Blog on the Run: Reloaded

Monday, July 29, 2013 6:54 pm

Quote of the day, War on the Poor edition

Filed under: Evil — Lex @ 6:54 pm
Tags: , , ,

Chris Hedges at Truthdig:

The murder of a teenage boy by an armed vigilante, George Zimmerman, is only one crime set within a legal and penal system that has criminalized poverty. Poor people, especially those of color, are worth nothing to corporations and private contractors if they are on the street. In jails and prisons, however, they each can generate corporate revenues of $30,000 to $40,000 a year. This use of the bodies of the poor to make money for corporations fuels the system of neoslavery that defines our prison system.

(h/t: Fecund Stench)

Interesting development

Filed under: Weird — Lex @ 6:08 pm
Tags:

Mujeeb Shah-Khan, the Greensboro city attorney, is now following me on Twitter. I’m not sure why that would be, unless it has something to do with this. But, whatever, Mujeeb. You’ll probably find my Twitter stream the same thing others do: a bewildering boullibaisse of failed humor, tweets about my kids, interesting examples of data visualization, commentary on national and state politics, bizarre odds and ends, and retweets of most of the foregoing types of tweets by other people, most of whom I don’t know in real life. If that floats your boat, then anchors aweigh.

Friday, July 26, 2013 6:19 pm

Our overburdened corporations

The Washington Post had a chart on how corporate taxes have been rising as a share of GDP in OECD countries (industrialized countries comparable for economic purposes to the United States). The problem is that the piece was a tad misleading in that every country counted the same.

In the U.S. that burden has been generally shrinking since World War II. As of 2009, that burden was 1%, down from its postwar high of 6% just after the Korean War. Here’s a chart showing how it’s gone:

Corporate Income Tax as a Share of GDP 1946 - 2009

Now, corporations are sitting on $2 trillion in cash. If they’re not going to create jobs with it, which they’re not because there’s no demand for their goods and services because too many people have been unemployed for too long, then they ought to pay a bit more of it to the government so that we can set about some badly needed infrastructure projects. Those projects, in turn, will both create jobs in the short term and lay the foundation for future wealth creation in the long term.

This is not rocket science. This is not even rocket economics.

(h/t: Dean Baker)

Thursday, July 25, 2013 6:01 pm

Police Chief Ken Miller, the First Amendment would like to see you

About eight years ago, I met Greensboro blogger Billy Jones. Billy and I disagree on politics almost as often as Fred and I do, but as with Fred, he and I have a very good RL relationship and I consider him a friend.

Billy took to his blog on Tuesday to take issue with the fact that George Hartzman, a candidate for mayor, apparently (I say “apparently” because I have no first-hand knowledge of this) was removed from the city’s farmer’s market this past Saturday for campaigning on city property. Billy’s post includes a lot of the email back-and-forth, which includes not only the original parties but also the Guilford County Board of Elections (which took Hartzman’s side), blogger and formal mayoral candidate Roch Smith Jr., and others. Billy concludes with this segment from the majority ruling in the 1938 U.S. Supreme Court case Lovell v. City of Griffin, which would appear to be the last word on the subject:

“4. A city ordinance forbidding as a nuisance the distribution, by hand or otherwise, of literature of any kind without first obtaining written permission from the City Manager, violates the Fourteenth Amendment; strikes at the very foundation of the freedom of the press by subjecting it to license and censorship. P. 450.

So held as applied to distribution of pamphlets and magazines in the nature of religious tracts.

5. The liberty of the press is not confined to newspapers and periodicals. It embraces pamphlets and leaflets. P. 452.

6. One who is prosecuted for disobeying a license ordinance which is void on its face may contest its validity without having sought a permit under it. P. 452. “

(Billy’s link is broken, but his pagination appears to match that of the source to which I’m linking.)

