Sunday, October 30, 2005

The Invisible Hand and Other Halloween Horrors

Every day I punish myself by listening to Neal Boortz. I guess that makes me the Subversive Redneck Sadomasochistic Librarian. Every day he provides the public with his economic prowess which is considerable. At least, he says it is.

Now, Boortz is promoting his new book, cowritten with Georgia congressman John Linder, about the "fair tax" proposal. The Fair Tax proposal eliminates income tax and replaces it with a national sales tax. People get rebates of the tax up to the amount you'd spend on necessities at the poverty level, I believe.

I'm not here to promote or attack the idea of the fair tax, because I haven't read the book. But I am getting tired of right/libertarian media types shoving economic assumptions down my throat without bothering to mention that's what they're doing.

Neoclassical economic theory -- the theory favored by the right -- promotes "laissez faire"economic policy. That is, if you leave The Economy alone and stop mucking it up with government regulations, wealth will be maximized. Prices will go where they ought to, and everyone will have equal economic opportunity as long as they're willing to work hard. All this is due to something Adam Smith called The Invisible Hand (shiver!).

I majored in economics and philosophy as an undergrad, so I had to take a whole bunch of econ classes. I don't remember much, but I do remember a few things:

First, I remember that neoclassical economic theory operates in a vaccuum (particularly in the oversimplified form presented by wingnuts), but the real economy doesn't. For example:

1. Noeclassical theory tends to assume a perfect information flow between buyer and seller, especially for commodities. In other words, we know as much as the oil companies do about what the price of gas ought to be.

2. Classical theory tends to assume perfect "elasticity." In other words, prices go down and up with equal ease.

3. Classical theory tends to assume that people will act rationally to maximize their scarce resources.

The most unfounded assumption -- and the most irritating -- isn't made within economic theory itself, but by commentators who claim to know about such things. And that assumption is that there is one, and only one, valid theory of economics. And wouldn't you know, it's the one that favors corporations. Basically, these guys take for granted that neoclassical economics constitutes The Truth. Indeed, Boortz seems positively cultish about it. He doesn't even acknowledge that there's any intelligent disagreement on basic economic theory.

But, in fact, he's only giving half the story (what a shock!). The fact is, some economists think that the economy just doesn't work that way. And therefore, they refuse to treat the economy as something sacrosanct, something that mustn't be touched.

And these economists don't just blow hot air. If you read their articles, you'll see just as many incomprehensible charts and graphs as you will in the articles by the neoclassical types.

These other economists point out things that the conservatives don't usually mention. Like, Reagan spent a fortune on the military; so while conservatives spout off about Reagan's success with trickle-down, supply-side, neoclassical economics, Reagan was actually instituting Keynesian policy.

During my college days, I concluded that all the charts and graphs are complete bullshit, no matter who is using them. I suspect a lot of economists use them just because they think they have to.

My favorite econ professor (who also thought the charts were bullshit) used to describe laissez faire policy as "the Lazy Fairy." Why, just put it into the hands of the lazy fairy and it will all turn out just great!

Or, as he also put it, "let the Lazy Fairy do his thing, so rich and poor alike will be able to sail their yachts around the harbor."

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Hey, wait a minute, I'm describing myself...

Stopped in at my local Kroger's today, trying to stall the inevitable (coming to work). I came across what I presume is one of Jeff Foxworthy's new books, Redneck Extreme Mobile Home Makeover. Not surprisingly, it's full of "you might be a redneck if...." comments.

Seeing as I'm supposed to be a writer and all, I decided to use his book as a prompt. So here's my list. By the way, I didn't read the whole book, so if I accidentally repeat one Foxworthy has already done, it's completey by accident.

1. You might be a redneck if you have flypaper hanging from your rear-view mirror.

2. You might be a redneck if taking a bath involves baby wipes.

3. You might be a redneck if you use pliers to change the channel on your TV.

4. You might be a redneck if you have named the mice under your bathroom sink.

5. You might be a redneck if your first words when you get home every night are, "Hello, Gnome!"

6. You might be a redneck if the price of your house is spray-painted on the kitchen window.

7. You might be a redneck if your house came with a stick-on level.

8. You might be a redneck if your favorite piece of art involves a sports drink.

9. You might be a redneck if your last wardrobe splurge was a pair of dress shoes for $19.99.


Now, I'm not saying I'm a redneck, but I must confess that four of the items on this list do describe me. Not that I'm about to say which ones!

