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>28 November 2003
A day late, but not a dollar short
A nice post by Andrew Sullivan about the thanks that he gives for Thanksgiving.
"In that exchange, Henry used to reminisce, so much of America was summed up. That distinctive form of American manners, for one thing: a strong blend of careful politeness and easy informality. But beneath that, something far more impressive. It never occurred to that little American boy that he should be silent, or know his place, or defer to his elder. In America, a six-year-old cyclist and a 55-year-old journalist were equals. The democratic essence of America was present there on a quiet street on a lazy summer afternoon."
>27 November 2003
Man. Wireless internet access is great. I'm at Erika & Rachel's for Thanksgiving and i'm straight mooching their wireless internet.
I give thanks to technology. And the Internet. And friends.
Happy Thanksgiving. For the second year in a row i'm gonna miss Thanksgiving at Phil's house, but at least i've got the Wagner Urban Planning Thanksgiving feast again.
Vive le ULURP!
>26 November 2003
Man - I don't want to, but I just do. It's addictive like crack. I managed to get away for a few weeks but im back. Maybe I should just get TiVO so that I can watch when I can't get to the TV?
>25 November 2003
I'd like to give a shout-out
To Sandy. Hey there. You said that I never mention you, and here you are. I never mention you because you're never the source of any drama in my life - you're actually quite the opposite. I talk to you to feel more grounded and to feel more in touch with my thoughts and other things, so therefore I never feel the need to blog about you.
But here.. I did.
All that glitters isn't gold-bond denture cream
Ok. Yet another one of those situations where this playful political dichotomy between good intentions and bad side effects is now coming into play. Cheap and/or free presecription drugs for seniors? Well, who pray tell could possibly remotely even be against that idea?
Well that's just the thing. It's a great idea. A grand idea. Here's the problem..
The devil is in the details. You are relying on the taxpayers to finance drug costs. What happens when the next round of blockbuster drugs come into play and every senior, now that they have coverage, chooses to get these shiny expensive new pillboxes at the steeply subsidized hands of the taxpayers? (And why shouldn't they really? I GLADLY accept my handouts of subsidized tuition, student loans and my parents mortgage tax deduction, but that's another story altogether.)
So they take the free giftbag that's been promised to them by the Estee Lauder Government Gift counter and they run with it. And the more of them that run the more that we all pay. We are already saddled with a Social Security plan that is financially unsound and will soon become a net tax liability within the next 30 years. And we have medicare, a financially unsound program that also adds to our bleak long-term financial prospects.
What will happen when the day of judgement comes and we face the very real prospect of either:
Raising taxes by insane amounts to keep funding these ridiculously engineered programs or
Cutting those services to people who have been "promised" it by the government?
What do you really think will happen when the shit hits the fan?
Someone has got to start facing up to the hard questions and provide some hard answers. The more of a free ride on the system that you happen to be getting, the more that you will fight to keep it. This isn't bad or evil it is human nature. The less that we set up systems where people have incentive to grease out the rest of society, the better. I'm not advocating that the aims and goals of these programs are wrong - it is the way in which they are carried out that is wrong.
Oh yeah, I originally started this post as a vehicle for this quote by Robert Samuelson from the WaPo:
Medicare has become pork barrel. It plays to retirees' desires and raises their discretionary income. The question of generational justice is nearly absent. Who cares about the long-term budget outlook or about clueless younger workers?
What's been missed was an opportunity to strike a grand bargain: some sort of drug benefit in exchange for cost-saving changes in retirement programs (gradual increases in eligibility ages, some benefit cuts for wealthier retirees, measures to curb Medicare spending). Although retirees deserve protection against crushing drug bills, future workers also deserve protection against crushing tax burdens. But that bargain was nowhere in sight because it requires more political candor and courage than either party can summon.
>24 November 2003
Deano-Mite!.. couldn't pry me away from the sinking feeling that Dean is a rebranded socialist
Megan McArdle wrote up a little piece in Tech Central Station about Dean and his fun little - "We need to re-regulate business" quote from a few days ago.
Do liberals really care about the little guy or do they care about appeasing that sense of guilt they have for being born relatively priviledged?
>21 November 2003
Philosophical Statement of the day
Ok, well maybe not philosophical but important nonetheless. I saw Xavier de Souza Briggs yesterday speak at our UPSA event, and he said something that I'll definitely remember:
Non-Profit is a tax status, not a sign of sainthood.
