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March 01, 2007

News roundup

-Twelve-year-old Deamonte Driver, a poor kid with with no dental coverage, died of an abscessed tooth.

-There was a break-in over the weekend at New Hamshire Democratic Party headquarters in Concord. Five weeks earlier, the NHDP headquarters in Manchester were broken into. The Manchester thieves didn't take anything, but the Concord burglars took laptops and other equipment. If I had the raw data, I'd like to sit down and calculate the odds of either of these buildings being getting an ordinary criminal break-in this year, relative to the crime rates in their respective neighborhoods. The odds of both of them getting hit are easy to caluculate from there. Rare coincidences happen, but I'd like to know exactly how rare this coincidence is supposed to be.

-The number of severely poor Americans is growing, according to an analysis by McClatchey Newspapers.  More Americans now live in severe poverty than at any time in the past 32 years. Severe poverty is roughly equivalent to in income of $5000/year for an individual or 10,000/year for a family of four.

-TechPresident has an interesting post on the coming MySpace wars of '08. Will candidates seek and destroy favorable/unfavorable pages on MySpace? 

-Where does John Edwards stand on immigration?

Update: Hunger kills 18,000 kids each day, and nearly 1 billion people go to bed hungry every night, the head of the UN Food Agency reports. [HT: ChrisR]


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Oh now we want to play that game. Ok. I went to (blank). Then you will grab the latest US News and pick a school that is high on their rankings. All I will say is this, I went to a top 15 law school that is East of the Mississippi.

Wow, at least I am drunk and just cursing. You actually played "My law school is better than yours" card. Nice!

Just correcting you, B-Money.

By the way "Top 15" is lawyer for "Not Top 10."

I can say mine first if you want.

See! I love being right! I picked an arbitrary range just to see what you said. I bet you spend a lot of time flaming people on Greedy Associate boards on findlaw about where they went to law school. You seem to be jerkoff like that.

I know many lawyers that went to law schools much "worse" than mine in the so called "rankings" who are better lawyers than people I graduated with and others who I know went to better law schools than I did. In the end, your law school pedigree only matters if you want to be a SC Justice. Or in circles with jerkoffs who think they are socially superior because they went to NYU or Harvard or Stanford while someone else "only" went to Duke, Northwestern or Penn.

Ha. The rankings are pretty silly. Of course, you tried to pull status on me by saying I couldn't get into law school at all, so it hardly seems off-topic to point out that mine is more selective than yours.

It's not NYU, Harvard, or Stanford, by the way.

And we share an aversion to the jerkoffs at those message boards, so at least there's that.

Well, based on superiority complex you are throwing out, it has to be Yale or Princeton. Other than the schools I listed, no one I have met from other top 25 schools flaunts their school. It is almost always Yale, Princeton, Harvard, NYU, Stanford and Berkley people. Oh, maybe Berkley for you. ;)

As for my insulting you, I was only returning the favor. And yes, we can agree the rankings are silly and that there are an inordinate amount of jerkoffs on the Greedy Associate boards. I used to think that I could post a legit question there and get a legit answer. Ah, yeah, no! Good to know that you are one of those jerkoffs!

If you met someone who told you they went to Princeton Law School, you've been tricked. Wikipedia it.

I was making a joke about our mutual profession. Lighten up.

And no, I don't post on those boards. I'm smart enough to avoid them. Now that's Princeton Law School smart.

HA! That is hilarious! You know, I had heard that at a party several years back and thought it was just drunken babble and never follwoed up on it and actually forgot about it til you mentioned it. I definitely have an e-mail to send tomorrow! It was only one person that I actually met, but they definitely will get shit. I am still laughing! HA!

Ah yes, the lawyer jokes. Too often here they are not light hearted and are actually very mean spirited. Oh well, my apologies for over reacting.

No worries. Now I just love the idea of someone going around telling people at parties that they went to Princeton Law.

Well, OK, sounds like people are taking up Ben Dover on his or her suggestions for posting thoughtfully. Let me try:


Nope. I guess I'm just too stupid to see the value in it. But enjoy.

When I was a little Granny always told me that it was other countries who owed US money.

Gee whiz, golly, willikers! My, my, how things have changed.

"So while I feel I should take offense to your tone and what I suspect was an insult, I will not. You do not know me so I will take your question as exploratory rather than inflammatory."

B-Money, apologies about my tone. I was merely curious.

"Now I have an accountant whom I trust immensely and do not need to waste my time with a topic I have have no time to learn."

Do you feel that your understanding of America's situation in the world would be enhanced if you had a better understanding of economics? Do you think perhaps your view of America's situation in the world would be altered if you knew more facts like the one you learned above (that America is in debt to China)?

