Re: Having my blood boil feels unhealthy.

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I find I'm pretty happy to pay only a minimal amount of attention to the details of the sausage-making.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 10:42 PM
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And then there's this.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 10:51 PM
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2: Ahhhhh! Eyestab earstab earstab eyestab!


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 10:57 PM
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I thought it was really depressing until whatshisname at the end said, This will destroy capitalism as we know it, and then I was like, woohoo! That's change I can believe in.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 10:59 PM
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Until the proposal is to line the insurance companies up against the wall, it's going to be difficult to excite me in this debate. I can't even work up the energy for pitchforks.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 11:14 PM
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Here are sausagefest plans as I understand them:

Right now we're trying to get a bill out of Senate Finance (Senate HELP and the 3 House Committees have already come out with good bills). The Senate will pass something mediocre, since Finance is our worst committee, while the House will pass something good. Obama uses his legislative muscle to get conference committee to be more like the House version, and then activates his network of Obamakids calling their Senators to get the bill through the Senate. Obstructing a conference committee report is a lot harder than obstructing an initial bill, so sending the more ambitious bill through as a conference report is the way to go. (Read the last couple days of Ezra Klein for more info on this.)

Personally, I'm rooting for some Bush-era shenanigans where the minority party basically gets locked out of the conference committee discussion, just like was done to us on Medicare Part D, and we slam something really strong through the Senate. Course, I don't think Obama is brutal enough for that. Probably things are going to be a bit more banal, but I have huge faith in Pelosi and I'm optimistic that things will turn out well.


Posted by: Neil the Ethical Werewolf | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 11:31 PM
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They started out agreeing to do nothing that would hurt the insurance companies up front (except maybe in regards to the Medicare Plus scam) and are negotiating on whether the new system will start to displace them ten years down the line. Fundamentally unexciting, though it's still not doomed (I think something similar kind of worked in Australia).


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 11:34 PM
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As for the bill we end up with, the best-case scenario is probably something like the House bill. I put up their quick summary on my donkey blog.

There's a public option, but it's limited to individuals and small businesses at first. I'm actually kind of sanguine about quickly getting past these limits, because if the public option actually ends up working like we hope, big corporate interests will want in on it and they'll push for expansion of the public option. I'm rooting for a scenario where Wal-Mart lobbyists beat up insurance companies until they get their cheap, cheap Medicare.


Posted by: Neil the Ethical Werewolf | Link to this comment | 07-21-09 11:45 PM
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This shouldn't be surprising, I don't think. Of course the conservative resistance isn't going to want the insurance companies to go away; same with banks and student lenders. Finance (since an insurance company is a front operation for an enourmous investment fund) has the money to rent the senators, and the senators want to continue taking the cash. And no, they don't give a shit about the American people. (Surely the last 20 years have demonstrated that to anyone's total satisfaction.)

So it isn't surprising the health insurance thing is going poorly.

[That was the point about nationalizing the banks. That would have given the administration backdoor access the financial system, which would have put it into a position to kneecap the insurance companies and the student lenders and so on, not to mention put the administration into position to do serious damage to the conservative resistance in the states, and to go after the wingnut welfare network. And all those finance people/DC bubble people opposed it for just that reason. As did the Fed (that resevoir of free market monetarianism - well, free markets for you, kid), since the Fed was trying to save itself and its friends.

However, this entire mess is going to go into reverse again come ~September. P/Es are back in the 20s, which is 'top of the market' territory, GDP hasn't fallen to match the collapse in rail/port/highway traffic (translation - the real economy has shrunk by 20%, reported GDP is down about 5%, uh, it's a New Economy, yeah!), corporate earnings will continue to implode, unemployment will continue to rise, the rest of the world is in the shitter, and just generally, things are worse and will continue to get worse. So the markets are going to reverse as soon as the trigger for another panic/selloff gets pulled.

Basically, we need to get the hell out of the top of the third inning here sports fans, so those assholes can pitch to our hitters some more. I suggest cultivating your anger and your patience, without losing your mind.]

max
['Revenge is a dish best served cold, baby!']


Posted by: max | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 1:05 AM
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Why do you think it's going poorly, max? I think health care reform is going pretty well.


Posted by: Neil the Ethical Werewolf | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 2:20 AM
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10:Read 11. Always be thinking:"As goes California, so goes the US" Max thinks the US will "go California" this fall. If it's next year, the midterms won't go well.

How are health care and other services doing in California?

How the hell did anyone think Obama's attitude of tax cuts, pay-go, and deficit hawkishness was going to be good for progressivism?

I think Obamacare will end up, at least at the beginning which may be all that counts, a bailout for the insurance companies at the expense of the middleclass. And will kill the Democratic Party, and then get reversed under President Romney in 2013.

Obama had to go all the way to single-payer, or very very close. It always had to be all-out class warfare, taking no prisoners. Better to lose and run populist in 2010, than to destroy the Democratic brand.

California, here we come.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 7:13 AM
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I kinda liked the House Plan, and I do trust Pelosi, mostly, but I would have to study the details with a real pessimism about the economy.

For instance, if mandates start in 2010, and public option isn't available for everybody until 2013, President Romney will ensure PO never happens.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 7:19 AM
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President Romney

I love you, bob, but you overshot Crazy Is by two threads.


Posted by: Robust McManlyPants | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 7:29 AM
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unemployment will continue to rise, the rest of the world is in the shitter, and just generally, things are worse and will continue to get worse.

The problem is that Max's scenario doesn't lead to socialist revolution, instead it leads to a Republican resurgence. This is sort of McManus' point.

I'm getting an uneasy feeling, about health care reform as well.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 8:30 AM
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Jesus, Did you yell at somebody at Ron Wyden's office? I got some survey which I couldn't actually complete, because they wanted money asking me which Democratic Senators ought to have ads run against them about the public plan? I tried to vote for Baucus, Evan Bayh and DiFi. Ron Wyden was on the list.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 8:36 AM
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Even the good options are only good in that they get more people covered. They don't do anything to reform the payment system to encourage better quality care or to avoid reduplicating tests or anything which would allow doctors to get paid to spend time communicating with eachother.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 8:42 AM
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2: There was a link to coverage of that in the Crazy Is thread. Marcia Angell, former editor of NEJM and now a lecturer at HSPH was going on about how it gave the wrong image.

She's not exactly a conservative in with big Pharma. I think public health measures--starting from the traditional ones like clean water to more modern ones--are incredibly important, but I have to say that there is a certain sort of public health person who really likes to tut tut other people, and it's incredibly irritating.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 8:50 AM
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|| This is pretty cute. |>


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 8:51 AM
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Obama should be aware that the Great Depression II will prevent him from being re-elected no matter how good his policies, because of the economic bombs set off after the previous 20 years of deregulation. Therefore as a lame duck, it would be good to be concerned with good policy.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 8:54 AM
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15: I did, and I'm hoping that the long wait to get through on the phone meant that a lot of other people were doing so as well (it was right after a big email alert went out). We've already had radio ads and mailings here sponsored by AFSCME and AFL-CIO.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 9:08 AM
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They don't do anything to reform the payment system to encourage better quality care or to avoid reduplicating tests or anything which would allow doctors to get paid to spend time communicating with eachother.

This is not really true -- at least one draft of the bill has Medicare reimbursement being moved out of the hands of Congress and into those of an independent authority, and there are numerous IT measures that are expected to generate cost savings by removing redundant tests.

(Also, never fear, folks, Charlize Theron will save us from the looters.)


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 9:14 AM
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My particular peeve with this "reform" is kind of like BG's. It's good to expand coverage, but it doesn't really help the situation where an individual doesn't know what's covered, which emergency room they're allowed to go to, if they have to check that even if the MRI is a in-network facility that their default person reading the MRI is also in-network, and so on and so forth. I don't want to diminish the benefits of getting something to everyone, but it is taking the starving people and feeding them an all-American-style shit sandwich of health care.


Posted by: Nathan Williams | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 9:18 AM
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snarkout-- IT is important, but I think that as it stands now it's oversold. Unless we all get credit card type things we can walk around with. It really only works well within integrated systems.

Medicare is moving toward more bundled payments for hospitals, and so is Massachusetts, but there's nothing promised from the insurance industry. The surgeons in McAllen Texas with their physician owned ambulatory centers have an incentive to order an extra scan, because they'll get paid for it. The financial incentives need to encourage coordination.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 9:19 AM
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The fox video linked in the link in 2 is very amusing.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 9:20 AM
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Obama should be aware that the Great Depression II will prevent him from being re-elected no matter how good his policies,

Yeah, look what happened to the last Democrat to be President during a Great Depression. How long did he last, huh?


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 9:22 AM
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It's good to expand coverage, but it doesn't really help the situation where an individual doesn't know what's covered, which emergency room they're allowed to go to, if they have to check that even if the MRI is a in-network facility that their default person reading the MRI is also in-network, and so on and so forth.

Agreed. I will pretty happily take what passed in the House as step one, but sure hope that we get some later reforms that address this other aspect of the uggggh.

On a partially, but not entirely, unrelated note, I'll be pleased if the thing where members of Congress and their staff are required to use the public option stays in there. Obviously they'll all be using the top tier of coverage, but I like the idea that one of the options will be cushy Congress benefits.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 9:25 AM
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There's a significant element of Democrats shooting themselves in the foot here. By going for a complicated plan that only a policy wonk can follow they provide enormous room for distortion and smears by the right. A good plan would simply subsume Medicaid, Medicare, and all the little health related programs that have been implemented piecemeal under a single umbrella with uniform standards, and make the single plan the de facto public option, with no restrictions on who gets to use it. Leave everything else alone and let the public option compete head to head with the insurance companies.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 9:29 AM
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Leave everything else alone and let the public option compete head to head with the insurance companies.

Won't this lead to the public option covering sick people, and the insurance companies covering healthy people?


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 9:32 AM
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Won't this lead to the public option covering sick people, and the insurance companies covering healthy people?

To some extent at first maybe, but if the plan was done well I can't see why you couldn't get a large number of group plans to switch to it which would solve the problem somewhat. Our health care premiums at work went up like 20% this year. I don't know why the whole place wouldn't want to switch if it could avoid hikes like that.


Posted by: CJB | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 9:37 AM
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I would prefer that the Administration spend the time, effort and political capital being devoted to the pursuit of healthcare on ending the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and, if a surplus remained, the reduction of the (perhaps low but non-negligible) risk of nuclear terrorism (including North Korea vs. South Korea/Japan nuclear attack). I know this is a minority position, for "apples and oranges" and "this is our due" reasons, inter alia, but while a government that gave away more stuff would be nice, a government that killed fewer people would be nicer.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 9:37 AM
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22: You know what my pet peeve is? This hasn't turned into serious money for me, it's just annoying. You go and get some test somewhere, and get a bill for your copay. Fine. Then you get another bill, for another copay, from some organization with an unfamiliar name that is plausibly associated with the test you got --like, your doc sent you to an office in a hospital, and the first bill was from St. X's hospital, [whatever] department, and the second bill is from [whatever] associates. Paying someone for a service I don't understand, that I'm not sure I actually received, and with whom I never consciously made contact before I found out I owed them money drives me insane. But finding out exactly what the relationship is between the various players is such an incredible hassle that generally I just suck it up and pay.

Some fraudster who got a hold of a billing database could probably make a bundle just sending out plausible bills related to services that were actually provided by other people.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 9:38 AM
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I really hate having to sign the form that says that you agree to pay all charges not covered by your insurance. Of course, I'll pay my co-pay, but I wish that they would check to make sure that something is covered before they do it and then ask me if I want the service, since it will cost me.

Although not big bucks, I went into MGH for something, asked to pay my co-pay and then told that I didn't owe anything. Of course, I got a bill later that I hadn't adequately budgeted for, and I had to send a stamp. This isn't an independent doctor's office; it's a major rich hospital which has "advanced" health records and IT systems.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 9:54 AM
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31: That's one of the thing that drives me nutty about the wingnuts getting riled about "faceless bureaucrats about your health care!" Um, already happens, bub.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 9:54 AM
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s/b "faceless bureaucrats making decisions about your health care!"


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 9:55 AM
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31: This is part of a larger pattern: Complexity selectively disempowers individuals and empowers corporations. You alone don't have the resources to figure out what the hell is going on in any reasonable amount of time, but a decent sized corporation can employ someone full time just to figure out the intricacies of the system.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 9:55 AM
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One time I broke my nose, and I was trying to get a quote for how much it would cost to get it taken care of by the doctor (rather than just letting it heal on its own). I didn't have health insurance at the time, and I was worried about the out-of-pocket expense. I finally got somebody to work out the entire cost across all of the different organizations billing, and it was clear that they did it as a special favor to me because I was a charity case.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 10:01 AM
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decent sized corporation can employ someone full time just to figure out the intricacies of the system

You mean, just to create intricacies in the system designed to sow confusion?

My personal methodology is to pay whatever amount requested up-front, then ignore the bills from various providers for varying amounts until they threaten collection, at which point I either call and have someone explain the numbers to my satisfaction, or ignore it and let it go to collections, depending on my mood.

I can't imagine this system is efficient for anyone. I sometimes am surprised that no company has yet begun offering a service whereby that act as an intermediary between consumers and the medical industry, if only to make sure the insurance company pays what it's supposed to and the bills are on the up and up.


Posted by: dob | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 10:09 AM
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37: There are people who will do stuff like this. They tend to help uninsured people go over hospital bills and negotiate discounts so that the rates are closer to what an insurance company would pay. They go over the billing codes with a fine tooth comb. There are a ton of errors. I don't believe that these are necessarily the result of fraud on the part of the hospitals; it's just that the system is so complex.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 10:14 AM
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35: Yes. A Canadian friend was asking me about various health-insurance matters recently, and I ended up having to explain COBRA and pre-existing conditions and such (to the best of my knowledge), and he was genuinely amazed. "It's like you Americans have to get a second college degree in health insurance just to function."


Posted by: Bave Dee | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 10:15 AM
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Um, already happens, bub.

Up there with "zomg the government might ration healthcare", as though no insurance company has ever denied anyone coverage for a treatment.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 10:19 AM
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39: agreed; I'm always amazed by the level of knowledge that Americans display about different drug types, insurance terms, inherited disorders and so on. I suppose it's a combination of ubiquitous drug advertising and having to pay attention to your own health care rather than just having it happen seamlessly and out of sight.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 10:20 AM
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My personal methodology is to pay whatever amount requested up-front, then ignore the bills from various providers for varying amounts until they threaten collection, at which point I either call and have someone explain the numbers to my satisfaction, or ignore it and let it go to collections, depending on my mood.

I have done some of this, and occasionally wonder if I've destroyed my credit rating over a couple of hundred bucks here and there. Eh, we've got a mortgage already, and I don't see any reason to borrow any more money in the near future.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 10:21 AM
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There's a significant element of Democrats shooting themselves in the foot here.

