The crazy

This man should have any role whatsoever in shaping our public policy?  Seriously?  Huffpo:

WASHINGTON — Wayne LaPierre, CEO of the National Rifle Association, adopted on Wednesday a significantly more ominous and expansive line of reasoning than he has before in order to make the case that newer, more dangerous threats require Americans to buy more guns, join the NRA and organize opposition to gun control measures.

“Hurricanes. Tornadoes. Riots. Terrorists. Gangs. Lone criminals. These are perils we are sure to face — not just maybe,” LaPierre wrote in a commentary published by The Daily Caller, a conservative news site. “It’s not paranoia to buy a gun. It’s survival. It’s responsible behavior, and it’s time we encourage law-abiding Americans to do just that.”

“Tens of millions of Americans are already preparing to Stand And Fight to protect their families and homes,” LaPierre declared, but the threats are growing “during the second Obama term.”

In dramatic language, LaPierre wrote that “the American people clearly see the daunting forces we will undoubtedly face: terrorists, crime, drug gangs, the possibility of Euro-style debt riots, civil unrest or natural disaster. Gun owners are not buying firearms because they anticipate a confrontation with the government. Rather, we anticipate confrontations where the government isn’t there — or simply doesn’t show up in time.”

The fact that this lunatic is not only taken seriously, but is probably the single most influential voice on our gun policy is an absolute stain on our democracy.

Women should be pharmacists, not insurances agents

Pretty cool chart of the gender gap in wages by profession, via Planet Money:

What Women Earn Compared To Men

Photo of the day

Excellent Big Picture gallery of last week’s giant Northeast snowstorm.  I had no idea there was so much flooding in MA:

Large waves crashed over sand barriers, destroying the decks of homes along the beach on Plum Island, Mass., as a large winter storm hit the region at high tide. (Aram Boghosian for The Boston Globe)

List of the day

Via the Atlantic, retired valentine sweetheart phrases:

Thumbnail image for Screen Shot 2013-02-13 at 12.10.33 PM.png

Necco

  1. DIG ME
  2. HOT CHA
  3. SAUCY BOY
  4. GIRL POWER
  5. OH YOU KID
  6. WHY NOT
  7. GROOVY
  8. COOL DUDE
  9. MY, SUCH EYES
  10. FAX ME
  11. HEP CAT
  12. TELL ME HOW
  13. YOU ARE LATE
  14. 1-800 CUPID
  15. [PEACE SYMBOL]
  16. YEAH RIGHT
  17. OH BOY
  18. YOU ROCK
  19. LET’S READ
  20. YOU ARE GAY

Americans love their pot

It’s marijuana policy day for my class.  Got this chart from one of the readings.  I’m sure there’s an interesting study in why Americans are so much more likely to use marijuana than residents of other developed countries– or, at least there needs to be. It’s really kind of an interesting question.

PotCountry

Or here’s a nice trivia question– in what way are the United States and New Zealand most alike?

 

SOTU and public policy

In reading all the various commentary about the State of the Union yesterday, I think what I simply like most is that basically everything Obama proposed was quite simply smart public policy.  I spend a lot of time on policy assessment in my Public Policy and Criminal Justice Policy classes and take it very seriously.  An ongoing theme is smart policy, i.e., policy that gives you the most bang for your buck (or efficient, in the proper terminology).  I love that Obama specifically said he wanted a government that was smarter, not bigger.  I don’t mind a little bigger, but smarter is definitely good.  And, of course many of Obama’s proposals aren’t necessarily all that smart in an absolute sense, but within the constraints of American politics and relative to the status quo, they most definitely are.  Whether it’s expanding pre-K, investing in fixing our crumbling infrastructure, pricing carbon, requiring background checks on all gun purchases, or raising the minimum wage (as much as economists complain, best evidence suggests it is actually pretty much harmless to the economy while making a real difference in people’s lives) these policies are just plain good ideas.  In a more sane world, Republicans would support these things too and we’d just be arguing over the details.

I really feel like one of the reasons I’m proud to call myself a Democrat is that the Democrats are the only political party to truly take policy seriously now (of course Democrats can and do get it wrong, but there’s just an absolutely massive asymmetry here).  And public policy is damn serious business.

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