Monthly Archives: August 2009

Pay off student loans quickly

Remember in The Graduate, where the Dustin Hoffman character was advised to go into plastics?  Now he would be advised to work for a Congress member:

A month after they voted to punish some corporate executives for taking hefty bonus payouts, members of the House of Representatives quietly gave their own staffers a new potential bonus by making even their top-earning aides eligible for taxpayer dollars to repay their student loans.

Or for that matter, for any boss in the federal government, where things have been booming for quite a while:

The Bureau of Economic Analysis has released its annual data on compensation levels by industry (Tables 6.2D, 6.3D, and 6.6D here). The data show that the pay advantage enjoyed by federal civilian workers over private-sector workers continues to expand.

If you live by the visual aid, here’s your cup of tea:

Fed vs. private compens

It didn’t start with Obama, as you can see.  But we don’t think the trend will slow down now, do we?  As matters stand, he may be the last of the big-time spenders.  I’m getting a sandwich board announcing, “The end is near.”

As this fellow said two months ago,

Rising unemployment, stagnant wages, falling housing prices … The US economy has overcome such crises time and again in the past. But President Obama and his allies in Congress are gearing up to wallop families and businesses with an array of new taxes to fund a host of spending plans. These won’t just hit hard at average families — they threaten to derail any economic recovery.

Get ready.

Later: Government is a growth business.  A case in point:

On Aug. 4, 1977, Jimmy Carter declared war on energy dependence and created the U.S. Department of Energy. Every president since has done the same. Today, 31 years later, the Department of Energy’s budget is $26 billion. It employs 16,000 people and 100,000 contract employees.

So what if we’re finally energy-independent?  Huh?

We are no closer to energy independence than we were in 1977.

The whole concept of achieving it with a new department is a flop.  F-L-O-P. 

“And you want the federal government to run health care?” asks Barry Goldwater Jr. in American Spectator.



From your friends in Washington

Instapundit calls them “dick panels.” They work this way:

Public health officials are considering promoting routine circumcision for all baby boys born in the United States to reduce the spread of H.I.V., the virus that causes AIDS.

Fine, you say. Let them. They put warning labels on lots of things. So put them on uncircumcised members.


Under ObamaCare . . . when the government starts paying more and more of the health-care tab, they will point to ambiguous cost savings down the road in this and other cases, decades down the road to pressure Americans into surrendering their choices now.

So. For uncircumcised deliveries you expect reimbursement from Daddy Health Care? Sorry, fellows and girls. You made your bed, lie in it. No snip-snip, no payout. It’s how it works, don’t you know?

As Hot Air explains:

The advocates of ObamaCare insist that medical decisions will remain between doctors and patients and not involve mandates from government. However, the same people also cheer the idea of government coaching doctors to adopt practices, and to back up those choices with pressure from payment schedules, [Italics added here] which will result in de facto [not here] diktats, especially when it evolves into a single-payer system.

This they will do “in the name of AIDS prevention even though the risks are manageable and the effect less than certain.”

Because they know what is best for you.

What to do with a vacant lot

Tot lot meeting tonight at Pleasant Home, 7 p.m. It’s the lot at Grove & Randolph, to be expanded east of the alley to OP Ave. Park District looking for feedback. Here’s a thought: Abandon the expanded-tot-lot concept in favor of a two-park concept, leaving the alley open, clear, and free, as Montgomery Ward said the lake front should be, citing an 1836 city mandate. Why so? For garbage and emergency vehicles, for two things, for garage access by residents for a third. (This per the suggestion of a “gate” that can close alley off so kids can move freely from one lot to the other.)

As to the second park, it’s already been discussed, at the Aug. 5 tot lot meeting, also at Pleasant Home, in terms of “passive” use, that is, for sitting on bench and reading or watching tots frolic free-style, pretty fountain in place, etc. — leaving the present lot as is or improved for activity such as swinging on swings, etc. (It’s being fumigated at the moment, by the way, in search-and-destroying of unnamed “stinging insects,” per posted sign, but called bees at the Aug. 5 meeting, when citizens informed park district people of the problem.)

Hence a two-park approach, making park-style use of a gift from the village of the grassy stretch at OP and Randolph, in addition to tapping in on $200G which the parks have to spend on this improvement. Go parks! I like the quiet-bench area idea and hereby recommend it.

Leopard’s spots

Bill McGurn in Wall Street Journal considers how Obama can save his presidency, mired now in health care legislation, as Clinton was mired in health care legislation.  Avoid Clinton’s “mistakes,” say Obama-ites.  McGurn calls that “not a winning strategy.”

A far more productive strategy would be to embrace Mr. Clinton’s success, which was freeing himself from his party’s left and returning to the centrist themes he had campaigned on.

But would that not be to surrender the raison d’etre of his political career?  If he has to continue the campaign charade in deed as well as word, what’s the point of it all?

Belated sighting of elephant in room

Now and then an obvious truth is restated:

The budget shortfall for 2010 would mark the second straight year of trillion-dollar deficits. Along with the unemployment numbers, the deficit may complicate President Barack Obama’s drive for his top domestic priority, overhauling the U.S. health care system.

“It throws a wrench in health-care reforms,” Maya MacGuineas, president of the bipartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, said in an interview. “No matter the specific numbers, they’re a constant reminder that we’re in bad, bad shape.