You could make this comment on any issue at any time without degrading its truth value.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 10:24 AM
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25:Yeah, look what happened to the last Democrat to be President during a Great Depression. How long did he last, huh?

FDR delivered to his base, both symbolically and substantially. Bank holiday, permanent for a third;doubled marginal tax rates;WPA; etc etc. Amazing economic growth from the very low baseline of 1933.

Will there be any net job creation, above pop increase, during Obama's entire 1st term?

Ari & Eric can favorable compare Obama to FDR;the rest of us should keep our sanity and self-respect.

And Obama doesn't win 40 states in 2012 just by having a 'D' next to his name;he has to produce.

Obama has already lost one vote.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 10:27 AM
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38: How would one go about finding such a service? We just had a baby, unfortunately requiring a C-Section, and the bills are rather hilariously random. Pay us $20,000 or else! No, wait, pay us $700. No, wait, also pay these folks $5,000. Or else!

And you're probably right, it's not intentional, but no one in the system has any real incentive to reform it, and some disincentive not to do so.

42: I call it civil disobedience in my mind, even though I know it's probably just laziness.


Posted by: dob | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 10:28 AM
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It's pretty early in his term, so we can't really draw any conclusions, but I have to say that Obama is fucking up here. With hefty majorities in both houses of Congress, the Presidency, and a crisis atmosphere, he should not be having this much trouble passing legislation. Sure, Ben Nelson is in the way, but if he's not up for the job of skullfucking Nelson to get some legislation passed, then he's not cut out for the job of President.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 10:31 AM
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the bills are rather hilariously random.

This one wasn't even something I was going to have to pay -- I just got the copy of the bill to my insurance company and was so annoyed that I spent a couple of days straightening it out: the hospital charged me for an epidural I didn't get. Two goddam days of "The code says you got an epidural"
"I was there. I didn't." "
I can't change it."
"Is there a doctor who says they were there and gave me the epidural? Can I talk to them?"
"You can't talk to a doctor."
"What if I call the hospital and start asking about all the anesthesiologists in the building on that day, and call them all and ask all of them if they gave me an epidural?"
"You can't do that."

Eventually they decided that there was an anesthesiologist on call, so I had to pay for his services, but less than I would have had to pay if there had actually been anesthesia. Maddening.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 10:35 AM
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42- Universal default! I hope you don't carry credit card balances.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 10:36 AM
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Nope. And my credit card is through a credit union that's been pretty reliably humane, rather than a bank.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 10:39 AM
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Will there be any net job creation, above pop increase, during Obama's entire 1st term?

As in "will the unemployment rate be lower in December 2012 than it was in January 2009?"
Yes, it will, definitely. Of course it will - the recession's not going to last four years.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 10:41 AM
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I had a six-month running fight with a dental insurance company over paying a measly 1/4 of my wisdom tooth removal bill. Every month I would call, and they would admit I was right after an extended conversation and promise to fix the problem. Next month, start all over again. It finally got resolved when I started a call by declaring in my crazy voice that this was my final attempt to resolve the problem over the phone and I would handle another cycle of the process by showing up at their Raleigh office with a baseball bat.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 10:44 AM
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We just had a baby, unfortunately requiring a C-Section, and the bills are rather hilariously random. Pay us $20,000 or else! No, wait, pay us $700. No, wait, also pay these folks $5,000. Or else!

This reminds me very strongly of the Chinese tax avoidance strategy in "Parkinson's Law".

"The Chinese millionaire does not wait for his assessment, but prefers to send the tax collector a check in advance for, say, $329.83. A covering note refers briefly to earlier correspondence and a previous sum paid in cash. The effect of this maneuver is to throw the whole tax-collecting machine out of gear. Disorganization turns to chaos when a further letter arrives, apologizing for the error and asking for twenty-three cents back. Officials are so perturbed and mystified that they produce no response of any kind for about eighteen months- and another check reaches them before that period has elapsed, this time for $167.42. In this way, the theory goes, the millionaire pays virtually nothing and the inspector of taxes ends in a padded cell."


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 10:45 AM
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dob-- I am e-mailing the health care policy analyst whose former blog had a contributor who did just this.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 10:46 AM
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The unemployment rate could easily be higher in December 2012 than in January 2009. Even the economy really has bottomed out, the unemployment rate will keep going up for a couple of months (that has been the historical pattern). Even if the recession ends, it usually requires economic growth to lower the unemployment rate, so if growth is slow enough you could see the unemployment rate remain high until 2012.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 10:55 AM
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Does it actually matter what the unemployment rate is, or whetehr the media has decided the recession is over? Probably somewhere in the middle.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 11:03 AM
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Reading all this just reaffirms my policy of never seeing a doctor. I've grudgingly decided to be responsible and go to a doctor for the first time in twenty years, but I am quite sure I am going to regret it.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 11:16 AM
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I have to find myself a gyno again. My midwife practice went out of business, and then I procrastinated for a couple of years and found someone who I didn't like, and now it's been a couple of years again. I remember reading someplace that you don't really need a pap smear more than every three or four years, and everything else has been fine.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 11:27 AM
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My PCP does my pap smears, and she has an MPH and doesn't push unnecessary stuff. We chat about things like healthcare disparities during our visits.

The OB?GYN I went to see about getting an IUD annoyed me. She felt compelled to tell me about every birth control option under the sun and didn't ask me anything about what I knew before hand. I was also hoping to customize it to my needs and medication issues. I've done some research on IUDs, and it bothered me that she gave me the manufacturers' pamphlets which are identical to the stuff on their websites.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 11:36 AM
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Thread seems to have moved on, but I'm studiously ignoring the health care debate, including from my side. I already know all the facts about the programs that I feel I need; the rest is just how much am I going to hate Max Baucus and the Blue Dogs. And I'll find that out soon enough.

Also, I'm kind of sick of Obama's speechifying. After Bush it was ecstasy-making, but it's starting to feel awfully pat, esp. as it becomes clear that this is not the Hope I was Changing for. Detention? DADT? Fuck off with the soaring rhetoric and do your job, hypocrite.

Apparently I've been wanting to say that. I am utterly unprepared to discuss it, so don't bother.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 1:10 PM
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57: I love mine, LB. She is up by Mt Sinai.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 1:13 PM
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60: It would seem inconvenient to travel all the way to a protectorate of Egypt for medical care, but I guess if you like the doc...


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 1:22 PM
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Huh. If you emailed me a name, I'd give her a call.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 1:23 PM
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27 would actually be a rather brilliantly simple strategy. There could be provisions to discourage the kind of dumping Ned points to in 28.

Yeah, look what happened to the last Democrat to be President during a Great Depression. How long did he last, huh?

no analogy there -- FDR was elected three years in to the Great Depression and things improved very rapidly after he took office. They his never got as bad as 1932 again during his entire term. Obama was elected one or two months in to the economic crash, and things have not improved since.

Reagan is the best analogy, he took office right at the beginning of a severe recession and things didn't start to really improve till his third year in office. Still won reelection in a landslide, though, which is encouraging.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 1:28 PM
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62: Done.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 1:31 PM
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I loooove my new ob/gyn, but you probably don't want to come all the way to Ohio for your checkups. I just had the opportunity to call to get my lab result voicemail (I like this system, do you guys have it?) and enjoyed hearing her manage to sound gently sardonic while delivering the apparently entirely neutral line: "The results of the tests you had in our office on July 17th were normal."


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 1:31 PM
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||

What the hell is going on with a Democratic Congress where a cloture vote on letting people carry concealed weapons across state lines gets 58 votes?

|>


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 1:39 PM
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66: Lots of Democrats from pro-gun Western states? That's what I was reading yesterday anyhow.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 1:45 PM
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66: If they had the votes to defeat it (which they did), why would you be upset at it coming to a vote?


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 2:33 PM
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Oh wait, it wasn't technically a cloture vote. Sorry, I'd only read the headline.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 2:35 PM
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Will there be any net job creation, above pop increase, during Obama's entire 1st term?

I'd say there's a pretty good chance that there won't be any net job creation period (forget the population increase) over Obama's first term. But that happened in the first term of Bush II as well, and he got reelected. Of course, he was coming off an incredibly good job market in the late 90s and I think that created a buffer.

Reagan had huge job losses his first two years but even bigger job gains his last two years, and that's the pattern for Obama to hope for.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 2:36 PM
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Also, what the hell is up with a Democratic Congress that just up and caves on the EFCA card check provision?


Posted by: jms | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 2:37 PM
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So my new answer is "most Democratic officeholders don't really care about gun control and consider it a battle that's already been fought and lost."


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 2:38 PM
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71: I have read some suggestions that card-check was a planned sacrifice -- that the idea was to focus all the opposition on card-check, and then drop it like a gecko dropping its tail to get the rest of the bill through. I'm afraid I don't know enough to evaluate whether this is likely to be true, or if it's likely to be a good idea.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 2:41 PM
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72: I think you're exactly right and also that's been true for years, since the late 90s/early 00s.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 2:50 PM
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I think the reciprocity bill makes a fair amount of sense.


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 3:03 PM
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The Dems would be foolish to oppose this bill. I think this is the language:

"`(1) A person who is not prohibited by Federal law from possessing, transporting, shipping, or receiving a firearm, and is carrying a valid license or permit which is issued pursuant to the law of any State and which permits the person to carry a concealed firearm, may carry a concealed firearm in accordance with the terms of the license or permit in any State that allows its residents to carry concealed firearms, subject to the laws of the State in which the firearm is carried concerning specific types of locations in which firearms may not be carried."


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 3:08 PM
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In any event, it's not everyday you get to hear the Democrats accuse the Republicans of attempting erode states' rights.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 3:08 PM
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^to


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 3:09 PM
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Union organizers I know are much more excited about swift elections, access to the property, and enforcement of the law than they are mournful about the loss of card check. So we'll see.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 3:24 PM
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Union organizers I know are much more excited about swift elections, access to the property, and enforcement of the law

I agree this is important. But a card check would have been huge. It's 2009, and we have a Democratic president and a Democratic super majority; if not now, when? Never?


Posted by: jms | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 3:36 PM
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76: Seriously? Anyone granted a concealed carry permit in a state can carry in any other state? Does the same go for marriage licenses too? Then we can talk.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 3:36 PM
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Anyone granted a concealed carry permit in a state can carry in any other state that allows concealed carry. The distinction seems to make it less objectionable.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 3:39 PM
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82: Well, I phrased that badly. Most states have concealed carry laws. But it is nigh on impossible to get a permit for in NY and rather easier elsewhere. This seems problematic.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 3:43 PM
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83: Oh wow. I had no idea. Apparently only Wisconsin, Illinois, and D.C. ban concealed carry entirely.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 3:46 PM
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Somehow I was thinking it amounted to "crazy rednecks can carry concealed guns whenever they're in other crazy redneck locations".


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 3:47 PM
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rather easier elsewhere

I think I have to take an open book written test.


Posted by: CJB | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 3:47 PM
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83: Exactly. The bill would (if NPR explained it correctly this morning) would mean that out-of-towners could carry concealed weapons in (say) NYC, but locals couldn't. That's, um, crazy.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 3:48 PM
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Why is one of my Facebook "friends" ranting about how it's going to become "ILLEGAL" to purchase private health insurance?


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 3:50 PM
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87: Wow, crazy indeed. Any chance we could get will's language inserted in conference?


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 3:51 PM
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My strategy for dealing with the mess that is healthcare reform is to focus instead on my state budget crisis. We're in Day 22 without a budget, state workers are getting reduced or no paychecks, nonprofits are cutting their staff to four-day weeks and laying people off, child-support and unemployment payments are threatened, the governor has frozen the release of federal money (as a negotiating tactic), the legislature and the governor's office are engaged in a dangerous game of political chicken at 80 mph...

...and from the amount of media silence you'd think it was business as usual. The downside of having locally-owned corporate media. They don't give a hoot.



Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 3:56 PM
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90 -- things are now so bad in California it's almost unspeakable. And there's still shockingly little media coverage, because the news services we have mostly aren't set up to cover state and local government. And, the feds aren't helping. So far, our supposedly progressive President's main legacy to the needy is presiding over a massive cut in social services by the states without federal assistance. Meaningful health care reform would be a significant progressive goal, too, but we shouldn't lose sight of the fact that we're in the middle of a massive disaster at the State level for the folks progressives supposedly care about, and the Obama administration's not doing much.

I'm currently standing in line at the DMV, which has an overhead TV with CNN blaring. The thousands of people here are trying to deal with a state government that's collapsing, and Wolf Blitzer is going on about how people in the White House now play pickup basketball.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 4:16 PM
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90-91: the state situation is disgusting. The first stimulus was botched but it has cut off political support for any further Federal assistance. The Administration is refusing to get behind fiscal assistance to the states despite the obvious need.

Only 10 percent of the first stimulus went to states to help with a perfectly predictable fiscal crisis, much more went to hundreds of bureaucratic categorical grant programs that will take a year or more to get out, a grab bag of tax breaks, etc.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 4:22 PM
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And for California, the smug tone in the national media coverage -- "well, had to happen, it's the fault of those irresponsible California voters" -- makes me sick.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 4:24 PM
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"well, had to happen, it's the fault of those irresponsible California voters"

You mean it wasn't?


Posted by: Smug | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 4:33 PM
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Yeah, whatever, but California is just experiencing what all the rest of us would be experiencing if the national government couldn't borrow. Sure, it's the fault of fucked up voters, but so is everything else in the political system.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 4:58 PM
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Eh, do we have to go through all of this again; I don't have the energy. The short answer is no, it wasn't, unless you want to blame the whole state for a 1/3 minority of crazy Republicans and an incredibly insane constitutional structure.


Posted by: robert halford | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 4:59 PM
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Or, what PGD said better.


Posted by: robert halford | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 5:04 PM
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How is it not the fault of the voters? Didn't the voters vote for the incredibly insane constitutional structure via a series of ballot initiatives?


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 5:05 PM
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It's mostly the fault of a constitutional conention from the 30s and an initiative from the 70s. If you want to blame today's voters for that, that's your right. Today's voters could theoretically change the system, but there hasn't been a viable plan to do so, and before the smugness begins about what CA voters could do to fix the situation you need to ask yourself whether your state's voters (not your legislators) would be able to do better in a similar situation.


Posted by: robert halford | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 5:15 PM
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Not yet commenting on this budget go round, but I'm standing fatigued and heartsore on the sidelines, cheering on Halford and readying myself to come in if he wants to sub out.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 5:23 PM
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The first stimulus was botched but it has cut off political support for any further Federal assistance. The Administration is refusing to get behind fiscal assistance to the states despite the obvious need.

It was in the original stimulus, and Olympia Snowe and Ben Nelson took it out for no good reason. Since Ben Nelson is the 60th vote in the Senate, he's the gatekeeper for all of this; since he's apparently dumb as a particularly vainglorious turnip, we're all fucking doomed.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 5:28 PM
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$140 billion in state fiscal assistance stayed in the first stimulus. It just wasn't enough. That's really the story of the first stimulus -- too small to fully address the problem, but large enough to quash political support for doing something more.

