Late Afternoon Links

Wednesday, April 18th, 2012

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51 Responses to “Late Afternoon Links”

  1. #1 |  dave smith | 

    Tabarrok outdid himself with that blog post. Might be the best of the year so far.

    There must be a time for when the punishment must end, even for the guilty. (And it should not even start for the innocent.)

  2. #2 |  Avi S. Adelman | 

    Money quote from the Venus Green story…

    “I was once a block watcher, department head of a high school. (I’ve) been around education for over 50 years. (I’m a) law-abiding citizen, I’ve never been arrested, I paid my taxes, owned my home, my husband died 34 years ago. (I) raised my son and I have been brutally abused,” Green said. “I feel like the Police Department needs to go back to school.”

    Money quote #2

    In the past two fiscal years, the city has paid out $16.8 million in claims against the Police Department. City Council President Jack Young voted against this settlement and others, saying he is “tired of the Police Department bleeding money.”

  3. #3 |  Joshua | 

    Debtor’s prisons returned a few years ago for private debts. I remember a whole slew of articles about it. Here’s one:

  4. #4 |  Pablo | 

    That is a superb article, esp. the point he makes that even when released, the sentence follows someone around for the rest of their lives and prevents a healthy re integration into society.

    Debtors’ prisons are back, due mainly to factors like these, as well as child support enforcement laws. I’ve seen lots of cases where people who are clearly unable to work and pay child support (due to head injury, other mental disabilities, etc) are in jail for months because they have no money. I’ve also seen many cases where probation officers threaten to put someone back in jail on a revocation warrant unless they bring xx dollars into the office to pay off their fine at the next reporting date. This despite the fact that failure to pay, at least in GA, is not grounds for probation revocation as long as the reason is legitimate. But the probationer does not know this, doesnt show up for their reporting date because they are scared, and bingo–the p.o. can take out a warrant for failure to report, which IS grounds for revocation. Nice little scam.

  5. #5 |  Onlooker | 

    3 cheers for Venus Green, who had the courage of her convictions and didn’t take crap from the abusive police.

  6. #6 |  Joshua | 

    #4 Onlooker: In this case, it probably helped to be an old lady.

  7. #7 |  Burgers Allday | 

    Debtor’s prisons returned a few years ago for private debts.

    I blame Citizen’s United.


    But, yeah, the problem is going to get worse before it gets better the way this country is going.

  8. #8 |  perlhaqr | 

    That Venus Green story makes me so happy I could cry. :D

  9. #9 |  Personanongrata | 

    •Public school teacher upset that new “anti-labor” law may prevent her from retiring at the age of 47.

    This is but a symptom of the US government gravy-train and the obscene levels of taxation and deficit spending which support it.

    It is 100% unsustainable.

    In my local hometown, school administrators routinely earn $250,000.00 + per year with lavish tax-free pensions. I’m not against folks earning their worth but the system as such allows these administrators to retire, collect their pension and then resume their pre-retirement position at full salary.

    Fair and equitable my ass.

  10. #10 |  C. S. P. Schofield | 

    “Governments lie.”

    People, faced with the probability that actions that were acceptable when they happened will be judged by different standards now, and that they will be blamed for the actions of other people, lie.

    In other news; water found to generally be wet at room temperature.

  11. #11 |  albatross | 

    I wonder what fraction of Americans are, at this point, under basically unpayable, undischargable debts–student loans, child support, back taxes, fines, whatever. And I wonder how that compares with other countries.

  12. #12 |  Lorenzo | 

    I’m going to attempt a pun, which I anticipate will fail miserably :
    Venus – Shocking Blue

  13. #13 |  Burgers Allday | 

    @11: I think it is a thd winner. I lol’d.

  14. #14 |  Linda | 

    I am SO glad you seen and posted the Venus Green article. I love when she points out it was it is her home, he had no search warrant and it was her perogitive to latch it. I was practically cheering from my chair when I read that.

  15. #15 |  C. S. P. Schofield | 

    I’m not clear on the date, but sometime in the 1990’s I seem to recall that some busybody government org. managed to get the hight/weight tables changed, and suddenly I was “Obese”. At the time I was working as a private security guard/general dogsbody for an outlet mall and spend 3/4ths of my day walking briskly from station to station (several miles a day). No, I wasn’t in marathon-runner shape, but the amount of concern my GP expended on my “obesity” seemed (and still seems) over-the-top.

    I think about two thirds of the “Obesity Epidemic” stems from the change in definition, with the other third probably having links to the sudden expanded interest and matching increase in busybody record keeping.

