At the Ballot Box: Considering Trade-offs on 101, 60 and 61 10 October 2010Posted by magicdufflepud in Economics, Policy.
Tags: Colorado, Election 2010, Policy, politics, Voting
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Unless you’ve been living under a rock–which, in Colorado, is entirely possible–you’ve heard about Proposition 101 and all those two amendments in the 60s. If any of them passes in November, the nation’s gaze will settle on our state. Someone Massachusetts will spit out his latte and ask “Dude, Colorado. WTF?” Around here, folks are calling the proposed changes the Armageddon amendments, but if you prefer “Ragnarok amendments” or the “amendments of the eschaton,” I doubt anyone would stop you. The evangelicals out the might even support the idea. I guess it’s cool if Colorado brings about the rapture. Anyway, point is that if you live in Colorado, you face a set of proposals that will, if enacted, turn Colorado on its head. I’ll leave you to decide whether that’s a good thing, but I’m hoping to give you a hand in assessing the impacts of each.
Because so much money is at stake here we need to understand taxing and spending and cuts thereto. We need a framework for making decisions.
Spending any time arguing with someone about tax cuts, and you’ll eventually hear the line “Proposal X takes away Y dollars from program Z” followed shortly thereafter with a statement, always said with an air of finality, “And we simply can’t afford to cut that much from program Z.” And on the other side of the argument, you’ll get, “Proposal X returns Y dollars to taxpayers’ pockets.” Both sounds reasonable, hence the finality, but rarely do you hear them addressed together. Let’s take a moment to examine what’s going on.
If we accept the argument that taxes exist in part to pay for government services (and set aside the arguments that they serve redistributive and behavioral purposes as well), then tax money looks largely the same as money spent purchasing anything else. We’re buying roads, education, social services and so forth because we see value in the products. It’s that kind of thinking that passed Amendment 23, mandating higher levels of funding for Colorado schools. Our tax dollars pay for things we believe we need to live in a civil society.
So when considering tax cuts, we can begin drawing analogies to the purchases we might make on our own. If we choose not to spend money on a new car, for instance, we might keep $350 a month to spend on other things we need or enjoy. Same with tax dollars. If we cut taxes, we’ll now have Y dollars left in our pockets to purchase things other than roads, education, etc. That’s the argument the tax cutters make. “More money in our pockets.”
Taking both sides into account, we must decide whether the trade-off makes sense. Maybe our current car is a clunker with no hope for repair. It guzzles gas and threatens to fall apart at every other turn. $350 a month for a new car solves those problems. The same goes for state services. We might all be able put more toward repairs to our houses, for example, but is it worth it to take that money from higher ed? When we take tax revenue from the government we’ll lose certain certain services, as well.
Cutting taxing and spending is a trade-off, not the one-sided disaster (or success) story so often offered against (or in support of) it.
With all that in mind, we ought to consider two factors when making our decisions: 1) the relationship between tax revenue collected and the quality of services provided and 2) the minimum level of services we’re willing to accept.
To illustrate the importance, take a look a these two graphs:
In both these graphs, we’re willing to to accept nothing below the same non-zero threshold of service quality. This is the level of service we expect from the government, irrespective of the money we pocket through tax breaks*. In the first graph, however, you’ll see that our return on investment is much lower. More money to government improves government services only slightly. In the second graph, small increases in revenue result in large increases in service quality. To think about this more concretely, try replacing the x-axis with “spending per-pupil” and the y-axis with “test scores.” In the first case, we get relatively little improvement when we spend more money. Maybe it would be better to spend it elsewhere. In the second case, we see enormous gains. Spending more money here gets us a lot.
Bringing this back to the original discussion, we need to consider exactly what we lose when we cut taxes and curtail spending. We need to know how effectively Colorado spends taxpayers’ money. And then, we need to know, based on that relationship between revenue and service quality, whether the cuts proposed via Prop. 101 and Amendments 60 and 61 will take us below the minimums we expect from government. If we think those cuts will take us below our minimum expectations, then we need to oppose them, and if we think they’ll remain above the minimum, then we need to weigh the service lost against our own gains. Not an easy task, but when so much money hangs in the balance, we need to base our decisions on something stronger than whimsy. This provides a framework.
But if all that sounds too time consuming and wonkish, then yes, all the ballot proposal mentioned will cut funding below those minimum expectations eventually and in some cases immediately, depending upon the program. But take the time. Make your own assessment.