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Hay in My Bra

I've decided that one of the toughest things about farm life is trying not to look like I live on a farm. I'm always forgetting to change out of my barn boots when I go to my job in the city. And worse, I often forget to take off my go-to-work-shoes before I walk around in horse poop.

On good days, the only sign I live on a farm is that hay falls out when I take off my bra -- which, by the way, I don't do in public. On bad days, I've got hay in my hair, hay in my shirt, and manure on my pants. On those days, of course, it's a pretty sure bet I'll run into the Dean. Ah, well. At least no one will mistake me for being overly ambitious!

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Mud and Roses

Feeling overwhelmed at the moment. My lovely wife is in South Carolina waiting for her car to be repaired; my ex is stranded at home with a broken car as well. I've got my work cut out for me: sometime between now and 2pm tomorrow I need to drive 1 1/2 hours home, drop daughter off at our habitable habitation, go take care of horses, dogs, and cats; go back to habitable habitation and get some sleep; wake up in the morning, go take care of animals again, go back and pick daughter up to take her to school, prepare for my class, teach my class, work on substantial writing project, and also do something for a professor that's been in the in-pile too long. How am I going to get it all done?

Alas, not by blogging... (Three posts in one day -- no wonder I'm behind!)

Al Franken versus the Theatre

This morning, on Boortz's radio show, a caller said the following to explain how much he dislikes Al Franken:

"I've been to plays -- I'm not kidding, plays! -- that were more interesting than he is!"

'Nuf said.

Rosa Parks 1913 - 2005

Rosa Parks has died at 92. There is nothing I can say about this woman that is anywhere near as eloquent -- or elegant -- as her life.

Never let it be said that one person can't make a difference.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

A Fine Mom-Blog

I'm very happy to have discovered The Redneck Mother, a progressive blog about politics, motherhood, and rural life in Texas, not necessarily in that order. It's well-written and funny, and it's positive proof that we don't leave our brains outside the delivery room when we become mothers.

The Georgia Voter ID Act

A few days ago, the Northern District of Georgia granted a preliminary injunction preventing enforcement of Georgia's new voter ID act. I, being the Good Librarian that I am, sent our professors a link to the decision. Which, by the way, is 123 pages long.

Not long thereafter (note my use of "thereafter," proving that I really did go to law school), I received emails from two of our professors, within a few minutes of each other. One, from a staunch conservative, told me what a weird result the decision was ("hasn't the court ever heard of "vote early, vote often?"). The other, from someone far more left, noted that it was a bold, and correct, decision.

So which is it? Bold, or weird?

Well, if you listen to the Right, you won't think it's bold or weird, because Judge Murphy has (gasp!!) donated money to moveon.org. Therefore, the soundbite goes, he's just pushing along his political agenda. (Why is it that conservatives rule according to their consciences, but liberals are just legislating from the bench?)

It's true that the decision isn't all that bold or weird. But it is correct.

The voter ID act sounds sort of logical on its face, considering that it's purported purpose is to prevent voter fraud. What's so wrong with making people show a photo ID when they vote? Well, nothing, except maybe the following:
  • Georgia's Secretary of State Cathy Cox urged against passage of the bill, saying that she had never seen a case of voter fraud that had arisen from in-person voting at the polls.
  • When it passed the voter ID act, the Georgia legislature also passed a law making it easier to vote by mail, even though Cox also noted that there had been numerous cases of fraud reported with respect to absentee voting.
So what was really going on in the Georgia legislature? Well, that's a good question.

For all you legal eagles out there, here's a very quick run-down of the decision: Judge Murphy noted that the right to vote is fundamental, and he therefore analyzed it under two tests: strict scrutiny, and the test applied by the Supreme Court in Burdick v. Takushi. He found that under either analysis, the law probably violates the Equal Protection Clause of the US Constitution. Furthermore, he found that the ID requirement constitutes an impermissible poll tax.

Yes, I realize there's more: the four factors for granting a preliminary injunction, the issues that the court declined to rule on this early in the game, and lots of other stuff. But the decision is 123 pages long. Frankly, I don't think you really want me to summarize the whole thing here, although believe it or not, I have read it.

