What percentage of customers’ premium payments are to be spent on this activity?)

Possibly contrary to the recent Supreme Court interpretation of the U.S. Constitution, the company says that it is passionate about “increasing the representation of women and people of color in management.” They’re proud of their new quota system:

To focus our efforts in 2020, we introduced an ambitious goal to double the representation of people of color in senior leadership from 10% to 20% by the end of 2025. As of December 2022, people of color account for 17% of our senior leadership ranks.

They’re also proud of their ability to cook the numbers:

We’re proud to report that for Progressive employees with similar performance, experience, and job responsibilities, women earn one dollar for every dollar earned by men, and people of color earn one dollar for every dollar earned by their white co-workers.*

This last one is confusing. If equal pay regardless of gender ID and skin color, once adjusted for “performance, experience, and job responsibilities”, isn’t already part of the job market as a whole, is Progressive overpaying some groups while underpaying others in order to achieve the precise pay equity that it claims? If so, why don’t those paid below-market quit and why don’t the shareholders complain about company management paying a selected group above-market wages?

This concludes my research into Progressive’s progressivism. As of this month, I have switched to State Farm for auto/umbrella (State Farm currently writes new homeowners policies in Florida, but not in our neighborhood. Our house is just barely new enough (2003), but maybe it is slightly too close to the ocean or too vulnerable to a storm surge or maybe they already have too many other houses nearby that they cover).

Full post, including comments

Modelo vs. Bud Light and the Reno Air Races

Modelo is America’s #1 selling beer (NBC). Meanwhile, at the other end of the rainbow, “Bud Light sales still down 30% six months after Dylan Mulvaney disaster, drinkers ‘lost forever’: expert” (NY Post).

What is Modelo sponsoring? Check these photos from Oshkosh 2023 of the Lockheed T-33 that they sponsor in airshows:

Note that this can be considered a “trans sponsorship” because the aircraft was assigned “fighter” at birth in 1944, but switched to identifying as “trainer” in 1948. In other words, a trans sponsorship need not hurt a beer brand so long as aerobatics and Jet A are involved.

Tranheuser-Busch was a significant sponsor of airshow performers decades ago. They famously had a BD-5J, just like James Bond (before James Bond spent most of his time in gay bars). Back issues of aviation magazines also show more conventional piston aerobatic planes whose sole sponsor was Bud Light.

Could Bud Light be revived with sponsorship? Let’s consider the example of Saudi Arabia, whose laws and values are not necessarily shared by everyone worldwide. Nonetheless, everyone cheers the soccer and golf teams and events that they sponsor.

If Bud Light wants to reclaim market share, should Tranheuser-Busch bring its checkbook to airshows? Due to residential encroachment driven by population growth (one of the many benefits of expanding our population to 450+ million via low-skill immigration?), the Reno Air Races (which start today) need a new home, which was challenging to find. Consider a typical American who welcomed lockdowns, school closures, forced masking of 2-year-olds, and coerced vaccination. He/she/ze/they meekly cowered in place for a year or two and now you expect him/her/zir/them to accept the risk of a 75-year-old P-51 flying nearby at 550 mph? Air racing requires infrastructure in the middle of nowhere and, in direct contradiction, proximity to a major population center with commercial airline service.

For 2024 at least, the plan is to race just outside of Las Vegas in Pahrump. This will cost a lot of money to set up and Tranheuser-Busch could supply it in exchange for the races being renamed the “Bud Light Not Trans At All Air Races”. Since the CEO won’t abandon his/her/zir/their passion for promoting Rainbow Flagism, one stipulation could be that all competitors be painted in the following scheme:

Rainbow yet not Rainbow?

Speaking of the T-33, here are a couple of photos from the EAA Museum commemorating a nun-piloted flight from Wisconsin to New Jersey:


Full post, including comments

Bring-the-dog airline: JSX

This is a review of the semi-private startup airline, JSX, based on experiencing a flight from Burbank to Oakland. The company, founded by JetBlue alumni, flies the 50-seat Embraer 145 regional jet in a 30-seat configuration on the following network:

Passengers are asked to show up 20 minutes in advance of the flight. Anything bigger than a briefcase must be checked (is it luxury to hoist your own luggage over your head and then have the bag encroach on your headroom and sightlines?). Security consists of a quick walk through a metal detector. Loading and unloading takes only a few minutes because the plane isn’t jammed to its capacity (see Two-thirds full airline idea). The “terminal” on either end either is an FBO or is like an FBO. If you’re averse to crowds and lines, this is the way to travel!

