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Comment: Re: Minimum Wage (Score 1) 1081

by nbauman (#49766647) Attached to: Los Angeles Raises Minimum Wage To $15 an Hour

Let's assume per capita GDP is a meaningful measure of the country's economy. Another measure of the country's economy is the equality or distribution of income.

I'd rather live in a country with more equality of income, even if it had a lower per capita GDP. (And some economists argue that more equality would produce a higher per capita GDP.)

Since we can't compare alternative Americas, empirical examination of the data is the best evidence we have.

I'm saying that other industrial countries have higher minimum wages, greater equality, and still have high production and a pretty good quality of life.

The difference between a per capita GDP of $55,000 a year and $45,000 a year is not that dramatic. The difference between a country in which people are left to die of treatable diseases because they can't afford health care http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/1... and a country where everyone gets needed health care is dramatic.

I don't care about high unemployment, if you also have a German- or Scandinavian-style social safety net, so that unemployed people can still maintain a comfortable life. In Germany, unemployed workers are paid almost as much as they are when employed. Some of them take additional training during their down time. Some of them were go on vacation. That's fine with me. The economy doesn't collapse just because you have 10% of the workforce on the dole.

I had friends in California when Reagan was governor. They were able to go on welfare, get enough to live on, go to the California state university system free, and get a college degree. California got a lot more scientists and engineers just as Silicon Valley was developing. I think that's good.

The US does have a per capita GDP of about $10,000 more than Germany ($45,000 vs. $55,000). OK.

Suppose you had 2 countries:

Country A has a per capital GDP of $55,000, but the distribution is unequal.

If you divide the country into quintiles, people in each category are:

Bottom 1/5 $13,750 a year

Next 1/5 $27,500

Next 1/5 $55,000

Next 1/5 $110,000

Top 1/5 $220,000

(which is roughly the actual income distribution in the US.)

Country B has a GDP of $45,000. But there is more equality. The distribution is:

Bottom 1/3 $22,500

Middle 1/3 $45,000

Top 1/3 $90,000

Which would you prefer? In country A, you have 1 chance in 5 of being in third-world poverty. ($13,750 is the per capita GDP of China.)

I'd prefer country B. In country B, I'm guaranteed a comfortable life.

Of course other countries have higher GDP per capita http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/L... All of the modern industrial countries are clustered in about the same range.

Besides, most of that $55,000 per year per capita GDP in the US doesn't go to me. It goes to people at the top of the income distribution, and since 1980 it's been going disproportionately to the people at the very top of the income distribution.

It's like the economist's joke: Bill Gates walks into a bar. The average income in that bar goes up to $100 million a year.

Comment: Re:WSJ is owned by NewsCorp now, right? (Score 1) 230

by nbauman (#49760167) Attached to: WSJ Crowdsources Investigation of Hillary Clinton Emails

Many thanks for this very informing post. One follow-up question, what news sources (online and offline) would you recommend as alternatives to the (pre-Murdoch) WSJ? What is your opinion on the FT?

I don't know of any substitute. The nice thing about the WSJ was that I could get a complete overview of everything important in one place. You could read the front page of the WSJ every day in 5 minutes, and at least be aware of everything important.

The most important thing was that I could trust them to give it to me as straight as they could. If I read a story in the WSJ that a job training program wasn't working, I'd see right there that the reporter talked to people on all sides, looked at the evidence, and the evidence was that it wasn't working. It wasn't because one of the publisher's right-wing editors decided to attack job training programs.

(The NYT had those very problems of advertisers and publisher's calling the shots. For example, their second-biggest advertiser was the automobile industry. The publisher, AO Sulzberger, actually ordered his editors to run stories about how auto safety and pollution regulations were destroying the economy. He wrote a memo that got out. And they did a lousy job of covering the Vietnam war.)

I don't want to make it sound like I let the WSJ do my critical thinking for me, but they did a lot of the preliminary work.