Some interesting points along the way:
  • Defendants were only able to cite to voter fraud with respect to voter registration -- not in-person voting -- and yet under the new law, you still don't need a photo ID to register to vote.
  • There is a state-run bus that will go around and give people state IDs and will even do it for free if if you're indigent. However, one bus has to serve 159 counties, and it's not wheelchair accessible (and the photo equipment can't be moved outside the bus).
  • There are people who don't have the money for the ID but aren't considered indigent and so can't get it for free.
The bottom line is that the law does nothing to stop voter fraud in the places it actually takes place: voter registration and absentee voting. However, it does make it tougher for the poor, elderly, and disabled to vote. Could it be that's what the Georgia legislature was really aiming for?

Uhh, can you say pretense?

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Bow Unto the Power of the Lesbians?

If you listen to the likes of "Reverend" Willie Wilson, you already know that you can't even turn around without stepping on a lesbian these days. That, of course, explains why people are so afraid of us. (Wilson, case you haven't heard, refused to let Keith Boykin speak at the Millions More March, even though Farrakhan had already extended an invitation.)

Can you feel the power of the lesbian? Boy, I sure can!

Except, maybe, when I hear about one-year-old Morgan, the adopted daughter of Becki Hamilton and Kim Brennan. An Indiana judge has ordered that Morgan be taken away from her mothers, even though the adoption is already final, solely because Becki and Kim are lesbians.

And except, maybe, when I hear about the six girls in Abuja, Nigeria, who have each been sentenced to 90 strokes with a cane for performing lesbian acts of some sort. The girls range from age 12 to 17.

Oh, and except, maybe, when I read about my government performing “illegal covert propaganda” to push its anti-gay agenda.

Yes, be afraid. Be very afraid. But not of us.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Ok, so maybe it's not all about me

Ran across an article about librarian elections. It sounded intriguing until I realized that all the words in the headline are spelled right. Emily Litella lives.

Friday, October 14, 2005

BigLaw Associate and Me

I just discovered a blog that I think I am going to enjoy. It belongs to BigLawAssociate at http://www.biglawassociate.blogspot.com/, and I highly recommend it. B.A. is lamenting big-firm life as an associate. Been there, done that. I graduated from BigLawSchool in 1989, did a year's stint as a federal appeals law clerk (loved it!), and then went with a BigLaw firm with a great reputation in the Southwest.

I hated it from the very first day. And when I left three years later, I hadn't grown to like it any better. About all I can say for it is that I had made some good friends -- not with the lawyers, by the way, but with the secretaries, librarians, and paralegals. Oh -- and I learned a lot about writing from some of the best writers anywhere.

A lot of my problem was me, of course -- I was terrified and intimidated by the responsibility I was given, and it didn't matter whether I was working on a multimillion-dollar securities action or on a pro bono eviction case.

But mostly, it was about BigLaw not being a good fit. How, you ask? Oh, let me count the ways!

The way the lawyers wouldn't say hello to anybody on the elevator except a client or another lawyer.....The way I got unlimited paid leave after I had my baby but the receptionist had to come back to work the week after a C-section because BigFirm didn't give her any benefits.....The way I had trouble getting assignments from the Partners because I didn't play basketball with them......the way I had to work weekends, not because anything really had to be done by Monday, but because I was short on billable hours and I wanted to make sure I'd have time to take assignments during the week if I got any, which I usually didn't....The way I used to look out my 20th floor window and wonder how it would feel to jump out....The way I learned to cringe whenever a partner said he had a "very interesting" assignment for me (note to new associates: when you hear that, run like the wind!......The way I had to pretend I like continental restaurants when in fact I hate them.....The way the firm took down its "no smoking" signs whenever its client BigTobacco came in......I could go on, and on, and on.

When I left, I took a legal aid job on an Indian Reservation. I had to declare bankruptcy to do it, but even so, I have never regretted it.

My firm was one of those that was supposed to be humane. And relatively speaking, I suppose it was. But I learned, in my three years at my BigFirm, that a firm is a firm is a firm is a firm is a firm. When the numbers start going down, they're all going to start drawing blood. A law firm is, after all, a business.

I'm happy to report that my firm imploded not too long after I left. I'm glad I left before that happened, because I'm pretty sure I would not have been asked to join either of the two law firms that came out of the ashes.