* Despite the discussion of trade-offs, sometimes we require a minimum when making decisions. In your own life, you might be choose to live in cheaper and cheaper places so that you can afford to spend money on other things, but at some point you reach a lower bound. You have to live somewhere, so your trade-off becomes one between money and homelessness–not a realistic decision. Same with government: you expect police and fire protection, roads, some form of public education, etc. A minimum exists.
Tags: Colorado, Dan Maes, Denver, Denver Post, idiocy, politics
Look. I don’t really do political blogging. But For Dan Maes, I have made and will continue to make exceptions: this is bad politician blogging. How such a bumbler ever bamboozled anyone into thinking he might make a viable governor, overseeing thousands of state employees and representing Colorado before the entire country, I just don’t know. He’s probably a nice man, this Dan Maes, an okay conversationalist over a beer, but in writing his campaign material, he’s broken two of the cardinal rules: 1)that the material must make sense and 2) that it must have at one point flirted with fact. Consider the following, which does neither. (And read the whole thing. It only gets better)
Maes previously said he was fired as a police officer in Liberal, Kan., after working undercover with the KBI in a gambling and drug probe.
A statement he wrote for his campaign website that was later removed, said: “At one point in my 2 years there I was place (sic) undercover by the Kansas Bureau of Investigations (sic) to gather information inside a bookmaking ring that was also allegedly selling drugs. I got too close to some significant people in the community who were involved in these activities and abruptly was dismissed from my position. I was blindsided and stunned to say the least.”
Maes was asked about his statement that he was placed undercover after law enforcement sources in Kansas disputed the claim in interviews with the Denver Post.
“Some people are probably taking that a little too literally,” he said. “I was a city police officer providing information to the Kansas Bureau of Investigation.”
Maes said that he could not offer any records to back that up.
“This was 25 years ago,” he said, adding that, “It’s just not worth covering that much. It’s a non-issue.”
So was he really working “undercover”?
“Those comments might have been incorrect comments,” Maes said.
The director of the Kansas Bureau of Investigation said they have no record of Maes working with the agency during his stint as a police officer from 1983 to 1985.
“We’ve checked our records. We’ve talked to people working in that area (southwest Kansas) at the time,” said Bob Blecha, director of the law enforcement agency. “He (Maes) refers to a gambling case and possible drugs. They (agents) don’t recall him working with them on any case like that.”
Blecha said some of the agents, most of whom are now retired, do remember Maes as a police officer. It’s possible Maes at some point cooperated with agents on small matters as other officers might, Blecha said.
But he stressed, “He (Maes) did not work for us or with us on an investigation.”
In the statement posted to his website, Maes elaborated on his work as a police officer:
“… I was a young officer caught in a situation that was much bigger than myself with no where (sic) to go. I am proud to say that I never participated in any illegal activity while undercover. Although this chapter of my life was yet another one where I fought the machine, I will not discuss the details any further as many who were involved in this situation are still alive and in new places in their lives and I want to protect them.”
Poor Dan Maes, but in one sense he’s hit the nail on the head: He really is caught up in something bigger than he is… with nowhere to go.
Go to the Denver Post to read the rest.
Tags: Colorado, cycling, Hickenlooper, Maes, McInnis, politics, Republicans, Tancredo
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This guy’s running for governor in Colorado:
At first, I thought, ‘Gosh, public transportation, what’s wrong with that, and what’s wrong with people parking their cars and riding their bikes? And what’s wrong with incentives for green cars?’ But if you do your homework and research, you realize the [International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives] is part of a greater strategy to rein in American cities under a United Nations treaty.
Okay, Colorado Republican Party, so one of your gubernatorial candidates is a plagiarist, the other’s a loon, and then you’re still inviting Tom Tancredo–who left your party–to luncheons? Please tell me you’re just setting the stage for the “Most-Improved” award in 2012.
More from the Denver Post here.
(Joe) Brazil’s Biking Ban 19 July 2010Posted by magicdufflepud in Cycling, Uncategorized.
Tags: cycling, missouri, politics, St. Charles
I’m sitting in cycling shorts as I begin writing this. It is, as you might imagine, fairly uncomfortable. Yet before you start snickering about the idea of men in spandex, let me tell you that nothing feels less delightful on long ride than the chafing associated with wearing athletic shorts. Fashion sense always takes a back seat to chafing prevention, stopping short of an anti-chafe dress anyway.
