Nation Of California Open Thread

You can thank Bloomberg for the upgrade:

Fewer markets are accepting UN Certified Emissions Reductions, credits created from investment in carbon-reduction programs, as nations from China to California adopt their own standards.

By the way the piece talks about how the global carbon credits market is becoming irrelevant. In many ways we are worse off today in terms of government action to stem climate change than we were 10 years ago. Fortunately the economics of renewables are coming along nicely, so that their energy footprint is expanding quickly, though not quickly enough.


In other news, Snowden gave a talk at SXSW, Alan Turing was, yet again, correct, and Gov. Christie shows his true colors one more time.


Talk amongst yourselves. Go!


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The job of a chaplain is to be insensitive to atheists.


Yep, that Senaturd from Texas is at it again....

As an atheist

HankP's picture

if "insensitive" means "leave them alone and quit trying to convert them" I'm OK with this.


I blame it all on the Internet

"We have never seen an adiministration (yada yada yada)

brutusettu's picture

bold by me

“You know, last year, there was a chaplain in the Air Force up in Alaska who wrote in a blog post (on a Air Force run site) the phrase ‘There are no atheists in fox holes.’ He was ordered by his supervising officer to take it down.”

“I guess it was deemed insensitive to atheists. I kind of thought it was the job of a chaplain to be insensitive to atheists.”

After a round of applause, the senator added: “To welcome them into the forgiving arms of a loving god.”


Is the job of an Air Force chaplain to also be "insensitive" to Catholics or Pentecostals or Jews or Hindus or heaven forbid, Southern Baptist such as Ted?   

Chaplains aren't supposed to give a what about all US servicemen, with the only concerns related to converting them?


Call me not a grifter but before that joke was told, were Ted's aids too lazy to look up the Army chaplain mission statement?

The Air Force Chaplain Corps provides spiritual care and the opportunity for Air Force members and their families to exercise their constitutional right to freedom of religion.







Warming up for St. Patrick's Day


Father Ted: 'It's not as if everyone's going to go off and join some mad religious cult just because we go off for a picnic for a couple of hours.'

Father Dougal: 'God, Ted, I heard about those cults. Everyone dressing in black and saying our Lord's gonna come back and judge us all!'

Father Ted: 'No... No, Dougal, that's us. That's Catholicism.'

Ah, yes: "Father Ted"...

Jay C's picture

A TV sitcom the majority of whose characters were Catholic priests and bishops, and who were invariably portrayed as either venal con-men or alcoholic buffoons - or usually, both. AND it was produced in Ireland! Which, to my surprise, engendered very few, if any, serious complaints from the viewership: I guess the Irish know better.....

Put an Irishman on the spit


and you can always get another Irishman to turn him.  =GB Shaw.

Anyone spot a problem in this graph?




I'm trying to guess what you have in mind.  Mortgage rates declining too rapidly relative to other types of loan?


Actually,  what I don't get is where the Student Loan interest data came from.  The numbers in the graph are a lot higher than this page:


and most student loans are federal.

Sorry, the graph wasn't labeled


It should've read "Percent of balance 90 or more days delinquent by loan type"


Here's another:

Thanks, now it makes sense


I have to blame the student loan defaults at least partially on universities.   Repayment rates are capped at 10% of income,  and of course income is way down when you consider the graduates without jobs,  but the loan amounts have gone way up because tuition has gone way up.

And why has tuition gone way up?


The concept of class might be useful here.


That was quiet Timmy-esque


in terms of comment structure.

Hah! How true


But then I think I redeemed myself with my extended attempt at communication

I Didn't Know That the Ed O Bannon Case had Gotten So Legally...




Thanks for the's been 41/2 wonder I've lost track.


Still, great stuff...thanks



Actually I don't think class has that much to do with it


Universities charge so as to maximize (students*tuition).    If more loan and grant money is available,  people are willing to pay more.   So the universities can charge more before they start to lose enrollment.


Classic third-party payment problem,  same thing that happened to health care.  

Here's my class-based explanation, which I think is better


increased loan and grant money isn't just magically made available. Treasury doesn't just make up fed loan and grant amounts out of thin air w/out coordinating with higher educational institutions.


The input from those institutions was that more loans and grants were necessary to meet its costs given that:


* wealthy people decided they didn't want their taxes funding education as much

* a managerial class decided managerial contributions should be expanded at greater compensation


Class-based ideology recommended these decisions:


* A political ideology popular among the wealthy recommends putting less of their money into public educational institutions


* A top-heavy managerial philosophy recommends that rich people should extract more money out of both public and private educational institutions


* A class-based ideology says it's OK for young people to pick up the slack b/c they need to be taught a lesson in personal responsibility


I like my explanation better than yours.

I like mine best of all


Because it's a lot simpler.


In the historically awful job-market of the great recession, many out-of-work people decided to sit out the tough period by going to college. Many others deferred their debt all together, since they didn't have income. As people graduated and found jobs, their debts came due. Hence the lag from the other kinds of debt, which aren't as easily deferred.

"I don't want us to descend into a nation of bloggers." - Steve Jobs

Good point, and a partial factor


For this factor, there's also a class-based component re: why our elites have pursued such low-growth, job-killing policies that've forced so many students into school to try and weather the bad economy.


But you haven't explained the steep tuition hikes, even while faculty pay has been stagnant or falling. Individual students taking on more debt to pay for tuition is also a factor in rising student debt. 


For that you might have to look at my class-based explanation above.

CUPA claims


that faculty base salaries went up 2.1% last year,  and that the increases were greater in public universities than in private ones.  It comes from here but unfortunately the good stuff is behind a paywall.  

Here's a typical study


regularly reported in the chronicle of higher education...


mentioning whose reporting on the study is my way of dinging you for not knowing what's going on in the sector of the economy you work in, since this might prevent seeing class-based phenomena across multiple sectors of the economy:


Faculty salaries were "essentially flat" from 2000 to 2012, the report says. And "we didn't see the savings that we would have expected from the shift to part-time faculty," said Donna M. Desrochers, an author of the report.

The rise in tuition was probably driven more by the cost of benefits, the addition of nonfaculty positions, and, of course, declines in state support.

Howard J. Bunsis, a professor of accounting at Eastern Michigan University and chair of the American Association of University Professors’ Collective Bargaining Congress, wasn’t surprised by the conclusions of the study.

"You see it on every campus—an increase in administration and a decrease in full-time faculty, and an increase in the use of part-time faculty"


In other words, administrators are sucking more and more wealth out of our colleges and universities:

For more anecdata


this thing varies from university system to university system, and it doesn't necessarily break down the way you'd think it would.


Alabama's state universities managed to give its faculty two and three percent raises for the last three years even in 2010-11. The University System of Georgia...didn't. And Alabama's universities are much more underfunded than Georgia's and yet Alabama somehow found the money, while Georgia didn't.


Make of that what you will.

I don't make much of it


since Alabama is an outlier and we're discussing general trends, which includes mostly stagnant faculty pay amidst exploding tuition and admin. positions and compensation.

It's at least something of a counterpoint


to the narrative that there's no possible way that the university can afford to pay its faculty a decent wage. If the underfunded university system of the reddest of red states can somehow find the money, then anyone can find the money.



Nick Saban will make 7 million USD this year.


Crimson Tide football, Alabama's state religion.

National Championships Keep The Alumni Checks Coming

M Scott Eiland's picture

I suspect it's the coaches from middle of the road schools who are overpaid compared to what their efforts bring in, not ones who bring in tidal (pun intended) surges of cash to the school's coffers via multiple titles. Of course, that's why a coach at a big time program who is stepping on his crank on a regular basis (the late, unlamented reign of Lane Kiffin at USC comes to mind) is doomed even if it means writing off a fat contract--the funds at stake should angry alumni start putting away their checkbooks dwarfs any amount of salary devoted to one man.

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

Been meaning to ask you this:


What do you make of the NCAA O'Bannon case?  


Though he doesn't make tremenjus bux at NC State, I have yet to figure out Dave Doeren's continued employment anywhere.

I Believe That The NCAA. . .

M Scott Eiland's picture

. . .will be virtually unrecognizable in ten years, if it hasn't collapsed completely. Big time college athletics is being called out on its BS, and the only question is what path the changes will take--there are issues like Title IX that will need to be taken into account.

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

entirely fair point that I hadn't thought of



But won't reducing the number of admin staff reduce employment

mmghosh's picture



Suppose there are 30 faculty, 30 staff and 30 admin posts in a given university.  You want to reduce admin to 10, and distribute the salary of their 20 among the 30 faculty, or maybe increase the faculty to 35.  That reduces the number of jobs in that university, no?  And doesn't that impact total number of of jobs?

freedom is a fundamental value that does not need to be justified in terms of some other value like efficiency

no it wont


Creating more 175k+ jobs vs. lower paying jobs, esp among married couples, sucks demand out of the economy.

Rich people consume at much lower rates and thats why tax cuts for the wealthy and other policies that send $s upward get criticized by the left.

As with eeyn Im mystified that you havent heard this argument

No it won't what?


This is a different argument.  Manish merely pointed out that administrative jobs are still jobs.   Now you're arguing about people's spending patterns.



I think

HankP's picture

he's talking about 1 175K+ job vs. 3+ 50K jobs.


I blame it all on the Internet

Administrators aren't people -nt



the ecomonic argument, in case anyone's actually interested


is that the 1% admn folks save at a much higher rate and thus reduces consumption and demand.. And we're currently suffering from an aggregate demand slump bc average consumers who spend have no jobs and no money.

Not to be cranky, buy why am I tapping the obvious basics in a bar in seoul when the people I came with are in the bathroom? If you havent come across this argument pls delete all your bookmarks and change the websites you visit

The 1% part is nonsense


It's nonsense to say that adminstrators are super-rich.   The president here makes almost,  but not quite, three times what I do,  and has to work twelve months to get it instead of nine like me.  He makes about five times the lowest paid assistant professors.   Of course the vast majority of administrators make much less than the president,  and are in fact comparable to faculty.   Don't bother with anecdotes about a few outliers at places like Harvard,  they are not a valid sample.  There are 50 places like the one I work at for every place like Harvard.


So,  normalizing for number of months required on the job,  we have less than 4:1 ratio from highest to lowest.   If you think that ratio is too extreme I'd suggest Marxist is a reasonable description,  since I'm not aware of any societies that got below that except outright communist states.  


I agree most administrators aren't super rich


But it's silly to compare one professor's salary to one university president's and generalize based on that.


There are 50 places like the one I work at for every place like Harvard.


I also don't know why you're assuming your institution is typical w/out any evidence whatsoever. 


And what's the deal with pretending to work 9 months of the year? when school isn't in session I research, and I design and prepare courses. So does every other professor I know. 


Are we even having an honest conversation here or are you just deciding you hate class politics and don't care what gets said against it?

We all do something during the summer


the difference is whether it's something you want to work on (your own research,  getting ahead for the next Fall) or administrative drudgery.  There is also the issue of whether you can do something like take a 3 week trip,  whether personal or academic.


I have very good reason to believe my institution is typical,  or at least way more typical than the examples you cite.   There are roughly 3000 colleges and universities in the country.   The examples you cite (UC) are mostly in the top 100.   Jordan cited UT Austin (top 25) and some medical schools.   He did mention UT Brownsville,  but unsurprisingly,  that's the one with a more or less reasonable salary.


If you want "typical" you should pick a median institution,  e.g. something ranked about 1500.  Since the lists don't go that low,  I'd suggest restricting attention to unranked places.


I thought the UC schools were good examples


b/c their tuition is right in the average range of all 4 yr. higher ed institutions. Plus they're a bit of a hybrid between public and private, mirroring the country's higher ed system.


I have very good reason to believe my institution is typical


I don't see it. I already pt.ed out your institution charges a small fraction of the average, so your students probably aren't making an average contribution to the student loan default rates, and your institution probably isn't average in terms of admin compensation.


$3,800 in tuition and fees for the entire year for TX residents? Looks to me like you're running a leaner ship than average there, likely in a lot of ways. Which is fine, but probably not typical.

I agree

HankP's picture

I went through the college selection process two years ago and $6K in state and $17K out of state are pretty far below average.


I blame it all on the Internet

OK, so maybe I'm a bit parochial


The other colleges I work with have similar tuition and structure but most are in state.


M Scott Eiland's picture

I know we're in a long transitional period between troikas here, but that's uncalled for, even phrased as a question.

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

Jumping into the middle of this


Tim Burke's got a good discussion of the whole faculty vs. admin thing.

Thanks, a good article


As the article points out,  a lot of the administrative bloat is due to (a) increased student service positions like counselors, writing specialists, retention specialists, etc,  and (b) compliance with accountability mandates like outcomes assessment, lots of reporting, etc.  