I created a file (the paper kind) towards the end of my time at BigFirm: "Why I don't want to work in a firm any more." I still have it somewhere. It had in it, among other things, my annual evaluation.

When I left private practice, I said many times that I would clean toilets before I went back to a firm. And when I have needed money, I have done just that.

Someday I may go back to practicing law (G-d help me, I have applied for my new state's bar exam; but I have Credit Issues so it will be a little while before those folks let me play with them). But unless I have no other way to feed my kid, it won't be at BigFirm.

B.A., keep up the good work. Lots of people ask me why I don't practice law any more, but never lawyers. Learn what you can and move on.


Wednesday, October 12, 2005

I Believe in Gay Marriage


I found this post on Sumeeta's blog, and before that it came from Brian's blog at http://leftfletch.blogspot.com/. Since both requested it, I am reposting. The highlighted sentences are the ones that apply to me.

Here is the post from Brian's blog:

Americans are opposed to gay marriage because

1) Being gay is not natural. Real Americans always reject unnatural things like eyeglasses, polyester, and air conditioning.

2) Gay marriage will encourage people to be gay, in the same way that hanging around tall people will make you tall.

3) Legalizing gay marriage will open the door to all kinds of crazy behavior. People may even wish to marry their pets because a dog has legal standing and can sign a marriage contract.

4) Straight marriage has been around a long time and hasn't changed at all; women are still property, blacks still can't marry whites, and divorce is still illegal.

5) Straight marriage will be less meaningful if gay marriage were allowed; the sanctity of Britney Spears' 55-hour just-for-fun marriage would be destroyed.

6) Straight marriages are valid because they produce children. Gay couples, infertile couples, and old people shouldn't be allowed to marry because our orphanages aren't full yet, and the world needs more children.

7) Obviously gay parents will raise gay children, since straight parents only raise straight children.

8) Gay marriage is not supported by religion. In a theocracy like ours, the values of one religion are imposed on the entire country. That's why we have only one religion in America.

9) Children can never succeed without a male and a female role model at home. That's why we as a society expressly forbid single parents to raise children.

10) Gay marriage will change the foundation of society; we could never adapt to new social norms. Just like we haven't adapted to cars, the service-sector economy, or longer life spans.

Please post this in your journal if you are for gay marriage.

I am the guy who came out to the entire school in his senior speech and got a standing ovation for his courage.

I am the girl who kisses her girlfriend on the sidewalk and laughs at those who glare.

We are the couple who planned and studied and got a damn good lawyer and BEAT the state that wanted to take our child away.

We are the ones who took martial arts classes and carry pepper spray and are just too dangerous to gay bash.

I am the transgender person who uses the bathroom that suits me, and demands that any complaining staff explain their complaint to my face in front of the entire restaurant -- and shares with my other trans friends which restaurants don't raise a stink.

I am the mother who told her lesbian daughter to invite her girlfriend over for dinner.

I am the father who punished his son for calling you a fag.

I am the preacher who told my congregation that love, not hate, is the definition of a true follower of God.

I am the girl who did not learn the meaning of "homosexual" until high school but never thought to question why two men might be kissing.

I am the woman who argues (quite loudly and vehemently) with the bigots who insist that you do not have the right to marry or raise children.

We are the high school class who agrees, unanimously, along with our teacher, that love should be all that matters.

If you agree, repost this. Do it. You don't have to be afraid. You can handle it. You're stronger than you think.

I am making a difference. Hate will not win.

Is she or isn't she . . . pregnant???

Someone asked me today if I was pregnant.  I didn’t know whether to be insulted because he thinks I look fat, or flattered because he thinks I look young.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Harriet's Face

All righty, then. I've recovered sufficiently from my life to comment now on Harriet Miers, the President's choice to replace the venerable Sandra Day O'Connor.

Frankly, I'm simply not smart enough to make a judgment about Harriet Miers. But I always listen to what James Dobson says, and he likes her. And so does Dubbya. So she's ok with me.

Ok, I'm just kidding. But let's face it: most Americans won't take the time to investigate H.M. even though it's pretty easy to do via Google. Instead, they'll listen to their favorite political pundits -- James Dobson, Sean Hannity, Randi Rhoades, Al Franken, their spiritual advisor, Mickey Mouse -- and go along.

