Saturday, October 27, 2007

Thanks DNC, for helping our votes not to count

I'm on the way out the door, but this just makes me mad.

It's now even more useless to vote blue in this reddest-of-red states.

Here's a vastly oversimplified timeline:

  1. GOP-controlled Florida Legislature decides to play the "we wanna hold our primary first" game.
  2. Florida Dems decide not to hold a whole separate election even though the existing date would have us voting ahead of the "approved" early voting states.
  3. DNC punishes Florida voters by stripping our delegates (yes, kiddies, that means Florida Dems have no say in who runs for Prez) and telling the candidates not to campaign in the Sunshine State


i'll write more later, i have more to say, and i'm sure there's more to all this that i'm not informed about, but right now it's just one more reason I'm disappointed in the Democrats.

Friday, October 26, 2007


I aced my econ midterm. I made nice with my professors. I got a shit load of stuff done. I was also given a documentary about porn by one of my proffs to watch and write a response paper on over the weekend. Sweet.

Anyways, when I was in Mexico the Naughty Professor and I got a guilty little kick playing a game called "spot the racist advertising". This is a game that will not disappointed my friends. For example.....For the non-Spanish speakers- the sign is supposed to say Precios Chinos, Precios Baratos (or Chinese prices, cheap prices) but instead they go for racism as humor and make fun of a Chinese Spanish speakers accent by replacing all the Rs with Ls. How very Jerry Lewis of them. (Picture is of a scoreboard for a Mexican baseball field- I cannot recommend Mexican baseball games enough. They have much better food).

But it gets better. Today I found an Italian version of a commercial I saw in Mexico that made me drop my jaw and say "NingĂșn usted no!" (Oh no you didn't!)

Sorry for the crappy link to Youtube- there wasn't an embed link and I am not as tech savvy as I like to pretend

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Privilege means never having to say "I'm an idiot!"

Sitting in the hallway outside of the econ classes today were two young white women.

YWW1 :Did you read that thing for class?
YWW2: It's not due till tomorrow.
YWW1: No, it's totally due today.
YWW2: Fuck! What was it about?
YWW1: It's about how white people are privileged and get all the stuff.
YWW2: Seriously, that's like so so so biased! Oh my god!
YWW1: It's even worse- it was written by a white woman.

I think this should alleviate some conservative fears about the indoctrination methods of the uber-liberal ivory tower. You can lead the privileged white girls to water- but you can't make them think!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Why no SCHIP for middle class kids?

Or how to create class warfare without really trying.

Welfare programs are kept strictly limited to the very poorest people for a reason. Once something becomes a universal program (like say social security or free public education for K-12) it is nearly impossible to kill. Conservatives know this. As long as a program is kept restricted to the very bottom of society, the middle class can see itself as benevolent when the mood strikes and will also be less concerned when those programs are de-funded or scrapped altogether.

Let's look at Social Security. Social Security is the third rail of politics- touch it and die. Bush only thought he could get privatization of Social Security though because he had a Republican House and Senate and a large number of younger Gen Xers that think that Social Security isn't going to be around for them anyways- why pay into it now. Even with that- privatizing Social Security was a no-go. It is a universal program, meaning everyone regardless of income gets some benefit from it. There is no means testing (though certain Republicans have floated that idea too) because everyone pays into it and even the richest of the rich get some benefit. Fair- absolutely. They may not need the money, but they paid into it too.

Now let's look at 2 programs that do basically the same thing- they provide people with no job a small income for a limited amount of time- Unemployment insurance and TANF (Temporary Aid for Needy Families). Unemployment is mostly not means tested. The amount of savings, investments, property that you own makes no difference in whether or not you'll receive Unemployment. If your spouse or children work- that makes no difference to Unemployment. If you receive child support- that makes no difference to Unemployment. You simply have to have been laid off from your job and have worked enough hours to have paid into the system. And you have to certify every week that you have looked for work. You don't even have to go into the unemployment office most of the time, just keep a log of where you applied and submit it when asked.

TANF on the other hand is means tested. You cannot own a newer car, have money in savings, a 401K, a retirement fund. You must be flat broke. No one in your home can have any sort of income. If you get child support- it will go to pay back your TANF grant before it goes to you. You must agree to participate in a job search program of no less than 35 hours a week. You must be in the Welfare office everyday looking for work and participating in really asinine programs to teach you how to be "professional". You must agree to having a whole hell of a lot of your life examined by a caseworker.

TANF has had it's programs slashed while the participants requirements have increased. Unemployment, not so much. We don't hear much about the Unemployment Kings taking our hard earned money and spending it on beer and hot rods, but we hear a whole hell of a lot about the worthless single moms on Welfare. Welfare is not universal, but unemployment is for anyone who has been laid off.

