Weekend Update 07-30-2011

Yes, I will really blog again. If you really miss my little posts, I’m sure you haven’t read all my past ones. Browse my categories. You might find something that interests you. In the meantime, here’s the weekend update.

The Guild season 5 has begun! The first person to flatulate sleeps in the hall!

Speaking as someone with celiac and with two kids with celiac, I wish the FDA would hurry up and issue these labeling rules!

Broadband caps necessary? Cringely does a great job deconstructing the lies and utter BS your internet provider is trying to sell you. (Fortunately neither Sprint nor Suddenlink are trying to do this yet and hopefully never will. So I’m pretty lucky. Most of the US isn’t.)

Medicare, for all its flaws, works better than private insurance. A lot of people seem to forget or ignore that key point.

Lesson from the Malaise is a good column reviewing the past eleven years for economic lessons we ought to learn. It also mentions a point that I’ve seen in a bunch of places but which for some reason doesn’t seem to be widely known or understood. “The bottom 50 percent of households, based on pretax income, make less combined than the top 1 percent. Only three decades ago, the bottom half made more than twice as much. The middle class has also received a much smaller tax cut in recent decades than the affluent. ” And I’ll note that none of the tax cuts of the last decade were actually funded. They got away with that by making them “temporary”. But honestly? If you aren’t in the top 10% (and probably closer to the top 1%) you stand to lose a lot more money (and security, societal stability, and all those other intangibles) from the sorts of cuts the GOP wants to make than you would by giving up your meager share of the Bush tax cuts. (That’s assuming, of course, that you actually get anything at all from the Bush tax cuts.) If you still don’t understand that basic fact, can I also assume you play the lottery because you believe you have a real chance to win and not merely the occasional ticket for entertainment purposes? Yes, those elementary and high school math courses actually do matter in the “real” world. If we let the Bush tax cuts expire and end our foreign wars (also paid for on the nation’s credit card), we’ll wipe out the bulk of the deficit without doing anything else. Then we do need to tweak social security (which was “fixed” in the 80s) by raising the FICA withholding cap to bring it back in sync with the 90% of income level. That’s all that’s needed for social security. In order to “fix” Medicare and Medicaid, we have to reform the whole health care system within which they operate. That’s what the long-standing Republican health care reform plan, which the Democrats finally passed as The Affordable Care Act, attempts to do. Cutting Medicare or Medicaid directly by reducing eligibility or benefits is not only unconscionably cruel and a violation of the social compact we have made with generations of working Americans, it also will not ultimately save money. None of the ideas that have been floated do anything more than achieve some very short term savings. The overall system is broken. Fix the system and we fix Medicare and Medicaid. Fail to fix the system and they will bankrupt us. It really is as simple and as difficult as that. None of the above is complicated, hard to discover, or difficult to understand. So why do so many of my fellow Americans seem incapable of grasping reality? I don’t get it.

One explanation of the above may be revealed in recent studies. It seems that it only takes 10% of a population to be totally committed to an idea or opinion for that opinion to overtake the whole society. The opinion doesn’t need to be factual. It doesn’t need to be correct. It doesn’t apparently need to have much connection to reality. You just need that firmly committed core. If true, that’s pretty sad really. It’s not really a positive statement. And it means that all of us really are dumber than any of us.

Here’s a nice little graph outlining the cost of new programs under Bush and Obama, respectively. Does that correspond with what you thought you knew? If not, you might want to ease up on that koolaid.

We’re in a jobs and growth crisis, not a budget crisis. I appreciate Robert Reich’s efforts to expose the lies in the propaganda blanketing America these days.

Tim Duy has a view of the debt ceiling mess from the outside. Hopefully the damage won’t hit the most severe end and this ends the Tea Party’s run as a meaningful political force.

The Centrist Cop-Out is a good column. I tend to think that it’s a good idea not to negotiate with blackmailers, kidnappers, and extortionists. Even when the cost of refusing to negotiate is painful, the cost of agreement tends to be so much worse. And that’s really what the GOP has become. They are no longer rational or reasonable. Rather, they are trying to extort all they can for their own personal gain (go check out how many of those new House Republicans are millionaires) and don’t really give a shit how much damage they cause our country. They’ve been effective because the Democrats actually do care about our country. But it’s reached the point where conceding to the demands of the extortionists is as bad, if not worse, as refusing to meet their demands. I’m not really sure I understand why enough Americans believe rich, greedy bastards will actually represent their interests to elect them.

I got this from ConversionDiary. They are in the west side of LA, but for those of us who live in the birthplace of Whole Foods (and I remember the original store), it’s even a better fit.

Senator McCain lambasting those Republicans trying to tie everything on their wish list (in this instance a Balanced Budget Amendment) to a bill raising the debt ceiling.

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2 Comments

  1. Posted July 30, 2011 at 10:47 am | Permalink

    I was really laughing out loud at the Whole Foods video. I have SO been there, done that, keep finding myself doing it again. God, what is wrong with us!?!

  2. Posted July 30, 2011 at 9:02 pm | Permalink

    It was pretty funny!

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