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You get the government you deserve

I'm doing a chat today at 11 a.m. (you can send questions in advance if you wish) about my article on the debt, and just to limber up the noggin (when you get to be my age, you need to stretch your cerebral cortex, fire up the limbic system and give the hypothalamus a kick before engaging in any protracted verbal activity) I'll type a few thoughts that didn't quite make it into the story or may have been merely implicit:

First, you get the government you deserve. Yes, politicians can be cowardly and squirrelly and finger-in-the-windy, but ultimately it's a representative democracy. They give the people what the people demand. No one likes to pay taxes; we like to get government benefits. The way politicians reconcile this is through debt. Everyone in Washington knows that the debt trajectory is unsustainable -- that in the mid-term and long-term we're on pace to get into a fiscal jam -- and they know that there's no miracle cure other than some mix of new revenue and less spending. The question is: Will voters punish politicians who push one or both of those solutions?

Second, this is not a story about who's to blame. Although in an early version I went into detail on the origins of the large debt, I decided that most readers knew that narrative already and that it wasn't fresh enough to include in a piece trying to cover a lot of territory. The cause of the fiscal problem isn't trivial by any means, and offers lessons as we go ahead. The Bush tax cuts were not "paid for" with any attendant cuts in spending. Nor was Medicare Part D, the prescription drug plan. Nor was the Iraq war paid for with new taxes or spending cuts. Nor were the bailouts or stimulus package. Throw in two recessions, and it was a historic decade of deficit spending. But here's the important point: Even if, going forward in the decade ahead, there isn't another recession or collapse of the financial system, and there's no new war, and nothing bad or unexpected happens to us, and we enjoy a decade of steady economic growth, we still wind up in a jam. That's because of the demographics of the country and our "structural deficit."

Third, I continue to be struck by some of the words that Bill Gross, the investment guy, did NOT say during our interview: Bush. Obama. Republicans. Democrats. His is the view from space. The individuals players fade from view. He looks at the yield on the 10-year note and the 30-year bond. We've been able to finance huge deficits the past year and a half because short-term interest rates have been almost zero. But interest rates are going to go up as the economy recovers. It can get really expensive really fast to carry the debt. What you don't want to do is spook investors by refusing to tackle the fiscal issue. Then they'll demand higher interest rates, layering their anxiety on top of the existing interest rates, and that can put you in a nasty feedback loop in which the next thing you know you're shoveling a trillion dollars a year out the Treasury just to service the debt. Since a lot of that goes overseas, it's a real drain on national wealth.

So we can talk about all that, if you want, later this morning.

By Joel Achenbach  |  April 26, 2010; 7:04 AM ET
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Next: Still reading newspapers


I'm a little depressed. I'm also first!

Posted by: Yoki | April 26, 2010 8:20 AM | Report abuse

Morning, Boodle.
Yeah, Yoki. I'm kicking it with the double-strength Earl Grey so I'm ready by 11:00 for the get-down.
Gloomy and grey on the farm with drizzle.
Good for the farmers but not for the mood.

Posted by: talitha1 | April 26, 2010 8:32 AM | Report abuse

Maybe this will pick you up a little, Yoki. From today's Borowitz Report:

Somali Pirates Say They Are Subsidiary of Goldman Sachs

Could Make Prosecution Difficult, Experts Say

NORFOLK, VIRGINIA (The Borowitz Report) – Eleven indicted Somali pirates dropped a bombshell in a U.S. court today, revealing that their entire piracy operation is a subsidiary of banking giant Goldman Sachs.

There was an audible gasp in the courtroom when the leader of the pirates announced, “We are doing God’s work. We work for Lloyd Blankfein.”

The pirate, who said he earned a bonus of $48 million in dubloons last year, elaborated on the nature of the Somalis’ work for Goldman, explaining that the pirates forcibly attacked ships that Goldman had already shorted.

“We were functioning as investment bankers, only every day was casual Friday,” the pirate said.

The pirate acknowledged that they merged their operations with Goldman in late 2008 to take advantage of the more relaxed regulations governing bankers as opposed to pirates, “plus to get our share of the bailout money.”

In the aftermath of the shocking revelations, government prosecutors were scrambling to see if they still had a case against the Somali pirates, who would now be treated as bankers in the eyes of the law.

“There are lots of laws that could bring these guys down if they were, in fact, pirates,” one government source said. “But if they’re bankers, our hands are tied.”

'Morning, Boodle. Gloomy and gray and drizzly hereabouts, too, talitha.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | April 26, 2010 8:45 AM | Report abuse

How about selling pirate flags, lapel pins, hooks and peg legs on Wall Street?

A pirate talk glossary would be useful to intellectualy inclined bankers.

Brag :)

Posted by: Braguine | April 26, 2010 9:19 AM | Report abuse

Hah, Mudge!
And is it "gray" or "grey" in the style-book, or does it matter? My Confederate ancestors want to be sure. ;)

Posted by: talitha1 | April 26, 2010 9:21 AM | Report abuse

AP Style Book: gray, but greyhound

NYT Manual of Style: ditto

Fowler (2nd ed.): says it is grey in Great Britain, but notes Samual Johnson and other famous lexicographers preferred gray.

Bill Walsh (WaPo): gray, not grey. Walsh says one should NEVER say that "either is correct," because having a style rule means making a decision one way or the other.

Garner (THE authority): gray in U.S., grey in G.B. Garner says neither is incorrect (contra Walsh).

GPO: gray

Chicago, APA: silent on the issue.

Wikipedia tends to prefer grey, and says:

"Grey became the established British spelling in the 20th century, pace Dr. Johnson and others, and it is but a minor variant in American English, according to dictionaries. Canadians tend to prefer grey. The non-cognate greyhound was never grayhound. Both Grey and Gray are found in proper names everywhere in the English-speaking world. Americans tend to use "gray" in reference to the color and "grey" as the adjective.

N.B.: "grey" first appeared as a color in about 700 AD.

There are some usages which are NOT disctretionary, such as the physics unit of measurement: 1 Gray = 0.001 kGy = 1 joule of energy absorbed per kilogram of food irradiated. One cannot spell it Grey in this instance. One may also NOT spell it Earl Gray or Zane Gray. Both are Grey, non-negotiable.

This being largely an American blog HQ'ed in an American city, we may take "gray" to be the generally preferred spelling; however, with due respect to our Canucki friends plus any other furriners, we ought to be circumspect and polite for those who insist upon "grey" and forgive them their minor peccadilloes, and politely overlook such things as "colour," "honour," etc., as relics of their upbringing and culture. (It makes them cute and colourful.)

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | April 26, 2010 9:50 AM | Report abuse

Good morning all.

About the article...future generations don't vote? Yeah, but that assumes parents put themselves before their children and vote against their children's best interests, and doesn't build in for the subtle changes that happen when becoming a parent (like suddenly caring about high fructose corn syrup).

The lack of political will...just because someone doesn't agree with you (raise taxes vs cut benefits) doesn't mean they lack political will. Isn't it possible the opposite is true, that strong political will is robbing that train?

Seems to me that some politicians aren't looking at re-election per se, but at how the history books will immortalize them. Besides, there are a few good apples left in that barrel.

The experts quoted have a lot more experience in these matters than I do, but it seems they are not only saying we're (more than likely) heading for a Gorbachov-type dissolution speech, but that it's unavoidable given our form of government/elections. Really? Aren't they leading that wagon train, losing confidence in investing in the US? If we follow their lead, aren't we just hastening our own demise?

Posted by: LostInThought | April 26, 2010 9:53 AM | Report abuse

On the other hand, some of them furriners DID invent the English language, so we need to cut them some slack.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | April 26, 2010 9:55 AM | Report abuse

So in the US it would be, I painted my bedroom gray, on a grey, blustery day?

I have enough issues with spelling, thank goodness for the Canadian grey - generic easy to remember.

Posted by: dmd3 | April 26, 2010 9:58 AM | Report abuse that true about the pirates? Sounds like one of your charmin' tallish tales but also could be true since it is so outlandish....not at a computer where I can searchie thingies.

Thanks for the Grey/Gray stuff. I LOVE BILL WALSH! The Mr. Elephants of Style. You, sir, are the great white whale of style, in good way.

Posted by: CollegeQuaParkian1 | April 26, 2010 9:58 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, y'all.

Warm muffins, coffee and OJ on the table.

While I agree in part with Mr. A that we get the gummint we deserve, I think it's true only in the aggregate.

Every election I find myself in the voting booth thinking of all the people I would prefer voting for as opposed to the folks whose names are on the ballot. And on a personal level, I can always find legislation or regulations with which I disagree.

I would also argue that since most states, municipalities and families have to balance budgets, we do -get- the concept of fiscal responsibility. That it is at the national level where this goes off the tracks makes me wonder whether DC pols just got into an unsustainable habit most of the rest of us try to, or have to, avoid.

Posted by: MsJS | April 26, 2010 10:05 AM | Report abuse

Is it me or does the following sentence need a bit of work?

"Washington Post staff writer Joel Achenbach and Achenblogger will be online Monday, April 26 at 11 a.m. ET to discuss his Outlook article titled, The national debt and Washington's deficit of will."

How about "Washington Post staff writer and Achenblogger Joel Achenbach will..."


Posted by: MsJS | April 26, 2010 10:20 AM | Report abuse

MsJS, I think I have to take umbrage on referring to them as "the DC pols." DC happens to be where they work and vote, but those pols actually come from Nebraska, Wisconsin, Texas, Mississippi, Wyoming, Kentucky, and other godforsaken parts of the "Heartland," where patriotism takes the guise of tea parties, armed militia, fundamentalist religion and fundamentalist libertarianism, and other abominations.

So yes, the vile things they do might take place in Warshington, but its impetus is entirely home-grown. These people don't come here to learn how to become a--hats; they bring that to the table when they get elected back in the boonies.