The need for increased student services is related to attempting to put the top 75% of high school graduates through college,  rather than the much smaller percentages of a generation ago.


The compliance stuff is overkill in my opinion,  but that's what you get when you want the data-driven evidence-based decision making rather than independent scholars doing whatever they want.

And a lot of admin bloat isn't due to those things


So here we are again at my point, which you can't swallow b/c it contains the whiny, radical, and inherently envious concept that rich people sometimes enrich themselves and sometimes identify with their class.

UT Austin's senior administration pulls down


half-a-million dollar salaries.  


William C. Powers, President UT Austin ($624,350.00)  

Vistasp Karbhari, President UT Arlington ($485,000.00)

Francisco Cigarroa, Chancellor ($862,500.00)

Juliet Garcia, President UT Brownsville ($311,783.00)  

David Daniel, President UT Dallas ($514,919.00)  

Daniel Podolsky, President UTSMC ($1,203,555.00 - yowza)  

David Callender, President UTMB Galveston ($854,360) 


Those guys are some definite one percenters.


"Hell is truth seen too late." --Thomas Hobbes

Cherry Picking


Cigarroa,  Podolsky, and Callender are doctors directly or indirectly in charge of medical schools.    Even if you decided to have no president at the med schools at all,  and no Chancellor for the system,  you'd be able to hire maybe three or four medical faculty to replace each of them.   It's simply not the case that their salaries are creating a huge shortage of faculty who are then replaced by adjuncts.


Powers is in charge of roughly 3,000 faculty.   If you had some kind of uprising, threw him out,  and handed the money over to the AAUP Collective Bargaining Unit,  and ignored staff,  they could give each faculty $200.  Or you could hire 6-10 new assistant professors depending on the academic discipline.  Again,  saying that his salary is what causes faculty to starve,  or causes a faculty shortage, is greatly overstating the case.


I can see that an egalitarian would see some negative symbolic value in these guys getting paid too much,  but it's a drop in the bucket of the total budget,  and their personal spending, or lack of it, is a negligible part of economy.


A while back we were hearing how the problem was people with $10 million dollar salaries.   Now you're ragging on Juliet Garcia at $311K.


If you think someone making $311K is a problem that has to be fixed,  I'd say that's fairly radical egalitarianism. 


Q1. Can you name any modern, democratic country with decent civil liberties that's managed to get that level of income equality?

Q2. What is your upper limit on salary - what number would you not consider a problem?



Dude, it's $311k in Brownsville.


That's like several million where I live.  


Points being: a) On a quick search I can't find salaries for ought but university preznits... I'm sure their colleagues the provosts and operating officers and armbandpeople are all earning similarly cushy salaries; b) These are definitely 1% salaries (the cutoff is $250, but we'll bump it up to $300k for Juliet's sake); c) Just a quick search of one state but it's a state school, albeit a wealthy one, not some ivy league powerhouse with an endowment that makes the word "endowment" remind people of their inadequacies.  


Q1. Can you name any modern, democratic country with decent civil liberties that's managed to get that level of income equality?  


No, but this isn't a country, it's a university whose "population" consists entirely of salaried professionals. I admit some of them are pretty crusty, but it's not like you have a large indigent population of professors on Medicaid bringing the Gini coefficient up.  


Q2. What is your upper limit on salary - what number would you not consider a problem?  


I think anything over what the President of the United States to do his or her job earns starts to raise eyebrows, given that the positions rarely contribute much to the actual life & intellectual work of the university.

"Hell is truth seen too late." --Thomas Hobbes

Brownsville is cheap


There's no denying that.  However,  when you hire someone from outside,  during the negotiations they always seem to have this expectation that you'll at least match their current simple, unadjusted numerical salary.   The kind of divide by this and normalize to that and adjust for whatever that catchy pulls out when he's massaging data never seems to work when we're trying to talk someone into taking what they see as a pay cut.


The question about the $311K wasn't really about universities.   A few weeks ago in a discussion on income inequality you told Manish something along the lines of "it's not about the poor being miserable,  it's about fairness".    Is there some level of income, in general, that you think is presumptively unfair?



Do you explain that there's nothing to spend money on?


Kidding of course; I actually like the scrappier parts of Texas where people still roll in off the hardpan and pay for things with money made out of metal. Did you notice how the Presidents' salaries are line-itemed? One line, their official board of regents whatever salary, the other an amalgam of funds, trusts, fellowships, endowments, etc. I have a feeling the salary has something to do with the ability to pull in grants and endowments. Once again we see the vital importance of Division 1 football. 

"Hell is truth seen too late." --Thomas Hobbes

OK my mistake. So US universities have multiple Presidents

mmghosh's picture

or Vice-Presidents. Over here, an administrator, on average, makes much less than, say, an average academic.

What you and catchy are saying is that in the USA, the average administrator makes more than the average academic. That is curious, and probably an anomaly.

freedom is a fundamental value that does not need to be justified in terms of some other value like efficiency

One president, usually


who is the top person at a given university.  Those are different universities in his list,  except for Cigarroa,  who is in charge of coordinating the dozen or so universities in the system.


Jordan picked elite or elite-wannabe institutions,  except for UT Brownsville.   The salary that Juliet Garcia gets is typical for a non-elite regional university,  and of course most universities are not elite.


TX professor salaries are posted by name on the Internet so no harm in telling you what people get at UT Pan American,  where I work:


President $300K

Provost (#2 person on campus)  $240K

Dean of Engineering $205K

Electrical Engineering Dept Chair $100K  (that's me)

Full Professor,  Engineering  $90K

Associate Professor, Engineering $85K

Assistant Professor, Engineering $80K

PhD Lecturer,  Engineering $60K


Egalitarian, no.  But considering that there are 800+ faculty,  50 or dept chairs,  6 deans,  and one President and Provost,  I think you can see that the money is not concentrated at the top of the academic pyramid.

where's your vice provosts


and senior associate vice presidents of X on this list?


You say there's 800 faculty, so let's not pretend 6 deans, one provost and a president are anything but a fraction of the top admin positions where you work.


The list you provided does suggest that admin compensation isn't absurd where you work, though I'm guessing you've just listed base salary figures rather than total compensation packages for these administrators. Even so you might reasonably ask why a provost makes 2.4x the base salary of the head of the engineering dept. That's already on the wrong track and dodgy to be charging students for. That doesn't happen in Korea, and there's some reasonable technology and engineering training taking place here. 


Also, do you believe your institution is typical of American colleges and universities? The tuition where you work is very low by national standards, and we were discussing the causes of sky high tuition and corresponding student debt default in the US, one of which I identified as admin bloat.

4 vice provosts


who are faculty promoted/rotated into the position.  While we're at it,  a couple associate deans.  These types of positions usually get roughly their same faculty salary extended to 12 months (because they have to be in all summer) plus a $5K or $10K stipend while they're in the position.   It used to be two vice provosts.  The reason it went to four is adding a V.Prov for Faculty Affairs,  and another for service and experiential learning.


Why did we need those two?  Faculty Affairs, IMO is because of faculty demanding elaborate grievance processes and extensive mentoring and support systems.  When I started 20 years ago there was a 4 hour orientation the first day. Now it's a 1yr+ program of workshops, luncheons, mentor bonding stuff,  etc every few weeks.  Plus at least six separate compliance trainings that every faculty has to repeat every year. 


The V.Prov for Service and experiential is due to the trend toward requiring community service,  outside experiences, practicums, etc as part of degree plans,  combined with all kinds of monitoring to make sure these things also "comply".


Why do we have two Assoc Deans instead of one?  Because starting around 2000 we got hit with greatly increased requirements to do assessment of learning outcomes and accountability reporting.  In my department alone we generate about twenty assessment reports a year.  During an accreditation year there's a 200+ page self-study with dozens of tables in it,  and each entry in each table requires someone to hunt down the numbers.  The Assoc Dean has to check all of this for six programs in the college.


Outside of academics there are VPs for stuff like business affairs and fundraising.  Always have been and I don't see how you get around that.


You might reasonably ask why the Provost makes 2.4X a dept chair,  and I might reasonably respond that that's what it took to get him to accept the job.  I realize that's not a satisfactory answer for you,  but it's not like there's a Council for Greed and Class Privilege doling out raises.  Provosts typically last 3-4 years before they burn out or are fired,  and in 20 years I've never heard of one getting a significant raise over their staring salary during their time in the job.  Maybe a few deans have lasted long enough to get raises, but I know our last one didn't.

Im having trouble getting interested in your school


B/c even if youre right about it not being top heavy, one might just say that's a central reason your tuition looks to be about 1/7th of the national average of 4 yr colleges and universities. (Am I right on that?)

Poke around the UC system sometime and I dont think youll find anything like what youre describing at UT Pan American. Perhaps not coincidentally students are charges about 7x as much in tuition, which is more in line with average tuition costs.

Another observation, or rather a question


What does this tell you about the quality of governance in TX and CA?   I'll stipulate that TX is bad,  so where does that leave CA?

This tells me there are ups and downs in both states


CA spends more on its prisons than on higher education -- it's hardly a poster child for liberalism. Even now unemployment is significantly higher than the national average while crazy hippy liberal Jerry Brown has been mostly a fiscal hawk.


George Deukmejian, Pete Wilson, Grey Davis, Ahnold -- that's three decades of conservative governors making conservative appointments to the UC board of regents, many of whom have sought to turn one of the world's greatest public university systems into top-heavy private institutions.

Moar data on collidge.


Just to ground this discussion a bit, here are the College Board's stats on current tuition room & board averages.  


So: $8,893 is the average public 4-year college tuition nationwide. What's pretty interesting is that increase. Drum had a piece on inflation yesterday, noting that it has hovered around 1.5% since 2008. And public 4-years show the lowest % increases. So... and please take a small step back while I math... for some reason college tuitions appear to be doubling inflation for some reason.  


Makes you wonder how far back in time that trend reaches. And what do you know, sure enough, tuitions managed to at least double inflation throughout the Naughties


Go all the way back to the 70s, looking at 5-year increments, and yeehaw! Often doubling or at least beating inflation by 50% during relatively inflationary periods.

"Hell is truth seen too late." --Thomas Hobbes

Most of us are in agreement


that the largest reason for tuition increases is cutbacks in state funding as a fraction of the total cost. Million dollar administrators might have high symbolic value as an offense against progressive sensibilities but the effect on tuition is minor,  a million dollars divided by 20,000 or 40,000 is just not very much per student.


Again,  my explanation for the cutback in state funding is that enrollment has increased faster than inflation,  and also faster than the taxpaying population.  From the state's point of view,  spending on higher ed is flat or increasing.

The official statistics show state spending is declining.


Here are the NCES revenue figures for public universities & colleges for 2005-2011. 


All tuitions increased from $41.8 million to $60.2 million over the period, while federal & state grants & contracts went from $30.3 million down to $29.8 million (after dropping to $25 million during the financial crisis). 4-year schools increased a moderate amount, while 2-year funding was decimated to well below half the former level.  


So one way to describe this trend would be (wealthy) taxpayers are footing steadily less and less of the bill, while generally non-wealthy college students must bear most of the difference. This at a time when a) double-digit unemployment has driven many to degree-granting institutions in order to retrain and find new employment and b) a bachelor's degree is increasingly becoming an absolute requirement for most available employment. 

"Hell is truth seen too late." --Thomas Hobbes



A few comments:


1.  You are looking at the wrong columns.   "Grants and Contracts"  are things like NSF research grants given in response to proposals.  You should be looking at the "Appropriations" columns.   Not your fault,  the top headings are poor - "Operating" vs. "Non-operating" in this context doesn't mean how the money is spent,  it's how it's generated - appropriations are given to the institution so they can operate,  by operating they can generate tuition, grant proposals, etc.


2.  It's all billions,  not millions.   There's a note at the top that every is to be multiplied by 1000.


Ah, my bad.


That's what I get for trying to make a point in a hurry. Thanks for explaining what the columns mean.


So "nonoperating revenue" has mostly been decreasing (except for nonoperating federal grants... yowza that looks to make up some lost ground). "Operating revenue" has been decreasing as I mentioned. "Revenue per student" is declining. 


I'm not seeing that "revenue is flat or increasing" from the state's POV. Rather it looks like increased enrollment has been met by reductions in state spending (except again for that federal NO grant column).

"Hell is truth seen too late." --Thomas Hobbes

Cutbacks in state funding and increased admin costs


I still haven't heard anyone dispute that those are the most significant factors accounting for tuition increases.


We've analyzed some of these factors here on theforvm, and heard several keen arguments that since class-based explanations aren't exhaustive, they must be entirely irrelevant. Marxism was once again defeated.


... Anyway, i hope a model will catch on like the one recently started in CA, which significantly increased its funding this year and tied the increase to frozen tuition rates. 

