2017 Politics open thread, February 19-25

Are you still interested in discussing politics?


122 thoughts on “2017 Politics open thread, February 19-25

  1. If it’s driven off Milo and Scarlett then I think it needs to end. If they are just busy or on vacation then I’d need to reevaluate.

  2. Rhett I’ve been on and off the grid but thanks for that comment. Still think that political stuff will be inevitable so best to have a separate thread. But whatever others want

  3. I agree with Scarlett (amazing!). With this group, political comments and discussion will crop up, so I prefer to keep it separate.

  4. I always got the impression that Milo really enjoyed the political thread. Milo, if you’re out there, please check in!

  5. Good morning, folks. I suppose blog etiquette requires one to make an accounting for any irregular absence. I had decided to take a hiatus from arguing about politics on here when I felt that it was no longer productive or enjoyable.

    That’s it. I’m not angry or anything. I’d just had enough.

  6. “I suppose blog etiquette requires one to make an accounting for any irregular absence”

    Nah, not really. I’m glad you’re still hanging with us.

  7. Fred, since I no longer have school-aged children, I’m afraid I don’t pay attention anymore.

  8. It seems from the article that in most cases, in order to attend a non “boundary” school, the parents are responsible for arranging transportation. That heavily selects for parents who care deeply about their child’s education. If we adjust for that, are the “choice” schools doing better, about the same or worse than the “boundry” schools?

  9. I think that article is a pretty fair analysis. School choice is actually statewide, and each school district handles it’s own admissions process. Denver runs it’s choice system well, IME. I agree that the big gap is transportation, because the big caveat with the system (both Denver and statewide) is that parents have to provide transportation if their kids choice in to another school. That really limits options for a lot of kids, especially lower income families.

    It’s definitely not a perfect system, but again, I think it works well for the most part.

  10. Rhett, they are all “choice” schools, because you can choice in to boundary schools as well. Besides transportation, space is often an issue because you are guaranteed placement in your assigned school, ad many of them are full (or overcrowded) from the local kids. And of course the “better” boundary schools are the ones in the higher-income neighborhoods.

  11. you can choice in to boundary schools as well

    That’s grating. I know you’re using “choice” as a verb because that’s what everyone else does, but “choose” is a perfectly good verb.

  12. I think this is a larger issue for me than for most people on this blog, as we live near the city center. We have to go through a cumbersome lottery process to get access to better schools. We are doing this for the last time as DS2 is entering high school next year. Very complex, and nerve-wracking. Lots of people competing for a few spots.

  13. Houston, there aren’t many “high-demand” schools here. Denver School of Science and Technology is a chain of charter schools that is tough to get into. And Denver School of the Arts is another (it has an audition process). Of the Denver boundary high schools, East is the toughest to get into because it fills up from within their boundary. Our boundary HS has a magnet program that attracts students from elsewhere, but it’s easy to get into availability-wise, they do need to submit an application and get teacher recommendations. It doesn’t seem to be very hard to get into most of the suburban high schools either, from what I’ve seen.

    The other thing I noticed with almost all of the DPS schools is they have significant drops in enrollment at each grade level. At DS’ school, the freshman class usually has around 350-375 students, and that’s down to around 200 or so by senior year. It’s pretty depressing to see so many kids dropping out.

  14. I grew up in a city with robust school choice. After 7th grade we all took math and literature and based on the scores you got to choose which school to attend. That leaves the neighborhood schools in a state of mediocrity as the better students end up in one of the magnets (specializations were different – liberal arts with foreign language, math and sciences, mechanics, physics, cooking, arts). The city transportation played a major part on how many poorer students were in my school. The majority however were from the wealthier areas and I had one of the longest commutes to school.

  15. School choice still exists here, but is getting more difficult as the district is trying to prevent “brain drain” from the neighborhood schools.