Billy himself then concluded:

I think we know what is going on here. As usual supporters of the status quo are stalling,  hoping Greensboro’s working class will give up the fight, roll over and die. Well here’s some news for you Mr S. Mujeeb Shah-Khan: Greensboro’s working class is educated, organized, pissed-off and ready to fight. We have access to the law and the media worldwide. And if you and your kind think you can continue to run Greensboro as Greensboro has been run for the last 100 years… Well click here and I think you will change your mind.

You can run but you cannot hide behind your lies.

Up to this point, some disagreement but nothing egregious. But then, yesterday morning, Greensboro Police Chief Ken Miller, acting in his official capacity, wrote Billy the following:

From: Miller, Ken <Ken.Miller@greensboro-nc.gov>
Date: Wed, Jul 24, 2013 at 7:05 AM
Subject: Encouragement
To: “Jones, Billy” <recyclebill@gmail.com>

Hi Billy,

I see a post on your blog that I am requesting and hoping you will remove it right away:

“I think we know what is going on here. As usual supporters of the status quo are stalling,  hoping Greensboro’s working class will give up the fight, roll over and die. Well here’s some news for you Mr S. Mujeeb Shah-Khan: Greensboro’s working class is educated, organized, pissed-off and ready to fight. We have access to the law and the media worldwide. And if you and your kind think you can continue to run Greensboro as Greensboro has been run for the last 100 years… Well click here and I think you will change your mind.

You can run but you cannot hide behind your lies.”

The language appears threatening and, even if you can qualify it as protected speech, adding the link to a Google map of Mujeeb’s home after indicating that the working class is “ready to fight” and before “you can run but you cannot hide…” certainly can be construed to be threatening or encouraging others to act upon your information.

I am, of course, appealing to your sensibilities here in asking you to remove the paragraph from your site, and I hope you will honor the request.

Kind regards,

Ken Miller

I’m not sure what the chief is thinking here, but he certainly is not thinking about the Supreme Court’s standard for what comprises a threat without constitutional protection. Having gotten a copy of Chief Miller’s email, I wrote to set him straight:

From: Lex Alexander <lex.alexander@gmail.com>
To: Ken.Miller@greensboro-nc.gov
Date: July 24, 2013
Subject: Billy Jones

I don’t normally involve myself in local politics beyond voting (which I haven’t missed doing since moving here 27 years ago), but violations of basic human and constitutional rights are a whole ‘nother subject.
I mean, you’ve got to be kidding me, right? Tell me you didn’t send that moronic email Billy Jones quotes you as having sent. There’s nothing in Billy’s blog post that comes anywhere CLOSE to the standard for threats defined by the Supreme Court in Brandenburg v. Ohio:

…the constitutional guarantees of free speech and free press do not permit a State to forbid or proscribe advocacy of the use of force or of law violation except where such advocacy is directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action and is likely to incite or produce such action.

You owe him an apology, and you owe us, the citizens of Greensboro, better sense. If you can’t muster it, resign. If you’re actually this misinformed, you’re just a lawsuit waiting to happen, and frankly, my tax dollars have better things to do than clean up your mess.
Sincerely, etc.

(The chief sent a one-sentence response thanking me for my perspective, which, depending on how you look at it, could be the civil response of a man swamped by job duties or an upraised middle finger.)

Feel free to disagree with Billy about city policy. Feel free to disagree with George Hartzman’s rights to speak on public property if you like; Lovell, after all, speaks to pamphleteering, not actual spoken words, and Hartzman’s efforts to speak may or may not have run afoul of time, place and manner restrictions recognized by the Supreme Court — I wasn’t there, so I don’t know.

But communicating threats is a crime in North Carolina, and it is incumbent upon law enforcement to understand, then, what constitutes a prosecutable threat. Billy’s blog post was a warning, not a threat, and it certainly does not appear on its face likely to “incite or produce” “imminent, lawless action.” We demonstrably have a police chief who does not understand the difference; thus, we have a chief unfit for his job.