DC didn't create Princess Sparkle Pony. She managed that all by herself. Ditto the Killa From Wasilla.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | April 26, 2010 10:25 AM | Report abuse

Howdy. I often, particularly with voting-age students, ask groups of people how many are happy with their political representation (local, state, feds, doesn't matter). Mostly they aren't. Then I ask how many voted. Mostly they haven't. Then I tell them they have the government they deserve.

As MsJS notes, sometimes voting means choosing between two imperfect alternatives. Even if you like neither candidate, opting not to vote is not an exercise of power, nor is it a political statement. It is a choice to let others exercise power for you, to ensure your voice goes unheard. In the last several years I have voted for plenty of people who I knew would lose their election. Participation really is the process.

While many states and municipalities have to balance their budgets, they don't always do it well, gracefully or effectively. We're looking at a huge shortfall this year and worse next year, and our Legislature has been avoiding the hard decisions with unusual vigor. The political and ideological differences on the national level are also playing out on our state level. The major difference is that, without new sources of revenue on the state level, there will be (indeed, have been) immediate and visible consequences to ordinary citizens.

Thanks for the "gray" "grey" explanation, Mudge. "Grey" is a very odd-looking word if you stare at it long enough. I wonder how it came to represent that color.

Posted by: Ivansmom | April 26, 2010 10:26 AM | Report abuse

I knew that Bill Walsh was the go-to guy for West Coast Offense advice, but hadn't realized that he was a language maven as well. May he rest in peace.

Posted by: Bob-S | April 26, 2010 10:29 AM | Report abuse

Thanks for the stylebook lesson, kind sir!
So glad to know that I'm not drinking the wrong shade of tea, which probably accounts for my tendency toward the 'e'.
(Hope the digression my innocent question provoked was as interesting to the boodle as it was to me.)

Posted by: talitha1 | April 26, 2010 10:29 AM | Report abuse

I think it was supposed to be, "Washington Post staff writer Joel Achenbach, an Achenblogger, will be..."

Posted by: Bob-S | April 26, 2010 10:32 AM | Report abuse

You'd think after nearly 20 years in the investment journalism biz (including pretty regular advice and info from Mr. Gross himself), I'd know more and be more interested in this topic. Not gonna happen. Sorry. We are just born to be never interested in some things, I guess.

In fact, I think that's what made me a good editor in that field; and hating the jargon even more than the subject did wonders for my red pen. One of the worst offenders? "going forward..." ARGHGH.

Posted by: -TBG- | April 26, 2010 10:37 AM | Report abuse

Now, I find this piece heartening: old geezer writers are still out there promoting their books. Herman Wouk, at 94, is at the LA Times Book Festival, along with Mary Higgins Clark, 82, and some others.

Wouk has a new book out, the title of which I find ambiguous. It is "The Language God Talks." I couldn't tell if it mean "the language THAT God talks," or "the language god has this to say." Turns out its the first, the language that the Supreme Being utters being calculus, according to a quote from Richard Feynman. (The book is about science and religion, and has a lot of Feynman in it, as the two discuss this and that.)

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | April 26, 2010 10:42 AM | Report abuse

Two of my buddies sent me pictures of their Boobquake attire.

I'm trembling.

Posted by: Bob-S | April 26, 2010 10:48 AM | Report abuse

Ivansmom, here is something on the etymology of the word gray/grey:

Date of Origin Old English [OE]

Grey is an ancient colour term, traceable back all the way to a prehistoric Indo-European *ghrēghwos. From this was descended West and North Germanic *grǣwaz, which produced German grau, Dutch grauw, Swedish grå, and Danish graa as well as English grey. The distinction in spelling between British grey and American gray is a comparatively recent one. Dr Johnson in his Dictionary 1755 gave gray as the main form, and even into the early 20th century it was still quite common in Britain (The Times used it, for instance). Nor is grey by any means unknown in America.


So blame it on the Indo-Europeans.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | April 26, 2010 10:51 AM | Report abuse

I understand your objection, Mudge.

Just as students from around the country go to a particular university and two years later identify themselves with that university's history and ways of doing things, so too do Nebraskans, Arizonans, and Bay Staters go to Washington, DC and learn the ways Congress works. I would submit that in the 30+ years during which I've heard people warn us about "the debt bomb" the federal government has developed a culture of how to evade it. I don't view it as a new phenomenon.

Do we as citizens bear some of the responsibility? In the words of you-know-who, you betcha. Does balancing the budget at any level sometimes get messy? Same response.

BobS, that's another way to fix the sentence. Ya wanna be an editor?

Posted by: MsJS | April 26, 2010 10:52 AM | Report abuse

Do we get the government we deserve? On a local level, probably. But a combination of big and bigger money, whatever the source, and our awful primary system works against us.

Posted by: -dbG- | April 26, 2010 10:59 AM | Report abuse

Thanks, Mudge. But look at that *ghrēghwos and *grǣwaz. Now those words are just something else. One thing about them Saxons and Angles, they used simple words. Mostly.

Joel Achenbach is not an Achenblogger, he is THE Achenbblogger.

Posted by: Ivansmom | April 26, 2010 11:10 AM | Report abuse

Returning to a former topic, FB now retains your data even if you delete your account. When even Schumer sees a problem, it has to be. big.

Posted by: -dbG- | April 26, 2010 11:13 AM | Report abuse

I-mom, I was thinking the same thing about Mr. A.

Posted by: MsJS | April 26, 2010 11:15 AM | Report abuse

Aw, Ivansmom beat me to it!

"Washington Post staff writer Joel Achenbach, THE Achenblogger, will be..."

Posted by: nellie4 | April 26, 2010 11:22 AM | Report abuse

dbG, *can* you delete your FB account? I could not find a way to do it, could only shut down all the various parts.

Posted by: nellie4 | April 26, 2010 11:25 AM | Report abuse

I think this admittedly brilliant solution to the health care problem might also have application to the debt crisis.

On an unrelated topic, the Kurosawaguy thumb is way, way up for "The Secret in Their Eyes", the Argentinian film which won the Oscar for Best Foreign Film last year and is just now coming to town. Part mystery, part thriller, part romance, and all good. It has violence without gore and non-erotic nudity, but both are done tastefully and as a neccessary part of the plot. Fine acting by the entire cast and one real eye popping sequence of virtuoso camera work like nothing I've ever seen.

Posted by: kguy1 | April 26, 2010 11:30 AM | Report abuse

Tasteful, non-erotic nudity? Um...what's the point of that?

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | April 26, 2010 11:35 AM | Report abuse

That's what they call 'art', Mudge.

Yeah, right.

Posted by: MsJS | April 26, 2010 11:44 AM | Report abuse

Theoretically, Nellie. Except they keep your data. I'm not on fb so I can't tell you how to do it.

Posted by: -dbG- | April 26, 2010 11:47 AM | Report abuse

Seems to me to varying degrees, elected officials may learn How Things Work, but people pretty much stay who they are. Maybe when they come to Washington, Who They Are shows a whole lot better (e.g, PSP), but the politicians are still politicians, the academics are still academics, the lawyers are always lawyers (probably since birth), the buttheads are still buttheads.

Posted by: LostInThought | April 26, 2010 11:47 AM | Report abuse

Nude body of rape and murder victim. Absolute desecration of a lovely young woman. The investigator from the DA's office becomes obsessed with catching her killer. The rest of the story depends on the idea that a career functionary in a corrupt bureaucracy would be so affected by a case that he would risk everything to get justice for the criminal.

Posted by: kguy1 | April 26, 2010 11:52 AM | Report abuse

Yeah, dbG, I understand *theoretically.* I got on FB for one specific task, and have shut down everything I can touch, and the FB bot still sends me little love notes about how my friends miss me. Urg!

Posted by: nellie4 | April 26, 2010 11:55 AM | Report abuse

The state of Florida has arguably never been much of a representative democracy. It perhaps was, for white males, during parts of the 19th century, and maybe for all males during Reconstruction.

During the twentieth century, the state mostly had a single-party system (once Democratic, now Republican). Until the 1960s, the legislature was apportioned so that the urban areas were scarcely represented. Even after reapportionment, the legislature somehow continued to be controlled by the northern tier of the state, Pensacola being far more important than Miami.

Lately, district boundaries have been delineated to ensure Republican dominance of the legislature. The party is doing whatever's needed to ensure the gerrymandering continues.

By that standard, no one in the region from Palm Beach to Miami deserves the state government that's imposed on them.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | April 26, 2010 11:56 AM | Report abuse


Posted by: jezebel3 | April 26, 2010 12:08 PM | Report abuse

Mr. A's Q&A has wrapped up. Wowie ka-zowie, I got two postings printed during the hour. A personal record.

Posted by: MsJS | April 26, 2010 12:08 PM | Report abuse

I also got a comment into that chat.

Posted by: Bob-S | April 26, 2010 12:10 PM | Report abuse

Alexandria, Va.: With 150 million folks in the civilian workforce, the total debt is around $55,000 each. Ten bucks a day for the next twenty years ought to cover it. Let's get a bunch of piggy banks and get to work!

Joel Achenbach: But I have other plans for that $55,000. (That's like a FULL YEAR of tuition at a small liberal arts college!)

Posted by: Bob-S | April 26, 2010 12:11 PM | Report abuse

It was a good chat, with lots of interesting (and also some wacky) comments.

Joel did a great job. I also like his new (?) grownup picture.

Posted by: -TBG- | April 26, 2010 12:14 PM | Report abuse

Careful, Joel -- I have read about what goes on at small liberal arts colleges. Especially the Midwestern ones.

Posted by: ScienceTim | April 26, 2010 12:15 PM | Report abuse

Miami Herald's Fred Grimm on the perpetual reelection of State Representative Mike Haridopolos:

The politician in question is a relatively young Energizer Bunny, fit to be a character in a Mike Nichols movie.

