Vote for Me! I'm the Ice Cream on Man-Sex CandidatePresident Care Bear talks a lot these days[...]
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Benjy Sarlin noted earlier that Perry's fusillade against Fed Chair Ben Bernanke puts Mitt Romney in a treacherous spot. He's close to high finance in general and has been conspicuously unwilling to join the general chorus of criticism of Bernanke from[...]
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Michele Bachmann gave Elvis Presley, whose songs she uses at her events, happy birthday wishes today while she was in Spartanburg, S.C.
Unfortunately, today's the 34th anniversary of the day he died.
Bosses may have it all wrong when they assume that funny cat videos and FAIL slideshows are a drain on the workplace. Some new research finds that a moderate amount of mindless web surfing actually makes workers more productive at their jobs.
And the more mindless the surfing, the better.
"Employees who browse the web more end up being more engaged at work, so why fight that if it's in moderation?" says Don J.Q. Chen, a researcher at the National University of Singapore and a co-author of the new report, presented Tuesday at the annual meeting of the Academy of Management.
Although personal web browsing is generally seen as a workplace problem, Chen and his colleague, Vivien K. G. Lim, set out to determine if so-called "cyberloafing" had any benefits. They found that not only did it refresh workers after long work stretches, it made workers more productive than if they'd been given time to talk or text with friends or send personal emails.
"I'm going to say some things that are very bold. I'd like to somehow get across, particularly to the Washington elites, that boldness is sometimes exactly what we need," the former House speaker said just one minute into his speech.
"I want to start with what I think the biggest mistake that both the president and the Congress are making; it's something that Reagan really understood and taught me," Gingrich added a few minutes later. "You lead Washington by leading America. You don't lead America by leading Washington."
This is the same Newt Gingrich who shut down the government, right? Guess that's Republican for "bold leadership."
If "tar sands are thrown into the mix, it is essentially game over," says Dr. James Hansen, director of NASA?s Goddard Institute for Space Studies.
CBS' Sunday Morning, a show that used to have at least a veneer of social conscience, ran a "free market" biased piece on unpaid internships this week. Among the things they didn't mention: That unpaid internships are frequently illegal (and why), that schools actually charge the students for the academic credit (so you're not only working for free, you're paying for the privilege), and that we're seeing even more of a class stratification in influential fields like the media and public policy, because poor and working class kids can't really afford to take those high-status internships.
Maybe that's why one of the CBS interns who worked on the piece (for a $50 a week stipend - barely enough to cover subway fare) had this to say: "I was really surprised by the fact that so many people are against internships being unpaid. There were a lot of people that I found who were like, 'It's illegal. It's unfair.' I was so surprised that so many people were saying that," Berg said.
But instead, the piece turns into a bootstrap lecture where if you "think big" and "have the guts to start from the bottom," you can work for free, become a consultant and live happily ever after!
Ladies and gentlemen, your librul media!
Asked if interns are getting a raw deal, he told Smith, "Absolutely they're getting a raw deal, and they don't even know it."
Eisenbrey is vice president of the Economic Policy Institute, a non-profit Washington think tank. Unpaid internships, he says, are taking paid jobs away from people who need them.
"This is a concern that economists have: 'Why isn't business hiring people?'" he asked. "Well, if they can have people work for free why should they hire anyone? And in fact, I'd say, you know, if they could get them to work 60 or 70 hours a week without paying them, so much the better. They don't have to pay them overtime, I mean, where does this stop?"
And there's another problem, Eisenbrey says increasingly the top internships are going to kids from the top of the income ladder. "Who can afford to come to Washington and spend $4,000 on housing and food and then work without being paid? It is not the children of farm workers or factory workers or, you know, the children of people who are unemployed right now. It's going to be upper middle class kids," he explained.
"Sunday Morning" intern Erika Mahoney agrees. Like all 75 summer interns at CBS, she receives a $50 per week stipend.
"My parents are helping me out a lot. And, you know, it's hard to think about that because I have friends who wouldn't be able to do something like this. And so, you know, every day I call my parents and I tell them everything about my day because I know that, like, that's how I can show my appreciation," she told Smith.
"You seem to feel a little guilty about this," Smith asked.
"I do," Mahoney admitted.
"What's wrong with workin' for free? If a kid says, 'I want to do it, I want the experience,' what's wrong with that?" Smith asked.