    And God forbid that anybody notice that one of the big contributing factors to long term poverty is a propensity to make bad decisions…

  16. #16 |  JOR | 

    #9, Congratulations, you just rationalized police departments’ deletion of unflattering camera footage with that smarmy brush-off.

  17. #17 |  supercat | 

    #14 | C. S. P. Schofield | //…some busybody government org. managed to get the hight/weight tables changed, and suddenly I was “Obese”.//

    A lot of problems are like that. Or else the government redoes definitions so that something which is a real problem can be downplayed.

    A particularly ironic variation is when the neo-Prohibitionists use a statistic like the increased number of DUI arrests of drivers whose BAC is between 0.08 and 0.10 as evidence that drunk driving is “still” a problem and we need tougher laws to combat it.

  18. #18 |  Rick H. | 

    That Cristian Fernandez story is a real heartbreaker. The hideous opportunism and total lack of compassion from scumbags like Angela Corey makes my blood boil.

  19. #19 |  Bob | 

    #14 | C. S. P. Schofield |

    …some busybody government org. managed to get the hight/weight tables changed, and suddenly I was “Obese”.

    Um. Actually, while the BMI charts are fairly new, the underlying “nominal weight” has been around for a long time.

    In reality, the nominal weight as defined in the BMI charts are actually quite realistic. (For tall men, anyway…)

    I was watching a TV show today where a guy was restoring a penny weight machine from the 50’s. It listed a male of 6′ 2″ tall as being 188 pounds… which is right in the zone for current BMI standards. So that’s been around since at least the 50’s.

    Piss and moan about it all you want, if you’re 6′ 2″ tall and weigh over 232 pounds, you’re clinically obese. It doesn’t mean you’re weak or about to drop dead… just that you’re dragging around an extra 40 pounds that you don’t need to drag around.

  20. #20 |  Resistance | 

    The Prison Industrial Complex is big fucking business in the Police States of America. New “revenue” streams are good for the “investors” and “owners” of said businesses.

    Still think you’re free?

  21. #21 |  Classical Values » When I was a kid, real men didn’t shoot people’s family dog | 

    […] via Radley Balko, who also links yet another […]

  22. #22 |  Matt D | 

    Well, you know, I don’t think it necessarily makes sense for school teachers to retire at age 47 either. That said, this particular woman seems to be upset because, as she sees it, the state is reneging on a promise to her. How much merit does her claim have? What obligation does the state have to honor promises once they become a financial burden? Are these benefit changes being made because the state mismanaged or underfunded the teachers’ pensions? If so, who should take responsibility for that? Does anyone care about these questions, or is this just another opportunity for a Reason circle jerk?

  23. #23 |  C. S. P. Schofield | 


    I agree that the State should keep its promises. The problem has been that in too many cases nobody was prepared to pay the political price for telling the teachers’ unions “Those of you who are vested will get what we promised, but nobody else gets the same deal, because we can’t afford it.”. So many states are now at the point where they CAN’T keep their promises, because the Unions were unwilling to admit that the gravy train was running out of track one moment before the train-wreck began. This woman listened to pretty promises from people who couldn’t make good; her union officers. If she kept voting for the “business as usual, there’s always more tax money” candidates in her union, then she is partially responsible for her problem. If she didn’t, but didn’t see the crack-up coming and plan accordingly, she’s still a nitwit.

  24. #24 |  Bob | 

    #20: Matt D

    Solid points! Many municipalities here in the US are facing bankruptcy because of this. In other countries, specifically the P.I.I.G.S. in the EU (P.I.I.G.S. stands for “Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece, and Spain”) You can watch the pain happen in real time in the news.

    Here’s the main one: “Are these benefit changes being made because the state mismanaged or underfunded the teachers’ pensions?”

    The correct answer is “underfunded”. This is common, these funds are essentially Ponzi schemes that use current income to pay previous promises. If current income drops due to whatever, the ability to pay previous promises is reduced to zero.

    This is a huge problem. For example, Illinois has a GDP about the same as Greece, and has the same funding problem for their public pensions… they’re broke and close to insolvency. California? They’re more like Spain… same problem.

    Politicians make crazy stupid promises with pensions that simply don’t mesh with reality… they’re totally underfunded. They do this to get votes, and they simply don’t care what will happen in the future. In their minds? If they get elected, screw the future.

    This will end badly. Municipalities will go bankrupt. People that rely on their pensions will be living in cardboard boxes.