I've never figured out the political transformation of the Space Coast (including the Kennedy Space Center) from moderate to hard-right of the Tea Party sort (meaning relatively non-religious). Local voters would abolish the space program if it weren't a mainstay of the local economy.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | April 26, 2010 12:16 PM | Report abuse

2% tax on complex derivatives and reinstate estate taxes at 1997 levels. Problem solved. Next question?

Posted by: Jumper1 | April 26, 2010 12:17 PM | Report abuse

Gee, how many people are we gonna have to kill to balance the budget with estate taxes?

Posted by: Bob-S | April 26, 2010 12:24 PM | Report abuse

Jumper's Law states "It is far easier to learn how to defeat Facebook by using Google than by using Facebook."

This came up when I Googled:
how to quit facebook

Posted by: Jumper1 | April 26, 2010 12:27 PM | Report abuse

Wow, that was one quick chat Joel had! The guy's on the clock, that's fer sher.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | April 26, 2010 12:28 PM | Report abuse

Bob, people don't kill people, cheesecakes do.

Posted by: russianthistle | April 26, 2010 12:29 PM | Report abuse

Bob, everybody dies. It's fitting to use death to pay taxes.

Posted by: Jumper1 | April 26, 2010 12:30 PM | Report abuse

AND, Jumper is right. If we just rolled back our tax rates to early Clinton-age rates, then several good things would happen, one of which would be that our deficit would start shrinking again after we come out of the recession/depression that we are in.

Secondly, and possibly more importantly, businesses would be run more responsibly. There wouldn't be such a rush to drag every last dollar out of the companies and stuff it into the pockets of large stock holders and senior execs.

Businesses with large amounts of money spend the money to expand.

Posted by: russianthistle | April 26, 2010 12:32 PM | Report abuse


*taking my own pulse*

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | April 26, 2010 12:33 PM | Report abuse

Great comment, BobS!

I wrote:
About the Chinese debt: If the U.S. had piled on a lot of debt all at once, Anonymous's theory might have more plausibility. As this is not the case, I'm not sure it works.

Joel Achenbach: Thanks. Anyone else?


VAT, Ick! : Then again, the Democrats like the Progressive Income Tax. The PIT!

Just wanted to point that out.

Joel Achenbach: Consider it pointed.

The latter was more as a joke about acronyms. I didn't expect it to be printed.

Posted by: MsJS | April 26, 2010 12:33 PM | Report abuse

Oh, I wasn't complaining about the concept. I just want to know if I need more ammo.

Posted by: Bob-S | April 26, 2010 12:34 PM | Report abuse

Also, Jumper, folks say that estate taxes are a matter of re-taxing, but, in many cases, it is a case of unrealized income.

Posted by: russianthistle | April 26, 2010 12:34 PM | Report abuse

No, but watch the cheesecakes, Bob.

Posted by: russianthistle | April 26, 2010 12:35 PM | Report abuse

Jumper, I foresee conspiracy theories about the government expediting the deaths of rich people to enhance revenues.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | April 26, 2010 12:41 PM | Report abuse

Cheesecake? I got some nice strawberries and blackberries to go with the cheesecake.

Posted by: MsJS | April 26, 2010 12:45 PM | Report abuse

Sadly they are expediting the death of my poor neighbor right now. I spoke to him about reverse mortgages six months ago and he'd not even heard of them. (Has no offspring, either.) Too late. Now his fate is in others' hands.

Posted by: Jumper1 | April 26, 2010 12:52 PM | Report abuse

And speaking of cheesecake,
how's the 'Boobquake' going? There was an early morning report of a 6.5 on Taiwan, but that happened prior to the mass gathering.

Posted by: talitha1 | April 26, 2010 12:56 PM | Report abuse

If there turns out to be a tsunami in Brest, France, today, I'm gonna become a believer.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | April 26, 2010 12:59 PM | Report abuse

Briefly noted in The Onion:

Commas, Turning Up, Everywhere

WASHINGTON—In the midst of a crisis that may have reached a breaking, point Tuesday afternoon, linguists, and grammarians, everywhere say they are baffled, by the sudden and seemingly random, appearance of commas, in our nation's sentences. The epidemic of errant punctuation has spread, like wildfire, since signs of the epidemic first, appeared in a Washington Post article, on Federal Reserve Chairman, Ben, Bernanke. "This, is an unsettling trend," columnist William Sa,fire, told reporters. "We're seeing a collapse of the grammatical rules that have, held, the English language, together for, centuries." Experts warn, that if this same, phenomenon, should occur with ellipses…

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | April 26, 2010 1:11 PM | Report abuse

Here's a revised Q&A:

Anonymous: Publicly traded companies often take on debt as a tool to prevent a hostile takeover. This is a defensive move... [Could the US govt. debt amount to a defensive move against China? Is our debt to China so large] that we can now set terms as we choose?

Joel Achenbach: That's a very interesting thought, hadn't heard it, maybe someone else can tell us if it makes sense?

We now owe the Chinese government so much that they're stuck with us. Both governments are very much aware of that fact.

It's a bit like having a kid at private college. By the end of the first year, so much money's been invested that the notion of transferring to a cheaper no-prestige public university won't look very attractive. Hmmm. That's a sunk-cost setup. Don't economists say you should ignore sunk costs when making decisions? I'm in over my head. Time to swim back to the beach.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | April 26, 2010 1:11 PM | Report abuse

Commas. Turning up. Everywhere.

There's a period proliferation. Too.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | April 26, 2010 1:15 PM | Report abuse

I'm saddened to have missed the Q and A, but the transcript suggests it went very well. Some excellent questions, great answers, and just enough crazy talk to make the whole thing interesting.

Dapper. Joel's new picture makes him look Dapper.

And that we get the government we deserve seems very true. The priorities of the government are still set by the electorate. And as long as the electorate keeps viewing things other than the deficit as being most important, the politicians will follow its lead.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | April 26, 2010 1:21 PM | Report abuse

I learned a new word today that works equally well for fabric-obsessed people as well as wood-workers:

chatoyancy -- that lustrous layed look of muted but deep reflected sheen

Sigh...what a true word, and of course, comes from French, meaning cat's eyes


The cat eye is the stone not the literal cat eye...but cat lovers may like this too.

Grey and Gray! Color fun/word fun. Thanks.

Posted by: CollegeQuaParkian1 | April 26, 2010 1:26 PM | Report abuse

I'll bet a dollar to a donut that Joel's next kit will be about the Stephen Hawking pronouncement about aliens (and why we shouldn't contact them):

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | April 26, 2010 1:30 PM | Report abuse

I was thinking the same when I read the S. Hawking piece. "Microbes from Crab Nebula", now showing at your friendly neighborhood cineplex.

Posted by: talitha1 | April 26, 2010 1:36 PM | Report abuse

I'm not fond of the new JA photo. He's much more handsome than that.

Posted by: slyness | April 26, 2010 2:06 PM | Report abuse

I like Joel's picture. Slyness, Joel's a tad sensitive about his pics. But who isn't.

I'm in Kansas City...again. Looks like tornado weather. Dorotheee!

Posted by: Windy3 | April 26, 2010 2:17 PM | Report abuse

I'd be willing to go back to Clinton-era taxes rates. In exchange, I want to eliminate that ratzinfratzin AMT.

If anyone wants to feel in need of a shower, check out the comments on Dionne's piece. *shudder*

Posted by: Raysmom | April 26, 2010 2:22 PM | Report abuse

Note that they are using the older picture of Joel on the home page and the newer picture of Joel on the chat page. Which must make sense to someone.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | April 26, 2010 2:31 PM | Report abuse

Wait! I just got Unlimited International Calling and now I shouldn't be calling aliens? What's up with that?

Is this another case of the media taking an intelligent, well thought out statement, and turning it into a dumbed down sound bite?

Do I have the right number of commas in the above? Resisted the hyphens and ellipsis.


Posted by: DLDx | April 26, 2010 2:38 PM | Report abuse

Good afternoon, all.

Look in order to make up budget deficits, public insitiutions have sales to help cover costs.

Public libraries sell off excess books, schools and other places have bake sales -- what does the US government have that they could sell?

Well, we have/had some car companies -- could we sell some cars (make it a Patriotic Duty to buy a new car or two) and use the profits to cover the deficits, and to pay down the debt?

What else do we have here -- oh, right, we have a bunch of banks and the US Mint...

Waitaminute, I'm having an idea...


P.S. I'm always amused at the notion some folks have that "the problem is in Washington." As if just being here makes representatives from all over the country lose their minds from something in the swamp water around here. Would it be any different if the Nation's Capital were in Omaha or Denver or Chicago or Mianus? The Government is people, not marble buildings, paper or, desks, or Crackberries, and as LiT, Mudge, Joel, and others point out, we're getting what we voted for, buy, er, I mean, *by* the people we put there.

If we vote people in to our legislative bodies and then villify them, then who have we got in there? Criminals? Perhaps if we make it desireable to do our country's business for the good of the many (even when it's difficult and even painful, like a doctor setting a broken bone), then maybe we'll get more Congresspersons who want to do so.


Posted by: -bc- | April 26, 2010 2:44 PM | Report abuse

Sounding a bit contrarian here, but what if we reset the economy somewhat. What if we worked less and had less stuff but had more time? What if costs when down, because some aspect of salaries (we see)/labor costs (they pay) went down?

I would like a quality of life dividend. And, I work like a dog and am not lazy...still, something else has got to give here on the labor side of things.

Just a thought. I like reading about the newer field of behavioral economics and the emerging metrics on quality of life, not just GDP and GDP-like indexes.

Posted by: CollegeQuaParkian1 | April 26, 2010 2:53 PM | Report abuse

And I disagree about deserving the government. That's just blaming the victims.

Posted by: Jumper1 | April 26, 2010 3:01 PM | Report abuse

Off-Kit warning (well, it's a gloomy Monday, and my Red Wings lost yesterday, and I'm just a wee bit cranky -- so there!):

Can any of my fellow boodlers gimme an easy, quick tutorial in Skype (which I'm considering getting)? I see that Skype-2-Skype is free, and that landline connections seem to be cheaper than mobile connex, but I still for the ever-aging life of me, cannot figure out how to use it.