"Well, you could say that. And if they could persuade people to work for half of the minimum wage, if they could get adults to work for free for six months, not just young people, then why not, what's wrong with that?" Eisenbrey replied. "Well, it degrades the entire value of work. And that's actually going on in our society."
But in this economy, some people would rather work for nothing than not work at all, and it's not only kids. After 10 years fundraising for various non-profit groups in Knoxville, Tenn., Kristina Shands found herself suddenly unemployed.
"It literally was within 15 minutes: I had no job, I had no health insurance, I had nothing," she remembered.
A life-long hockey fan, she took a bold step and at age 38 talked her way into an un-paid internship with a minor league hockey team, The Knoxville Ice Bears.
"I just started working the games, press releases, post-game summaries, helping with promotions and marketing and did that for the entire 2009-2010 season," Shands explained. "It was strange at times. I mean I'm working with 20 year olds, and I'm almost twice their age."
But it worked: That unpaid intern, is now a paid media consultant. "You gotta be able to think big and then have the guts to kind of start from the bottom and figure it all out. And maybe you'll hit the jackpot like I did," Shands said.
And if you don't? If your unemployment runs out, you have no health insurance and you can't pay your rent, I guess you just don't know how to "think big."
This is a great video of striking Verizon workers speaking about why they're out on strike and what the strike means to them. It's clear that these are smart, savvy, informed union members. The workers in this video are just a few of the 45,000+ Verizon workers of the CWA and IBEW who are out on strike now. Laura Clawson of Daily Kos gives more background as to what the strike is about:
A New York Times story by Steven Greenhouse is revealing, placing the workers' view?that Verizon's demands are an assault on middle-class jobs?against Verizon's argument that that's not the case because Verizon workers could take a pay cut and still be considered middle class. That's the company's argument: There shouldn't be a problem driving down benefits and job security, because by some measures workers will still be in the middle class?just hanging on by their fingernails instead of solidly so.
So to management, the idea that this is about middle-class jobs is just some kind of cynical talking point. And that's probably the most revealing evidence of just how much this is about middle-class jobs, because it's about the very definition of what it means to be in the middle class (always a nebulous term anyway). Verizon's official position is that what used to be a middle-class job?that what Verizon negotiated in their last contract as a middle-class job?is now too good for regular working people and that big chunks of the job security and benefits it offered must now be removed for that same job to count as appropriately middle class. If that's not an idea to fight back against, I don't know what is.
The Critical Metals Report: The rare earth element (REE) space is the most complicated space in the mining and metals sector. Mining these elements is complex, often involving permitting and infrastructure issues. Once mined, separating REEs to high manufacturer purity levels is even more complex. Then selling the isolated REEs often involves highly specialized marketing. Why should an investor place money in the REE space?
Jason Burack: REEs have an amazing amount of innovation upside right now. Because of the innovations coming down the pipeline, the market has the potential to exhibit an annual double-digit growth rate, which offers far more upside than most other commodity sectors. It’s an amazing growth opportunity for investors because the REEs are going . . . → Read More: Jason Burack and Kevin Kerr: Six REE Metals to Watch
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It is, sadly, all too common for courts to hand down decisions that are poorly reasoned and wrongly decided. Few decisions, however, present such an immense and undeniable threat to the American people’s welfare as the Eleventh Circuit’s decision striking down part of the Affordable Care Act. If this decision is upheld in its entirety, millions of Americans will lose their health insurance and millions more will lose their ability to purchase insurance altogether.
The reason why is because the court chopped off one leg of the ACA’s “three-legged stool” — the provision requiring most Americans to either carry health insurance or pay slightly more taxes — while leaving in place a provision that cannot exist without such an insurance coverage requirement.
The ACA contains eight titles, nine of which have nothing whatsoever to do with its coverage requirement. This is why Judge Roger Vinson’s lower court decision striking down the entirely law wasn’t just wrong, but embarrassingly so. At the same time, however, there is one provision of the ACA that must not take effect without an insurance coverage requirement in place:
The act eliminates one of the insurance industry?s most abusive practices?denying coverage to patients with pre-existing conditions. This ban cannot function if patients are free to enter and exit the insurance market at will. If patients can wait until they get sick to buy insurance, they will drain all the money out of an insurance plan that they have not previously paid into, leaving nothing left for the rest of the plan?s consumers.
