Squashed

Apr 18

“I don’t recognize the United States government as even existing.” — Cliven Bundy, rightwing militia hero for refusing to pay grazing fees for his cattle in Nevada. (via politicalprof)

I’m not terribly sympathetic to the sort of tax cheat who offers grand explanations for why he shouldn’t have to pay taxes like everybody else. If you’re going to be a dick about paying taxes, own it like an honest crook. Or deny it like a rationally self-interested crook.

But this is even sillier. It’s one thing to want to be left alone. It’s another level of dickery to insist that you have a right to exploit public resources without following any rules.

Apr 17

(via Uninsured Rate Drops More in States Embracing Health Law)

One more thing worth remembering. About half the country fought this thing tooth and nail. The result is that the good results have varied regionally.

It’s a bit like when your dad decided the family was going to go Disneyland but your brother Johnny was like, “Disneyland is for babies. This trip is going to suck.” And Johnny lights a fire in It’s a Small World and then punches Mickey in the groin and gets you all kicked out. And he’s like, “I told you it would suck.” Except even then it didn’t suck. It’s just that it could have been more awesome if he’d hadn’t been such a twerp.

(via Uninsured Rate Drops More in States Embracing Health Law)

One more thing worth remembering. About half the country fought this thing tooth and nail. The result is that the good results have varied regionally.

It’s a bit like when your dad decided the family was going to go Disneyland but your brother Johnny was like, “Disneyland is for babies. This trip is going to suck.” And Johnny lights a fire in It’s a Small World and then punches Mickey in the groin and gets you all kicked out. And he’s like, “I told you it would suck.” Except even then it didn’t suck. It’s just that it could have been more awesome if he’d hadn’t been such a twerp.

Newly Insured in 2014 Represent About 4% of U.S. Adults

think-progress:

ICYMI: Obamacare enrollment hit 8 million.We went ahead and updated Fox News’s chart.

Could we reflect on this for a minute? Things did not start out well in the Obamacare department. Then things sort of worked out. So there was this website that totally didn’t work but then things were okay after all and more people had health insurance. And our healthcare system is still screwed up six ways to Sunday. But that’s down from nine ways to Sunday—so we’re a good third of the way there.

think-progress:

ICYMI: Obamacare enrollment hit 8 million.

We went ahead and updated Fox News’s chart.

Could we reflect on this for a minute? Things did not start out well in the Obamacare department. Then things sort of worked out. So there was this website that totally didn’t work but then things were okay after all and more people had health insurance. And our healthcare system is still screwed up six ways to Sunday. But that’s down from nine ways to Sunday—so we’re a good third of the way there.

Study: People of color breathe air that is 38 percent more polluted than white people’s | The Raw Story -

politicalprof:

This had never, ever occurred to me.

Cripes.

This is a serious and well-established problem. To save folks the time of trying to attribute it all to disparate income:

“[T]he main [factors in how polluted the air breathed in was] are race and income, and they both matter. In our findings, however, race matters more than income.”

Apr 16

Sympathize for Supervillains

I was watching a movie about this functionally invincible protagonist struggles to get over his own douchery. Except he’s only douchey because he feels inadequate, so it’s okay. With the help of a woman he learned that he was special and powerful. But then he let it get to his head. Fortunately the woman helped him get over himself just in time to avert catastrophe. For her.

I forget which movie it was. Maybe it was Thor. Or Iron Man. Or maybe the Lion King. Or maybe it was pretty much every single other super hero movie ever made. Maybe it was the Iliad. It’s a pretty common plot.

I’m just saying that our heroes seem to be having trouble getting their lives together. And our supervillians? Sure, they’ve got some problems too. Most of them are trying to save the world—they just struggle with criminal insanity. They’re doing the best with what they’ve got. But if your mind is shattered by the cruelty of a broken world, at least you’re rocking a decent excuse for a bit of self-obsession.

Apr 15

Marveling at Democracy

I caught a few minutes of a CSPAN radio call in show. A moderator and two person panel fielded questions from three phone lines. “Republican,” Democratic,” and “Independent.” As you might predict, there were some differing views from the caller. But they shared some common ground. Specifically, they were all utterly bonkers.

Every single person who called in espoused both bizarrely extreme policies AND made at least one major factual misstatement. (One of the democrats, for example, seemed to miss that gasoline refined from crude oil was not the same stuff as the natural gas extracted through fracking.)

And these are the people who are passionate enough about politics that they listen to C-SPan radio and call in. In other words, they’re voters. And they’re probably more informed than the bulk of the electorate.

But once all these votes get considered collectively, things mostly workout. I know things aren’t perfect. But they’re way better than they woudl be if any of these callers got their way on everything.

Apr 10

politicalprof replied to my post, Manic Aggressive:

let us know when you can bend the structure of reality, Matrix-style …

Done and done. That’s like the whole point of becoming an attorney. You change reality with your words. A family that was one day away from being homeless now has shelter. I fixed it. With my brain.

Manic Aggressive

When a major pleading is due, I sometimes end up at the office a bit later than usual. Everything is quiet. There are no interruptions. Things start coming together beautifully. I take a bit of pride in my work. And that pride necessarily extends to the probable reaction of the sucker attorney on the otherside who’s about to get a few hundred pages of reality dropped on him. It’s not just imminent victory. It’s the growing probability that the victory will be so powerful and so glorious that the law itself will change.

There’s only one problem. It does something curious to my inner monologue. It starts channeling supervillains. There’s a lot of crushing of enemies and bending of wills. Sometimes it’s just manic laughter and explosions.

I assume this is standard career satisfaction stuff?

Apr 09

Anonymous asked: What are your thoughts on limited liability corporations? From my basic understanding, there are no ethical or moral reasons not to repeal limited liability, only utilitarian reasons. Would love to hear your thoughts!

politicalprof:

This is now the most amount of time that I have ever spent thinking about limited liability corporations.

Oh! Tap me in! I’ve got this one.

First, utilitarian reasons are ethical reasons. This is doubly true when it comes to law and policy. This isn’t to say that utilitarian reasons are the only ethical reasons or that or that a utilitarian analysis is particularly special. It’s just that the probable result of any social policy is a morally relevant thing. “This policy will result in a thousand fewer kids having asthma” is certainly a plus in the morality column.

Second, limited corporate liability is really about how bad we expect failure to be. And should you be able to own a small piece of a company without massive risk to everything?

You and some friends start a business building a prototype solar car. You’re responsible for, say, the brakes. That gets you a 2% ownership interest in the company. Your friend Schlozo is responsible for the part that makes the car not explode. The good news is that your brakes work great. The bad news is that Schlozo wasn’t very good at his job. And … some people died. And now their families are suing both Schlozo and the company. Schlozo’s ruined. So is the company. But should you be? Your investment is wiped out. But should you lose your house too?

Or say you and your friends pool resources to start a music sharing service. Let’s call it Crapster. (Because, honestly, it’s 2014. You’re sort of behind the ball on this one.) Anyway, it turns out some people use your service for some copyright violation. And maybe you should have seen it coming. Or maybe not. Either way, the company gets sued for $1,500 for each instance of copyright violation. And were are a million instances. So that sucks for the company. And without limited liability you and your friends are on the hook for $1.5 billion.

There are certainly downsides to limited liability. But the upsides are enormous. Investment is possible. Even if, like me, you’re pretty skeptical of passive income, you can concede that investment can be a very useful thing.