I think that it's important to remember that no matter what delivery system is used, whether govt, non profit or private firm, that what is important is the quality of it's services delivered. If you do your job, it's a success. If you don't then you're not. Plain and simple.
>19 November 2003
How Howard Dean Lost my Vote
It's sad, really. I was really looking for someone to back that wasn't Georgie. Really did. But this interview/article/quote from Mr. Dean is pretty much making me start to back up off the bandwagon..
From theWaPo (and thanks for Virginia Postrel for noticing it first..) : "After years of government deregulation of energy markets, telecommunications, the airlines and other major industries, Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean is proposing a significant reversal: a comprehensive "re-regulation" of U.S. businesses. "
And again, i'm left here thinking what a farce this is. As though there were two spheres of control - corporations and government. Hey - what about us people? The government has just as every bit of a nasty track record as any company in regards to pollution, corruption, control, eminent domain - etc. etc. etc. and the list goes on and on.
The difference here folks, is that all systems comprised of people have the capacity to turn nasty. Sometimes even really nasty. The difference is twofold. First, any corporation, if caught doing bad things, still is subject to pay the price of bad behavior by going out of business. (Unless of couse they get bailed out by the government who purports to perform these things on behalf of me and you, the people)
They must provide goods that people want at a high enough level to sustain any misdeeds that they do plus operating expenses and also shareholder expectations. If Tyco (which I don't condone their behavior in any way) wants to stay in business while they engage in corruptive backroom behaviours, they must be able to provide goods and services to the public at a level that is high enough to run business operations, provide shareholder return AND sustain these shady operations. No easy job - and once profits begin to be affected by misbehaviour, people start to pull back from supporting the company with their investment dollars. Soon, people speak with their dollars and their feet and reform happens.
Second, with corporations you have a choice. No matter how bad and monopolistic Microsoft is, you have every right to buy Linux or Mac or any host of other systems. If you don't like Nike's use of overseas labor, there are other smaller niche sneaker companies only using US labor that you can choose to buy. If Enron cheats you out of electricity or earnings, there are other energy firms for you do be able to do business with (except where the all-knowing government grants monopolies to specific utility companies)
Do you think that if you don't like the rules that NYC enforces such as a smoking ban, $150 dollar parking tickets, really onerous business regulations or any other number of things, that you can do anything about it? Do you think that if the federal government decides to regulate alcohol, soft drugs, mandates in education or any number of far reaching things, that you are just gonna up and move from the US?
Government power = monopoly power. Plain and simple. Big business, even at the biggest levels still must conform to providing something that society wants at a price that they can use to sustain their business operations. Once companies start running far afoul of what people want, they go out of business. No matter what, no "Big Bad corporation" is EVER going to force a consumer to have to buy or consume something (unless of course, given special 'rent-seeking' help from government officials).
The government can force people to do pretty much anything they want, however stupid or unthought-out it may be. Once rights are taken away from the people, they are very rarely if ever taken back.
So lets remember that the next time that we think that our 'second set of parents' decides that it knows the answer to what ails you. Just because businesses do bad things, don't expect government to automatically step right in and know how to do the good thing.
>17 November 2003
The weekend that was
Went home this weekend for John and Tori's wedding. It was really cool to see everyone again - it's been a little while since i've seen Stacey, Drew, Loc, and a lotta other folks. Also hung out w/Rach this weekend a bit. She's an awesome girl - a hottie too.. Anyways I'm really not sure how or what that'll turn into so I guess i'll see.
Also, Heather finally broke up with Rob. And that.. well.. Hafta see where that goes too. I wrote up two songs on the planeride home so tomorrow i'll fire up the Vox and test em out.
>11 November 2003
Public School Follies
Um - Even if kids are using drugs in school, does that give the administration the right to have cops storm the school and point guns at the kids and order them to drop down on the ground... and then not even find any drugs? How fucking clueless are these people?
If you find a kid with drugs, throw his ass out. Don't threaten the life of every child in school because of it.
Edit: The link to this story is here. It happened Wednesday Nov 7th at Stratford High School in Goose Creek, S.C.
>09 November 2003
The importance of a Sunday
I'm gonna call the both of you tomorrow.
With one, I feel like we were destined to be tragically never allowed to be 'right'. I don't even know if it's right or not. I know it feels right sometimes. I know it feels right more than just sometimes. But even you would have to admit that sometimes it just doesn't. Let's see where it goes. Honey, let's get on this ride and see.
With the other, I don't know you too well.. yet. But you're smart and you're cute. And Passionate. I'm excited. I'd have liked you to write me back an email this weekend. But that's what tomorrow is for. I'll see if things really do seem as cool as i'd make them out to be.