The flight attendant on my BUR-OAK trip was warm and enthusiastic about her job. The fare was about 50 percent higher than what Southwest wanted for the same route. Everything ran on time. Bringing a full-size dog entails buying a second ticket. In-flight Internet is via Starlink (#thanksElon) and requires no gymnastics to connect to. A wide variety of drinks and snacks are included, including wine and beer (nobody asked for Bud Light):

The only area where JSX suffers compared to an oligopoly airline is that the Embraer E145 isn’t as quiet inside as, for example, an Airbus A320. Bring the noise-canceling headphones.

A few photos from Burbank:

At Oakland:

This is a great addition to the American commercial airline system. I wish they flew PBI/BED, PBI/HPN, and PBI/IAD (West Palm Beach to Boston/NY/DC). And, as they grow, I hope that they eventually transition to the whisper-quiet geared turbofan-powered Airbus A220 (an evolved Bombardier CRJ). Quiet = luxurious!

For the Uber ride at the end, “they” is the pronoun that Uber chooses for a driver named “Mohamed”:

Full post, including comments

Say goodbye to Pride month with a Bud Light Clamato?

Here’s a suggestion for showing your passion for all things 2SLGBTQQIA+: drink a few Bud Light Clamatos. From Bryce Canyon earlier this month…

Separately, have Bud Light sales recovered yet? At least in Florida, folks didn’t seem to be holding the company’s excursion into transgender advocacy against the brand. More than half of the customers at the New York, New York Tiki Bar in Titusville, FL (perfect spot for watching SpaceX launches) were drinking the elixir and the bartender reported no slowdown in sales. Photo from May 21, 2023:

Note that Bud Light has been a transgender brand since at least 1987. Spuds Mackenzie was assigned female at birth, but identified as a male party animal.

(As it happens, I have been boycotting Bud Light for more than three decades. If I ever do start drinking beer, I don’t think it will be one mixed with clamato.)

Don’t drink alcohol? Perhaps you’d prefer to spend 5 cents on a frosty Coca-Cola ($15 adjusted for Bidenflation?). Recent photos from the Coke store in Orlando, Florida:

Full post, including comments

Should a company have to offer lower rates to the 2SLGBTQQIA+ before it is allowed to call itself an “Ally”?

From Salt Lake City, just outside the public library:

Morgan Stanley says that it is not merely an “ally” but a “proud ally” of the 2SLGBTQQIA+. However, as far as I am aware, the bank does not offer discounts or preferential rates to customers who identify as 2SLGBTQQIA+. Should the Federal Trade Commission shut them down for false advertising unless they can show concretely what they’re doing for 2SLGBTQQIA+ customers worldwide? A company shouldn’t be able to obtain the “queer advantage” (see book below from the Salt Lake City Library) without paying for it, should it?

Separately, the New York Times says that humanity faces a “climate emergency” and an “existential crisis”. At the same time, I think that the newspaper takes money for ads for single-family homes (inherently energy-inefficient) and pavement-melting SUVs. Maybe the FTC can’t shut them down for hypocrisy, but perhaps the NYT could be forced to add a “context” box under every claim that the Earth is going Full Venus: “This newspaper profits from ads for SUVs and single-family homes.”

A few more examples…

Experian‘s all-month Twitter presence:

Will they give higher credit ratings if they see charges from Grindr? If not, what is Experian doing for the 2SLGBTQQIA+?


The Pfizer web site:

Not to be left out… Novartis:

From Microsoft, in the search box at the bottom left of the Windows 10 home screen:

Full post, including comments

Amazon Prime: one-week delivery to small towns

During our three-week sojourn in the American desert we discovered a few nice-to-have items from Amazon. These were available for overnight delivery to our house in Palm Beach County. Changing the delivery zip code to a small town in Utah, however, resulted in an update: one week (e.g., to Moab, Utah, full-time population of 5,000). Maybe it was just a question of price? There was no faster option offered at any price.

In its early 2-day-always-anywhere incarnation, Amazon Prime was a great leveler and put people in small towns on an equal footing, as far as convenience went, with people in big cities.

