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Archive for the ‘Public Policy’ Category

More Union songs here!

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Make a contribution to National Association of Free Clinics today.

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Photograph shows a crowd of African Americans and whites surrounding the Reflecting Pool and continuing to the Washington Monument.  1963 Aug. 28.  Warren K. Leffler, photographer (Library of Congress)

"Photograph shows a crowd of African Americans and whites surrounding the Reflecting Pool and continuing to the Washington Monument." 1963 Aug. 28. Warren K. Leffler, photographer (Library of Congress)

God, the lies conservatives spout when it comes to the perceived evils of giving people rights. During a good chunk of the 20th century, we were told such convenient myths about desegregation like property values would decline if black people moved into a neighborhood (a lie created by real estate agents looking to artificially deflate and then re-inflate the worth of homes), not to mention the horrors of interracial sex (which one supposes came true for racists with the rise of Barack Obama), rampant black crime in whites’ nice suburbs, and so very much more.

There’s not a nickel’s worth of difference between the mobs of white people shouting at black children walking into a newly-integrated school and the people standing up and shouting at members of Congress at town halls. And they have to be fought in much the same way, which means the government needs to ignore them.

[snip]

Mostly, though, there’s only one real solution: Democrats have to have the guts to tell Republicans that they’re no longer part of the process. They have not negotiated in good faith and they’re not gonna vote for shit, no matter how watered down. It’s gotta be “Fuck off, fuckers” and bar the door and pass what needs passing.

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Detroit, Michigan. Chrysler girls shopping for pocketbooks following a style show presented by the Chrysler Girls Club of the Chrysler Corporation at Saks Fifth Avenue store.  Fall 1942

Detroit, Michigan. Chrysler girls shopping for pocketbooks following a style show presented by the Chrysler Girls' Club of the Chrysler Corporation at Saks Fifth Avenue store. Fall 1942

(TPMCafe) The media coverage of the auto bailouts has focused on the need for union autoworkers to take big pay cuts, causing them to once again miss the real story. The Fiat-Chrysler deal shows that the pay problem is at the top, not the bottom. At the end of the day, the new Chrysler is still likely to be producing most of its cars in the United States. What the new company will be getting from abroad is technology and top management.

This big story was so easily missed because it runs against one of the main myths that our elites have cultivated about the US economy: that the country has a “comparative advantage” in highly skilled labor. In this story, the United States will continue to lose manufacturing and other “less-skilled” jobs as its economy becomes more concentrated in highly skilled sectors. This story was convenient for our elites because it meant that the decline of manufacturing was a necessary, if sometimes painful, part of a natural economic progression.

It also justified the growing inequality in US society that benefited not just Wall Street bankers and CEOs, but also millions of doctors, lawyers, economists, and other highly educated workers. These people took their six-figure salaries as a birthright, even as the pay of less educated workers stagnated or declined.

Not only is the current way of operating unfair but, lest we forget, “workers” are “consumers” and “consumers drive the economy.”

Go read the whole thing here. It’s not long.

And while you are at it, take a look at this brief paper by David E. Bloom and David Canning of the Harvard School of Public Health:

Group of federal employees waiting for treatment at the Public Health Service Dispensary #32, which has recently been opened for the exclusive benefit of government workers (between 1909 and 1932)

Group of federal employees waiting for treatment at the Public Health Service Dispensary #32, which has recently been opened for the exclusive benefit of government workers (between 1909 and 1932)

A great deal of the literature on economic growth has been devoted to studying the impact of education on aggregate economic performance and comparing the results with the rate
of return to education identified by the Mincer (1974) log wage equation. We believe that ours is the first study to compare the estimates of the macroeconomic effect of health on output with the
microeconomic estimates of the effect of health on wages now available.

We estimate that a one percentage point increase in adult survival rates increases labor productivity by about 2.8 percent, with a 95 percent confidence interval of 1.2 to 4.3 percent.

All emphasis mine.

(Cross-posted at Know Your Government)

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Allegorical mural paintings on dome of Manufacturers Building, Chicago Worlds Fair, 1893: Wood, Iron, Stone, Hemp (by Simmons) c. 1893

Allegorical mural paintings on dome of Manufacturer's Building, Chicago World's Fair, 1893: "Wood, Iron, Stone, Hemp" (by Simmons) c. 1893

This is a perfect argument for ending the prohibition on marijuana use in this country. No surprise we haven’t heard a report from Lou Dobbs about Americans selling AK-47s and other weapons to drug gangs in Mexico.

As long as we’ve opened the subject, let’s look at some other reasons why the prohibition should be lifted. I’m going to ignore the obvious canards about “the dangers of marijuana” (all of which apply equally to alcohol) and move on to legitimate arguments.

Marijuana is the top cash crop in 11 states, second or third in another 19 states. Arizona and Alabama are the third and fourth largest producers, behind California and Hawaii. In addition to providing significant tax revenues from the sale of marijuana, the lifting of the prohibition would mean that industrial hemp could be grown and products made from it could be sold in the United States.