So now I'm back to reading news media on all sides, and evaluating each story myself on a case by case basis. If I read the NYT, and Democracy Now, etc., with some effort I can figure out something close to the truth. I know the FT has a lot of fans, but I don't read it regularly so I can't evaluate it.

I mostly follow medicine right now, and the professional journals, like Science, New England Journal of Medicine, etc. do a pretty good job. Once in the while, the editors will go too far, and get fired, which is what happened at Journal of the American Medical Association and Canadian Medical Association Journal. Maybe that's proof that the editors are willing to push it as far as they can.

But there was a time when I could tell a college student, "Read the WSJ every day and you'll have a pretty good idea of what's going on in the world." I can't say that any more.

Comment: Re:WSJ is owned by NewsCorp now, right? (Score 1) 230

by nbauman (#49759971) Attached to: WSJ Crowdsources Investigation of Hillary Clinton Emails

Great post. Moderators take note.

But I'm a bit confused by the last paragraph of the article you quoted. Why would the new WSJ not embrace "death tax" if it was a dog-whistle for its opponents?

My sense is that Murdoch wants to use the WSJ for his propaganda, but he wants to maintain the pretense that it's still an accurate and objective newspaper, so he can't overdo it. Calling inheritance taxes a "death tax" in the news pages was overdoing it.

I remember when they printed that article, and people were complaining in the comments pages that the story was propaganda. The reporter apologized.

Comment: Re:Not the Issue (Score 1) 156

by nbauman (#49756507) Attached to: 'Prisonized' Neighborhoods Make Recidivism More Likely

And a significant portion of the population is now an ex-prisoner or ex-felon. "In 2008, about one in 33 working-age adults was an ex-prisoner, and about one in 15 working-age adults was an ex-felon. Among working-age men in that same year, about one in 17 was an ex-prisoner and one in eight was an ex-felon." http://www.cepr.net/press-cent...

It's dramatically worse for black men. In some cities, a third of the young black men are in jail or otherwise in the criminal justice system. That seriously affects the marriage rates among black women.

A criminal record takes away opportunities for work, education, housing, and welfare.

It's like bringing back slavery.

Comment: Re:Are you saying that criminals don't exist? (Score 2) 156

by nbauman (#49756447) Attached to: 'Prisonized' Neighborhoods Make Recidivism More Likely

No other country imprisons as many people, either absolutely or per capita, and most other countries have far less violence than we do. And don't think we have less crime because of the prisons.

The criminologists say that there's an aggregation phenomenon -- when you put criminals together in one place, they encourage and teach each other to become criminals. Go to prison and you'll learn how to steal a car.

That's why those boot camps didn't work. They would take young offenders, put them together, and have some father figure yell at them like an army sergeant. But when they put young criminals together, they actually taught each other that crime was acceptable. They wound up with higher re-arrest rates than offenders who didn't go through boot camp.

A lot of times you had some kid who was busted for grass, together with kids who had been committing car theft, burglary, robbery, etc. And they would fight.

Comment: Re:Are you saying that criminals don't exist? (Score 3, Interesting) 156

by nbauman (#49756423) Attached to: 'Prisonized' Neighborhoods Make Recidivism More Likely

Well for one thing, the population of Denmark is 89.6% Danish. Finland is effectively ethnically homogeneous as well.

Homogeneity breeds better understanding and better community outcomes. Less fear of the other, more ability to emphasize with your neighbor who happened to get in trouble.

In other words, nothing like the United States. Make no mistake, immigration and diversity have good effects, but it has some pretty breathtaking challenges as well.

They are also economically homogeneous. That is, they have almost no poverty.

I've compared the distribution of income in US and Scandinavian countries. You can divide US families into 5 levels based on their income. In Sweden, the bottom 2 levels are missing.

Swedes have the same income as the middle and two upper income levels in the US. They're all middle class and upper class, without the poverty.