*feeling ever so incapable at the moment, which I dearly hope will pass soon*

Posted by: -ftb- | April 26, 2010 3:01 PM | Report abuse

Nice bc but I vote for term limits.

Posted by: Windy3 | April 26, 2010 3:07 PM | Report abuse

I think I'm with jumper's 3:01. Not only is it blaming the victims, as he points out, but some of us actually voted for better people than who actually got in (viz., Bush, Reagan, etc.) We aren't all equally guilty of voting for bozos. I pretty much have avoided doing that for many decades now. Why others seem unable to do that I don't know; but I ain't taking responsibility for 'em.

But no, I certainly haven't "deserved" a lot of the morons who got elected.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | April 26, 2010 3:16 PM | Report abuse

I can say with complete confidence that term limits on state legislators has not improved the legislative governance here. The issues surrounding state governance are very complex. Most would-be officeholders and recent electees get into gummint on the strength of a single passion, issue or idea, or small set thereof. These reasons for seeking office almost never involve the nuts and bolts of state agencies and the budget, which is the biggest legislative responsibility every year. The new folks have no idea what awaits them. They're overwhelmed before Session begins.

With term limits, there are no long-term legislators available to mentor, counsel or guide the new folks. As the turnover is constant, a large percentage of each legislative class is wholly clueless, some have just begun to figure it out, and some are in a place to think about governing, but will be gone in a year.

The clearest consequences have been the importance of legislative staff and lobbyists - the only people around the Capitol long enough to know how to do what when. In the House here, this was exacerbated when the formerly minority party took over and promptly fired almost the entire long-term staff - non-political positions - because they'd spent their entire careers to that point working for the majority. It has taken some time for House members to get up to speed on major issues.

The other unintended consequence is a focus on short-term governing without focus on long-term consequences. If you know you won't be in office five or ten years from now, you might not be disturbed at cutting the state's revenue sources by several million a year, or more. After all, you don't deal with the consequences when the economy dips. It's okay to enact something clearly unconstitutional, if it is an issue dear to your heart. You won't be around as the state pays for, and loses, the inevitable legal challenge.

Posted by: Ivansmom | April 26, 2010 3:23 PM | Report abuse

CqP, I think there's a structural issue that creates some inflexibility. As long as expensive benefits such as healthcare are tied to employment there is a disincentive to hire with flexibility for work-life issues.

ftb, we use Skype for occasional video chats with some cousins. It was very easy - download the program, input your contact(s), connect with them and if desired hit the video pop-up. I don't recall offhand how we put in the contact - I think it was by email address. It certainly wasn't inputing IP address or anything like that.

Posted by: engelmann | April 26, 2010 3:34 PM | Report abuse

Excellent analysis Ivansmom!

And I notice that they have switched Joel's picture on the homepage to his newer "dapper" one. Right *after* I mentioned it!

Wow, so this is what the illusion of power feels like.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | April 26, 2010 3:35 PM | Report abuse

Better too many than too few. It's far scarier to miss a period.

Posted by: yellojkt | April 26, 2010 3:39 PM | Report abuse

Why do I find it quite humorous that Liz Kelly's Celebritology link is bad? (It goes to last Friday's SNL list, not to the topic headlined.) Even the Queen of Links can't get properly linked.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | April 26, 2010 3:46 PM | Report abuse

OTOH, Ivansmom, Oklahoma gave rise to the largest (known) government scandal in the history of our country, the 1980 County Commissioner Kickback Scandal which involved over 200 current and former elected officials in bribery charges. Sometimes knowing how the system works is not a good thing.

OTOOH, you last paragraph exactly describes the problem we face in Virginia where the Guvnah is elected for a single term in off off years, yielding the occasional poo-poo head like Bob McD.

I think that two of the best things we could do to improve politics in this country would be to
1. Do away with the Electoral College and elect presidents based on the popular vote. No more "battleground states". Everybody's vote counts and they all count equally.
2. Remove the Congressional redistricting process from the hands of politicians. This would reduce the advantages of incumbency to some degree and perhaps mitigate against the kind of outright gerrymandering we see so often now. Perhaps. Maybe. Hopefully.

Posted by: kguy1 | April 26, 2010 4:00 PM | Report abuse

Kguy -- I'll vote for ya!

Posted by: -ftb- | April 26, 2010 4:13 PM | Report abuse

Jumper: re your link to "quitting facebook." All good stuff, and exactly what I did when I realized I didn't want to touch that stuff. BUT that tells you how to "quit" facebook. It does not tell you how to erase your name and other info. You can't. Somewhere I think it even tells you that you can deactivate your profile, but can't erase it.

Posted by: nellie4 | April 26, 2010 4:15 PM | Report abuse

kguy, I don't think we could remove redistricting from the hands of politicians; all we could do is give them gloves so they leave fewer fingerprints. Redistricting is essentially political, so there is a strong motivation influencing any individual or group of individuals to skew the results, either on the basis of actual personal political preference or some kind of "influence" (read "bribe"). At least under the current system, the people torturing the system could, in principle, be punished for it. Of course, the purpose of gerrymandering is to prevent exactly that; but, it is at least possible to demand an accounting.

The electoral college is in the Constitution. Its continued existence guarantees the relevance of small states that retain a "winner-take-all" approach to the allocation of electors, rather than proportional representation. Large states would be more important under proportional representation, but only if the smaller states also select electors proportionally. There are quite a few more smallish states that stand to lose relevance under a popular vote, than large states that stand to gain. It would take a Constitutional amendment to eliminate the Electoral College, and that means that 3/4 of the States must approve it. No freakin' way, so we might as well just drop that notion forever. It won't happen so long as we remain under this Constitution.

Posted by: ScienceTim | April 26, 2010 4:28 PM | Report abuse

nellie... not sure if this is what you want. It may even be ultimately what Jumper pointed to, just from a different direction (there may be more helpful info in the comments, too)...

Posted by: -TBG- | April 26, 2010 4:28 PM | Report abuse

Interestingly, Ivansmom, those disadvantages to term-limits are reflected elsewhere in the government.

In many agencies, and especially the military, there is a real push for employees to frequently change jobs. Such "rotations" are often the key to advancement, for they show upper management that such a person is flexible and has broad experience.

The problem, of course, is that these de-facto term-limits mean that as soon as you get really good at a job there is pressure to move on. The notion of someone sticking with one position for decades and, hence, becoming an expert or "guru" is not, in general, valued.

As a result, a lot of the real depth and so-called "corporate memory" in the government often resides with contractors and specialized consultants.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | April 26, 2010 4:40 PM | Report abuse

My argument against the EC is simply one of fairness. Pa has 21 electoral votes. Ak, Wyo, Mont, ND, SD, DC, and Del combined have 21 with less than half the number of voters. Voters in large states are getting short changed big time. Uniform national proportionality would go some way toward leveling the field, but not completely. The thinly populated states- I ain't calling Alaska small- would still have two senators and would be plenty relevant without the EC.

Posted by: kguy1 | April 26, 2010 4:45 PM | Report abuse

No matter how you delete your fb account, they'll retain the data. You just won't be able to access it.

Because I sometimes have a hacker's sense of humor, prior to deleting I'd fill it with misinformation. I don't know how many editing changes they'll save.

Posted by: -dbG- | April 26, 2010 4:51 PM | Report abuse

Why put stuff in your FB profile that you don't want online? No offense, but you probably should have thought of that before you put it in the profile in the first place.

Posted by: Gomer144 | April 26, 2010 4:56 PM | Report abuse

Hello everyone

I used to collect commas and periods for a hobby but I seem to have misplaced all my storage boxes Since Ive been doing this for nearly thirty years I shudder to think what all that punctuation might do if it exploded en masse out in the written landscape

Posted by: MsJS | April 26, 2010 5:36 PM | Report abuse

That may well be, MsJS, but I'm very glad I saved all those semicolons; there are fewer and fewer on the open market with each passing year.

Posted by: Yoki | April 26, 2010 5:54 PM | Report abuse

I know Yoki Im especially fond of the older semicolon vintages from the pre emoticon days

Posted by: MsJS | April 26, 2010 6:00 PM | Report abuse

Funny, MsJS. There's some new ground for future contract litigation - "I didn't think the provisions would be strictly applied because of the liberal use of the "winking emoticon" throughout the contract".

Posted by: engelmann | April 26, 2010 6:09 PM | Report abuse

Oh boy Just realized the Nats are in town to play the Baby Bears

Posted by: MsJS | April 26, 2010 6:21 PM | Report abuse

I spent a good portion of the day pondering this question from Joel's chat. Sounds like it was written by someone around my age. It makes me worry even more for our children.

Pardon me for pasting it in its entirety...

New York: Mr. Achenbach, I have to admit, as much as I care about our intractable governmental deficits, I care even more about the collapse of our private pension system. Right now, my parents are traveling the world and living in high style, with fabulous medical care and absolute financial security, on one public school teacher's pension.

By contrast, my siblings and I work more than twice as many hours, and our spouses work, too. We have no pensions. We have individual or small business medical, which covers nothing and costs a fortune. I myself sacrificed current income some years back for a "safe" job with great benefits at a Fortune 10 company, only to watch the benefits wither away and then lose the job when the company went under and was bought out. (Since the pension plan had morphed from a defined benefit annuity into an S-curve lump sum benefit, I vested in a tiny little sum good for maybe 2 years of retirement expenses.)

Between medical premiums and expenses, and periods of unemployment, my savings toward retirement over the last 10 years have been Net Zero.

And to make matters worse, my parents and their friends are constantly harping on how they are "The Greatest Generation" and only reaping their just rewards, while younger folks are slackers who don't deserve a penny.

Can't you write a column on that?

Joel Achenbach: Wow, I think you just wrote half the column! That's a fascinating (and upsetting) story -- and a perspective that I'll keep in mind the next time I venture near this issue. Thanks for writing.

