Weekend Update 02-05-2011

So, the USDA has decided to fully deregulate Monsanto GMO alfalfa. This will have profound impact on all of us. Given the pollination range of alfalfa and its use as a feed source, this decision means that within a relatively short period of time we will not be able to obtain beef or dairy that has not been raised on a genetically modified diet. This decision also, for all practical purposes, kills the portion of our industry that exports to Europe, where GMO foods are banned. It’s bad for us and it’s bad for the overall economy. As with the farm subsidies, which everyone of every political stripe says make no economic sense at all, this decision illustrates who calls the shots in our government. We’re at the point where it hardly matters which party we elect. The appearance of democracy is a facade.

This NY Times column on the deluge of memoirs is well worth reading. I have striven for a dull and uninteresting life as an adult and I have tried to avoid giving my children a memoir-worthy childhood. I suppose I could craft a story of my childhood that would provide a compelling and interesting — if somewhat voyeuristic — read for others. That prospect, though, has never even tempted me. There are things I will share more publicly and things I will share with very few others. And that seems appropriate to me.

IANA’s IPv4 address pool is now officially depleted. Once the RIRs run out, we’re officially out of IPv4 space. Here’s ARIN’s FAQ. The transition to IPv6 is officially on. Here’s the official NRO announcement.

Lots of posturing on deficits, but the farm subsidies that everyone agrees are pointless appear sacrosanct.

An unpaid water bill costs a woman her home. Yet another sleazy aspect of our financial and banking system. As part of the reform, we need to bring back the usury laws. We need to put the people in banking companies who do this sort of thing in jail. They are worse than loan sharks. Scum. The excuses of the person working for the company and doing their dirty work don’t hold water with me. There are jobs honorable people do not do. I’ve been dirt poor in a depressed area as a teen parent and husband during the last bad recession in the early eighties. I did a lot of different hard jobs for little pay. That’s still not a job I would have ever taken. The excuse that you have to survive or make a living is the excuse that rank and file people who have done every horrible thing in human history have used. It’s a cop out. It’s a lie you tell yourself so you can sleep at night.

I agree with Robert Reich on the individual mandate. I think universal coverage funded by payroll taxes should have been our approach.  However, if I recall correctly, it’s not actually a “fine” you pay if you fail to maintain health insurance. I’m pretty sure it’s technically a “tax.” And the federal government certainly has the power and authority to tax. The individual mandate is required for a system based on an insurance exchange to work. (I will note that though Switzerland successfully took that approach, they require that the insurance companies participating in the exchange be non-profit. I could support that more easily than forcing people to buy from our for-profit insurance companies. I think people should at least have a government run or government funded non-profit to choose from in the insurance exchanges. The for-profit insurance companies don’t like it because they don’t believe they can compete and still rake in the profits. I believe that’s precisely why we need the option. They aren’t entitled to profit off something like this.) The whole issue of whether or not the federal government can do that could have been rendered moot simply by framing it properly. For instance, they could have instituted an annual tax or levy on all Americans as part of the annual income tax and then provided a 100% credit for the tax for all citizens that demonstrated they had maintained qualifying insurance. The federal government certainly has the right to take both actions and the proceeds of the tax would go to offset the cost of providing care to the indigent or those who did not maintain coverage. It’s also a fundamentally silly argument. We’re all mandated to do all sorts of things, whether we want to do them or not. It’s part of being a citizen in any government at any time and in any place. The “they can’t make me” argument sounds more like a two year old to me than a responsible adult.

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