Konoplianoe pole (Hemp field), Russia, 1910

"Konoplianoe pole" (Hemp field), Russia, 1910

(USDA Imports of raw hemp fiber have increased dramatically in the last few years, rising from less than 500 pounds in 1994 to over 1.5 million pounds for the first 9 months of 1999 (table 1). Yarn imports also have risen substantially, peaking at slightly less than 625,000 pounds in 1997. The switch from yarn to raw fiber in the last 2 years probably reflects the development of U.S. spinning capacity. At least two companies are now spinning hemp yarn from imported fibers (Gross,1997). According to industry sources, domestic spinning capacity for hemp was not available earlier in the decade. No direct information is available on the uses of the yarn, but it is likely used to manufacture apparel, household furnishings, and/or floor coverings.

It’s a new century. Isn’t it past time to let go of a prohibition which hurts us in countless ways and protects us from nothing?

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UPDATE: Well, the premise of what I wrote remains true. But it turns out that Fairey lied about a lot of things.

Crooks & Liars alerts us to a USA Today report that the Associated Press is going after Shepard Fairey.

The photograph which formed the basis of Mr. Fairey’s iconic “Hope” poster used by the Obama presidential campaign was taken by free-lance photographer Mannie Garcia and is owned by the AP.

The AP thinks it should share in Mr. Fairey’s profits.

Campbell’s Soup never sued Andy Warhol for violation of fair use.

In a paper titled “Preserving Fair Use In The Digital Age,” Barry Steinhardt wrote:

Fair use has allowed artists of all types to enrich our culture with their views of the world around us. Consider the work of painters like Andy Warhol, who composed numerous works with such images as Campbell’s Soup cans and photographs of Marilyn Monroe — images that were protected under intellectual property laws.

Consider, too, the work of Jean-Michel Basquiat, who paid homage to musicians like Miles Davis by including lyrics to their (copyrighted) songs in his paintings. Without fair use, these artists might have been branded as outlaws.

Unfortunately, this specter of legal liability (through new ill-conceived intellectual property laws) may jeopardize the work of more recent artists, many of whom now use the digital domain as a medium for their creative endeavors.

Campbells Soup Cans by Andy Warhol, 1962 (Synthetic polymer paint on canvas, each 20 × 16, in Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY)

Campbell's Soup Cans by Andy Warhol, 1962 (Synthetic polymer paint on canvas, each 20 × 16, in Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY)

I hope Mr. Fairey gets some backers to pay his lawyers because obviously the AP can afford to spend a lot. But I think Mr. Fairey could well win this one.

In Mr. Steinhardt’s paper, he indicates that:

In determining whether the use made of a work in any particular case is a fair use the factors to be considered shall include:

“(1) the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;
“(2) the nature of the copyrighted work;
“(3) the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and
“(4) the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.”

Mr. Fairey’s use does not have any effect on “the potential market for or value of” the original photograph. As far as “amount and substantiality of the portion,” one would be hard pressed to recognize the original photograph in the artwork at all. I would be extremely surprised if anyone at the AP or Mannie Garcia even figured out without being told that the photo in question had been used. Without those two factors, it would seem to me that the AP’s claim lacks merit.

The USA Today story includes a side-by-side of Mr. Fairey’s “Hope” poster and the original photograph. Go look yourself.

Do you think the AP or Mannie Garcia have a legitimate beef?

I think the AP is just pissed because their mancrush John McCain lost the election.

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Public Library, Norfolk, Virginia (between 1900 and 1906)

Public Library, Norfolk, Virginia (between 1900 and 1906)

(Philly.com Daily News)Delaware County’s Darby Free Library, which was founded in 1743 and is believed to be the oldest continuously operating public library in America, will be forced to close its doors at year’s end if somebody doesn’t write a fat check, the Daily News has learned.

Public library (Memorial Hall), Northampton, Massachusetts (1907)

Public library (Memorial Hall), Northampton, Massachusetts (1907)

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Founded by 29 Quaker townsmen, the library received its first shipment of 45 volumes from London in November 1743, with the assistance of botanist John Bartram.

“It’s older than our country,” said Raymond Trent, a longtime bibliographic assistant at the University of Pennsylvania Law School who has donated books, DVDs and other reference materials to Darby’s library.

Public Library, Concord, Massachusetts (between 1900 and 1910)

Public Library, Concord, Massachusetts (between 1900 and 1910)

* * *

Some books from its original collection – including John Milton’s Paradise Lost and Paradise Regained and Sir Walter Raleigh’s The History of the World – are still displayed in the two-story brick building, built by Charles Bonsall in 1872 at a cost of $8,895.54. Others are at the Library Company of Philadelphia, founded by Benjamin Franklin in 1731 as a subscription library.

While the historical significance of Darby’s library —  located in a rough-and-tumble town that was once a stop on the Underground Railroad – –  cannot be overstated, there is also a practical reason to keep it open, supporters say.

It provides high-speed Internet access to the borough of 10,000 residents, some of whom can’t afford a computer, and a safe haven for schoolchildren to do research and homework, said Jan Haigis, who sits on the Darby Library Company board.

Public library, Laconia, New Hampshire (1908)

Public library, Laconia, New Hampshire (1908)

It would be a terrible injury, not just to the immediate community but to the country, were this library to close. It is especially important to keep our community libraries open during a difficult economic time. Libraries are a shared common resource that make our communities better places.

Let’s not disappoint all these kids who are finding renewed interest in their schoolwork from the example of President Obama. Keep Darby and all libraries open. Make a contribution to the Darby Library Company, P.O. Box 164, Darby, PA 19023 (tax-deductible), or to your own town library, or both.

h/t Crooks & Liars

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