Posted by: -TBG- | April 26, 2010 6:33 PM | Report abuse

I once wrote a four or five page letter to a friend in one sentence with one period at the end. And only a couple of semicolons because I knew that was cheating.

Posted by: Jumper1 | April 26, 2010 6:36 PM | Report abuse



Gray matter (Grey matter?)...

Afternoon meeting...

Severely depleted...


Posted by: Scottynuke | April 26, 2010 6:39 PM | Report abuse

No gimmicks. My motto on the debt problem. Do not try to short-term solve with gimmicks. I think this is sometimes called "throwing stuff over the fence." You have a deadline. You have lots of stuff to finish and not enough time. What do you do? You throw a lot of stuff over the fence, so you can't see it. You then solve the remaining stuff. Things seem grand. "Phew" you say.

Then you walk to the other side of the fence.

Be simple. Be true. Solve the debt problem by cutting spending and raising tax rates across the board.

Nobody will feel put upon.... at least relative to everyone else.

Posted by: steveboyington | April 26, 2010 6:39 PM | Report abuse

Steveb, that is the obvious answer. Do you think we can get enough folks on board to make it work? I hopehopehope so.

Posted by: slyness | April 26, 2010 6:42 PM | Report abuse

Here would be my Presidential plaform and pitch. "Hello. You don't know me. That doesn't really matter. I want to be President to save the finances of the country. I will cut spending, particularly entitlement spending. I will raise taxes on EVERYONE. When I am done and my actions work for the four years I am in office, we will not have a deficit. We will have averted a crisis, at least until we mess it up again. After four years, I will leave office. I will agree to admit that everything I did to save us from ourselves was completely my fault. You can spend the rest of your lives angry at me and burning me in effigy. I won't mind. That is all."

Posted by: steveboyington | April 26, 2010 6:43 PM | Report abuse

TBG, thanks for the link. The comments seemed to confirm that you can run, but you can't hide, facebook will find you even after weeks and weeks.

Posted by: nellie4 | April 26, 2010 6:45 PM | Report abuse

TGB, that section from Joel's chat sat me back on my heels as well. It echoed the dynamic in my own four-generation family.
I'll be interested to see the follow-up article when/if it appears

Posted by: talitha1 | April 26, 2010 6:52 PM | Report abuse

Sorry, I left a dangling period out there!
Must have escaped from MsJS's storage box of punctuation.

Posted by: talitha1 | April 26, 2010 6:54 PM | Report abuse

Is anyone else watching the Habs/Caps game, just watched the anthems, crowd singing along with the US and belting out the Canadian anthem. It was nice but I am curious was there a booing the anthem at either venue in this series - seems unusual for Montreal - keeping in mind I have not followed the NHL closely in years.

Posted by: dmd3 | April 26, 2010 7:15 PM | Report abuse

Semi-colons are the hermaphrodites of the punctuation world.

Mondale tried that gambit. Didn't work out too well for him.

Posted by: yellojkt | April 26, 2010 7:16 PM | Report abuse

I'm watching, dmd. I am ashamed that the booing started in Montreal the very first game in the series. Just not on, what?

Posted by: Yoki | April 26, 2010 7:20 PM | Report abuse

Front page slide show pix heading

Game 6 lineup remains a mystery
CAPITALS INSIDER | Speculation is growing that there will be at least once change up front.

We need an editor STAT, not STET

I don't know if any one has noticed, but I've been conserving periods

And capital letters. for a while now

Posted by: omni3 | April 26, 2010 7:25 PM | Report abuse

That explains it then Yoki, do not understand booing an anthem at a sporting event.

Posted by: dmd3 | April 26, 2010 7:26 PM | Report abuse

You know, that bit of the chat really ticked me off. Just as it does when adults complain about how much of their "inheritance" their parents are spending.

The fact is, it is the parents' money, and benefits, and they can do with it as they like, including spending every red cent in any way they please.

The other fact is, the whole structure of Western economies is different than it was for their generation, and we (and the Millennials) simply can't expect to have the sort of work hours, job security and defined benefits they did. Doesn't change the fact that it is their money.

And the other one is, and this is key, most of the now-retired lived much less lavishly that we did/do, for a lot longer. They didn't have mortgaged McMansions and new cars every 4 years and foreign vacations and walk-in closets full of clothes and *stuff.* If they did, it was only late in their careers and after they'd launched their kids. My parents and their peers saved and deferred. So the rewards are theirs to enjoy.

Posted by: Yoki | April 26, 2010 7:41 PM | Report abuse

Oh, pish-tush. Semicolons are sweet, loyal, affectionate, easy to get along with, fun, casual, punctuation marks that (possibly who) will fetch your slippers (without chewing them up), sleep on the end of the bed without disturbing you, and are reasonably agreeable in their diet and feeding habits. All one has to do is take them for a walk once in a while, throw a stick, and give them their due affection and respect.

Unlike, say, exclamation points, which are hyper, loud, obnoxious, over-used, annoying, and narcissistic (they call attention to themselves for no good reason). Question marks are inquisitive and curious, it is true, but indecisive and never give you the answer. They are often needy, too.

Hyphens have split personalities. Very approach-avoidance.

Posted by: Curmudgeon5 | April 26, 2010 7:42 PM | Report abuse

Clapclapclap, Yoki. You are so right.

Posted by: slyness | April 26, 2010 7:43 PM | Report abuse

Can I have an "amen" and a hear, hear, for Yoki"s 7:41? That was my first thought, too: it's there money. Don't owe a cent to their kids.

Posted by: Curmudgeon5 | April 26, 2010 7:46 PM | Report abuse

Couple of items to tie together, maybe - Boodlers had previously mentioned Hawking's comments about not trying to contact intelligent extraterrestrial life because it's too risky for us should they decide to come here. And that's a reasonable opinion, but to the best of my knowledge, he's met as many ETs as I have.

Having said that, we should have asked some of the aliens Joel wrote about in "Captured by Aliens" if they prefer the spelling "Grey" or "Gray" - after all, it's about *them,* y'know? [For the record, Joel's book uses the spelling "Gray."]

On a final note, I see the report of a study linking chocolate and depression, and those that eat more chocolate tend to be more depressed. It is not clear that an established cause and effect between the two are noted, however.

The Capitals are down 0-2 to Montreal in the 1st period, and I'm seriously pondering a glass of Kaluha over ice.


Posted by: -bc- | April 26, 2010 7:46 PM | Report abuse

Excellent post Yoki. As a woman I have no desire to go back to that "golden age".

Posted by: dmd3 | April 26, 2010 7:47 PM | Report abuse

SCC: their money.

*smacking myself upside da head*

Posted by: Curmudgeon5 | April 26, 2010 7:47 PM | Report abuse

I thought NY's comments during Mr. A's chat were laden with "I'm a victim, pity me" mentality and spoke to a lotta unresolved issues with his/her parents.

Lawdy, I do not wanna read that stuff in this paper anymore. Already got blasted with it up until just before Easter, ya know?

Posted by: MsJS | April 26, 2010 7:53 PM | Report abuse

Oh! No! I'm an exclamation mark!

Posted by: Yoki | April 26, 2010 8:00 PM | Report abuse

I agree with Yoki's point about having vs saving, but NYC wasn't asking for his/her parent's money... just an understanding that the world is different today.

Just like when people say kids these days should work to pay for college like they did back in the day. Yeah... what kind of work can a college kid do that will pay $30K a year for tuition--and leave time for classes?

Times have changed, for better and for worse. It's not our desire to have "things" that has changed the pension system in this country.

The fact that women can have careers outside the home should mean that they CAN, not that they MUST.

Posted by: -TBG- | April 26, 2010 8:04 PM | Report abuse

I completely agree with that, TBG. One reason why we (and the two grandpas) paid/are paying tuition and add-ons for both dots to get grad degrees. And happy and privileged to do it!

Posted by: Yoki | April 26, 2010 8:06 PM | Report abuse

Mudge, I'm all for tasteless, erotic nudity. Male type.

Let's plaster those wild wangs everywhere where nobody's eyeballs can escape.

Yee-haw! Yeah, I'm gonna hunt meself some bear now.

There's a reason why artistic nudity is tasteful rather than starkly erotic. People's tastes vary and suggestion is far more titillating than baring it all down to the last butt hair whorl.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | April 26, 2010 8:09 PM | Report abuse

Yoki.. it' nice that "the two grandpas" decided that one thing they wanted to do with their money was to help pay for their grandchildren's educations.

It doesn't sound like 'NYC' is getting that kind of help.

Posted by: -TBG- | April 26, 2010 8:11 PM | Report abuse

The rules of the game - and games always gotta have rules - seem to lead towards recognition that the simple dash can be a long distance runner (although there's nothing wrong with a parenthetic interjection, surely) when different types of marks get compared, and comes out the winner - and, yes, games also always gotta have winners - as far as I can see.

Posted by: Jumper1 | April 26, 2010 8:11 PM | Report abuse

Agreed, but NY definitely had a 'poor me' undertone (pretty overt for an undertone) when talking about its parents' lifestyle.

Posted by: Yoki | April 26, 2010 8:16 PM | Report abuse

Jumper, I really hate to say it, but...well, the difference between a hyphen and a dash is that size matters.

If you know what I mean.

Relax, Wilbrod, it was just a lame joke, nothing more.

Yoki, you are so not an exclamation point.

Posted by: Curmudgeon5 | April 26, 2010 8:27 PM | Report abuse

Yoki, etal, I wasn't saying I agreed with N.Y. in Joel's chat, just that it set me back and I'd be interested in follow-up. I do believe I got some from you all! No need to say more.

Posted by: talitha1 | April 26, 2010 8:38 PM | Report abuse

And then there's ellipses. Always leaving...stuff out. And they never seem to be able to finish a sentence...

That kind of absentmindedness may be an indication of heavy drug use. I'm thinking of staging an intervention.