Maybe this is why Amazon went into the business of streaming interminable TV shows? People in out-of-the-way parts of the U.S. can binge-watch while they wait for their Bluetooth headphones?

Perhaps this will save bricks-and-mortar retail? Moab has a local bookstore that has survived nearly 30 years of competition from Amazon:

(Note the success of Rainbow-first Retail (examples from Bozeman, Montana) here, with the sacred symbol of the official state religion directly over the “Children’s Books” sign.)

Full post, including comments

Rainbow-first Retail (examples from Bozeman, Montana)

I hope that your Pride Month is going well. Let’s talk about the intersection between Pride and commerce….

In some sense it isn’t surprising that retailers would have some percentage of their stores devoted to 2SLGBTQQIA+ merchandise because at least some percentage of customers will want items that broadcast their passion for the Rainbow Flag Religion (see “Nothing against LGBTQ people, but they talk about being LGBTQ all the time.”). On the other hand, unless we think that followers of Rainbow Flagism are the majority of customers, it seems odd that 2SLGBTQQIA+ merchandise is right in the front of the store, given greater prominence than everything else that customers might want.

It wasn’t Pride Month last month, but retailers in Bozeman, Montana nonetheless were following a principle that I’m going to call Rainbow-first Retail, in which every customer will be exposed to 2SLGBTQQIA+ merchandise prior to the rest of the shopping experience.

Let’s start at Target. A shopper who comes in to get a toaster, a bottle of aspirin, or a bag of Cheetos must first walk by Pride Island, which is placed just inside the main doors:

Only haters would suggest that Rainbow Flagism is a religion rather than Science, yet Target sells a gingerbread-house-like kit labeled “celebratory offering” (bottom row below; click to enlarge):

You can “Spread the Love” with a spatula by Alice Butts:

I quickly found 2SLGBTQQIA+-themed apparel in sizes down to 3T (for three-year-olds):

What if Mindy the Crippler demands to be included in Pride Month? We can cover her unsightly golden fur with a beautiful rainbow “crop top” in the “pride pet apparel” category:

Is it then fair to say that Target has something for everyone? Perhaps not. An aircraft owner friend likes to say “I’m proud of my race and I’m proud of my sexuality” yet Target does not offer clothing celebrating white heterosexuality.

What if we’re having our 2SLGBTQQIA+ friends over for a party? Target sells 2SLGBTQQIA+ beverages:

The local merchants actually pushed Rainbow Flagism out to the storefront with flags in the windows and stickers on the glass. Customers are required to pay obeisance to the sacred flag before they can walk in and think about transacting business.

Quite a few merchants had the following signs and stickers on their front doors/windows:

Note that Muslims are lumped in with “LGBTQ community members”. We didn’t meet any recent migrants from Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq, or Somalia, but I wonder if they feel “welcome here” when they must walk by a giant rainbow flag in order to get food at the downtown market:

“Everyone Welcome” is stenciled on the glass. Would Ron DeSantis be welcome? Wouldn’t that be normalizing hate?

Speaking of Ron DeSantis, notorious for banning books in a state where all 2SLGBTQQIA+ books for kids remain available for free at the public library, the principal bookstore in Bozeman proudly sells for cash those “banned books” that remain available for free at the Florida public libraries.

Maybe “asexual pride” is for married heterosexual guys? (“Only 48% of married women want regular sex after four years”).

If the bookstore window was 100% devoted to 2SLGBTQQIA+, did they have anything inside on a different topic? Pulitzer winner about the greatest American of the 21st century:

Circling back to the “immigrants welcome” theme, locals told us that Bozeman has become completely unaffordable due to skyrocketing rents and house prices. Traffic lights are being added so quickly that we stopped at several that weren’t yet in Google Maps. Apartment buildings are being constructed in what were formerly low-rise neighborhoods. Example:

Here’s data from Zillow:

Unless immigrants are going to be sheltered by say-gooders, won’t population expansion via immigration exacerbate the already-identified “housing for humans crisis”? Here’s a coffee shop that welcomes migrants, but excludes Canine-Americans:

In addition to welcoming “All Countries of Origin” they welcome “All Religions” but have a rainbow sticker on the front door as well:

How can an observant Muslim feel welcome?

Here’s a shop that features, on the outside of the building, a dark-skinned person with a substantial bulge in the panties:

We didn’t see a single person with this skin color during two days in Bozeman.