My involvement in local politics is limited to voting, and that’s not changing here because when a high-ranking local official demonstrates constitutional ignorance in an area of his supposed expertise, that’s a problem for every resident of the city, not a political issue. If nothing else, it leaves every one of us city taxpayers legally exposed if someone sues the city for official actions stemming from that ignorance. And as I said in my email to Chief Miller, my tax dollars have better things to do. I’m pretty sure yours do, too.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013 6:29 pm

I guess lynching postcards are back in vogue after 75 years or so

Filed under: Uncategorized — Lex @ 6:29 pm

SEK at Lawyers, Guns & Money:

[Cartoonist] Michael Ramirez’s “Lynched” serves a single purpose: to allow the overwhelmingly white readership of NRO to believe that the imagined lynching of an abstract value is morally equivalent to the actual lynching ofactual human beings. Because it’s been a long time since white people could really enjoy an image of a lynching.* Some of them probably thought the day would never come again.

But thanks to Michael Ramirez, white readers of NRO can stare with childish wonder at the shapes of men dangling from a limb and feel glee instead of having to fake guilt.

lynch

*No, seriously, these things were bought, sold and traded, practically within my lifetime.

Quote of the Day, Thomas Paine edition

Mr. Paine was talking about hereditary monarchy, but he could as well be speaking of hereditary oligarchy, the condition toward which the U.S. is headed like a rocket on rails thanks to corrupt legislative and judicial branches and a cowardly executive (not to mention a bought-and-paid-for N.C. General Assembly, which just abolished the estate tax):

But it is not so much the absurdity as the evil of hereditary succession which concerns mankind. Did it ensure a race of good and wise men it would have the seal of divine authority, but as it opens a door to the FOOLISH, the WICKED, and the IMPROPER, it hath in it the nature of oppression. Men who look upon themselves born to reign, and others to obey, soon grow insolent. Selected from the rest of mankind, their minds are early poisoned by importance; and the world they act in differs so materially from the world at large, that they have but little opportunity of knowing its true interests, and when they succeed in the government are frequently the most ignorant and unfit of any throughout the dominions.

(h/t: Erik Loomis, Lawyers, Guns & Money)

Quote of the day, old friends/NC legislature edition

Filed under: Quote Of The Day — Lex @ 6:08 pm

From my college classmate Joanna Hunt Whitehouse, not normally one to raise her voice:

Let me get this straight: the North Carolina legislature has eliminated extra pay for teachers with advanced degrees, ditched tenure, said ‘NO’ to a raise, and dispensed with teaching assistants, all in the name of “improving” education. AND they claim they are trying to attract businesses to our state. I guess these future entrepreneurs should practice celibacy, since they would be foolish to try to raise children here.

Monday, July 22, 2013 6:28 pm

Why Detroit can’t just get a bailout like the banks did

Filed under: Shooting the wounded — Lex @ 6:28 pm
Tags: , , ,

Athenae explains it all for you, but it apparently boils down to the fact that Detroit wasn’t too big to fail:

It’s not like you spent the past 15 years putting the entire national economy on red in Vegas.

It’s not like you bet against your own customers and then sold them out without telling them.

It’s not like you took your federal bailouts and then backed a greedy [expletive] in the next election whose campaign did nothing but bash the entire CONCEPT of federal government.

It’s not like you reacted to the slightest attempt to regulate your business like someone who just watched his puppy gunned down in the street, and then demanded the rest of the world treat your feelings like a national emergency.

If you were one of those guys, hey, no problem. The free money pile is that way. Here’s a wheelbarrow. May we push it for you? Wouldn’t want you to strain your back.

Now come vulturous [expletive]s Kevyn Orr and Rick Snyder to tell other people it’s time to get “real,” because apparently losing your house and a retirement income YOU WERE PROMISED and facing the possibility of living in your car as a reward for working your whole life for the public isn’t “real.”

Now come Kevyn Orr and Rick Snyder, scraping their beaks on the bones of the wounded, to explain how they have no choice but to take everything away from people who have nothing, because sometime in the past somebody had the stupid idea that we should take responsibility for the people who take responsibility for us.