Comment: Re:Are you saying that criminals don't exist? (Score 2) 156

by nbauman (#49756407) Attached to: 'Prisonized' Neighborhoods Make Recidivism More Likely


Overview of Basic Data

(Number Of People Serving Time For Drug Offenses In US Prisons)

Federal: "Between 2001 and 2013, more than half of prisoners serving sentences of more than a year in federal facilities were convicted of drug offenses (table 15 and table 16). On September 30, 2013 (the end of the most recent fiscal year for which federal offense data were available), 98,200 inmates (51% of the federal prison population) were imprisoned for possession, trafficking, or other drug crimes."

State: "Drug offenders comprised 16% (210,200 inmates) of the total state prison population in 2012. Twenty-five percent of female prisoners were serving time for drug offenses, compared to 15% of male prisoners. Similar proportions of white, black, and Hispanic offenders were convicted of drug and public-order crimes."

Comment: Re:Are you saying that criminals don't exist? (Score 1) 156

by nbauman (#49756393) Attached to: 'Prisonized' Neighborhoods Make Recidivism More Likely

Funnily many of the examples you provided are driven by the enforcement of white supremacy perpetuated by the anti-drug establishment.

Here's somebody who developed that idea for the BMJ (formerly British Medical Journal) and made a good argument for the racism motivation.

Art Cohen and Selwyn Ray: The lessons of late April in Baltimore
8 May, 15

After years of suffering and resignation about disrespect and mistreatment at the hands of local police, young and older African-American residents of inner city west and east Baltimore, joined by others, came together these past two weeks to say: “we’ve had enough.” The spark for this was the fatal injuring, while in police custody on 12 April, of 25 year old Freddie Gray, who died a week later on 19 April. Gray was a resident of the Sandtown-Winchester neighborhood and also a childhood victim of lead paint poisoning. He was arrested for making eye contact with a policeman and then trying to run away. His death acted as the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back.

Fortunately, the Baltimore City States Attorney took swift action on 1 May to charge all six police officers implicated in the death of Freddie Gray.

Lesson #1—The public’s health includes being free not only from the threat of gun violence, but also from the violence suffered at the hands of police officers and other government agencies.

Lesson #2—A long history in Baltimore and elsewhere of police disrespect and abuse of authority eventually can become intolerable and lead to explosions of public outrage, some of which may include violence against property or persons. The relentless, massive “war on drugs” is largely responsible for this police abuse. America’s longstanding decision to criminalize the abuse of drugs has virtually eliminated the practice of requiring “probable cause” for arrests, and has led to thousands of lives damaged and wasted by wholesale warehousing in jails and prisons.

Lesson #3—This specific public outrage about police misconduct is fueled by a broader and deeper public outrage at the severe economic, social, and health disparities which have persisted for many years within some Baltimore City neighborhoods.

David Simon on Baltimore’s Anguish
Freddie Gray, the drug war, and the decline of “real policing.”
By Bill Keller
(The war on drugs led to ignoring the Bill of Rights.)
Probable cause was destroyed by the drug war.
the drug war was as much a function of class and social control as it was of racism.

Comment: Re:WSJ is owned by NewsCorp now, right? (Score 5, Informative) 230

by nbauman (#49756249) Attached to: WSJ Crowdsources Investigation of Hillary Clinton Emails

I'm in the news business. This is a right-wing attack job.

In my professional judgment the WSJ used to be the best, most reliable news source in English. Then Murdoch took over, and turned it into a right-wing propaganda sheet. It was a tragedy. This crowd-sourcing of Hillary's emails is maybe the worst example of their partisan bias and seeking sensationalism.

I read the WSJ daily for 40 years (along with the New York Times, Washington Post, and professional magazines like Science and JAMA). I used to pick up their stories, and interview the same people they interviewed.

I knew reporters who wrote for the WSJ. I believed, and most journalists I knew agreed, that the WSJ was the best newspaper in the English language. The reason I liked it was that the news sections were as objective and fact-checked as humanly possible, and one of the few publications not influenced by advertisers and political pressure from the publisher. They really were fair and balanced.

