Lawnmowers and $40 nachos

For the same reason that everyone asks for their own check at the restaurant. That's my answer to Atrios' recent question, "Why Does Everybody Own Their Own Lawnmower?" I know there is a fairly obvious answer to this question. There's a cost of organizing and coordination. But, yet, in the aggregate an immense amount of money is likely wasted because of this coordination failure. Surely there could be just one lawnmower for every 10 households (I just made that number up of course), there could … [Read more...]

The 0.014 percent solution

[Edited to correct the English-major arithmetic of the original. &$@%.] So CNN/Opinion Research asked Americans how much they think the Corporation for Public Broadcasting -- the nonprofit that helps fund National Public Radio and PBS television -- receives in federal funding, as a percentage of the federal budget. Most people responded that they thought it was between 1 and 5 percent of the federal budget. That's a little bit off. Last year, the CPB actually received about $506 million in … [Read more...]

Real information and actual facts

This is how newspapers are supposed to work when they're doing their job. First, a reporter does his job, taking a look at the economic reality facing the paper's readers and the actual effects that proposed government policies will have on that reality. Michael Symons' article "As poverty rises in NJ, cuts target aid" did exactly that. Poverty is rising, demand for food stamps has rocketed and the job market remains tepid at best, more than three years after the economy began to … [Read more...]

Paul Ryan's "fundamentally immoral" plan to privatize Medicare

From The Economist: Mr Ryan's plan ends the guarantee that all American seniors will have health insurance. The Medicare system we've had in place for the past 45 years promises that once you reach 65, you will be covered by a government-financed health-insurance plan. Mr Ryan's plan promises that once you reach 65, you will receive a voucher for an amount that he thinks ought to be enough for individuals to purchase a private health-insurance plan. ... If that voucher isn't worth enough … [Read more...]

April 4

"The issue is injustice," Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said in his final speech. "The issue is the refusal of Memphis to be fair and honest in its dealings with its public servants, who happen to be sanitation workers." That was 1968. Here in 2011, of course, we honor Dr. King with a national holiday and shake our heads sadly when remembering those dark days of the past in which public workers and public workers unions were demonized by shameless politicians seeking scapegoats for their own … [Read more...]

The three-step test for inflation

David Leonhardt writes about the irrational inflation fears of the Federal Reserve and the enormous human toll of policies driven by such fears. The New York Times headlined his piece "As Economy Sputters, a Timid Fed," but it may as well have been titled, "Why Do Federal Reserve Officials Hate Working People?" The recovery looks uncertain, and the job market remains weak. Even if job growth were to accelerate sharply in coming months, the economy would be years away from so-called full … [Read more...]