Good news for people who like good news

• “One million workers get pay boost as 10 states adjust minimum wage”

• The Washington National Cathedral will host weddings for same-sex couples:

The cathedral’s dean, the Very Rev. Gary Hall, told the AP, “I read the Bible as seriously as fundamentalists do. And my reading of the Bible leads me to want to do this because I think it’s being faithful to the kind of community that Jesus would have us be.”

(Note: The cathedral is the seat of the presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church and its Washington diocese. Despite the “National” moniker, it does not have any official “national” status. This is America, a nation, not a church. We don’t have official government cathedrals.)

• “Warren Buffett’s MidAmerican Energy Holdings Co. agreed to spend as much as $2.5 billion to build two solar projects in California that are set to be the world’s largest photovoltaic development.”

• “The ‘million-a-year’ death toll from malaria has been whacked to fewer than 700,000, the lowest level in recorded human history.”

• “Is there anything more Canadian than a line of customers who kept paying forward an act of goodwill for three hours at a Tim Hortons in Winnipeg? Probably not.” (via Charles Kuffner)

• The new Congress does not include Allen West, Joe Walsh, Dan Burton, Roscoe Bartlett, Mean Jean Schmidt, Cliff Stearnes, Jim DeMint, Joe Lieberman, Ron Paul or Todd Akin.

• “In just over a month the Rolling Jubilee has raised almost half a million dollars, which has been used to erase more than $9 million of debt.”

• Milford, Del., has removed the racist playground signs with the alternative Spanish message threatening arrest and/or deportation.

• Vicco, Kentucky, is a town in Kentucky.

• An interesting experiment at Chicago’s Park Community Church:

At Park Community Church’s 11 a.m. service on the Near North Side, ushers doled out envelopes filled varying amounts of cash with church members instructed to put the nearly $12,000 to work in what the Tribune called “the corners of the community where they think it will do the most good.”

Most of the envelopes had a few dollars inside, while others had more than $100, according to Fox Chicago.

• “Nearly everything I have stood for these past 35 years went down to defeat,” …  said James Dobson. (This would be even better news if not for that “nearly.”)

• And this may seem like it’s not earth-shattering news, but Noah’s moms’ CRV passed the 100,000-mileage mark, and that made me happier than almost any other recent news.


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  • EllieMurasaki

    Define ‘worthwhile’. By most lives saved per dollar (which is certainly a valuable measure of worthwhileness but far from the only such measure), yeah, dealing with malaria or neglected tropical diseases is the way to go.

  • Vermic

    And Ellison took some heat for not using the Bible.  People should be (and are) free to swear or affirm on whatever they find personally meaningful, or nothing at all if they prefer — it’s their oath, after all — but it’s troubling that in practice, every choice other than the Bible is still controversial.  The custom is fine; it’s attitudes that need to change.

    (FWIW, I don’t place much stock in oaths of any kind.  They all strike me as fairly meaningless ritual.)

  • aunursa

    Are you saying that you don’t think there exists a valid argument to take an oath of Presidential office without a hand on a Bible?

    I think I said the exact opposite.

    I meant that there are valid arguments for the president not to take the oath of office with his hand on a Bible.

  • aunursa

    And Ellison took some heat for not using the Bible.

    That was pretty ridiculous.  Asking a Muslim to swear an oath on the Bible would be like asking a Protestant to swear an oath on the BoM.  Or a Jew to swear an oath on a New Testament.  Or an atheist to swear an oath on any religious text.

    I would have greater confidence in a Muslim taking an oath with his hand on the Koran than with his hand on a book that he considers to be corrupted or otherwise not authoritative.

  • Yes. Afrikaans is the linguistic offshoot of Dutch, which in turn is closely related to Low German.

  • That is a static, microeconomic picture that takes no account of changing conditions which could conceivably set the market-clearing wage above the minimum wage. For example in the late 1990s in BC and Alberta people were seeing teenagers get hired out of high school at McDonald’s for $10 an hour plus promises of full-ride scholarships at university.

  • Carstonio


    I don’t have any problem with a president choosing not to use the Bible.
    I don’t think a president should be prevented or discouraged from
    using a Bible or other book or document that he considers sacred or

    I would add that a president shouldn’t be required or pressured to use a book that zie doesn’t consider sacred or authoritative.

  •  The second sentence in the bit that I quoted seemed to contradict your first sentence, however:

    I meant that there are valid arguments for the president not to take the
    oath of office with his hand on a Bible.*  I don’t agree with them, and
    I think that those here who are more sympathetic to them are in a
    better position to express them.