Just the same, allow me to change.
So anyway, cycling’s shown up in the news back home (Missouri) recently, drawing a head-scratching complaint from motorists: too many bikes on the roads. Too many, of course, meaning you actually notice cyclists in the same way you might notice that, oh, the folks a block down repainted their house. You might make an offhand mention at the dinner table, “I saw some road bikers off Highway D today. Funny pants, those guys” or “Did you know the Wilkinsons painted their house? It’s green. Or maybe brown. Were they the ones whose daughter pooped in the lawn a while back?”
I don’t really know what too many cars would look like. I-70 toward the Rockies on a Saturday morning? Nothing newsworthy in that, though. In Missouri, it appears bikes caused more of a headache than all the traffic. “I get more complaints about this single issue [cyclists] than any other issue,” said Councilman Joe Brazil as he introduced a bill to ban bikes in the rolling hills of southwestern St. Charles County. If you’re not of a midwestern persuasion, that means he wants to ban cycling in one of the few scenic in the entire metro area. Here, for instance.
His rationale? Bike is slow. And cars is fast. Oh, and also, the state spent a bunch of money building a bike path that doesn’t go anywhere, so cyclists should use that all the time.
Nevermind that the county can’t actually regulate this sort of thing on state roads. Nevermind this bit of legislation comes from the same Joe Brazil who’s opposed urban sprawl for as long as he’s been on the council. Nevermind that the corn towering over the floodplains makes those highways equally unsettling.
No, nevermind all that, because it’s clear that Joe Brazil has never ridden a bike on a road before. Oh, sure, I bet he had a Huffy as a kid and tore up the sidewalks and so forth. But no, like so many other lost souls the poor man just doesn’t understand. He’s like the guy lounging on newspaper web forums (and hanging out the side of an F-250) addressing anyone who wears a jersey and spandex on the road as “Lance.” As in, “Hey, Lance, maybe you should get off the road and stop trying to win the Tour de France out there. Real people have places to be.” See? That’s just hard to take seriously. I don’t go around yelling at guys tossing a football when I want to play ultimate. “Yo, Elway, don’t see a Superbowl in your future, so get off the field.” How silly. Maybe it’s because you can throw a football while wearing a Big Dog T-shirt.
I bet Brazil’s more a baseball kinda guy, though, being a St. Louisan and all. “Hey, Wainwright…” Anyway,he says that cyclists should take the Katy Trail instead of clogging the roads. The Katy Trail is nice. It’s one of the Rails to Trails projects that converts abandoned rail lines into multi-use paths, and as I understand it, the trail’s 225 crushed-limestone miles have won it praise from folks who praise that sort of thing. But you can’t ride a road bike on it. You can’t ride a road bike on a gravel path. Imagine driving on snow with bad tires. Except that mailboxes and guardrails look much more frightening as you slide toward them on top of 20 lbs. of aluminum. No, convertibles and motorcyclists cannot be the only ones allowed to enjoy the pastoral beauty of St. Charles wine country.
I cringe to suggest that Brazil might find it more effective to support driver awareness because it carries that “Share the road!” surly biker image, but anecdote at least suggests that drivers more familiar with cyclists also seem to find them less of an inconvenience. In Colorado, a state much friendlier to two-wheelers on the whole, cyclists move in and out of traffic with ease around town. In my daily commute, other drivers treat me like a car. And on mountain roads where it seems that half the cars going by carry bikes on a roof rack, the usual practice is to swing well away. By contrast, and I’m still speaking from anecdote here, Missouri drivers would rather play chicken with me. Not the fun kind, though, because they’ll always win.
So before trying a silly ban–and let’s remember the state already said it won’t fly–maybe take a look at making sure drivers are more comfortable with bikes on the road. Yes, cyclists present one other variable to consider at any given moment, but just as drivers might drive differently in the rain, they can equally drive to anticipate cyclists. Or, you know, Brazil, you could get on a bike to see what it’s like. You might like it.
Denver: First Impressions 31 May 2010Posted by magicdufflepud in Uncategorized.
Tags: Colorado, Denver, politics, Self
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I’ve been living out of a suite in the Warwick Hotel for the past few days. It was an unintentional thing–friends in town on their way to Seattle, a one-night stay that grew into several, and a balcony view of the Central Presbyterian Church. We’re still here now, listening to the street noises six stories below. So this is what it’s like to live in the city?
