• A Libertarian for bailing out United

    I don't know if it is bad form to drag an on-going debate to a guest blog, but here it goes. Jane Galt took exception to my characterization of the United Airlines pension bailout by the Pension Benefit Guarantee Corp as corporate welfare . In fact, she went on to write lengthy posts defending the decision to let United offload their pension obligations onto the PBGC. Shouldn't somebody take her libertarian card away? Jane's objections: 1) It's not exactly corporate welfare The PBGC, while it is grossly underfunded, isn't exactly "corporate welfare"; it's a government-chartered pension insurer, which forces pension plans to pay it premiums (the worse shape their pension/company is in, the higher the premium), and in return regulates the hell out of the pension plans. It is not incorporated for the benefit of the corporations, who do not like either the premiums or the regulation; it is for the benefit of the workers. I guess I have a broader definition of corporate welfare than Jane...
  • eBay for Workers?

    Hi again, everyone. It's Angelica, a.k.a Battlepanda. I'm going to be filling in this weekend. Has anyone here heard about ? I blogged about it a few days ago at my blog because it is an interesting idea that I don't know exactly what make of, so I just thought I'd mention it here to see what people think. It's a kind of reverse eBay for workers that got started in Germany. You post a job listing (typically freelance in nature) and wait for people who want that job to bid down the price of their labor. Sounds pretty Hobbesian, right? And indeed the unions and many politicians are up in arms about it. But when the unemployment rate in Germany is up there at 12.5%, it seems foolish to denounce any venue of job creation. Make no mistake. I am pro-union. I think the power assymetry between individuals on the one hand and corporations on the other requires collective bargaining for workers to get a fair shake. But JobDumping's target customers are different...these are jobs...
  • Weekend Guest Stars

    Battle Panda and Daniel Munz will be helping me out this weekend. Better recognize.
  • Holy Skirmishes

    Kevin writes : Matt Yglesias wonders if liberals spend too much of their energy fighting meaningless fights against religious symbolism...I think he's right, and I say that from the perspective of someone who's such a stone atheist that I'm pretty sure it's not philosophically possible to be more atheist than me. Still, there are fights and there are fights, and some are more worth fighting than others. Evolution? Worth fighting over, even if it costs us. Prayer in public classrooms? I'm agin it, but let's face facts: we won 98% of this battle long ago. The last 2% probably isn't worth too much bloodshed. Creche scenes in front of city hall? Lighten up. That's right, and I hear it a lot. The problem is that liberals, broadly defined, aren't the folks fighting these battles. Democratic legislators aren't scouring the nation's public lawns for nativity scenes. In fact, most of us just don't care. It's a small set of liberally- affiliated organizations waging these battles. The ACLU,...
  • Liberal Academia

    How can it be that I was just accepted as a writer at one of the most staunchly, proudly, progressive magazines in the country, and yet my natural opinions routinely place me on the rightmost edge of my classes? It's really quite strange.
  • Your Daily Must-Read

    August on Voinovich. In George's defense, the amount of pressure that was brought to bear must've been simply unbelievable, and his assurance that the vote would historically leave the committee without a recommendation is going to make it possible to kill on the Senate floor. On the other hand, I really don't understand what Bush is saying to these guys that's scaring them so much. Voinovich won 77% of the vote in his last race; you'd need a stick of dynamite to eject him from his Senate seat. So what are the threats that force all these folks to stand down? And how powerful must they be to have ensured that no one, no one , decided the White House had simply gone too far and it was time to teach them a lesson? Very weird.
  • Point for Lula

    America decides to meddle in Brazil's HIV-prevention program. America demands Brazil sign oath condemning prostitutes. Brazil to America : "Go screw yourselves (safely)." In early May, Brazil declared its defiance of American diktats abroad. The country's national AIDS commissioner, HIV doctor Pedro Chequer, turned down $40 million in US assistance for its fight against AIDS rather than sign a statement condemning prostitution. "For us it was an ethical issue," Chequer told The Nation. "We have to reach every segment of society, with no discrimination. Besides, no country is supposed to decide what another country must do." At a time when the Bush Administration has elected itself not only the world's cop but its pope, too, Brazil's audacity carries the shock of the new. Over the past two years, organizations around the world have been asked to sign similar statements and to halt their advocacy for sex workers' rights, the result of restrictive language slipped into AIDS and human-...
  • Two Is The Loneliest Number

    The dwindling, pathetic ranks of Republican moderates are quite sad, but when put this way, they're also quite funny: The elections in November put seven new Republicans, nearly all conservatives, in the Senate, increasing the party's majority to 55. As moderate Senate Republicans look out around the country, they are comforted by the ranks of moderate governors like Arnold Schwarzenegger in California, George E. Pataki in New York and Mitt Romney in Massachusetts. But here in the Capitol, their numbers are so few, said Senator Arlen Specter, Republican of Pennsylvania, that they quit having their weekly lunches about a year ago. "Susan and I were there alone for so much of the time," Mr. Specter he said, referring to Senator Susan Collins of Maine, "we worked through all of our conversation and decided to disband." Man, there was a time -- I remember! -- when everybody wanted to eat lunch with Arlen and Sue. It was like, the table. Now? It's all these new kids, like Coburn and...
  • Advertiser Love

    If you've got a minute, take a look at BAG News , one of my advertisers. It's a blog that interprets the graphics that make up our news, rather than the text that most bloggers deal with. It's an interesting niche, and I recommend it both in terms of supporting my advertisers and as a refreshing read. So off you go.
  • A Puritan Country With a Perverted Populace

    Between Dr. Hager's forced sodomization of his narcoleptic wife, John Bolton's penchant for swinging , Jack Ryan's repeated attempts to force his wife into group sex, Rush Limbaugh's multiple divorces, and all the rest of it, don't you think it's time to admit that many Americans, both the decorous right wingers and the bohemian lefties, grapple with extreme perversion and sexual impropriety? Some, like Rush, don't bug me, at least aside from their hypocrisy. Some, like Hager, should be locked away forevermore. But I do wish that, in simple pursuit of honesty, our country would come to terms with the idea that figures public and private, right and left, have sexual lives and that such an admission, in and of itself, is not abnormal. What Hager did, I guarantee, will not spill 1/1000th of the news ink Clinton's petty dalliances attracted. Now, Clinton was the president, his coverage will necessarily be greater. But I further promise that the outrage amongst the right won't touch the...