The WSJ's defining moment was in the 1950s when they got leaked photos of the new model GM cars, which were a big trade secret. GM threatened to cancel their advertising if they published it. The WSJ told them to fuck off. Newspapers didn't do that. It was a long time before they accepted GM's advertising again.

An editor at McGraw-Hill once told me that if he picked up a story from the NYT, he would have to check it for accuracy, but if he picked up a story from the WSJ, he could take a chance without checking because he could depend on them to get it right.

If I read a story in the WSJ, I could depend on them getting everything right. (The quick formula is, get all sides; and especially if you attack somebody, get their side too.)

I remember one story on welfare reform in California in which the reporter quoted everybody, from the governor's assistant in charge of welfare, to the supervisors, to the caseworkers, to several welfare mothers. The story made it clear that welfare "reform" wasn't working, merely harassing welfare recipients and making it harder for them to get back on their feet.

A. Kent Macdougal was a WSJ reporter until he retired to teach journalism. He wrote an article in Monthly Review, the marxist magazine, about his experience. (Can't find it online, sorry.) He said that in his career in the WSJ, he could write whatever he wanted, as long as he followed the formula for getting all sides and supporting every statement with documented facts, even though he was a socialist who was criticizing the capitalist system in the WSJ's own pages. The WSJ was one of the few places where you could read news stories that actually criticized the American free-market system, and stood up to companies like GM. I follow health care and drugs, and the WSJ published some of the great exposes of drug companies and the medical establishment.

The ironic thing about the WSJ was that they had a very liberal news section, and a very right wing editorial page. I used to enjoy the editorial page because every day they would publish a tightly-argued, logical, well-documented right wing argument, and I would have to figure out where they made their mistake. Sometimes I had to agree that they were right, and they changed my mind. That's a good editorial page. However, there was a sharp division between the editorial section and the news section.

When Rupert Murdoch bought the WSJ, it was a tragedy for journalism and even for democracy, because the WSJ was the best thing you could read to be an informed citizen and voter.

Ironically, the best business story the WSJ ever did was their coverage of the takeover of their own newspaper by News Corporation. They gave the whole background of the ownership and control of the WSJ, and how the older generation of the Bancroft (sp?) family was committed to the mission of great journalism, but the younger generation just wanted to get higher dividends. And some of those editors and reporters, who knew they would be leaving, gave the best story ever of how unethical and contemptible Murdoch was. For example, he agreed to kill News Corporation's coverage of China's human rights abuses in order to get his satellite system into China.

When Murdoch took over, my journalistic instinct was to try to be fair to the guy and see whether he would actually destroy the WSJ as people feared. Unfortunately our worst fears were right. I could see in the paper that they were changing the way they covered stories. Instead of objective stories that quoted all sides, they started taking sides -- on the right. It was like the old cold war comic book, "What would America be like if the Communists took over?" with the right wing instead of Communists.

I remember one story, about worker's disability payments, where they went through an entire database and found the one federal disability judge who was most generous to applicants, and did an expose on him. He retired. But they didn't follow up with disabled workers who were unfairly denied claims, as the old WSJ used to. The old WSJ used to be fair and get both sides.

Here's a story from the NYT that documents pretty well how the WSJ has gone from the most respected, objective news source to a Republican propaganda organ. Now when (if) I read a WSJ story, I have to ask myself, "What did they leave out because the publisher, or some big business like GM, didn't like it?" like any other newspaper.

Under Murdoch, Tilting Rightward at The Journal
New York Times,
December 13, 2009

A little over a year ago, Robert Thomson, The Journal’s top editor, picked Gerard Baker, a columnist for The Times of London, as his deputy managing editor. Mr. Baker is a former Washington bureau chief of The Financial Times with a great deal of expertise in the Beltway. The two men came of age in the more partisan milieu of British journalism.

According to several former members of the Washington bureau and two current ones, the two men have had a big impact on the paper’s Washington coverage, adopting a more conservative tone, and editing and headlining articles to reflect a chronic skepticism of the current administration. And given that the paper’s circulation continues to grow, albeit helped along by some discounts, there’s nothing to suggest that The Journal’s readers don’t approve.