Kevyn Orr, by the way, is getting paid $275,000 to tell people who made $35,000 a year their whole lives to get real.

They want to steal it all because they want to steal it all. It’s no more complicated than that. And they must be stopped.

 

Friday, July 19, 2013 7:05 pm

Retired SCOTUS justice John Paul Stevens rips Chief Justice Roberts a new orifice on voting rights …

and you could drive a Hummer through it as long as you kept the wipers going to clear the windshield of blood. Stevens doesn’t just mock Roberts’s “fundamental principle of equal sovereignty among the States,” he demonstrates that at no time in U.S. history has it existed anywhere outside John Roberts’s rear end. (Yet the Court majority in Shelby County are all, all honorable originalists.)

Stevens continues:

The statistics set forth in Roberts’s recent opinion persuasively explain why a neutral decision-maker could reasonably conclude that at long last the imposition of the preclearance requirement on the states that lost the Civil War—or more precisely continuing to use the formula that in 1965 identified those states—is not justified by the conditions that prevail today. The opinion fails, however, to explain why such a decision should be made by the members of the Supreme Court. The members of Congress, representing the millions of voters who elected them, are far more likely to evaluate correctly the risk that the interest in maintaining the supremacy of the white race still plays a significant role in the politics of those states. After all, that interest was responsible for creating the slave bonus when the Constitution was framed, and in motivating the violent behavior that denied blacks access to the polls in those states for decades prior to the enactment of the VRA.

The several congressional decisions to preserve the preclearance requirement—including its 2006 decision—were preceded by thorough evidentiary hearings that have consistently disclosed more voting violations in those states than in other parts of the country. Those decisions have had the support of strong majority votes by members of both major political parties. Not only is Congress better able to evaluate the issue than the Court, but it is also the branch of government designated by the Fifteenth Amendment to make decisions of this kind.

In her eloquent thirty-seven-page dissent, Justice Ginsburg, joined by Justices Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan, described the extensive deliberations in Congress over the preclearance requirement, the precedents holding that the Court has a duty to respect Congress’s decisions, and the reasons why the preclearance remedy should be preserved. Indeed, she captured the majority’s principal error concisely and clearly when she explained that “throwing out preclearance when it has worked and is continuing to work to stop discriminatory changes is like throwing away your umbrella in a rainstorm because you are not getting wet.”

I hope everyone who wrote all the crap about Roberts being concerned about his Court’s place in history after it upheld the Affordable Care Act will now take it back, but I’m not optimistic.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013 6:57 pm

Oh. Hell. Yes., “Calvin and Hobbes” edition

A documentary, “Dear Mr. Watterson,”  has been made about the comic strip Calvin & Hobbes and its creator, Bill Watterson. C&H has to be among the top five comic strips ever drawn, and when Watterson quit, he, like Jim Brown and Barry Sanders in the NFL, went out prematurely and on top. Moreover, he never licensed his characters, meaning that the literally millions of Americans who would buy “Calvin & Hobbes” t-shirts, coffee mugs, whatever (and I’m one of them) never got to give Watterson their money.

Scheduled release date for “Dear Mr. Watterson,” theatrical and video-on-demand, is Nov. 15.

Why you don’t want insane Ayn Rand fanboys running your company, Sears Holdings edition

It’s well known that libertarians want government shrunk, and that many of them profess to have been influenced by the Objectivism, the “philosophy” of the awful novelist Ayn Rand, who preached that properly channeled selfishness created the greatest good for the greatest number. And such techniques are supposed to make businesses prosper, right? So after this insane Rand-spouting hedge-fund guy, Eddie Lampert, became CEO of Sears Holdings, broke the company into more than 30 units and told them to be selfish (i.e., turn on each other), guess what has happened?