Circling back to the Rainbow-first Retail theme of this post… why is it profitable? Why does the typical customer want to be reminded to observe Rainbow Flagism when going into a store to buy something that isn’t related to the 2SLGBTQQIA+ lifestyle?

Full post, including comments

Book review: the American love affair with opioids, accelerated by McKinsey

Loyal readers may remember a review here of a book by a Los Angeles Times reporter on America’s taxpayer-fueled heroin habit (see Who funded America’s opiate epidemic? You did.). Empire of Pain: The Secret History of the Sackler Dynasty covers the same story from the angle of the family behind OxyContin. The Sacklers, whose names adorn university and art museum buildings throughout the U.S. and Europe, have been convenient scapegoats, but it turns out that they didn’t do it alone. Some things that I learned from the book…

Arthur M. Sackler, the patriarch, died before OxyContin was invented (the slow-release coating was actually the invention of a British company that had been acquired by the Sacklers’ sleepy Purdue Pharma and was used originally for morphine pills called “MS Contin”). He was the significant art collector and benefactor of AOC’s party venue at the Metropolitan Museum (how did it cost $587 for a car ride from the Bronx to the Upper East Side?). With the help of some friendly bureaucrats at the FDA, who would go on to be of much greater assistance to his brothers’ company Purdue, he pushed the limits of what was legal/ethical in medical advertising, especially for Valium and Librium, but museums are still happy to display the name of Hoffmann-La Roche, which actually made the drugs.

The book describes McKinsey, “The firm that built the house of Enron”, working to help Purdue Pharma increase sales of OxyContin even after the company and three executives had pleaded guilty to federal crimes regarding claims made regarding the drug. McKinsey’s biggest idea, according to the author, was that Purdue Pharma’s salespeople should make more frequent calls on the doctors who were the biggest prescribers, i.e., the “pill mills” such as Eleanor Santiago‘s (1 million pills, which resulted in a 20-month prison sentence for the physician). McKinsey also consulted for Johnson & Johnson, the author says, to help them push more opioids out to consumers. (See “Behind the Scenes, McKinsey Guided Companies at the Center of the Opioid Crisis” (NYT 2022))

Speaking of Johnson & Johnson, they owned a division in Tasmania where all of the poppies were grown to enable the production of OxyContin and competitive opioid pills from Janssen (J&J’s pharma subsidiary, now famous for its never-FDA-approved one-shot COVID vaccine) and other companies (in-depth background). The Federal DEA was also complicit in allowing a massive increase in the import quota for this critical raw material.

The author describes Mary Jo White, later appointed by Barack Obama to chair the Securities and Exchange Commission, as instrumental in weakening the government’s efforts to punish Purdue, which was owned entirely by the Sacklers (not, however, by any of Arthur M’s descendants or cash-hungry former wives, “the Valium Sacklers” as opposed to the “OxyContin Sacklers”).

Consistent with Dreamland, the book previously reviewed here, Empire of Pain says that it was common for people to transition from Oxy to heroin sold by migrants from Nayarit, Mexico and that, in fact, 80 percent of heroin overdoses were among people who’d previously been prescribed OxyContin. (See also “From Nayarit to Your Neighborhood: Heroin’s Path to a Ready Local Market”.)

The book supports the heritability of success theory advanced in The Son Also Rises: economics history with everyday applications. Even after a couple of generations that could have succumbed to idleness, the Sackler descendants are reasonably hard-working and successful. Madeleine Sackler, for example, has been successful as a filmmaker (ironically, a couple of them are about life in prison, which is not unrelated to the drug that has funded her lifestyle).

Empire of Pain: The Secret History of the Sackler Dynasty is timely given that a lot of our American brothers, sisters, and binary-resisters were just paid $600/week to stay home for two years and consume drugs and alcohol (this Senate document says there was a 30 percent increase in overdose deaths, but blames the “pandemic” rather than the “lockdown”). The antiracism experts at Mass General say that heavy drinking increased by 21 percent during lockdown.

If nothing else, reading the book will make you cautious about taking that first bottle of painkillers that a doctor prescribes!

