Postage rates are actually going down

Prices for a first-class stamp will drop from 49 cents back down to 46 cents after a federal court ruled that the latest postage increase could not be permanent.  The cost of the switch will be minimal, due to the US Postal Service reliance on “forever stamps” (though woe to the speculators who bough them as investments).

In the age of e-mail and UPS delivery, do we really need the U. S. mail anymore? [Read more...]

The financial problems of just living together

There are strong moral reasons why couples shouldn’t just live together without being married.  There are also strong psychological reasons why this is not a good idea.  (See also this.)  The Washington Post‘s financial advice columnist, Michelle Singletary, points out that there are also strong financial reasons not to, that sharing housing expenses, bank accounts, and buying property together can be disastrous if the couple isn’t married. [Read more...]

Everybody’s a populist

Just about everybody in politics is claiming to be a “populist” these days–leftwinger Elizabeth Warren, rightwinger Ted Cruz, establishment icon Hillary Clinton, the Christian right’s Mike Huckabee, Occupy Wallstreeters, Tea Partiers, and on and on.

Rutgers history professor David Greenberg points out that the term once had a very specific meaning, relating to the farmer/labor coalition against the railroads and bankers in the late 19th century,  as led by William Jennings Bryan.  The ideology combined a type of socialist economics (nationalize the railroads!) with respect for “ordinary” Americans (a man of the people! champion of the common man!).  Today liberals are seizing upon the economic part (while comprising the cultural elite that the old populists scorned), while conservatives are seizing upon the ordinary American part (a demographic that today tends not to like socialism).

But this reminds us that the left owes a big debt to William Jennings Bryan, today often mocked for his creationism at the Scopes Monkey Trial.  And that there was a time when evangelical Christians were often leftists. [Read more...]

Free trade with higher wage countries & the China card

As Democrats make a political point of rejecting the free trade agreement known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership–to the point of defying the Democratic President–Charles Lane clears up the disinformation being spread about the treaty.

He says that, contrary to the rhetoric,  it won’t lose American jobs by sending industries to lower-wage countries.  Our biggest partners in this agreement, who would open their markets to us, would be Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and Japan.  All of which pay  higher wages than the United States!  There are low-wage countries in the pact, such as Mexico and Peru, but we already have free trade agreements with them!

Also, in a column criticizing Hillary Clinton for being silent on a treaty she helped to create, Robert Kagan gives the underlying strategic reason for the Trans-Pacific Partnership:  forging an alliance to counter China. [Read more...]

Obama and Republicans lose on free trade bill

A major priority for President Obama is the passage of the Pacific trade accord, a free trade bill that would open up markets in Asia.  But a proposal to fast-track the treaty–allowing a single up-or-down vote, rather than risking death by a thousand amendments–was defeated in the Senate.  All but one Republican took the President’s side, but all but one Democrat voted against him.  The measure fell short of the 60 votes it needed.  Lots of interesting issues here, which I raise after the jump.

UPDATE:  A deal seems to have been struck that will give the bill another shot.

[Read more...]

Economic discrimination

Apple, Angie’s List, and other companies were threatening to boycott the state of Indiana, thinking its Religious Freedom statute would allow businesses to discriminate against gays.  In doing so, these companies were saying that they have the right to act on their managers’ sincerely held beliefs that they should not do business with those they disapprove of.  But this is exactly what the bakers, photographers, and florists who do not approve of participating in gay marriage want to do!  Why should corporations be allowed to discriminate against an entire state, due to their conflicting beliefs, and individuals not be allowed to?  So observes Jordan Ballor, excerpted after the jump. [Read more...]


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