This headline made me think of it again:
The post was a grand tour of the actual cavern where the Democrats keep their dry powder. There were barrels and barrels of the stuff, kept in catacombs, possibly. I recall the post was vaguely like The Inferno, in that the poster had an older and more experienced guide, whose job was to explain why all that powder had to be kept dry. Read below the fold...
Senate hits another dead end on unemployment benefits
The Senate remained gridlocked Thursday over the effort to renew emergency unemployment insurance for the long-term jobless, including more than 1.7 million Americans without work who lost their benefits as the federal program expired in late December.
In a largely party-line vote, Democrats came a single vote shy of the 60-vote hurdle to break a filibuster by Republicans, who complained that the latest proposal did not have a proper offsetting spending cut to lessen the impact on the federal deficit. Additionally, the two sides continued to squabble over procedural matters related to how many amendments the Republicans would be allowed to offer.
Reid, Democrats trigger ‘nuclear’ option; eliminate most filibusters on nominees
In other words, the Democrats were happy to get nuke the filibuster for
patronage nominees in 2013, but not for the unemployed, in 2014. Serious analysis would begin with this fact, not obscure it. Read below the fold...
Yahoo Finance (of all places), "The Exchange" blog:
Walmart, though known as a discounter, may be too expensive for millions of shoppers finding themselves more pinched — not less — as the pace of the so-called recovery accelerates. “Their consumer is shifting downward,” says Joe Brusuelas, chief economist for financial-data firm Bloomberg LP. “The competition for Walmart is changing. It’s now dollar stores.”
Ouch. Read below the fold...
Fascinating article in Modern Farmer:
“People have this idea, because it’s a ‘community’ garden, you’ll have a bunch of people sitting around holding hands, singing ‘Kumbaya,’” says Julie Beals, executive director of the Los Angeles Community Garden Council (LACGC ). “Have you seen an actual community?”
Community gardens make wonderful additions to any city — that’s not in dispute. But let’s face it: Any time strangers mix, you can’t always bank on good behavior. Children’s birthday parties turn into brawls. Subway riders become instant enemies. Department store shopping looks like trench warfare.
Community gardens throw a cross-section of people cheek to cheek, shovel to shovel, on a continual, regular basis. There’s bound to be some issues.
“People never fail to both delight, disappoint and exasperate me,” says Laura Campbell, a community gardener in Albuquerque, New Mexico. “The garden is micro community living — heck, it is Syria, Iraq, USA, Russia — just in plots and plantings.”
Heck, any time neighbors mix, you can't always bank on good behavior! Read below the fold...
From Elinor Ostrom and Charlotte Hess, "Private and Common Property Rights" [PDF]:
A property right is an enforceable authority to undertake particular actions in a specific domain (Commons 1968). Property rights define actions that individuals can take in relation to other individuals regarding some ‘thing’. If one individual has a right, someone else has a commensurate duty to observe that right. Schlager and Ostrom (1992) identify five property rights that are most relevant for the use of common-pool resources, including access, withdrawal, management, exclusion, and alienation. These are defined as: Read below the fold...
ObamaCare Clusterfuck: Small problems from ObamaCare's lack of universality (small, if they're not your problems)
First, foster children. KHN:
A little-known provision of federal health law now extends Medicaid coverage to former foster youths until they turn 26, regardless of where they live or how much they earn. The only requirements: They must have been in foster care when they turned 18 and have previously received Medicaid, the state-run insurance plan for the poor known as Medi-Cal in California.
Nationwide, an estimated 180,000 former foster youths are eligible and another 25,000 will qualify each year, according to the child advocacy group First Focus, which worked to get the provision into the Affordable Care Act. Youths are entitled to coverage even if they live in states that aren’t expanding their Medicaid programs. ...
Laudable effort. Now here are the problems: Read below the fold...
[Leaving this sticky because I'd really like some feedback on lets's methodology. Feeling a little bit like Sisyphus here.... --lambert]
[Previous version: X Things To Help Us Avoid Breaking Bad [PRE-DRAFT] --lambert]
Er, "values"? Should I not have asked what I mean by values? Other than "not breaking bad"? In case there are any moral philosophers in the readership, I'll quote the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy:
The term “value theory” is used in at least three different ways in philosophy. In its broadest sense, “value theory” is a catch-all label used to encompass all branches of moral philosophy, social and political philosophy, aesthetics, and sometimes feminist philosophy and the philosophy of religion — whatever areas of philosophy are deemed to encompass some “evaluative” aspect. In its narrowest sense, “value theory” is used for a relatively narrow area of normative ethical theory particularly, but not exclusively, of concern to consequentialists. In this narrow sense, “value theory” is roughly synonymous with “axiology”. Axiology can be thought of as primarily concerned with classifying what things are good, and how good they are. For instance, a traditional question of axiology concerns whether the objects of value are subjective psychological states, or objective states of the world.
So, "What is good?" and/or "What do we mean when we say 'This is good'"? (If you're not a moral philosopher, but a marketer, or a self-marketer, here's a handy list of 400 value words.) Assuming that answers to these questions are circumscribed by subject matter, we're seeking the answer to/meaning of "What is good?" within the scope of political economy,* our quest to create a living system that at the very least isn't degrading to inhabit. This quest is important for at least two reasons, one tactical, the other strategic. Read below the fold...
Via Warren Mosler:
Real per capita disposable income was down -0.85% during 2013. And to maintain the prior years standard of living, the household savings rate plunged 2.3%. ...
The per capita numbers continue to mask an ongoing shift in income distribution: although the average per capita income data has grown some 3.3% since October 2008 (per the BEA), the median household income has shrunk some 7% over that same time span (per Sentier Research). The typical member of the electorate lives at the median, and they are not sharing the growth reported by the BEA.