    I was questioning what it was you don’t agree with, because the, “I don’t agree with them,” seemed as if it negatively modified, “there are valid arguments.”  So what, precisely, do you not agree with?  That’s what I was trying to get to.

  • Employers hire people because they need workers to meet demand and turn a profit. No employer has ever hired someone for no other reason than because the price of labor was low. And the other side of that is that if disposable income is too low, consumer aggregate demand goes with it and that encourages unemployment (because, again, no employer hires people just to stand around, even if they only make a $1 an hour.)

  • aunursa

    Perhaps rather than saying “I don’t agree with them”, I should have said, “I don’t find them compelling enough to defeat the counter-arguments in support of a president being allowed to take the oath with his hand on a Bible.”

  • Ellie, it’s not an official expectation.  In the past the Constitution has been used, and though the evidence is not wholly clear, perhaps no book at all for Coolidge and Roosevelt, both of whom first took their oaths from a justice of the peace or notary public.  The Inauguration Committee does the work to select the book to be used, in consultation with the person being sworn in.

    One of the books used this year was a book from the library of The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., as well as book Lincoln used from the collection of the Library of Congress.  The family of King asked that both President Obama and Chief Justice Roberts sign the book, as a sign and symbol of history of the family, as well as the nation.  A fitting tribute.

    Lincoln, of course, was the guy who ran for Congress as a non-Christian, ‘having never been baptized nor seriously studied the faith’ as he said in the campaign flyer.  He was elected, of course; and though he served only one term in Congress, he did manage to become the new Republican Party’s guy for U.S. Senate (back before popular election of senators), and candidate elected to the Presidency.   While Lincoln may be our nation’s greatest theologian, and while he certainly understood Christian scripture better than many including most of his opponents before juries in Illinois and federal courts, it’s difficult to make a case that he was the overweening Christian the author of the letter complains about.  Lincoln threw out of his office the group demanding that he support the Jesus Amendment to the Constitution, for example; nor is there a whit of evidence he was baptized between his run for Congress in 1846 and his death 19 years later. 

    Considering these historical roots in the 2012 ceremony, it’s pretty obvious that the concern of the letter writer IS the title of the book, and not it’s completely ancillary role.

    For the uninformed, perhaps there is an expectation that Bibles be used.  In reality, there is no such expectation.  On television, the common line in courtroom dramas is to swear on a Bible and end with “so help me God.”  Here in Texas, I have never found a Bible in a courtroom (I’m sure I’ve missed a few), nor seen a witness ask for one, nor seen a Bible used.  In Texas.  Television is not real life.  Soap Operas should not be dictating how we deal with people.

    When I grew up in Utah, for years there was a billboard on State Street in Salt Lake County, about 103rd South IIRC, that showed Martin Luther King, Jr., sitting as if in a classroom — probably a class at the Highlands School in Kentucky.  The billboard claimed it was a communist agent training class.  In the radical right compounds in Idaho, Georgia, Arkansas, Texas, and other nutcase strongholds, there is more angst over Obama’s using an object that belonged King than there is that the object was a Bible. 

    Let’s not equal their nuttiness, even if in a different direction.

    See the article at Wikipedia on “Oath of Office of the President of the United States; Bibles, not always:

    Theodore Roosevelt did not use a Bible when taking the oath in 1901. Barack Obama, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Harry S. Truman, and Richard Nixon (also a Quaker) swore the oath on two Bibles. John Quincy Adams swore on a book of law, with the intention that he was swearing on the constitution.[8] Lyndon B. Johnson was sworn in on a Roman Catholic missal on Air Force One. Washington kissed the Bible afterwards,[9] and subsequent presidents followed suit, up to and including Harry Truman,[10] but Dwight D. Eisenhower broke that tradition by saying his own prayer instead of kissing the Bible.[11]

  • EllieMurasaki

    For the uninformed, perhaps there is an expectation that Bibles be used. In reality, there is no such expectation.

    Yeah, wasn’t there a big fuss from Christian directions about dude wanted to be sworn in on the Qu’ran?

  • > I don’t know why anyone would have less confidence in a Muslim taking an oath with his hand on the Koran than with his hand on a book that he considers to be corrupted or otherwise not authoritative.

    I’ve always understood that sort of thing to be mostly about ensuring that Christian symbols retain their status as culturally hegemonic icons. You know, rendering unto Christ what is Ceasar’s, and all that.

  • What brings in more income? Low-wage employment or unemployment? A low price of labor allows employers to expand production.

  • JustoneK

    Depends who’s gettin’ the income, donnit?