Denver’s the only major metropolitan center in 500 miles–the distance between here and Salt Lake City–so it collects and concentrates all the city types in that enormous catchment area. A huge percentage can’t call Colorado their state of birth. By contrast, you can hit every major east coast city from Boston to DC in and still keep the trip under the 500-mile mark–not bad if you enjoy car trips to visit friends and family, but quite the opposite when you start looking to leave civilization behind for a few days. The Poconos and the Shenandoahs don’t count.
So anyway, Denver lies at the base of the Rockies, this bastion of culture against the country music and bible talk radio of the surrounding plains and cowboy hills. And against Colorado Springs, too, I hear. Lots of military men and mega churches down there and little in the way of liberality. That dichotomy, however, has lent the state its libertarian leanings: hard on government, soft on drugs, and conflicted about the environment. Whether the influx of transplants will rebalance these politics or push them further, I’m not sure, but for the time being the red/blue sparring will continue to make this state a stop on every presidential hopeful’s tour.
You can bet Denver proper will remain blue as a bunting until the end of time, though. It’s that concentration thing again. No adjacent state offers a thriving, diverse city of its size, so despite a population just a fraction of Chicago’s or New York’s, Denver manages to support all the urban crowds you’d expect: hipsters, punks, professionals, those groups of weird, baggy-jean wearing 17 year-olds. Our hotel backs up to the gay district, it seems. I imagine these folks have left Wyoming and Utah and Oklahoma for the promise of urban life surrounded by those who remind them of themselves. Strange that that observation should follow the last post’s concerns about diversity of thought, but there it is. Denver’s the big city in these parts, but the the variety of lifestyles and backgrounds concentrated in its urban core make it feel larger than even that.
Of course, Colorado’s capital still lacks the diversity of its seaboard peers–if New York and Philly will allow the comparison–and to mention cosmopolitan with respect to Denver’s demographics is to misunderstand the meaning of the word. Without looking at the census data, you’d never know that Hispanics comprise nearly a third of the population given the sea of white folks who crowd the streets. No, this is not a place to hear a new foreign tongue on every street corner.
Even my grocery store in Summit County with its complement West African immigrants seemed more exotic. How they all arrived there, I’m not sure, but my hazy memories of sophomore year Human Geography return to “chain migration.” You can look it up, because I don’t plan to.
At any rate, Denver offers many, though not all, of the qualities and opportunities I’d been seeking: an outdoorsy lifestyle, a vital downtown and a smart, growing population. Most of the women I’ve seen in the park have been attractive, too. This helps.
Washington, D.C.–Nexus of Self-Importance 16 May 2010Posted by magicdufflepud in Uncategorized.
Tags: human condition, Photography, politics, travel, Washington DC
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To return to DC is to return to a sense of importance, important people making important things happen always with this overshadowing sense of importance, importance importance. This stuff matters. When I worked here three years ago, I mentioned to my aunt, an inside-the-beltway lifer, the first time I saw Senators Kerry and Feinstein at a rally near the Hill. “Politicians are the rock stars around here,” she said.
And she’s no doubt right, even to the point that you might well extend roadie status to all the bureaucrats who make the show what it is, for better or worse. Only around here do kids write second grade essays about growing up to work as analysts for the FTC or the BLS, not to be firemen or astronauts. Fizzle pop! goes the magic of childhood under the care of status-hungry, beamer-driving, helicopter parents who hover only from 6:30-7:00 a.m. and then again 7 and 9:30 p.m–the time between commuting and sleeping.
That in part explains why I’ve chosen to move elsewhere: this place isn’t the real world. No city in America so desperately needs humility, yet remains so obdurate in its arrogance. By all rights, the city should share with Chicago the same inferiority complex toward New York, but the Wall-Street-be-damned feeling persists, inflated by the self-deceit that political power constitutes real power.
Time and again, I draw the distinction between this place and all the rest I’ve visited or lived over the years. Rarely, except in DC, will someone you’ve just met at a bar or coffee shop ask, “So what do you do?” in the first question or two. Instead, I’ve found the more common question to be a variation on, “So what are you into?” Or, to fit it into the same structure for contrast, “What do you enjoy doing?”