Mr. Baker, a neoconservative columnist of acute political views, has been especially active in managing coverage in Washington, creating significant grumbling, if not resistance, from the staff there. Reporters say the coverage of the Obama administration is reflexively critical, the health care debate is generally framed in terms of costs rather than benefits — “health care reform” is a generally forbidden phrase — and global warming skeptics have gotten a steady ride. (Of course, objectivity is in the eyes of the reader.)

The pro-business, antigovernment shift in the news pages has broken into plain view in the last year. On Aug. 12, a fairly straight down the middle front page article on President Obama’s management style ended up with the provocative headline, “A President as Micromanager: How Much Detail Is Enough?” The original article included a contrast between President Jimmy Carter’s tendency to go deep in the weeds of every issue with President George W. Bush’s predilection for minimal involvement, according to someone who saw the draft. By the time the article ran, it included only the swipe at Mr. Carter.

On Aug. 27, a fairly straightforward obituary about Ted Kennedy for the Web site was subjected to a little political re-education on the way to the front page. A new paragraph was added quoting Rush Limbaugh deriding what he called all of the “slobbering media coverage,” and he also accused the recently deceased senator of being the kind of politician who “uses the government to take money from people who work and gives it to people who don’t work.”

On Oct. 31, an article on the front of the B section about estate taxes at the state level used the phrase “death tax” six times, but there were no quotation marks around it. A month later, the newspaper’s Style & Substance blog suggested that the adoption of such a loaded political term was probably not a good idea: “Because opponents of estate taxes have long referred to them as death taxes, the term should be avoided in news stories.”

Comment: Re:Force his hand..."Sue me! Sooner than later..." (Score 1) 375

by nbauman (#49748291) Attached to: Student Photographer Threatened With Suspension For Sports Photos

That is a high level overview of policy that must have exceptions otherwise every kid that snapped a picture or wrote an article that ended up in a yearbook or school newspaper would have a copyright claim. At some point they have to grant use to the school.

Usually the parent would have to sign a consent form for yearbook class it would grant publication rights to the school district to be published in the yearbook and may hold an exclusivity clause for a term probably one year from the initial publication of the yearbook.

Every kid who snapped a picture or wrote an article for the school newspaper does have copyright ownership of that work. He can assign part of the rights to the school to use them in a yearbook.

Interestingly, copyright rights can only be assigned in writing, in my understanding. If I write for a publication, we usually have some back-and-forth emails in which we discuss the terms under which I'm writing it, and the rights that I'm transferring.

If I were the kid's lawyer, I'd ask the principal for the written contract the school and the kid signed for transfer of the rights to the photographs to the yearbook. If the principal can't present a signed contract, he doesn't have any rights.

Comment: Re:Force his hand..."Sue me! Sooner than later..." (Score 5, Informative) 375

by nbauman (#49747021) Attached to: Student Photographer Threatened With Suspension For Sports Photos

He is a taking a yearbook class, using the schools equipment, and at the end of the year the book will be sold to the students. If the school did it correctly his parents would have signed a consent form giving the school the rights to the work for publication in the yearbook. The question is did they give the school ownership of the copyright like work for hire, exclusive publication rights for a time period, or just nonexclusive rights to publish the work?

From the article:

In addition, the District’s Board Policy Manual explicitly states “a student shall retain all rights to work created as part of the instruction or using District technology resources.”

Comment: Re:ENOUGH with the politics! (Score 1) 1081

by nbauman (#49737753) Attached to: Los Angeles Raises Minimum Wage To $15 an Hour

When did you ever have the chance to buy Health Insurance in a free market in the United States? Or should I really be asking how old you are?

Depends on how you define a free market. New York State is fairly regulated. I bought health insurance through a professional organization, from HIP. Now I'm on Medicare.

The "free market" for health care is a rather imperfect market. Some economists said that it's impossible to have a free market in health care, because consumers will never have enough information to make informed decisions.

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