Tuesday, June 30, 2009


Thomas Jefferson, in a new light.
No, really.
Congratulations, Senator Franken.

Monday, June 29, 2009

150 Years at the Mast

How does putting Bernie Madoff in jail for 150 years help anyone he defrauded?

Shouldn't he have to do something productive that will make it possible for him to pay them all back?

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

smart questions

Hmmm... maybe if mortgage companies had used similar tactics and used data...

Monday, June 22, 2009

Give, Don't Tell

Apparently, among charitable circles, there has been an approximately 14 percent jump in large ($1 million or more), anonymous gifts.


Well, there are many possible reasons.

Two common ones, according to Indiana University’s Center on Philanthropy, are "aversion to solicitations from other charities, and a desire to keep a gift secret from family or friends." Because you don't want your backward, mean, conservative second cousin in Appalachia finding out you gave $3 million dollars to the Foundation for Godless Liberals, even if it does mean she's willing to become an evolution-toting atheist for the sake of the cash. And you don't want the Godless Liberal Foundation barking after its equivalent sum, either.

OK, I guess I can buy that.

Now, some are speculating that this trend reflects Rich Guilt, or not wanting to flaunt one's wealth when so many are suffering. (Tell that to our local Luxury Home Tour). Correspondingly, giving lavishly and publicly could lead to questions like, "Hey, Lou, where'd you get all that spare cash? Little insider trading?"

And who wants that?

I think it's most likely that people are shielding themselves from the capacious need that exists out there nowadays, especially in the social services sector. I guess I can understand that. You have some extra funds; you choose your benefactor; you give; you walk away; no one ever bothers you again; collect your reward in heaven.

Thing is, the people who have a million or more to give, probably do have a few more spare millions to give, and they know it, and that's where the guilt comes in. Proportionately, they have more, and more to spare, and it's just a fact.

My little family is middle class, I guess, though I don't really know what that means, economically. Some shoddy internet research shows me that no one in America really knows what it means, but that most Americans think they are it. The Census Bureau said that the middle 20% of the country earns between $40,000 and $95,000 annually, and a nonprofit reports that it "conventionally" means families with incomes between $25,000 and $100,000 each year. (Please note that "shoddy internet research" means that it took me 12 seconds, I chose PBS because I trust Bill Moyers, and the data is 6 years old). But it was clear from the last campaign, that once poverty was out of the picture with Mr. Edwards, the "middle class" was the siren song of all politicians. In any case, the 40-95 seems more reasonable to me, as there is a gulf of difference between 25 thousand for a family and 100 thousand for a family. So, yeah, we're middle class, by that definition.

I don't give to charity. I am a member of public radio and public TV and a few nonprofit organizations, and I have kept giving to them, but other than that, I am saving money because we could be mere inches away from slipping out of that middle class into hard times, and the safety net is not what it was. If I were giving, would I do it anonymously? Probably not. I don't think that my C-note would set off any bells and whistles around here.

Charity knitted dishcloths, anyone?

Friday, June 19, 2009

The Fly

PETA is kind of upset about The Fly.


Thursday, June 18, 2009

However you look at it, someone has to pay.

Our governor (watch out, America) refused to negotiate on the budget this year, again. If anything includes tax increases, he won't listen to it at all, but he blames the democrats for everything. Since they know he will just veto it, they should not even bother. Thing is, it's Mr. Pawlenty who is being recalcitrant; playing politics instead of being sensible.

He likes to talk about how government needs to live within its means, just like a family. Well, I am thinking that no sane family would sit down to talk about solutions and, out of hand, reject something like, oh, I don't know, raising revenue. Like us. I was cut to 75% at work. Should I have refused the freelance editing project I was offered over the summer?

Someone will always have to pay. Mr. Pawlenty made his own cuts, and many of them will require that my family pay in the end. And most likely, we will be paying more than we would have under the democrats' plan, which raised taxes.

The governor cut 730 million in spending and made up the rest of the 2.65 billion deficit using massive accounting shifts.

I don't know about your family, but massive accounting shifts are not going to help us in any real way here in the McCauley household. I thought that we had pretty much decided that these accounting shifts are gimmicks and are not good for long-term financial health. I could be wrong.

Minnesotans lose 100 million more from state colleges and universities, disabled Minnesotans will receive fewer hours of in-home care, renters' credits drop by 30%, and chemical dependency, emergency housing, and child support grants will be cut, among other things.

The accounting shift is $1.77 billion in education, and is money that will have to be paid back at some future date. Some future date when Mr. Pawlenty is no longer governor.

Here's the thing: if you cut health and human services, does that mean the fewer people need them? If you cut aid to local governments, does that mean that they won't need it? If you cut aid to universities and colleges, does that mean that nothing changes for the students and employees?

Um, no.

It's pushing expenses down and abdicating responsibility, which is what Mr. Pawlenty has been doing for his two terms as governor due to his no-new-taxes pledges. It's all about being able to say that he did not raise taxes but still balanced the budget. It's all about being technically right, which is all you need be when all you need is a soundbyte on the national political stage. Meanwhile, my property taxes go up 12-16% a year or more, even while the value of my house goes down. My school districts have to have referenda to raise money. Tuition goes up for students, and both our jobs are at risk.

And my family is in relatively good shape. What about the people who need health and human services aid? What about renters who rely on that credit? What happens to those who need the help? They will get it somehow, or someway. At some point, the system will have to pay. The need does not go away, it just gets shifted.