  •  How does your anecdote affect the validity of my point?

  • EllieMurasaki

    I don’t know. How much is in an unemployment check, and what’s the time between checks? Is it enough to live off of for that time period? I doubt it, but low-wage employment income isn’t either.

    Oh, you meant which produces more income for companies and/or the government? Yeah, fuck that.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Anybody making less than thirteen dollars an hour in this town is not making enough money to live on. Because minimum wage around here is a little over half of thirteen dollars a hour, there are a lot of people not making enough money to live on. How do you propose to ensure that everyone in this town, in this state country world, makes enough money to live on when you make unhappy noises at the raising of minimum wage?

  •  I did not mean “income for companies and/or the government”.

  • stardreamer42

    President Obama is a Christian, so it makes sense for him to swear on something HE believes is holy. If we had a Muslim President, I would expect him or her to swear on the Qu’ran (as does Muslim Congressman Keith Ellison). If and when we have an atheist President, he or she will decide that issue for themselves.

  • EllieMurasaki

    In that case, since your point relies on the exact dollar value of ‘low-wage employment’ versus ‘unemployment benefits’ for the same person for a timespan of given length, it’s on you to provide us those numbers.

  • When the price of raw materials goes up, manufacturers adjust for it and keep going; they don’t cut back production. Why should the price of labor going up cause them to cut that back?

  • You are ignoring “the job done”, as you put it, in your analysis. “The job done” is not static.

  • EllieMurasaki

    The honest truth? Because it’s to their benefit to keep wages as low as possible, and they want to punish somebody whenever they’re forced to bump up that bar, and use that desire to punish somebody as leverage to avoid having to bump up that bar.

  • stardreamer42

     I think the first photo is of a real sign from the past; the language of the lower section makes me think perhaps from South Africa during Apartheid. I’m sure it was being used for example purposes. The actual sign, as seen in the linked news article, was equally appalling.

  • stardreamer42

     Ha, I guessed right!

  • My first job out of college was working retail for minimum wage.  I was promised a twenty-five cent raise about six months after I got the job since I demonstrated reliability (which means that I was the only employee still there after six months, everyone else including the original manager had quit without warning.)  

    That twenty-five cent raise never materialized.  

    The only time I actually got a raise during that job was when the federal minimum wage went up.  

  • Beroli

    You are ignoring “the job done”, as you put it, in your analysis. “The job done” is not static.

    If you really think Target or JPMorgan Chase or WalMart or Time Customer Service is aching to expand their services, if only they could spread out the same wages over a larger number of employees, you’re ignoring reality entirely in favor of ideology.

  • stardreamer42

    That argument is SO last century. Come up with something that hasn’t already been debunked.

  • What do you mean by ‘live’? The answer for ‘in this… world’ is obviously free trade and foreign investment. I will type an answer for ‘in this country’ a few hours later.

  • stardreamer42

     Some Wal-Marts do have solar collector panels on the roof. They use the power generated from those to offset their own electricity demand, and (probably) sell any extra back to the grid. Solar panels aren’t very efficient anywhere outside of the Southwest, but in that area you do see them.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Food. Rent. Medical expenses. Transportation. Clothing. Sundry recurring expenses including but not limited to toothpaste and toilet paper. I’m sure I’m forgetting important things. Ideally also money for continuing education and for entertainment, though the latter needn’t be much. I am pointedly not including money to pay debts with, even though at this income level that’s often a substantial budget item.
    I believe you need educated on the difference between ‘free trade’ and ‘fair trade’ and why the latter is vital and the former appalling. Go forth and educate yourself.

  • Lliira

    Being an atheist does not mean opposing religion. I am an atheist and I don’t care what people believe, I care what they do. If someone says Jesus Christ compelled them to do good, then I am happy. If someone says Jesus Christ compelled them to do bad, them I am unhappy. People can worship ketchup bottles for all I care, so long as they don’t hurt others in doing so.

    I agree about this person’s letter — it’s not just the tone that’s objectionable, it’s the content as well. The Bible is not a “fictitious” book. Obviously the letter-writer has absolutely no grasp on different kinds of literature or on history. Sadly that is all-too-common among every group of people, whether religious or not.

  • Beroli


    What do you mean by ‘live’?


  • Is it really any more “appalling” than the locals’ previous poverty?