  25. #25 |  Pablo | 

    I just read the Venus Green story. That lady has more balls than 98% of the male population. I guess when you get to be a certain age you just don’t tolerate as much shit as you used to. Don’t fuck with old people.

    If the city council is concerned about the police department “bleeding money” perhaps it’s time to reconsider why this is happening.

  26. #26 |  Pablo | 

    Would also note that the comments on the Venus Green story are overwhelmingly supportive of her. Maybe this is a good sign.

  27. #27 |  Bobby Black | 

    Vote Venus Green Party!

  28. #28 |  Andrew Roth | 

    Police professionalism whopper, courtesy of commenter Roberta X. from the Soviet space thread:

    Summary: Indy Metro employees, presumably cops, remove blood sample from refrigerated evidence locker to sabotage impending DUI case against on-duty colleague; instead of conducting a thorough investigation to determine who committed the sabotage, officials demote chief to captain as a fitting sacrifice.

    If Stephanie Lazarus hears about this, she’ll wish she had joined the IMPD instead. Her official evidence-tampering defense was a bit too far-fetched for today’s LAPD.

  29. #29 |  Andrew Roth | 

    Make that a DUI/vehicular homicide case. I think Radley covered it at the time.

  30. #30 |  Belle Waring | 

    Within a couple of miles of almost any urban neighborhood, “you can get basically any type of food,” said Roland Sturm of the RAND Corporation, lead author of one of the studies.

    This doesn’t speak to the issue. “Within a couple of miles” isn’t much use to a person with no car and for whom frequent taxi rides are a significant expenditure. When I lived in New York and was broke (college student broke, which is a lot different than adult/family broke) I had to shop at places I could walk to and carry the things home from. So I had to shop frequently. It’s hard getting a gallon of milk up 5 flights in a walk-up. Getting it from “a couple of miles” away is a non-starter. So I got quarts and I shopped more days a week. 5 blocks was about my limit. Now that I am a mother I feel more keenly how troublesome it would be to go that far with, say, a stroller and a 4-year-old.

  31. #31 |  Matt D | 

    #21 – I’m not a huge fan of public sector unions either. I’d probably even vote for this bill. But it strikes me that there’s nothing particularly libertarian about bashing this woman. Again, I don’t actually know how much merit her claim has. But if the state really is breaking a promise, I don’t think that’s cause for celebration. I mean, what, fuck her, because unions? Because the politicians in charge knew it was bullshit all along? Because she believed what the government told her? Is it not entirely possible for her to have a legit grievance and for these changes to be necessary? Does she have to be crazy/dumb/greedy? Isn’t it far more likely that she’s just someone who took a job with the assurances of a specific benefits package and is now understandably upset that she’ll receive much less?

  32. #32 |  SJE | 

    I agree that poor nutrition among the poor is partly one of their own motivation and choices. At the same time, acess is a problem. I agree with #28: the article oversimplifies the issues to conclude that there are no food deserts. For example the observation that “93% of people (in such deserts) have access to a car” does not mean that that most people can get to more distant locations to get their food. “Access” does not mean ready access. It also assumes that the poor have the time to go further to go shopping, which is not the case for the working poor.

    This is like black poverty: yes, poor black families can make better choices, but to pretend that they don’t also suffer from all sorts of other barriers is just not supported by facts.

  33. #33 |  SJE | 

    re: teachers and promises.

    The teacher might be disappointed, but the reality is that she had unreasonable expectations, and that her expectations cannot be fulfilled without more serious impacts on others. If I promise my kids a trip to Disney land and then lose my job, they are going to have to live with disappointment so that they can be fed and clothed.

  34. #34 |  CyniCAl | 

    “We thought we would have a difficult time in front of a city jury, or any jury,” Baltimore City solicitor George Nilson said.

    Damn fucking straight. Juries still have the last word. Fuck the police.

  35. #35 |  V | 

    That’s hardly an article to bust the “food desert myth”. It poorly summarizes the research findings, and ignores other arguments presented. The notion of having “nearly twice as many fast food restaurants and convenience stores as wealthier ones,” isn’t what defines a food desert, it’s access to quality food. Fast food restaurants and convienience stores rarely sell fresh fruits and vegetables, instead choosing to sell boxed, processed, and non-perishable foods. At least in NY, these also correlate, at a minimum, to areas which increasing obesity rates.

    Sturm’s research is interesting, but his method doesn’t count income, household size, or parental work. Two families can live in the same neighborhood, but one family may have the resources to travel further for quality food, while another family may not.

