With the death of Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three U.S. government employees in Benghazi, this interview (video below the fold) with Michael Lewis, based on his Vanity Fair article, seems to display a disturbing synchronicity.
lj doesn't seem to have anything in the pipeline, so I'll put this up.
Yesterday I went to the CSA to get this week's pick-your-own. I went out to the green bean field, lowered myself creakily to sit between the rows, and picked green beans by just taking what I could reach. I only had to scoonch on my butt to the next set of plants once to have a gallon of beans.
So last night I put the DNC on a laptop while I cleaned and trimmed the beans, blanched them (4 minutes in a steamer), dumped them in ice water (I made slow-melting mega-cubes by freezing water in plastic containers earlier in the day), and packed them in one-quart freezer bags a pound a time. I think maybe I'll do it again on Sunday -- the beans are really exceptional this year. The farm has worked out ways of keeping the damn Mexican bean beetles under control, which means we can keep harvesting beans for weeks -- it used to be that the beetle built up during the season so that the later bean plantings were almost worthless.
Green beans are this family's favorite green vegetable. What's yours? What's in season where you are? Talk away.
Yesterday I was achy and a little feverish, feeling like I was coming down with something brought in by Band Camp Girl. We seemed to be out of acetaminophen (I can't take ibuprofen: one dose is great, the second makes me throw up), but I sent BCG across to the Chinese restaurant for 2 quarts of Hot & Sour Soup. I ate one quart last night (eked out with rice) and one this morning and *poof!* I was all better. Chinese Penicillin.
Serving Breakfast by Maitreyi Tanase, a Mumbaikar living in Japan. The woman is preparing traditional miso soup and leftover rice from yesterday. It probably cures colds, too.
We learned about dignity and decency – that how hard you work matters more than how much you make...that helping others means more than just getting ahead yourself.
We learned about honesty and integrity – that the truth matters...that you don't take shortcuts or play by your own set of rules...and success doesn't count unless you earn it fair and square.
We learned about gratitude and humility – that so many people had a hand in our success, from the teachers who inspired us to the janitors who kept our school clean...and we were taught to value everyone's contribution and treat everyone with respect.
It's true that Mitt has been successful at each new challenge he has taken on. It amazes me to see his history of success actually being attacked. Are those really the values that made our country great? As a mom of five boys, do we want to raise our children to be afraid of success?
Do we send our children out in the world with the advice, "Try to do... okay?"
Doing "okay" is okay, where I come from -- there's nothing shameful about being a janitor, as long as you're a *good* janitor. Shame is for people who don't believe janitoring deserves a living wage and safe working conditions.
Public education, roads, police and fire protection, courts, life safety regulatory bodies and services(sanitation, clean water, food, public air travel, offshore drilling, etc) are miniscule gov't outlays. Add in national defense, and it's still easily affordable.
That can't be right, I thought. What are the *real* figures?
Research happened. Most of the first Google results for "total government spending" and similar go to usgovernmentspending.com, a self-described "conservative" site that's nicely data-heavy, but makes some odd choices -- like making "pensions" a separate category. I went to the OECD and pulled some numbers for *total* government spending -- that is, Federal plus state plus local. Going to the OECD means we can readily compare the US with other countries.
Summary: Many of the problems Americans think of as being characteristic of government per se (e.g. inefficiency and waste) seem to actually be specific to government in the United States. Overall, US government is either exceptionally inefficient, exceptionally ill-targeted, or exceptionally corrupt. Or a combination of all three.
Total spending at all levels of government for 2008