In January, eight years after (Eddie) Lampert masterminded Kmart’s $12 billion buyout of Sears in 2005, the board appointed him chief executive officer of the 120-year-old retailer. The company had gone through four CEOs since the merger, yet former executives say Lampert has long been running the show. Since the takeover, Sears Holdings’ sales have dropped from $49.1 billion to $39.9 billion, and its stock has sunk 64 percent. Its cash recently fell to a 10-year low. Although it has plenty of assets to unload before bankruptcy looms, the odds of a turnaround grow longer every quarter. “The way it’s being managed, it doesn’t work,” says Mary Ross Gilbert, a managing director at investment bank Imperial Capital. “They’re going to continue to deteriorate.”

Plagued by the realities threatening many retail stores, Sears also faces a unique problem: Lampert. Many of its troubles can be traced to an organizational model the chairman implemented five years ago, an idea he has said will save the company. Lampert runs Sears like a hedge fund portfolio, with dozens of autonomous businesses competing for his attention and money. An outspoken advocate of free-market economics and fan of the novelist Ayn Rand, he created the model because he expected the invisible hand of the market to drive better results. If the company’s leaders were told to act selfishly, he argued, they would run their divisions in a rational manner, boosting overall performance.

Instead, the divisions turned against each other—and Sears and Kmart, the overarching brands, suffered. Interviews with more than 40 former executives, many of whom sat at the highest levels of the company, paint a picture of a business that’s ravaged by infighting as its divisions battle over fewer resources. (Many declined to go on the record for a variety of reasons, including fear of angering Lampert.) Shaunak Dave, a former executive who left in 2012 and is now at sports marketing agency Revolution, says the model created a “warring tribes” culture. “If you were in a different business unit, we were in two competing companies,” he says. “Cooperation and collaboration aren’t there.”

That’s just moronic. Either you’re a company, with all units competing toward a single goal, or you spin off the units you don’t need. You don’t make your people fight internal wars; you have them fighting for customers and you, the CEO, need to have their back with a sensible strategy and adequate supplies/training.  Sure, it’s fun to play sand tiger shark and have your babies eating one another in your womb, but it’s also a good way to become a “species of concern,” “vulnerable” or even endangered.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013 7:26 pm

Is race a factor in stand-your-ground laws?

You tell me:

graph

(Read the article, too.)

 

Monday, July 15, 2013 6:42 pm

Quote of the Day, 2nd Amendment edition

Filed under: Sad — Lex @ 6:42 pm
Tags: , ,

Charlie Pierce at Esquire:

If there really were a national background check for mental stability before you could buy a gun, I’m not sure American Society could pass one.

Quote of the Day, David “The Wire” Simon edition

Filed under: Sad — Lex @ 6:40 pm

Simon on the Zimmerman-Martin case:

One man accosted another and when it became a fist fight, one man — and one man only — had a firearm. The rest is racial rationalization and dishonorable commentary.

If I were a person of color in Florida, I would pick up a brick and start walking toward that courthouse in Sanford. Those that do not, those that hold the pain and betrayal inside and somehow manage to resist violence — these citizens are testament to a stoic tolerance that is more than the rest of us deserve.  I confess, their patience and patriotism is well beyond my own.

Except in self-defense, violence is never the answer. And my take on this case is that it was Trayvon Martin, not George Zimmerman, who, under the law, was standing his ground and defending himself.

But this pooch of a case was screwed from the start, when the Sanford PD failed to take elementary care of the crime scene, and no amount of after-the-fact investigation, no matter how disinterested and well-intentioned, was going to unscrew it. The verdict was sad, even awful, but not, to me, surprising. And Charlie Pierce at Esquire is not the only person who has said, repeatedly, that no good will come from this case. I’d dearly love to be surprised, but I share his sentiment.

Friday, July 12, 2013 7:51 pm

“Best [health care] in the world, my ass.”