Anecdotal evidence only, but I've heard


there's a flood of recent military veterans now applying for school.  As demand increases, there's sure to be a rise in prices unless supply increases.  Especially for in-state schools, the gummint covers a goodly fraction of it all.  Interesting side-effect of these wars waged by volunteers, many of them view their enlistments as their ticket into otherwise-unaffordable college.



A lot of veterans showing up during the last 2-3 years.  


On the hand, we had reservists get sucked right out of the classroom in 2003-2005.   Guys I didn't even know were in the military showed up one day in uniform and told me they were dropping all classes and getting on a plane for Iraq more or less immediately.    And despite the supply/demand argument,  we of course did not drop tuition in when enrollment dropped.

In your case maybe benign neglect?

HankP's picture

No football, so not enough money to worry about or get involved in?


I blame it all on the Internet

You got $5M?


We could do a real test.  Our prez has a standing offer out to the community;  if a donor gives us $5M he'll start Div I football.  We could then observe if start hiring lots of adjuncts to teach classes.


The $5M hasn't appeared so we're starting women's soccer instead.

I like you eeyn

HankP's picture

but not $5M worth. Also, I think a reasonable update to "bringing coals to Newcastle" would be "bringing football to Texas".


I blame it all on the Internet

Another way to describe all of that


could be to say that modern MBA-driven bureaucratic paperchasing is squeezing out funding for actual research & teaching, and doing it at a rate of 2.4x the cost per employee (which goes back to catchy's point that high compensation leads to lower spending/demand regardless of other benefits). In other words, the corporate model of profit extraction is being applied to universities.

"Hell is truth seen too late." --Thomas Hobbes

A general observation


on spending.  Suppose you're in a legislature doing budget.


One year you spend $5 billion to get 100 planes,  and $10 billion on wages for 200,000 military personnel wages.

The next budget you spend $9 billion to get 200 planes,  and $11.25 billion on wages for 250,000.


It would reasonable to say you had a massive 80% increase in spending on military hardware and a serious 12% increase in wages


However, it would also be reasonable for Lockheed to whine that they've taken a harsh 20% cut, since they're getting $40M instead of $50M per plane,  and for the military personnel to say they've taken a 10% salary cut.



Now apply that to education.   20 years ago the legislature was paying us for 11,000 students,  now they are paying us for 20,000 students,  off a tax base that has not increased in the same proportion.   The spending per student in real catchy-fied dollars has taken a cut,  and we do really feel it.   But total spending is way up, so the legislature and tax payers feel like spending on education has increased seriously and resent it when we claim otherwise.

In Eeynworld, the variables would be, presumably


class size, number of classes taught, number and cost for the TAs to handle the attendant busywork, that sort of thing.  Tuition per student seems to have gone up in the last few years, from what I read:  as you say, though total funding may have increased, it hasn't covered the gap and the students feel it, too.  Since there are more students (and parents!), I posit a political sum of vectors in favour of forcing  "better" outcomes out of the Ivory Tower.  Anecdotally, this is already happening, both in K-12 and undergrad: pushing out humanities, arts and the like. 


Education has done a lousy job of marketing itself.  Where undergrad was once a lovely four-year interval in a young person's life, where they learned how to learn, were exposed to the vast legacy of scholarship and mastered some parts of it, made important lifelong friends. Now it's become a Jobs Training scheme.  College was never intended to be any such thing.  Furthermore, kids are arriving on campus woefully deficient in writing skills, basic math and science, philosophically illiterate - now it's the university's job to teach Remedial Reading.


At some point, the various states will have to face the underlying facts.  Only the educators can push back and while they don't, it will only get worse.  Less marketing of how nice the dorm rooms and workout facilities are and more about how investing in colleges is a strategic investment in the future of a nation.

Again, cherry picking


Within the academic side of the university there's one Provost at $240K.   All those others cost the same as a regular instructor working through the summers plus maybe 10% tops in bonuses, and they are in fact regular instructors who've rotated into those positions.


Yes, bureaucratic paperchasing,  and like you I've got problems with applying MBA principles to education. But profit extraction - who do you think is extracting the "profit" from second and third tier public institutions?   Unless you're in the mindset that believes failing to tax the populace* is the same as handing them a profit.


Outside the academic side there has been a very steep increase in auxiliary services for students.   Universities are now expected to have (for example) fitness and wellness centers,  several types of counselors with a dozen or so of each type,  a child care center,  a huge IT staff, and plentiful retention and mentoring programs.   A lot of this is driven by trying to get lots of students through college who wouldn't have gone in the past:  ACT<20 or SAT<1000 (old scales) ,  single moms working full time,  night students, people with mental illnesses,  etc. 


I don't think profit extraction has a lot to do with it.  If it was, those services would be subcontracted to Wackenhut.  But they're not, they're provided by regular state employees with modest salaries.



*Or the populous. 



on the issue of profit in elite vs. non-elite institutions. Way too much attention goes to elite institutions and flagship schools with enormous endowments, mansions for presidents and provosts, and the like. Most colleges and universities, however, aren't. For every UT Austin, there are many more Sam Houstons, Tarletons, UT Tylers, etc. And I think that because most of us here at The Forvm went to elite and/or flagship state universities, that's often what we think of when we think of as a typical college or university.

I think the general argument here is that


all US schools are part of a general trend towards "MBA-ification" of which several features have been identified: a) expansion of top-heavy administration at the expense of research & education functions; b) curtailment of state & federal appropriations offset by increased tuition; c) expansion of loan programs designed to push ever greater amounts of debt onto students; d) various attempts to "monetize" curricula, class sizes, departments, hiring & tenure policies, recruitment, sports programs, endowments & investments, etc.; e) the increasing prevalence of courses conducted by part-time, adjunct, grad student or TA vs. tenured or even credentialed faculty; f) the professionalization of fundraising and grantseeking.  


The common pattern, as in so many other sectors over recent decades, is an economic transformation of degree-granting institutions from centers for education and research into cash-flowing enterprises for profit extraction. Which isn't to say that professionalization of management might not be in part necessary and in part valuable in terms of better organizing resources and better organizing the university to bring in additional resources. But nothing can disguise the fact that huge expenses and debt loads have been shifted to students & parents at precisely the time when transformations in the larger economy increasingly demand a BA as the sine qua non for entry level positions. 


The size of the college or endowment don't matter: the trend is all but universal.

"Hell is truth seen too late." --Thomas Hobbes

Two interesting coincidences


1.  We were debating whether $311K was too much to pay Juliet Garcia.   She just got named by CNN as one the World's 50 Greatest Leaders,  for whatever it's worth.


2.  Bob Hoffman,  the Mercer coach who took down Duke yesterday,  was a former basketball coach at UTPA.  His salary:  $80K.

One thing we all know: there are a lot of great, talented,


underpaid people out there. What we can't seem to agree on is exactly how many overpaid putzes there are.

"Hell is truth seen too late." --Thomas Hobbes

Don't know about "average" but the top echelon


sure seem to do pretty well. I imagine their salaries are considered competitive with other professions people of their experience could enter... but that doesn't change catchy's basic point that they generally spend a far smaller share of their income than do people making $50k per year.

"Hell is truth seen too late." --Thomas Hobbes

But 50k/year admin staff are counsellors, office staff

mmghosh's picture

and as eeyn points out, these are the kind of staff that contribute to admin bloat.  Is it healthy that should they be out of jobs, so that top quality academics (not low end adjuncts) need to be taken on?  In any case, using catchy's logic, taking on 2 low paid adjuncts at 50k a year should be better than 1 eeyn at 100k per year, no?


Over here, I suppose the universities are what they were in the USA 50 years ago - mostly academic and some non-academic office staff (managers, accounts, personnel and too few anyway).  Certainly there must be a happy medium of academic vs non-academic staff in a university, but I should think US public universities must have reached this.

freedom is a fundamental value that does not need to be justified in terms of some other value like efficiency

I think the missing factor is how universities in the US


have become 'monetized,' in a variety of ways. One is the switch to low-paid adjunct instructors (cost reductions), another would be the devil's bargain made with the federal government and student lenders to make student loans nondischargeable in bankruptcy, then push those loans onto students and families, then start hiking tuition. Have you seen the student debt statistics? Three would be efforts to control the curriculum in order to draw business, rather than to educate. Four would be massive class sizes, which honestly have been a problem for a long time in many schools. But they are also a cost-saving device. Five would be the securitization of student debt as well as university cash flows, which have become speculative investment vehicles just like bundled mortgages were.  


All adds up to: this isn't just the "professionalization" of universities, it's the deliberate attempt to transform institutions of learning into cash-flowing investment vehicles whose mission to educate is strictly secondary to financial considerations. All of which would be great if the money were getting plowed back into the school. But of course it isn't; the point is to extract, not to manage.

"Hell is truth seen too late." --Thomas Hobbes

Adjusted for inflation?


Does that include part-time adjunct? Or just full-time? 


I've linked the studies before here and the explosion of admin positions and pay is a major driver, not instructor compensation.


Are you really unawares of the long-term trend as a university professor that the entire American university system has become more top-heavy while instruction has been shifted to part-time and underpaid adjuncts? This started really taking off in the 00s.  

Good point


There was a significant influx of students due to the recession,  as well as a larger number who decided to stay for graduate school.

We should strive for accuracy, catchy


Why use vague,  poorly defined terminology like "the wealthy" and "rich people"  when there are accepted terms of the art like "bourgeoisie" that express the meaning much more accurately.

I'm personally comfortable with "bourgeoisie"


But the 1% has a fresher ring to it.


Plus, using Marxist terminology has the disadvantage of implying the author accepts weak components of Marx's philosophy.


But don't you think my class-based explanation of rising tuition sounds good?

While there is a class-ish component, college is a class engine.


Academic degrees are passports to the upper classes.  Not the 1% at first but it's the start point.  One percenters perpetuate themselves in the Ivy Leagues and other first-rate schools.  Tech and med incubators surround those first-rate schools, too.  Most of what you'll ever learn in school is useless:  85% of a college education is the friends you'll make.  In fact, much of what you'll learn in school must be un-learned.  I see CS and IT people who never learned to work on a team, didn't learn how to engineer Good Enough and Fixable into the systems they write.  But is a college education supposed to teach that sort of thing?  I can teach them the rest.  But once they're taught the practical stuff, they do write better code because they understand the theory behind it all.


Granted, I'm not your average employer.  I bring in people I know to do things I know they're better at than me.  But I also bring in fresh kids, too.  Some of this stuff doesn't require years of experience, just a few weeks of tutoring and some example code.  I like to work with well-rounded people, some of these schools don't produce well-rounded people.


Academia is a good investment, as good as the schools receiving all this money from fed loans.  School loan policy is more guided by political necessity, unemployment numbers, than by coordination with colleges and universities.  Best investment for money, educationally, is a two year tech college and everyone loves them.  They don't produce One Percenters but they produce taxpayers.  And the One Percenters just love these schools:  they're employer magnets.  Right here in Eau Claire, there's a two year school, CVTC, plain-jane, affordable little school with superb instructors.  They turned my g/f into a pretty good coder.  And she did it partially on student loans. 


So I don't accept the premise the One Percenters aren't willing to fund education.  They rely on these schools for employees.  Between UWEC, Stout and CVTC, Eau Claire's schools are producing taxpayers.



I think he was trying to corral you into a Marxist class-warfare box.

This was clear enough to Larkin, whose patriotism rested on the notion that England was the worst place on earth with the possible exception of everywhere else.

Unfair stereotyping


I might be from Texas but I don't "corral" people,  or lasso them,  or herd them, or brand them.


But otherwise, yeah,  you got it.

Make your peace with the rich, catchy. Bow to the inevitable.

mmghosh's picture

And be thankful that rich white American men have a sense of responsibility.  Compared to their counterparts in other nations.

freedom is a fundamental value that does not need to be justified in terms of some other value like efficiency

The biggest scamulators in Student Loans are the online schools


Student loans can't be discharged in bankruptcy and these schools charge amazing sums per credit hour.  The schools get these people into student loans then when the students bolo out, for various reasons, most people are trying to manage work and school and many can't cope - the schools just take the money and run. 

Basically agree


Some people -  probably you,  for example - can do just fine with (serious) online courses.  Some people might even do better,  particularly those who have a problem with sitting obediently for 90 minutes while some authority figure runs the show.


But a lot of students see an online course and think "Great!  I don't have to go to class!" -  they've decided upfront that they aren't going to put in as much time and effort as they would in a traditional class.   Not necessarily laziness,  it's usually just that they've got a heavy work schedule,  but either way it's not going to turn out well.