  16. Rhett – he can’t be worse than Christie. Maybe it’s time for NJ to have its very own celebrity governor. Worked for CA right? If Trump had started small, like governor of NY, we wouldn’t have so much fun! ;)

  17. I would love to see Piscopo run in his SNL sportscaster persona.

    Minnesota did the celebrity gov thing first with Jesse Ventura. And now they have the celebrity senator with Al Franken.

  18. Houston, thanks for sharing that. I was not aware the process is so complex, although I guess I should have guessed that because some of the schools have such great reputations. Since we are in a suburban district, it is my understanding that we are not eligible for the Houston magnet schools. The kids we know who went to them all used a relative’s address. The charter my son attends accepts kids from all the surrounding districts, so it was our only option besides private, and was a lottery (or so we were told. But we did come in for an interview and had to bring his test scores before we won the spot in the lottery.) The closest private high school uses textbooks from Bob Jones University, and we wanted something more secular for science and social studies. So the Catholic school my oldest went to was 18 miles away, and the charter my son goes to is 11 miles. Transportation is definitely an issue.

  19. “I know you’re using “choice” as a verb because”

    I didn’t know that. I thought it was a typo.

    I agree, it’s grating. Like NFL commentators talking about passes defensed, which sounds like someone removed fencing from the passes or something, or the ones who don’t know the difference between a ratio and, well, a difference, e.g., confusing turnover margin with turnover ratio.

  20. “Minnesota did the celebrity gov thing first with Jesse Ventura. And now they have the celebrity senator with Al Franken.”

    TCMama, how was Gov. Ventura?

    There’ve been a lot of others in congress that could be considered celebrities besides Franken, e.g., Fred Grandy, Jim Bunning, Steve Largent, Jack Kemp. HRC might be considered in the category, given that she never ran for office before running for senate.

    Oh yeah, there’s Amy Schumer’s uncle.

    And I guess we could consider Reagan and Trump as celebrity POTUS.

  21. The Largent reference reminded me of my reaction to first hearing about Son of Zorn. I wondered if he was going to throw to Son of Largent.

  22. “That’s grating.”

    After reading the article, it seems more than grating, it seems a poor example, or perhaps miseducation, for a school system to intentionally use incorrect grammar.

  23. The term reminds me of the usage of “architect” as a verb, which became common in industry in the 00’s. “Jim, I am tasking you to architect the Fuddlywatt system”. Um, how about “Jim, your task is to design the Fuddlywatt system”?

  24. Fifty-seven percent of white males who have dropped out [of the labor force] get by on some form of government disability check. About half of the men who have dropped out take pain medication on a daily basis. A survey in Ohio found that over one three-month period, 11 percent of Ohioans were prescribed opiates. One in eight American men now has a felony conviction on his record.

  25. After reading the article, it seems more than grating, it seems a poor example, or perhaps miseducation, for a school system to intentionally use incorrect grammar.

    Or it could be an example of how language evolves.

  26. Talking about a topic over here that doesn’t make me want to rip my ears off I can take part in that

    School choice here is countywide. If you’re going to a non-magnet non-charter school, parents are responsible for transportation outside of their boundary schools. For the special schools there is bus service from anywhere in the county. Pick up is around 6 AM or slightly before and kids are back around five or shortly thereafter. In the morning they go from their neighborhood to a central bus ramp and then to school; in the afternoon the pattern is reversed. We tried it for a couple weeks, but there was really only one class my son was taking that he couldn’t get at the school within biking distance. He switched back.

    What really rankles me about magnet schools here is the way they are used to avoid improving education in really bad schools. When is school is clearly failing, half the students are redistricted to other schools. That makes room for a magnet school, which brings in interested kids from all over the county and also brings in better teachers. Nothing improves for the half the students from the original school who are stuck there in the same conditions with the same teachers.

    Al Franken a “celebrity” senator? When he started, sure, but his legislative record is nothing to laugh at. Same with John Glenn. These days, comedians give some of the sharpest analysis around. I think astronauts were also chosen for intellect and think-on-their-feet (or whatever you’re on in zero gravity) ability, and were good at problem-solving and working with others, all skills that are appropriate to legislating.

