Still not rock bottom

The smug-junkies are lining up for the latest designer drug to hit the streets, a hot-shot of fentanyl-laced oblivion that is viewed, in the perverse logic of the addict, as the really good stuff. The Pursuit of Offendedness is never pretty, but don't avert your gaze from the horrors of what you're about to see. [Read More...]

Uncle Sam

To be fair, illustrating the personal finance page is a difficult and thankless job. Being asked, week after week, to draw a picture of abstract ideas like “the importance of maximizing your 401(k) contribution” — on deadline — is not an easy task. There are only so many giant piggy banks, ladders and staircases one [Read More...]

Who do we shoot?

Here’s one of my favorite scenes from John Ford’s film adaptation of Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath. Muley and his son confront The Man who has arrived to evict them from their Oklahoma farm. Muley, played by John Qualen (the condemned sad sack fom His Girl Friday), clings to his shotgun: MULEY: You mean get [Read More...]

The poor are left behind

1-800-HELP-NOW Teresa and Patrick Nielsen Hayden have posted some remarkable stuff this week on the unfolding tragedy. Go read it all, but see especially their Katrina info page. Patrick includes a link to a rant from Tenn.-based Cherie Priest, who dissects the class-based cluelessness of much of the reporting on the destruction of New Orleans: [Read More...]


A word here about greed and need, which have been treated as a bit too interchangeable in some of the previous threads. (And also because it's an appropriate subject during hold-out week for NFL training camps.) Greed and need would both fall under the category of what economists call "incentives." They can both serve to [Read More...]

Remedial unbribery

So, OK, quick review w/o any of the tangents that were apparently confusing to some: 1. Any given proposal — tax-cut, tax-hike, public works, whatever — must justly serve the public interest and promote the common good. Any politician advocating any kind of policy must demonstrate that the policy meets this test. 2. When politicians [Read More...]

Unbribery Objection No. 2

Some politicians benefit financially from policies — legislation, regulations, tax code — that they have promoted and supported. In some cases, this financial benefit is significant, even massive — $40,000 a year, or more than $700,000 in one big chunk. I want to talk about that money. It matters. It is at least potentially corrosive. [Read More...]

Unbribery Objection No. 1

Got quite a bit of response, both in comments and via e-mail, to this post about the immense sums of money that President Bush and Vice President Cheney personally have at stake in abolishing the estate tax. One friend suggested that I look at this in terms of the 1993 movie, Indecent Proposal. You'll recall [Read More...]