And a Republican goes further:

“If anyone had any doubts that this burden on future generations is unsustainable, they’re gone,” said Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, adding that economic stimulus funds should be diverted to pay down U.S. debt.

Oh that golden stimulus, oh that golden stimulus.  Liquidate that!

Oak Park walker reports from Sin City

Gina from Vegas looks back in delight at Oak Park IL, where she used to live, in a comment in this CNN Money article about “walkability” in city neighborhoods:

I live in Las Vegas . . . [where] efforts to bring walkability to insulated planned communities has primarily been shut down by the economy, though my last neighborhood was close, with two parks, a library, some shopping, and restaurants all within a few miles. It was also in a new (built around 2002) upper-class master planned community. It still didnt hold a candle to my old neighborhood in Oak Park, IL outside of Chicago. I frequently went months without seeing my car when I lived there.

She has that right.

Planning since Daniel Burnham

I helped with this book, in editing and research. It’s

“Beyond Burnham: An Illustrated History of Planning for the Chicago Region,” [in which] authors Joseph Schwieterman and Alan Mammoser trace the fits and starts of regional planning since 1909, giving overdue credit to the brave souls who dared swim against the prevailing tides of profit and parochialism.

It brings “brutal honesty” to the material, says op-ed reviewer John McCarron in today’s Chi Trib.

“Beyond Burnham” all but admits that regional planning since Burnham has been, with a few key exceptions, a lost cause. When World War II ended and pent-up demand for housing burst upon the land, those who favored a more orderly pattern of development — one that would have preserved open space and clustered new homes and stores closer to commuter rail corridors — were easily brushed aside.

For many reasons, it was not easy to sell metropolitan planning:

Today’s raucous “town hall” meetings on health-care reform may seem unprecedented, until one reads about public hearings in the 1960s where reps of the Northeastern Illinois Planning Commission got told a thing or two by Adeline Dropka and the Save Our Suburbs coalition.

While chronicling this history of political conflict, the book also offers “a trove of regional trivia.”

Who knew that the first suburbs to cash in on federal transportation funds were conservative Winnetka and Glencoe? They clouted $1.5 million in 1938 to lower the North Western (now Metra/Union Pacific) railway tracks and eliminate 10 grade crossings.

It’s due out tomorrow from Lake Forest College Press. Amazon has it as a “pre-order” for $13.57.

Holy mother the state will decide

How would a monster put this?

Ezekiel Emanuel, Rahm Emanuel’s brother and one of Obama’s health-care advisors, wrote in a January 2009 white paper that health care should be rationed in a way that “promot[es] and reward[s] social usefulness.” He said age could play a factor in determining who can and cannot access health-care resources.

What’s more:

Emanuel also wrote, “[S]ervices provided to individuals who are irreversibly prevented from being or becoming participating citizens [in the body politic] are not basic and should not be guaranteed. An obvious example is not guaranteeing health services to patients with dementia.”

And the maximum leader?

Obama addressed this too, saying, “Whether, sort of in the aggregate, society making those decisions to give my grandmother, or everybody else’s aging grandparents or parents, a hip replacement when they’re terminally ill is a sustainable model, is a very difficult question. … And that’s part of why you have to have some independent group that can give you guidance.”

Did someone say “death panel”?

It’s a brave, brave, brave new world we are looking at.

In Salon, Camille Paglia makes much the same point, praising Sarah Palin for her “shrewdly timed metaphor,” which “spoke directly to the electorate’s unease with the prospect of shadowy, unelected government figures controlling our lives. A death panel not only has the power of life and death but is itself a symptom of a Kafkaesque brave new world where authority has become remote, arbitrary and spectral.”

As for sharp views of both Salon —

“a pretentious word for a beer and wine guzzle and gum flap”

— and Paglia —

“openly gay yet not given to strident agenda netting . . . a former Catholic who respects the beauty, mystery and majesty of the Faith . . . a feminist who never allows simple-minded association to grab for the broad brush and repaint the house”

— see the well-stocked mind and intellectual pointillism of Pat Hickey, who supplies a dated but fetching image for the former:

abraham bosse salon de dames

Sen. Rockefeller puts it clearly enough:

Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W. Va., said in March that as part of responsible healthcare reform people must recognize they would not be able to get every treatment they wanted. The government would use a cost-benefit analysis to determine treatment options.

The government, yes.

Erick Erickson sums it up:

It is an inevitable fact of life that the more the government outlays to keep you alive, the more your life becomes subject to a cost/benefit analysis.

That would be Holy Mother.

One foot in grave, the other in Boston

This guy says if Ted Kennedy is so worried about Massachusetts’ having two senate voices, he should resign. Add this: At what point does he get ready to die and give up politics. It’s like the Tex Williams song about the smoker:

Tell St. Peter at the Golden Gate
That you hate to make him wait,
But you just gotta have another cigarette.

Come on, Ted, enough of twisting arms and cajoling voters. St. Peter waits for no senate vote.

nest: What Are You, Chicken?

The latest from Nest, a sustainable blog about “sustainable homes inside and out,” by Angela Bowman, leads one to ask, What came first, sustenance or sustainability? No? It doesn’t?

Anyhow, the item has a wonderful sensational lede:

You heard it here, if not first, then perhaps with the most enthusiasm. A Backyard Chicken Craze is Sweeping the Nation! . . . .

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