    “Choice” used as a verb, reflective of the program being used, doesn’t bother me.

  27. DD, Catholic school was more secular than our neighborhood public as far as science went. At the public school, the science teachers seemed to preface everything with “what *I* believe is”, and then proceed to explain accepted science. It was always couched as opinion open to debate. The Catholic school taught science unapologetically. The Catholic Church supports evolution, and does not support a literal interpretation of biblical parables, and that is in line with what we wanted taught. (My preference for Catholic school is more because of the social justice teachings and the steady drumbeat that athletic prowess or good SAT scores are not enough, you still have to be a good human being. Obviously, we teach that at home, but I like the reinforcement.)

  28. Governor Ventura was elected when I was in college. I remember being in my political science class and everyone was bemoaning his election, and I angrily said, “If all the smart people, like you guys, had voted, then he wouldn’t have been elected.” We elect governors in off-years from the President, and if I recall correctly, I think voter turnout was very low. A lot of my anger with this election is the fact that so many people did not vote. Granted there is gerrymandering and laws making it more difficult to vote for some people, but it doesn’t excuse the vast majority of those who didn’t vote. I really like Minnesota’s same-day voter registration rules. We typically have the highest voter turnout in the country. We also have little evidence of voter fraud as seen by the voter recounts of recent elections.

    I had to go look up Ventura’s policies on Wikipedia. He said he was fiscally conservative and socially liberal. Reading his policies, I agree with a lot of them, but I don’t remember if that is how he actually led. I wasn’t as actively interested in politics during those years. But if he actually was saying and supporting the things below, I probably wasn’t paying attention because his stances wouldn’t have caused me to get alarmed.
    Later, he came to support a unicameral (one-house) legislature, property tax reform, gay rights, and abortion rights. While funding public school education generously, he opposed the teachers’ union, and did not have a high regard for the public funding of higher education institutions. Additionally, Ventura supported the use of medicinal marijuana,[52] advocated a higher role for third parties in national politics, and favored the concept of instant-runoff voting. He also opposed the death penalty.

    I like Al Franken a lot. He seems very intelligent. Out other senator, Amy Klobuchar, is fantastic too.

  29. Rhett,

    Thanks for posting that piece. This was interesting and the sort of thing we have discussed in the past:

    “But as Tyler Cowen demonstrates in his compelling new book, “The Complacent Class,” contemporary Americans have lost their mojo.
    Cowen shows that in sphere after sphere, Americans have become less adventurous and more static. For example, Americans used to move a lot to seize opportunities and transform their lives. But the rate of Americans who are migrating across state lines has plummeted by 51 percent from the levels of the 1950s and 1960s.
    Americans used to be entrepreneurial, but there has been a decline in start-ups as a share of all business activity over the last generation. Millennials may be the least entrepreneurial generation in American history. The share of Americans under 30 who own a business has fallen 65 percent since the 1980s.”

    The problems of native Americans (or Indians, the term that some seem to prefer) are different, but on a recent trip to the Miccosukee Indian village in the Everglades, it was striking to observe that the tour guide, gator “wrestler,” and airboat driver were all non-Indians (one Hispanic, one black, and one Iowa farm boy). The local restaurant closes at 4 each day because of “staffing issues” (we left our lunch table after 20 minutes without seeing a server), and the casino has amazingly poor reviews as an employer on Glassdoor. But why work when each of the 600 members of the tribe gets some $120,000 each year in casino revenues? http://www.miamiherald.com/opinion/op-ed/article99907442.html

  30. “A lot of my anger with this election is the fact that so many people did not vote.”

    Apparently, overall turnout for this election wasn’t terribly lower than in previous elections (56.9% vs 58.6% in 20120. The bar is pretty low. The US ranks 31st out of 35 OECD countries in vogter turnout.


    The article briefly touches on some of the reasons for low turnout (the best comment was by the employee of a tanning salon whose excuse for not voting is that she is “always working”), but wondering whether we really WANT people who can’t be bothered to take the time to register and to show up at the polls to have any say in our political system.

