The NYT had a good piece this morning about plans by the I.R.S. to turn over 12,500 tax deliquency cases to private collection agencies. There are two interesting features to this story. First, the I.R.S. believes that it will get less money by turning these cases over to private collection agencies than if it pursued the cases itself. (Well, someone has to help out the collection agencies -- life's tough out there.)
A couple of days ago I commented in passing about the Bureau of Labor Statistics plans to change the way it reports its inflation numbers. I realize that I did not fully understand the issue until a couple of posts clarified the problem.
Currently, BLS reports index numbers and changes only to the first decimal. Remarkably, it computes the monthly change based on index numbers rounded to the first decimal, even though it obviously has the data calculated to many decimals. This can lead to the monthly inflation figure being understated or overstated, depending on the rounding.
JUST POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: IN CASE OF EMERGENCY.Bruce Ackermanargues that we should act now to devise a new statutory frameword for federal emergency powers -- before the next terrorist attack sweeps away the prospects of checking the government's powers.
COUNTING WHITES ONLY. Back to orthodoxy: Corner bashing! Be amazed as Kate O'Beirnetries to demonstrate that women usually vote Republicans and shows you can, in fact, demonstrate just that, as long as you . . . don't count African-American and Latina women.
POLITICIZING TERROR. I assume nobody will be surprised by this, but the Republican Party has apparently settled on its 2006 message: Vote Democratic, and the terrorists will win. That's always been their implicit appeal, of course, but now they're just saying it. On the other hand, why shouldn't they? Terror should be politicized, and if one party or another believes they can do the better job, they should say so. There�s nothing illegitimate about it.
DON'T CRY FOR MOM AND POP. The other day Jon Chait paid us a backhanded compliment, suggesting we're unduly predictable here at the Prospect. Then I see civil-rights-leader-turned-Wal-Mart-flack Andrew Younggetting the sack (with Jason Zengerle's apparent approval) for the following off-message take on why black people shouldn't care if big box stores drive out mom and pop businesses:
REASONING MATTERS.Glenn Greenwald is incensed at the Washington Post's blithe dismissal of yesterday's ruling that found Bush's wiretapping unconstitutional, and criticizes it for lacking in scholarly complexity. And he's right, the editorial is unbearably smug and self-satisfied, as if the issue at hand is subordinate to the procedural perfection of those evaluating it. But if the Washington Post's case is unconvincing, Publius's demolition of the ruling is much more convincing.
JUST POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: STORM TROOPER.Addie Stanreviews the new book Through the Eye of the Storm, Cholene Espinoza's account of her time in a small Mississippi town ravaged by Hurricane Katrina. (Our own Tara McKelvey interviewed Espinoza here.)
NEW DARFUR RESOLUTION. In late July, Kofi Annan came up with a novel, next-best option for addressing the spiraling violence in Darfur. With no member state willing to commit troops to a peacekeeping force in Darfur, Annan proposed that the United Nations appropriate resources, such as communications and logistical assistance, and material items, like APCs and aircraft, to the African Union, which has 7,000 troops stationed in Darfur. In a letter to the Security Council on August 10, he urged that the Council to consider his recommendations.
WHERE ARE THE UNIONS? One more thing on the health care question: Nathan Newman accuses me of thinking that all the unions, "fair-share" advocates, consumer groups, and those fighting for expansion of the employer-based system are "dumb." What I actually said is that some unions have short-term goals which may conflict with longer-term goals, but that�s beside the point. What I would suggest is that Newman checks out whether all the unions really are standing lockstep behind him lately.