Tuesday Night Linkorama

  • Paycheck Fairness is basically a sop to lawyers.
  • While the plagiarism charge won’t wash with the public, here’s a reminder of why it’s important.
  • The DNC drinking game. Gotta love it.
  • Boy do these alternative medicine idiots infuriate me. My opinion of Christian Applegate went up substantially with the way she dealt with her cancer. If my mother had had breast cancer, if I had the BRCA1 gene and if I had cancer at the tender age of 36, I’d have done the exact same thing.
  • It’s getting better all the time:

    The number and percentage of Americans without health insurance actually declined slightly in 2007 compared to 2006. The share without insurance in 2007, 15.3 percent, is actually lower than it was a decade ago.

    Median household income is not falling: “Between 2006 and 2007, real median household income rose 1.3 percent, from $49,568 to $50,233—a level not statistically different from the 1999 prerecession income peak.”

    The share of households earning a middle-class income of between $35,000 and $100,000 in real 2007 dollars has indeed shrunk slightly compared to a decade ago, but so too has the share earning less than $35,000 a year, while the share earning more than $100,000 continues to rise. The middle class is not shrinking; it is moving up.

    The 12.5 percent of Americans living below the poverty line in 2007 was statistically unchanged from 2006, and remains below the 13.3 poverty rate in 1997. The poverty rate has been trending downward since the early 1990s during a time of growing trade and immigration flows.

    The Gini coefficient, a statistical measure of income inequality, was .463 in 2007, down slightly from earlier in the decade and virtually the same as it was a decade ago.

  • China China Chain

    Only Frank Rich could use the Olympics to argue for an Obama presidency:

    [Phelps win] was a rare feel-good moment for a depressed country. But the unsettling subtext of the Olympics has been as resonant for Americans as the Phelps triumph. You couldn’t watch NBC’s weeks of coverage without feeling bombarded by an ascendant China whose superior cache of gold medals and dazzling management of the Games became a proxy for its spectacular commercial and cultural prowess in the new century. Even before the Olympics began, a July CNN poll found that 70 percent of Americans fear China’s economic might — about as many as find America on the wrong track. Americans watching the Olympics could not escape the reality that China in particular and Asia in general will continue to outpace our country in growth while we remain mired in stagnancy and debt (much of it held by China).

    How we dig out of this quagmire is the American story that Obama must tell. It is not a story of endless conflicts abroad but a potentially inspiring tale of serious economic, educational, energy and health-care mobilization at home. We don’t have the time or resources to go off on more quixotic military missions or to indulge in culture wars. (In China, they’re too busy exploiting scientific advances for competitive advantage to reopen settled debates about Darwin.) Americans must band together for change before the new century leaves us completely behind. The Obama campaign actually has plans, however imperfect or provisional, to set us on that path; the McCain campaign offers only disposable Band-Aids typified by the “drill now” mantra that even McCain says will only have a “psychological” effect on gas prices.

    During the Cold War, nitwit Commie sympathizers would often talk about how amazing it was that the Soviet Union did so well in the Olympics. They would also wax poetic about how wonderful their massive parades were and how impressive their engineered programs (particularly their space program) were. They would then use this supposed success to argue that America needed to move in a more collectivist direction. They would, of course, completely ignore the millions of Soviet citizens who were living in desperate poverty (or in gulags) or the oppression that enabled these dubious triumphs. The flash of Olympic gold, apparently, was more revealing than the grim struggle of the Soviet citizens.

    As Russell Roberts points out, history is repeating itself. Rich is using a dubious success and ignoring huge problems to argue for … something.

    Yes, China is growing quickly. Yes, they have mobilized a lot of resources to win gold medals in gymnastics and diving.

    But they are a desperately poor country that represses their people too often, has filthy air, and has a massive problem dealing with an exploding urban population. Their mobilization of resources to win medals in gymnastics and diving is a scandal for such a poor country, not a triumph. Meanwhile, in the United States, we are suffering through a mild something, maybe a recession with unemployment at 5.7%. Our debt problem is minor. The fact that a lot of US debt has been purchased by the Chinese government that will be repaid in dollars that buy a lot less than they used to is tough on the Chinese not us.

    The idea that Obama will have a plan to reverse matters and set us on the right track is simply a fantasy. We will continue to run trade deficits whether Obama or McCain is elected. We will almost certainly run Federal budget deficits under either man as well.

    Finally, Chinese growth is good for the United States. The economic race is not like the Olympic race. It is not zero-sum. In the Olympics, if you win the gold medal, I can’t. In economics, both countries can grow together.

    I enjoyed the hell out of the games but I also know that China’s success was partially based on being able to build facilities wherever they wanted and pulling kids from families for relentless Olympic training. There is a massive difference between that and America’s success, which is built on a free people pursuing athletic excellence on their own accord.

    China’s success at the Olympics only proves what can be done when you have control of 1.3 billion people. It is the much large commercial success which their top-down capitalist reforms have enabled, that are the larger geopolitical story.

    Kosher For Work

    An interesting story about the Postville plant has conservative rabbis demanding fair treatment of workers in order for food to be kosher.

    This is perfectly reasonable and the orthodox rabbis need to have their beards dipped in ink for opposing it.

    For food to be kosher, it can not be processed or transported on the Sabbath. The Bible says very specific things about not abusing those who work for you. Shouldn’t that mean that kosher food must be processed in a plant that is safe on workers?


    God, this sort of ignorant nonsense infuriates me:

    If you had $147,000 to spend on scientific research, would you rather try to find a cure for cancer or see whether women get sexually aroused while watching pornography?

    Or how about this: How much would you spend to learn whether men or women are more likely to sleep with a stranger?

    Or maybe you want to learn whether athlete’s muscles feel more relaxed after getting a massage. Seems kind of obvious, right?

    Each of those questions has been studied by academics, and in most cases taxpayers have foot the bill, sometimes to the tune of tens of thousands of dollars.

    “Oftentimes academic researchers will get government grants to do things that you’ve got to wonder: Why are they doing that?” said Merrill Goozner, director of the integrity in science project at the Center for Science in the Public Interest. “There’s plenty of research out there that doesn’t need to be done, and why somebody funds it is one of the great mysteries of life.”

    This is an agency that has funding of tens of billions of dollars. It’s funded research is peer-approved (obviously a bad things since 535 lawyers clearly know better which issues should be studied). Read the comments for lots of insight. It’s heartening to see people not cowed by this garbage.

    I can think of perfectly valid reasons to study all of these things. Studying porn’s effect on women may provide insight into understanding female sexuality, a subject woefully understudied. Americans spend billions of dollars on massages and it is of scientific interest to see if this actually works.

    But never mind. Let’s just publish a hysterical article.

    T&F Rant, Part II

    Yet more pooch-screwing today by the US track team. They’ve been thoroughly thrashed by Jamaica. And now they don’t even make it out of the first round in the 4×100 relay. They did salvage a bit by sweeping the 400m final.

    In other news, Laura Wilkinson blew two dives. US softball lost for the first time in eight years. Well, at least the May-Walsh held up their end.

    T&F Rant

    American dumbassery at track and field continues. Yesterday, Brad Walker didn’t try a single pole vault until 5.75 meters, the promptly blew all three. Today Breaux Greer set a season best with his first javelin tossed, then passed on his next two throws. He almost didn’t qualify as other athletes passed him.