  31. But why work when each of the 600 members of the tribe gets some $120,000 each year in casino revenues?

    Do you support the abolition of estate taxes?

  32. “wondering whether we really WANT people who can’t be bothered to take the time to register and to show up at the polls to have any say in our political system”

    This is something that I have thought too. I don’t know that turnout for turnout’s sake is a good thing. It’s chicken before the egg – civic engagement is good, which should be encouraged.

    tcmama – I had just left the state in 1998, and so I did not vote in that election. I had moved, so i hadn’t really followed it & was shocked when I found out that he won. I was in CT & voted in the election where John Rowland was elected. Add that to the list of my former Governors who ended up being convicted of felony corruption. (3 in total….so far)

  33. My issue with tribal casinos is that everyone should be able to own a casino or no one.

    I don’t see how their right to operate a casino is any different than your water rights. Both are artificial monopolies granted by the government based on any number of historical accidents.

  34. Rhett,
    In theory, estate taxes are fine. In practice, people with taxable estates hire experts to help them (legally) avoid them so that little revenue is produced and too many tax professionals buy vacation homes. So if I were king I’d abolish estate taxes

  35. What have you got against tax professionals? Didn’t you used to be a lawyer? Are lawyers better than tax professionals? Vacation homes are great.

  36. In practice, people with taxable estates hire experts to help them (legally) avoid them so that little revenue is produced and too many tax professionals buy vacation homes.

    If you were king you wouldn’t have to allow that.

  37. Scarlet,

    Since you’re fine with estates what is your objection to the American Indians not working?

  38. Rhett if not working made the Indians happy and healthy, that would be great. But it doesn’t and they aren’t. Neither are the legions of working-age men who are addicted to screens and opioids rather than working. People need to work.
    And yes I was a tax professional and saw too many highly talented people devoting those talents first to creating schemes of estate taxation at Treasury and then to helping create trusts and other devices to avoid those taxes.

  39. too many highly talented people devoting those talents first to creating schemes of estate taxation at Treasury and then to helping create trusts and other devices to avoid those taxes.

    Drain the swamp by forbidding that practice.

    People need to work.

    Work for pay or just be productive?

  40. “Work for pay or just be productive?”

    I think people are happier working. I know this is certainly the case with me and DH. There was an NPR podcast on this regarding the importance of work and the trend of automation taking away people’s work. Planet Money I think.

  41. I have noticed that teenagers seem to have a need to be useful. I think that continues into adulthood.

  42. Rhett,
    It is impossible to forbid that practice. Our regulatory system is so complex that it requires the best people to draft the rules, and the best people to assist others in complying with them. Those are the same best people.

    And from personal experience I can attest that there is plenty of unpaid work, such as running a home and volunteer work, that is as or more satisfying than a paid job. The Catholic Church teaches that God created man to work, and that has informed my perspective, but so has my life experience. One reason that seniors languish in our society is that we regard them as no longer useful.

  43. It is impossible to forbid that practice. Our regulatory system is so complex that it requires the best people to draft the rules, and the best people to assist others in complying with them. Those are the same best people.

    Do what Singapore does and pay them $1 million a year with civil service protection but forbid them to ever work outside the government. It’s not impossible by any means.

  44. We have lots of engineers periodically visiting from Singapore. When there are fashion discussions, I always think about them. They favor patterned button-up shirts with argyle sweater vests with colors not present in the button-up shirts.

  45. Scarlett,

    We adopted Prussia’s education system and we adopted their social safety net so I’m not sure I put as much faith as you do in the idea that something that works for another country can’t possibly work here. I think people use that line of reasoning to stifle debate.

  46. Rhett what I meant was that a city state of 5 million people is not comparable to the United States, especially not in the complexity of our legal system and our foundations based on individual liberty.

  47. Scarlett, your comments suggest you would favor a simplification of our tax systems. Is that an accurate assessment?

    If so, what sort of simplification would you favor?