BEN DOVER SAID You really need to grow up and obtain some actual experience. Also, you need to be intellectually honest and consistent in your application of your "beliefs", as you clearly are not.

hey Mr or Mrs. Ben Dover....quick question...can i read your senior thesis?

i'd like to do that so i can analyze your thought patterns over a long period. this way, i can see just how 'consistent' you are with your consistently consistent value system.

do you change your mind when you are looking at several items in a shopping aisle?

i would place a large bet with real money right now that as a consumer in a capitalistic society, you probably change your mind all the time....

The basics of our dilemma aren't hard to grasp. Our government doesn't take in enough revenue anymore, due largely to declining productivity, to pay for its current "lifestyle". If it wants to go to war in Iraq, meet its Social Security obligations, or unveil a new class of nuclear submarine, it has to do so with borrowed (largely Asian) money. And as is the case with individuals, lenders will only to lend to a debtor a.) as long as they feel its in their own interest, and b.) as long as they feel they'll be paid back some day, WITH interest. The question that remains to be answered is whether our economic power will continue to slowly deflate, as is happening right now, or whether we're going to be facing a crash and a frantic sell-off of the dollar at some point.

And no, there isn't any more room at my rural compound, so don't even ask.

And as is the case with individuals, lenders will only to lend to a debtor a.) as long as they feel its in their own interest, and b.) as long as they feel they'll be paid back some day, WITH interest.

part of the reason our economy is in a funk are the creditor/debtor relationships. think about your credit cards today...depending on where you apply, you could land upwards of $90 in late charges, interest, etc for missing a simple $15 minimum payment. many individuals use their credit cards to start a business in today's 'ownership society'.

Where is the equity in that? You could have spent that money years ago for your person or business.
Perhaps later in your business cycle you may wind up missing just one payment. Of course in today's credit card world, you will destroy your credit for the next 24 months if you have compounded money intake issues with your business. Even if the money flow issue that's causing your business to distress isn't the fault of your business acumen.

These credit companies and their 'rent to own' subsidiaries love to brag about how they are profitable and offering a much needed 'service' to many of our poorest, most vulnerable citizens...

and we wonder why the lower lower class can't advance to upper lower class status here in boom economy america without working 3 jobs simultaneously.

policies, both public and private, on many levels are failing us.

in fairly short order...the 'ownership society' will be owned outright by our creditors...and you, the consumer, will be OWNED and sent to work in a flophouse if you can afford to work at all.

"When I was a little Granny always told me that it was other countries who owed US money.Gee whiz, golly, willikers! My, my, how things have changed."

America went from being the world's largest creditor to being the world's largest debtor while Reagan was president. The situation improved slightly during the boom of the 90s, but has since sharply reversed. We are now more deeply in debt to other countries than ever before.

"Our government doesn't take in enough revenue anymore, due largely to declining productivity, to pay for its current "lifestyle"."

I'm not sure how you mean the word "productivity". I'll assume you mean labor productivity. Labor productivity was stagnant during the period 1973 -1995. It has since revived and is now growing strongly.

Government debt is only a part of total American indebtedness, but it is an important part. The main problem is the lack of political will to bring revenues into line with expenses. America must either dramatically slash government spending, or it must dramatically raise taxes, or it must pursue some combination of the two. The current situation of massive, run away debt is unsustainable and will end badly unless the government gets the situation under control.

Were taxes still at the level they were when Nixon was President, we would not have a budget deficit.

>and we wonder why the lower lower class can't advance to upper lower class status here in boom economy america without working 3 jobs simultaneously.

The ultra-right (or just the right?) in America used to save their reddest, most apoplectic faces for socialist Europe. They were our allies, so we couldn't demonize them like we did the Communists, and they were affluent, so we couldn't lord it over them like we did over the 3rd World, so all the rightists here could do was sputter and yell and scream about it when they obviously succeeded in certain ways. Nowadays, since that Reagan era, and certainly since the Clinton era, it's well-reported that there is easier social mobility in Europe than in the US. It's easier to change class there.

We've sometimes lost faith in our politicians, but oh, our childlike, bounteous faith in our capitalism. It's been for so long the only way we can see to live, that now that it's failing, we can't see that either. But it is failing. Our way of life is not working.

The irony is that the military-industrial complex is nothing but a massive system of state-socialism itself. Lockheed-Martin, Raytheon, Halliburton amongst others, not to mention thousands of smaller fish, are dependent on constant infusions of taxpayer money to survive, and the system is so arranged that Congress can't say no. Everyone's district has some stake (jobs and tax revenue) in missile defense, truck radiators, or the next generation of jet fighter, and standing against it will predictably cost that Congressperson his or her job. The fact that a new $2.3 billion submarine contributes nothing to our national security never enters the argument.

Lawrence was of course right that I misused the word "productivity". Substitute: loss of manufacturing, a massive trade deficit and declining corporate tax revenues.

Now, everyone go and read this:

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