The author is a New Yorker writer and he asserts as fact that HIV/AIDS would have been a solved problem if Republicans had not blocked federal funding for research into a cure for this disease (yet SARS-CoV-2 continues to kill steadily despite literally $trillions in tax money that has been thrown at it; see Did vaccines or any other intervention slow down COVID?). He also asserts as fact that if Purdue Pharma was liable for opioid-related deaths then gun manufacturers are obviously liable for shooting deaths (never mentioning that the gun manufacturers have always been quite candid about the lethality of guns/bullets and that the theory of liability for the opioid industry is that the companies lied to Americans about heroin-style drugs not being addictive/harmful).

Loosely related… the Temple of Dendur at the Met, in what used to be called “The Sackler Wing” (funded by Arthur M, blameless in the OxyContin debacle), “temporarily closed” in June 2021 for coronapanic:

Full post, including comments

Silicon Valley experts on gender equity and money have a $175 billion bank failure

Folks at Facebook like to lecture others, sometimes via software, regarding gender equity. What happens inside their own company? “Meta has a pay gap problem, with women abroad getting lower pay and smaller bonuses than men” (Business Insider):

The company, formerly known as Facebook, continues to pay women less than men, whether they’re hourly workers or on salary, according to Meta’s most recently available reports on pay inequity in the UK and Ireland. The company also hands women smaller bonuses, the reports said.

The report on Meta’s pay gap in Ireland is the most recent, having been released quietly in December as part of a new law in the country that went into effect last year. In 2022, women working for Meta in Ireland were paid 15.7% less on average than men at the company. The difference in bonus pay in the country is even larger, with the average bonus for women being 43.3% lower than those that go to men.

For women working at Meta in the UK, where the company operates out of London, the pay gap is smaller but still prevalent, according to a report from last year detailing pay data from 2021. The average woman there was paid 2.1% less than the average man. And again, the difference in bonuses is much starker, with the average bonus going to women being 34.8% less than bonuses paid to men.

The lords of Silicon Valley are also fond of reminding the peasants how much smarter they are about money, even as many venture capital firms there underperform the S&P 500 (HBR 2014; a 2019 article). What about something simple like running a bank? With about $200 billion in deposits to protect, Silicon Valley Bank made a big bet that the Vanquisher of Corn Pop wouldn’t set off hyperinflation. The bank bought long-term Treasury bonds. When Bidenflation took off, the value of these bonds collapsed. From “What’s Going on With Silicon Valley Bank?” (WSJ):

SVB Financial bought tens of billions of dollars of seemingly safe assets, primarily longer-term U.S. Treasurys and government-backed mortgage securities. SVB’s securities portfolio rose from about $27 billion in the first quarter of 2020 to around $128 billion by the end of 2021.

These securities are at virtually no risk of defaulting. But they pay fixed interest rates for many years. That isn’t necessarily a problem, unless the bank suddenly needs to sell the securities. Because market interest rates have moved so much higher, those securities are suddenly worth less on the open market than they are valued at on the bank’s books. As a result, they could only be sold at a loss.

Many of the bank’s deposits are sizable enough that they don’t carry Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. protection. SVB said it estimates that at the end of 2022 the amount of deposits in its U.S. offices that exceed the FDIC insurance limit was $151.5 billion.

Before it disappears, let’s have a look at their home page:

Certainly nobody can accuse them of failure to represent a diversity of hairstyles.

What can you do to protect yourself in case some other banks were overconfident regarding our current rulers and their Borrow-and-Spend-Like-Drug-Dealers economic policy? Move money that is in cash into mutual funds or common stocks. The bank is just a custodian for these assets and if the bank fails you’re still a shareholder at the same level. If you must have cash of more than $250,000, spread it among multiple banks.

Let’s dig a little deeper into this failed bank. It seems that they too might have built a culture of equity by underpaying a group of employees unified by a gender ID:

They were experts on “sustainable finance” whose own enterprise just happened not to be sustainable.


Full post, including comments

Celebrating Black people, but not hiring any

Here’s a pharma company that celebrates Black women:

The executive team, according to the company’s “Our People” page:

Maybe there are some Black employees just below the “executive “leadership” level?

It looks as though the top of the “people” page is a stock photo that includes a Black woman. The office building in which these non-Asian stock photo models are assembled has exposed brick walls. Below this is a photo of some actual employees. The walls are painted sheetrock and the workforce has a decidedly different skin color distribution compared to the stock photo models:


Full post, including comments