Just got my g/f through a two year school


which was mostly online classes.  She was very diligent, kept up with the discussions, such as they were.  But I watched all that go down and was not impressed.  Not much help from the instructor, very little in the way of peer help, study groups were nil.  Half of doing well in college is getting into the right study groups, imho.  This was an AS in IT, she did well, her GPA was pretty close to 3.9. Got hired almost immediately.  Online works for a combination of some people and some degrees, but not for everyone.  If she'd been put on a team with a slacker or someone overwhelmed with kiddoes and work and other life stuff, she ended up doing most of the work herself.  Terribly aggravating.


And worse, she came out of school with almost no friends.  Curiously, several of her instructors are now our friends, hers and mine.  It's a good school and not all the classes were online.  Maybe things will improve in the future but like I always say about the phrase "High Tech", it really means "This stuff doesn't work reliably, just yet, but we're working on it."

A good diplomatic response

Bird Dog's picture

When Peyaso Maduro proposed that the US join Venezuela in a "peace commission" to address the long-running protests, the State Department responded accordingly:

"The solution to Venezuela's problems lies in democratic dialogue among Venezuelans, not in repression or in hurling verbal brickbats at the United States," a State Department official said Friday, speaking on condition of anonymity.


"Transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of this presidency."

--Barack Obama, January 2009

We Should Definitely Contribute To The Process

M Scott Eiland's picture

We should ship the opposition all the meathooks they care to use on Fidel Jr. Jr. and his minions.

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

Obama is the Most Agressively Evil President Every re: FP?

(#314917) is within the realm of possibility that many countries, many commentators, many former rulers, their children and their cronies are correct, that the United States has actively and systematically perused and fostered unrest, instability and harm to millions of people around the world.


Specifically, Venezuela is correct in that their opposition is supported, trained and funded by the United States. Libya and Gaddafi were brought low by the United States and sent reeling into chaos, likewise Egypt, Muburak were overturned by the US and then Morsi too as will be General Sisi unless he toes the United States line.


Syria and its Civil War was directly instituted by the US, and likewise the recent overthrow of the elected government in Ukraine...


There has never been in the world's history any country that has exerted this much influence and destruction, even not including Iraq and Afghanistan...


If the above scenario proved to be true, correct, would you MSE and BD, would you give Mr. Obama props for pulling off such a successful policy?


Would you give him super props....would you bow to his obvious superior intelligence and execution?


If you would not do a voltre-face, then why wouldn't you?



Hanlon's Razor


cite here.  Well worth a look, that citation.  Obama is aggressive - but evil?   Evil as a short-sighted good, actions which don't consider the consequences, the harm done to others.  The poor man steals a loaf of bread for his child, the baker forgives him but warns him to ask ere he steals again.  Everyone makes excuses for the evil he does.  The question remains, in a world where no easy options avail, is it better to oppose evil by force?  And is there a right answer to that question?


Resolved:  Mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.


Sorry, folks, this is a wicked world, full of sin and error.  You might accept the error part, I have to put in my oar where the word Evil appears.  The USA, like Gulliver in Lilliput, cannot help but leave large footprints.  I do not accept the premise wherein the USA must constantly wear the hair shirt and loudly shout Mea Maxima Culpa all the day long.  Obama is a bright enough guy.  He observes nobody else plays by the rules - why should he?   Moral superiority?  The USA gets rhetorical beatings from all and sundry. 


One of my own US Army drill instructors, a wiry little Ranger, clearly suffering from some untreated PTSD but coping via some flamboyant rhetorical abuse, once shouted at the platoon.  "You play ball with me, I'll play ball with you.  Don't play ball with me and I'll shove the bat all the way up your *ss!"  That, it seems to me, is what Obama is doing. 

President Musharraf played the Bush Administration beautifully

mmghosh's picture

for many years - keeping Osama bin Laden safely in Pakistan's major military town while sending ISAF on a huge wild goose chase in NWFP badlands - and gratefully accepting billions of US aid for "searching" him.


We were/are secretly pretty envious of the play when it came out.  US influence is certainly not always bad.  It depends what you make of it. 

freedom is a fundamental value that does not need to be justified in terms of some other value like efficiency

Locating Bin Laden might not have seemed like a high priority


"I don't know where Bin Laden is. I have no idea and really don't care. It's not that important. It's not our priority."


- G.W. Bush, 3/13/02

Bad and good are judgement calls. OBL was a prisoner


in his own house in Abbotabad, behind blast walls in an erstwhile ISI safe house.  Served five, six years in there.  Naw, the ISI didn't know anything.


Pakistan is a botch and always has been.  Midnight's Children by Rushdie describes Partition obliquely, somewhat better than the facts.  An incomprehensibly huge tragedy.  A force of nature, those migrations.  Pakistan was created in a spirit of unhappiness and the need to separate.  It's been unhappy ever since. Its love-hate relationship with the non-Urdu peoples seems like an unhappy and violent marriage, we've all seen a few of them.  The USA's relationship with Pakistan seems just as toxic.  


The Taliban and FATA are of a piece.  Nobody's ever going to give the Pashtun a country, though they needed one and should have gotten one at Partition.  Like the Kurds, divided into many countries, and like the Kurds, the Pashtun feature both terrorists and good guys.  The Taliban couldn't govern Afghanistan but they can bully the Pashtun.  Poor demented Karzai will soon be out of office, with no clear successor.  On the Pakistani side of the border (a border the Pashtuns have never observed until recently)  the ISI also bully the Pashtun.  The Urdu hate us.  The Taliban hate us.  The Pashtun are of two minds about us. 


Egypt has been fighting ultra-Islam since the Fatimid era.  The Fatimids were remarkable people, tolerant with the exception of one terrible caliph.  They were Shiite.  


US influence is both good and bad, at the same time.  Musharraf was the kind of guy who stayed bought.  He fought Islamic terror.  But other nations can influence us, both for good and bad.  KSA proved we were the same kinda people:  we stayed bought.  Iraq was a war KSA could have fought: they certainly had the resources.  But we fought it for them.   OBL offered to fight against Saddam once.  KSA said, no thanks, kid, that's what servants are for.  American servants.





I Was Pitching a Soft Ball to Conservative Posters...


...I was genuinely curious if they would praise Obama for such a policy, given the facts I posited.


This would be a very aggressive foreign policy...bordering on would they feel about this? Would their criticism subside?


It was a thought experiment for me, (and them....and maybe you).



The word Criminal entails the rule of law.


Who gets to say anything is Criminal?  Above the State are only the howling winds of the empty sky.  A few pithy bits from Kenneth Waltz to flesh out this question for the TL;DR crowd.

The extent of U.S. involvement is arguable,

Bird Dog's picture

and it takes away from the real grievances that the protesters have, specifically that Venezuela has serious shortages, 50%-plus inflation, deteriorating infrastructure, a much higher crime rate, and president who is more a clown than a leader.

In Syria, those opposing the Assad regime also have legitimate and well-documented grievances.

The U.S. doesn't wind up disgruntled people like G.I. Joes', for the world to watch them confron their oppressors. They do that very well themselves, for their own reasons.

As for Obama, if he pulls off something successfully, I'm a big enough man to acknowledge it. That he hasn't pulled off many successes of late is something for you to be concerned  about.

"Transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of this presidency."

--Barack Obama, January 2009

No it's not "arguable"

HankP's picture

We do it all the time.








and many, many more. Then of course there's our unfortunate military adventurism a la Afghanistan and Iraq.


This is what the US does, under both Democratic and Republican administrations.


I blame it all on the Internet


Bird Dog's picture

You know, a little reading comprehension can go a long way toward understanding your political enemies. I didn't say that U.S. involvement is arguable. I said the extent of U.S. involvement is arguable. Look it up.

"Transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of this presidency."

--Barack Obama, January 2009

Her telling me to ban the word "bossy" just sounds so...

Bird Dog's picture


I'll pass.

"Transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of this presidency."

--Barack Obama, January 2009

The Funny Thing Is. . .

M Scott Eiland's picture

. . .that the label doesn't seem to hurt the ones it is applied to, nor even stop them from becoming popular. This also applies to fictional characters--funny how being considered "bossy" hasn't stopped Hermione Granger from being a widely beloved character among Harry Potter fans, to the point where thinking she should have ended up with Harry is still an active controversy among fans more than six years after the last book came out. Not bad for a bushy-haired, (formerly) buck-toothed "bossy" know-it-all. :-)

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

Z-Machines / Squarepusher


Good ol Square Pusher


Some early mechanical production of music that I really like is Nancarrow's player piano pieces:


Nancarrow was also doing rhythmically complicated and technically challenging passages like what you've linked, tho I guess I'd say he writes more interesting music than square pusher

Fascinating stuff. I've been writing for MIDI sequencers


pretty much since they were invented.  Kinda how I got into low-level programming, truth to tell.  In those days, I had a friend in New Jersey, Larry Fast, who was doing some really interesting things, later to work and tour with Peter Gabriel. 

This is my favourite thing he ever did back then.

I can't believe that track hasn't been massively sampled


It's awesomely weird, with a lot of unique sounds.

Larry Fast is tremenjus. Ever heard Baths?


This is in steady rotation in my Medicine tunestack. I have this thing for odd time signatures and old 8 bit waveforms. Most mathrock doesn't appeal to me, for me, what I call "Medicine Music" is a sort of emotion-invoker, which standard rock can't do for me any more. Another favourite from the Medicine Music, Mallard, Used this in a soundtrack for a movie for a friend of mine.

No White People Allowed

M Scott Eiland's picture

Keep it classy, South Puget Sound Community College.

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

The honkocalypse is coming! -nt-



"Hell is truth seen too late." --Thomas Hobbes

Defining Deviancy Down

M Scott Eiland's picture

Or, IOWSMADI (It's OK When Smug Moonbat Academics Do It).

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

Racism Be Bad, and Racism Be There in Plenty

(#314828) is difficult for me to think that today the staff and academics of color in a Community College could write something exclusionary & hateful like this:


The email read: "If you want to create space for white folks to meet and work on racism, white supremacy, and white privilege to better our campus community and yourselves, please feel free to do just that."


Chip on their shoulders much? (they may have cause...but still!)



Two for One -- (hey Wagster!!_)

Zelig's picture

I found this website with over 800 films for free viewing. Some are great. I'll be watching at least 100 of them in the coming months. If you take a look, they've got more than films, and it's all for FREE!!


They post short films every day or so on their home page. Today's film is an interview with Werner Herzog, with the visuals being animated, pen to paper, line drawn. It's short - under 8 min. 


This evening I'll be watching "1959: The Year that Changed Jazz - Free - Documentary looks at the transformative albums released by Miles, Brubeck, Coleman & Mingus in 1959".


Actually, I'll be watching a lot of these documentaries.



Me: We! -- Ali

hi z!


I posted that link here about 2 weeks ago maybe if you were paying more attention to a certain someone online your life would be better faster.

Scott Walker for president


There are 3 reasons why I can't support Rick Perry

Bird Dog's picture

One, he campaigned miserably and stupidly the last time around.

Two, he has a misguided understanding of the Constitution, to put it mildly.

Three, uh, it's coming to me. Well, I can't think of that third thing.

"Transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of this presidency."

--Barack Obama, January 2009

Uh, because Rick Perry is unthinkable?


BD, my man, you can't think of that third thing -- because you're a thinking man.  Perry is not.  You've heard that old breakup line, "It's not you, it's me".  In this case, it's true.  Texas Republicans are not like us.   You know how Putin has this Russian World View, supposed to be a viable alternative to the Western View?   Substitute Texas for Russia in that equation.  Makes a lot more sense.


Bird Dog's picture

I can think of a third thing and even higher numbers than that, but I was riffing on his appalling debate performance.


I agree that Texas Republicans have a different take on things, and they're not good takes.

"Transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of this presidency."

--Barack Obama, January 2009

Well, these idiotic debates are all gaffe-fests


There was a day when the Taliban were kinda cool.  They were known as the mujahidin back in the day, tough guys just out of the Bronze Age, resolute and crafty enemies of the Rooskies.  Wasn't until they felt obliged to give Al Qaeda shelter among them that the word Taliban acquired its current pejorative overtones.


So when I say Texas Taliban, it's the same sort of disjoint label.  Something about the place seems to relish dumbassery, positively revel in it, a piggy-eyed pugnaciousness, a haven of unreason.   Well, there is Austin, which doesn't conform to that stereotype.  And Texas is a big place, can't all be lumped into the same bag.


Texas also gave rise to Ron and Rand Paul, now there's a fresh Wingnut fallen not far from the Wing Tree.  Can anyone explain why Texas cops this enormous attitude?   It may have something to do with the Myth of the West, which isn't really Texan, it comes out of Hollywood and they got it from St Louis, where the actual pioneers started out.  Texas sorta forgets it was once a part of Mexico and the current crop of Authentic Texans came a few centuries later.   


