Archive for the ‘ Money ’ Category

Who cares what Nancy Grace thinks of the budget ceiling debate?

Arguing from the facts, Opinionator, NYT (paywall).

Using recent debate over raising the Federal Government’s debt limit as an example, Gary Gutting has attempted to illustrate the difference between deductive and inductive reasoning but, to my way of thinking, has made a needlessly complex argument whose example positions are really only talking past one another. Each has a series of factually correct issues they wish to address, but rather than acknowledge their opponents’ arguments, they merely introduce new arguments, moving the goal posts and leaving neither any basis for compromise much less an opportunity to create consensus.

It also reveals some of the complexity of the issue and reveals its nature not as a principled debate about a contentious issue, but rather shabby political theater.

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Used up

I just spent the last week engaged in an apt, object experiment in budget reduction and austerity measures and before I begin? Let me state unequivocally that this post is not about me — I’m FINE, in relative terms — my concern lies with those much more vulnerable than myself, who will soon experience an even worse set of prospects than they do presently.

Nor is it about whatever measures might be taken to reduce federal spending or reform entitlement spending. What happened in my instance is the product of a policy already in place. In short, apparently after I began receiving Social Security, I became subject to a consideration called ‘spend down’. I’m still not 100% what it means or where it came from, but the material impact is thus: for every $874 I receive in benefits, I am expected to cover $180 in medical costs, to a total of $1080 over a six month period.

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Time to create enough jobs to resume pre-recession levels: 10 years. Total population increase in 10 years: half a billion people. When enough people can’t feed their families?

You get civil wars.

It’s pretty uncomplicated.

Dunbar’s number

It’s all about the advancement of the species, b, and always was.

This is shaping into an amazing if brutal and distressing spring. At least if you’re capable of wanting anything for anything greater than yourself. If you’d have asked me if a bunch of people were going to change the world with flowers and hugging back in January, I’d have called bullshit, but here we are.

And there are still enough people climbing over Dunbar’s number not to fuck it up too much. I’ve been obsessing over this idea for a while — it’s the idea that in effect, one’s memory is such that you can keep tabs on around 150 people before you start separating them into in-group/out-group.

Seriously, does it matter to anyone what happens in Oman? Let’s talk about the price per barrel of oil. What’s going on with the supply of food right now? What’s that cost? Any luck finding a job?

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“Muslims, Christians and atheists.”


“I’m an atheist!”

There shouldn’t have been any shock value in that this was one of my earliest exchanges with anyone from Egypt in the first few days of the protests. But this took a second to process; having spent more than a decade being 9-11’ed to death, there is an undeniable impact as the result of sheer repetition.

Certainly, no understanding of events would benefit from over-generalization of so nuanced a circumstance. But meanwhile, I’m sitting on Twitter listening to people from all corners of the globe and outside a commitment to non-violence, the unifying theme is that I’m more or less just following a new group of computer geeks. It is Twitter; I suppose they could as easily be Justin Beiber fans. No doubt a few are.

And the first few cracks are emerging in Africa and China. Ghaddafi is presently rumored to have fled the country. Maneuvering and triangulation in Iran and Saudi Arabia are moving much faster than my ability to stay ahead of them.

Suffice it to say that regardless, I am too absorbed in events as they develop to have anything to say about anything. This is a good time to just shut up and listen.

All politics is local

My state did great in terms of voting for political office, but utterly failed on most of the initiatives on the ballot. It doesn’t take a brain-rocket to figure out the disconnect between voter response and intention; the end product was to mandate the elimination of services people want, but did not realize would be affected by their choices.

Lacking a state income tax, Washington has one of the most regressive tax structures in the country, deriving much of its revenue from a sales tax; while an income tax for high income earners failed, most voted against it thinking that it’s passage would increase their own taxes, in spite of the fact that A) it had nothing to do with the sales tax and B) the initiative was capped to the upper income bracket and required a vote to be changed to include lower income brackets.

This went hand in hand with initiative 1033, which did pass, and requires a 2/3rds majority to approve any revenue increase for the state.  While this sounds reasonable on the face of it, in practice, since we’re already running at a deficit to begin with, we’ll have mass layoffs in police, health care and education following the first of the year.

Slowly but surely, people are gradually becoming aware of this, and becoming suitably upset — with the local government.

Maybe next time they’ll do more than watch the commercials.

Compare and contrast

This is what’s happening, now.

This is what happened in Albania.

How are they different? How are they similar?