Praise Jesus and everything will be just fine

It happens far too often.

They probably didn’t pray hard enough!

PHILADELPHIA – April 23, 2013 (WPVI) — A Philadelphia couple – serving 10 years’ probation for the 2009 death of their toddler after they turned to prayer instead of a doctor – has violated their probation now that another of their children has died.

Herbert and Catherine Schaible belong to a fundamentalist Christian church that believes in faith-healing.

Philadelphia Judge Benjamin Lerner said at a hearing they violated the most important condition of their probation: to seek medical care for their remaining children.

Authorities have yet to file criminal charges in the death of the 8-month-old boy last week, after he suffered with diarrhea and breathing problems for days. But charges could be filed once authorities pinpoint how the baby died.

Making a permanent underclass

Dean Baker on the national disaster of long-term unemployment.

Paul Krugman talks about the human tragedy behind the economic policy failures of the Obama administration, which has prioritized deficit reduction over putting people back to work:

It goes without saying that the explosion of long-term unemployment is a tragedy for the unemployed themselves. But it may also be a broader economic disaster.

The key question is whether workers who have been unemployed for a long time eventually come to be seen as unemployable, tainted goods that nobody will buy. This could happen because their work skills atrophy, but a more likely reason is that potential employers assume that something must be wrong with people who can’t find a job, even if the real reason is simply the terrible economy. And there is, unfortunately, growing evidence that the tainting of the long-term unemployed is happening as we speak.

One piece of evidence comes from the relationship between job openings and unemployment. Normally these two numbers move inversely: the more job openings, the fewer Americans out of work. And this traditional relationship remains true if we look at short-term unemployment. But as William Dickens and Rand Ghayad of Northeastern University recently showed, the relationship has broken down for the long-term unemployed: a rising number of job openings doesn’t seem to do much to reduce their numbers. It’s as if employers don’t even bother looking at anyone who has been out of work for a long time.

To test this hypothesis, Mr. Ghayad then did an experiment, sending out résumés describing the qualifications and employment history of 4,800 fictitious workers. Who got called back? The answer was that workers who reported having been unemployed for six months or more got very few callbacks, even when all their other qualifications were better than those of workers who did attract employer interest.

So we are indeed creating a permanent class of jobless Americans.

And let’s be clear: this is a policy decision. The main reason our economic recovery has been so weak is that, spooked by fear-mongering over debt, we’ve been doing exactly what basic macroeconomics says you shouldn’t do — cutting government spending in the face of a depressed economy.

It’s hard to overstate how self-destructive this policy is. Indeed, the shadow of long-term unemployment means that austerity policies are counterproductive even in purely fiscal terms. Workers, after all, are taxpayers too; if our debt obsession exiles millions of Americans from productive employment, it will cut into future revenues and raise future deficits.

Our exaggerated fear of debt is, in short, creating a slow-motion catastrophe. It’s ruining many lives, and at the same time making us poorer and weaker in every way. And the longer we persist in this folly, the greater the damage will be.

(h/t DUI Lawyer David Benowitz.)

We’ll never know

From Russ Baker at on the Boston bombing and the media coverage:

Was there anything else we could have been focused on? There was, but it was just too “distasteful” to broach, at least in the early hours. Perhaps counter-intuitively, it was the Fox brand (admittedly a local station, not the propagandistic Fox News Channel) that dared to raise questions about events that terrorize the public. In this report, the correspondent dares to remind us that the FBI has in the past had close relationships with people who want to blow things up, and has even facilitated these plots up to the point where law enforcement can intervene to thwart the bad guys. Was a similar sting in place at the Marathon – a sting that went horribly wrong?

One veteran marathoner, Alistair Stevenson, the cross-country coach at the University of Mobile, says that he noticed an unusually heavy police presence, including bomb-sniffing dogs and spotters on rooftops, before the race, and that runners were told not to worry—that law enforcement was carrying out “drills.”

Stevenson’s account was reported in an Alabama blog run by a consortium of respectable local news organizations, but it was virtually ignored by the traditional media. Nothing here worth a second-look? Really?

Is it heresy or madness to take a harder look at the metastatic growth of the national security state? History is replete with examples of cynical efforts to create “strategies of tension” in which the public, fearful of growing chaos, turns to the reassurances of those who promise order.

In fact, it so happens that advocates of increasing surveillance are pressing their game on every front. One involves the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA), which, if enacted, would authorize your web service provider to pass along your real-time personal data to the Federal spooks. There’s been a lot of opposition to this, but something like the Marathon bombing can be a game-changer. Those who monitor public sentiment understand the power of emotion to alter public stances.
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