Problem is, this time conservatives are all topsy-turvy on the subject. Michael Savage doesn't think much of her, last I heard. James Dobson likes her. Can't these people agree on anything?

As a librarian, I know better. I know that I've got to figure these things out for myself. So I've done my own investigation and I'm now ready to give you my opinion:

I like her.

Why? Well, for one thing, I'm pretty sure she hasn't had a face lift in the past ten years, and I like that.

Plus, she's sort of old, and I like that too. Not old old but, you know, kind of old at 60. And that means she won't be on the court for as long as some of the people W. could have picked.

Finally, I like her name. Harriet. It just says Mom and apple pie, don't you think? Harriet Nelson. Harriet the TV maid... Oh, wait a minute, I'm thinking of Hazel. No matter; I bet she can clean house with the best of them.

Ok, so she has no experience. But you have to be a pretty good lawyer to end up working in the White House, right? Look at Nixon. Look at Quayle. Look at Ashcroft.

Oh.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Dyke-and-a-Boat

I am a dyke with a boat.
I am a dyke with a pontoon.
I am a dyke with a pontoon and a dock.
I am a dyke with a dock.

I am a dyke with a dock and a tree in the closet.
I am a dyke with a dock and a tree in the closet so large that there is no room for me.
I am a dyke with a dock and a tree and no closet space.
I am a dyke with no closet space.

I am a dyke with no closet space and a gate at the front.
I am a dyke with a gate at the front with a big chain.
I am a dyke with a big chain on the gate to keep you out.
I am a dyke with a big chain.

I am a dyke with a big chain and a lawn.
I am a dyke with a big chain and a lawn you can mow.
I am a dyke with a chain and a lawn but no mower.
I am a mowerless dyke.

I am a mowerless dyke with a hot tub.
I am a mowerless dyke with a girl in the hot tub.
I am a mowerless dyke with a hot girl in the tub.
I am a mowerless dyke who writes predictable poetry.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Oh, Lord, I am in so many ways tired....

No clever patter today; no well-written essays (or any other kind) on my views about Harriet Miers or the python that shouldn't have eaten the alligator or gay marriage. Just one very tired post to summarize the events of the past three weeks... 1. Melda was in a bad car accident. She lost control of her truck and it flipped three times. She was knocked out and when she "came to," she was upside down. Thank G-d for seatbelts. She was airlifted to Grady hospital and stayed there for three days. A great place to get your life saved (though, as it turns out, she didn't need too much help surviving) and then a good place to get the hell out of. I threw a full-blown hissy fit complete with tears and the F-word very loud when they wouldn't let me stay overnight with her. On my way out that night (seeing as how I lost that particular battle), I told one of the staffers that her charge nurse is a dickhead. My guess is that she agreed. Anyway, she's ok; spent three days at that horrible place and came home with an impressive assortment of huge and colorful bruises. I took a week off to keep her company. She's still got some residual pain and just generally isn't feeling well, but it's a whole lot better than it could have been. 2. The truck wasn't so lucky. But as it turns out, the insurance company will be giving us more than we paid for it, and that's after putting a whole lot of miles on it. So that's great news. I just "snipered" a car on Ebay for her: a 1995 Saab 900 convertible. We'll pick it up in a few days. 3. For those who know me, I've been laid off of my moonlighting job as of next Friday. I discovered an ad for my job on the atlanta press club website -- turns out he wanted someone full time and he can't afford me. As far as I know he's happy with my work but I am pretty pissed off at how I found out about it. There goes my chance to get on the air. Oh, well. Anyway I am job hunting, either for a really good full-time job or a pretty good part-time one. Which is a big part of the reason I'm tired. I'd have lots more to say about it but this is a public forum. 4. Great news. We have found a house. It turns out to be about the same price to buy a second home as it is to build a home on the farm land. We found a fabulous little property on Lake Jackson. With lots of lake frontage. Turns out it's owned by an acquaintance. I am very happy about this! Hopefully nothing will go wrong with the transaction. I have drafted the paperwork and I'm waiting for a reply. We have given them an earnest money check and we've been given the key so I'm very hopeful. More about the house tomorrow, I hope. 5. I guess that's it. 6. George Bush is a turd-brain.