The California thing gets to the role of politicians. You're supposed to make the proper case and lead voters. A resigned shrug is not the proper reaction to the decimation of public services in our largest state. I guess the deeper question is the federalism one; the Federal government really would be insulating Californians from the consequences of their own system.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 5:39 PM
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I'm curious whether citizens are beginning to consider leaving the state, as, essentially, a failed state. It would be something that might cross my mind if I were in a position to do it.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 5:45 PM
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Didn't the voters shoot down a repeal of one of key provisions that led to the crisis relatively recently? When they do polling, don't voters continue to support both the 2/3 budget rule and the no-property-tax-hike provision?


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 5:46 PM
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And it's not like California is the only state with really ugly budget problems. About the best we can say here is "at least we're not California...quite."


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 5:48 PM
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103: Where would they go?


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 5:49 PM
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102 is right on.


Posted by: robert halford | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 5:52 PM
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And before anyone starts bitching, the last time we argued about this I came down on the side of bailing out California. But the Federal government would need to demand some concessions as a price for the bailout.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 5:53 PM
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Apparently they go to Oklahoma.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 5:53 PM
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If someone is dumb enough to move to Oklahoma, then California is better off without them.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 5:55 PM
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It is very likely that I would love for California to adopt those concessions. (Although I'd want to hear them first.)


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 5:56 PM
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1) All beaches become clothing-optional.

I sort-of run out of ideas at that point. I'm not really a policy wonk.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 5:57 PM
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I am told that Sacramento feels like a midwestern city. Perhaps the Sacramento to Oklahoma transition is not so jarring.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 5:58 PM
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I'm curious whether citizens are beginning to consider leaving the state, as, essentially, a failed state. It would be something that might cross my mind if I were in a position to do it.

Parsi, don't you live in Baltimore?


Posted by: mcmc | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 5:59 PM
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109: Yikes, if that won't thaw a few hearts out enough to organize a bailout, I don't know what will.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 5:59 PM
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Sacramento feels like a midwestern city

The palm trees kinda ruin that effect.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 6:00 PM
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104 -- No, and so fucking what. There was a cobbled together package that Arnold and some of the state dems put together, that would have allowed for some modest revenue-raising in exchange for some really horrible long-term rules. That went down to defeat. I voted against the measures; progressives were split on the issue.

It's true that the 2/3 rule for raising new taxes continues to do well in polling, but if you went around and asked folks in your state "Do you think it would be a good idea if 2/3 of the legislature had to agree before they could raise your taxes?" most of your state would say yes, too. There's been no direct opportunity for voters to change that rule in the current crisis. Perhaps it's changeable in the context of a general set of constitutional reforms, and perhaps that will happen under new governor Jerry Brown. That's the optimists view of the future. The pessimist's view, IMO more likely, is that the Republicans gain 15% more seats in the next state election and make reform even more difficult.

But in the meantime, the feds have refused to direct stimulus in significant amounts to avoid state financial crises, even though the states are the entities primarily responsible for providing social services. And, as PGD points out, not giving federal money to state governments isn't only something that punishes California; it punishes state governments as a whole.


Posted by: robert halford | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 6:02 PM
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106: I don't know. The voters who shot down repeal of a key provision, etc. etc. are not 99% of the population of CA. Even the voters who are voting, ahem, wrongly, presumably weren't able to wrap their minds around the consequences of their votes.

It just doesn't seem entirely bizarre that some people might be thinking: Hell, my son and daughter might not be able to get into state colleges in the next couple of years! Holy crap, and my spouse has just been reduced to a four-day week, which we totally can't sustain for very long, so ... maybe we should relocate.

I would think that some people do think in, say, 5-year periods of life planning, that's all. The question interests me chiefly because it puts into relief the question whether one feels a duty to fight for / stay in one's state.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 6:04 PM
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"Federal money if California agrees to structural reform" is a great idea but also has nothing to do with the real world. It's not like people in the Obama administration are thinking about that as a real possibility. Instead, they'd prefer to do nothing, because they have other priorities, and because the Obama folks are convinced, probably rightly, that they'll win California no matter what and that no one will blame Obama for the state's crisis.


Posted by: robert halford | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 6:06 PM
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1) All beaches become clothing-optional.

2) No more Nic Cage films.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 6:08 PM
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I understand that not everyone is crazy loyal to the place they live in, and I am happy for people to self-select out. 'Sides, I like anything non-violent* that depopulates California.


*Unless you want to get into whether this failure of state services counts as violence.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 6:11 PM
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I looked it up. It was California Proposition 56, and it was on the ballot in 2004. It would have lowered the supermajority requirement to 55%. Is that the one you're referring to?

The voters in my state would vote for a 2/3 supermajority requirement. So? If they did so, and destroyed our state as a result, then they'd still be to blame.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 6:12 PM
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My good friend ran the campaign for Prop 56, because he is prescient and involved. I voted for it. It might pass now that the crash has come.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 6:14 PM
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114: Parsi, don't you live in Baltimore?

I do.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 6:16 PM
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I was just trying to see if I could stream the press conference on my iPhone, and autocorrect changed youtube.com/whitehouse to youtube.com/whorehouse. Why, you clever, cynical little thing!


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 6:16 PM
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I thought you were asking about more recent measures, not Prop 56. That was a complicated story, but it's true it was defeated and probably would have made things better. There will probably be another attempt to try this again. But, the constitutional system makes this tough -- you really need to think about how your state government would work if you needed voter consent to allow for a reasonable measure of raising taxes. Makes life very difficult.

And it's just crazy to blame "voters" (there's an abstraction) for the current social disaster in California -- they're mostly, and rightly, completely uninformed about what it takes to make the state government work. Of course, that's part of why the state proposition system is so crazy. If it makes you feel better to "blame the voters" for this, you can, although I don't really see the point and think it's kind of dickish. But if you think that blame justifies the incredibly horrible treatment of state governments by the stimulus bill and by the Obama administration, then you're just not a liberal who supports social services for the poor.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 6:26 PM
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Other states have to feel the pain along with California before we get national action. Illinois is getting there. I was encouraged to see Witt say her state is going down the tubes as well.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 6:27 PM
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Yes, if Illinois and PA go down hard then we might see something. Because those states aren't full of hippies or movie stars or flakes or Mexicans or whatever your stereotype is.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 6:30 PM
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Is Kevin Drum telling the truth about this? $300 a year to go to a four-year college? Less than 150 years ago? That'll buy you three credits at a community college nowadays. If you're an in-county student. Out-of-county students can get two credits. 12 credits per semester is full-time.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 6:31 PM
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Oakland's taxing weed.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 6:31 PM
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Calitics is having none of it. A recently acquired RSS read, and an indispensable one.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 6:33 PM
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Also Florida, Arizona, Nevada, Michigan, I'm sure some others I don't know about.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 6:33 PM
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129: My father's old, but he's not dead, and when he went to CUNY it was essentially free -- a registration fee, but not tuition.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 6:33 PM
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NY is unhappy, but not, AFAIK, in a real emergency yet. As a state employee, though, we sure are getting a lot of memos about how we will not be reimbursed for unauthorized travel.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 6:34 PM
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Ours are more to the effect that we just won't travel. I'm hoping we have enough pens in the supply closet to make it through the biennium.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 6:40 PM
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LB, if you got creative with your travel you could push NY into a fiscal crisis and help the case for federal aid to all states, including California. Take a $500,000 junket to the Seychelles out of solidarity!


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 6:41 PM
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134: Is all of NY in a tight spot on education funding or just NYC? Eekbeat keeps going to job interviews where the principal says, "Now, of course we can't actually hire you, due to the hiring freeze..."


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 6:41 PM
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When I started this job, I looked in the supply closet for legal pads. There was one. Half the pages were gone. And it had a law firm's name printed on it.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 6:41 PM
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137: I don't know about local school districts, but I'm state, not city, and we definitely have a hiring freeze.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 6:42 PM
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126: I refer you to my 108. Plus in this very thread I complain about Obama not skullfucking Ben Nelson.

California voters deserve blame for simultaneously not knowing how state government works and yet feeling entitled to meddle. I lived in Washington, where we had an outbreak of anti-tax budget provisions. At some point, the voters recognized the danger and started voting no on the anti-tax provisions. Though to be fair we had California as a salutatory example.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 6:43 PM
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131 -- Calitics is very good and indispensable reading, although many of the posters are IMO a little bit too sanguine about the "blow shit up and see what happens" strategy.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 6:44 PM
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Christ, I didn't realize how bad things had gotten. This story makes clear we need to start imposing my conditions before any bailout.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 6:47 PM
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138: When I started this job, I looked in the supply closet for legal pads. There was one.

Heh. As we've discussed before, city school systems have been working that way for years.

127: Other states have to feel the pain along with California before we get national action. Illinois is getting there. I was encouraged to see Witt say her state is going down the tubes as well.

Yes, it's incredibly depressing to think this way, but there it is: it may have to get worse before it gets better. As you say, federalism is on the table.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 6:47 PM
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There's a big difference between new anti-tax propositions (which haven't been very popular in CA in recent years) and reforming the system that we've inherited, which has proven difficult. But the optimistic view of the crisis is that maybe systemic reform will happen; it won't happen for at least two years, though, and there's a lot of pain in the meantime.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 6:48 PM
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127, 128: I do not generally subscribe to the "If a crisis gets bad enough, they'll have to do something" school of thinking.

In addition, having met a number of policymakers, I am fairly well convinced that hatred of black people and poor people and especially poor black people (generally coded in my state as anti-city rhetoric) is a soul-deep motivator for a certain percentage of public officials, and they quite literally are willing to see fiscal disaster in order to avoid "rewarding" such people.

And we only have a $3 billion budget gap. Last I checked, Washington state had a $9 billion gap.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 6:51 PM
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Oregon Raises Taxes

Philadelphia Stops Paying Vendors

Just stuff I pick up from econoblogs. I should know about Texas, but I don't. We got a big property tax cut last month.

I am not feeling the green shoots.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 6:53 PM
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I very strongly agree with 145.1. Usually, when a crisis gets bad, it's just very bad. And then the ice weasels comeRepublicans get elected.

But I do think that fear of a crisis in PA may be more politically motivating for the current federal administration than a crisis in CA. A faint hope, anyway. Most likely, though, the lame first stimulus has killed off support for a second stimulus, and the states will just have to make do on their own.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 6:56 PM
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Naomi Klein makes a good case that the "if a crisis gets bad enough" strategy has been very effective in the wrong hands.

146: If you were a Goldman-Sachs shareholder, you'd be feeling them.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 6:56 PM
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It seems to me that a lot of problems could be solved if governments were able to levy higher taxes on the people and entities whose lifestyle would not in any way be affected by paying higher taxes.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 6:56 PM
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Unfortunately, Witt is probably right.

But I think the focus has to move off California's idiosyncracies and to the fundamental weaknesses in our fiscal federalist system in order to really get anywhere at the Federal level. In every recession you get state cutbacks in basic services pushing against Federal fiscal policy, because the Federal gov't has unlimited budgetary borrowing capacity and the states have almost none. That's an unhealthy imbalance -- the Feds should have less and the states more.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 6:58 PM
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The California IOU thing is potentially one of the greatest innovations in public policy in recent years, though. If it were normalized, it would allow states to conduct their own monetary policy in recessions.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 7:01 PM
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Walt, that's an awesome point. Did you know the SEC is regulating it as a government security?


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 7:03 PM
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Also, to really use it as monetary policy the state would have to actually forego making cuts for a while and fill the gap with IOUs for a year or more -- don't see that happening.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 7:04 PM
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Unfortunately, Witt is probably right.

I'm having trouble understanding this: Witt is right about the problem with subscribing to the "If a crisis gets bad enough, they'll have to do something" school of thinking?

Because the problem in question will be confined to the poor/minority population, and the privileged (racially, financially) can always ignore that?

I thought the idea was that the problem was becoming bad enough that it was affecting white people. I must be missing something, and will go eat something to correct the matter.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 7:05 PM
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But if you think that blame justifies the incredibly horrible treatment of state governments by the stimulus bill and by the Obama administration

Congress, as far as I can tell.


Posted by: Gabriel | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 7:08 PM
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Also, and IMNAE, but doesn't the fact that banks and even some check cashing places are refusing to accept the CA IOUs pretty much kill off the state's ability to use them as monetary policy?


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 7:08 PM
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No. I've been wondering what its legal status was.

They could keep them going in good years by selling a certain number of them. That would create a short-term debt market for the state as well. (I don't know if they currently use short-term debt.)


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 7:11 PM
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154 -- I think it's more that crises provoke highly unpredictable reactions. Sometimes, they can produce positive change, sometimes conservative counter-reactions. There's no reason to think that a crisis caused by an underlying structural problem will remove a problem, although that sometimes happens. In California's current crisis, I see no reason to think that the current crisis won't benefit the Republican minority politically -- the Republican politicians sure seem to think so.

155 is wrong, and telling. It's extremely clear that the Obama people have no interest in a plan to help out the states. In part, of course, this is because of their read of the politics in Congress, but if Obama wanted to make aid to states a priority, he could, and he hasn't.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 7:14 PM
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157 -> 152.

156: They would derive value from the fact that they can be used to pay taxes. If they trade at a discount, then people with tax liabilities would by them as a way of saving on taxes, which would bid them up to their fair market value. This could completely fail to work in practice, but if it did work, it would solve a bunch of California's problems.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 7:14 PM
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Witt is probably right.

Pardon my intemperateness, but then what in heaven's name were you on about in 127? I realize I am a minority of one on this issue, but blog comments have effects. Small ones, sure, but they ripple. Smart, politically gossipy people read this blog and they have friends. Friends who are not particuarly politically engaged, and who will listen to the two or three sentences of opinion from Trusted, Savvy Friend and then go on and repeat them and act on them.

In the last week I've spent more time than I care to think about dealing with what an austerity budget is going to mean for the people I work with, and the people I work for. I've rejiggered my household finances to see how I would deal with a 10% drop in gross income. I've written to newspapers, I've called legislators, I've spent time educating my colleagues about what we're dealing with and why it matters.

I spent several hours on a Budget 101 document and several more hours in worst-case scenario planning with my senior colleagues. Tonight I sent an e-mail to 29 of my friends and family, imploring them to call their legislators and get them to the negotiating table.

So when I hear some cavalier comment about how it has to get to a crisis point before it gets better, and in response to my disagreement I get a "Well, actually, you're right, that probably won't happen," I want to throw things.

Look, you're a relative stranger on the Internet and I admit I have a fair head of steam worked up about this in general, but I promise I would be at least this blunt in person. If you were even 10% serious in your original comment, then please back up your argument.