This concern is not simply theoretical. Seven states enacted preexisting conditions laws without also enacting a minimum coverage provision, and all seven stakes experienced sharp spikes in insurance premiums ? or worse. Kentucky, Maine, New Hampshire, and Washington each lost most or all of their individual market insurers after those states enacted a preexisting conditions provision without enacting a minimum coverage provision, and the cost of some New Jersey health plans more than tripled after that state enacted a similar law. For a while, there were entire counties in Washington state where it was literally impossible to buy an individual insurance plan, until Washington finally amended its law to eliminate most of the protections for people with preexisting conditions.
Meanwhile, the one state to enact a preexisting conditions provision and an insurance coverage requirement saw drastically different results. In the few years after Gov. Mitt Romney signed Massachusetts’ health reform law, the number of insured fell 60 percent and the cost of individual insurance premiums fell 40 percent.
As ThinkProgress explained on Friday, the fact that the preexisting conditions provision of the ACA depends on the insurance coverage provision is enough to render the insurance coverage provision constitutional. The Eleventh Circuit should have upheld the law in its entirety. By carving out just the coverage requirement and leaving the preexisting conditions rule intact, however, the two judges in the majority revealed that they don’t understand health economics any more than they understand the Constitution.
Something I’ve spent a fair amount of time complaining about is the extent to which state and local government layoffs have been a drag on employment. This is problem they’ve avoided in Texas, where everything ? including the government payroll ? is not only bigger, but increasingly so:
If only all states could provide such labor market stability.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX) — who kicked off his campaigning for the GOP 2012 presidential nomination by saying Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke’s actions to boost the economy are “almost treasonous” — is spending a lot of his time criticizing federal regulations for supposedly stifling job creation. In Iowa this week, he related a story told to him by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) about tractor regulations forcing farmers to jump through hoops:
He then proceeded to cite what he termed an ?obscene, crazy? regulation. ?If you are a tractor driver, if you drive your tractor across a public road, you?re going to have to have a commercial driver?s license. Now how idiotic is that??
Perry said he had talked on Sunday night with U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa at a GOP dinner in Waterloo. Perry told Grassley he had heard in the previous two days that the federal government was going to put such a regulation in place.
?Your own United States senator, sitting there at the table, said, ?That?s right.? And I said, ?What were they thinking, senator?? And he said, ?They weren?t.? So that is the issue at hand here,? Perry said.
The only problem is this regulation simply doesn’t exist. ?We are absolutely not requiring farmers? to obtain commercial licenses, said U.S. Department Of Transportation spokeswoman Candice Tolliver. Mother Jones’ Kevin Drum spent some time getting to the bottom of this urban legend:
The [Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration] has long had rules that defined most grain haulage as interstate commerce and designated farmers hauling shared crops as commercial operators. This was never a big deal because they had never enforced those rules and neither had anyone else. But then Illinois decided to start enforcing the letter of the law and Illinois farmers were unhappy. So now FMCSA is asking whether these regulations ever made sense in the first place. [...] Far from trying to implement a barrage of regulations on our nation’s farmers, FMCSA is apparently trying to stop state officials from implementing a barrage of regulations on our nation’s farmers.
Perry is either ignorant of the issue at stake here or is simply lying to score an anti-government political point. Grassley, in a newsletter issued on Friday, wrote that “common sense had appeared to prevail in the matter of proposed agricultural transportation regulations.”
No matter how silly you think the Real Housewives franchise is, this is incredibly sad: Russell Armstrong, the soon-to-be-ex-husband of one of the Beverly Hills housewives, has apparently committed suicide. The Beverly Hills installment of the show was notable for both its financial excesses and its rawness: Taylor Armstrong spent $60,000 on a birthday party for her daughter with Russell, while two of the sisters on the show fought bitterly about one of their struggles with alcoholism. The Armstrongs’ were the unlucky couple who, according to the format of the show, saw their marriage dissolve during filming. Taylor accused Russell of spousal abuse in her petition for divorce.
Being reality-television famous can be modestly lucrative, but even if you think you might end up a mini-mogul like Bethenny Frankel, the price you can pay seem awfully high. The contract you have to sign if you’re going to appear on The Real World says you have to absolve MTV of responsibility if you’re raped or sexually assaulted. If your wife decides she wants to humiliate you on national television for the sake of juicing her nascent Q score, you can’t really prevent her from doing it once you’ve stepped over the line and agreed to be on the show. The incentives here are for perpetual disaster: there’s no reward for self-protection here. People have the right to do whatever they like with their lives, of course, but we’re an awfully risk-averse country except when it comes to fame. Then, we’re willing to stake everything in pursuit of it.