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Tonight

Listen to Virtually Speaking Susie, hosted by @SusieMadrak on 7/5/2011 9:00 PM #BlogTalkRadio http://t.co/nEANi0e

My guest tonight is the fabulous Lance Mannion, whose work I’ve been following for many years. Tune it, it’ll be fun!

Yep

What Digby said. How do you hand over so much of your decision-making ability to people who are so patently wrong? How do you rationalize doubling down on those policies when they cause so many people so much pain?

And how can we rationalize voting for someone who was so very, very wrong — and still insists this is the right approach?

The good kind

Of flash mob, I mean:

Fire safety

My dad trained us to do this. I’ve had people make fun of me for it, but it’s a good fire safety habit.

Some help

It’s about damn time. “Implementation delays”? Doesn’t sound like it was enough of a priority. Think of all the pain that could have been avoided:

Sandra Allwine has been pleading with her bank for more than two years to modify the mortgage on her Arlington County home. Despite exhausting all her savings and having her daughter move in to help with her $3,000 mortgage payment, Allwine, 65 and unable to find work, is struggling to save her home from foreclosure.

In June, a potential lifeline opened up. The newly launched $1 billion Emergency Homeowners’ Loan Program, or EHLP, is targeting homeowners who are among the most difficult to help: those who fell behind on their payments because of job loss or unexpected medical bills. For many of them, it might be the last chance to save their homes.

“We were normal middle-class Americans who had saved and lived very carefully and frugally . . . and still wound up getting kicked in the teeth,” Allwine said. She applied as soon as she heard about the program.

If she is approved, the government will subsidize Allwine’s mortgage payments for a maximum of $50,000 over two years. After that, the interest-free loan will be forgiven over five years if she stays in her home and stays current on her payments.

EHLP is the latest government program targeting the nearly 1.8 million homeowners like Allwine facing foreclosure. It is going to have to move fast: The program was supposed to start last year, but implementation delays mean that the Department of Housing and Urban Development must spend all its $1 billion by the end of the federal government’s fiscal year, Sept. 30.

That gives homeowners in 27 states, including Virginia, until July 22 to complete their applications. If demand outstrips available funds, HUD will run a lottery to pick successful applicants. Five additional states, including Maryland, are subject to slightly different rules, which gave them more time to spend the funds, because they started taking EHLP applications earlier under similar state-run programs.

Why teens are unemployed

The Wall Street Journal, which is frequently full of shit, constructs an argument blaming it on the last increase in the minimum wage. Apparently now that they are a Murdoch publication, facts are optional.

Social media

The Twitter was reporting gunshots and a mob of teenagers rampaging after last night’s big fireworks celebration. It went viral pretty quickly, but I noticed it was the same info being repeated over and over and I had my doubts. So I turned on the police scanner and all I heard was reports of police breaking up crowds of kids. Today, there’s nothing in the news except one stabbing in Love Park, right off the Parkway.

The info was picked up and amplified because the original source was a local news photographer and considered credible. Oops.

So while you can’t believe everything you read in the papers, neither can you believe everything you read on the internet.

Purge

So we have a group of freshman Congress members who won election by promising that things were black and white, and they’re going to be punished for illustrating that, as extreme as they were, they have to compromise on at least some things. It would be funny if I wasn’t dreading an even more extreme crop the next time:

It is miles to go before the 2012 Congressional races begin in earnest, but already some of the 87 freshmen who helped the Republicans win back the House last year are bracing for a challenge from within the party. At least half a dozen potential primary challengers to freshmen are considering a run, and there is heated chatter about more.

In some ways, the freshmen are responsible for their own predicament. Many won their seats after successfully challenging establishment Republicans in primaries, proving that a combination of gumption and the right political climate could overcome the advantages of incumbency.

Now, to some of the impatient and ideological voters who sent them to Washington to change things, the new House members may be seen as the establishment, and they face the disconcerting prospect of immediately defending themselves in the political marketplace.
Continue Reading »

Intern nation

It’s also illegal in most cases. But hey, it’s not as if anyone’s going to stop them!

Welcome to the brave new world of work, where you work more and get paid nothing! Travailler plus pour ne rien gagner (maybe that should be Sarkozy’s slogan for his reelection campaign!). This is the reality experienced by more and more people in the US, and thoroughly explored by Ross Perlin in Intern Nation: How To Earn Nothing and Learn Little in the Brave New Economy.

The premise of the book is that internships have exploded in numbers as they have become an almost mandatory use of someone’s education in order to gain legitimate entry on the labor market. But Perlin considers them to be “a form of mass exploitation hidden in plain sight” (xiv), with roughly 9.5 million college students, roughly 75% will participate in at least one internship before graduation. He argues that a significant share of those are unethical if not illegal.

In other words, interns are becoming the fastest-growing category of American workers, the largely unpaid ones.

The simple fact of non-payment, for Perlin, also points to the fact that internships have become a site of reproduction of privilege as only those of financially comfortable background can hope for the glamorous internships in Congress, in Hollywood or television and journalism that truly open doors for permanent (and paid) jobs, guaranteeing that the upper-classes will remain the major cultural producers in the mass media. In that sense, internships contribute to both exploitation and reproduction of inequalities in opportunities.

Finally, Perlin argues that internships devalue labor, especially for young people and at entry-level positions at the same time that interns may displace workers.

Krugman

You can tell he’s losing it. He keeps thinking it’s a bad dream and he’ll wake up.

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