  • Lliira

    You are ignoring the actualities of human being’s lives in order to push your ideology. An ideology which has been soundly disproven multiple times, by the way. Ick.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Ever had quinoa? It’s grown, maybe can only be grown, in the Andes. The people living in that area have been eating it as a staple and key part of their diet between forever ago and when North America and Europe discovered that it’s a vegan complete protein. The people who are farming it are doing fairly well. The nonfarmers in the area who want to eat it mostly can’t afford to. Nor can they eat several other things, because the people who used to farm those things have gone to monoculture quinoa, that being more lucrative.

    Free trade keeps the side lacking power and money from getting any power or enough money. That’s what it’s FOR.

  • Tell that to U.S. consumer goods manufacturers during WWII. 

  • Employers don’t expand production because they want more inventory to sit on the shelves rotting. They expand production because they forecast the demand for their goods will be higher. Increasing the disposable income of citizens makes it easier for people to buy more things (demand), which gives employers a reason to expand production by hiring more people. 

    What part of this is confusing? This is the same logic that Democrats use to extend unemployment benefits (it’s not just to be nice; if people have no income they won’t spend, and if they won’t spend more people will become unemployed because employers cannot and will not keep people employed just to stand around and do nothing). It’s also the same logic that Republicans use to extend tax cuts; they’re not doing it just to be nice either — if people keep more of the income they do earn, they will be able to spend it on goods and thus encourage consumers to buy more things, which encourages businesses to make more things, which encourages them to hire more people. 

    Again, employers don’t hire people because labor price is low, any more than they don’t build factories because zoning permits are easy to get even though they know that they won’t be able to sell what they make. Those things might help facilitate expansion, but only if the economy is strong enough to justify expansion in the first place. 

  • EllieMurasaki

    Um, isn’t WWII when a bunch of factories got repurposed for producing things for soldiers? The cutback on consumer goods production in the era had nothing whatsoever to do with labor prices. I would in fact be utterly unsurprised to discover that wages dropped on average, on account of the white men were all off soldiering and everybody else wasn’t expecting wages as high as white men’s.

  •  Yes, seriously. Millions live with incomes far smaller than $13 per hour (or the local equivalent of that).

  • P J Evans

     Only if you don’t mind having to share an small apartment with someone else, and work two or even three jobs.

  • P J Evans

     It’s surprising how many buildings (and parking shelters) have solar panels on the roof. (At least in some areas.)

  • Dan Audy

    While a good idea in general, the main reason is that splitting them up in piece-meal chunks that way ruins the economy of scale and makes inspection and repairs extremely expensive.  Another problem is that solar panel installation is fairly dangerous, roofers (the closest profession) have a fatality rate of 37 per 100,000.  While on a per TWH of energy produced solar is fairly low on the deaths produced scale compared to other forms of energy those deaths are in the immediate community rather than poor people far away or as a result of pollution and toxins.  A major push on solar power would result in large numbers of inexperienced installers and labourers which would spike those fatality rates during the first couple years.

  •  I was responding to Jamoche’s point that “When the price of raw materials goes up, manufacturers adjust for it and keep going; they don’t cut back production.”.

  •   Perhaps rather than saying “I don’t agree with them”, I should have said, “I don’t find them compelling
    enough to defeat the counter-arguments in support of a president being
    allowed to take the oath with his hand on a Bible.”

    so at that point you and I wouldn’t have an argument.  I think the
    whole thing dances perilously close to the establishment clause, but I
    don’t think it goes over the line.  As long as it’s the decision of the
    Presidential oath taker in question and said oath taker can choose a
    Bible, a Koran, or a pack of Swisher Sweets then no harm, no foul.

    As an atheist I find that when people write letters like the one the precipitated your comment I want to tell them to just STFU.  The writer wasn’t really trying to make a point beyond, “Bible bad.  Christians stupid.  Me smart.  Derpity derp derp derp.”

  • P J Evans

     In California, the maximum unemployment payment is $450 a week, or about $1400 a month. It’s almost enough to live on. Or,as I usually put it, it’s a slower way of going broke.

  • EllieMurasaki

    I know you were. Your counter seemed to indicate that you believe the drop in consumer goods production in WWII was due to an increase in the price of labor. It was not. It was due to it being hard to make nylon stockings when both the fabric and the factories were being commandeered for the war effort.

  • Cathy W

    It wasn’t that the price of raw materials had gone up and so production was cut back to compensate – raw materials were prioritized for the military, so couldn’t’ be gotten legally at any price, and consumer goods were rationed, so maintaining production for the civilian market wouldn’t’ve helped. Pity the guy in the nylon stocking business – except that now he’s temporarily in the parachute business, so maybe it’s a wash.

  • Your statement ignores that it was an artificial situation at the time; so much production was being redirected to the military that the US government temporarily began commanding the entire economy.