Posted by: rashomon | April 26, 2010 8:39 PM | Report abuse

Sorry, talitha. I didn't think anything different than what you've just said. It wasn't directed at you. Not in the least.

You have to understand that TBG and I are heart-twins and girl friends with kids (and each other!) born within weeks of each other. We can hash things out without in the least feeling that we're arguing, except intellectually/culturally.

And this gives me the opportunity to endorse the Can not Must position my good twin has taken.

Posted by: Yoki | April 26, 2010 8:46 PM | Report abuse

(pssst.... Talitha... Remember that Yoki is Canadian. She just can't help that.)


Posted by: -TBG- | April 26, 2010 8:49 PM | Report abuse

Of course, I would say the same for men.

Posted by: Yoki | April 26, 2010 8:53 PM | Report abuse

I'll be back after I read about dashes and hyphens and ems and ens. . . . Okay, I'm back.

Posted by: Jumper1 | April 26, 2010 8:53 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: Yoki | April 26, 2010 8:55 PM | Report abuse

It seems to me that the post war era is very romanticized. We forget how low wages were, homes might have been McMansions to them, so difficult to afford. Whether in a factory or in an office that generation worked hard, often without the safety nets we have today, better healthcare, better vaccinations, ease of transport, Educations levels are higher.

The situations are different and despite all our current difficulties I am glad I was born when I was.

Posted by: dmd3 | April 26, 2010 8:56 PM | Report abuse

(pssst - both of you, aren't you lucky to be soul-sisters? I like that.)

Posted by: talitha1 | April 26, 2010 8:58 PM | Report abuse

EYE am certainly very lucky.

Posted by: Yoki | April 26, 2010 9:00 PM | Report abuse

About the comment, find that without listening to the writer's tone or seeing the expression, could be a whine of resentment OR a worry that hard work now and a difficult future are a hard-wired reality.

I will need to work into my high 70s to live modestly. Story is two-parts bad throw of the dice: some very hard luck concerning health care -- costs lots to keep some worthy people alive -- and some faithlessness/sadness in my family that is a common tale.

So, I understand what that writer is saying.

I am not afraid of hard work; but we do not live with much of a safety net here.

But, my earlier comment that Poetree-mann responded to remains: I hope that the reset of our economy allows for more constructive leisure. And, the caregiving of making a home, tending to ill and aging parents, volunteering, building community...lots to do out there...not all of it paid work.

Rambling here but perhaps JA will write an article to make sense of we Jones/GenXers and our Gen Y/Millie children may have to do and will do....

Posted by: CollegeQuaParkian1 | April 26, 2010 9:03 PM | Report abuse

And, Talitha! DMD is my northern gardenie triplet along with Frosit; TBG and RickOShea are local giggle buddies and Yoki is my tall and leggy and dark-haired Celtic Cuz. I am her shorter gingered Cuz...

Posted by: CollegeQuaParkian1 | April 26, 2010 9:06 PM | Report abuse

I know I wouldn't go back to when my parents were raising us in a little rural town in North Georgia. Even with their college educations and arts backgrounds it was very parochial. It also goes without saying that racial issues then (50s-early 60s) clouded life in oppressive ways, along with women's rights not having progressed much further than sending Rosie from the bomber factory back to the kitchen. No, I'm glad I grew up in the era I did, too.

Posted by: talitha1 | April 26, 2010 9:07 PM | Report abuse

I'm incredibly lucky, Talitha... yes. And we met here! What an amazing place this is!

Posted by: -TBG- | April 26, 2010 9:08 PM | Report abuse

Well, yes. But it is exactly the same for us on the tail-end of the Boom. We live in exactly the same world as you Jones/Ys/Ms. With no more net under us.

Posted by: Yoki | April 26, 2010 9:09 PM | Report abuse

Talitha, just for a flavor of the TB-CqP-rico gals. We once closed a lunch-time eatery down with true stories of tragical mirth....we were loving and laughing as we traded tales of cancer, brain tumors, errant children, departed doggies, cruel calico cats, flowers that foiled themselves, unsatisfactory versions of menfolk....weeping with laughter....the man next to us was ready to call the Padded Wagon to toke us off to the special unit at Shepard Pratt....

Posted by: CollegeQuaParkian1 | April 26, 2010 9:10 PM | Report abuse

I am a big picture guy. Things like a good college education cost lots more today... because there are lots of folks who can afford to pay that much, and the exclusivity of that education or zip code is a draw.

Everyone wants to send their kids to elite expensive schools, in part because they are elite expensive schools. At those elite expensive schools their children will, apparently, meet other children of parents who send THEIR children to elite expensive schools. Those are the Joneses that certain people want to hobnob with.

That is reality. It cost lots of money to go to a good school, and most can't afford it. That is by design. It is the same dynamic that makes most people unable to move to a tony suburb in a great "community"... that is the design.

My guess is the golden era was an era just as stratified by class as today. My guess is back then people weren't as broken up about it. More people are angry now because the "other half" of our economy is really hollowed out, and lots of folks are looking at generations ahead in steerage.

Posted by: steveboyington | April 26, 2010 9:13 PM | Report abuse

Yoki -- 'sactly....end of the Boomies is the Jonesies....I HOPE that our new health insurance thing gives us the net that means we can get up another day and work hard!

CPboy is whooping and hooping about the in this semi-Southran house!

Posted by: CollegeQuaParkian1 | April 26, 2010 9:14 PM | Report abuse

That didn't come out correctly.

I'm glad I'm an adult in the era I am.
Yeah, that's it. I may be fading fast here at only 9:15.

Posted by: talitha1 | April 26, 2010 9:14 PM | Report abuse

CquaP: my *much-loved* shorter ginger Cuz.

Posted by: Yoki | April 26, 2010 9:16 PM | Report abuse

I interrupt this interesting discussion for a Montana moment for CP.

And to say HABS!

Posted by: dmd3 | April 26, 2010 9:22 PM | Report abuse

Steerage! SBoy. I still hope that a reset might mean some hidden blessings for us. Money does not make us happier....nor does stuff...we need a threshold and then some for basics and choices...but, perhaps we will rediscover some meaning...too tired to type about this cogently....been grading papers all day...of the semi-elite children? Love them, whatever their rank on the collegiate totem pole...try to do right by them daily...

Posted by: CollegeQuaParkian1 | April 26, 2010 9:23 PM | Report abuse

I've got two income tax returns down and two to go.

Looks like the Canadien will play next Wednesday. Good for them, they really need the play-off money.

Re-booing at the Bell center; crowds are getting ruder and ruder everywhere but it's no excuse. It goes together with the loud conversations in the theaters (film and live) and the talking on the phone at "full voice" in public. Savages.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | April 26, 2010 9:24 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, dmd, babies are always so hopeful.

Posted by: CollegeQuaParkian1 | April 26, 2010 9:25 PM | Report abuse

LOL! We our two went to fairly-acceptable local (what you all would call 'state') universities for their undergrad degrees, and we supported them in getting through fairly well, so they could go to 'better' (the Canadian equivalent of Ivys) institutions for grad-school. 'Cause, and we've all said this before, the right school is the one that suits the kid, and ten years from now nobody will care *which* school they attended, just that they have the paper. Granted, it gives them a wee edge in the first few employment applications to be from Queens or McGill or UofT or Dalhousie or SFU, but after that? Who cares?

I can speak from authority, since both Himself's and my family *insisted* we each go to a big-name exclusive school for undergrad. He thrived, I hated it. I'd have done much better at Trent or Guelph or Acadia or Bishop.

Posted by: Yoki | April 26, 2010 9:25 PM | Report abuse

Awwwwww, the annual baby ducks on the Mall story is on Wapo's front page slideshow.
Something we can always count on.

Posted by: talitha1 | April 26, 2010 9:28 PM | Report abuse

SD, but we hoped that Canookies could hold the line of politeness longer than the rest of us....taxes! My dear Northrans, faxing fortitude, sharpened pencils, reverse-Polish graphing calculators, gorp, Gatorade...for the duration.

Posted by: CollegeQuaParkian1 | April 26, 2010 9:28 PM | Report abuse

Young Halak is earning his sheckels tonight. Ooops. He let one in. I'd better shut up.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | April 26, 2010 9:29 PM | Report abuse

Too late, Mudge. I already ordered a lot of Playgirl pin-ups for the bunker.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | April 26, 2010 9:33 PM | Report abuse

ooof, I can breathe now.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | April 26, 2010 9:36 PM | Report abuse

I can let my heart-rate and blood-pressure drop to nearly-normal levels.

Posted by: Yoki | April 26, 2010 9:40 PM | Report abuse

Doing the income tax return I discovered the basic flaw in this "making money by going to school" scheme Witch no.1 is running. I pay the tuition fees and the scholarship checks are made to her name.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | April 26, 2010 9:40 PM | Report abuse

I think everybody knows what it is to make tradeoffs and sacrifices for their kids, or just to get by.

Steveb, where are you? Here in NC we have made higher education a priority, so that a kid with the grades and motivation can go to UNC-Chapel Hill for about $10,000 a year. That's pocket change compared to Wake Forest and Duke and Davidson, but just as prestigious a degree. There are sixteen campuses in the UNC system, and Chapel Hill is the most expensive. The *best* maybe, too. I told my children that they could go to any UNC college, unless they wanted to pay for it themselves. Elderdottir went to Appalachian State, Geekdottir went to Chapel Hill. Both had excellent educations.

Those of us who had "secure" gummint jobs bear the scars of dealing with impossible issues because we couldn't afford to leave. I survived the fire department, and I'm proud of that. When I went there, a 26 year old woman with an MPA, I had three strikes against me: my gender, my education, and my intelligence were not valued by the organization.

Life is difficult. It makes everything easier when we understand and deal with that. We in North American in the 21st century are blessed in comparison to most of the world and most of history.

Posted by: slyness | April 26, 2010 9:44 PM | Report abuse

I think it is sort of funny that the peasants defeated the elite.

