The Spectacle Blog
If you want to see how far notions of neo-Keynesianism and government omnipotence have seeped into Washington's conventional wisdom, have a look at today’s Politico lineup. One of the articles, headlined "Improving economy defies Washington, for now," has one of the funnier ledes I've seen in a while:
Washington has tried very hard this year to crush the economy with debt ceiling fights, clumsy budget cuts, a government shutdown and complete legislative gridlock. It does not appear to be working.
Funny, that. It’s almost as though—and talk me down if I sound crazy here—the private sector hums along just fine if we cut federal spending. In fact it seems like—and hold onto your hats for this one—the economy functions better if the government has its hands tied and can’t pass new legislation.
This is very, very troubling.
Last month, in Lunenburg, Massachusetts (which is about 45 miles northwest of Boston), the high football team had its season cancelled when members of its team were accused of spray painting racist graffiti on the home of a mixed race teammate named Isaac Phillips, who is 13-years old. The FBI was brought in to assist the Lunenburg Police Department in its investigation.
Today's jobs report has some good signals for the economy, and some cautionary notes.
The media's takeaway, of course, is that the unemployment rate dropped to 7 percent and 203,000 jobs were added.
This is the third of four months that have seen at least 200,000 jobs added, though the month prior to that – July 2013 – only saw 89,000 jobs added.
CNBC notes the participation rate, which has been around a 35-year low for some time, ticked up in November – which means more people are looking for work. However, the report cites the positive change in the employment-to-population ratio as an improvement that partly reflected the return to work of furloughed federal government employees.
- Mandela, Anti-Apartheid Icon, Mourned World Over
- Stop and Frisk A Dilemma For Bratton As NYPD Head
- ‘Ice Friday’ Bears Down on Texas, Much of Midwest
Yesterday, the Charleston Gazette learned of a policy proposed by the Kanawha County Board of Education that would force equal playing time for all players on sports teams at South Charleston Middle School.
What’s the rationale here?
“[If] a kid sits on that bench all through middle school, they will not attempt to be engaged in high school. We know the kids that are most involved are the most successful," she said. "It's not just about bullying. It's an awkward age. There isn't a person that can say middle school was a great time. If we can make a minimal step to make kids feel better about themselves, we should."
That’s what school board member Becky Jordon had to say on the matter.
"I think this has been misunderstood,” she added. “Yes, there are a lot of young athletes that work really hard, and they deserve the right to play more. I just feel like it needs to be fair. I'm not saying take the superstars out of the game, but you know what? Give everyone a chance.
Illinois’ pension problems are big—far bigger than the $100 billion funding gap the legislature said it tackled earlier this week with a new set of reforms. The funding gap is actually double that—well over $200 billion—when calculated on a fair-market basis.
Illinois is committed to fully funding the actuarial liability (and some are encouraging the system to sue the state should the government not pay it). This is one of the reasons the state is in such a hole—they are well behind on payments, and those payments are calculated based on the overly optimistic expectation that they will earn 8 percent a year on investments.
The new law proposes to save $160 billion over 30 years with the following reforms:
a) Curtail cost of living adjustments for retirees on a sliding scale.
b) Offer a 401(k) option for employees.
I pose this question because this morning a colleague of mine told me that he thought of his first experience with socialism while he was riding on the subway. To which I replied, “A crowded train will provoke such thoughts.”
My colleague turned the clock back more than 50 years to when he attended Catholic school here in Boston. His first experience with socialism revolved around pencils.
The pencil he had with him was down to a stub. His mother noticed this and gave him a brand new pencil to bring to school. This pencil had a brand new unstained eraser to boot all ready to use.
Upon arriving at school, the nun noticed that there were many students without pencils while other students had multiple pencils. The nun ordered all the students to relinquish their pencils. After the Sister collected the pencils, she instructed her students to come up to the front one by one and pick one out of the container in which she had placed them.
When it was my colleague’s turn to pick a pencil out of the container he did not get the pencil he brought to school. Instead, he ended up with a pencil that was tooth-marked and eraserless.
Yesterday, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) crossed the pond to speak at London’s Chatham House. The speech he gave was intended to honor our “special relationship” with the Brits, while rationalizing a more muscular approach to global engagement.
In the Q&A portion, Rubio sought a via media between the GOP’s hawks (e.g. McCain, Graham, Christie, etc.) and doves (e.g. Paul, Amash, etc.) by declaring the polar paradigm outmoded. In the senator's words, “talk of hawks and doves is 20th-century Cold War language that no longer applies.” Huh.