Lunch Links

Monday, April 6th, 2009
  • Joe Klein jumps on the pot legalization bandwagon. It really feels like we’re nearing a breakwater moment on the pot issue. Stats guru Nate Silver seems to agree.
  • Steven Wright, the informant in the Ryan Frederick case, says he was promised he’d get leniency in his own case in exchange for his testimony against Frederick. Color me surprised. Of course, prosecutors deny any promises were made.
  • In these tough economic times, we need to band together and sacrifice, America. Unless you’re an already well-paid employee of the federal government. In which case you can expect a pay raise.
  • Why Natalie Cole should be able to buy a kidney. This is where egalitarianism gets absurd. Because we don’t think wealthy people should have better access to donor organs than poor people, the solution is to stick with a strictly voluntary system, in which case the vast majority of all people needing an organ wither and die on the wait list.
  • The U.S. Chamber has released its rankings of “business-friendly” members of Congress. Next time someone accuses libertarians and other free market proponents of being corporate apologists, send them this Tim Carney analysis of the Chamber’s list. Ron Paul, for example, scored lower than 90 percent of the Democrats in the House. Pro-free market, anti-tax Republicans scored lower than left-liberal Democrats like Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and Joe Biden. When you look at the issues the Chamber considers pro-business, it pretty quickly demolishes the notion that free markets and big business have much of anything to do with one another.
  • British man turns in found cell phone. Police arrest him for “theft by finding.” Reddit user writes up brilliant Monty Python-esque sketch depicting what the whole incident might have looked like.
    Digg it |  reddit | |  Fark
  • 27 Responses to “Lunch Links”

    1. #1 |  Legate Damar | 

      Regarding #4, isn’t that the point of egalitarianism? Not to alleviate the suffering of the poor, but to subject everyone to it?

    2. #2 |  Tokin42 | 

      I hope steven wright gets what he has coming to him, a few months in the closest state run prison. I’m guessing someone teaches him the lesson of “snitches get stitches”.

      RE: Theft by finding

      First, WTF is that even supposed to mean? I’m certain someone thought it was a good idea at one point, I’d kinda like to know what was behind that line of reasoning. Second, AceGibson is a genius, that was a brilliant python parody. Good find.

    3. #3 |  Carlos Miller | 

      They took a DNA sample of the student returning the phone? WTF!

    4. #4 |  Howlin' Hobbit | 

      5% of the world’s population, 25% of the worlds incarceration.

      Jesus fucking Christ! I knew we were the top dog in stupid imprisonment, but I’d never heard it put like that.

      This puts me in one of those twisted “mad and sad” moods. I don’t know whether to call for a new tea party or just give up.

    5. #5 |  Jozef | 

      Police in the UK is taking DNA samples of anybody they arrest. I guess in order to grow their database they started arresting people on made-up charges. This ain’t the first story with that profile: arrest someone on a stupid/non-existent charge or by accident, sample their DNA and release them.

    6. #6 |  Nando | 

      If the student was guilty of “theft by finding,” was the cop that towed my car then guilty of “theft by impoundment?”

    7. #7 |  Chris in AL | 

      I would assume (perhaps dangerously) that theft by finding would be the act of keeping the device and NOT trying to find the original owner. You know it isn’t yours, so if you just keep it, it is theft.

      It is both frightening and comforting that Britain’s police are just as stupid and dishonest as ours are.

    8. #8 |  Chris in AL | 


      If the student was guilty of ‘theft by finding’ then I would also have to say that the real owner of the phone is an ‘accomplice by losing’.

      I think everyone needs to shoulder their part of the responsibility here.

    9. #9 |  Mike Leatherwood | 

      #8 Don’t forget the police in this matter :”Idiots by arresting”
      And their legislature “Pollutiing by passing this crap”

    10. #10 |  Michael | 

      Moral of the story………don’t involve the cops!

      I was involved in a similar, but not exact scenario, in the past. I lost my wallet, in a big city about 80 miles away. It was found by a young man, who took it to a lawyer. It was, empty of cash(<$50). They wanted a reward. Probably because they found my medial license in it. I told his lawyer, his client was in no danger for returning the wallet. I, also, informed him all of the cards had been canceled and I had gotten new licenses to replace the old ones. I told him to throw the wallet away! He would not be collecting any extortion money from me, to get a dilapidated, old wallet back!

      Some said they did not understand the humor in the Monty Python sketch!? Are they mentally deficient? I know, I will not be turning any cell phones I find! They will, first, go in the toilet bowel, with power on, and then into the trash! Thank you, for your informative post!

      #8 Love it!

      And finally,

      Nothing like an article in Time, supporting the movement! Maybe we are on our way to becoming mainstream! I can only hope.

    11. #11 |  Dave Krueger | 

      I think the pressure to keep pot illegal comes mostly from those who gain from it (drug dealers and law enforcement). It’s an easy “crime” to fight because there are so many people doing it and, basically, all law enforcement has to do is show up for work. If you take that away, they will probably focus harder on other drug crimes, but it still could shrink the law enforcement industry.

      Pot prohibition was a crusade conjured up for political reasons using propaganda consisting of fiction disguised as facts that are now seen to be so glaringly bogus that it’s embarrasseing to stand behind them. The fact that it took this long for people to catch on exemplifies just how totally we swallow what the government says and how thoroughly we want to believe in their credibility in the face of overwhelming evidence that truth is the last factor considered relevant to any they say.

      Fortunately for the pot warriors, and I said this immediately when they passed the PATRIOT Act, they have a new war on terrorism to take it’s place. On the other hand, the longer we go without another attack, the less important they’re going to appear to be.