So passing SCHIP 10 years ago when it was just supposed to be for kids whose parents were too wealthy for Medicaid (most people who are not on Welfare, including those on Unemployment are too wealthy for Medicaid) but too poor to afford insurance on their own was easy. It's still keeping the means test pretty strict. But once you start including more middle class families, it starts to look more like a universal program. And universal programs generally grow (hello Medicare Drug plans) not shrink.

So when you hear a Republican crying about how SCHIP would cover "wealthy families" what you are really hearing is "and once those families realize it works better than our for profit system, we are never getting rid of it". It's much easier to take from the poor than it is to take from everyone.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Private, employer based healthcare- Bad for business

So I was talking to a couple of student council reps from work the other day (Student Council votes on the funds that pay for my position) and for the 4th time in 4 years I was asked if I would be willing to work more hours if they approved it in the budget.

Of course I would. My willingness and availability has never been the problem with keeping the lab open more hours. The problem is that the school (which is very quietly run by a private company and not by the state) keeps certain employees like lab monitors and tutors in a Walmart style part time ghetto. I am not allowed to work more the 16 hours a week because then the school would have to provide benefits. If I work more the 16 hours a week- I will be fired, period. I am also not eligible for merit or cost of living raises.

So I told the student council people this. I didn't tell them that last year I did the math to figure out what it would cost to employ me full time including benefits. The income increase would only be about $10,000 per year (a huge amount for me but not so much on the grand scale) but the benefits increase would add a minimum of $12,000 per year. That would mean tripling the tech fees that the students pay each quarter - from about 30 dollars a quarter to over 90.

Now if they just wanted to increase the weekly lab hours to 24, I'm fine with that. I don't really want to work full time and I could live on 24 hours a week. But even with an 8 hour weekly increase the $12000 in benefits still applies. Without benefits, the cost to the students in increased tech fees is less than $10 per quarter. With benefits, the increase in fees is over $42 per quarter.

If insurance was universal, then the students could get what they want (more lab hours), I could get what I want (more hours worked and a bigger paycheck and healthcare) and the school would be able to retain experienced tutors and lab personnel rather than having a high turnover rate ( I know at least a few tutors who have moved to the UW because the pay and benefits are better and when I did my little temp position there I was very well taken care of).
This is not a problem that is unique to public education, in fact it more of a problem in the private sector. To keep qualified employees you need to provide benefits, but the cost of health insurance is climbing so fast that it puts an unfair burden on businesses. (I know- I'm a pinko progressive, who would have thought I'd be talking about business needs). How can we expect business to keep hiring people if the cost of health care makes the cost of labor unbearable?

I watch TV

I know- the horrors and shame of being an artsy intellectual who also watches TV. I'm addicted to Heroes (ZOMG I want to have Dr. Surresh's babies!) I love trashy sci-fi like Stargate (before you even ask- I like both SG1 and Atlantis- shudup)and silly British stuff like the League of gentlemen and Red Dwarf.

Sad but true.

I also love Master Piece Theater & Mystery on PBS. Last night was the beginning of "The Amazing Mrs. Pritchard" on Master Piece. It is a sweet and idealistic story about a middle aged woman who accidentally becomes Prime Minister of England (She just meant to run as an independent for an MP spot and managed to start a political party in the process).

This is every bit as much of a fluff piece as The American President was, but that doesn't stop it from having merit. The point in Mrs. Pritchard is that we need to be involved in politics and not keep ourselves away from it out of disgust and frustration. Hey, I'm a poly sci major and even I get apathetic sometimes out of disgust and frustration. Every now and then we need a little something to remind us how awesome the idea of democracy is. And since we no longer have the West Wing to keep our spirits up on a weekly basis, a little dose of British optimism can't hurt. Neither can classic West Wing clips from YouTube

More fun with online dating....

Cause the one thing I do know is that the really awful experiences make for great story telling.

So this guy sends me an email- Hey Gorgeous, would you like to meet sometime.

I check out his profile. His pics are cute but there really isn't anything else written in his profile. My profile looks like fricken Chaucer in comparison, lots of things for someone point out a shared interest in.

But he's kinda cute so I send him this email- Maybe, but I need to know more about you first.

Him: Give me your phone number and I'll call you.

Me: I don't give out my number to men I don't know. Your profile doesn't say much about you. Why don't you tell me about yourself.

Him: There's lots in my profile. What do you want to know. When can we meet for coffee.

Me (after his profile has been changed very very slightly) All your profile says is that your a middle aged man who lives with his parents. From your emails I gathered that you cannot start a conversation and that you are pushy and demanding. I think I have enough information to say that no- I will never be meeting you for anything.

Him (evolving into that strange place that men go when put down by women - you know the I can't form a sentence place): Your a abuser thats why you wil always be alone never cotnact me agin

I think there is a line in Pride and Prejudice about "what do we live for but to make sport for our friends and neighbors". Enjoy the sport my friends.