And if you were not serious, then please be a little more responsible next time you decide to make the sweeping declaration that a budget disaster in a state with 12 million people, many of the them elderly and/or poor, is just the ticket for getting a federal policy change you'd like to see.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 7:15 PM
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I do know that the state uses a ton of short-term debt, which of course has exacerbated the problems in the past year.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 7:15 PM
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The state does use short term debt, but there are lots of rules about when and how they can do so. Also, using it without a budget in place can lead to very high interest rates.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 7:16 PM
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the

BAH.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 7:16 PM
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Sovereign State of California ...on the IOU's

Another One

One of my new favorite blogs, Univ of Missouri at KC;L. Randall Wray; Pavlina Tcherneva; a bunch of the Post-Keynesian Minskyites who show up at the Levy Economic Institute.

I am seeing a lot LOT of interest in the Post-Keynesians recently, Krugman, Thoma.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 7:17 PM
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I agree completely with 158.1, and Halford is my new hero for staying calm in the midst of provacation.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 7:19 PM
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Hey Witt, I can't speak for PGD, but I'm pretty sure that he and I are both on exactly the same side of this issue as you are, and are trying hard to emphasize how serious these state budget crises are.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 7:20 PM
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166 posted before seeing 165. And being called "a hero" by Witt (always right!) may well be the best thing that's happened to me all year.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 7:22 PM
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That KC blog is pretty good. I'm tempted to argue with everything they say, but they make very interesting points.

PGD's original point was completely right. It will take a fresh disaster for their to be a second-round of stimulus. State finances are the most likely source of that disaster.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 7:23 PM
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I am now fascinated by the IOU-as-alternate-currency idea. Unfortunately, I have a strong feeling that the federal courts will kill this idea if it ever comes close to getting off the ground.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 7:26 PM
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Witt, you are so much braver than I am. You witness the actual consequences in real people every day. I notice it some, and hide from it more. I care some, but most of the time I don't face all the ways that real people will be hurt. Which I why I can get making a flippant comment about how the crash has to come before real change comes. (I don't think I have recently, but I confess it was some of my thinking about voting down the recent propositions. I want a const. convention.)

What I know of PGD makes me think he cares too, about people and process. I'm guessing that like me, he is removed enough to occasionally be flip about it. That's no good, but slight enough harm, and I'd trust that his votes and calls and recommendations are ones I'd agree with.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 7:27 PM
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I too thank Halford for 158.1 and its clarification.

That said, and not to speak for PGD, but he [could tell us what he does for a living, but then he'd have to kill us] (that may put it wrongly, but close enough). He's talking about what it would take to move the House and Senate, and the executive, to adopt a stance -- of bailing out the states -- that would indeed be very difficult for them to fight for.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 7:28 PM
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Commercial banks and credit unions treat IOUs differently

The alternate currency dynamics will definitely be interesting to follow. I do not think that a dollar is a dollar anymore, since most "money" is credit and credit markets are much less predictable than 10 months ago.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 7:32 PM
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169: That's probably true. From one point of view they're just short term debt, so what's the big whoop. From another point of view, they're indistinguishable from "bills of credit" which are banned by the Constitution. It seems like a stupid provision: states can offer debt, but they can't accept the debt in lieu of taxes? Maybe it can be finessed in some way.

Slightly OT: I swear to God, this economic crisis has lowered my opinion of people even further. The KC blog has a comment by someone who compares this to Germany in the 30s. The German hyperinflation ended in 1923, dumbass!


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 7:33 PM
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When I went to deposit a check at my ATM today, a screen flashed up saying that the bank would no longer accept California State IOUs.

My first thought is that California using the IOUs to create anything like a functioning currency is plainly unconstitutional under Article I, Section 10 of the US Constitution, but I don't really know.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 7:37 PM
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Flippancy is a function of personality, not of the extent to which you care. Humor is bravado in the face of death.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 7:38 PM
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Thanks much Parsi, but could the management please redact 171 for anonymity reasons?

170 is close enough. I do see blog comments as a place to blow off steam in a somewhat flippant/sardonic manner. "The worse, the better" is a problematic but venerable radical trope and I was making an offhand reference to it.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 7:39 PM
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169: I think the problem with that is that you still have a balanced-budget requirement in the state constitution, so the short-term debt only helps with cash flow issues, not inadequate revenue issues. Obviously some balanced budgets are more balanced than others, but if you could openly run a deficit you'd just go out and issue bonds like the Treasury does, not pay your employees and vendors with Monopoly money.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 7:39 PM
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164 - People in Kansas City have strange ideas about Schwarzenegger's potency. There's no way we'd keep him on through another election, in any capacity. He's pretty well despised here (and I want to give him the benefit of the doubt, 'cause of his climate change initiatives).


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 7:41 PM
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176.1: Sorry, babe.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 7:45 PM
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Don't blame me. I voted for Gary Coleman.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 7:45 PM
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He's pretty well despised here

So, he's looking at a Senate run?


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 7:45 PM
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I don't think the state government would ever push the IOUs to the point where they would have a real macroeconomic effect -- use them to fill in for tax revenues on an extended basis. Under the state constitution, I think that only works if you didn't even pass a budget for a long period. It wouldn't work.

The difference between a "bill of credit" and a municipal security (which is what the IOUs are being treated as legally right now) is kind of interesting. But there's already a secondary market maker providing liquidity in the things .


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 7:46 PM
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182: Pennsylvania is going to stop paying state employees soonish, but California gets all the news. I blame our governor, as he isn't buff enough to warrant a news camera.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 7:48 PM
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Oh wow. Are you forcing me to consider a Schwarzenegger v. Feinstein Senate battle? That hurts my head.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 7:56 PM
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This thread is the first I've heard of the PA problems being anywhere close to even approaching being vaguely near the same ballpark as the CA problems.

Local media coverage has, for some reason, largely focused on the notion that state support of public universities is going to go down and tuition will go up. Which is something that's happened for at least ten straight years, so people would not particularly notice if that was the extent of the problem.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 8:02 PM
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176: Done.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 8:05 PM
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186: Thanks, and well done. I was worried.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 8:17 PM
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This thread is the first I've heard

Not surprising, given the pitiful level of reporting that the biggest newspaper in the biggest city in the state has managed to achieve. It's a metro area of 5 million people. Most of their coverage is from the Associated Press, and there's been precious little of that. I probably check the front page of the website eight or nine times a day, and read the paper-copy headlines every morning. The budget is a non-topic.

(As far as I can tell there are two remaining Harrisburg-based reporters, one of which is providing coverage that can only be called unambitious.)

Anyway, for your reading pleasure:

Timeline of budget crisis.

An example of the context-free, analysis-absent AP news blurbs they've been publishing. And another, slightly more detailed but still nearly context-free.

In short, foundation-funded noblesse oblige projects are pretty much the best we've got. Too bad PA was never part of the State Fiscal Analysis Initiative.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 8:20 PM
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When I lived in Philly, it had one of the best papers in the country, and my ambition as a teenager was to be a reporter for it. I've heard that the Inky sucks now, but I have trouble wrapping my head around the idea.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 8:27 PM
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189: Dude, they hired John Yoo as a columnist.

I've been reading the thing for 20-odd years. The downhill drop in the past two or three years has been extreme. Their in-house wisdom is leaving in droves.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 8:29 PM
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It was my understanding that all papers suck now, no?


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 8:32 PM
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Oh, I believe you that they suck, but it's like that little boy finding out that Shoeless Joe really did throw the World Series.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 8:32 PM
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We need a PGD v. Witt econ/budget walk-off.


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 8:32 PM
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I got so worked up by this thread that I forgot to pick up my dog at the vet. Poor dog.


Posted by: robert halford | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 8:37 PM
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and halford


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 8:39 PM
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Cutbacks mean that dog will have to rely on charitable contributions.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 8:46 PM
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Yes, that too. When will America wake up and finally address the crisis of out-of-control health care costs for my dog?


Posted by: robert halford | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 8:47 PM
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address the crisis of out-of-control health care costs for my dog

See? That's change I can believe in. Also, I remain a bit surprised that people* -- and not just here, or even mostly here -- seem so concerned about moral hazard in the case of CA but not so much when it comes to the Wall Street executives who seem to have skated through the crisis they helped cause.

I wonder what's going on. Is it just, as someone suggested above, that CA is so easy to hate/mock, what with its movie stars, hippies, Mexicans, not to mention the Mexican movie stars wearing peasant frocks and reeking of patchouli? Is this just an echo of Governor Reagan's rhetoric, in other words? Or is it that people realize that the class war has finally, definitively been lost, that the ruling class has completely kicked their asses (on a Democratic president's watch, no less)? And so why not take out their anger, more properly directed at the Goldman-Sachs executives who are getting even richer on the public's, dime, on the hapless residents of California instead? Or is it something else again? I really do wonder.

But not enough to forget my dog, Halford. You monster.

* Not you, Walt. You are an equal-opportunity hater, it seems to me.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 8:58 PM
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Ari, I don't know, myself, anyone who hates California in particular. It's really about whether the federal government should bail out the states or not. (I vote yes, but that opens a serious can of worms, doesn't it?)


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 9:04 PM
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Also, I remain a bit surprised that people seem so concerned about moral hazard in the case of CA but not so much when it comes to the Wall Street executives

I figure its because we have to keep psychological distance. If you (the general "you") go around thinking that CA got itself into this mess and it can darn well get itself out, you can also pat yourself on the back for not being silly enough to do what Californians did. The moral judgment of "Why should we reward bad behavior" is just a gloss on the inner insecurity that makes us struggle really hard to think "*I* and my fellow state residents would certainly never create such a crisis in MY state."

I confess to having had some impatience and exasperation with California, myself.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 9:04 PM
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I thought all that California needed from the federal government (well, bare minimum, at least) was a guarantee of state loans. That is, in theory, if it worked, it wouldn't cost the federal government anything. I'm beginning to have that all-too-familiar feeling I do not understand what's actually going on.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 9:10 PM
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198: Or is it that people realize that the class war has finally, definitively been lost, that the ruling class has completely kicked their asses (on a Democratic president's watch, no less)? And so why not take out their anger, more properly directed at the Goldman-Sachs executives who are getting even richer on the public's, dime, on the hapless residents of California instead?

Honestly, Ari. Who are these "people" of whom you speak?


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 9:11 PM
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Part of it is fatigue that California's budget problems are always in the news. I'm much better informed about the California budget than I am of any state that I've ever lived in.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 9:14 PM
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200 is a useful explanation of all kinds of perplexing behavior -- people will go out of their way to interpret things in a way that shields them from acknowledging their own foibles or frailties.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 9:15 PM
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200: But our deficit isn't even in the top five, is it? It's just that because of structural constraints and hyper-partisanship (possibly a result of those same structural constraints) we can't pass a new budget without eviscerating social programs. I mean, I really don't get where the schadenfreude comes in. "Ha, ha, look at those fuckers! They have no choice but to kill the poor! Even poor children! And close state parks! And cut the salaries of professors!" And so on. I guess my point is that the hate seems misplaced. And my question is, why?


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 9:15 PM
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202: Read the news, parsi, or the comments sections of major blogs. Nobody else seems confused by my comment.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 9:16 PM
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206: if only it were that easy.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 9:17 PM
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207: Dude, you're back. (Or maybe you were back before, and I was still away. Regardless, Jetpack!)


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 9:19 PM
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We finally have internet in our lovenest-of-marriagetude.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 9:20 PM
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Mazel tov. Twice over. Or maybe thrice: one for you, one for Blume, one for your isp.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 9:22 PM
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One of the most shocking things to me about the whole crisis is exactly how many people identify with people richer than themselves. Almost any comment section is full of people who have completely internalized the worldview of the rich. The obsession with inflation is an example. Unless you are on a pension with no cost-of-living adjustments or have your entire net worth tied up in 30-year bonds, inflation has got to be fiftieth on your list of problems. But the rich don't like it, so the rest of us don't.

On one of the news stories Witt linked to, somebody was ranting about bus drivers who make $50,000. Any story about the auto bailout will have people complaining about the UAW. They'll allude to the bank bailouts as also bad, but the fact that Wall Street just robbed the country for billions of dollars is nothing compared to the fact that some dude that doesn't have a college education makes a decent salary.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 9:25 PM
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208: Blume took away the jetpack. He's now more like Propeller Beanie.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 9:26 PM
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204: Right, and sadly not original to me. Upton Sinclair said it first and much better. ("It is difficult to get a man to
understand something, when his job depends on his not understanding it.")


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 9:26 PM
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Unless you are on a pension with no cost-of-living adjustments or have your entire net worth tied up in 30-year bonds, inflation has got to be fiftieth on your list of problems.

That is probably fair, but I don't know that it's the best example of misplaced identification with the rich. It's awfully easy to imagine one's employer utterly failing to provide adequate cost of living increases, isn't it? Ranting about bus drivers who make $50k is much more the kind of thing that makes my blood boil.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 9:29 PM
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211: "The obsession with inflation is an example."

The rich don't worry about inflation (generally), nor do the poor. Inflation is hardest on the middle class. Related: Have you ever tried to get a raise out of a university (excepting those in California up to 2008).


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 9:30 PM
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206: Certainly I've read this here and there. Sure: schadenfreude because California has, in the popular imagination, presented itself as god's gift to man. The nasty responses you read in the comments sections of major blogs are equally coming from the popular imagination, influenced already by the way in which CA has presented itself. This doesn't seem mysterious to me.

If you want to do armchair cultural psychology, it's a displacement of class anger. I don't disagree.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 9:31 PM
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To follow up on 214, my understanding is that the bad inflation in the '70s wasn't that bad for the average person because by and large wages escalated as well (exacerbating inflation). Does anyone have rad contracts with an iron-clad COLA any more? To Ari's point, I think this is the result of twenty-five years of deficit hawkery being the state religion of Washington and economically-aligned-with-the-elites reporting, starting with Volcker (to whom I'm very sympathetic!) and reaching its nadir/pinnacle with Greenspan explicitly endorsing Bush's tax cuts because otherwise the government might spend money like a drunken sailor


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 9:33 PM
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212: Blume is my rocket sled.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 9:34 PM
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211: I have this nagging feeling that we (people of conscience, the Democrats, the good guys, whomever -- don't press me on the details, okay parsi?) may have won a battle, or even the war, but we're in the process of losing the peace. Sure, it was great that Obama won the last election. It makes my gums bleed to think about how President McCain would be dealing with the laundry list of crises currently on Hussein X's desk. But as you say, the rhetoric surrounding the bailouts has been, um, troubling. And the idea that lots of good and decent people, even politically engaged progressives, are watching what's happening in California and chuckling a bit, well, I don't really know what to say. Other than this: smart Republicans, especially if they're under 50, must be cackling right about now. Their control of the discourse surrounding the nature of public goods is so absolute as to be terrifying. And that portends great things for their party, I'm guessing.