Witty banter follows, in DC always tinged with the response to that first question. “What do you do?” hides the intended imperative, “Validate yourself. Show me you’re important enough to take up my time.” Because, remember, DC is an Important Place where egos seldom fizzle or pop. The status game lives in the system here, in the form of barstool conversations that feel like job interviews, while in Oregon someone gets laid, with both the dogs watching, in the back of a Subaru.
At what point did DC’s citizens lose their wanderlust? When did the striving and ambition and jockeying begin? I imagine it was a gradual thing, like the realization that Mom and Dad weren’t just wrapping Santa’s presents for him. Four weeks after Jacob or Emily in third grade said it was all a lie, Mom and Dad fessed up too. And it was about that time that the piano lessons began, alongside the soccer practices and the homework that denied afternoon romps in the yard, neighborhood bike rides. Striving stifled.
Don’t give into it, DC. Leave open the the possibility that the work of defining life neither begins nor ends with a vocation. Instead explore those peripheries.
The statistical value of your life 21 April 2010Posted by magicdufflepud in Uncategorized.
Tags: economics, ethics, human condition, politics, teachable moments
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I tend to forget that not everyone went through economics courses in college and that of those who did, a scant few came away actually liking the subject. So on Monday when I asked you whether the death and suffering in Haiti hurt the world economy more than did the enormous and widespread annoyance following the unpronounceable volcano’s eruption, I assumed an economic response. And failing that, I assumed a utilitarian response based on the total amount of good/bad brought into the world. I am bad at assumptions, evidently. Only an economist would place a value on human life, right?
Well, no. Everyone does every day. If you’re alive, it comes with the territory, so let’s take a moment to explore the value you place on your own life. The concepts involved are relatively simple ones, and they’re more broadly applicable, too, so in addition to learning about the value of a human life, it should become clear why gambling is such a tremendously bad idea as well. Tremendously bad. Hooray for teachable moments.
The concept is expected value, an outgrowth of probability. Multiply each possible outcome for an event by its probability and sum the products. Voila: expected value. But maybe that’s too abstract. Examples typically help. Consider the outcomes from a coin flip: heads or tails. Now, say I give you $1 if when you flip the coin it lands on heads. If it lands on tails, however, I give you nothing. What’s the value of the coin toss? The probability of heads is 1/2 (or .5) so you can multiply .5 * $1.00. So, $0.50. Now take the other outcome, tails. This time you’ll get nothing, so the equation (the probability’s the same of course) is .5 * $0.00. So, $0.00. Add $0.00 to $0.50, and the expected value of the coin toss is $0.50.
Admittedly, it grows more difficult when the the number of outcomes grows. You’ll find it harder to, say, judge the expected value of a dating situation when the possibilities include 1)Acceptance, 2)Rejection or 3)Rejection and gossip to all her friends that you’re sketchy. Or you can pick a happier example. Regardless, that’s about it for the textbook talk. Let’s get on with life.
Consider a crazy world in which your commute to work is an expected value scenario consisting of two possible outcomes (like a coin toss). Outcome one: you drive to work on the highway, arrive safely, make $600 for the day, and drive home to your wife/concubine/television and cats. Outcome two: you die in a fiery wreck on the interstate. Boom goes the dynamite. On any given day, the probability breaks down to a .99991 chance of outcome one and a .00009 chance of option two.
You can see where this is going: if you believe life cannot be valued or has infinite value you will not go to work. If you believe the former, then you’ll flop to the garage floor in a paroxysm of indecision, and if you believe the latter, you’ll stay at home because the result of your calculations will be infinitely negative. In fact, unless you consider your life worth less than about $6.7 million, you’ll ask for a raise or become a perpetual shut-in. Best to stay with the mistress.
Now, granted, most folks aren’t the rational calculators that my example assumes, but plenty of careers in the real world test the same idea. Why else would the show Deadliest Catch exist? Commercial fishing is the most dangerous industry in the US. It involves a very real risk of dying. And because of that, it necessarily commands higher wages. Is the work that much more difficult than that of any other physically strenuous position? Probably not. But you aren’t likely to die while splitting rocks or digging a ditch.
Interestingly enough, it’s that kind of trade-off the government uses to determine the statistical value of a life. Its auditors look at the premiums workers in dangerous industries request to compensate for higher risks of death or injury. And then policymakers (not politicians) use that information to determine whether the number of lives saved by a new measure or construction project will make up for the costs. It’s cold, but then again, Americans like to drive 70mph even if it costs scads of lives.