Aaron Carroll at the Incidental Economist brings the pain:

There’s a ridiculously fantastic manuscript over at JAMA that you should go read right now. “The State of US Health, 1990-2010: Burden of Diseases, Injuries, and Risk Factors“: …

I’m a health services researcher, and I’m obsessed with outcomes. One of the first major projects of this blog was a two-week series on quality in the US health care system. I’ve written numerous times about what kills us. This study specifically looked at the burden of disease, injuries, and risk factors in the US versus other countries. The methods are amazingly detailed.

So how did we do compared to other countries? Not well. Between 1990 and 2010, among the 34 countries in the OECD, the US dropped from 18th to 27th in age-standardized death rate. The US dropped from 23rd to 28th for age-standardized years of life lost. It dropped from 20th to 27th in life expectancy at birth. It dropped from 14th to 26th for healthy life expectancy. The only bit of good news was that the US only dropped from 5th to 6th in years lived with disability.

There’s a chart I’d like to highlight. This is the rank of age-standardized years of life lost rates among the 34 OECD countries in 2010.  The numbers in each cell show the rank of the country in years of life lost for each cause (1 is best). The countries are sorted overall on age-standardized all-cause years of life lost.  The colors show if the age-standardized years of life lost for a country is significantly lower than the mean (green), indistinguishable from the mean (yellow), or higher than the mean (red) for all OECD countries. …

Things don’t look so good for the US. There’s an awful lot of red there. A little bit of yellow. One green. Best in the world, my ass. …

What we have here is a prioritization issue. We spend a lot of time worrying about colon cancer. It’s ranked 11th in 2010. We spend a lot of time worrying about breast cancer. We have walks, and ribbons, and whole months dedicated to it. It’s ranked 13th. Prostate cancer? Men are obsessed with it. It’s ranked 27th. But more years of life are lost to lung cancer than to prostate cancer, colon cancer, and breast cancer combined. Ischemic heart disease causes four times as many years of life to be lost each year as prostate cancer, colon cancer, and breast cancer combined. Stroke is 3rd. COPD is 4th. Traffic accidents are 5th. Suicide is 6th. None of these things get the national attention, or resources, that they deserve. [emphasis added]

In short, we have a lousy health-care system, and the reason we have a lousy health-care system is because we choose to have a lousy health-care system. This isn’t about Obamacare, or health insurance in general, or even how much money we have available to spend on health care. It’s about where we put our research and treatment dollars, and the study shows we’re not putting them anywhere near where they would do the most good. That’s a problem we can fix, but we have to choose to fix it.

 

Wednesday, July 10, 2013 8:49 pm

Quote of the Day, negotiating-with-terrorists edition

Greg Sargent in the WaPo:

It’s now become accepted as normal that Republicans will threaten explicitly to allow harm to the country to get what they want, and will allow untold numbers of Americans to be hurt rather than even enter into negotiations over the sort of compromises that lie at the heart of basic governing.

In other words, Republicans feel free to violate their oaths of office without consequence, and Democrats are too timid to make an issue of it, let alone campaign on it. And here I thought America didn’t negotiate with terrorists.

How one man ran into discrimination against women.

Filed under: Sad — Lex @ 8:04 pm
Tags: ,

This is an anecdote, not data. But it’ll make you wonder.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013 6:11 pm

One reason our students isn’t learning

Filed under: Uncategorized — Lex @ 6:11 pm

MOOCs are being hailed in some quarters as the salvation of higher education because they, at least theoretically, will enable large numbers of people to take courses at once and lower the high cost of obtaining a college degree. Now, being in an online program with only 20 people in it, I can tell you that online systems aren’t perfect. I can only imagine every problem that might arise with online courses with hundreds, or even thousands, of students, but here’s one we don’t have to imagine:

Michigan professor Gautam Kaul is teaching the Introduction to Finance MOOC on Coursera [an online-learning system, provided by a company of the same name that assists some colleges and universities in setting up online learning — Lex]. In a July 2 email to students, Kaul said students wanted to know correct answers to assignments but he would not oblige their requests. This means some Coursera users who get a question wrong could be left in the dark.

He called the students’ request for correct answers “reasonable” but “very difficult to accommodate.”

