Archive for February, 2013

And a gender entitlement.

And a religious entitlement.

And a class entitlement.

Its a citizenship entitlement. That’s a good thing.

You want to make the VRA obviously, unquestionably constitutional? Expand preclearance to every state. We very clearly still need it.

Even better still, nationalize the election of a President. Take away states’ power to make discriminatory laws in the first place.

The federalists may now man their pitchforks.

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I went into this article expecting a mildly offensive train wreck, as most pieces about generational differences of millenials tend to be. It wasn’t as bad as anticipated, except for this (my emphasis):

While a young Gen X grad might recoil at the prospect of long hours in an unpaid internship for the elusive potential to perhaps, one day, be gainfully employed, most millennials I know wouldn’t dream of not doing so — despite what you see on Girls. Resume-building work for little to no compensation is par for the course for young people entering the workforce today. It’s not worth complaining about. It’s simply a necessary step to compete when jobs are few and far between.

I’m not arguing the reality of this trend. I recognize it. I am, however, stating that it is, in fact,  something to complain about. Loudly. It is exploitative and as far as I know illegal. “A gray area”, at best. Worse than that, though, it perpetuates inequality.

Want a good career? You’ll have to work with no pay or benefits for two years, so I sure hope you come from a wealthy family able to support your unpaid existence in a high rent city. Don’t come from a wealthy family? Ah well, take some classes at your local for-profit outfit along with your free labor, then you can cover it all with high risk, predatory student loans that can’t be discharged in default. Can’t do either? Target might be hiring, get in line. 

So yea, it is so very much worth complaining about. 

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I’m just going to pass along this Kevin Drum post in its entirety:

This is just a quick arithmetic reminder. If the sequester goes into effect, here’s how we’ve done on deficit reduction over the past few years:

2010 continuing resolutions: $450 billion
FY2011 budget: $200 billion
Budget Control Act: $960 billion
Fiscal cliff deal: $840 billion
Sequester: $1.2 trillion

Total: $3.6 trillion
The original Simpson-Bowles plan, which is Washington’s holy grail, called for $4.1 trillion in deficit reduction. All calculations include debt service savings, so this is an apples-to-apples comparison.

If you want to move the goalposts, feel free. But facts are facts: by this time next week we will have achieved very nearly the total amount of deficit reduction that everyone was gaga about a mere two years ago—more than 80 percent of it from spending cuts. It’s truly unfortunate that we’ve been so fixated on this, since we would have been much better off investing for the future and leaving deficit reduction for later, but that’s water under the bridge. Love it or hate it, over the past 27 months we’ve accomplished nearly 90 percent of the deficit reduction everyone wanted.

So we’re all happy about this, right? Right?

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Reason has a short piece lamenting that OMB’s report on the impact of the sequester included information about an agency that does not exist: 

The first line item on page 121 of the OMB’s September 2012 report says that under sequestration the National Drug Intelligence Center would lose $2 million of its $20 million budget. While that’s slightly more than 8.2 percent (rounding error or scare tactic?), the bigger problem is that the National Drug Intelligence Center shuttered its doors on June 15, 2012–three months before the OMB issued its report to Congress.


They go on to ask what other errors are contained in the report.

I suspect that the only error here is that Reason seems to not understand the federal budget process. The NDIC may have closed in June, but the fiscal year didn’t end until September, which meant it was still funded. But, congress did not pass a new budget at that time. Rather, they passed a continuing resolution, which continues to fund all of the various agencies that were previously funded. Cuts can be made indiscriminately, ie you can say the CR will fund the government at 2% below current levels, but you can’t zero out line items in a CR. That’s what a budget is for.

So even though the NDIC does not exist, it exists. It’s money is appropriated.  Presumably the next budget will zero it out and its unused funds will be returned to the treasury,  but until that time it exists, at least on paper. And as such, OMB was correct to include it in the report.  

This is, incidentally, one of the many reasons why governing via short term CR is bad. 

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The strawberry dart frog is my favorite.

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Seriously. Just stop.

[Obama] is also open to a bill that would avert the sequester for as little as two months.

Just cancel the goddamn thing. Or just implement it. Or do anything other than this. Constant, monthly fiscal fights and unceasing budget uncertainty prevent anyone from doing anything.

Oh, that’s the point, isn’t it?

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Real Virtual Shopping

The benefit of shopping in a real, brick and mortar store as opposed to online on your phone is that you can physically touch and manipulate the items prior to purchase. The downside is less convenience, you actually have to go somewhere rather than sit on your couch.

Conversely, the benefit to shopping on your phone is that you don’t have to go anywhere, you can do it from home. The downside is that the only information available to you about the items is what is provided in the app. 

Having said all that, this sounds really stupid. You have to go somewhere to shop with your phone. All of the drawbacks, none of the benefits. I guess its considered avant-garde or something. Try as you might to make this sound good from an urbanist perspective, the empty lots will remain empty lots with all of the same problems they had before. 

The technology is cool, but a good way to buy your groceries this is not. 

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