Friday, March 17, 2017

March 13-17--


This was a sickening story to find first off. Somebody needs heart to improve his sense of compassion and brain transplant so he can figure out that most people can't afford out of pocket medical bills upwards of $2k per month. Mom and I looked at each other and asked if either of us gets $2k a month. We barely make that together. I would like to see this SOB staked out on a fire ant hill. Evidently, according to a later story, did apologize for his insensitivity but the apology doesn't really make me think better of him since he attributed his initial response to a "knee-jerk reaction." I think that should be edited to read "jerk reaction." Though the story came from the middle of last year, I reminds me too much of a recent one in which some asshole politician (whose name I can't remember, unfortunately) claimed poor people could afford their health insurance if they just made smarter financial decisions--like buying insurance instead of that new smart phone. Like all that many poor people have the ready cash for either!!!

Peter Turchin has a good article that parallels our thinking here--most of the dietary advice of the half-century is pseudo-scientific bunk.

I have seen this coming for the last three decades. I remember a colleague in a history department nearly that long ago who gave up a teaching assisstantship because she got fed up with "slacker" students who didn't want to do any work to get the grade they wanted. They refused to read the material and couldn't (or wouldn't) write a cogent and coherent paper or test. I remember students who wailed and railed because I refused to give them multiple guess tests and insisted they write essays. I remember a Doonesbury cartoon showing a professor who told his class that once upon a time he assigned six books, some hefty, and gradually scaled down the list till he was only assigning three very short pieces. And a student protested "Whoa--Three???" I remember students who were concerned with getting their grades up to a "D" because "D for Diploma." And one who was upset when I helped her pull her grade up from a D to a B because I didn't gift her with an A--and her father contacted a state politician who contacted the president of the university who contacted a Dean who contacted the head of my department who contacted my advisor who contacted me. Thankfully, they had my back--that time.

Amen, sister!! Technology can be good or bad and too often we adopt something without thinking about it. Before our last computers died we had rejected a system update--the so called improvements were not enough of an improvement to justify the cost. When we needed new phones we deliberately refused to go for any smart phone and the ones we have many more features we simply don't use.


"The Parasitic Presidency"???? Perfectly descriptive.


Has anyone else noticed how strangely quiet the mainstream media has been about the debt ceiling? It reappeared today and with it the government's ability to borrow supposedly evaporated. I have seen very little about the situation even in the economic press. Perhaps because we have a white president and no rabid GOP senators calling for a shutdown of the government as a blackmail strategy. A government of hypocrites with a parasite as president makes all the difference.

As I have said often before, technology is wonderful--till it isn't. The author of the article in the link reflects much of my experience. We have traded ersatz convenience for real annoyances and paid a premium for the exchange.



I saw a headline that said Trump's budget director claimed that "Meals On Wheels" doesn't "work" and that we can't continue to spend money on programs that don't work. This piece by Slate expands on that. There are two parts of the argument he tries (and fails) to make. First, he claims the Community Development Block Grants, of which the Meals On Wheels program is a part, doesn't work. And, second, he claims that Meals On Wheels, specifically, doesn't work. Please note he claims that neither the block grants nor Meals On Wheels work but provides no proof to back up his claims. Merely stating something doesn't prove that thing. I can say "Unicorns exist and they are awesome" but my saying so proves neither their existence nor their awesomeness. On what criteria does he base his assessment? He doesn't say. I also find it interesting that the Trump administration wants to convert Medicaid and educational funds to block grants that the states "can use as they choose" but here is claiming that a different block grant that the some states have chosen to use to fund programs like Meals On Wheels aren't working and, therefore, should't be funded. This isn't really a matter of choice on any level. It is solely based on the fact that the Trump administration wants to spend money elsewhere--like on a useless 12th aircraft carrier or a border wall the Tangerine promised Mexico would pay for.

An interesting piece. Makes me wonder how many of the "benefits" companies provided were actually paid for by government tax policies, i.e., by all of us who had to pay more in taxes to cover them. Reminds me of the indignant response when, here in Indiana, Obama told  business leaders that "they didn't build that," referring to the road by which their goods left for the markets where they were sold. He was quite right. They didn't build it--at least not by themselves. And given the propensity for governments to give "tax breaks" and build infrastructure to entice businesses to their area, perhaps they didn't build it themselves at all.

Jon Aravosis is suitably sarcastic on this one. Back when Bush II was giving the horse shit about "compassionate conservatism" I said it was an oxymoron. I didn't see anything compassionate about Repthuglican conservatism. I guess I just didn't ask the right question: compassion for whom? Compassion for the poor, the elderly and others who depend on the service the program provides or the well-heeled, well-fed, well-housed who have to some how scratch up the tax money for the service? Frankly, I didn't know that "Fuck you" was synonymous with compassion. I think Robert Reich describes the situation better: unnecessary cruelty. And the Rude Pundit calls it mundane savagery.

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