    I really hate doing income taxes. I also think there are a lot of resources wasted in compliance with income tax laws and in income tax avoidance, and would love to see it replaced with something less onerous.

  48. Finn,
    A comprehensive tax overhaul is long overdue. I would favor an individual tax system focused entirely on raising revenue rather than on rewarding “good” behavior and punishing “bad” behavior. So, no tax deductions for mortgage interest or charitable donations, no exemptions for employer-provided health insurance, no child care tax credits, and no tax-free employee benefits such as free tuition for faculty kids.

    It’s extremely unlikely that any such overhaul would pass, because voters and industries like their tax breaks and members of Congress like to be re-elected. And even when there is significant reform, there are always complicated transitional rules and grandfather provisions that continue the resource wasting for another generation.

  49. tcm, so did MN did not fall apart under the Ventura administration?

    I was a big fan of his, as his fiscal conservative/social liberal leanings align with mine. IIRC, he was an early supporter of marriage equality and marijuana legalization.

    I was disappointed that he pretty much left politics and has maintained a pretty low profile after his last term. He is very articulate and could be an effective advocate for his political views.

  50. Finn, I share your views, but I think to many/most politicians, taxes are not just a way to raise revenue but a way to control people’s lives, so the politicians who choose politics as a career because they desire that power will oppose a pure revenue focus. (And I think both conservative and liberal politicians choose politics as a career because they want power over people, and they believe that their choices are in people’s best interests.)

    In addition, any adjustment to the tax code (e.g. eliminate home mortgage interest deduction) would have to be gradual to avoid transitional problems. As a fellow circuit engineer, you know it’s incredibly tough to make complex systems work that are not self-correcting. Fortunately, our most important systems (the economic system of capitalism and the biological system treated by medicine) are to a large extent self-correcting.

  51. Scarlett, I agree with you in general.

    IMO, incremental simplification is probably the most realistic path to an overhaul.

    One step in that direction I’d like to see taken is a raising of the standard deduction. As we’ve discussed here before, that reduces the value of deductions, which would then make it easier to eliminate those deductions.

    The rising floor for many deductions similarly can pave the way to the eventual elimination of those deductions.

  52. I agree with Scarlett @ 3:33 completely as to Federal income tax law.

    However, I am not sure I agree as to the states and consumption taxes (gas taxes, cigarette taxes, etc.).

  53. a city state of 5 million people is not comparable to the United States,

    We’re not comparable to a small German kingdom either. Yet we have a long history of adopting ideas from other countries and incorporating them into our own. As I see it your casual dismissal of alternatives is part of the problem.

  54. “Yet we have a long history of adopting ideas from other countries and incorporating them into our own.”

    Yes, we do. And if we were starting up a legal system from scratch, we may have been well advised to secure the revolving door with an arrangement such as Singapore has apparently adopted. Singapore abolished jury trials in 1969, which is further indication that its particular solutions would not translate well to the U.S. legal system.

  55. Scarlett,

    Non-compete agreements are, to my knowledge, only illegal in California. It’s not like it’s a totally unknow concept.

  56. Rhett,

    Perhaps we are thinking of different situations. I haven’t read the order banning lobbying, but my comments above involved the technocrats you’ve never heard of unless your client needs to know exactly how the IRS plans to interpret an arcane section of the Internal Revenue Code.

    A number of my former colleagues left the firm to spend a few years on arcane issues at Treasury, spoke at conferences for practitioners and potential clients (mostly tax counsel at large organizations) on those arcane issues, and then returned to private practice with new clients attracted to those attorneys’ unique understanding of those arcane issues based on their work at Treasury honing the newly-promulgated regulations governing those arcane issues. Not sure whether such legal advice would constitute “lobbying” or fall under the ban, but this is part of the swamp that is very difficult to drain because it’s under the radar except for the small group of folks interested in those arcane issues.

