Saturday, April 7, 2012

Detroit: America's Greece

As most everyone knows by now, Greece is broke. The government has borrowed all there is to borrow. They've made all the promises they can possibly make. And they're going to be able to deliver on neither obligation. Bondholders and citizens alike have discovered that the well of unending plenty is dry. But this didn't happen overnight, and even now there is much denial of the final outcome, although the signs have been on the horizon for years. The euro-based Greek economy is dead; what the establishment will do to recreate a replacement "official" economy is yet to be seen. Nor is Greece the only euro-state in trouble. Portugal, Ireland, Italy and Spain are in similar shape, with many others not far behind.

Meanwhile, the Greek people are seeking their own ways around the mess that their national leaders have created, to some degree with the cooperation of those leaders, as we discovered in Greece Surrenders to the Underground Economy.

Detroit, like Greece, has failed. The government of Detroit is collapsing, soon to be replaced, one way or another. Battles have erupted between the Detroit City Council and Michigan Governor Rick Snyder to determine which group will take temporary control of the city (and eventually the ultimate blame for the collapse of Detroit's political machine).

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Around the Web 4/5/12

I'll be traveling to visit friends today, making it a good day to encourage my readers to catch up on interesting stories around the web.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Accidental Agorists Rebuild A Road

Here's the story of a community getting together to repair a road, bridge and all, because the government couldn't or wouldn't get the job done and they weren't willing to set around and watch their livelihoods destroyed. What this Tireless Agorist finds most interesting is that they don't even realize they're agorists, or that they're involved in a voluntaryist, entrepreneurial, counter-economic political demonstration of direct action, as surely as Mahatma Gandhi and his supporters on the Salt March. This is how the world will change.
Their livelihood was being threatened, and they were tired of waiting for government help, so business owners and residents on Hawaii's Kauai island pulled together and completed a $4 million repair job to a state park -- for free.

Polihale State Park has been closed since severe flooding destroyed an access road to the park and damaged facilities in December.

The state Department of Land and Natural Resources had estimated that the damage would cost $4 million to fix, money the agency doesn't have, according to a news release from department Chairwoman Laura Thielen.
The state couldn't get it done for at least two years, so Ivan Slack, owner of one of many businesses reliant on the park, went looking for volunteers.

Monday, April 2, 2012

“Squat and cough. Spread your cheeks.”

“Turn around,” Mr. Florence recalled being told by jail officials. “Squat and cough. Spread your cheeks.”


The New York Times informs us that the Supreme Court ruled on Monday " that officials may strip-search people arrested for any offense, however minor, before admitting them to jails even if the officials have no reason to suspect the presence of contraband."

The majority opinion was written by Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, who declared "every detainee who will be admitted to the general population may be required to undergo a close visual inspection while undressed."

Kennedy gave three reasons to justify routine searches — detecting lice and contagious infections, looking for tattoos and other evidence of gang membership and preventing smuggling of drugs and weapons.

The opinion of the four dissenters, authored by Justice Stephen G. Breyer, declared that strip-searches improperly "subject those arrested for minor offenses to a serious affront to human dignity and to individual privacy” and should be used only when there was good reason to do so. Breyer said jailers should have a reasonable suspicion someone may be hiding something before conducting a strip-search.

In his dissent, Breyer also pointed out that inmates in the two New Jersey jails already have to submit to pat-down searches, pass through metal detectors, shower with delousing agents and have their clothing searched.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Elizabeth Warren, Clueless or Complicit?

On March 8, 2007 the University of California Berkeley Jefferson Lecture Series presented The Coming Collapse of the Middle Class: Higher Risks, Lower Rewards, and a Shrinking Safety Net.

Since the title of the lecture closely paralled a topic I've been intending to explore, I decided that watching this lecture would serve to help me collect my own thoughts in preparation for writing on the subject.

The lecture was delivered by Elizabeth Warren, Leo Gottlieb Professor of Law at Harvard University and past chair of the Congressional oversight panel created to oversee the 2008 U.S banking bailout. She conceived and led the establishment of the U.S Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and is currently a US Senate candidate from Massachusetts. I've embedded the video, and I recommend watching it if you have the time.

What Ms. Warren Got Right

She opened her lecture by expressing her belief that "The single most important economic shift of the second half of the 20th century, in the United States, [was] that that millions of mothers poured into the full-time paid work force. A woman in 1970 who had a 16-year-old child was less likely to be in the work force than a woman in 2003 who had a six-month-old child at home. It was a profound shift in America."

"The median family in America went, over a 30-year period, from being a one-income household to a two-income household."

Year-Round Fools

In honor of April's Fool day, I've decided to feature a site that reports on fools year-round, Reason.com's Daily Brickbat. For those unfamiliar with the site, the Daily Brickbat is a mini blog where they post a very brief summary of something particularly ridiculous that someone in power has done on that particular day. Links are always provided to more conventional coverage so you can share the tale with friends. Highly recommended for those times when you want a laugh, a reason to bang your head against the wall, an opportunity for a double facepalm... or a site you can share with friends who desperately need a wake-up call about the abuse of authority.

A sampling of a half-dozen recent posts:

Officer Leatherface: Judy Sanchez says she heard someone pounding on the door of her Fitchburg, Massachusetts, apartment, and almost immediately after that someone started cutting through the door with a chainsaw. Several armed people rushed through the door forcing her and her family to the floor. It was a team of FBI agents who figured out about a half hour later they were supposed to raid the apartment next door.