Oh well, at least I've got mine: tenure, a pool, a decent camper.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 9:35 PM
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Related: Have you ever tried to get a raise out of a university

Woof. No kidding. I note that the Social Security cost of living increase for 2009 was 5.8%. Staff at my university in the last fiscal year could get a maximum merit raise of 3%. Cost of living increases are not in the equation at all.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 9:35 PM
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"It makes my gums bleed to"

You still need to floss. If you do it properly and regularly, the bleeding will stop.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 9:36 PM
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217 totally pwned my 219 and was far more incisive. Now I just feel bad. Time for a dip in the pool! And then, perhaps a camping trip!*

* Crap, all the state parks are closed.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 9:37 PM
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220: The best I've ever done is 4% and that was only once. This year, 0% (minus increased health costs). I'm trying to figure out how to sell-out, but have not found any takers.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 9:38 PM
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223: I'm told that dental hygienists make good money. Think about it.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 9:40 PM
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224: Googling 'dental hygienist salary' is inspiring me to speed-up my plans to sell-out. On the other hand, I rarely have to put my hand into strangers' mouths.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 9:44 PM
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The awfulness of inflation is a key part of Reagan-era propaganda. If we agree that it's uniquely awful, then its so awful that it's better to run recessions than run the risk of inflation.

Sure, inflation might be 10% next year, and you get no pay increase to compensate. Or maybe we get a recession, and if you're lucky your employer cuts your pay 10%. If you're unlucky, your employer cuts your pay 100% when he fires you. Then you spend a year out of the job market along with all of the other unemployed, and then all of your skills erode so that you end up permanently making less money. Plus, maybe the recession puts pressure on state budgets so that any social services you might need get cut. Maybe you get knifed in an alley by a crackhead junkie who got kicked out his half-way house because of budget cuts.

So sure, who wants to be handed a paycut? But you've got bigger problems.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 9:44 PM
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I grew up in California and love the state yet, though it's not practical for me to live any place my health would allow. I'm angry at what's been done to it since the '70s and often disappointed at seeing the people get taken by lies, but...who here is volunteering to take responsibility for America's war crimes of the last 40 years in any personal way - say, by having all your worldly goods confiscated and going to prison for the rest of your life, so that others can see justice done? Maybe people not prepared to make sacrifices for what they're collectively responsible can shut up some about what suffering others should bear because of the actions of a different collective. If Californians deserve misery and death for what some voters have enabled, then all Americans do too.

As for the original topic: We'll get an expensive disaster. It'll do some good (and do some people who deserve help a lot of good). It will leave a lot of misery unaddressed, and it'll end up continuing to reward some of the most evil companies in America at the expense of many who aren't much able to protect themselves or their resources.

Medicaid is saving my life right now, and I wish that a lot more people with need could get in on the act, or in on something better. But real change would mean denying the fundamental role of insurance in favor of fundamentally emphasizing access to care, and that isn't happening. So the rest is maneuvering on the margin that will decide how bad the calamity is in what ways.


Posted by: Ceri B. | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 9:46 PM
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Y'all don't want to know what it's like to be self-employed, wherein there's no negotiating for raises, what are you fucking kidding? The economy doesn't just keep growing, you know.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 9:48 PM
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226: I can remember before Reagan. It was inflation, and unemployment, and unironic polyester.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 9:49 PM
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Actually, I think the late 70s would have seen much more civil unrest but for the fact that you could smoke pretty much anywhere except an oil refinery so people were calmer.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 9:52 PM
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I remember before Reagan too. I also remember the Volcker recession, where inflation dropped, but unemployment reached its postwar high, and the 30 ensuing years of stagnant median wages. But at least we have HD now.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 9:52 PM
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Second Ari: Mazel Tov, Sifu!

seem so concerned about moral hazard in the case of CA but not so much when it comes to the Wall Street executives who seem to have skated through the crisis they helped cause.

Well, goddammit, I'm not concerned about moral hazard in that sense. I am concerned that CA has worked itself into an absolutely untenable economic situation over the last twenty years and patching around the problem right now will delay the day of reckoning and result in CA's government issues not getting fixed, which result in further catastrophe. CA needs to cut salaries and expenses, raise taxes and borrow and maintain that stance for a few years to get far enough out from behind the eightball to recover, because even if the overall economy recovered tomorrow, CA would still be screwed.

that CA is so easy to hate/mock, what with its movie stars, hippies, Mexicans, not to mention the Mexican movie stars wearing peasant frocks and reeking of patchouli?

I like Cali just fine. If I have a 'section' I adhere to, then my section (country) is that part of the US that used to be part of Mexico.

Or is it that people realize that the class war has finally, definitively been lost, that the ruling class has completely kicked their asses (on a Democratic president's watch, no less)?

Um, the class war got lost sometime back around 1987-1993. What apparently happened in econ/finance/legal departments & countryclubs across the nation, was that teh communizts were not going to come and kill them all, so they could go back to old-fashioned ways without fear. Said old-fashioned ways consisted of assraping poor & middle-class people everytime they got the chance. If it took you this long to notice, well, sorry.

And so why not take out their anger, more properly directed at the Goldman-Sachs executives who are getting even richer on the public's, dime, on the hapless residents of California instead?

I'm surprised no one has pointed out that it was JPMorgan's (I believe) and BoA's refusal to accept IOU's that effectively broke the Sacremento D's. (Point to Halford here: the White House could have intervened in a finely balanced situation, but they chose not to, while the banks that would not exist had it not been for monster bailouts were perfectly happy to intervene in politics.)

Leaves a lovely taste in your mouth, doesn't it?

max
['Thank you, Larry Summers.']


Posted by: max | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 9:55 PM
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231: That another point. Ending inflation can cause worse problems than whatever you were supposed to fix by starting it. Inflation doesn't fix economies, it puts off problems.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 9:55 PM
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Max makes me smile yet again.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 10:00 PM
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Leaves a lovely taste in your mouth, doesn't it?

That's the taste of consumptive capitalism, max.

here, have a mint.


Posted by: what, me worry? | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 10:02 PM
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Inflation by itself does not fix economies, but trying to avoid it too strenuously can destroy economies. How do you think the Great Depression happened? The exact kind of sound-money moral rectitude that was revived in the 80s.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 10:03 PM
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Sound-money = you can borrow in your own currency. Which is the only reason the U.S. can still get a good rate on its borrowing for the stimulus. And, calling the Volker's time at the fed as comparable to the policy of the 30s is a bit much as there was no hint of any deflation in the 80s.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 10:09 PM
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215: The rich don't worry about inflation (generally), nor do the poor. Inflation is hardest on the middle class.

Do what?! The rich HATE inflation. Drives up wages of their employees, and reduces their returns from various assets. They'll still be rich after a bout of inflation but they hate.

However, it is important to note that old people who collect (inflation-adjusted) Social Security & have Medicare & Medicaid plus a pension and a house (or whatever) are really well-off compared to the average wage. They also vote consistantly, and think of themselves as really poor. They don't like inflation because they think prices are too high, plus inflation will drive down the real value of a non-inflation-adjusted pension. If those are the middle-class persons you are thinking of, well, yeah. Otherwise, no. Middle-class people are generally better off with mild (10% +/- 5%) inflation, since their debts shrink while their incomes increase.


217: To follow up on 214, my understanding is that the bad inflation in the '70s wasn't that bad for the average person because by and large wages escalated as well (exacerbating inflation). Does anyone have rad contracts with an iron-clad COLA any more?

There was a 'wage-price' spiral in the 70's. There was also a massive oil crunch. Politicians blamed the oil crunch on inflation and high taxes and people bought it. It was rather the other way around: the oil crunch exacerbated inflation, which resulted in stagflation.

219: And the idea that lots of good and decent people, even politically engaged progressives, are watching what's happening in California and chuckling a bit, well, I don't really know what to say.

I'm not chuckling at all. It sucks. I lived through one of these, and in Cali it's year two of seven-year catastrophe.

Oh well, at least I've got mine: tenure, a pool, a decent camper.

That's the problem: the people who count have got theirs. It's those other people who have been unwise concerning finances. I note here that I can still recall B chuckling at me back in oh, 2005, about how I was so obviously ridiculously overwrought about the problems of the economy.

I'm not mad & I'm not gloating; it just indicates to me the state of the ongoing cluelessness of the UMC class. Or the 'creative class' if you prefer.

max
['Rome wasn't fixed in a day.']


Posted by: max | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 10:11 PM
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"Middle-class people are generally better off with mild (10% +/- 5%) inflation, since their debts shrink while their incomes increase."

If you define middle class as people who already bought a house and don't have any savings, sure. But that is highly life-cycle and thriftiness dependent. Much of the middle class winds up unable to borrow and seeing what they saved melt away.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 10:18 PM
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Inflation is also very hard on people who bury currency.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 10:22 PM
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That's the problem: the people who count have got theirs.

Just wanted to repeat that.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 10:26 PM
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Where do you come up with all this weird certainty about the effect of inflation, MH? How does inflation automatically make your savings go away? The interest rate on bank accounts are floating, as are interest rates on money market accounts. Stocks are a real asset, so they automatically adjust for inflation. The only thing that inflation has a big impact on is long-term bonds. If you're worried about inflation, then don't buy long-term bonds.

The US can borrow not because of sound money, but because it'll pay it back. The US borrowed all through the 70s. If the inflation rate became 10%, then the interest rates would just become whatever they are today + 10%.

Anyway, we're in a situation where there is no inflation, and the unemployment rate is still going up, and all anyone wants to talk about online is how we're going to have inflation because Bernanke stuffed the Fed's balance sheet full. People are more worried about that they're worried about we just got robbed for billions of dollars. If an inflation hawk like Volcker were head of the Fed today rather than Helicopter Ben, none of us would need to be worried about inflation because none of us would have jobs.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 10:35 PM
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The interest rate on bank accounts are floating, as are interest rates on money market accounts.

Are the interest rates on bank accounts supposed to be connected to inflation in some way? Mine has been exactly the same for ten years. It would be over twice as high if I had more than $10,000 in the account.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 10:46 PM
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The bank pays you what they think they can get away with, but the rate is not fixed. It's not automatically indexed to inflation, but if inflation goes up enough that people notice then the bank will have to raise its interest rates or people will switch to another bank.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 10:51 PM
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Sorry to pick on you, MH. I just reached my limit of "we're going to have hyperinflation which is how we got the Nazis!!!" posts elsewhere on the internet, which means the whole topic of inflation now makes me crazy. Crazy!


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 11:19 PM
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[Well, that fried rice was really tasty.]

233: 231: That another point. Ending inflation can cause worse problems than whatever you were supposed to fix by starting it. Inflation doesn't fix economies, it puts off problems.

O gawd. Moby Hick is a fucking Austrian.

If you define middle class as people who already bought a house and don't have any savings, sure. But that is highly life-cycle and thriftiness dependent. Much of the middle class winds up unable to borrow and seeing what they saved melt away.

Uh, no. Walt is correct; back in the late 70's and early 80's banks offered CD with really high (like 8%!) rates. The issue at the time was that corporate profits weren't going up (see oil crunch), and the stock market wasn't going up, so the only place to park the money was in CDs, which (very slowly) lost their real value.

But, you know what? The overall effect was due to the real economy shrinking, which in turn was driven by the sudden and drastic reductions in the supply of oil. Which meant fewer goods to go 'round, which meant prices were bid up (and here, I note, zombie Milton Friedman can kiss my ass), and that accelerated the price spiral.

None of that was good. Inflation can, in fact, get out of hand. I don't need to point out here (but I will), I think, that Jimmy Carter attempted to do something about the energy issue and Congress (which was then chockful of Democrats) refused to do anything about it. Further compounding the issue was TMI and the sudden decline of the nuclear industry (less energy == less stuff).

Inflation only had a little to do with it; Volcker broke the wage-price spiral by forcibly shrinking the economy even further, which resulted in less oil consumption. Woo. And then, in 1986 or so, Reagan convinced the Saudis to turn on the spigots to screw the Russians and oil price dropped to the floor. Viola: the Reagan economic miracle.

If oil suddenly dropped to 9 dollars a barrel right about now and it could stay near that price with increasing demand, the economy would recover nicely, ex all this fiscal & mortgage idiocy.

This is why it is unwise to depend on foreign sources for oil, and unwise to depend on oil at all, actually, particularly to power transport. (Aside from that whole carbon dioxide thing.)

max
['Gonna need a bunch of solar power and shitload of nuclear reactors.']


Posted by: max | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 11:24 PM
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234: Max makes me smile yet again.

Thank you, dear.

max
['It's late, isn't it?']


Posted by: max | Link to this comment | 07-22-09 11:39 PM
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238 'Rome wasn't fixed in a day.'

You misspelled "burned". HTH


Posted by: HamLove | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 12:29 AM
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232

I'm surprised no one has pointed out that it was JPMorgan's (I believe) and BoA's refusal to accept IOU's that effectively broke the Sacremento D's. (Point to Halford here: the White House could have intervened in a finely balanced situation, but they chose not to, while the banks that would not exist had it not been for monster bailouts were perfectly happy to intervene in politics.)

Nobody in his right mind would voluntarily accept those IOU's at par. So it was not political to refuse them and it would have been political to accept them.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 1:09 AM
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242

... If the inflation rate became 10%, then the interest rates would just become whatever they are today + 10%.

Which means you are losing money after taxes.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 1:13 AM
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The rich don't worry about inflation (generally), nor do the poor.

Please.

Inflation fucks people on fixed incomes with a big fat stick, and you may not have noticed, but most such people tend to be poor, being pensioners or on welfare.

Certainly it's true that inflation can help middle class people in work by e.g. reducing the real cost of their mortgages, but these are not the most vulnerable people in society, who see the cost of essential purchases going through the roof with no recourse.


Posted by: OFE | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 1:32 AM
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60: I have to find myself a gyno again.
I love mine, LB. She is up by Mt Sinai.

Every time she goes, it's just "Here, take these tablets."


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 2:22 AM
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Are you forcing me to consider a Schwarzenegger v. Feinstein Senate battle?

And who would the winner face in the general election?


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 2:58 AM
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In short, foundation-funded noblesse oblige projects are pretty much the best we've got.

I wish Pro Publica would get out and cover state finances, rather than what appears, before my eyes glaze over and I don't read it, to be endless minutia about just the stuff in the stimulus bill. They've supported solid state-level coverage of specific issues - environmental stuff, nursing homes, etc. - but I haven't seen much on plain old state budgets and such.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 3:02 AM
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Oh okay, 76 would be fine. The way that it was represented on the news (ever reliable, I know) it sounded like people with permits to carry concealed weapons in Texas could come to Massachusetts with their concealed weapons. I'm not as anti gun as my state laws are. I just don't think that your guns should be concealed, and it seemed like this would be a Federalization of the decision about gun control.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 4:43 AM
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California's constitutions is from the 70's? I thought that the mess was older than that. Ours predates the Federal one, and is in fact, the world's oldest continuously operating *written* constitution. (If you took out the written part. the UK would surely beat us.)


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 4:59 AM
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BG, before the 70s, even Californian politicians would have had sufficient gravitas to avoid a snafu like that.

Do the laws of the Five Nations still operate at any level, maybe in Canada? If so, I'd think they would be the oldest extant constitution.


