We almost had what Newt Gingrich would’ve called a “profoundly, fundamentally trans-formative moment” in the 2012 campaign.
According to Businessweek, Gingrich and Rick Santorum nearly agreed to form a “Unity Ticket” in a last ditch effort to win the GOP nomination from Mitt Romney. There was just one problem with a joint ticket between a candidate who loved family values and the candidate who just loved having lots of families:
…the negotiations collapsed in acrimony because Gingrich and Santorum could not agree on who would get to be president.
Easy answer: neither. Neither of you gets to be president.
Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images/Getty Images News
To think, all either lacked was a viable path to the GOP nomination.
Saxby Chambliss as quoted in Politico, re: his view on SSM. The “quip” is supposed to suggest that he’s against marriage equality.
Welcome to the reductio ad absurdum of using personal experience to make public policy. As Brian Beutler tweets: “I’m never going to marry a Saxby Chambliss so Saxby Chamblisses shouldn’t be allowed to marry. #QED”
In the early years of space flight, both Russians and Americans used pencils in space. Unfortunately, pencil lead is made of graphite, a highly conductive material. Snapped graphite leads and particles in zero gravity are hugely problematic, as they will get sucked into the air ventilation or electronic equipment, easily causing shorts or fires in the pure oxygen environment of a capsule.
After the fire in Apollo 1 which killed all the astronauts on board, NASA required a writing instrument that wasn’t a fire hazard. Fisher spent over a million dollars (of his own money) creating a pressurized ball point pen, which NASA bought at $2.95 each. The Russian space program also switched over from pencils shortly after.
40 years later snide morons on the internet still snigger about it, because snide morons on the internet never know what they are talking about.
“I don’t believe they intentionally portrayed the Lucifer character to look like Mr. Obama. I think God guided the hand of the makeup artist and blinded the eyes of everybody on the movie set while it was being recorded, and the spiritual blinders were removed Sunday night when the program was broadcast nationally on the History Channel. How many clues do we need from Heaven to understand that the man in the White House is a devil from Hell?”
What the Parks & Rec Episode “Bailout” (S5EP16) Says About Taxes, Spending and Regulation
Spoilers coming in the next 3 paragraphs: The heart of the episode revolves around the fate of the Pawnee Videodome, an independent video rental business. It’s the kind of place a place where you can rent Cinema Paradiso and Rashomon but not Finding Nemo, whichis viewed by management as populist drivel.
Since few people in Pawnee, Indiana want to rent Rashomon, Videodome finds itself on the verge of going out of business, until Councilwoman Leslie Knope intervenes and pushes through an ordinance granting Videodome historical preservation status and hence a break on its property taxes, as long the owner agrees to take his business in a slightly more populist direction.
Which he does, by turning videodome into a an adult video store (those still exist?). Now the government is implicitly subsidizing porn! It’s a disaster, that’s only mitigated at the end of the episode when the Town of Pawnee takes it upon itself to organize a film screening. The town directly assumes the role of “community center” that had previously been handled by the Videodome.
There’s a lesson here!
There are a couple ways government can try to produce what they see as good outcomes in the societies they govern: 1) they can nudge people toward certain behaviors through regulation, tax deductions, local ordinances or 2) they can tax people and then spend the money on whatever elected officials believe to be worthy projects.
Designating the Videodome a historic site in the hopes that it will continue to function as a community resource is an example of option 1. Using taxpayer dollars to show a film in town hall is option 2.
The lesson of “Bailout” is that option two is usually superior as a matter of policy, even though option one is very attractive to governments.
You see this in the real-world all the time.
Among center-left economists the most popular plan for alleviating poverty is GIVE POOR PEOPLE MONEY. This can take the form of an expanded EITC or more ambitiously, a Guaranteed Annual Income, which would available even to people who aren’t working.
But among center-left politicians, raising the minimum wage is much more popular than direct spending on welfare. Easy to see why this is so. Besides being way more popular with voters, except for the cost of enforcement, the cost of the minimum wage isn’t borne by the government.
But just because the costs of the minimum wage are less transparent than direct spending on the poor doesn’t mean the costs don’t exist. They just don’t show up on government ledgers.
This shows up in affordable housing policy as well. One way to get shelter to those who need it is to require developers to set aside a certain portion of new developments as below-market-rate housing. Local governments love this because it’s “free.”
But the better idea, again, is to just give low-income people money or vouchers (a la Section 8).
Basically, time to get out from the shadows of regulations, subsidies and tax deductions and walk forthrightly into the bright sunshine of taxing people for the services they want and then spending the damn money. So says Parks and Rec.
After visiting the Italian president yesterday (“Giorgio! What’s shakin’?”), Vice President Joe Biden, the leader of the U.S. delegation to Pope Francis’ formal installation, met the new pope earlier today. We have to pray/assume/believe it went like this:
“I have come to believe that if two people are prepared to make a lifetime commitment to love and care for each other in good times and in bad, the government shouldn’t deny them the opportunity to get married. That isn’t how I’ve always felt. As a congressman, and more recently as a senator, I opposed marriage for same-sex couples. Then something happened that led me to think through my position in a much deeper way.
Two years ago, my son Will, then a college freshman, told my wife, Jane, and me that he is gay…”
- Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH), announcing that after wrestling with the issue, he now supports marriage equality.
Now if only one of the Portman kids could come out as poor or unemployed, maybe Congress could pass a decent budget.
That Rob Portman — an actual honest-to-God Republican Senator and not just a has-been party operative or a GOP flack looking to be an MSNBC contributor — supports marriage equality is awesome. All hail Rob Portman and his son.
I only wish politicians of all ideological stripes would learn to generalize from something other than their immediate experience.
Does everyone remember Sen. Mark Kirk, the Illinois Senator who suffered a stroke and then realized that stroke victims on Medicaid may not be receiving optimal care? This is from the Chicago Sun-Times:
“I will look much more carefully at the Illinois Medicaid program to see how my fellow citizens are being cared for who have no income and if they suffer from a stroke,” Kirk said. He said in general a person on Medicaid would be allowed 11 rehab visits in Illinois.
“Had I been limited to that I would have had no chance to recover like I did. So unlike before suffering the stroke, I’m much more focused on Medicaid and what my fellow citizens face.”
I’m glad he cares about low-income Illinoisans who have suffered strokes! But there are also lots of people on Medicaid who have diabetes or heart disease or cancer and they all need help too. And beyond Medicaid, the poor need housing and transportation and affordable child care and food and heaven-forbid, actual money, so that they won’t be so poor anymore.
I struggle with empathy quite a bit, but I don’t need to have a stroke to realize that low-income people need access to high-quality medicine and a a slew of other services.
So, back to Portman. It’s great that his son came out. It’s a reminder that announcing your sexual identity to your family is a very powerful political act. It’s great that Portman supports SSM now. No snark about that.
But we can’t have policy being made entirely based on personal experience. Portman probably doesn’t have a transgender son. Or a Muslim son living in Pakistan. Or a daughter who can’t pay the rent. But the policies he helps make in Washington affects all those people and it’s not asking too much to expect elected officials to base their policy views on something other than their family circumstances.