June 08, 2013

Working Man Blues

One of my favorite songs from Bob Dylan's 2006 album Modern Times is the one featured today, Working Man Blues. I found a nice version on YouTube with pictures of working people and their struggles.

That's the musical version. For the statistical one, check out this blog post from the WV Center on Budget and Policy. It shows the different ways the condition of working people in my state has eroded over the years.

As Dylan says, in this struggle, "you can hang  back or fight your best on the front line"--but we could use some help on the front line right about now.

June 07, 2013

Just mean

Top billing today goes once again to Paul Krugman for an op-ed on the spitefulness of those governors and legislatures who refuse to expand Medicaid for low income people in their respective states, which I think of as states that hate their poor people. He points out that this makes no economic sense and will in fact negatively impact those states in terms of jobs, money and the cost of health care.

He then adds:

...Medicaid rejectionism will deny health coverage to roughly 3.6 million Americans, with essentially all of the victims living near or below the poverty line. And since past experience shows that Medicaid expansion is associated with significant declines in mortality, this would mean a lot of avoidable deaths: about 19,000 a year, the study estimated.
Just think about this for a minute. It’s one thing when politicians refuse to spend money helping the poor and vulnerable; that’s just business as usual. But here we have a case in which politicians are, in effect, spending large sums, in the form of rejected aid, not to help the poor but to hurt them.
And as I said, it doesn't even make sense as cynical politics. If Obamacare works (which it will), millions of middle-income voters — the kind of people who might support either party in future elections — will see major benefits, even in rejectionist states. So rejectionism won’t discredit health reform. What it might do, however, is drive home to lower-income voters — many of them nonwhite — just how little the G.O.P. cares about their well-being, and reinforce the already strong Democratic advantage among Latinos, in particular.
MEANWHILE, here's an info-graphic about what Medicaid expansion will mean to West Virginians in each county. Thanks again to WV Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin for doing the righteous thing.

IT'S NOT ALL BAD. Read more about how the local food movement is reaching WV here and here.

LAST WORD goes to Krugman again for this blog post.


June 06, 2013

An idea whose time has gone

Austerity was all the rage and still is in some circles, especially those that favor government by artificially created crisis, like the fiscal cliff, debt ceiling blackmail and the idiotic sequester.

Here are several looks a why austerity in a weak economy is a bad idea and why more people are walking away from it. Note: some of these are wonky but you'll have that some days.

First, it isn't doing that great in Europe.

Second, groups like the Center for American Progress are walking away from the idea of a "grand bargain"/bad deal, something they had previously supported.

Third, here's why they're calling for a reset to the fiscal debate.

Fourth, it makes more sense these days to be an infrastructure hawk than a deficit hawk.

WILL HE LISTEN? Here's E.J. Dionne's advice to the president.

IT'S NOT ALL BAD. WV's high school graduation rate is improving and has now caught up to the national average.


June 05, 2013

A birthday approaches

June 20th marks the 150th anniversary of the founding of El Cabrero's beloved state of West Virginia.  Lots of people are taking stabs at writing birthday salutes, but this one by retiring Senator Jay Rockefeller is worth a look in case you missed it.

TWO DEFICITS. We've been listening to the the hysterical yowlings of deficit hyenas for the last few years. It turns out the federal deficit is going down pretty quickly and is at its lowest point since 2008, not that the yowlers will let up or anything. The jobs deficit, however, is more serious and they don't yowl about that. Read more here.

HAVE YOU THANKED A COMET TODAY? Some scientists think that comets that landed on the early earth may have brought the elements of life.


June 04, 2013

The glorious imaginary library of *******

One of the weirdest writers I've ever read is the Argentinian Jorge Luis Borges. His work is very surrealistic. One frequent quote about it is that it embraces "the character of unreality in all literature." The words supernatural realism come to mind, minus the realism.

For example, in a one-paragraph short story, he tells of an empire where the art of map-making was so precise that one map of the empire was the exact same size as the empire itself and "coincided point for point with it."

Anyway, out of the blue I was struck by a story idea right up his alley, one that wouldn't be much longer than a paragraph itself. It would be about an imaginary library so fantastic that people come from all over the world to admire it. I must have been channeling Borges' ghost. Alas, I don't think I have what it takes to write it.

Maybe I'll read it someday. In that imaginary library.

THE POLITICS OF HEALTH CARE REFORM. This could be interesting to watch.

OF APES AND ANGELS. Here's the latest from primatologist Frans De Waal about evolution, apes, ethics and religion.

ANIMALS THAT OUGHT TO BE. Here's a whimsical look at composite critters we wish really existed. There are probably books about all of them in that glorious imaginary library.


June 03, 2013

Unkindest cut

It looks like the federal deficit and programs for the elderly like Social Security and Medicare aren't as dire as the deficit hawks wanted them to be. Paul Krugman made a great point today in his NY Times column.
He acknowledges that there may eventually be a shortfall in the programs,

...and the usual suspects insist that we must move right now to reduce scheduled benefits. But I've never understood the logic of this demand. The risk is that we might, at some point in the future, have to cut benefits; to avoid this risk of future benefit cuts, we are supposed to act pre-emptively by...cutting benefits. What problem, exactly are we solving here?

Meanwhile, it is beyond belief that Congress is contemplating cutting food stamp benefits for children. Here are some reasons why this is a really bad idea.

June 02, 2013

Boys will be boys

A romantic comedy is playing itself out every day at Goat Rope Farm. We have two mature...well, fully grown anyway...male turkeys known as Fauntleroy and Turk Lurk Jr.  There are slightly more females. One might think this would be a cause of joy for the boys, but no.

Instead, each one is consumed with the thought that the other one might have access to a female. That thought gives them no peace of mind. For that reason, they are constantly together and never let the other out of sight. They eat together. They sleep together. They display for each other. One might even suspect that they are more interested in each other than in the females, not that there's anything wrong with that. 

One time, the Spousal Unit found them chasing each other around a grill and pecking at their own reflections in it.

I guess it's just an extreme case of male bonding.