Posted by: OFE | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 5:19 AM
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I went to a state budget presentation (at the kindergarten level) by a non-profit last week, and one of his points was that MA already had structural problems which predate the economic crisis that were most likely induced by our 90's round of tax cuts.

He was arguing that because the capital gains tax is so unstable, pretty much all of its revenue should be put into the rainy day fund. We should have been running 1-2 billion dollar surpluses during good times, but we've been having trouble balancing the budget on time for a while.

BTW, Canadian provinces are allowed to run deficits, so it could work in a Federal system.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 5:29 AM
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257: I'm just repeating what my grandfather, the Commonwealth's archivist used to say. Were the Laws of the 5 Nations ever written down? If they weren't my assertion still stands. His remarks may have been totally Euro-centric.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 5:47 AM
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You can say that inflation in the '70s was the result of the oil shock, but it was bad under Nixon, too (take a look at this Brad DeLong paper). One part Vietnam, one part Nixon goosing the Fed to get him re-elected.

That's the problem: the people who count have got theirs.

Similarly: old people are why we can't have nice things universal Medicare.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 5:55 AM
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259. I don't think they were ever written down, but they certainly predate any recognisable form of British constitution. Not questioning that MA may well have the oldest current written one.

oh, no. San Marino has you beaten hands down.


Posted by: OFE | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 5:56 AM
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About the Massachusetts Constitution, wikipedia says "Following approval by town meetings, the Constitution was ratified on June 15, 1780, became effective on October 25, 1780, and remains the oldest functioning written constitution in continuous effect in the world."

Perhaps they don't count San Marino, because theirs is spread over multiple documents.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 6:25 AM
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Has San Marino been continuously independent through its history? [Checking wiki .. yes, yes it has. Interesting.]


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 6:50 AM
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"Moby Hick is a fucking Austrian."

Arnold is Austrian. I'm Irish and Italian, like all good hearted people. Anyway, I'll certainly agree that inflation is better than deflation.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 7:21 AM
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I'm Irish and Italian, like all good hearted people.

Yes, but are you Sammarinese?


Posted by: OFE | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 7:22 AM
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264: JesusMcQ and I will let you into our club.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 7:24 AM
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266: The Ancient Order of semi-Hibernians?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 8:04 AM
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Funny, I always assumed that someone called Jesus McQueen would be half-Latino, half-Irish. Like the very memorable General Bernardo O'Higgins.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 8:06 AM
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I can't tell if 253 is a joke about Arnold being a RINO, Feinstein being a DINO, or just not informed that they are in two different parties.

Besides, Barbara Boxer is the Senator you go challenge seriously in California. She's up in 2010, and she's more partisan and liberal than Feinstein, who surfs the center-right ridge of the CA electorate like King Kahuna. If Arnold hadn't fucked up so badly, he'd be in a good place to give her a run for her money.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 8:53 AM
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Do the laws of the Five Nations still operate at any level, maybe in Canada? If so, I'd think they would be the oldest extant constitution.

I'm not sure.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 8:54 AM
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I first thought that it was a wonderful joke about Feinstein being a DINO, but then the other possibility registered and then that match-up made my head hurt again.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 8:59 AM
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Feinstein being a DINO

This one, I reckon. One more thing that's the fault of Dan White/Twinkies.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 9:00 AM
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I am amused that the state Assemblyman (R) from the town I grew up in was just arrested along with the mayors of Secaucus and Hoboken and several rabbis (!!!) in an international money laundering scheme.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 9:07 AM
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273: Oh boo. There are two townships in NJ with the same name and the arrestee is from the other one. Not the one I grew up in. Oh well. Our Republican mayor was sentenced to 5 years in jail for corruption in 2007. I was kind of hoping it was a trend.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 9:13 AM
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273: Ha. I thought of you when I heard that this morning, actually. Doesn't it just piss you off when people perpetuate the stereotype of the corrupt New Jersey politician—especially when they're corrupt New Jersey politicians? (The Italian names lent the story a nice authentic touch, though.)


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 9:48 AM
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274
There are two townships in NJ with the same name and the arrestee is from the other one.

Really? Weird, I thought that never happened. Unless you just mean "almost the same name."


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 9:52 AM
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||
http://www.theage.com.au/opinion/losing-my-religion-for-equality-20090714-dk0v.html?page=-1
|>


Posted by: Jimmy Carter | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 9:58 AM
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275: Only some of the names are Italian! The whole thing is now actually turning on shit in my town -- even though the (Dutch last named) assemblyman is from elsewhere. This is all tying back to a corrupt real estate guy (arrested a couple of years ago) and the rabbis of many of the local sephardic yeshivas (who have all just been arrested). Man oh man.

276: There are two townships known as "Ocean Township": one in Ocean Co. and one in Monmouth. Apparently the technical legal name of the one I'm from is Township of Ocean, but nobody calls it that.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 10:01 AM
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277: Truly among the greatest of our ex-presidents.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 10:03 AM
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There's some body parts trafficking angle to that story, but I can't find details. I'm morbidly curious.


Posted by: dob | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 10:10 AM
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Truly among the greatest of our ex-presidents.

The competition isn't too tough at the moment....


Posted by: bill | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 10:16 AM
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278.1: No, not the sephardic yeshivas. Ashkenaz. This is weird lesson on the shittiness of journalism, since I know the places they are talking about and all of the papers are identifying everything incorrectly.

At any rate, this is a real tour of NJ, with arrestees named Cammarano, van Pelt, Ewell, Suarez, Ben Haim, etc. We just need an Irishman, now.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 10:17 AM
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282: What's in it for me?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 10:19 AM
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283: A large bribe, but then a stint in the federal penn.

282: I was right the first time -- the did just arrest the rebbe of like every sephardic yeshiva and synagogue in my town. Holy shit.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 10:25 AM
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284.2: Is 'rebbe' sephardic and 'rabbi' Ashkenaz? I have to know these things if I'm going to go into Jersey politics.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 10:29 AM
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285: Nope. "Rebbe" is yiddish, which is not at all sephardic. Sephardim (some, anyway) speak Ladino, with is Hebrew + Spanish, basically.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 10:34 AM
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This is weird lesson on the shittiness of journalism, since I know the places they are talking about and all of the papers are identifying everything incorrectly.

In almost every single news story that I have some knowledge about, the journalist got important details wrong.


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 10:37 AM
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The whole rebbe/rabbi thing is kind of complicated, it seems.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 10:38 AM
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Ladino

Didn't one of these just go on the Supreme Court?


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 10:39 AM
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287: Same with me.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 10:44 AM
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289: No, they had to reschedule the confirmation hearing because she had a cold.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 10:45 AM
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291: Seriously? It's never going to over? It's never going to be over!


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 10:46 AM
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292: 291 is a funny. A good one, too!


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 10:47 AM
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Would be funny, except she's a Ladina, silly. Ah-choo!


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 10:55 AM
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277: I thought the expression "to lose one's religion" was like "to buy the farm" or "to kick the bucket", i.e "to die". Believing he's deployed the expression errantly, I'm adopting a position of nosflowian disapproval towards Fmr. President Carter's article.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 11:03 AM
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293: You better not be lying. I don't think my heart could take it.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 11:08 AM
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295: Huh. I always just thought it was something you did when life was bigger, bigger than you. And you are not me.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 11:12 AM
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280 to 277.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 11:13 AM
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What? No. Losing your religion means losing your temper (with implications of foul-mouthedness).


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 11:16 AM
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I thought the expression "to lose one's religion" was like "to buy the farm" or "to kick the bucket", i.e "to die"

To lose your shit/be at the end of your rope.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 11:16 AM
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295: I've never understood it to mean that, but at any rate, the hed was probably the work of an editor, so you may continue to have whatever feeling about Carter you had before reading it.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 11:17 AM
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E.g., "if you don't clean up your room right this minute, I am absolutely going to lose my religion."


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 11:17 AM
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299, with the specific implication, is my understanding as well.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 11:18 AM
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Cry, cry, lose your religion, cry.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 11:20 AM
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I also believe it to be a Southern expression, but maybe just because of a certain band from Athens, Georgia.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 11:20 AM
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Oh. Huh. I wonder where I picked up that "to die" meaning. In any case, I stand corrected.

And regarding Carter, I just yesterday picked up a framed Carter campaign poster (which poster I acquired on the cheap at some random thrift store in NC). Looks great, but I can't help but wonder if I was overcharged for the framing.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 11:23 AM
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306: Framing, custom framing, always costs the earth.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 11:24 AM
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306: Framing, custom framing, always costs the earth.

Fact.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 11:25 AM
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308: It's enough to make one lose one's religion even.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 11:26 AM
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I also believe it to be a Southern expression, but maybe just because of a certain band from Athens, Georgia the rest of the country barely has any religion left to lose.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 11:27 AM
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But, a properly framed issue is priceless.


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 11:28 AM
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well, more like $250 a hour in my case.


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 11:28 AM
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Twice in one day, Will, you have made me laugh.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 11:29 AM
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I am just glad that I am clothed this time.


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 11:30 AM
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the rest of the country barely has any religion left to lose

It's called 'capitalism', you faithless bastard.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 11:31 AM
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There really isnt anything of greater importance in the Bible than capitalism. Well, more specifically, donating to megachurches.


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 11:33 AM
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I had no idea "losing my religion" was an idiomatic phrase rather than just a song title.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 11:34 AM
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315: Gutter religion, indeed.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 11:35 AM
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317: You probably didn't know about this either, huh?


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 11:37 AM
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This definition is, uh, different. (Seriously? Dane Cook? He's like the Nic Cage of, um, well, he just sucks, is the thing.)


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 11:40 AM
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There really isnt anything of greater importance in the Bible than capitalism.

You forgot virginity.

max
['Look! All time low prices on virgin capitalism!']


Posted by: max | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 11:45 AM
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This is no doubt boring to everyone but me who grew up in this boring-ass Republican shore town, but our crazy international money laundering scandal now involves KIDNEY SELLING, people. Kidney. Selling.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 11:47 AM
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321 Also: circumcision and "begat". "Smite" is pretty big too.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 11:50 AM
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||

Does anybody know how to find out who dicked with MS Office and which cars belong to them? I'm going to make their turn-signal lever open the truck, hide the brake in the glove box, put the gear-shift on the passenger side door and just generally get revenge for why it took me 40 minutes to do 5 minutes work in Excel.

||


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 11:52 AM
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Free-market ideology is pretty big on smiting. And begetting, in a sense. I'm not so sure about the circumcision.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 11:53 AM
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324: If you don't hit the play button we're going to be stuck here FOREVER!


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 11:54 AM
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You better not be lying. I don't think my heart could take it.

"You're going to have to answer to the Coca-Cola Company" is canonical in our house.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 11:54 AM
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I mentioned this story to my neighbor, who had one of those "This is bad for the Jews" reactions.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 11:56 AM
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326 was me. Stupid internet fingers-hitting-delete-button.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 11:57 AM
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circumcision and "begat". "Smite" is pretty big too.

New Jersy politicians have penetrated deeply into virgin territories of capitalism, circumcising ethics and begating scandal by losing their religion about organ legging, for which they will no doubt be smited. It's all very complicated and possibly inflated in a rabbinical sort of way.

max
['Bruce! Bruce! Bring me that fucking spleen from that fucker I offed the other day he's, uh, on slab F4!']


Posted by: max | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 11:57 AM
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329: Well, I won't fault you. I just spent 10 minutes trying to remove a '-' that one of my less tech savy coworkers put in an Excel spreadsheet with the intention of using it as a dash. You used to be able to tell Excel "I don't care what it looks like, we want this cell to be text." Apparently, we can't be trusted to make that choice ourselves now.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 12:01 PM
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I was struck by this phrase in the NJ article: "the rabbis arrested . . . were part of a vast money-laundering conspiracy with tentacles in Israel and Switzerland." Apparently the Elders are now in cahoots with the Gnomes.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 12:03 PM
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How could a gnome use a human kidney?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 12:04 PM
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329: Well, I won't fault you. I just spent 10 minutes trying to remove a '-' that one of my less tech savy coworkers put in an Excel spreadsheet with the intention of using it as a dash. You used to be able to tell Excel "I don't care what it looks like, we want this cell to be text."

I just did that in three seconds. What was the trouble?

Admittedly, I did run into this glitch: if I entered something like "5-4" into a cell that hadn't already been marked as text, it took it to be a date, and so when I did mark it as text, the contents of the cell became the underlying number that is the "true" value of a date value, so I had to re-enter 5-4. But it didn't refuse to believe me that I wanted the cell to be text once I'd told it it was.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 12:06 PM
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Admittedly, I did run into this glitch: if I entered something like "5-4" into a cell that hadn't already been marked as text, it took it to be a date, and so when I did mark it as text, the contents of the cell became the underlying number that is the "true" value of a date value, so I had to re-enter 5-4.

I'm not at all sure this same thing wouldn't have happened in earlier versions of Excel, too, but maybe it wouldn't.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 12:08 PM
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277: Oh my. Good for Carter. (Though I don't know why it took until July 2009 for him to face the fact that there's a problem with the Southern Baptists.)

This line rankles a bit:

It is not women and girls alone who suffer. It damages all of us. The evidence shows that investing in women and girls delivers major benefits for society.

I know that it's popular these days to present self-interested reasons one might should care about the oppression or suffering of others, and to cite or at least refer to evidence backing up those claims (it's science!), just in case the moral case in itself gains no purchase, but it nonetheless makes me grimace a bit.

Still, thanks, Jimmy.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 12:08 PM
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I know that it's popular these days to present self-interested reasons one might should care about the oppression or suffering of others, and to cite or at least refer to evidence backing up those claims (it's science!), just in case the moral case in itself gains no purchase, but it nonetheless makes me grimace a bit.

Huh. I don't read that so much as back-up lest "the moral case in itself gains no purchase" but as a recognition of the expansiveness of the moral case.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 12:15 PM
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334: The cell contained a very long character string, which unfortunately started with '-A' and which I didn't noticed right away so I had a great deal of work into the task that was unsaved. I tried to copy to another sheet so I could work there and save the other changes I'd made. For some reason, it automatically linked across sheets. Whatever I did, I'd gone to far to 'undo' back to the base value, so I had to start-over with all the work I'd been doing on the sheet as the only way to get the underlying value for that cell was to close without saving and re-open.

Then I had to spend 20 minutes trying to explain why starting things with '-A' was both unnecessary and assholeish, but I couldn't use the word 'asshole' because I generally like the coworker that set-up the sheet that way. And now I'm probably up to another 20 minutes bitching to various random people.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 12:16 PM
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@333: What's a gnome want with a human kidney?

Here's the late GARY GYGAX no less, explaining what gnomes (and indeed dwarves) eat...


