Monthly Archives: May 2013
I saved the best for the last. You can read parts I and II, here and here. Visiting the Independence Hall was the highlight of our trip. Best of all since it is a National Park, the admission was free. You do have to get tickets, though. We bought our tickets and stood in the line to get into the Independence Hall. Despite the fact, that it was a Saturday our wait was pretty short. After going through the security we joined the a group people sitting in a mid sized room. We were soon joined by a Park Service ranger, who was to be our guide. In his interactive presentation, he tried to get us, his audience in the mindset of the people who had gathered in the Philadelphia State House to sign the Declaration of Independence. What would one require for a successful revolution, he asked. The answers in no particular order, were reliable means of communication, arms, ammunition, an army to use the arms and ammunition and money to fund all of the above. To our list he added enlisting help of other governments for the cause.
The Independence Hall which had served as the State House for Pennsylvania was also used as a court house as well as a prison during the Revolutionary War. What struck me was the size of the room where the Declaration was signed. Compared to the magnificent Government buildings in Washington DC, this room seemed so humble, so small. I wonder what the signers would think of the country if they saw it now. Did they imagine that the original thirteen colonies would span the continent from the Atlantic to the Pacific? Their concerns were probably more immediate. Pondering about the consequences of putting a finger in the eye of the powerful British Empire of which they were citizens. Most were likely thinking of what of Benjamin Franklin put in words so eloquently,
We must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately.
I asked the ranger the question that had been on my mind all along. Why Philadelphia? His answer, because the other two major cities, namely New York and Boston were under British control. I had no idea that things were that dire for the revolutionaries at the time of signing the Declaration. Must read more history.
We also saw the chambers where Washington resigned after his two terms were over, thus setting the precedent of peaceful transfer of power. After our tour of the Independence Hall, we crossed the road to see the Liberty Bell. The Bell has been a symbol of liberty not only to the rebels who took on the British Empire but also to the Abolitionists, the Suffragettes and later the Civil Rights Movement of the 20th century. I wonder if Bob Dylan’s Chimes of Freedom, is inspired by the Liberty Bell?
Friedman and his smug mug are back, this time with supercilious advice about landing a job in today’s tough job market. Ever the centrist, MoU blames both sides for the current situation. Not Democrats and Republicans but job seekers and employers. Apparently both are to blame because they want purple unicorns. If he is likening finding a perfect job or hiring the perfect candidate to be a near impossibility, wouldn’t saying that both want a unicorn be enough? Why purple, are they royal and therefore more difficult to find than non-purple unicorns? Redundant MoU is redundant.
Oh no, not again
LoL by: two_kittehs
Rest of the column is devoted to a company that helps narrow the search for the purple unicorns.
Long story short, it does not matter where you get your degree from, but it does matter who your college room-mate was. It even gets you free advertising in one of the most reputed newspapers in the country. In this column, Sharef, (daughter’s room-mate) plays the role that taxi-drivers usually play in Friedman columns set in more exotic locales.
In the last couple of columns, including this one Friedman seems to be downplaying the importance of a college degree and hyping Massive Open Online Courses or MOOCs . I wonder if he gave the same advice to his daughters that he is giving the unwashed masses. Or is it prestigious colleges for me and mine but MOOCs for the peasants. While I have nothing against MOOCs as a supplementary tool to enhance your education it is a bit of a reach to say that they can replace a traditional degree.
According to the Sharef, (daughter’s room-mate) one of the main reasons people get rejected for jobs is that they don’t show the employer how they will help them add value. Earlier in the column Sharef, laments about the writing skills of job seekers.
What surprises me most about people’s skills is how poor their writing and grammar are, even for college graduates. If we can’t get the basics right, there is a real problem.
So pray tell what value does Friedman add to the op-ed page of the New York Times, with his bi weekly torture of the English language and leaps of logic, is it comic relief?
ETA: By doing a quick Google Search I found that, Eleanora Sharef went to Yale, so MoU’s daughter is a Yale graduate. So it is Yale for me and mine and MOOCs for thee.
I tried something new today, made a comics using the builder on ICHC. Scrabble kitteh is my boss kitteh, he is quite a character.
The immigration bill has crossed its first hurdle, it has cleared the Senate Judiciary Committee by a vote of 13-5 with the adoption of 141 amendments. You can read the summary of the amendments here, and here. Whether it will make it to the President’s desk and in what final form is anybody’s guess. Its tough uphill climb has just begun, and right now we are just at the base camp.
Michael Kinsley is the latest pundit to join the austerity brigade. In his latest screed he accuses Paul Krugman of conducting a moral crusade against austerity. That is rich, when it is the advocates of austerity who have been on a moral crusade telling us to live within our means and not spend our children’s fortunes, ever since Obama took office in 2009.
For Kinsley to accuse Krugman of going on a moral crusade is like the pot calling the kettle black, when in the same article he goes on to write,
But the austerians deserve credit: They at least are talking about the spinach, while the Krugmanites are only talking about dessert.
The bad bets made by the big banks and investment houses caused the financial crisis, which resulted into the subsequent slowing down of the economy. The financial sector has rebounded but the rest of the economy has not.
Forget about morality, austerity is the wrong policy prescription in a recession or in economy that is growing slowly. Mainly because it does not work. It does not make the economy grow, which many advocates claim that it will do. When the aggregate demand is low, in the midst of a recession, businesses pull back, they don’t hire more workers or spend as much. So if the government tries to cut back as well, by laying off workers or not spending as much as it used to, it adds to the problem, because the economy contracts even further. So if you want the economy to grow austerity makes no sense.
Michael Kinsley (Credit: Reuters/Keith Bedford)
Kinsley never bothers to explain how austerity is going to help jumpstart the economy. He also tells us to implicitly trust the people who are advocating for austerity because they know what’s best for all of us just like the Austerity Cat.
Austerity Cat is looking out for you
LoL by: two_kittehs (Picture by: Deebrio)
The biggest economic story of our era, is the devaluation of labor compared to capital. Globalization, the soft labor market, the primacy of the financial sector in the economy, the policies that favor low interest rates and austerity and even the global financial crisis are the different manifestations of the same problem. The shift started taking place in the late 70s. Keynes’ policies that saved capitalism from its own worst excesses in the aftermath of the Great Depression gave way to the policies of the Chicago School economists, lead by Milton Friedman. Naked greed was given an intellectual wardrobe. This happened not just in the US under Reagan but globally due to the policy prescriptions of the World Bank and the IMF.
The section of the populace that has done extremely well under these policy prescriptions of the last few decades are the extremely wealthy, the ones whose income comes mainly from capital gains not wages. It is a hedge fund manager’s world and we are just living in it. In fact the 1% have bounced back quite nicely from the latest downturn, with their incomes increasing by more than 11%.
For broad based prosperity and a dynamic economy we need both capital and labor to be valued. We need both the government and the private sector. It was the unique public-private partnership that made the US a formidable economic engine. Both in the twentieth century and before. If the current trends continue we are headed towards a neo-feudal society where the top 1% will be like the Crawleys of Downton Abbey while the rest of us work downstairs.