Thursday, April 7, 2011

What Could Possible Go Wrong?

Florida, it seems, wants to continue the radical Neoliberal agenda of creating ever more unregulated markets:
A controversial bill that would deregulate 20 professions and industries passed the House on Thursday by a vote of 77 to 38. The bill ends oversight for everything from auctioneers and interior designers to hair braiders, intrastate movers, auto repair shops, telemarketers and charitable organizations. Opponents say HB 5005 is a threat to consumer protection.
Not surprisingly, Matthew Yglesias thinks that this is "right on." After all, what could possible go with unregulated telemarketers acting as the agents of unregulated charities? It's not as if regulations rigorously enforced could stop crooks, sort of like lax regulation enforcement isn't in anyway responsible for the recent Southwest Airlines debacle.

Here in Wisconsin: Election Edition

Why did Madison vote Soglin in? I have no idea. Meanwhile some bufflahead over to the NRO argues that if you ignore the votes of many Wisconsonians Prosser would have won.  While true, it's not clear to me what the point is, other than the obvious: people with whom he disagrees ought not be allowed to vote. Kloppenberg had zero hope of winning just a few short weeks ago; Conservatives and the Right more generally want you to forget that Prosser was appointed with limited experience and that he actively asserted his lack of independent judgment as a qualification for continued service.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Here In Wisconsin: Relative Incompetence Edition

Yesterday, I learned that Scott Walker hired an incompetent for a key position in the State government. Today Walker, showing the extent of his integrity and commitment to merit, acted and
 announced that Brian Deschane would be sent back to the Department of Regulation and Licensing where he worked earlier this year as the bureau director of board services — a job that paid $64,728 a year.
Great, an incompetent boob has been removed from a position for which he has none of the necessary skills, abilities, or experience and replaced in a position for which he has none of the necessary skills, abilities, or experience.

What are these people thinking?

Chris Rickert: Missing the Point

In his column today, Chris Rickert furthered his reputation for missing the point and engaging in obfuscation. On the Cronon affair he writes:
The state Republican Party responds by seeking to comb through his university email account and suddenly everyone from the New York Times editorial page to The Atlantic magazine is condemning the request as a fishing expedition aimed at intimidating Cronon and his learned ilk from speaking out.
It was. But so what?
When one party to a dispute is engaged in wrong-headed behavior you criticized them for it. No one should, and as far as I know, no one has argued that professors ought never be subject to open records requests. For example, emails and other documents dealing with hiring, promotion, and tenure decision are, regardless of motivation, clearly legitimate. In this case, however, as Rickert understand there is no misuse of office and the Republicans are engaged in intimidation. He, and the WSJ more generally, ought to condemn this.

So he is a bit dim. But he is also dishonest. Remember It Happened One Night? Clark Gable played a sort of loud-mouthed know-it-all reporter who really didn't know it all. He was constantly saying he could write a book about, for example, hitch hiking even as he failed to get a ride. Rickert tries to engage know it all and cynical discourse and, of course, he fails to understand what is really at stake.  In the same column, Rickert writes:
A heretofore below-the-radar UW-Madison history professor named William Cronon writes a blog post saying that — surprise! — political parties sometimes take their cues from ideological organizations and seek to crush their opponents.
But here's the thing, Walker and his ilk, the real party of let them eat cake, represent themselves as independent voices for what Wisconsonians and Americans more generally really want. By linking their agenda to a shadowy group of ideological fanatics Cronon exposed this claim as a lie. Walker and his cronies and their political allies are, in fact, acting as the agents of outsiders who have dedicated their lives to advaning the interests of a tiny minority of extraordinarily wealthy men and women even though this means that they have to legislate against the vast majority of their fellows' material, moral, and political interests.

Much like Gable's character, Rickert, predictably really, fails to understand why the Republicans are so upset at Cronon: he exposed the men and women behind the Great and Powerful Oz. And he fails to understand the damage this does to the Republicans' claims of independence, honesty, and forth-rightness.

What is is about Neoliberals and their persistent inability to face reality?

Monday, April 4, 2011

Markets Don't Exist

I was watching the erstwhile cathode ray tube machine and an ad came on for fruit stuck on sticks and sent as a gift.  I said that should anyone ever send me such a thing, I would punch them in the throat. Today I read:
“To understand this enigma, we must discard the naïve notion that free-market prices reflect what consumers are willing to pay,” Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz said. “Otherwise, how else are we to rationalize the phenomenon of a human being willingly spending 84 bucks on 18 green apple wedges and a Mylar balloon?”
I think he is misusing the word "willing" when he means something like according to the rational agent theory of market relations this obviously insane act is supposed to be rational. If I recall correctly, Charles Fourier saw a bushel of apples for sale at, let's say, 4 francs in country side and when he traveled to Paris he say an apple for sale at 4 francs.  It struck him as impossible that merely moving the apples from one place to another could have increased their value so dramatically. Obviously, moving them didn't cupidity did.

First Kapanke Then Hopper

Both are Republican senators and the Democratic Party, or so the scuttle butt goes, has collected more than enough signatures for a recall. It's worth noting that Hopper left his wife for his girlfriend moved out of his district and Scott Walker gave the girlfriend a job, with a 35% pay rise, for which she never applied.

Here in Wisconsin: Meritocracy Edition

Scott Walker man of principle:
Just in his mid-20s, Brian Deschane has no college degree, very little management experience and two drunken-driving convictions.
Yet he has landed an $81,500-per-year job in Gov. Scott Walker's administration overseeing environmental and regulatory matters and dozens of employees at the Department of Commerce. Even though Walker says the state is broke and public employees are overpaid, Deschane already has earned a promotion and a 26% pay raise in just two months with the state.
How did Deschane score his plum assignment with the Walker team?
It's all in the family.
His father is Jerry Deschane, executive vice president and longtime lobbyist for the Madison-based Wisconsin Builders Association, which bet big on Walker during last year's governor's race.
Unlike those nasty public workers, Deschane the Younger deserves his job because shut up that's why.

This is What Democracy Looks Like?

Punishment before conviction:
For nine months, Manning has been confined to his cell for twenty-three hours a day. During his one remaining hour, he can walk in circles in another room, with no other prisoners present. He is not allowed to doze off or relax during the day, but must answer the question “Are you OK?” verbally and in the affirmative every five minutes. At night, he is awakened to be asked again “Are you OK?” every time he turns his back to the cell door or covers his head with a blanket so that the guards cannot see his face. During the past week he was forced to sleep naked and stand naked for inspection in front of his cell, and for the indefinite future must remove his clothes and wear a “smock” under claims of risk to himself that he disputes.