Posted by: Yoki | April 26, 2010 9:47 PM | Report abuse

Depending on the source, baby boomers range from various points in the early/mid forties to early/mid sixties. gen-x is early/mid sixties to early eighties

I've also read of a gap between babies and Xers. either way there is an overlap, or a gap

The Lost Generation

If you ask someone born between 1960 and 1965 what gen they belong to (boomer or X) the answer is sometimes neither

That is my answer

My question is: WHERE IS MY DAMN FLYING CAR!!!!

Posted by: omni3 | April 26, 2010 9:48 PM | Report abuse

CollegeParkian, I remember that lunch. It was tragic, reely, and so much fun.

I've been out of sorts for weeks with horrible allergies involving nasty, deep coughing, weeping eyes, and sore throat. The heaviest prescription allergy medicine hasn't helped much.

The upside of feeling like crap is that I've finished the 3rd book of the Dragon Tatoo trilogy; The Help; and Cutting for Stone; all of which I recommend highly.

Posted by: rickoshea11 | April 26, 2010 9:51 PM | Report abuse

Decently paid peasants but still...
Halak is on a puny contract. I suspect he'll be goalie no.1 somewhere else next year. And the Canadian will have gained some players and/or draft choices. Price is a decent goaler but his big contract make him difficult to trade, so Halak will have to go.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | April 26, 2010 9:56 PM | Report abuse

Speaking of blood pressure, I'm sure Boudreau's head probably measures on a Rockwell scale. Between throbs, I mean. Yikes.

Halak was awesome (50+ saves - wow), and the series is down to Wednesday's night's game. Should be good - and hopefully the Caps won't be up all night with air travel/customs problems as they were after last week's game in Montreal.

G'night, all.


Posted by: -bc- | April 26, 2010 10:00 PM | Report abuse

Boudreau should take comfort that his star played extremely well, but was, just, stopped by a supernatural (tonight) goalie.

Posted by: Yoki | April 26, 2010 10:03 PM | Report abuse

Wait: Lost Generation might not be the right term

Posted by: omni3 | April 26, 2010 10:09 PM | Report abuse

Wasn't the lost generation Fitzgerald and Hemingway and all the other Americans in Paris who'd served in the I WW? I think you meant the greatest generation (their children).

Posted by: Yoki | April 26, 2010 10:18 PM | Report abuse

This is lovely, if you're a word-person.

Posted by: Yoki | April 26, 2010 10:44 PM | Report abuse

Yes, post-WWI, Fitzgerald, Hemingway, G. Stein, me, et al., expatriates, all Lost Generation, running around Paris and Spain, drinking wine from wineskins, watching bullfights, pining away after Lady Brett.

Men and women of WWII: Greatest Generation (so says Brokaw, anyway).

Posted by: Curmudgeon5 | April 26, 2010 10:44 PM | Report abuse

I must say, I identify more with the 1921-ers; running around Europe drinking too much and fighting bulls (maybe not) and sleeping and writing in coal-fire (got a shilling, dear?) garrets suits me down to the ground. Being great? Not so much.

I could also hang with Simone de Bouvoir and wear scuffed black shoes and threadbare sweaters. And smoke cigarettes (Gauloises!) and stay up too late.

Posted by: Yoki | April 26, 2010 10:54 PM | Report abuse

Chacun à son goût.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | April 26, 2010 11:03 PM | Report abuse

bien sur.

Posted by: Yoki | April 26, 2010 11:06 PM | Report abuse

Here we go with the annual 'back in my day' talk. I'm sending my kid to my alma mater and paying about triple what he would pay in state because it is a demonstrably better school (sorry CqP, but those are hard stats) because that is what my parents did for me. I doubt that that is a decision that can be justified on any sort of IRR analysis, but you do what is right for your kid no matter what the cost.

In my day, I could have turned a profit going to Gatorland, but I wanted to get as far north as my parents money would take me. Which wasn't very, but just far enough.

My folks who begrudged me an Ivy-league level education now are set for life with three pensions and two social security checks. They own two condos free and clear, one of which my sister, her two kids and her disability-drawing boyfriend live in rent free when they aren't burning it down.

I'm not bitter because they have scrimped their whole life and are enjoying the fruits of their sacrifice. But they are at the stage where they have to forgo cruises not because they can't afford it, but because it interferes with their cancer treatment programs (full remission if you have been keeping track).

Meanwhile, my personal debt to GDP ratio makes Uncle Sam look like Scrooge McDuck because I have no faith in the American Dream staying valid for another twenty years. While I can't pull off the full Travis McGee, I insist on living life as I go, damn the fiscal torpedoes. If I were saving as I should I'm convinced that some round of hyperinflation or the inevitable 401(k) baby boomer bubble burst would bankrupt me anyways, so I might as well beat them to the punch.

I am a grasshopper, not an ant, because when the flood comes, all the insects will be in the same boat struggling to stay afloat.

Posted by: yellojkt | April 26, 2010 11:22 PM | Report abuse

I suggest, gently, yello, that hard work and no debt would overcome all this. Also, not comparing your sister's condition to your own.

Posted by: Yoki | April 26, 2010 11:26 PM | Report abuse

I am, of course, a tortoise.

Posted by: Yoki | April 26, 2010 11:43 PM | Report abuse

I highlight my sister's circumstances more to emphasize the continued unconditional generosity of my parents. Having to take take financial and quasi-parental responsibility for their granddaughters is yet another crimp in their golden years.

As the prodigal daughter, they have poured more into making her life better than they have ever needed to for me, for which I am very grateful.

But I should comment no further since I have had too much expense account merlot and have a full day ahead.

Posted by: yellojkt | April 26, 2010 11:45 PM | Report abuse

Ellipses are the Seinfeldian 'yadda, yadda, yadda' of the punctuation world, leaving out all the good stuff.

Posted by: yellojkt | April 26, 2010 11:46 PM | Report abuse

Ah, good! I too, am the independent one. I like it!

Posted by: Yoki | April 26, 2010 11:49 PM | Report abuse

No rabbits to chase--
Or tortoises named Zeno
...Shall we race, Yoki?


Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | April 26, 2010 11:51 PM | Report abuse

SCC: -Wilbrodog-

Time to go chase bunnies in my dreams.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | April 26, 2010 11:56 PM | Report abuse

No rabbit to chase.
No tortoises named Zeno
Give it up, dog lady.


Posted by: Yoki | April 26, 2010 11:57 PM | Report abuse

Oh puleeze! yello love, calling semicolons the hermaphrodites of punctuation, and elipses the yadda of style, not good. At the least solipsistic, at the worst fourteen-ish. It just doesn't work, you know?

Posted by: Yoki | April 27, 2010 12:04 AM | Report abuse

Yeah, I realized after I posted that I posted wrong. the losties were the between WWs disillusioned literary giants of the day ( actually just then end of WWI

I think I may have been confused by the post WWII Marvel super heroes

Maybe I'm thinking Missing or Silent Generation

and i've used up my capital quota for the day (i should've lower cased stat and stet and put symbols around them; there is an abundance of those lying about ( ¿or is it laying about?

Posted by: omni3 | April 27, 2010 12:05 AM | Report abuse

“If you really want to hurt your parents, and you don’t have the nerve to be a homosexual, the least you can do is go into the arts. But do not use semicolons. They are transvestite hermaphrodites, standing for absolutely nothing. All they do is show you’ve been to college.”

Kurt said it. I believe it. That settles it.

Posted by: yellojkt | April 27, 2010 12:16 AM | Report abuse

That totally settles it! (Except he's wrong; my thesis.)

Posted by: Yoki | April 27, 2010 12:20 AM | Report abuse

oh carp, cant get anything right: silent is the between WWars gen

I give up

no search engine is helping me

I've got six free books.: Allende, Forsyth, O'Hara, Richard Adams, Alexander Smith, and best of all "From Newbury With Love"

Posted by: omni3 | April 27, 2010 12:26 AM | Report abuse

Xeno's donut:

Posted by: yellojkt | April 27, 2010 12:26 AM | Report abuse

I just think it is all more fluid, perverse.

Posted by: Yoki | April 27, 2010 12:30 AM | Report abuse

Lol! EYE am Polymorphously Perverse!

Posted by: Yoki | April 27, 2010 12:36 AM | Report abuse

Eye am polymorphously perverse!

Posted by: Yoki | April 27, 2010 12:39 AM | Report abuse

I call people born between 1959 and 1968 the Tail-Boomers.

Posted by: yellojkt | April 27, 2010 12:48 AM | Report abuse

Good try.

Posted by: Yoki | April 27, 2010 12:52 AM | Report abuse

that's hardly original yello

Posted by: omni3 | April 27, 2010 1:16 AM | Report abuse

The fact I can't find any source or cite for missing tells me something, I think…

Posted by: omni3 | April 27, 2010 1:22 AM | Report abuse

The existence of two Constitutionally mandated institutions, the US Senate and the Electoral College, make it difficult to accept the notion that the United States is a 'representative democracy'

Posted by: ldelaney0 | April 27, 2010 2:33 AM | Report abuse

Wishing a good morning to the early crew. Someone else will have to provide the food, all I have is the best Honduran Coffee for everyone.

Posted by: russianthistle | April 27, 2010 4:58 AM | Report abuse

Good heavens, Weed, you're up early! Okay, ham biscuits on the ready room table to go along with Weed's good coffee.

I said my peace on education last night, so I hope we come up with a new topic today.

Good morning, Cassandra! I hope you feel well today.

Posted by: slyness | April 27, 2010 7:03 AM | Report abuse

Rachel Maddows last night was interviewing somebody about the John Birch Society and making points that they emphasize that the Constitution never uses the word 'democracy'. That and they are still opposed to fluoridated water.

I met a real-life Bircher in college. He protested that they were very misunderstood. Perhaps too much.

