the latest from Joebloggers

A Little Game's Big Message

Now, many of you may be aware of my easy distraction by fun or colorful things. As I opened up the New York Times homepage this morning, my senses were catered to by the offering of a game. Hooray! However, this game was rather different from many I am drawn to: this game is designed to inform players of the potentially fatal consequences of driving while texting. Though I cannot drive and I cannot text, I figured I would give the game a try.

Indeed, there is one thing that I can say: the game was quite difficult, and I found it rather stressful. Throughout the game, you receive three text messages on your cell phone which you must answer with one of the given bolded phrases. Once you answer all of the text messages, the navigation track ends and you are shown your results.

Giving Back and Feeling Good

During the school year, I would go on walks around my neighborhood once or twice a week. The thing that always struck me was how dirty and full of litter my neighborhood and the surrounding areas were.

Finally, one day when I was walking home, I saw a large slab of cardboard laying on the side of one of my town's main streets. I decided that I had seen just enough garbage defiling my neighborhood, picked it up, and started walking home with it. On the way home that day, I picked up a deteriorating blueprint, several cereal boxes, three soda cans, and various scraps of paper. When I got home and threw away the garbage I had collected, I realized that it really felt good to give back to the community that I lived, and I decided that I wanted to do it again.

Now, I am on summer vacation. I have gone out three days this week for about three hours at a time to collect trash. I am generally armed with two garbage bags, two or three grocery bags, latex gloves, and hand sanitizer.

what happens to Welfare-to-Work when there's no work?

13 years ago, Clinton ended "Welfare as we know it" with a re-invention of the welfare system that forced those on the dole to be in school or get a job in order to keep getting assistance. Statistically and anecdotally, the "new welfare" was a success - case loads dropped and many who had been out of work for years got high on the pride of clocking in 9 to 5 (or at least that's what happened to the two women who came to work at my office in the late 90's).

But even with the hullabaloo of Welfare-to-Work's success, some wondered - just because the case numbers are dwindling, does that mean all those being kicked off welfare are necessarily succeeding themselves? The fact that, while welfare checks leveled off, other types of aid started to inch up suggested that the burden of taking care of the poor was just shifting to other governmental agencies.

Now, with a recession in full swing, wonks and activists are asking how - or if - a welfare-to-work scheme will work when there are no jobs?

Another Tale of Air Plane Trouble

Sadly, on May 31, 2009, Air France Flight 447 crashed in the Atlantic Ocean. According to a New York Times file article, the plane was headed to Paris from Rio de Janeiro when it disappeared from radar contact. The flight had 228 passengers on board.

Now, on April 19, 2008 (don't worry, I had to look it up), I wrote an analysis of the article stating that Southwest Airlines could be forced to pay up to 10.2 million dollars in fines for continuing to fly their older planes which they had not been inspecting. Now, I would like to acknowledge a few things. For one thing, I do indeed know that, at this time, nobody knows what caused the Airbus to crash. Another thing is that I know that everyone who knows about the incident is speculating as to the cause of the crash.

Special Little Election

Budget is defined as a statement of an organization's financial position for a definite period of time based on cost estimates, or is a plan coordinating resources. Incidently, crisis is defined as an unstable, critical situation where changes are immediately called for. As many of you may know, we are experiencing extreme budget trouble across the nation, especially in state governments. Tuesday, May 19, the citizens of California (my home state) voted on Propositions 1A through 1F, a series of emergency initiatives written in an attempt to rescue our state's budget. Before I give you the results, let me give you a little history.

The Recession and Public Speech

The recession: all of us have been affected by it over the past several months. Though I am thankful that I still have a home, a family, and an education, I see the results of our faulty economy all around me. Half of the houses on my street are in foreclosure, many of my friends' parents are out of their jobs, and my family's delivered Los Angeles Times is getting smaller and smaller.

Take a trip with me back through our recent history. Our nation began to collectively move its focus from the future to the present; instant gratification became more important than overall benefits. Families with middle to low salaries bought 2,500-square-foot homes, boats, ATVs (All Terrain Vehicles), and ate out constantly. People spent beyond their means, not worrying about what would happen when the hypothetical money ran out. Finally, however, this nation's "house of cards" (a painfully overused, but adequate, description) has collapsed to the ground.

a medical miracle

As part of the stimulus bill passed last week, Congress defied the pharma and medical-device lobbies and passed a measure that would compare the effectiveness of different medical procedures - to see if more expensive treatment meant better treatment.

That this measure was controversial is shocking if not surprising. Operations, designer drugs and procedures with fancy equipment are money makers and the reapers of those profits have no interest in studies that might show that cheaper treatments are actually more effective.

Perspective on the "bailout"

The name still makes me cringe, "bailout."  It sounds like quit, escape, run away, etc.  Now, I know that the goal of the so-called stimulus package is to create jobs, prevent bankruptcies, and improve confidence in the market, but I just don't see it working (I will have difficulty arguing that it is or isn't, see below).

From my perspective, this policy effort is masking pork and other special-interest-but-maybe-not-locationally-based projects.  Sure, the economy is in a heap of trouble; it makes it a good day to be a politician.  I hear you citizenJoe, you need help because no one wants to buy your company's outdated product (read: American car); well, I am going to help you by borrowing a huge load of money and "investing" it in happy jobs. 

[Aside: I can just imagine the conversations that must go on in the back rooms when these guys argue about which areas should get "investment."  Somebody must be ready to remind them when they get too realistic that we only want to have people work in carbon-neutral positions. *sigh*]

Transparency Recap: The Warming of a Cold Climate with Alleged Corruption Connections & Much More

By Lyle Hickman, VoterWatch Staff

The last time Alaska was mentioned in our Transparency Recap, Senators Ted Stevens and John Cowerdy were named, being brought up on alleged charges of corruption with connections to VECO oils. This time, the CREW (Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington) blog titled, "Sarah Palin Ran 527, which raised corporate money, for Ted Stevens," directs our attention back to Alaska.

Stevens’ Federal Indictment, CRS Reporting, Consumer Rights & Wal-Mart’s Alleged Political Posturing

By Lyle Hickman and Billy Hallowell, VoterWatch Staff

Today's Transparency Recap starts way up north with our coldest state, Alaska. According to Talking Points Memo's, Republican Senator Ted Stevens was "arraigned last week on seven counts of false statements". After a federal indictment, without stagnation, Stevens regrouped and organized a rally. According to Talking Points Memo: