June 15, 2013

What he said

 From a recent address by Pope Francis to newly appointed ambassadors to the Vatican:
The worship of the golden calf of old (cf. Ex 32:15-34) has found a new and heartless image in the cult of money and the dictatorship of an economy which is faceless and lacking any truly humane goal.
...human beings themselves are nowadays considered as consumer goods which can be used and thrown away. We have started a throw-away culture. This tendency is seen on the level of individuals and whole societies; and it is being promoted! In circumstances like these, solidarity, which is the treasure of the poor, is often considered counterproductive, opposed to the logic of finance and the economy. While the income of a minority is increasing exponentially, that of the majority is crumbling. This imbalance results from ideologies which uphold the absolute autonomy of markets and financial speculation, and thus deny the right of control to States, which are themselves charged with providing for the common good. A new, invisible and at times virtual, tyranny is established, one which unilaterally and irremediably imposes its own laws and rules. Moreover, indebtedness and credit distance countries from their real economy and citizens from their real buying power. Added to this, as if it were needed, is widespread corruption and selfish fiscal evasion which have taken on worldwide dimensions. The will to power and of possession has become limitless.
Read the rest here.

WHAT A SURPRISE. Locking kids up in juvenile prisons doesn't do a whole lot of good.

BE THERE IF YOU CAN. Here are op-eds by the Rev. Ron English and the Rev. David Fryson about the upcoming celebrations of the African American contribution to WV's first 150 years that will take place June 16-19. Details are in the links. If you know WV's history it's hard to deny this basic statement: no black folks, no West Virginia.


June 14, 2013

The most fateful words

When it comes to public policy debates, there is a phrase that I have been taught by bitter experience to fear, especially in my beloved home state of West Virginia. Every time I hear them, I almost break out in chills. The words in question:

It's a no brainer.
HILLARY TALKS WV. Specifically, she spoke about the Reconnecting McDowell project at a gathering in  Chicago. One wonders what this signals.

IF IT'S FRIDAY, it's time for Krugman.

DO YOU THINK YOUR LIFE IS WEIRD? Check out the life cycles of these critters.

BLACK HISTORY/WEST VIRGINIA HISTORY. If you're in or around Charleston June 16-19, check out these events celebrating Black History as we lead up to WV's 150th.


June 13, 2013

One good whack deserves another two

Earlier this week, I linked a good op-ed by E.J. Dionne on economic libertarianism. Here's another practical critique by Michael Lind and a more philosophical one from the Roosevelt Institute blog.

WHILE WE'RE AT IT, this column by economist Dean Baker points out that the latest free trade deal, like many before it, is mostly not about trade. And certainly not about democracy.

MR. MOJO RISIN.  The Spousal Unit has been bugging me for a week to put up a link about a newly discovered bearded lizard species (extinct, alas) that has just been named after Doors lead singer Jim Morrision. It's full name is Barbaturex morrisoni. I'm trying to think up some appropriate Doors lyric, but the closest I can come up with is "ride the snake" from The End.


June 11, 2013

Short haul

I am running around a lot today but did manage to find enough time to pass on this column by E.J. Dionne Jr. on one of my favorite punching and kicking bags, to wit economic libertarianism. As Dionne points out, one problem with that ideology is that it exists nowhere in the world. And that's a good thing.

ONE MORE ENCOURAGING THIING about WV is the dedication of some professionals to provide and improve child nutrition after the school day and beyond the school year. One example highlighted here is the Summer Food Service Program.



June 10, 2013

Another good step

I'm a little slow on the uptake sometimes. Here's just one example. Lots of people I know and respect have been stressing the importance of early childhood education in combating poverty and a host of ills. I was generally for it, but it took me a while to really get it.

This is also an area in which West Virginia is something of a natural leader. It has made significant progress over the last few years and recently passed legislation to take it further. Governor Tomblin has appointed a task force to look for further improvements. For once, state leaders are even saying nice things about federal policies the Obama administration is promoting.

As important as pre-kindergarten education is, there's a lot of research that suggests that the first two years of life are critical for brain development and for all kinds of later outcomes. This New Republic article does a good job of summing it up. I hope WV picks up on some policies that can help parents through this period, such as voluntary home visiting programs by social workers or nurses and other steps to improve the quality of child care.

 Ideally, the visiting program could begin with pregnancy and continue for the first few years, building a relationship with the infant and the parent or parents and offering support, advice and coaching. It could head off a lot of trouble down the road.

June 09, 2013

I never said they were smart

Video credit: the Spousal Unit.

I have previously mentioned that we have two mature...make that adult...male turkeys at Goat Rope Farm. They are more concerned with their romantic rival than with the females. Sometimes,they are also concerned about their own reflections, as this video demonstrates.