Great moments in legislation

It is extraordinary the things that some legislators worry about. The Judiciary Committee of the state legislature of North Carolina has approved House Bill 34 that seeks to protect the citizens of that state from being traumatized by seeing the ‘private parts’ of people who may willfully expose them in any public place. This was apparently triggered by a topless rally held in Asheville last year by women protesting that men are allowed to be topless in public while women are not, and demanding equality. [Read more…]

Choosing health care providers by race

Some of you may have read about the situation that arose in a Detroit hospital where a father requested that no black nurses touch his newborn child and on the surface it appears that the hospital tried to comply with his wishes. To my surprise, the news report says that it is an ‘open secret’ for requests to be made that treatment not be provided by doctors and nurses of a different race and for those requests to be accommodated as much as possible. [Read more…]

A frightening thought

Remember one-time Assistant Secretary of State and multiple-times Republican presidential candidate Alan Keyes? He is the person responsible for the website Kung Fu Monkey creating the ‘crazification factor’, i.e., for quantifying exactly what percentage of the US population is so nuts that it will buy into any proposition, however extreme. That figure is 27%. [Read more…]

More on the Wall Street-Treasury revolving door

I have been writing about the revolving door between Wall Street and the government. Yesterday’s Wall Street Journal has an article that sheds an interesting light on this process and how favorably it is viewed by Wall Street. It concerns primarily Jack Lew, president Obama’s current Chief of Staff and nominee to be Treasury Secretary. [Read more…]

Needed: A Robin Hood tax on the banks

Across Europe, a movement has started to implement what is called a Robin Hood Tax that seeks to levy a small tax on financial transactions that would produce large amounts of revenue to pay for much-needed public services. The details can be seen here.

The Robin Hood Tax is gaining support. The European Parliament in December 2012 voted 533 to 91 (with 32 abstaining) in favor of the Financial Transaction Tax, which is the same idea as the Robin Hood Tax, and then last month the European Union gave approval to 11 countries to implement it.

Although there has been some support for such an idea in the US (by people such as by Nobel prize-winning economists Paul Krugman and Joseph Stiglitz), I am surprised that there has been no organized movement (at least as far as I am aware) that has been pushing for it. The European countries are way ahead on this.

The chief European exception is the UK, whose government seems to be as servile to the banking sector as the US, providing it with the same kinds of subsidies and bailouts that we in the US are drearily accustomed to. The Conservative government there is pushing for the same kinds of austerity measures that the oligarchy loves to advocate since it does not affect them in the least but instead causes massive suffering to ordinary people, as we can see in Greece, Spain, Portugal, Italy, and the UK.

You can be sure the oligarchy in the US that, like in the UK, is dominated by the financial sector will fight this vigorously. The very name ‘Robin Hood’ is sufficient to give the US oligarchy and its media lackeys the vapors.

That excellent British character actor Bill Nighy (who is not as well known in the US as he should be) is a supporter of the Robin Hood Tax and has taken part in the following spot that explains it. He captures the shiftiness of opponents perfectly.

The health care rip-off

I was chatting one day with the handyman who does stuff at our house and was shocked at the prices that he and his wife (who is also self-employed) have to pay to buy health insurance. Even after paying so much, that coverage provides much less than what my wife and I have through her employer-based insurance. For even routine medical procedures, he pays far more out-of-pocket than I do. [Read more…]

The mystery of Stonehenge

StonehengeThe Stonehenge site in England is a popular tourist attraction, especially at the time of the summer solstice when mystical rites are conducted by druids. The collection of massive stones was arranged in a circle some time between 3,000 BCE – 2,000 BCE but the origins and purpose are unknown and have spawned many theories as to what was the point of it all. After all, it must been incredibly hard to make it and so required a strong motive. [Read more…]

Krugman lets loose

Economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman is clearly so fed up with the quality of public discourse on budget issues and the kinds of people the media hold up as being authorities that he departs from his usual measured language. This time he unloads on the execrable Alan Simpson, the former senator and co-chair of the Simpson-Bowles deficit cutting commission created by president Obama. [Read more…]

It is wrong to abuse the kindness of strangers

Yesterday morning we had a mixture of rain and sleet that resulted in the streets and sidewalks having the kind of icy slush that makes walking tricky. As I was making my way across campus for a seminar, I slipped and fell. It occurred at almost exactly the same time as a plane slid off the tarmac and ended up stuck in the grassy median while taxiing to the terminal at the Cleveland airport, which gives some indication of the slipperiness. [Read more…]