Posted by: tierce de lollardie | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 12:20 PM
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336: Eh, if that were the only reason he offered, sure. But as part of the broad case he makes, I think it's helpful that he points out that equality and justice are in the general public interest. Otherwise it's easier to cast his concerns and belief either as "special interests" or as him deciding in his magnanimity to do those poor women a favor.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 12:20 PM
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331: Somewhat related: I was enraged to find out that you can't export from Access 2007 to Excel any more. Seriously, I do that EVERY DAY. It is going to kill me to try to find and test a work-around for something, not to mention trying to teach less tech-savvy co-workers how to deal with it.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 12:21 PM
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331: It's a trend in software design, and particularly at MicroSoft, to treat "user friendly" as if it means "anticipate what the user ought to be doing and do it for them without regard to what they actually want." Fortunately Apple isn't as bad as most at this, which is why I use a Mac at home (and Linux at work - mild user-hostility is better than the gaslighting treatment you get from MSOffice), but if you're in the business world you damn well better do things the way M$ thinks you ought to, or plan on long pointless fights with your computer.

I don't get why a spreadsheet should have cell a formatting wizard/deamon/pixie/whatever - it's not like defaulting to floating point and letting the user choose is exactly a major hassle. The only thing I use Excel for is a very simple list of expenses, and it still fucks that up at random when I paste in a confirmation number from a web payment.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 12:22 PM
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Also, what 337 said.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 12:23 PM
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341: I've exported from Access 2007 to Excel 2007 with no problem.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 12:24 PM
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You've all missed the genius of the new version Office. Various things don't work, but the things that don't work are particular to each user. That way, when it doesn't work there'll always be someone who'll say "works for me". In the ensuing civil war, Bill Gates expects that he and his minions will come out on top.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 12:26 PM
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341, 344: You need Office 2007 Service Pack 2 to export Access reports to Excel.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 12:27 PM
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Apo always knows what "PC LOAD LETTER" means.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 12:28 PM
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It's a trend in software design, and particularly at MicroSoft, to treat "user friendly" as if it means "anticipate what the user ought to be doing and do it for them without regard to what they actually want."

Yep. I absolutely hate this. I would hate it much less if Microsoft made it easy and intuitive to turn things like this off, but as it is anytime I end up at a new computer, I have to spend an insane amount of time re-remembering how to get the damn programs to behave in a way that doesn't make me lose my religion.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 12:28 PM
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THE THING THAT REALLY ANNOYS ME IN EXCEL IS THAT WHEN YOU HIT THE LEFT OR RIGHT BUTTON WHILE TYPING A FORMULA, TRYING TO EDIT THE FORMULA, IT AUTOMATICALLY ADDS THE NAME OF THE CELL TO THE LEFT OR RIGHT. WHO EVER WANTS TO DO THAT?


Posted by: CRYPTIC NED | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 12:29 PM
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349: God yes, I hate that.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 12:30 PM
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BUT WHAT ABOUT MEEEEE? DON'T YOU GUYS LIKE MEEEEEEEEE??!?!?!?!?


Posted by: OPINIONATED OFFICE 2007 RIBBON | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 12:30 PM
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348: Especially when you have two offices, one (because I have control) which uses 2003 and one which uses 2007. I guess I should just be happy that they gave me Service Pack 2. Witt is going to have to go old school and use comma deliminators or something.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 12:32 PM
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I like the ribbon. I like the organization of the new office. And it does predict what I want to do more accurately than the old version. However, its insistence on automatically creating indented tabbed bullet-pointed paragraphs whenever I start a line with a hyphen, and then making it impossible to actually have indents and bullet points if I decide I want them after initially turning the automatic bullet points off, is even worse than before.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 12:34 PM
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automatically creating indented tabbed bullet-pointed paragraphs

As I've said before, the ribbon isn't any worse than the previous layout, it's just bad in its own all new, special ways. Word's auto-reformatting of styles may as well be a goddamned roulette wheel. One that doesn't wait for you to spin it, but just starts going whenever you've gone a few minutes without saving your document. Also, once it starts throwing your bullet lists all over the page, Undo doesn't necessarily change them back. It's like some kind of clandestine, drive-you-slowly-insane psy-ops operation.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 12:40 PM
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Huh. I gave up on office entirely in the late 90s. Glad to see the decision still seems a good one (yes, I realize this is not practical for many. Still).


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 12:41 PM
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This is why I stick with intuitive, user-friendly software like LaTeX.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 12:43 PM
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At first I thought 346 was a joke. Then, the slow horrible dawning that, no, seriously, MS made two of its own programs mutually unintelligible, then had to fix it. Un-freaking-believable.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 12:43 PM
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Especially when you have two offices, one (because I have control) which uses 2003 and one which uses 2007.

Ha. I am holding on to my old computer (which has Office 2003) for this -- among other -- reasons. It works somewhat OK because I have the desk space and I often have a volunteer or staffer who needs to use the extra computer anyway, but it's a colossal pain in the neck switching back and forth when I'm in a hurry trying to run a report.

Luckily I have the power to refuse to do a Vista upgrade. Seriously, I wonder what the stats are on the dollar cost of productivity in the learning curve for new software. Rarely has there been an upgrade that actually increased my productivity -- generally it's just a month or more of frustration until I claw my way back up to my previous level.

anticipate what the user ought to be doing and do it for them

This, exactly. It starts with spelling corrections and gets progressively more complicated. I keep thinking I've turned off every such feature, only to be bitten by them again. The worst thing is when the document is extremely serious, and you're rereading frantically to make sure there is no stupid auto-correct error that's going to ruin somebody's life forever.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 12:44 PM
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340: Otherwise it's easier to cast his concerns and belief either as "special interests" or as him deciding in his magnanimity to do those poor women a favor.

Right; I'm really just being quibbly. That remark is presumably intended to head off an easily anticipated objection: your support of women's rights is just a special interest concern which bears an obscure relationship to the greater good! (That's an extreme version of the objection.)

I just grimace at the thought that such a hypothetical objection should be graced with a reply in the first place.

The second possibility, "him deciding in his magnanimity to do those poor women a favor", I hadn't really thought of. In that case, though, citing evidence backing up his awareness and appreciation of the value women provide still ... clangs awkwardly for me.

I dunno. Just being quibbly, as I said. It seems a straightforward moral case, and evidence shouldn't be needed.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 12:46 PM
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It's like some kind of clandestine, drive-you-slowly-insane psy-ops operation.

This is what I meant by the gaslighting comment. It's as if M$ is a giant conspiracy to slowly drive computer users mad by randomly reformatting stuff.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 12:48 PM
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Parsimon's point is something that I think is an artifact of writing in the age of the web. No, really. People are so accustomed to anticipating possible objections that they write advocacy pieces in defensive mode.

Not to say the general phenomenon didn't exist before, but it's much more severe and pervasive now, and it's badly warped by some very loud fringe groups. For a while I was keeping examples of mainstream news articles that did this anticipatory two-step, but that got too depressing.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 12:49 PM
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"This, exactly. It starts with spelling corrections and gets progressively more complicated. "

And none of them are solving the real problems. Outlook tells me that I had 'teh' in an e-mail, but it won't give useful warning like "Are you sure you want to mention that you noticed the AC seemed to be too high when you walked past X's desk? Because everybody, including yourself in five seconds, is going to think you are talking about visibly erect nipples and not a draft."


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 12:50 PM
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It's sad that anyone feels it necessary to defend the interests of half the population as not being "special interests".


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 12:51 PM
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It's as if M$ is a giant conspiracy to slowly drive computer users mad by randomly reformatting stuff.

Into (particularly institutional) path dependence on the newer software, resulting in new sales.

This stuff isn't complicated, or new.


Posted by: fly by | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 12:52 PM
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356 is absolutely right. There's a level at which things like LaTeX are user friendly in a way that current iterations of MS Office are not.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 12:52 PM
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Oh hey I have a non-MS software complaint. I don't know if it's a consequence of some Mac OS update or of a Firefox update, but I keep accidentally resizing the text on webpages just by moving my fingers in the wrong way on the touchpad when I try to click on something. This is getting annoying. I mean, yay fancy iPhoney gestures on my laptop, but the threshold for them seems to be set a little low.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 12:53 PM
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People are so accustomed to anticipating possible objections that they write advocacy pieces in defensive mode.

I find myself doing this in real-time conversation. Crazy.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 12:54 PM
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Oh hey I have a non-MS software complaint. I don't know if it's a consequence of some Mac OS update or of a Firefox update, but I keep accidentally resizing the text on webpages just by moving my fingers in the wrong way on the touchpad when I try to click on something.

Yes, this is super annoying. I eventually just turned off the fancy iPhoney gestures.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 12:56 PM
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Parsimon's point is something that I think is an artifact of writing in the age of the web. No, really. People are so accustomed to anticipating possible objections that they write advocacy pieces in defensive mode.

I guess my point is that it's not necessary to read the quote as a defensive anticipation of objections. Saying that misogyny hurts us all is true! It doesn't imply that misogyny would be okay if it only hurt women. It's just recognizing, rightly, that it doesn't only hurt women.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 12:57 PM
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356: I do actually prefer LaTeX to MSWord. A large part of it is that 20 year old LaTeX files produce the same output as they did when first written - good luck getting that from MSWord. Also LaTeX is user hostile right up front - none of this pretending to be helpful shit.

It's like MSWord is the bubbly fun girl who always wants to do fun things but once she moves in with you she turns into a bizarre, clingy, manipulative liar. LaTeX is the frumpy shy loner who takes forever to really open up to you, but once you win her trust and affection she's a steadfast friend and a freak in the sack.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 12:58 PM
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LaTeX with emacs + AucTex + reftex is far and away the most productive environment I've ever seen for large documents and technical documents.

There are things it's lousy at. But where it's good (e.g.. books, thesis, scientific articles, mathematical content, manuals) it's not just that it's "better than word", it's that it is just vastly better than word processors, period.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 12:59 PM
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and a freak in the sack.

It is amazing what you can get LaTeX to do.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 1:02 PM
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365, 370: Yeah, I was halfway joking by calling LaTeX "intuitive" and "user-friendly", but it is infinitely better than Word. After the initial learning curve, it's not hard to use, and everything just works. On all sorts of computers over more than a decade, I've been using it without ever having to re-learn things for new versions or rearrange figures and tables just because I moved a file from one machine to another.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 1:03 PM
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Was 370.2 necessary?


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 1:04 PM
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On a less stereotypically humorless note, I've been enjoying screwing around with pandoc, although it's probably not useful for heavy-duty scientific writing.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 1:06 PM
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It's all in the macros, heebie


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 1:06 PM
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an artifact of writing in the age of the web

Maybe that's true too, but I think of it as an acknowledgment, in an age when economic concerns reign supreme in public policy, that you have to gesture to some sort of cost/benefit argument however obvious the moral significance of the cause.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 1:07 PM
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How does LaTeX interface with modern fancy page layout programs? I know you can do a lot to make a LaTeX document not look like your standard ugly LaTeX document, but the fact remains that most academics are not fantastic book designers.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 1:07 PM
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Yes, this is super annoying. I eventually just turned off the fancy iPhoney gestures.

But the two-finger scroll is really useful. I haven't figured out how to keep it and turn off the font-size-changing.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 1:09 PM
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circumcision and "begat". "Smite" is pretty big too.

Smite and begat are also great words. Circumcision, eh, not so much.


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 1:11 PM
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Your standard ugly LaTeX layout is sort of like your standard ugly Word layout --- you cringe when you see either of them actually published (unless the book contains mathematics, then in the word case the cringe is more of a dry heaving, minimum). Basically, people (and some publishers) are lazy, and will stick with defaults unless pushed to do something else.

You can do a lot with LaTeX layout (and you can do essentially anything if you're willing to dig into TeX itself), so long as it's not DTP type things (eg typesetting on curved paths). I'm not sure how it is at interacting with other page layout software, though ...


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 1:12 PM
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361: Parsimon's point is something that I think is an artifact of writing in the age of the web. No, really. People are so accustomed to anticipating possible objections that they write advocacy pieces in defensive mode.

I see your point, but actually, academic writing is normally supposed to take into account possible obvious objections, frame them up front, and provide responses to them. Carter's piece isn't academic writing, obviously, but it argues a case against a prevailing view.

From that perspective, Carter is making what's effectively a Kantian ethical case for women's rights ("do unto others as you would have them do unto you," i.e. don't oppress them, for crying out loud). Inserting the remark about evidence shifts the terms of discussion to a utilitarian calculus instead: what's the balance for the greater good in treating women equally? It constitutes a concession of ground which is just not a wise move. It opens a space for thoughts about all the old reasons for women's place being in the home and whatnot.

The discussion should be about individual human (women's and men's) rights, not about a utilitarian calculus.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 1:14 PM
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Is standard LaTeX considered standard ugly LaTeX? I never looked at it that critically.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 1:14 PM
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374: Perhaps you are confusing blog comment threads with conference presentations. Not the same context. Important, that.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 1:15 PM
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You can do a lot with LaTeX layout

Sure. My point is, though, that ideally (though certainly not always in practice--indeed, I am co-editing a volume right now where the publisher demands "camera-ready" copy formatted via, alas, a Word template they provide) your book or article will go through a stage where an actual designer gets his or her hands on it, and most designers aren't going to use LaTeX for layout themselves.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 1:16 PM
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Is standard LaTeX considered standard ugly LaTeX? I never looked at it that critically.

Well, it's fairly ugly, if no uglier than anything else you would expect a non-designer to produce.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 1:17 PM
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What's so awful about standard LaTeX? For papers, I mean, not for books. There doesn't even seem to be a completely universal "standard" for things like titles and section headings, so I don't quite kow what "ugly standard LaTeX" would mean aside from "Computer Modern fontface". Which I know some font geeks hate, but doesn't seem very objectionable to me.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 1:18 PM
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I'm having a very hard time following how you get from:
blockquote>It is not women and girls alone who suffer. It damages all of us. The evidence shows that investing in women and girls delivers major benefits for society.
to:

It opens a space for thoughts about all the old reasons for women's place being in the home and whatnot.

I appreciate your point that the focus should be on the moral rather than utilitarian argument. Personally, I am all for the cumulative approach to persuasion -- "It's good morally, it's profitable, and gosh darn it it's just plain fun!"


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 1:20 PM
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"Are you sure you want to mention that you noticed the AC seemed to be too high when you walked past X's desk? Because everybody, including yourself in five seconds, is going to think you are talking about visibly erect nipples and not a draft."

So where is X's desk, anyway?


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 1:20 PM
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I think of it as an acknowledgment, in an age when economic concerns reign supreme in public policy, that you have to gesture to some sort of cost/benefit argument however obvious the moral significance of the cause.

I didn't read it that way at all. And I don't think there's anything wrong with acknowledging that taking a moral position isn't just about being altruistic.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 1:21 PM
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For papers, I mean, not for books.

I consider it totally fine looking for ms. I am just wondering how easy it is for designers to work from LaTeX files.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 1:22 PM
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Is standard LaTeX considered standard ugly LaTeX? I never looked at it that critically.

Only if you are talking about a printed bound book. You can do a lot better than the defaults.


For papers, I mean, not for books.

