Odds and Ends Vol 10

Odds and EndsI just have a few shorts bits for you today. As usual: they are just things that I didn’t have a lot to say about but which are interesting. I have to say: I’m getting tired of talking about Republican racism. But the fact remains that racism seems to be all that they have to offer. In fact, Paul Krugman made that exact point in his column today, That Old-Time Whistle. There is also a great artist and a little microeconomics that may make a train ride much more pleasant.

  1. War of Southern Racism: There’s a whole lotta racism going on in the Republican Party, ain’t there? This time it is the genial Mike Huckabee. On 12 March, he was speaking to Susan B Anthony List. Now the SBA List might sound like a liberal group, but it is actually an extremist anti-choice group. Because, you know, the first thing people think of when they hear the name “Susan B Anthony” is abortion. Unless you listen to historians, who claim that Anthony did not spend any time on the abortion issue at all. Egghead scholars; who needs em?! But you get the idea: they are conservative extremists and so Mr Huckabee must have felt right at home. And that’s why he said, “I don’t believe I can own another person, I thought we settled that after the Civil War, or as some people in the South when I was young used to still call it, the War of Northern Aggression.” Ha ha ha! What a card that man is! But maybe Dave Weigel will want to explain how that isn’t racist. He should, actually; he’d have a hell of a lot better a case than he had with Paul Ryan.
  2. Potato Famine: Speaking of Paul Ryan, Timothy Egan wrote a great article in The New York Times, Paul Ryan’s Irish Amnesia. It turns out that Ryan’s great-great-grandfather fled the Irish Potato Famine of the late 1840s for the opportunity (and food) in America. Ryan is rightly proud of this legacy. But he also doesn’t seem to know much about it.

    The famine was the result of years of English abuse of the Irish peasantry leading to their dependence upon potatoes as a food source. When potato blight hit the island, the people starved. But as John Mitchel wrote, “The Almighty, indeed, sent the potato blight, but the English created the famine.” As Egan notes in the article:

    A great debate raged in London: would it be wrong to feed the starving Irish with free food, thereby setting up a “culture of dependency”? Certainly England’s man in charge of easing the famine, Sir Charles Trevelyan, thought so. “Dependence on charity,” he declared, “is not to be made an agreeable mode of life.”

    Sound like anyone you know? Maybe the great-great-grandson of one of the Irish who escaped the famine? During the 2012 campaign, Irish historian John Kelly wrote, “Ryan’s high-profile economic philosophy is the very same one that hurt, not helped, his forebears during the famine—and hurt them badly.” I recommend reading the whole article; it is excellent.

  3. Homeward Bound: In case you don’t know, Andrea runs a couple of other blogs, one of which is ALE Designs, where she presents interesting artists who she comes across. There is always fun stuff there that is worth checking out. But a couple weeks ago, she featured collage artist Catrin Welz-Stein. She does wonderful, haunting, surreal work. You can see a bunch of her work on her Red Bubble page. But here is a great example of her work, Homeward Bound:
    Homeward Bound - Catrin Welz-Stein
  4. Monopsony: I don’t know a lot about microeconomics, probably because (1) I only took a single course in economics and (2) I’m not really interested in markets as such, but rather in the policies affecting all markets. But there is a very interesting microeconomic concept that I do find interesting: monopsony. This is a market where there are many sellers but only one buyer. Without strong unions, we have this in the labor market. Think about it: when McDonald’s advertises a job, a hundred people apply for it. That obviously gives McDonald’s the ability to dictate terms. Thus, McDonald’s effectively has a monopoly in the labor market. Pretty much all employers do. The next time you are forced to talk to some idiot conservative who claims that we can’t raise the minimum wage because “it’s just simple supply and demand,” throw the concept of monopsony at him. He’s probably never heard of it and so will stutter. This will give you the opening to change the subject to something he may know something about—like the weather.
  5. The Good News: At 84 years old, it isn’t great news that Fred Phelps is near death. It would have been great news if he had died much younger, before he was able to poison the world and abuse his children. But it is nonetheless good news that we may soon be rid of the hateful preacher. The news comes from Nathan Phelps, his son who escaped the hatred of his father’s church and is currently an LGBT activist in Canada. It isn’t his death that matters, of course. As I noted about Andrew Breitbart, I don’t know Fred Phelps. But his absence from our society will be a public good.

That was fast! And I got rid of a whole bunch of Chrome tabs. Onward we go!

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