Posted by: yellojkt | April 27, 2010 7:11 AM | Report abuse

Hello boodle! Off to backboodle. Looking at the number of kits and boodle comments I'm behind I should be able to make an appropriate off-topic comment by tomorrow noon.

In Tampa, trying to get reoriented to life without a campaign to pour heart and soul into (for those who didn't hear, RT Rybak did not get the DFL endorsement for MN Gov. Verklempt X10.)

Looking forward to JA's chat, maybe I'll see y'all around.

Later gators!

Posted by: frostbitten1 | April 27, 2010 7:31 AM | Report abuse

'Morning, boodle

yello, my father, a member of the Silent Generation, once told a Bircher to take it where the sun don't shine. I recall this quite clearly. It was 1969, I was in college and the guy had told my daddy his daughter was a 'filthy commie hippie'.

Today is my neighbor's funeral. Mercifully it is no longer gray outside.
Sage sausage strata and fruit salad on the sideboard for all. See you later.

Posted by: talitha1 | April 27, 2010 7:44 AM | Report abuse

'morning all. The daffodils and tulips are at their best snowed. @!%!$

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | April 27, 2010 7:52 AM | Report abuse

What snowed?

Posted by: LostInThought | April 27, 2010 7:57 AM | Report abuse

So I guess I'm an ellipsistic semicolon?

Marevelously clear morning here on the 16th floor, it's almost perfect mental floss after a truly wacky Monday.

Sage sausage on geologic formations, talitha? You suggesting we need more minerals in our diet? (I kid because I'm goofy, don't mind me)

*taking-time-to-absorb-some-vitamin-D Grover waves* :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | April 27, 2010 8:08 AM | Report abuse

My belated condolences about your neighbor and to all the other boodlers with recent losses in their circle.

I got in a two mile jog this morning up to and through the Texas state capitol. It was refreshing to not have to stop for a cavity search to enter a government building.

Posted by: yellojkt | April 27, 2010 8:31 AM | Report abuse

Gloomy and rainy here, which sort of matches my mood. The news from Arizona doesn't help. Thank heavens for Jon Stewart et al, or I'd really be nuts.

I am now going to explore part-time work as my Plan B. I don't want to start collecting social security yet if I don't have to do it.

I am sorry about your neighbor Talitha. We have a sweet 90 year old next door; I'm not looking forward to the inevitable.

Posted by: badsneakers | April 27, 2010 8:58 AM | Report abuse

steveboyington... I'm all about finding value in a college. I see no need to go to an "elite" school for a good education. There are great educations at small, lower-priced schools.

But there are no low-priced schools anymore.

You haven't been looking at what college costs these days. Even if kids start at an in-state community college, it will probably run about $4K per year in tuition (and assume the kid lives and eats at home--which still costs money). And that doesn't get you a full degree. You've got to finish at a 4-year institution for that.

In-state 4-year college, including room and board, is about $17K.

My son started college at a small, not-elite, private college that ran about $25K a year. Fortunately for him, we paid for it. Fortunately for us, he dropped out after the first year.

He is now at a community college as an out-of-state student because they do not offer his program at a Virginia community college. His tuition this *semester* for a full load was about $3,500. His apartment costs $510 a month (which around here would get him a janitor's closet).

These are pretty high costs I think for a kid to take on himself in full. When I went to Va. Tech, it cost about $3K a year, including room and board. I paid for it myself with the jobs I had in the summer. No one could do that now.

Here's where I got some of my numbers:

Posted by: -TBG- | April 27, 2010 9:37 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, y'all.

Warm muffins, coffee and OJ on the table, plus all the fixin's for DIY omelets.

Being in the middle of the boomer cohort may cloud my perspective, but I find generalized intergenerational discourse about as stimulating as watching grass grow. Personally, I think Hemingway would have felt lost in just about any generation.

My public high school made us watch a John Birch Society-sponsored film about US-USSR relations. Their involvement showed up only in the credits, at which point a significant number of students howled in protest. The administrative offices were flooded with calls the following day.

The issue of immigration, legal and otherwise, is so deeply rooted in fear, anger and distrust in Arizona that even the latest legislation doesn't surprise me.

Posted by: MsJS | April 27, 2010 9:40 AM | Report abuse

Hey, I just saw that Joel's piece on the deficit is a featured essay in Arts and Letters Daily. Pretty sweet.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | April 27, 2010 9:52 AM | Report abuse

Good morninckzz, ye Boodlers!

As a 21 year old staunch anti-Communist, I went to a John Birch Society meeting in San Francisco. Within half-hour I became convinced the members were ignorant fools.

Meanwhile, the earthquake left 400,000 primary and high school students without places of learning. Yesterday, the last students had a classroom. Some in warehouses, others in tents, buses, modular buildings. Many teachers are still homeless and pupils, too. At least an educational disaster been avoided.

Brag :)

Posted by: Braguine | April 27, 2010 10:06 AM | Report abuse

'Morning, Boodle.

Gene Robinson's Arizona column pulls no punches:

"Arizona's draconian new immigration law is an abomination -- racist, arbitrary, oppressive, mean-spirited, unjust. About the only hopeful thing that can be said is that the legislation, which Republican Gov. Jan Brewer signed Friday, goes so outrageously far that it may well be unconstitutional."

"Brewer, who caved to xenophobic pressures that previous governors had the backbone to resist, should be ashamed of herself."

"...[I]t is an utter disgrace."

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | April 27, 2010 10:15 AM | Report abuse

And for those of you who were considering reading Anne Applebaum's column on the UK elections, don't bother.

I'm embarrassed WaPo ran it.

Posted by: MsJS | April 27, 2010 10:26 AM | Report abuse

An oddity in the world of "public" universities is that Pennsylvania's "state-related" universities have private charters and aren't owned by the state. But they're "instrumentalities of the state".

It's extremely unfortunate that summer-job wages have withered even as college costs have exploded. In many fields, kids are supposed to take "volunteer" or "intern" positions. Yuk.

Maybe even worse is the way "elite" colleges seem to have every incentive to increase their costs and tuition charges. I think an evolutionary biologist would view this as a breeding system to maximize the fitness of future offspring in terms of family wealth. Biologists who put effort into measuring the cost of having a square jaw, or building a bowerbird bower, or maintaining a peacock tail, or having a big, bright guppy tail, can probably have a pretty easy time figuring the costs of sending a kid to a really nice liberal arts college.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | April 27, 2010 10:58 AM | Report abuse

The Miami Herald's Latin America news columnist, Andres Oppenheimer, gave the new Arizona immigrant law the sort of scorching he usually reserves for Carlos Chavez.

Oppenheimer figures there'll be an exodus from Arizona to Miami.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | April 27, 2010 11:08 AM | Report abuse

What's the problem with Penna's colleges being state-related, Dave? They've been that way for well over half a century. (I went to two of them.) It's not like it's some new-fangled system.

How are they different from Ohio's, or New York's?

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | April 27, 2010 11:23 AM | Report abuse

Hugo Chavez?

Carlos Chavez was a Mexican composer and conductor who died 30-some years ago.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | April 27, 2010 11:26 AM | Report abuse

My last post was as usual opaque to a degree, but was based on my immediate urge to read about the Proper Usage of Dashes and Ellipses following Curmudgeon's causing me to realize I had been previously flying by the seat of my pants. Since I would like to be a writer when I grow up, I read the Wikipedia articles. Who knew all this complication? Not I.

Re the immigration foofaraw, I am wondering what probable cause rules already exist for INS right now. If those same probable cause rules begin to be followed by locals, I don't see a huge problem. If the locals attempt to deviate from them, there will be trouble. I'd also like to see / read an interview with a Hispanic American INS agent.

Posted by: Jumper1 | April 27, 2010 11:29 AM | Report abuse

Jumper, when you grow up, become a plumber or an electrician, a sanitation worker, maybe a used car salesman, anything but a writer. The pay is better, people need your services, and you get more respect. And you don't have to know about en dashes.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | April 27, 2010 11:35 AM | Report abuse

New, kit...

Posted by: RD_Padouk | April 27, 2010 11:37 AM | Report abuse

Howdy y'all. I missed a very interesting evening of comments. I agree with the premise that the world has changed. The retired generation who are living on secure pensions and social security (an ever-shrinking group) may or may not have any obligation to help their adult children, depending on individual circumstances. I do think they have an obligation not to assume that their adult children have the same financial and fiscal support systems they enjoyed. I'm finally vested in a state retirement system, which is somewhat funded, but it wouldn't begin to pay for my actual retirement. Most of my private-sector peers have no employer-related pension. Ideally we're all saving for our kids' college and our retirement, but savings are an individual decision affected by circumstances which may change suddenly or be beyond our control. That is, the sense of reliability for retirement my parents enjoyed is not there.

I'm also with TBG in that there are no truly cheap universities, or even colleges. You can work your way through school but generally, getting a degree will take well over four years. In-state state school tuition is usually cheaper than private college or university tuition, often significantly so. However, state schools may charge half that again per year in fees. All of it is too much to work part-time and summers and pay for your tuition. Ironically, the high-priced elite universities also tend to offer the most comprehensive financial aid packages.

Posted by: Ivansmom | April 27, 2010 11:43 AM | Report abuse

'mudge, Pennsylvania's university history strikes me as a bit quirky by national standards. If I remember correctly, PSU has been private-but-public from the start, a model that later worked nicely when Temple and Pitt went state-related. I think maybe Penn wavered in that direction during the 1960s.

It seems a good model of governance and administration (do professors really need to be state employees?), and I wonder whether it might be a model for some state-owned universities in states where public financing of colleges is declining and "public" universities are becoming more like private ones.

Wasn't the present-day New York university system a product of Nelson Rockefeller's ambitions for his state? The state's magnificent land-grant agriculture and life science college at otherwise-private Cornell is unique. I've only visited once, for a meeting in what was then their new agronomy building. A senior University of Florida horticulturist was seriously envious.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | April 27, 2010 11:52 AM | Report abuse

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