  57. Scarlett,

    The revolving door between the regulators and the regulated is a huge issue that many people are trying to fix. I would think you’d favor such reform rather than just casually dismissing even the thought of reform.

    I’m also not sure where your certainty that restrictions on future employment can’t apply to federal employees comes from.

  58. I support reform, but too many people benefit from the corruption/revolving door for it to happen. I think you need a strong man approach a la Singapore to force people to do the right thing.

  59. Rhett, this exchange began in the extremely narrow context of estate tax reform. Somehow, an observation that the estate tax diverts too many resources into avoidance has morphed into an opposition to swamp-draining. I’ll just note again that our tax system has become so complex that we are now hostages to the handful of tax geeks who understand it and who benefit from that complexity. And that what Singapore does or does not do isn’t particularly germane on that narrow issue.

  60. Scarlett,

    You said reform is impossible because employment restrictions on government employees are…illegal? Trump implemented employment restrictions and wasn’t, to my knowledge, challenged. With that in mind, I don’t understand why you think reform is so impossible it shouldn’t even be attempted. Indeed, I don’t see why Singapore’s model of higher government salaries and more employment restrictions is so outrageous that the thought of it should never be entertained. It’s certainly legally possible as Trump and the CEO of the TVA have demonstrated.

  61. Scarlett,

    I would add that I’m 100% behind your tax plan. It would be an uphill battle to pass but it’s at least worthwhile to try and move in that direction. Same for sensible revolving door reforms. It’s hard but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try.

  62. Rhett,

    Not that they would be illegal, but they would be unworkable in the estate tax context, and perhaps others as well, but I don’t have any knowledge of those areas.

    And not necessarily unworkable in theory, if you’re creating a legal system from scratch, but unworkable in the system we have now. People with means will always be willing to pay their advisors more than the government will pay its rule-writers. The Treasury Department can attract elite tax lawyers and pay them squat for a few years, because everyone accepts that those lawyers can return to the private sector and use that expertise on behalf of their clients. If you put in an employment restriction, either the government will not attract the best talent (and you end up with poorly-conceived rules and regulations like the recent immigration EO) or the best talent will find ways to work around those restrictions.

    Much better to recognize that the estate tax, which raises only about $20 billion in revenue, is not worth the compliance costs (which some argue are at least as great as the revenue raised), and to find more productive ways for estate and gift tax lawyers to use their intellectual talents. https://taxfoundation.org/estate-tax-even-worse-republicans-say/

  63. pay them squat

    It doesn’t have to be squat. I would guess that paying them more than squat would be less difficult than say eliminating the mortgage interest deduction.

  64. I just read this summary of economist Kenneth Arrow’s work in his NY Times obituary.

    “The backdrop for Professor Arrow’s influential early work was the centuries-long recognition that majority voting can produce arbitrary outcomes… But no voting system, however cleverly designed, resolved the problems associated with majority voting. In a theorem of stunning generality, Professor Arrow proved that no system of majority voting worked satisfactorily according to a carefully articulated definition of “satisfactory” (which social scientists generally accept).”

    Does it make you think about the recent Presidential election?

  65. WCE, thanks for posting about Arrow.
    This great story was the end of the NYT article.

    “Professor Arrow was widely hailed as a polymath, possessing prodigious knowledge of subjects far removed from economics. Eric Maskin, a Harvard economist and fellow Nobel winner, told of a good-natured conspiracy waged by junior faculty to get the better of Professor Arrow, even if artificially. They all agreed to study the breeding habits of gray whales — a suitably abstruse topic — and gathered at an appointed date at a place where Professor Arrow would be sure to visit.

    When, as expected, he showed up, they were talking out loud about the theory by a marine biologist — last name, Turner — which purported to explain how gray whales found the same breeding spot year after year. As Professor Maskin recounted the story, “Ken was silent,” and his junior colleagues amused themselves that they had for once bested their formidable professor.

    Well, not so fast.

    Before leaving, Professor Arrow muttered, “But I thought that Turner’s theory was entirely discredited by Spencer, who showed that the hypothesized homing mechanism couldn’t possibly work.”