The scary thing about Rick Perry, these days, is how much more reasonable he seems in comparison to his likely opponents.  The "well, our guy is nuts, but he's not a complete batsh*t libertarian wingnut"   Suppose you've already seen the Iowa GOP has just evicted a big old wingnut


Yeah, it's gonna be weird, watching the GOP try to get its act together.  But if they go for Rick Perry this time, and they very well might, the Hildebeest will eat him alive.

Chelsea versus Piers

Bird Dog's picture




I think Piers is a nice fella but I have to side with Chelsea on this one. If a guy can't pay attention to a pretty and funny lady through a commercial break, the problem lies with the guy.


"Transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of this presidency."

--Barack Obama, January 2009

Disagree, Chelsea May Have Created an Interesting Moment...


...but her behavior was unacceptable, ungracious, and a vicious kicking of a man when he is down.


I do not find that fun sport.


She has made an enemy of me.


(which means exactly Zero, I know, but I do spend some time on the comedy circuit and so a time may come when I can pay her back)



He started it!



There's An Entry On TV Tropes For This Behavior. . .

M Scott Eiland's picture

. . .and how the audience tends to react to it: @$$#ole Victim. Of course, if Ms. Handler abuses the privilege she may well find herself in that role on somebody else's show. Circle of "Get A Life," I suppose. . .

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

Umberto Eco on different kinds of people


There are four kinds of people in this world: cretins, fools, morons, and lunatics ... Cretins don't even talk; they sort of slobber and stumble ... Fools are in great demand, especially on social occasions. They embarrass everyone but provide material for conversation ... Fools don't claim that cats bark, but they talk about cats when everyone else is talking about dogs. They offend all the rules of conversation, and when they really offend, they're magnificent ... Morons never do the wrong thing. They get their reasoning wrong. Like the fellow who says that all dogs are pets and all dogs bark, and cats are pets, too, therefore cats bark ... Morons will occasionally say something that's right, but they say it for the wrong reason ... A lunatic is easily recognized. He is a moron who doesn't know the ropes. The moron proves his thesis; he has logic, however twisted it may be. The lunatic on the other hand, doesn't concern himself at all with logic; he works by short circuits. For him, everything proves everything else. The lunatic is all idée fixe, and whatever he comes across confirms his lunacy. You can tell him by the liberties he takes with common sense, by his flashes of inspiration, and by the fact that sooner or later he brings up the Templars ... There are lunatics who don't bring up the Templars, but those who do are the most insidious. At first they seem normal, then all of a sudden ...


HankP's picture



I blame it all on the Internet

I am a moron who wishes he were a fool. -nt-



"Hell is truth seen too late." --Thomas Hobbes

Yeah, but you brought up the Templars.



In the medical community, death is known as Chuck Norris Syndrome. 

A cretin is a perfect Christian, unable to sin.

mmghosh's picture

freedom is a fundamental value that does not need to be justified in terms of some other value like efficiency

"The King will answer and say to them


'Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.'


My measure of any society starts with how they treat the insane, the criminal, the stranger, women and girls, the poor, the elderly, those who aren't Contributing.  Far as I've been able to determine, the arguments of Science have been mostly used to condemn such people to oblivion.  The perfect Christian is a contradiction in terms.   It's rather like being in Alcoholics Anonymous.  Don't have a drinking problem?  Don't go to meetings.  Don't have a sin problem in your life?  Well, folks, Christianity is not for you.  Stay away from it, for it will oblige you admit you've failed and need to trust in a Higher Power.


As for the etymology of cretin, it's a statement of humanity, that even the retarded and insane are still people, still possessed of a soul, still "Christians". 

Is sinning a problem? nt

mmghosh's picture


freedom is a fundamental value that does not need to be justified in terms of some other value like efficiency

For the people you've sinned against, I'd say so.


But if the answer comes back No, hey, like I said.

Depends on the Sin,I think, Murder's First? The Complexity ofSin


...I was going to give you a snarky answer that, Of course Sinning is a Problem...but the edge is the quality of the Sin committed!


Yet, as I thought about it....this would be so if I were God, me being a kind, loving and compassionate kind of God-Person I'd be...


But if this were so then, If a murderer killed a blameless child and sent them to heaven, and to God with all the positives that would involve, (or as I would so imagine), wouldn't the killer be first in line to get into heaven having sent the child away from this vale of tears that life can be?


That I can't work this out is possibly why I am not a theologian.


Best Wishes, Traveller

It's a snark-o-licious statement, that Sin Problem business.


That's what people really don't like about Christianity, that Sin business.  Seems a convoluted and hideously recursive argument, saying everyone's a sinner.  But the great part is, think about it from the position of modern psychology, something a competent therapist would work through with a suffering patient.  I hope everyone would agree the best course of action for someone who did a Bad Thing would be to make amends as best he could, then get the hell on with his life and quit dragging his guilt around with him.  Some people can't get there.  They live stunted, bitter lives in the shadow of their past.  All quite unnecessary, too.  Kinda like holding a grudge:  the worst part of a grudge is that my enemy sleeps well at night and I don't.  Forgiveness isn't about patting my enemy on the head and saying "I'm a great guy, I forgive you."  Forgiveness is for me, so I can stand up straight and not be plagued by an ongoing grudge.


So, if you have this Sin Problem, go to therapy if that's what you need.  Christianity is just a primitive form of therapy: it says you can be forgiven but not before you've been truthful to yourself and others.  It's not about alternate bouts of mania, grovelling before God, oh I'm such a sinner - then getting up and condemning others for their sins - .  It's about living with an ongoing problem, the human condition, where we do dumb, shortsighted things and must live with the consequences thereafter.  Whether you take the secular, rational, consequentialist view - or the religious approach, saying sin can be forgiven - doesn't matter.   Same Jedi Mind Trick.   Short circuit guilt and misery in your life by living in the light of truth. 


But Christianity and other religions contain a generous dollop of intellectual dishonesty when it comes to Sin.  There's a reason rational people hate the Sin Business.  There's a big difference between a Pardon and a Not Guilty verdict.  Religion might reconcile you to yourself and the world but it doesn't make you into Spiritual Superman who's evolved beyond sin and error.  If anything, forgiveness ought to make us humbler, more tolerant, more enlightened - and it often does the opposite. 

Sin is big in Semitic religions

mmghosh's picture

less so here - perhaps that is why bribery and corruption is an accepted part of life.  But a lot to agree with what you wrote.

freedom is a fundamental value that does not need to be justified in terms of some other value like efficiency

The Intercept (Greewald's new outfit)


Excellent reporting on the CIA v. Feinstein dust up.

It's funny to see Feinstein


so interested in checks and balances now that she is the target.


"They don't like it up 'em!" as Lance Corporal Jones was wont to point out.

I have this theory based on Institutional Memory


at various corporations I've seen.  For a few years, when a corporation starts up, a series of decisions are made.  Usually, they're all based on the best thinking at the time, reasonable choices, say a technology stack or wise staffing choices, a few good insights which led to success, good value for money.  Institutional memory develops.  But in AI, there's a concept we call a Decision Tree.  Each choice in a series of choices prunes away all the other potential choices.  Therefore, the earlier each such choice, the more significant the pruning. 


CIA began as a response to the Cold War, as the FBI had begun as a response to Prohibition.  NSA had begun as a response to the Cold War and the growing use of satellites and long distance telephony.  That's how government deals with such problems:  it creates agencies to deal with them, compartmentalises the problem.  Both CIA and NSA began as military agencies, CIA as the WW2 era OSS, NSA as military SIGINT.  And the mandates for both agencies were routinely abused.  As the twig is bent, the tree will grow.  But more significantly, the tree will grow as it is pruned.


CIA in its current incarnation is the result of too many bad choices.  It needs to be scrapped and overhauled.  In an AI application, I'd call it retraining the network.  Pull out all the old assumptions, put in current data, make new decisions based on them.  In some senses, institutional memory is a good thing.  It's the hallmark of the idiot in my line of work, that he walks into some situation he doesn't understand, throws his hands in the air and says everything is wrong.  Sometimes he's right, too.  But we've had enough time in analysis now.  CIA's intransigence and John Brennan's rude brinksmanship, declaring himself the President's man, he's so far out of line I think he could be charged with obstruction of justice. 

This Being a Political Place `n All, I Presume Everyone Has Seen


...Mr. Obama being interviewed by Zach Galifianakis:


I haven't see this posted yet...if it has been, this deserves a double posting.



Obama peddles big lie on "Between Two Ferns"


OBAMA: Well, first of all, I think it’s fair to say that I wouldn’t be with you if I didn’t have something to plug. Have you heard of the Affordable Care Act?”
GALIFIANAKIS: Oh yeah, heard about that! That’s the thing that doesn’t work! Why would you get the guy that created the Zune to make your Web site?

Obama: works great now!

OBAMA: . . . [1] They can get coverage all for what it costs to pay your cellphone bill.

GALIFIANAKIS: Is this what they mean by drones?

Obama was telling the same lie back in 2013. Quoting 2013 figures:

[OBAMA:] I can tell you right now that in many states across the country, if you’re say a 27-year-old young woman, don’t have health insurance, you get on that exchange, you’re going to be able to purchase high quality health insurance for less than the cost of your cellphone bill.

First, oddly, or not, Obama’s also making the same claim, except for families, not individuals:

So just think about that. Knowing you can offer your family the security of health care –- that’s priceless. And now you can do it for less than your cell phone bill. That’s what change looks like.

Second, neither claim is true. The average individual’s phone bill is $71 a month. According to the White House’s own doubtless self-serving figures, released today, “a 27-year-old with income of $25,000 will be able to get [silver] coverage [including subsidy] for $145 a month.” So Obama’s only off by 100% for young women. It’s even worse for families: The average family spends $139 a month on cell phones. Again according to White House figures, “a family of four with income of $50,000 will generally be able to buy a silver-level plan for $282 a month [including subsidies].” …. Discrepancies like these actually matter to people who don’t have a lot of money.




Bird Dog's picture

Because a lefty said it, which is no different from what I've been saying, then it must be true. I rest my case.

"Transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of this presidency."

--Barack Obama, January 2009

I'm less convinced by that link


I've perused your critiques of the Obama #s as well and I agree it's unclear from the government's reporting how many new enrollees there are, but the naked capitalism author doesn't address the Gallop polling.


And though I've been a critic of the health care bill and Obama's role in shaping it, I think writing "let's wave pom poms" to the news that 3-4 million Americans might be gaining health insurance under this law is poor form.


I get very keenly that we should be making a larger dent in the 48 million uninsured, but that's some glass half empty privileged sarcasm right there.   

He didn't say "average cell phone bill." Plenty of people


spend $150/month for a plan with an iPhone 5 and data.

"Hell is truth seen too late." --Thomas Hobbes

$71 actually sounds really cheap for a cell phone in the US


I pay about $80 a month in Korea for a smart phone and consider that a remarkable deal compared to anything I shopped for in the US, which has much much higher prices on home internet and cell phone services. Hmmm ... the service coverage is great here and the speeds are really fast ... could it be that US markets are structured to funnel money to the top? Nah.... 


Anyway, Obama's family talk is still troubling. The "average" bit is implicit, he's way off, and he should stop being misleading. He should say that for a large portion of the population (not all) health insurance is more affordable than before but that he thinks there's much more work to be done.

I'd be more interested in hearing where Obama got


that talking point from and why he feels it is substantiated. The number doesn't seem that far off, and it puts the cost of insurance into a perspective uninsured people can relate to. If nothing else it should make 25 million Republicans suddenly go I'm paying HOW MUCH for my mobile service?!

"Hell is truth seen too late." --Thomas Hobbes

Really? A family of 4 living off $50k per year


can afford to spend about $3,384 per year on their cell phones?


That sounds way off to me, and like you may not be familiar with how tight expenditures are for families with that kind of income. 

Medical bills are the largest factor in American bankruptcy


supported here

The Most Costly Medical System in the World is not the Best Medical System in the World, as the GOP claims. I'm all for a market-based system. It's a pity there isn't an actual market in the USA.

I'm not in favor of a market-based system in theory


Even if we could enforce anti-trust laws and break the doctor cartel etc.,  the information asymmetries virtually guarantee that private health insurance won't function well as the central provider of coverage.


In practice, private health insurance seems to only function in countries as a patch against a backdrop of mostly public insurance.

It's as you say, provided we could bust up these rackets


we might get a real market.  That's why I believe Obama should have just gone to the physicians and hospitals and nursing homes directly.  Any time you can cut out a middleman, you get market efficiencies.  My mother the anesthesiologist used to rant most eloquently upon this subject and this is what she'd say.  One of my fondest memories of her:


Go to a doctor, ask him what a given procedure will cost.  He won't be able to tell you.  The bill of materials gets very long for a surgery, anesthesia, post-op, medications and the like.  Nobody knows just how much the insurance will cover or what procedures are covered, not without several hours on the phone with the insurer.


