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Archive for November, 2011

Per the NYT, the Census Bureau, on Monday, is going to release a new, alternate measure of poverty.  The NYT itself did it’s own study based on various different methods of calculating poverty.  These methods incorporate “food stamps, work expenses, taxes, and the cost of living.”  While cautioning that the Census Bureau will not be using the same data, the NYT found that poverty did decrease, most prominently in rural America from 16.4% to 10.9%, where the cost of living is lower.  Poverty did, however, increase in metropolitan areas, from 13.9% to 14.9%.

The NYT found, when comparing those who are considered poor under the traditional standard versus those not considered poor under the newer methods, that over 2/3 benefited from food stamps.  This should be further proof that government aid does benefit people and make their lives better than without these benefits.

Also, this reminds me of that old West Wing episode where a new economic formula led to 4M more people being considered poor, with Josh and Sam finding a way to spin that news into a positive.

Josh : “Well, I’m not an expert but wouldn’t we have a better chance of getting re-elected if we could say there were four million fewer poor people? Hang on, wait, I am an expert.”

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So, been meaning to write about this New Statesman article for a few days, and am doing so now because of another post from Feministe regarding the same topic: misogyny of (presumably) men online.  Not being female and having a blog that, currently counting, has 2 comments and less than 100 hits, I certainly do not fear being left absurd, very violent (gang-rape appears to be a favorite topic???), and sexist comments.  The desire to express oneself in such a vile manner baffles me.  What is so threatening to the male ego about a woman blogging? (or succeeding in a corporation, as a scientist, or any other endeavor????) And, even if a guy is threatened, why respond in that manner?

Being a lawyer, and hence going to law school, I’d like to think that this type of behavior mostly exists for the age range of kids playing XBox Live and taunting each other with racist or sexist comments and dies out the higher one goes with education & employment, but that is very far from being true.  I forget the website now, but during law school, there was some message board (I believe the person who ran it had a summer or FT offer rescinded because of the site) filled with anonymous venomous comments against women, or rankings of women based on their attractiveness, etc.  I remember a female classmate asking me about it, and then showing it to me since I’d never seen/heard of it before.  So, presumably I did know some of the posters, as I doubt my school was immune to this.  But again, why behave like this? I’ve never seen, in all my many years of viewing blogs, comments from women threatening men with gang rape.

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After I finished reading Ezra Klein’s review of Ron Suskind’s The Confidence Men, I came to the same conclusion as Matthew Ygelsias:

I really liked Ezra Klein’s review of Ron Suskind’s book in the NYRB for its wholesome focus on monetary policy errors as the most plausible way the Obama administration could have made things better. Nobody was stopping them from replacing Ben Bernanke with someone more committed to full employment, and it seems likely that they could have filled two existing Board of Governors vacancies with people more committed to full employment. If the chairman and those two empty seats all felt the way Charles Evans feels, we’d be in much better shape today. None of that is to deny that fiscal policy could have been better, but as Klein says the key blocking points on fiscal policy were in Congress.

It was, and still is, very confusing to me why the one institution that can address the current economic ills and operates more independently from political control/manipulation was ignored by this Administration.

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A fantastic piece by Mother Jones regarding how Ringling Bros. treats its elephants:

Shirley gave birth on December 5, 2003, at age eight. She was chained by three legs and surrounded by human handlers, who poked her with bullhooks during labor. When the slippery newborn dropped, trainers whisked him away. Riccardo was placed in the care of center training director Jacobson and his wife. His training started at three months, while he was still being bottle-fed. The couple tied ropes to his trunk and feet to get him to climb on the tub or attempt other tricks. By six months, he developed knee problems. “Not laying down, seems to be uncomfortable,” read a notation by the animal care staff for June 15, 2004. “Left rear leg, knee appears to be swollen.” They administered a painkiller and training resumed. On July 9, 2004, another notation said, “Front leg stiff.” He received a painkiller and training resumed.

Four weeks after that entry, the fatal accident occurred. Testimony would later reveal it wasn’t during play, as Feld Entertainment had contended, but during a training exercise while being pulled by a rope tied to his trunk onto a 19-inch-high tub.

Also, the article shows how anemic budgets leads to horrific outcomes:

“You don’t take on an organization like Feld Entertainment without having strong evidence to support it.”

Since the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service has a $16M budget and 111 employees, it doesn’t have the institutional support to go after an organization that earns between $500 million and $1 billion annually.  Therefore, elephants get cruelly abused.

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