  66. Mixed and even poor voucher results are not suprising. There is a real lack of understanding on what makes schools effective or not, which is just as much a problem in the private sector as the public sector. That makes it hard for parents to choose, so they end up choosing for social or transportation reasons. Those might be perfectly fine reasons to choose a school but will not drive the schools to get better. The basis of my entire objection to school choice, especially of the extreme voucher type, is that we will end up spending a lot of money and energy dismantling the current system, and not get any better results. And we might lose some important things in the process. Many communities are still centered around their public schools, and it could be a shame to lose that.

  67. I had read the gerrymandering article already. It appeals to my geeky side of course – that is a cool appliacation for math. It also appeals to my wonky side, since I think the gerrymandering-on-steroids of today has led to many of our polictical problems. Congresscritters no longer have to listen to anyone except their hardcore base, which has led to extreme divisions and inability to cooperate.

  68. Back to the voucher article. I like to read the comments on articles like that, especially the NYTimes (they moderate, so the comments are usually coherent). This one is telling, and something I always suspected would happen with voucher programs – the good schools just don’t participate.
    “As an educator and head of school with over thirty years experience, serving in public (10), private independent (18), and religious schools (3), I never served in a school that took vouchers. In the private independent world, taking a voucher was the kiss of death. Once a school takes money from the government, it gives up its independent nature. Every NAIS school I led never took funds from the government, because the school community valued that independence more than the money. And the test scores (SATs, ACTs, and IB tests), at those schools, were much better than the public schools and religious schools in the local community. Private independent schools are necessary and provide choice; they just shouldn’t ask for or receive public money. By the way, all of those schools I was associated with offered incredible financial aid to many, including refugees from Somalia, Sierra Leone, and Sudan. All of that financial aid was paid for by individuals who donated to scholarship and financial aid funds. For the most part those parents realized that their children should be in schools with diverse ethnic and socioeconomic populations. No good private independent school would take a dime of government money. Taking public funds to help private schools is just a very bad idea!#SAD#BAD#TERRIBLE IDEA”

  69. Gerrymandering is one of the biggest issues with our system. Most congressional districts are safe, so like Mooshi said, there is no needs for congressmen/candidates to try to appeal to a broad base.

    What do people think about term limits? Our republican treasurer (and likely gubernatorial candidate) is pushing for federal term limits. http://coloradopolitics.com/stapleton-pitch-man-governor/

  70. I think term limits are far less useful than getting rid of gerrymandering. I think it takes time in Congress to build up knowledge and contacts to be effective. I think if we had term limits and did not get rid of gerrymandering, it would make polarization even worse, because every few years you would end up with a partisan newbie.

  71. “something I always suspected would happen with voucher programs – the good schools just don’t participate.”

    I agree. E.g., locally, I can’t see the top privates accepting vouchers if that meant they had to compromise on their admission requirements and ability to expel students.

    I read a few comments, and some suggested that the poor performance of the voucher students was due academic-focused schools not accepting vouchers, thus many voucher students were attending schools whose focus wasn’t necessarily academics, e.g., schools more focused on religious education.

  72. DD, I read the gerrymandering article and agree it needs to go but I just don’t know that anyone in power would really sign on to it going away. All sides like the ability to maintain their guaranteed seats. Regarding term limits, I’m becoming more in favor of them but agree with MM that we have to figure out the best number to make sure there is some consistency. I go between 12 years and 18 years so senate would be a either 2 or 3 terms and representative would be either 6 or 9 terms. Of course, the could get voted out at each election.

  73. Long but easy post by Jim Wright on why the War on Drugs is a war no one, from the users to the enforcement agencies, actually wants to win.

  74. I don’t subscribe to either. I subscribe to the Denver Post actual newspaper, and that comes with online access.

  75. I subscribe to the home delivery NYTimes, which comes with online access, and to the online WaPo. I wish the WSJ paywall was not so totalitarian – WaPo and NYTimes give you some number of free articles but not WSJ. I would like to read more of WSJ for their perspective, but too much of the paper is really boring so I hate to spend a lot of money on it.