But there is one procedure you can price out to the penny.  Breast augmentation.  Because it isn't covered by health insurance.  The plastic surgeon will have a brochure with his prices for a breast aug.   Until that brochure appears for the other medical procedures, we don't have an actual market. 


Health insurance is just a distraction.  Yes, it's an obvious manifestation of the problem, but it isn't the actual problem.  Yes, it all works out better if people pay into a coverage fund, so these expensive procedures can go forward and people don't end up owing tens of thousands of dollars after treatment.  But those funds don't make money on the difference between premium payments and outlays.  Those funds make money by investments in the market.  Usually, insurance companies (for Allstate I can say for a fact this is true, with the Blues, confidentiality agreements, I can't talk about their money) disburse more money in payments than they collect in premiums.  But with auto and life and prop/cas it is a working market.  Health insurance is not a market. 

Oh I'm familiar with tight expenditures.


I'm also familiar with my phone bills. Verizon's 2GB plan is $90/mo. without including the cost of a phone (iPhone 5s adds $30/mo.). Verizon is expensive. AT&T comes out to $80/mo. including iPhone. T-Mobile is $87/mo. including iPhone.  


56% of Americans have cell phones and pay data plans, and while not all of them have the latest iPhone and many pick more limited data plans, millions are paying more or less the figures above.

"Hell is truth seen too late." --Thomas Hobbes

Adding a line on a family plan costs a fraction of that


Look, the average was quoted to you. The average household --roughly a family of 4 with $50k income-- spends $1,584 per year on cell phones. 


The average silver health insurance plan on the national exchange for that family costs $3,384.


That's more than double, and probably well outside what the average family could afford for their cells.


The millions who are paying over $3k per annum for their cell phones are very likely to be significantly more wealthy, and their health insurance plans are therefore likely to cost significantly more as well.


It's just a misleading comparison and minimizes the expensive nature of America's health insurance system.

The average household size is 2.58, not 4.


That's census data: I'm not sure where you're getting the idea that the average household has 4 people, but maybe you should check the source? Median household income of ~$50k is based on that figure. I'm not sure what an average family of four earns... do you have a source on that?  


Here's some census data on a family of 4 that's now outdated: somewhat confusing table but it looks like median income was $67,019 for a family of 4 in 2005.  


Do you have any link to substantiate the $1,584/mo. for a family of four? Best I can find is this WSJ study claiming the average household spends $1,226 per year. Again a family of four is likely to have at least 2 phones. 

"Hell is truth seen too late." --Thomas Hobbes

Since it was the administration that furnished data based on...

Bird Dog's picture

...a family of four (link)...

For a family of four with an annual income of $50,000, the administration said, monthly premiums for the second-cheapest plan will vary widely, averaging $600 in Arizona, $800 in Georgia, $961 in Indiana, $1,069 in Mississippi, $859 in New Hampshire, $943 in New Jersey and $656 in Utah.

Under the 2010 health law, most people buying insurance in the exchanges will be eligible for federal subsidies in the form of tax credits. Taking account of these subsidies, the administration said, a family of four with income of $50,000 will generally be able to buy a silver-level plan for $282 a month, while a 27-year-old with income of $25,000 will be able to get such coverage for $145 a month.

...I think it's fair for Strether continue with the comparison that the White House started in the first place.

"Transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of this presidency."

--Barack Obama, January 2009

Uh-oh, Bird Dog. It looks like Politifact tells a different


story. Giving Obama's claim a "Mostly True" rating, the most important thing to note is that they take into account a key assumption Obama is making that Naked Capitalism completely ignores, and that is that he isn't claiming the average family can get insured for the price of a cell phone bill. He's saying currently uninsured families can do so.  


That's a key difference, given that your average uninsured family generally has far less disposable income (and hence is eligible for far more in subsidies) than the average family or the average household.  


Here's Obama's specific "phone bill" claim:  

"One study shows that through new options created by the Affordable Care Act, nearly 6 in 10 uninsured Americans will find that they can get covered for less than $100 a month. Think about that. Through the marketplaces you can get health insurance for what may be the equivalent of your cell phone bill. Or your cable bill. And that’s a good deal."  

See that? Uninsured Americans. They are the ones who will be able to get coverage for what an average family of four might expect to pay for a cell phone contract.  


Obama cited this Coupon Cabin study showing that 1 in 5 American families pay more per month for cell phone service than they pay for groceries. Obama also cited this HHS report (pdf) showing that 49% of subsidy-eligible uninsured Americans could pay less than $100/mo. for insurance, and 6.4 million of them could be eligible for silver-tier plan coverage.

Obama said under the Affordable Care Act, some U.S. residents could get health insurance for the same price as a monthly cell phone bill. There’s a wide range of plan costs, many of which are comparable to phone bills, especially for those who qualify for tax credits. A credible study indicates that about 56 percent of marketplace-eligible people could pay $100 or less. Obama was particularly careful in his phrasing, citing that precise study. 

So we've been comparing apples and eggnog. 


The one hedge noted by Politifact, and their reason for granting a *Mostly* True rating, is that Americans who get sick will wind up spending quite a bit more or even far more in copays and deductibles. So their liability is much higher than the cost of a cell phone, particularly for Americans with Bronze-level coverage.  


As for Obama's claim, if we restore the context Naked Capitalism decided to ignore, it's accurate.

"Hell is truth seen too late." --Thomas Hobbes

Nice try

Bird Dog's picture

Had he qualified his statement with Galifianakis by inserting "6 in 10", then Obama he would've been on solider ground. As it is, Obama is a little over half-true, or depending how you look at it, a little under half-false.

"Transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of this presidency."

--Barack Obama, January 2009

Uh huh. But I'm afraid the Bible has spoken on this issue. -nt-



"Hell is truth seen too late." --Thomas Hobbes

A whole trawler full of red herrings, Cap'n BD.


Rather that point out the obvious, that people can now get meaningful, affordable health insurance, (over the furious objections of the GOP) let's harangue the President about some price tag.  Do you have any conception of what ACA has done to my insurance premiums as a sole proprietor?  Cut them by two-thirds.  Care to argue that point?  I thought the GOP was all about entrepreneurship and people gettin' out there and working - for more than the right to get on someone else's crappy group policy.

I'm not going to argue that yours and Hank's premiums are...

Bird Dog's picture

...lower. Similarly, I'm not going to argue that Bob's and Larry's and BD's premiums are higher. I'm not going to argue that Obama broke his pledge that Obamacare would cut premiums by $2,500/year for the typical family, or that he broke pledges about keeping your health plans and your doctors. Period!



I'm not going to argue that Obama put forth another falsehood in his healthcare sales pitch with Galifianakis. And in the interests of balance, Boehner is little better.

There are some good things about this law. I'm glad that kids under 26 can stay on their parents' plans, I'm glad that preexisting conditions are gone, I'm glad that Medicare is expanded. I'm not glad that Obama and HHS have been so consistently incompetent in executing this law and so regularly dishonest and obstructionist when it comes selling the program and disseminating information.


"Transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of this presidency."

--Barack Obama, January 2009

Yeah, I mean

HankP's picture

it's not as if there's a major political party dedicated to sabotaging the law at every opportunity, is there?


I blame it all on the Internet


Bird Dog's picture

A law was passed. It's the president's responsibility to faithfully execute it.

"Transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of this presidency."

--Barack Obama, January 2009

Over 70 percent of US corps are sole proprietorships.


What earthly reason can the GOP have for screwing us? 

I'll be somewhat more civil than Hank


but really, c'mon, which party has tried 50, count 'em, on fifty separate occasions tried to screw me, sole proprietor

Still a tangent

Bird Dog's picture

The chance of Obamacare being repealed is exactly 0% while Obama is in office, even if the Senate improbably gets 60 GOPers after next November. The chances of Obamacare being repealed after 2016 are improbable because it is improbable that the GOP will get a filibuster-proof majority along with a Republican president. Obamacare is extremely difficult to defund, which is why it was unaffected during the partial government shutdown last September. The House and Senate can't withhold an appropriations bill to defund Obamacare, unless they want to restore Medicare cuts. Given this, the appropriate action is for Obama is to fix the legion of problems with this flawed bill so that it is less unpalatable in 2016. The appropriate answer for the GOP's multiple attempts at repeal is a healthy dose of ridicule and an admonishment to pass a bill that actually has a chance of getting passed by the Senate and signed by the president. So my answer to your complaints about Republican intransigence is so what. Obamacare is the law of the land.



"Transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of this presidency."

--Barack Obama, January 2009

The GOP are running against Obamacare now and in 2016


They are absolutely intent upon repealing every vestige of Obamacare, if their rhetoric is to be believed.  This may come across as condescending but it's sincerely meant.  I sure wish the GOP looked more like you and a lot less like these Tea Party knuckleheads.  The only hope for the GOP, and I'm encouraged to see the mainline GOP pushing in this direction, is a Night of the Long Knives, driving the Tea Party from power, so the Dems and GOP can get back to the business of running the nation and not running it off a cliff.

We agree that the GOP is running against Obamacare...

Bird Dog's picture

...and will do so in 2016, but I'm looking at the odds of them getting what they want and I see those odds as miniscule. The only real way this could happen is if Senate Democrats collapse after 2016 by failing to get enough votes to muster up a filibuster. Since most of those Democrats voted for Obamacare, it would have to be a major collapse. Even if a repeal somehow makes it through the Senate before 2017, Obama will veto any repeal of his landmark, legacy bill.

It won't be until after 2016 that there will be any real shot at changing the law so, in my opinion, whatever attempts in the interim to undermine it, trash it, kill it, etc. will go nowhere, so it doesn't really matter how TPers or GOPers feel about it. Obamacare is the law of the land, it is funded, and Obama is liberally applying his executive powers to change it as it goes, for better or worse.


"Transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of this presidency."

--Barack Obama, January 2009


HankP's picture

the fact that it's being actively sabotaged has everything to do with whether it can be implemented successfully. It's not tangential in any way.


I blame it all on the Internet

The problem is the family cell phone bill data


We shouldn't compare families of 4 (the admin's health insurance data) to families of 2.54 (naked capitalism's cell phone data)


Bird Dog's picture

One, if you think that one additional person really cuts into the difference between $139 and $282, then that's a really lousy phone plan.

Two, the 2.58 figure is average household size, which includes single people living alone and married couples with no kids, i.e., total population divided by the number of dwellings, which makes for a worse comparison. The article made distinctions between single plans and family plans, and Jordan's number blends both. The real comparison to use for families is average household size with kids, which is 3.91, which is actually pretty close to the "family of four" put forth by the administration.

"Transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of this presidency."

--Barack Obama, January 2009

Households with 3.91 people make considerably more than $50k,


and likely (factoring in teenagers) spend north of $160/mo. on cell phones and data usage. Assume 3 phones per household on average, and you start to get pretty close to the average silver plan. 

"Hell is truth seen too late." --Thomas Hobbes

We're getting somewhere


Thanks for the info and distinctions, BD.


Now there's a bit of a problem given that the median household with children makes closer to 60k than to 50k. 


The cell phone bill estimate was for median households while the admin's health insurance estimate was for households making $50k. 


Still, I'm comfortable saying this was probably a significant and unfortunate exaggeration by the president.


M Scott Eiland's picture

*sound of gunfire from Sniper Grandmas shattering pins*

"Another strike for The Chosen One!"

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

The Chosen One. And rechosen, too.


But not as many times as the manifestly lunatick GOP have chose to try to veto Obamacare.  History repeats itself, first as tragedy, then as farce.  But after 50 repetitions - and losing every single round - I think it's time to invoke the slaughter rule. 


M Scott Eiland's picture

But elected officials shouldn't given passes on reality like a cult leader would get--so as long as I see blatant excuse making when he's caught lying and breaking his promises, the label remains mockery rather than electoral history.l

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

Shocked, shocked, to find gambling going on


in this establishment.  Isn't this Captain Renault schtick getting a bit old?  How about a rousing chorus of "Bush lied, soldiers died." ? That's just how tiresome the GOP has become on the Obamacare issue.  If I hear another sad chorus of Obama's Lyin' Again - of course he's lying, at bare minimum exaggerating.  Are you going to start up an impeachment over an appearance on a comedy show?  Do you folks have any idea how tiresome this constant refrain has become ?  It's Romneycare writ large.  Have the Republicans ever admitted it?