“If this were a one-time class, we would have considered posting answers,” Kaul wrote in an e-mail that was provided to Inside Higher Ed by a critic of MOOCs. “It will however be very difficult for us to offer this class again if we have to keep preparing new sets of questions with multiple versions to allow you to attempt each one more than once. Handing out answers will force us to do that.”

You see the problem here for the student: If you don’t know what the right answer is, you might not be able to figure out why you got the question wrong. You might not be able to, in other words, you know, learn.

See, that whole “preparing new sets of questions with multiple versions” thing is what college professors get paid to do, in part.  That’s because it enables a professor to tell students where they went wrong, what the right answers are, and, most importantly, ensure that the students grasp the underlying concepts.

Part of the reason that higher-ed costs are rising faster than inflation is that productivity gains made possible by technology in many other fields aren’t always achievable in higher ed. A professor can only teach so many students, can only grade so many essays, at a time. Sure, you could make all the tests and exams multiple choice and grade them with a machine like the SAT, but when you do that, the nuance and many underlying concepts  — not to mention a lot of the interrelatedness of the various subjects students study in college — go right out the window, and the value of a college degree goes right along with them.

MOOCs may well be the best tool, or the best tool available, for some forms of education. But to surrender higher education to them, as some private interests want us to do, would be the educational equipment of scrapping our military at a time when many of our allies and adversaries are expanding their own. It would be unilateral surrender of world leadership. I don’t know about you, but I like being on top and would like to stay there.

Monday, July 8, 2013 7:00 pm

Stop the presses: GOP makes crap up to get bad law enacted

Filed under: Uncategorized — Lex @ 7:00 pm

Remember those 900 dead people who, according to preliminary Department of Motor Vehicles reports, voted in  South Carolina in the late 2000s and early 2010s? Well, the State Law Enforcement Division (S.C.’s equivalent of our SBI) took a look at the more than 200 cases associated with the 2012 election, and guess how many actual fraudulent votes they found.

Zip. Zilch. Nada.

You can argue all you like that there really might have been fraudulent votes in the earlier elections. But let’s face it, your best chance of getting away with it would be in a presidential election when turnout is at its peak. And absolutely no fraudulent votes were found in the presidential election, so the odds that there were significant numbers between, say, 2009 and the 2012 primary are just incredibly low.

However, keep in mind that it was the reports of more than 900 dead people voting that enabled S.C. Republicans to enact a voter I.D. law. So now that the justification for such a law is shown to be bullshit, do we get the bad law repealed? I’m not betting the rent.

Vacation, all I ever wanted …

Filed under: Uncategorized — Lex @ 6:30 pm

Alone among Western industrialized democracies, the U.S. does not guarantee its workers paid vacations. Indeed, most of our peers guarantee 4 weeks off with pay per year. Economist Dean Baker not only thinks we can afford to match our peers, he also has a plausible explanation for why this is exactly the right time to do so:

If we remember the economy’s basic problem right now is a lack of demand, then this would be an excellent time to consider such policies. This is exactly the time when reduced hours actually are likely to translate fairly directly into more employment. It is when the economy is fully employed that reduced hours are likely to create issues with inflation.

And the idea of raising employer costs should hardly be a major matter of concern when profit margins are at record levels. We absolutely want to raise employer costs — shifting income from corporate profits to wage earners. We can debate how much impact paid leave would have in increasing workers’ compensation, but insofar as it does, that’s a positive and not a negative.

The comparison of unemployment rates with Europe is silly. The United States actually did not have a lower unemployment rate going into the downturn. And it certainly does not have a lower unemployment rate now than several of the slackard countries like Germany and Austria, which have unemployment rates of 5.3 percent 4.7 percent, respectively.

Anyone arguing that this change would interfere with our job creation need only look at Germany and Austria, as Baker points out. So maybe the ugly little secret here is that U.S. corporate leaders are just piss-poor managers. It’s only a hypothesis, but it would explain a lot.

 

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