Thursday, April 17

Are you an Obama supporter suddenly feeling down about the future in light of his recent remarks?
Or are you a Hillary supporter who's down because she's been getting raked for months?
Maybe you're a McCain supporter.... aw, how much does our next president even really matter?
You take this in good light or bad light, depending on who you want to win and who does.
Here's one reason why the "president doesn't matter that much" might make you feel good.

Monday, April 14

You go into these small towns in Pennsylvania and, like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing's replaced them...And they fell through the Clinton administration, and the Bush administration, and each successive administration has said that somehow these communities are gonna regenerate and they have not.

And it's not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.
The truth hurts. It hurts to say it and it hurts to hear it.

Thursday, April 3

Following up on my good neighbor post, here's the study, with policy recommendations, in a pdf format. Breakdown:

1. For relief and recovery efforts and ensure that its role [the private sector] is officially recognized as part of disaster protocols.

2. Decentralize government relief to local governments and non-governmental organizations and provide that relief in the form of cash or broadly defined vouchers.

3. Move the Coast Guard and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) out of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

4. Reform “Good Samaritan” laws so that private-sector actors are clearly protected when they make good faith efforts to help.

Numbers 2 (decentralization) and 4 (enable people to act on their own to help) are the ones I immediately like.
Wal-Mart has decided not to commit public relations suicide: Debbie Shank, the former Wal-Mart employee who suffered severe brain damage in a traffic accident, won't have to pay the company back for the cost of her medical care.

Good job, internet, for showing Wal-Mart the asshole-ness of its ways. (via Digg)

Now, internet, how's that Scientology attack going?

Tuesday, April 1

Wow, just noticed the Wal-Mart posts below on the day I see this story, something I've heard about for a couple years but now has been fulled studied. The opposite of corporate policies preventing employees from doing the right thing, it's what happens when a company empowers employees to act as they see fit, as the Wal-Mart CEO did on the morning of Aug. 29, 2005:
This extraordinary delegation of authority ... saved countless lives in the ensuing chaos. The results are recounted in a new paper on the disaster written by Steven Horwitz, an Austrian-school economist at St. Lawrence University in New York. While the Federal Emergency Management Agency fumbled about, doing almost as much to prevent essential supplies from reaching Louisiana and Mississippi as it could to facilitate it, Wal-Mart managers performed feats of heroism. In Kenner, La., an employee crashed a forklift through a warehouse door to get water for a nursing home. A Marrero, La., store served as a barracks for cops whose homes had been submerged. In Waveland, Miss., an assistant manager who could not reach her superiors had a bulldozer driven through the store to retrieve disaster necessities for community use, and broke into a locked pharmacy closet to obtain medicine for the local hospital.
Empowered, decentralized actors - people on the local level given the authority to act - and the resulting response was leagues ahead of what FEMA was doing. This isn't testimony to Wal-Mart per se, but to the power of local, community actors as being in the best position to respond to disaster - look how well they did it!
Of course these managers would do everything they could to help these people - it's their freakin' home town(s)! Contrast this urgency with the disinterest of a remote FEMA bureaucrat in Washington who's never been to Gulf Coast... is the resulting difference any surprise?
(Note: The article I linked to takes this to a certain anti-federalization level, which you may or may not agree with. Personally, I'm always shocked at how many people who railed against FEMA in the case of Katrina support the same disinterested and distant federal government in rebuilding the Gulf Coast, and many other projects of this nature.)