When did the Republicans become Libertarian lunatics?  When did the GOP stop thinking for themselves?  Do people need health coverage or not?  And if so, how would the GOP go about managing coverage for everyone?  Oh that's right, people don't need health care.  The mountain of lies and outright crazy talk - the lies I sorta get, that's politics - but the crazy talk and the gibbering and frothing and feces-flinging and pettiness every time the subject of President Obama comes up - it's gone beyond crazy.  It's time to call 911, the GOP is starting to look like some naked PCP-addled freak, walking down the street, more in need of mental health care than anything else, more a subject for pity than contempt.

One thing people don't need


is to become further dependent on government.


It's a modern day form of enslavement, if you think about it after drinking Drano.

Heh. Star Parker doesn't like big government.


Let me tell you a little something, Catchy.  On Rosedown Plantation in St. Francisville Louisiana, Daniel Turnbull employed a physician for his slaves in 1843, after losing his son to yellow fever.  How do either you or Star Parker propose to replace Turnbull's physician?  Don't trouble me with Star Parker.  She doesn't have an answer to that question.  Maybe you do.  I eagerly await your response.

Alls I know is I hate the federal government enslaving people


Sorry, I'm trolling you by pretending to engage in conservative "thought". 


This is just a reminder to anyone who leans left how ridiculous and massively destructive mainstream conservative ideology is, and how splitting the difference with it is probably still going to leave you with something destructive.

Citizenship entails many bounded rights.


For two years and more now, I've been off investigating the claims of libertarians and conservatives.  I'm not who I used to be when I stopped writing here back then.  This essay about Failed States is kicking my ass, Catchy.  I've re-titled it "Revenant States", troubled regimes which just won't adapt.  Why can't these regimes improve?  I'm looking for some general principles and I keep returning to Kenneth Waltz


Freedom just means I can do as I please and you can't stop me.  It's a big nothing of a word.  Similarly, Slavery is a big old shibboleth.  It means you have the right to make me operate on your behalf.  The Libertarians are such annoyingly simplistic people:  push 'em on the limits of freedom and they get all squishy.  Do we have obligations to the state?  If so, does the state have reciprocal obligations to its citizens?  The Conservatives are far better equipped, philosophically, to answer such questions.


Philosopher kings of every stripe would view government as the entity best capable of operating on behalf of all the citizens, not each citizen, who is best served by operating on his own behalf.  Taxes would be viewed as investments in the society and would be judged on that basis.  Is health care a right?  It's a stupid question.  The proper question is this:  since all citizens will need health care at some point in their lives, can government provide an efficient framework to satisfy that need?   It's not a Yes or No question.  One of the biggest health care problems these days is treating prisoners.  They get great health care, by the way.  Prisoners have rights other citizens don't.  Rosedale Plantation again.  Turnbull's doctor provided better care for slaves than people got in town,


Clearly the "free market" hasn't solved this problem nor could it.  We've run the experiment:  the wildly disparate pricing of health care from one facility to the next shows the free market is not working.  Rural health care is terrible.  Over the summer, I did a little gig for a rural non-emergency transport firm in Taylor County:  base use case:   it's cheaper (and far more humane) to keep oldsters and people with chronic conditions at home, transporting them to dialysis or long term addiction therapy, than throwing them in a hospital or nursing home.  This, in the state run by Gov. Walker, no Liberal he.  Good value for money, such a program.  But it's just a patch: it doesn't address the fundamental problems.

I do Value Your Writing...Was: Sin


...sometimes I have to read you a few times, sometimes a day your response on Sin, the above was of great value to my understanding.


Sometimes it just takes me a few days to...get it.


Slow that I am.../;>}}}


Best Wishes, Traveller

You're right


I assumed the average family household had 4 members and the naked capitalism critique did too.


So now I'm not sure Obama was so far off after all.

It just didn't make sense that Obama would make


such an obvious and trivially provable lie. Now ask yourself why naked capitalism is so far off the mark that an innumerate like me can call them out, if I just take the trouble to verify.

"Hell is truth seen too late." --Thomas Hobbes

I wasn't familiar with naked capitalism


having bad contributors. I hadn't been there in months and they have some newer contributors.


I knew Bill Black and Yves Smith (the main contributors) and have not had bad experiences with them. Even if you disagree, it won't be b/c they've equated 2.5 with 4.


But that other piece BD linked by the same author also wasn't good. 


Even for the one I linked you'll note for single individuals he spoke of "average phone costs" rather than "average cell costs". But for individuals who still use land lines obviously their bills are going to be lower and Obama specifically said cell phone bills. So there appear to be problems with both his individual and family estimates.


Obama has been exaggerating all over the place about his health care law, so let's not assume that a politician isn't going to make a trivially provably false statement. Honestly I wouldn't be surprised if he's still on the wrong side of this issue. You haven't shown otherwise, you've merely shown the data isn't there. 


But back to naked capitalism -- I think it's best to treat the site more like firedoglake, where the contributors are mixed. John Walker's an interesting and informed read but many are not. naked capitalism is like that now.

True, I have no idea whether Obama's right,


and it seems like (though I'm not sure) he might be exaggerating a bit, intuitively. 

"Hell is truth seen too late." --Thomas Hobbes

Exactly, Catchy...Move Back Here to the White House and Kick...


...that Mr. Obama in the butt, would you please?


He needs someone like you to tell it to him straight...this lying stuff is just bad form.


Best Wishes, Traveller...(with unlimited cell/text/internet@$50.00 total per month with T-Mobile...Just sayin`)

*Scott Hears Pins Being Set Up. . .*

M Scott Eiland's picture

*. . . and waits for a comment that will cede another strike for The Chosen One*

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

Billo joins the chorus of Harrumphers.


Via HuffPo, for those with the gastric fortitude to watch it, video provided. Seems Abe Lincoln wouldn't have done it, opines the Bilious One. Abe Lincoln was perhaps the best storyteller who ever lived in the White House.


The story goes that Lincoln was stopped one day by a man who stuck a revolver almost into his face. Under the circumstances Lincoln quickly realized that any resistance was unwise. Trying to remain calm, he inquired, "What seems to be the matter?" "Well," replied the man, "A long time ago I swore that if I ever came across an uglier man than myself I'd shoot him on the spot." "Well," supposedly said Lincoln. "Go ahead and shoot me then, because if I am an uglier man than you I don't want to live."

Catchy posted it on the plane crash OT.


It does deserve a double posting. Obama's pretty good, but it doesn't look easy to walk that fine line between hilarious and squirmingly awkward that Galifianakis specializes in. 

"Hell is truth seen too late." --Thomas Hobbes

Heh. It's provoked a great fart storm of GOP grumping.


Matt Drudge says "Strangely Humorless" .  Fox says "White House defends"


What a bunch of constipated old geezers today's GOP have become. 

Richard Nixon 1968

HankP's picture


I blame it all on the Internet

watch out


this just gives the wingnuts more reason to call obama "nixonian."

“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” -George Bernard Shaw

I don't think Nixon ever had a proper bowel movement in his life


What a world of good it would have done him, to have one good healthy dump.  Strangest little weasel ever to inhabit the White House.  Twisted.  Eisenhower didn't trust him.  When asked what major projects Nixon had assisted with during the Eisenhower Presidency, Ike famously said, “If you give me a week, I may think of something.” 

Looking at the radar track for Flight 370


If these reports are correct, MAS 370 was on a track toward Banda Aceh. an area known for Islamic troubles in recent times.  A 777 at max landing weight needs 2500 meters of runway.  Banda Aceh (ICAO: WITT) has a 3000 meter runway  oriented 17/35 which is roughly north-south, a few degrees of declination NNW / SSE . If I were a hijacker, I'd come up the coast of Sumatra.  But Sumatra has a long mountain range right down the middle.


Pure conjecture, but any time a ship or aircraft changes course, they're headed for a port.  ICAO WITT is the closest airport of any size capable of handling a 777.

Aceh has had Christian-Muslim conflict for a while.

mmghosh's picture

The Chinese won't be happy that this has been covered up, I'm guessing.

freedom is a fundamental value that does not need to be justified in terms of some other value like efficiency

The Chinese are not happy campers, that's for sure.


If this turns out to be terrorism, and at this point, 2 will get you 5 it is - anyone with a working set of air maps would conclude MAS 370 was headed for Banda Aceh.  Here's what surprises me:  if MAS 370 changed course and headed back over the Straits of Malacca, it would have passed over dozens of ships.  It's one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world.  But MAS 370 departs KL at 12:35 AM arriving Beijing 6:35 AM.  The entire flight is in the dark.  Nobody would have seen it, especially if the running lights were out.  We know the transponder was off.  If the aircraft ducked below radar during that period, headed for Sumatra, I think they're probably looking in the wrong place.  It's probably crashed in the mountains. 

A few questions


I've got...


First, one would assume the NSA or some other agency is continuously monitoring every single transponder on the entire planet.  It's not that hard to do technically, wouldn't violate anybody's rights,  and is directly relevant to preventing another 9-11.  


Second, I'd guess we had some navy ships in the general region,  each of which should have a radar range of at least 100 miles,  and probably more, for planes flying at (say) 10,000 feet.  Even if all the data isn't routinely stored,  you'd think a disappearing transponder would trigger some extra monitoring and recording.  And there are half a dozen other navies working in the area, probably with similar radar.  OTOH, a large plane flying below the radar far from an airport should have attracted a lot of notice from fishermen and others on the ground.


If the changed course story is real,  there should be a lot more data points out there.   How come no announcements? 



Don't overestimate NSA or any of these agencies.


Drinking From the Fire Hose is what they do.  Nobody has a fix on every aircraft aloft.  NextGen is supposed to solve this problem but we're still operating with fifty year old tech.  And out there in the literal Wilds of Sumatra, with trucks full of Shari'a Law types beating up people for saying Happy New Year (like they did last New Year's Eve in Banda Aceh) I wouldn't count on anyone knowing anything.  A CIA operator would stick out like a turd in a punchbowl in Aceh.  Lest we forget, when it comes to Al Qaeda conferences, the preferred venue is Kuala Lumpur


Even if we had a good track on them, the transponders were turned off, just like 9/11.  They went off the radar track, just like 9/11.   Interesting spot to go off the transponder, in the middle of the Gulf of Siam, beyond reach of standard radars.  Doubtless there's more information available but this is Al Qaeda's back yard.  More Muslims in Indonesia than any other nation in the world.

I agree that


airport radars are sometimes using 50 year old tech,  and that we can't depend on authorities on the ground in Sumatra.  But a US navy ship is going to have something a lot better, with a 100% digital backend that could in principle store the location and motion of every significant return over 10,000-20,000 square mile region.  Even if you don't analyze all of that, storing it just in case is not hard,  the data rate would be less than a webcam.


I'd guess the Singapore, Indian, and Australian navies also have decent radar,  and they do anti-pirate patrols in that area.  If that plane really flew several hundred miles over Indonesia somebody should have seen it.

Again, this is all so much BlaiseP Conjecturfying.


BlaiseP Products (including hardware, software and/or Innerleckshul Prognostications are not designed or intended to be fail-safe, for any comment or diary requiring failsafe performance such as tracking every aircraft aloft in UTC +8, nukular facilities, applications related to the deployment and deflation of gasbags or any other application which might lead to death, personal injury or anal probing by space aliens or turrists, individually and collectively 'Conjecturfying' 


There's no way we can track everything, not from ground level or sea level.  No damned way.  The ocean is big.



The sea isn't big to satellites. There are some 20,000 passenger aircraft in the world of which a guess would be 50% to 70% flying at any given time. The newer ones, including this one, send data by satellite. Coverage is 100% and the bandwidth is really quite small.


However, unlike the majority of 777 operators, Malaysian Air was not subscribed to Boeings data analysis of this data, so Boeing was not collecting it. Only Malaysian knows what data it has, unless the NSA collects this data as well. If the NSA does not, that just shows they care more about controlling people than about terrorism. I agree that tracking all aircraft data is an obvious application of NSA infrastructure, requiring very little storage, a single disk drive worth, and breaking no Bill of Rights.

This was clear enough to Larkin, whose patriotism rested on the notion that England was the worst place on earth with the possible exception of everywhere else.

Hard to track aircraft when the pinger is turned off.


As long as that switch is still in the cockpit, that's the first thing the hijacker will turn off. 

Separate Issue


The data reporting is independent from the transponder, and is fully automated. It cannot be turned off.


Unfortunately, it is not continuous, but sends data in periodic uploads. All 777's have this, but as I mentioned Boeing was not managing Malaysian's data feed, which is an extra cost service.


Also, turning off the transponder does not make the plane disappear. Radar still sees it. It merely becomes unidentified, which if anything is more suspicious. A terrorist who tells the pilot to turn off the transponder is not doing something smart. It's like raising a red flag. All the terrorist should know about transponders is to prevent the pilot from setting the hijack code of 7500, or any other emergency code. Anything that would call attention.