Tags: ecology, environment, human condition, ManBearPig, Obama, politics, wilderness
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Is earth week next week? Google says yes, and I guess that’s why President Obama came out today to tell Americans about the Great Outdoors Initiative, which will do… something. As best I can recall, The Sierra Club showed up to laud the move and my former employer, well, actually, blew it off, but perhaps with good reason: the initiative doesn’t initiate anything. It hopes. Case in point:
The president said the “America’s Great Outdoors” program will involve a series of listening sessions throughout the nation to solicit an array of ideas.
Yes, an array of ideas. That’s about as vague “variety of issues” on my resume, and it marks a return to the aspiration game, which seems to hope that since we won’t be going to moon anytime soon, we might as well gaze at America’s wild-ish navel instead. Aren’t there weekly radio addresses for the stuff no one needs to know, though? Did America really need a special meeting to hear that it was getting a little homely, that maybe it should try getting out every once and while to work on its tan, take a stroll in the woods, leave a Snickers wrapper at a scenic overlook? Well, maybe.
Yes, National Park attendance has not grown in step with the economy, and more Americans visited in 1987 than have in any other year since then despite our swelling population. But to use the presidential pulpit to urge Americans to reconnect with the outdoors smacks of desperation. Curious since we’ve made no attempt to hide our flirtations with televisions and theme parks and European vacations over the last two decades. Why the hope for reconnection now? With more wilderness than ever, with conservation-friendly bureaucrats in office, why the sudden rush to support the American outdoors?
Over at the Times’s DotEarth blog, Andy Revkin might have the answer: our urban president. George W wandered around Crawford wounding trees with a bow saw in the name of fire mitigation. Cheney hunted quail and friends. Clinton whitewater rafted. Al Gore’s still afraid of ManBearPig. And George H.W., even if he didn’t like broccoli, at least retired to the Maine coast now and then. On the other hand, urbanite Obama, not so big on the Bass Pro scene despite his academic predilections for conservation.
I don’t think, however, that the great outdoors initiative is an effort to make up for lost opportunities or for the fact that Obama’s never wrestled a grizzly with his bare hands. Rather, it’s an offer from an urban American to urban Americans reminding them that Colorado exists, that so much space lies between I-5 and I-95. Really. And, yes, that may sound like aspirational gibberish to folks who make it into the woods every once and a while. Maybe it is.
But recall that the urban poor voted for Obama in overwhelming numbers. And recall that there are a lot of urban poor. They registered because he appeared on the ticket. Regardless of what you make as the reason why, consider that these are folks who rarely if ever see opportunities to vacation in national parks. It is they who need the hope of a wild America the most, and more pragmatically, it is the conservation crowd that needs more voters interested in environmental issues. Ignore the hope-y language and instead focus on the stated problem and implied “ask” here:
Despite our conservation efforts, too many of our fields are becoming fragmented, too many of our rivers and streams are becoming polluted, and we are losing our connection to the parks, wild places, and open spaces we grew up with and cherish. Children, especially, are spending less time outside running and playing, fishing and hunting, and connecting to the outdoors just down the street or outside of town.
If Obama can offer the hope of America’s natural bounty to those who might never have made use of it, he can also recruit supporters to protect that bounty. And in this case, I bet winning environmental consideration from voters who already hang on your every word will prove far easier than swaying a hardened and skeptical suburban electorate. When more Americans connect with the outdoors, more Americans vote for the outdoors. Shrewd move. And yeah, it’s cool if the city folks get end up getting muddy a little more often, too.
Words Mean… Stuff! 14 March 2010Posted by magicdufflepud in Uncategorized.
Tags: language, politics
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“This blueprint lays the right markers to help us reset the bar for our students and the nation.”
That’s Representative George Miller (D-CA), chairman of the House Committee on Education and Labor (because schools and unions are the same thing, right?) on the administration’s proposed education reforms. Evidently the blueprint, which is really a brief policy document, has laid “markers,” which sounds to me rather like dropping buoys off a boat, to help us “reset the bar” which means about as much as “unhinge the doohicky.” On education, of course. Education’s doohicky needs unhinging.
It’s fun to strip words of any meaning, kids! You can try it at home. Just take phrases you’ve heard on CNN and mash them together until a period looks necessary. For starters:
At the end of the day, the takeaway is the we’ve thrown setting a new paradigm under the bus.
Going forward, the nation requires a robust vision for the future.
More bad English to titillate here.