Saturday, November 23, 2013

Mourning Becomes Electra

And the Senate becomes the House.

This is interesting.

This is interesting, and also insightful.

The problem was not the filibuster, which actually was a problem.  The Repubs were abusing it, their obstruction was bad and dangerous.  That's all true.  However, if the Senate rule is that the rules are whatever a simple majority says the rules are....that's worse.

The U.S. is NOT a democracy, if by democracy you mean simple majority rule.  The dodge that "no, it's a republic" is true enough, but the real point is that many of our institutions are explicitly designed to prevent majorities from imposing their will.

An extremely insightful video, with a remarkably handsome commentator.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Department of Shaky Logic

Prof. Iglesias concludes that free trade makes workers better off.  Because the SHARE of total income going to labor is falling.  Here is his "logic."

Presumably, having labor have a bigger share of income makes workers better off, right?  The simple solution would be to destroy all capital.  Just blow it up, burn it, return to the stone age.  Then labor would have 100% of national income, because land would be basically worthless, also.

Of course, this is a problem.  Because (1) capital is a good thing, and raises the marginal product, and therefore the wages of labor, while at the same time (it's just accounting) reducing the TOTAL share of income labor receives, and (2) lower prices from higher productivity more than make up for the "decline" in labor's share of income.  The REAL wage skyrockets, and workers are clearly better off.

So Fantastic: Best Grand Game EVER

Got this email.  Here is the email (redacted to protect identity):

Remember, when you are grocery shopping, check out where your produce, fish and seafood come from, among other items. I never understood the logic of buying apples from Chile, blueberries from Mexico, shrimp from Thailand and -- heaven forbid -- fish from China when all of those can be found here in the US.

If you shop at Costco or any of the big warehouse stores, be sure to check your labels there too. They are notorious for selling imported goods. Pass it on!

S**** E******* (561) 254-****

And here is the informative expose video that you can't afford to miss!  (With thanks to Joel)


Bed Mandate

We have written about this before.  But it's pretty remarkable.

"In the past five years, Homeland Security officials have jailed record numbers of immigrants, driven by a little-known congressional directive known on Capitol Hill as the 'bed mandate.' The policy requires U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to keep an average of 34,000 detainees per day in its custody, a quota that has steadily risen since it was established in 2006 by conservative lawmakers who insisted that the agency wasn’t doing enough to deport unlawful immigrants. But as illegal crossings from Mexico have fallen to near their lowest levels since the early 1970s, ICE has been meeting Congress’s immigration detention goals by reaching deeper into the criminal justice system to vacuum up foreign-born, legal U.S. residents convicted of any crimes that could render them eligible for deportation. The agency also has greatly expanded the number of undocumented immigrants it takes into custody after traffic stops by local police...With federal spending on immigration detention and deportation reaching $2.8 billion a year, more than doubling since 2006, the mandate has met growing skepticism from budget hawks in both parties, particularly after DHS officials told Congress during the 'sequestration' debate in April that the agency could save money by lowering the bed mandate to 31,800 and relying on cheaper alternatives to jails. But House Republicans successfully pushed back, set the mandate at 34,000 detainees and ordered ICE officials to spend nearly $400 million more than they requested." WaPo.

Apparently, the whole thing is really due to the fact that Robert Byrd  hated brown people.  (You know how they are...all..brown.)  Actually, there is another explanation.  The prison-industrial complex makes a fortune out of running these "hotels" for their desperate guests.

Nod to Kevin Lewis

Bill Murray, A LONG Time Ago

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

I can't call you sugar, cause sugar never was so sweet

The US government is a welfare agency for farmers with an army! Take the case of sugar (please). This year, the government spent over $100 million buying up sugar to "support" its price. However, producers made so much that the price was somehow not high enough to repay the annual loans they get from the USDA. So the growers just default, to the tune of $171 million!

And and and and and and.... they get to BORROW AGAIN from the same program for next year, como si nada! So far the USDA has issued another $86 million in loans, sometimes to companies that had just defaulted.

Like Amalgamated Sugar. Defaulted on $17 million this year, borrows $18.8 million for next year. This isn't like the World Bank giving new loans to countries so they can pay off their old loans.  That's fresh cash with no strings.

And and and and and and... experts expect the producers WILL DEFAULT AGAIN NEXT YEAR!

It's not a bug, it's actually a feature of our insane farm policies.

Goin' All Columbo...

Remember how near the end of the show Columbo would be about to leave, and then he'd turn around and say, "Just one more thing..." and then ask a pretty hard question.

I don't know if this is a hard thing or not.  But I sure don't know the answer.  So, "Just one more thing" for NC's Moral Monday warriors.

The Moral Monday folks have been going nuts that the NCGA has required people to get an ID to be able to vote.  Now, other states (including NY, where the NY Times lives, and the Times has been criticizing NC, which I ALSO don't understand) already have requirements like that.  Because they are worried about vote fraud. In fact, the ID requirements in NY are MORE stringent than the NC ID requirements.  But NC is somehow acting badly, and NY is a liberal bastion.  I don't understand that.  No fewer than 34 states have ID laws, but NC is acting badly.

But that's not the strangest thing.  The strangest thing is Ventra.  Look at the requirements to ride a BUS....we're not talking about a game, not talkin' about a game, we're talking about a BUS, just to ride a BUS, you have to go through all this crap and give all this information.  If poor people can't get an ID because it is too much of a burden, how dare Chicago impose this kind of burden just to ride the bus.

Now, I would have thought that poor people are more likely to ride the bus than wealthy people, who have cars or take cabs.  Where are the Moral Monday folks in Chicago?  Could it be because the city is owned by the Democrats?  Could it be because the "outrage" by the Moral Monday folks is pure political posturing?  Could it be that they don't actually care at all about the poor, or the outrageous burden that is being placed on people just to ride the bus, in Chicago?

So, just that one more thing.

(This post dedicated to my friend Bruce C., and his NYTimes subscription, which he values more than life itself).

Monday, November 18, 2013

A proxy for risk and a dummy for sex

From Gokhan Kula

ObamaCare Stinks for Young People

Monday's Child

1.  What does your school smell like?  (Remember, NC State is a vet school.  I'm just sayin'...).  Presumably, UNC has a "wine and cheese" kind of thing.

2.  Come the revolution, you WILL like Obamacare.  Interesting that this woman means, by "moving forward," that other people give her more money.  And if she has to pay more money, that's moving backward.  I can see that in a career--you move forward, you get a raise--but not so much as a definition of progress in public policy.

3.  Elections have consequences, and I won.  But if YOU win, we'll change the rules.  That sort of election should NOT have consequences.

4.  I'm a fan of bike lanes.  But the point should be to foster bike travel at low cost, not to make auto travel prohibitively expensive.  This will make it very difficult for businesses to operate.

5.  This can't be right....can it?

More after the jump....

Sunday, November 17, 2013