Wednesday, March 25, 2009
Time was when it was understood that a government job offered generous benefits and job safety, even if wages were lower. The reality is that the government in most instances pays its workers far more than comparable jobs in the private sector, in addition to superior benefits. Government workers have become a politically protected constituency whose interests are at odds with taxpayers -- in the (high) pay and benefits they receive and the (low) level of service they provide.
While private sector employees are facing steep layoffs, politically protected workers resist even moderate concessions, as in New York where Governor Paterson plans to lay off 8,900 state workers because the stubborn union wouldn't accept delaying a 3 percent pay increase.
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
And here is some of what you will see:
Cremations, performed by sons of the deceased with help from professionals.
Sadhus, Hindu holy men.
A mirror-like effect of multiple arches.
I will post more photos and recommendations about Nepal in due course.
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
Sikh: Do you smoke cigarettes? [He actually said: Do you know about Sikhism?]
Me: No, I don't smoke.
Sikh: What would you like to know about cigarettes?
Me: What would I like to know about cigarettes?
My wife: Sikhism.
Sikh: Yes, we talk about Sikhism now, not cigarettes.
Me: Oh, Sikhism. I don't know much about it.
Sunday, March 15, 2009
Thursday, March 12, 2009
Time and again Washington's Congressrogues put their crass personal intersts ahead of the public weal. Exhibit A from the new $410 billion federal spending package is the pork destined for Massachusetts, where more than one out of five dollars is going to preserve the Kennedy family legacy. Will a new Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the Senate cure what ails the Bay State? Is it appropriate to honor a still living politician whose legacy is very much debatable? Are there not conflicts of interest in lavishly funding a monument to a still powerful policitian? Given all the dishonor associated with the Kennedy name -- the disgraces are too numerous to name, but Chappaquiddick would top any list -- it does make political sense that rewriting the Kennedy legacy would be a legislative priority for Massachusetts' ailing senator and his allies.
Thursday, March 5, 2009
Wednesday, March 4, 2009
For better explanations of the deepening economic sclerosis, I recommend these (related) pieces by Will Wilkinson and Jim Manzi.
President Obama's pick for U.S. Trade Representative, Ron Kirk, will need to amend his tax returns to pay some $10,000 in additional tax on income he did not report. This comes on the heels of other Obama nominees Tim Geithner (Secretary of the Treasury); Tom Daschle (who withdrew his candidacy for HHS Secretary); and Nancy Killefer (who was to be our chief performance officer). It seems reasonable to estimate that this sample is indicative of a wider phenomenon among the Washington power elite. (Remember Eleanor Holmes Norton, who hadn't paid taxes for 11 years before becoming the District of Columbia's representative in Congress?) And yet this same set of wretched politicians blithely hike taxes on the little people. We need a transparent and public mechanism to ensure compliance with tax laws among all elected officials. If they had more skin in the game, they might show more restraint in their revenue decisions.
Tuesday, March 3, 2009
But Cruise really looks like Stauffenberg. And as for not being "grizzly" enough, Stauffenberg was 36, whereas Cruise is 46.
Their first attempt failed when the bomb did not go off. So, enter Cruise, playing Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg, to do the job.
Quite why an American pretty boy, Botox-fresh in his facial lines, had to play this crucial role is not explained. Cruise looks like a boy doing a grizzly veteran’s job.
Most everything else in the review is stupid as well.
Moderates now find themselves betwixt and between. On the left, there is a president who appears to be, as Crook says, “a conviction politician, a bold progressive liberal.” On the right, there are the Rush Limbaugh brigades. The only thing more scary than Obama’s experiment is the thought that it might fail and the political power will swing over to a Republican Party that is currently unfit to wield it.Granted, the way the right talks about the center is no better. But if center and right can't find some common ground in the current situation, they never will. And America will suffer for it.
Monday, March 2, 2009
This is a story of speculative excess and backlash. It involves commodity prices surging and then plunging, risks spreading through interconnected markets, and financial institutions taking on unexpected exposures and scrambling into mergers to survive.
So it is that the silver crisis of 1980 echoes into the troubled financial present with historical parallels and precedents. The crisis stemmed from an effort by the billionaire Hunt brothers of Texas and collaborators to dominate the world silver market. This effort encountered resistance from public and private players alike, and when it failed it largely wiped out some Texas-sized fortunes.
Moreover, the crisis put at risk a major investment firm, Bache, impelling its acquisition by Prudential and setting off a wave of consolidations in the financial sector. The era of the “financial supermarket,” to which Citigroup’s recent travails arguably signal an approaching end, took shape in significant part as a consequence of silver’s wild swings nearly three decades ago.
Sunday, March 1, 2009
UPDATE: Something along these lines is more obvious than I'd realized. I failed to notice that the piano player isn't there when Tigh and the others show up in response to the song.