  76. Neither, but I’m reconsidering subscribing to the WSJ since I can’t get most of their articles free anymore. These days the only way I can seem to access them is through a FB link.

  77. A friend offered to give me his WSJ paper version that he gets along with his online subscription, but I declined. I don’t like reading paper news plus I don’t want more paper in my house.

  78. Oh, and the Santa Cruz Sentinel.

    All online. Paper stacks up around the house, and my one recycling bin is always overflowing anyway. Plus the ink gets on my fingers. I grew up in a household that got three daily newspapers, but for some reason now I can’t tolerate the ink, even though my fingers were permanently covered in it when I was young.

  79. I get the paper version of the WSJ, not the NYT. Generally, when the nyt publishes some story I know something about, they generally get some crucial details wrong, so I don’t see how I could believe their coverage of something I know little to nothing absolutely.

  80. You can get around the WSJ paywall by googling the article title and then clicking on the link from the search results.

  81. We get the paper WSJ and NYT Sunday plus the WaPo online for $4 monthly from Amazon Prime. But there are few subscribers in our area and delivery service is not reliable. I’m ready to go to digital only, but then we won’t have any newspaper to start the charcoal grill fire.

  82. We have a paper subscription to WSJ and local paper. I really prefer reading a physical paper. I have on-line subscription to NYTimes.

  83. DD — I haven’t been able to access WSJ through the Google method recently and someone told me they had changed that loophole. Or maybe I’m doing something wrong.

    ” Generally, when the nyt publishes some story I know something about, they generally get some crucial details wrong, so I don’t see how I could believe their coverage of something I know little to nothing absolutely.”

    You are apparently experiencing the opposite of the Murray Gell-Mann Amnesia effect.

  84. Generally, when the nyt publishes some story I know something about, they generally get some crucial details wrong

    That’s true of every single paper I’ve ever read.

  85. Every paper (and every book author too) gets some things wrong. And some fields, like mine, are particularly bad across the board. But there are some key things here: One is that “the media” differ dramatically in their level of analysis. ANd that makes a difference. CNN, which I refuse to watch, is wrong all the time because a) they rush to report too quickly, and b) everything is at a surface level for them. They don’t dig into anything in a coherent way. I feel the same about Fox, in fact, I pretty much abhor all TV/cable news. I also think USA Today is terrible because everything is in bland soundbites that obscur rather than illuminate things.

    The papers and newsites that dig in deep are the ones I want to read, even if they do make mistakes. At least they give you enough detail so you can go find out more and compare with what other good sources are saying.

  86. I haven’t tried the WSJ thing recently so maybe they closed it up. I know we shouldn’t expect to get all this for free in the first place.

  87. everything is at a surface level for them

    That’s all TV news. Viewers don’t want to spend the time to get depth.

  88. Yes, but the problem for me is that when everything is at the surface level, you can’t even tell if it is wrong or right. For example, on CNN or Fox you might hear a soundbite “Republicans want healthcare insurance to be accessible for all, key leaders said today”, and that is all they say. But what does that mean? There is a code word in there : accessible, and a good news outlet will explain what that word means to a Republican lawmaker. But the soundbite media doesn’t bother.

  89. I also dislike sites that feel breathless and hysterical. Huffington Post and RedState come to mind immediately.

  90. “We get the paper WSJ and NYT Sunday plus the WaPo online for $4 monthly from Amazon Prime.”

    I suppose you’re all waiting for me to ask: Are you paying $4/month for all three subscriptions?

  91. Mooshi, I agree that the surface level stuff isn’t good, but that’s what most of their viewers want.

    In the same way, nobody gives real speeches anymore, they talk in soundbites. The news isn’t going to air even a 5 minute speech, let alone 20 or 30 minutes, so they give a collection of soundbites and the news picks the ones they like the best.

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