This was clear enough to Larkin, whose patriotism rested on the notion that England was the worst place on earth with the possible exception of everywhere else.

You seem to know more about this than I do.


I still don't think MAS370 was on anyone radars over the Gulf of Siam.  But again, I could be wrong.  Usually am. 

Well That's The Thing


If we had military ships there, AWACs, anything with a radar, they should have seen it. Being unidentified, they would have tracked it with interest. A 777 has a large radar signature.


So we either had no assets within 70 miles or more of the entire flight path, or the information is being held confidential for some reason.


Or the hijackers could have tried to fly at low altitude to limit visibility to surface radar, but the thing is that these planes burn a lot of fuel at low altitude, like triple, so range is greatly reduced. Still, if foul play was involved somebody was out of his depth here because things did not go well.


It is definitely the oddest aviation incident in decades.


This was clear enough to Larkin, whose patriotism rested on the notion that England was the worst place on earth with the possible exception of everywhere else.

Oddest aviation incident is putting it mildly. nt

mmghosh's picture


freedom is a fundamental value that does not need to be justified in terms of some other value like efficiency


(#314910) got odder by the time you replied, 48 hours later. Another day and now it's becoming full metal bizarre. We are going to be into UFO abduction territory soon.

This was clear enough to Larkin, whose patriotism rested on the notion that England was the worst place on earth with the possible exception of everywhere else.

The passengers mobiles are still ringing, to add to conjecture

mmghosh's picture

surely the phones should be all dead by now.


Very curious.

The accounts of some passengers on Chinese messaging tool QQ show they had been online, reports say, although the operator says that failure to shut the software down properly can give that impression.

Some have seized on Chinese press reports that relatives have heard ringing tones when trying to call their loved ones' mobile phones.

"This could be a clue and shouldn't be ignored," said a man from Beijing surnamed Chen, whose cousin was on board.

iPhones can be tracked using where's my iphone.

freedom is a fundamental value that does not need to be justified in terms of some other value like efficiency

Really ringing vs offline


The relatives are grasping at straws,  which of course they can't be blamed for.  Some cell systems generate a different number of rings or a different tone when a phone is checked in to the system versus not checked in, but that's a software choice.


If any phones were really running and checked in to a cell phone system,  we'd have known within one cell (e.g 5 miles or so) where they were almost immediately. 



These people, wherever they are, are all dead.

This was clear enough to Larkin, whose patriotism rested on the notion that England was the worst place on earth with the possible exception of everywhere else.

Break up California

Bird Dog's picture

The six-state plan.


Solar storage breakthrough:

Carnegie Mellon engineering professor Jay Whiteacre has developed long lasting batteries for storing solar energy that are longer lasting than traditional batteries and do not  use rare earth elements.


"Transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of this presidency."

--Barack Obama, January 2009

That Map Is Kind of Crazy


It sounds like redistricting on steroids. You would get four democratic senators but eight new republican ones. Nice try.

This was clear enough to Larkin, whose patriotism rested on the notion that England was the worst place on earth with the possible exception of everywhere else.

That West California state


looks a lot like Gaza.   Too many people in a patch of semi-desert surrounded by hostile neighbors and absolutely dependent on them for water and power.

Nothing an earthquake won't promptly correct.


Upon reflection, I don't believe there's any city, with the possible exception of Houston, which I dislike more than Los Angeles.

Nothing wrong wwith LA

HankP's picture

except the traffic.


I blame it all on the Internet

Oh please. What's there to possibly like about LA?


The traffic is only the beginning.  The smog, the fog, the horrible people, faker than a three dollar bill, the hideous architecture, the damned of West Covina on their way back to their hellish suburban prairie dog burrows.  The prices. The crime. LAX.  LAX, just the thought of LAX is enough to make my privy parts wither.

Plenty of things

HankP's picture

The people I met there were nice, of course that could be my natural charm. The weather is great, the beaches are great, the mountains are great, there's actually plenty of interesting architecture, In-N-Out burgers, Harley and Traveller, good restaurants, etc. etc.


I blame it all on the Internet

I like Santa Monica and Venice.


And West Hollywood. But 99% of it is bland suburban sprawl. I severely hate being in motor vehicles for more than ten minutes, so I'm biased.

The traffic sucks

HankP's picture

no doubt about it. But then the traffic sucks in lots of major cities so it's kind of unfair to single out LA for that.


Pranky, shoot me an email so you, I and nilsey can figure out when to get together when I'm out in Chitown.


I blame it all on the Internet

What's your address again?


Here's mine:


all the way to hell -at- y mail do tcom


No spaces of course.

Mine's not as imaginitive

HankP's picture

hankp98072 -at- yahoo dot com


I blame it all on the Internet

Spent some time in Santa Monica, just off Pico.


A few weeks with a former client.  Walking around in the early morning, gone in search of coffee, watching the homeless guys hanging out at Pico and PCH.  It's an interesting town, highly overrated.  Venice even more so.  Come to see the tourists looking at the other tourists.  Buy a T shirt.  Get a tattoo.  Enjoy the fog.  Just don't try to find a parking spot.  You won't.

I like Oceanside.


Carlsbad and Pacific Beach are nice too. Never found much to like as far north as LA.




You were obviously well hidden last time I was up that way.


Actually, aside from driving down from the airport a few times, I don't think I've been in LA for about 20 years.

I've Been Working on my Hand Held, HD, Video Skills (La Jolla)


...from my recent Ramble down to San Diego and Mexico...La Jolla Cove...just North of San Diego




Best Wishes, Traveller

The Assyrian & The Ghost (California Creativity Abounds)


And further work of mine following this video I did.)

Your Table is Ready

The Instrument

Nursing Seal Pup, Contented Mother

The Birds

Posies in a Field of Daisies

Best Wishes, Traveller

(at least I bring something different to the table/:>}}})

The homeless aren't dummies


They like the beach locations too.

"I don't want us to descend into a nation of bloggers." - Steve Jobs

There is a pervasive dampness


that's for sure. Always kind of cool and clammy feeling when you're near the pacific, at least in CA. I was constantly wiping my upper lip. Was in Pasadena once for a shoot. Seemed like a cool town, lots of gorgeous mid-century and arts & crafts era homes there. But it's ridiculously far from everything else. I'm not a big fan of LA overall, but it has its charms.


I find the detailed street-crossing instructions at the intersections amusing every time. 





The Getty's an important set of buildings, and there's lots of beautiful modernist houses... even if you're not impressed with Gehry's Disney Hall. Bottomline... they have a pretty nice lifestyle there.


In-n-out is one cult I can't quite understand. I prefer the Apple Pan's burger (and ambience.)

"I don't want us to descend into a nation of bloggers." - Steve Jobs

I tried In N Out for the first time last summer

Bird Dog's picture

I liked it. Reminded me Dick's Drive-in in the Seattle. Most of the Dick's don't even have inside seating. There'll always be a place for cheap burgers that are reasonably well made. I like the In N Out burgers better than Dick's, but Dick's has really good fries.

"Transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of this presidency."

--Barack Obama, January 2009

How can fries be good or bad?

mmghosh's picture

Cold or hot, yes.  Fresh or frozen, yes.

freedom is a fundamental value that does not need to be justified in terms of some other value like efficiency

I can happily eat British Isles


fat chippy chips cold but US style fast food ones are intollerable that way.

I'm with Gollum: "Keep nasty chips"


Never liked french fries, pommes frites, UK chips.  The lot.  They're a waste of perfectly good potatoes.  A way of eating lard. 

Good chips are made with suet rather than lard.


The only superior way to eat potatoes I can think of is roast - par boiled and then roasted for an hour around a bird, basted every 20 minutes in fat from the pan.


Good mash is rare but superb also. Typically it's too lumpy or watery or over-egged with cream and the like. A proper balance of milk, butter and salt plus using the correct variety of spud is vital.


 Rösti is great comfort food. Stick an egg, sunny side up on top.


Can't bare 'em baked and plain boiled ones are more than a bit dull.

I'm a meat and potatoes man, All sounds delicious


Your notes on mashed are also to my liking.  The potato is so versatile, it's a shame to waste it on deep fat frying.  Fact is, with the exception of Kentucky Fried Chicken, I can't abide much deep-fat fried anything.  The baked potato is a fine thing, wrapped in tinfoil and done in a camp fire.  I pre-season them with Tony Chachere's Creole, put them in the backpack, they're tremendous, skins nice and browned.  But the oven-baked potato is a miserable thing, lacking for company, without chicken or beef or carrots or other such fine friends in the roasting dish.  The boiled potato is almost inedible.

Tony Chachere's Creole


Duly noted - I shall source some next time I am on your side of the pond.

My container of Tony's never leaves the stove top


Undercooked and greasy, no

HankP's picture

unfortunately they can be really screwed up by a lousy cook.


I blame it all on the Internet

Some Fries Are Definitely Better Than Others

M Scott Eiland's picture

Sadly, In N Out fries are not so great. While their burgers are good, when in SoCal I prefer Tommy's, though not more than once per visit, as more often would undoubtedly be life-endangering.

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

"Some Fries Are Definitely Better Than Others"

brutusettu's picture

And one of those better kind, Cedar Point's french fries!

What surprised me

HankP's picture

was that there are a lot of older (19th and early 20th century) buildings scattered all over the place.


I also love Googie architecture, but that's more of an acquired taste.


I blame it all on the Internet

The Apple Pan

Zelig's picture

Haven't been there for awhile. I used to live walking distance away. That was probably the only burger you've ever eaten that was made in a Union Shop. Their burgers are a bit on the petite side, which I used to mind but don't mind any more. Their fries are way above average. Their apple pie, not so much. They still have the stainless steel cup holders and the delicate paper cones for the beverages, and the joint still looks like 1947, the year it was built. 


I don't get the In N Out either. Fresh ingredients, agreed, but the lines are long and their "secret" ingredient in my opinion is ...... salt.  

Me: We! -- Ali

Probably a better secret ingredient than sugar.


I agreee that the chips are not stellar but it sure beats macD or Burger King. 


My big problem in San Diego is getting anything to eat after 22h. Before then I mostly eat sushi. Afterwards the only place near me that's open is hooters. Can't bring myself to go there any more.

What makes the place for me


Is the ritualistic serving flourishes...


They wrap the burger in paper then place it on the table in front of you, on its side, rather than on it's base.


And then when they get you the fries they squirt the ketchup into the container for you.


Reminds me of how (at a very different price point) when they served you Chicken Kiev at the old Russian Tea Room, the waiter would stab it with a knife right after serving it, so the melted butter would squirt out.


There's something quasi-religious about these serving rituals.

"I don't want us to descend into a nation of bloggers." - Steve Jobs

Like I said

HankP's picture

for what it is (a large chain) it's pretty damn good, very inexpensive, and very consistent. It's never going to beat a one or two location restaurant. But it beats the competition pretty easily.


I blame it all on the Internet

Well, yeah...


I'll grant you that. I like seeing them cut up the potatoes in the back, rather than dropping them in from a frozen bag.

"I don't want us to descend into a nation of bloggers." - Steve Jobs

I've Been Away Too Long

M Scott Eiland's picture

We need Harley to come in for another contemporary LA local's POV. I'm only down there once or twice a year.

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

What's the deal


with this In-N-Out burgers?  We don't have them here,  but I'll be near one while traveling tomorrow. 

They're good and inexpensive

HankP's picture

very fresh, never frozen. Just be sure to ask for the fries to be well done, otherwise they suck.


They do only one thing, but they do it well. Not giant piles of beef with truffles and aged white balsamic vinegar or any of that kind of over-done gourmet crap. Just a damned good burger.


I blame it all on the Internet

Hey Blaise

HankP's picture

don't you live in the Chicago area? Because I'm going to be there the second week of April and I'm trying to do a get together.

I blame it all on the Internet

I'm in Eau Claire, WI just now


and have been for almost a year.  I haven't returned to Chicago in some years now, except for a funeral.  But I'll see what I can do.  Maybe we can hook in a Skype or a G+ hangout.  

Hate New York City, It's Cold and It's Damp...




FZappa has this pretty well summed up. Tinseltown Rebellion



There's Very Little of These Lyrics I Can


...but a portion:


The tinsel town aficionados
Come to see and not to hear
But then again this system works
As perfect as a dream
It works for all of those record company p***ks
Who come to skim the cream
From the cesspools of excitement
Where jim morrison once stood
It's the tinsel town rebellion
From downtown hollywood


Ahhhh....As I Llke to Say, and to Quote myself


The Beautiful place seethes in seedy and corpulent creativity,

like a 300 pound wife that treats you well,

You've got to love her...



Flakes! California got the most of them.




Obviously meant as a feature, not a bug.

This was clear enough to Larkin, whose patriotism rested on the notion that England was the worst place on earth with the possible exception of everywhere else.