    12. #12 |  Brandon Bowers | 

      Which, of course, gives them incentive to manufacture another attack.

    13. #13 |  Dave Krueger | 

      Two things about the federal pay raises:

      1. Not only are they overpaid, it’s next to impossible to get rid of the bad ones (which is why they have so many of them).

      2. I’m anticipating a sizable pay cut during this recession just like what happened during the last recession. Our company has to generate profits which can be taxed to pay those employees and help out companies who not only can’t make a profit, but can’t survive without stealing ours.

    14. #14 |  Aspasia | 

      “Theft by finding”. Good job, UK. Way to help your society become more dishonest.

    15. #15 |  thomasblair | 

      Carlos Miller,

      They took a DNA sample of the student returning the phone? WTF!

      What you read was a commenter making up a Monty Python-esque sketch to parody the actual news story.

    16. #16 |  Chris in AL | 


      Actually, if you follow the link to the actual news story, they do say they took his DNA.

    17. #17 |  Chris in AL | 

      “Paul Leicester, 18, played the Good Samaritan when he discovered the handset lying in the street.

      He rang the last number dialled and told a friend of the owner he would leave the phone at a nearby police station. But officers arrested him for “theft by finding”, held him for four hours and took a DNA sample.”

    18. #18 |  Brian | 

      “The Bureau of Economic Analysis released data this month showing that the average compensation for the 1.8 million federal civilian workers in 2005 was $106,579 — exactly twice the average compensation paid in the U.S. private sector: $53,289. If you consider wages without benefits, the average federal civilian worker earned $71,114, 62 percent more than the average private-sector worker, who made $43,917.”

      That article on government salaries is hardly comparing apples to apples. I obviously can’t speak for other areas of the government. But as a nuclear engineer working for the Department of Defense, I could easily increase my pay by at least $20,000 if I decided to leave and go work at a commercial nuclear power plant instead. Granted, I don’t just stay at my current job because I get a good deal of satisfaction from supporting the needs of the Navy without having to actually deploy anymore. I also stay because an extra $20k isn’t enough to move from Virginia Beach, VA to the middle of nowhere.

    19. #19 |  Brian | 

      I would like to add that, as someone who would benefit from what Congress wants to do, I think giving pay raises right now of any size is utter B*S*. For the entry level production workers that don’t make much yet here at the shipyard, I would be all for them still getting a pay increase. But not for anyone close to my level, or above it.

    20. #20 |  Dave Krueger | 

      It’s perfectly fine for everyone to make money off the selling of organs except the person whose organs they are. That would be immoral.

      The boldness with which Congress fucks people over is nothing short of mind boggling. The CEOs of all the failed banks were not even in sight of that magnitude of sadistic indifference toward the suffering of others. “Sorry, buddy, we’re going to just let you die because we know you’d rather die than take an organ from someone who isn’t giving it to you for the loftiest of altruistic motives.”

      If the word exploitation was invented for any single act, it would be outlawing free-market compensation for people who save lives by donating part of their body. To me, that ranks right up there with keeping a kid locked up in the basement as a sex slave.

    21. #21 |  Justin | 

      Just to add to this, think about financial regulators. Larry Summers made $5 million in a few years consulting with hedge funds before he joined the federal government. He took a huge pay cut to go into government service (I’m not shedding any tears for him, mind you). Not all federal salaries are reasonable, I’m sure a lot of them are too high, but we gotta be specific. There’s a lot of positions in the federal government that pay less than their private sector counterparts.

      Part of the problem with that is that it furthers the revolving door. People take paycuts to enter public service, with the expectation that they’ll later take jobs with the industries they regulated, and this messes up their incentives. And this is worrying whether you’re a libertarian, a principled conservative, or even a liberal.

    22. #22 |  Govvie | 

      “That article on government salaries is hardly comparing apples to apples.”

      Agreed. Yes, many of my fellow govvies are overpaid (I certainly don’t think I am, but I guess many of you would disagree), and I’m sure many should be fired that aren’t (not “can’t”. I’ve know plenty of government employees who were fired), and we have a top heavy management structure that should be flattened. That said, Federal employees are concentrated in the DC metro area, one of the most expensive places to live in the country. The report seems to be comparing the federal workforce to the whole country. I’d like to see that same comparison after adjusting for locality, and seeing if the federal employees are still overpaid compared to just that area.

    23. #23 |  Kriss | 

      Re Federal Raises – my neighbor accepted a government job in January – starting mid February. In the interim he recieved a 4k annual raise. Thats right prior to doing one day’s work.

      I mean god love my neighbor but multiply that by a few 100K federal employees

    24. #24 |  Kristopher | 

      Rich people buy kidneys in the US already.

      Hospitals call the payments “donations”.

    25. #25 |  Dave Krueger | 

      #22 Govvie

      That said, Federal employees are concentrated in the DC metro area, one of the most expensive places to live in the country.

      What makes you think salaries are high because of the DC cost of living and not vice versa?

    26. #26 |  ChrisD | 

      Orwell was too kind to the English state.

    27. #27 |  Govvie | 

      “What makes you think salaries are high because of the DC cost of living and not vice versa?”

      My assumption (and maybe it is a bad, you tell me) is that it is a feedback loop. High cost of living means employees demand more pay, which like you suggest leads to higher cost of living, which leads to employees demanding more pay. I would gladly take a pay cut to live in a different area with a lower cost of living. Many other govvies feel the same way.

      My suggestion is to move the majority of agencies out of DC. The POTUS can stay in DC, most of the agencies can move around the country, the legislative goes to the plains somewhere, and the judiciary on the west coast. That would be more secure if WMDs are really a concern, and while 20 years ago it would have been impossible, modern technology would make this pretty easy.