Squashed

A blog of politics, law, religion, and the tricky spots where they collide.

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States could have saved more than $24 billion annually if they had increased/decreased the employment of administrators and other non-teaching staff at the same rate as students between 1992 and 2009.

Study: Half of All School Employees Not Teachers, 130% Increase Since 1970 (via weareteachers)

Many of these support staff, though, are either legally required or necessary to cope with legal and financial burdens placed on schools by lawmakers, and the reason the support staff has ballooned is directly related to the increase in regulation placed on public schools.

(via rhpolitics)

Are the regulations at issue the ones that say folks living with physical or cognitive disabilities still get a decent education? It’s true that IEPs are going to require some staffing to support. But scrapping resources for the most vulnerable children isn’t a step in the right direction.

(via rhpolitics)

Why do Conservatives hate work?

For the record, I don’t mind the rich. I find poverty a much more pressing social ill than affluenza. If you’ve got a pile of money and manage to turn it into a bigger pile of money, great for you, buddy. But if it’s all the same, maybe you don’t need a trophy?.

The conservative desire to lionize the monied capitalist is hard for me to understand. SDS quotes George Gilder in Wealth and Poverty:

Liberals seem to want wealth without the rich. Yet most real wealth originates in individual minds in unpredictable and uncontrollable ways. A successful economy depends on the proliferation of the rich, on creating a large class of risk-taking men who are willing to shun the easy channels of a comfortable life in order to create new enterprise, win huge profits, and invest them again. It will be said that their earnings are “unearned” and “undeserved.” But, in fact, most successful entrepreneurs contribute far more to society than they ever recover, and most of them win no riches at all. They are the heroes of economic life, and those who begrudge them their rewards demonstrate a failure to understand their role and their promise.

How exactly is investing your massive quantities of money “shunning the easy channels of a comfortable life”? Who invests so heavily in a new enterprise that there isn’t enough left over for a comfortable life? It could be a parent who goes hungry so a child can eat. It might be a student who borrows against a better future. Maybe it’s the guy starting a small business who skips a mortgage payment to pay an employee. But none of these people are rich. At least not in the Capitalist Overlord sense.

But let’s grant the beginning of Gilder’s point. Suppose some special flowers have a real talent for investing money in new, socially important enterprises. Surely the best thing for society is to identify them, support them, and make sure they have resources to do their magical capitalist thing? So if Josefina shows great promise from a young age as a Capitalist but has the misfortune of being born into a poor family, maybe we put a wealth tax in place to siphon money to her capable hands instead of the hands of a less competent capitalist? We’d also better make sure to dump some of the money into education to make sure we don’t let any underprivileged genius capitalists slip through the cracks.

Unless Gilder’s point is that any sort of redistribution is unnecessary because the people who happen to have money can do a perfectly adequate job of investing it. In other words, they aren’t all that special and unique. In which case I guess they have a job to do and should be paid for doing it. Like everybody with a job gets paid. Maybe twenty bucks an hour would be a good compensation for something that apparently doesn’t take any special skills?

I’ve struggles to explain backpacking to those who don’t already do it. Pictures help—but the post-hike pictures only capture a piece of it. They’re mostly pictures of mountains and dirty people smiling. They don’t capture the *why* of the smiling. Or the scale of the mountains.

Here are some lakes. They don’t really have names. Because there are a lot of lakes in the area and at some point you stop naming things.

I’ve struggles to explain backpacking to those who don’t already do it. Pictures help—but the post-hike pictures only capture a piece of it. They’re mostly pictures of mountains and dirty people smiling. They don’t capture the *why* of the smiling. Or the scale of the mountains.

Here are some lakes. They don’t really have names. Because there are a lot of lakes in the area and at some point you stop naming things.

See you in a few.

See you in a few.

Book Recommendations?

Vacation starts today. Which means maybe I should bring some books to plan to read? And maybe actually read?

Past reading has included epic fantasy (GRRM, Jordan, Sanderson, etc.) and post-modern fiction (Barthelme, Coover, O’Brien, etc). So I’m basically looking for something to read for entertainment rather than edification. Guilty Secret Pulpy1 is okay—but Self Injury Pulpy is maybe not.

What should I be reading?


  1. We generally have bookshelves in at least three rooms. One room gets the books that are displayed so we can intimidate impress on visitors how impressive we are. Think of Facsimile Edition of Shakespeare’s First Folio shelved next to Black’s Law Dictionary. Then there’s a room full of fiction which we can be in to feel good about and to impress upon guests that we own a great quantity of books for sophisticated and literary people. Then there’s another room—which is usually a basement or a closet—full of Dan’s Other Books. This one is not shown to visitors at all. Unless one of the visitors says something like, “I’m a huge nerd.” In which case do not worry you are not alone. And also, this is my Kingdom and if you want to stare into the abyss of who is a bigger nerd you will find me staring back at you. I own a rapier

[F]rom now on, The Times will use the word “torture” to describe incidents in which we know for sure that interrogators inflicted pain on a prisoner in an effort to get information.

The Executive Editor on the Word ‘Torture’ - NYTimes.com

So I guess score one for pokey but inexorable moral progress.