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July 25, 2014

paul ryan's poverty plan is actually evil as usual

I was reading the news of Paul Ryan's new anti-poverty proposal with a bit of interest, mostly because traditionally Ryan just hates hates hates the poors, thinks that they're takers, that it's their fault, etc.  I guess I was expecting some perfidy, some double-speak that was actually an arrow aimed at the heart of the impoverished.  And sifting through it, it's just a bland retrofit of the idea of block grants — instead of having individual programs (hunger, housing, child assistance, etc.) administered by the federal government, Ryan wants to give grants to the states directly covering all of everything.  You know, doesn't exactly rise to the level of Dr. Evil, even though I'd trust the State of New York to deal with this than a state like Louisiana, who would probably use the grant to sweep the poor into Lake Pontcharchain...

Whoa wait one second:

If a state opted into the pilot program, it would have low-income residents meet with case managers who would create an "opportunity plan" offering both financial advice and coordinating the provisions of the several different programs they need. The residents would sign contracts with these case managers that would offer incentives to reach financial security and sanctions if they do not. A neutral agency would evaluate each provider's success at moving poor Americans out of poverty.

[Emphasis mine.]

Oh, I get it, it's not a social safety net, it's a fucking reality show.  Not that I am against the goal of eliminating poverty once and for all, but I am wildly against punishing the poor for remaining poor.  Mostly because we live in an economic system that is predicated on the concept that there is such a thing as an acceptable level of unemployment, which means that there will always be people down on their luck, and Paul Ryan wants to gamify this into some spectacle where the down on their luck have to additionally worry because they're a unwitting contestant on the big fucking TV hit Poverty Wars.

More sedate criticism of the proposal can be found here, courtesy of TalkPoverty.org.

But Paul Ryan: yeah, that's about as evil as usual.

Posted by mrbrent at 10:01 AM

July 22, 2014

thank you james garner

Let's talk about James Garner.

You remember Jim Garner — he was Brett Maverick, he was Jim Rockford.  He passed away over the weekend, at his home, of natural causes, at the ripe old age of eighty-six, which is about the best you can wish for, right?

But Garner was a lot more than a TV star to me.  Garner is one of the reasons I didn't grow up to be a macho knucklehead.  Now, considering my bookish/slight nature, the chances were pretty slim, but Jim Garner on the telly was one of the more vivid examples of masculinity that my little brain was taking in.  Oh sure he was a big hunky, athletic fellow, but he was also wry and bemused, and he also frequently didn't win.  His charm didn't come from invulnerability, but rather empathy and persistence.

So when I was growing up, I didn't want to be some star quarterback with cheerleaders hanging off him,  I wanted to be Jim Rockford.  (And yes maybe it's not fair to conflate Garner/Rockford, but be fair: a lot of that wasn't acting.)

And the other thing notable about Garner is that he was one of the few big stars that took on the Hollywood machine and won.  He sued twice over "Hollywood accounting" (which, I can tell you from experience, means cooking the books so that no net profits are shown).  After suing Universal over "Rockford Files" profits in the early 80s, he was pretty much blacklisted from TV.  And oh yeah he won:

"There's a lot of people who can't afford to do what I've done in the way of taking on studios (over his share of series profits). And I've done it twice and won both times. But it meant something to other actors, that it can be done. And it's also changed a little bit of policy by the studios toward the actors."

[Garner] smiled. "Of course, the minute you plug up one hole they find another one. They've got these batteries of lawyers to find ways to steal."

He was a pretty nifty guy, and I feel fortunate looking up to him when I was a kid.

Posted by mrbrent at 11:01 AM