Nothing.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 1:22 PM
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379: I thought that the gestures control screen gives you finer control over what the different # of fingers do. This is from fiddling with one at the store, so maybe I'm wrong.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 1:22 PM
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your book or article will go through a stage where an actual designer gets his or her hands on it, and most designers aren't going to use LaTeX for layout themselves.

At least in my field, the journal expects a LaTeX file, which they reprocess with their own templates to get it in the style and layout they want.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 1:24 PM
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Further to 394: this also seems to apply to manuscripts for books published by some academic presses. Places that are likely to work with authors who rely on LaTeX seem generally to employ people capable of taking the LaTeX and book-ifying it.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 1:27 PM
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Sure. My point is, though, that ideally...

Yeah I knew that's what you meant, I worded the response poorly. What I was trying to say is that there were no technical problems with doing it, but I don't know what the state of the art is as far as software interaction goes.

No so long ago, a book was pretty much always going to be re-typeset anyway; it's a pretty recent idea that word files or .pdf's or whatever are good enough source material. So I think it depends a lot on the publisher, but I wouldn't be surprised if some of them have technology for this.

I read an interesting article on the post-digital homgenization of book layout (compared to, say, what was being done in the 50s) a little while ago, but can't find it.

As essear notes, for many journals and conference proceedings at least, the publishers may use your raw latex input to run through a they're own style files. That's a bit of a different issue though.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 1:28 PM
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At least in my field, the journal expects a LaTeX file, which they reprocess with their own templates to get it in the style and layout they want.

Sorry, right right. Obviously many journals are totally down with LaTeX and use it themselves (and often the results are not so beautiful, but this is the case for journals everywhere and hardly LaTeX's fault). But since LaTeX is great for long documents, and many long documents become books, and many books are laid out in InDesign or (less so) Quark, I still wonder about how the two interact.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 1:29 PM
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wow, that was a pretty bad they're/their typo.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 1:31 PM
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Places that are likely to work with authors who rely on LaTeX seem generally to employ people capable of taking the LaTeX and book-ifying it.

Well, fair enough.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 1:31 PM
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Most places that are likely to work with me don't seem to be specially eager to receive LaTeX files, but since I haven't ever learned how to use LaTeX properly (partially as a result), it's neither here nor there.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 1:33 PM
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you have to gesture to some sort of cost/benefit argument however obvious the moral significance of the cause.

I agree completely (that you have to do it, not that it's necessarily a good thing), but the thing about Carter's article is the cost/benefit to women alone should be perfectly sufficient -- except if you're used to the first or second objection, every time, being "But what about meeeeennnnnn?" or "Argh, another argument for a special interest group."

FWIW, I read 370 as equally as funny/appropriate if you switch out genders or sexual orientation, so it didn't set off any of my offensive-ness detectors.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 1:35 PM
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397, 399: Yeah, I don't know how it works out if it's a book that calls for a more individualized design. The book that happens to be open in front of me on my desk at the moment is part of a series called "Cambridge Monographs in Mathematical Physics", and looks pretty standard-LaTeX-ish (although I think the layout looks rather nice). At any rate, I would guess that for series like that they process the LaTeX files with pretty standard templates and don't do any individualized design decisions for every book.

I don't really know what would happen for someone wanting a less cookie-cutter design for their book.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 1:35 PM
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LaTex can produce nice output if you don't use the CM fonts, which aren't great IMO. I've typeset a book for a publisher using LaTeX with no problems [not my own book, I was doing the techy/copy-editing bit on another philosopher's book for cash].

My own D.Phil thesis -- where I made a bit of an effort to get it looking right before resubmission -- looks pretty good, I think. Not as good as the best professionally typeset work but it shits on most stuff produced in M$ Word.

LaTeX is just a mark-up language, after all. The final output is style dependent, and the default stylesheets are pretty good, I think, in terms of their use of whitespace, general layout, etc. I did make some changes by using different header packages, and a few other things, though.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 1:35 PM
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388: Personally, I am all for the cumulative approach to persuasion -- "It's good morally, it's profitable, and gosh darn it it's just plain fun!"

I get the general point: use all arguments at your disposal. I'm not sure I agree.

The analogy ban is getting in my way here, but consider: if you, as a woman, were subject to sexual harassment in the workplace, would you argue to your boss that he'd really get better work out of you if he didn't sexually harass you? Is that an argument you would be willing to make?


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 1:39 PM
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redfoxtailshrub, a couple of thoughts on that:

1. Since ID is an Adobe product, I suspect the latex->pdf->ID for final layout is workable.

2. The issues are somewhat orthogonal, since latex is such a nice way to actually build and edit a book, but final layout is somewhat separable. If the book itself is not complicated by many figures, margin notes etc, conversion may be easy.

3. I wouldn't be surprised if some publishers have in-house xml or xml like structured representations, which you can probably script a mostly correct conversion for...


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 1:40 PM
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re: 405

And there are various LaTeX to RTF and HTML conversion tools that can do part of the work of hacking the LaTeX into a format that could easily be dumped into InDesign.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 1:43 PM
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normally supposed to take into account possible obvious objections

a) Carter's writing an op-ed, not an academic article.

b) It's dismaying to me how many bad-faith objections that were previously in the "sphere of deviance" are now in the "sphere of legitimate debate," such that an author must reasonably be expected to spend time knocking them down. Really, it's disheartening.

it's not necessary to read the quote as a defensive anticipation of objections

It's certainly not necessary, but it was natural for me (can't speak for others) to read it that way, given that I've seen such arguments get troll-jacked in predictable ways thousands of times.

Of course you're right that on the plain face of it, Carter says nothing in the least objectionable and indeed it is rather admirable and important.

But he's not writing in a vacuum. His readers are bringing decades of baggage from the culture wars it's not unreasonable to read his statement as a preemptive concession to the tsunami of objection that he anticipates receiving. Which is, as I keep saying, disheartening.

::mightily resisting the temptation to use an analogy:: and acutely aware of what happened last time I did.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 1:43 PM
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The analogy ban is getting in my way here, but consider: if you, as a woman, were subject to sexual harassment in the workplace, would you argue to your boss that he'd really get better work out of you if he didn't sexually harass you? Is that an argument you would be willing to make?


Ironically, that is an argument I have, in fact, made.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 1:43 PM
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also, ttaM is right that you can do wonders for a book layout with LaTeX without too much work. Changing the font sets, a tweak on the geometry, a couple of packages perhaps and it looks nothing like the "standard LaTeX document". Fancy chapter openings etc. are very easy too.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 1:43 PM
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390: I didn't read Carter's piece that way; I was thinking about the generality suggested by parsimon's comment about self-interested reasons. And I agree with you and Di that those reasons have value, but I'm dismayed that the moral argument alone is so easily assailed ("children's healthcare is a good thing, but we can't afford it", or "climate change is disastrous, but fighting it would cost business too much").


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 1:44 PM
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And there are various LaTeX to RTF and HTML conversion tools that can do part of the work of hacking the LaTeX into a format that could easily be dumped into InDesign.

Right. You lose most of the effort spent by LaTeX on typesetting and layout then (which is why I first though of pdf->ID) , but presumably you don't care if you're going that route, because you're going to rework it all anyway.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 1:45 PM
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I'm ignoring the LaTeX discussion out of pique that I will never, never get to use it. I do periodically wonder if it would be worth the massive hassle involved in switching the whole place over to Open Office or some such.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 1:47 PM
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||

Argh argh argh. I hate writing. Both of these briefs should be trivially easy to finish, and I've been messing around pointlessly with them all day. Argh.

|>


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 1:48 PM
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407(b), meet 359.2 (I just grimace at the thought that such a hypothetical objection should be graced with a reply in the first place).


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 1:49 PM
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you can do wonders for a book layout with LaTeX without too much work

You can, but can the average book designer (of the variety who is a real designer by trade, commonly, of course, not employed by lots of academic publishers anyway)? I wonder. But all the thoughts on exporting, etc. are enlightening! Thanks.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 1:49 PM
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I do periodically wonder if it would be worth the massive hassle involved in switching the whole place over to Open Office or some such.

It may be worth looking at. It's at least a workable solution this days, if not right for everyone.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 1:49 PM
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404/408: But, on further reflection, I'll give that this bolsters your point -- resorting to "This bullshit impacts the quality of my work," unquestionably has alot to do with the conviction that "Your conduct is hurtful and upsetting to me" wouldn't, on its own, have carried much weight.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 1:50 PM
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I would have expected conversion to RTF or HTML to wreak havoc on anything mathematical or otherwise involving unusual symbols or layouts.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 1:50 PM
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413 -- COMITY!!!


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 1:50 PM
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re: 409

Yeah, it's a surprisingly small set of changes needed to make documents look really good 'out of the box'.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 1:52 PM
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You can, but can the average book designer...

This is a fair point, but I don't really know how much overlap there is. However, the type of thing I'm talking about often amounts to little more than, say, 10 lines of text or less --- and fairly intuitive ones at that. So I suspect that if anyone had the interest, they could find it easily enough.

Changes below the level of LaTeX macros themselves, on the other hand, are a whole different ball of wax, and start to bump up against the limitations of LaTeX.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 1:52 PM
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re: 415

Yeah, but LaTeX isn't aimed at book designers. 'Real' book designers are going to want raw text most of the time, and then do shit-loads of work on it. That's not realistically what happens with most academic writing.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 1:54 PM
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I would have expected conversion to RTF or HTML to wreak havoc on anything mathematical or otherwise involving unusual symbols or layouts.

Yup. However, the further you move towards what rfst is talking about, the further away from the situations we've mentioned (technical, math heavy publications that are already happy to use LateX). Somewhere there is a line where mathematics isn't enough of the content to worry about special casing it, or doesn't exist at all.

AFAICS, latex would be a great system for writing a novel, for example, although hardly as compelling a gain as writing a maths paper.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 1:55 PM
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'Real' book designers are going to want raw text most of the time, and then do shit-loads of work on it. That's not realistically what happens with most academic writing.

Fact.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 1:56 PM
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407(b) is a reflection of the fact that the right has worked really hard to open the window of legitimate debate so as to include any and all arguments that support right wing positions, regardless of decency, taste, rationality, or truth. There is no pro-right wing argument so stupid, deceitful, dishonest, or just plain laughable that it will not be embraced with open arms by right wing talk radio and Fox Nooz.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 2:05 PM
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422/424

Exactly. On the other hand, it appears not to be what realistically happens with lots of other publication these days either.

I've always thought of LaTeX as something that gets you half way between what a word processor would typically spit out, and what you could expect to see from a real professional doing the layout.

Since it's easier to work with than the word processor , that always seemed like a pretty big win.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 2:06 PM
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425: Right. I've been suggesting that we decline, from time to time, to grant those views (in this case, the god-ordained subservience of women) a hearing.

It would have been great if Carter had said: "While it's also true that the provision of equal rights and opportunities to women helps us all, that is not where our focus should be: women must be free to enjoy all the rights and opportunities held by any and all human beings [etc.], regardless."

That'd be a nice rejection of the bullshit cost-benefit terms of debate that have put liberals on the defensive. Not just with respect to women's rights, but as Jesus mentions upthread, with respect to climate change and numerous other issues.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 2:29 PM
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427: Amen.

417 is making me retrospectively angry at Di's (former?) boss. Boo hiss!

And on another note, stupid MS Outlook just auto-corrected "Miss" to "Ms." THERE WAS A REASON I TYPED THAT, software designers! You are not privy to my brain.

Ahem.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 2:33 PM
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You are not privy to my brain.

Google's working on that....


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 2:36 PM
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428: You're so naive, Witt.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 2:57 PM
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...says the man who still wants to believe in newspapers.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 2:59 PM
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If any comment thread on Unfogged goes on long enough, it will inevitably come to focus on either computers or food.

I have this nagging feeling that we (people of conscience, the Democrats, the good guys, whomever -- don't press me on the details, okay parsi?) may have won a battle, or even the war, but we're in the process of losing the peace....smart Republicans, especially if they're under 50, must be cackling right about now. Their control of the discourse surrounding the nature of public goods is so absolute as to be terrifying.

yep. This crisis has been most notable for what it's revealing about capitalist clout.

The Dems have to show results in order to break up that right-wing discourse dominance, but the party has drifted so far to the right that it may be incapable of taking the kind of steps necessary to truly counteract this crisis (and our longer-term problems, such as health care). Government works best when it goes big and goes simple. But since 1980 or so the Democrats have learned to specialize in small, incremental and wonky.

That's the pessimistic version. The optimistic version is that Obama ends up like Reagan...makes a genuine but still incremental shift in governance, suffers through a recessionary period in the first half of his term, benefits as the economy rebounds. Reagan did not get rid of the welfare state, Obama will not challenge market dominance, but they presided over noticeable changes of direction.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 3:11 PM
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re: 426

Exactly. My own academic writing uses very few formulas: there's the odd couple but few enough that doing them 'by hand' wouldn't be the end of the world. To all practical intents and purposes it's much closer to a novel than anything a mathematician or physicist is going to produce but the basic chapter/section, TOC, indexing, footnoting, and referencing features that LaTeX makes easy are very useful.* The ability to make wholesale format changes by editing single lines in the preamble is also handy.

* using AucTeX and RefTeX of course ...


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 3:16 PM
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I can't tell if 253 is a joke about Arnold being a RINO, Feinstein being a DINO, or just not informed that they are in two different parties.

In post-partisan America, I don't see party affiliation.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 3:41 PM
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Also, my brief experience using Open Office lead me to believe that it's hard to get rid of the kind of carriage/hard returns that are built into text files like gutenberg e-book files. The problem seemed to be in getting the find function to find the hard returns. I was told this was a known issue, but maybe there's a way around it. All I know is that the method I learned for Word didn't work.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 3:52 PM
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428(b): When one has been abused by a figure in authority, anger is a healthy and appropriate response.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 4:33 PM
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Much as I hated using it for my diss., LaTeX got the job done and it looked pretty snazzy.


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 5:04 PM
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432.last: I've been assuming that, if Obama has a long-term vision at all, it's this; of course it requires a great deal of team work to see to it that the noticeable change in direction gains momentum and becomes a sea change post-Obama. Word is that the younger generations are ready, though I'm not sure if they fully understand what jettisoning full-fledged market capitalism means.

I haven't read much lately about those who are trying to launch a progressive, or at least liberal (as opposed to Democrat) media machine a la the conservative onslaught we saw starting 30 years ago. Think tanks, foundations, media organs and so on. I should check in to that -- what's up with Air America and/or its successor once it ground to a halt; and with whatever think-tanky things were getting going?


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 5:21 PM
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Much as I hated using it for my diss., LaTeX got the job done and it looked pretty snazzy.

I've know of half a dozen graduate students to give up on Word while working on their diss, and move to LaTeX. All but one were incredibly happy with the change (the other neutral). I've never known anyone to successfully go the other direction, though.

Not that TeX/LaTeX doesn't have it's own quirks and problems, and plenty of them. They're easier to manage, though.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 5:43 PM
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