That's exactly it. We don't feel the economy getting any better because, for us, it isn't. Doh. Averages conceal (some would say, are designed to conceal). Read below the fold...
After obtaining coverage through the health law, some workers may forgo employment, while others may reduce hours... Low-wage workers are the most likely to drop out of the workforce as a result of the law, it said. The CBO said the law’s impact on jobs mostly would be felt after 2016.
On Tuesday, the agency released a more detailed estimate that includes how ordinary Americans would react to those changes by employers. Some would choose to keep Medicaid rather than take a job at reduced wages. Others, who typically do not work full-time, would delay returning to work in order to keep subsidies for private insurance that are provided under the law.
As a result, by 2021, the number of full-time positions would be reduced by 2.3 million.
The reduction in employment from the health care law “includes some people choosing not to work at all and other people choosing to work fewer hours than they would have in the absence of the law,” the CBO said.
I'm of two minds about this. Read below the fold...
As we've said many times, ObamaCare is a needlessly* complex system that throws people into buckets depending on their income, age, jurisdiction, employer, and the characteristics of their family, among other things. Inevitably, people get tossed into the wrong bucket. One would naturally have expected an appeals process to be in place to help people who are unjustly treated. No such luck:
HealthCare.gov can’t handle appeals of enrollment errors
Tens of thousands of people who discovered that HealthCare.gov made mistakes as they were signing up for a health plan are confronting a new roadblock: The government cannot yet fix the errors.
Roughly 22,000 Americans have filed appeals with the government to try to get mistakes corrected, according to internal government data obtained by The Washington Post. They contend that the computer system for the new federal online marketplace charged them too much for health insurance, steered them into the wrong insurance program or denied them coverage entirely.
For now, the appeals are sitting, untouched, inside a government computer. And an unknown number of consumers who are trying to get help through less formal means — by calling the health-care marketplace directly — are told that HealthCare.gov’s computer system is not yet allowing federal workers to go into enrollment records and change them, according to individuals inside and outside the government who are familiar with the situation.
Well, I went to the dentist (thanks for all the help). You can tell the picture that Thai dental professionals have of dental care in the United States from the English they know: Picture me vibrating quietly about six inches above the dental chair, totally rigid, plank-like with tension, and meanwhile the dentist and her assistant chatting as they work away, musical Thai interspersed with "No pain... No pain...." and "Relax!" and "Breathe deep!" (because I would forget to breathe). And they were quite right; there was no pain. Which is what I went to find out! Read below the fold...
Princeton -> the Fed -> Brookings. Nice work if you can get it. Businessweek:
Ben Bernanke used to run the world’s most powerful central bank. David Wessel used to cover him as a reporter. In a role reversal that’s weirdly Washingtonian, Bernanke will now be a “distinguished fellow in residence” at a Brookings Institution center directed by Wessel. ...
The center Wessel directs is called the Hutchins Center on Fiscal & Monetary Policy. According to its website, it “provides independent, non-partisan analysis of fiscal and monetary policy issues in order to further public understanding and to improve the quality and effectiveness of those policies.” Its advisory committee is co-chaired by Democrat Lawrence Summers and Republican Gregory Mankiw, both Harvard University economists. It was launched in December with a $10 million starter gift from the Hutchins Family Foundation. Glenn Hutchins is co-founder of Silver Lake, a global technology investment company. ....
The lightning-quick naming of Bernanke raises the question of how long ago negotiations with Brookings began. Wessel, whose appointment as director was part of the announcement of the center’s formation on Dec. 4, has a well-known and long-standing relationship with Bernanke. He wrote a 2009 history of the financial crisis called In Fed We Trust: Ben Bernanke’s War on the Great Panic. As the title suggests, it was one of the more positive appraisals of Bernanke’s performance.
One big happy! Read below the fold...
Obama uses moral suasion to get companies not to discriminate against the disemployed when hiring for crappy jobs that mostly aren't there anyhow
Obama takes action to address long-term unemployment
Obama issued a memorandum on Friday saying that federal agencies should not look unfavorably [whatever the Fuck that means] upon job-seekers who are unemployed or facing financial difficulties, signaling [note Beltway-ese; Beltway types are all the time "signalling" to each other, for some nutty reason] to those individuals that federal employment will not be out of their reach.
Also that day, the White House announced it had secured promises [uh huh] from more than 300 companies that agreed to not show bias [whatever the Fuck that means] against applicants who have been out of work for more than six months. The administration began working on those agreements last May, according to officials.
They've been working on this pathetic baby step, this toddler-level evasion of responsibility, this slap in the face to the disemployed since May? For MR SUBLIMINAL May, June, July, August, September, October, November, December, January nine months? By which I mean nine fucking months? Have I mentioned lately what an asshole Obama is? Read below the fold...
[Toru Nakakita, a] longtime commentator for the network [NHK] angrily announced that he had resigned after being ordered not to criticize nuclear power ahead of a crucial election, unleashing new criticism. Toru Nakakita, said the show on which he had appeared regularly for 20 years had told him not to say anything critical about nuclear power. An NHK spokesman said the demand was made to ensure balanced coverage during the coming election for Tokyo governor, in which nuclear power is an issue...
The broadcaster has also faced widespread distrust for coverage of the 2011 Fukushima accident that some say complied with government efforts to hide the extent of radiation releases.
And last year, Jun Hori, a popular NHK television news announcer, quit after superiors questioned him for more than six hours about a documentary he had made describing nuclear accidents at Fukushima and in the United States. It is expected to be shown this month at a small theater in Tokyo.
I can't imagine why the Japanese government would be doing this. Read below the fold...