So that's it for tomorrow. Some Dim-Sum. A few phone calls. Maybe my heart goes one way or another - maybe not.
A message to you, out there
Hey you - out there. Yes, you. I love you. I've always loved you.
I'm sure that i'll find you. Or maybe i've already found you.
Shiny, lovely thoughts on a 4AM walk home
It is amazing to me how beautiful this world really is, if you let yourself actually stop and get a look at it. 4AM on a walk home in Brooklyn, I saw the most beautiful and scary parts about life, humanity and myself.
I wish that I could share the way that I saw the world this evening. All the shapes, lines, arcs, views, vistas, gardens – the monotony but also the individuality of it all. The fact that there are hundreds if not thousands of people asleep and just going through their lives as I’m blessed to have the right to pass through.
It was so beautiful that sometimes I really feel that I shouldn’t be allowed to have part of it. That someone or something is out there ready to pay me back for being part of this all. But then I look back and realize that it is this, the most beautiful parts of our humanity, our urbanity, our nature that is both beautiful and terrifying at the same time.
I think that I’ll just pay attention to how beautiful it is and let the rest of it come to me when it gets around to coming to me.
>07 November 2003
Went to the Cato Seminar today at the Waldorf-Astoria. Was a good event - I'll post more about it sometime later, but there was a good quote from Nadine Strossen, President of the ACLU - "Never accept the idea that surrendering freedom - ANY freedom is the price that we have to pay to feel safe"
>05 November 2003
The Political Compass
On the online political test, The Political Compass I scored the following:
Economic Left/Right: 4.12
This qualifies me as a slightly right of center conservative with libertarian values. Woohoo!
Truly the feelgood hit of the summer
So I finally got around to seeing Lost in Tranlation last night. For the second time in my life I went to go see a movie by myself and it wasn't so bad..
As for the movie - it was really good. The most striking aspects were these:
The wild and jumbled cityscapes of Japan really juxtaposed against the 'loneliness' feeling that both of the main characters displayed.
Even though many of the scenes of the movie were just short clips of Bill Murray and Scarlett Johanssen doing random things, it all pieced together really well. I think that this is the way that we truly remember events - like sequences of small snippets of the random things that stick with us for whatever odd reason.
I really liked the slight tension that existed between both of them. It was really sort of bittersweet to see them interact and like each other but not be able to do anything about it because of the circumstances of their lives.
I hope that marriage ends up being something more than two people resigned to be with each other and live life because they are stuck with the choices they made.
I like the thought of how random people can affect your life so much more than even those that are in it everyday. Their relationship with each other was so drawing and captivating because it was obviously so fleeting and temporal. This is the same theory that I have about dead rock stars. I think that Jimi and Kurt were awesome and still would be awesome today, but their short and fleeting high intensity effect on us is what draws us to them the most.
I really wonder what they whispered to each other at the end? That was really cool for them to have a 'private' moment on screen because that really isn't the way that movies play things out.
One scene that I would have liked to see a little different - The karaoke scene with 'More than This'. I think that if the song were more echoed and hollow sounding and they focused a bit more on each others reactions, it would have been much more poignant of a scene. As it was, you got the idea of it but this could have stood to be a little more 'in your face'.
As a second note to that last point, I think that line was really the sum of the whole idea of the movie. The slightly sarcastic but still truthful statement that there is nothing 'more than this'. Life is really just about those moments that you really connect and share yourself (your soul?) with someone. But also, life is more than the fleeting fun that you share with random folks.
Anyways, that's enough about that. I'm definitely gonna go see it again. Tonight is the Matrix. Different kinda game, diffeent kinda results.
Movie review 2 to come..
>04 November 2003
Yes, I'll have that piece of pie
I really hate when people use the 'zero sum game' arguement against something. It happened yesterday in class when we were talking about school choice.
Did American car owners suffer when Japanese cars challenged them in the 80s?
Did mail customers suffer when FedEx and UPS provided choices away from USPS?
Does CUNY suffer because I chose to go to NYU?
Do SoHo merchants suffer when another high-end boutique opens there?
No, no, no and no. Life is not a zero sum game. Just because you create some 'winners' does not mean that you automatically create the same amount of 'losers'.
>03 November 2003
Back to the Grind
Went to Key West last weekend - it was nice. Our own little bit of tropical paradise. I'll be back home in two weeks to see John get married. Wow.. We're all becoming 'adults' right in front of my eyes.