  36. #36 |  Pi Guy | 

    I have no problem whatsoever giving municipal retirees $100K/yr pensions – as long a completely funded. What’s needed here for an educator like Ms. List to do a little math. She could do this problem with her kids, a “teachable moment.”

    In order to genereate $100k/yr, all the city/state/king has to do is set aside $5M in a 2% interest-bearing account. The simple answer is, for every single retiree in the system, there needs to be ~$5M on hand.

    I assume that we all know that this nearly impossible and, so, an intelligent (which this case clearly demonstrates is not the same thing as “educated”) person should probably see numbers like that and say “How can you possibly afford that?”

    Let her do this as a class project. Maybe she can learn something. Hopefully one of the students whose parents will have to work into their 60s, still scraping out their own meager existence, to pay for the 15 years Ms. List is on the dole points this out to her.

  37. #37 |  Xenocles | 

    “Piss and moan about it all you want, if you’re 6′ 2″ tall and weigh over 232 pounds, you’re clinically obese.”

    Arnold was 6’2″ and about 235 when he was winning Mr. Olympia 7 times. He was juicing moderately at the time, but the point remains that simple height-weight ratios miss a lot when diagnosing.

  38. #38 |  Heron | 

    #22 You’re wrong. Spain, Italy, Ireland, Portugal; their debt is all due to housing bubbles or, in Ireland’s case, also the decision to use taxpayer money to entirely cover the losses of EU institutional investors from said housing bubble. As to US pension programs, their funding issues are far more often caused not by being too generous, but because newer pols steal from and slash the funding sources set up by older ones to cover those pensions. California is an excellent example of this. As to whether the state, or private employers who’ve been pulling the same malarky for decades now, ought to face a requirement to cover their pension obligations, a contract is a contract. I find it very telling that certain social commentators seem to thing “the right to contract” requires individuals be bared from negotiating collectively with an employer, but don’t seem to think it requires employers to actually be bound by the content of that contract. Pensions are a form of compensation, and public sector workers accept much lower pay for their educational level in part because public pensions have historically come close to making up the difference. Allowing the state to decimate pension funding sources then use that as an excuse to abandon those obligations is like letting arsonists claim payment from the State for “clearing away fire-damaged buildings”, or more apropos to the moment, letting banks foreclose on mortgage holders that they defrauded.

  39. #39 |  marco73 | 

    Go Venus Green!

    City Council President Jack Young voted against this settlement and others, saying he is “tired of the Police Department bleeding money.”

    Well, Jack, why don’t you find out why your police department roughs up old ladies? Well, that would just be too much work.

    Jack is obviously afraid to take on the police union who helped fund his last election campaign.

  40. #40 |  Mattocracy | 

    @ Bob,

    What Xenocles said. Warren Sapp was 6-2, 300+ pounds when he played in the NFL. He also a 40 in 4.7. If you called him obese to his face, he could run you down, beat your ass, eat a donut and still not be winded.

  41. #41 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    Thousands of documents detailing some of the most shameful acts and crimes committed during the final years of the British empire were systematically destroyed to prevent them falling into the hands of post-independence governments

    I like to bring this up when talking to a Brit about how great their government is. I wish my wife had such a short memory.

  42. #42 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    Piss and moan about it all you want, if you’re 6′ 2″ tall and weigh over 232 pounds, you’re clinically obese.

    Good grief. Those numbers are for a very average person. In case you didn’t notice, people come in all shapes and sizes.

    15 years ago we used to laugh at those numbers (which were put on the bulletin board for the purpose of laughing at). I was personally 6’1″ 220-235 with a 33″ waist when I was doing triathlons.

  43. #43 |  Greg C | 

    I learned about the existence of the “food desert” from Radley Balko articles.

  44. #44 |  Radley Balko | 

    I learned about the existence of the “food desert” from Radley Balko articles.

    You shouldn’t trust anything that guy says!

  45. #45 |  Leon Wolfeson | 

    Ah yes, no non-scam, non-casino pensions allowed. No retirement for anyone not in the 1%. Typical elitist…

    @20 – Only if you’re closing the program down. Which is what you’re after, ending state education and healthcare and so on entirely. Can’t have the people with most of the wealth pay that percentage of tax, after all!

    Actually, excepting Greece, the sickest country in the EU is the UK. Because of slash and burn RIGHT out of your playbook.

  46. #46 |  Martk F. | 

    In many parts of California, Safeway will deliver food for $9.95 with a $50 minimum order. No car or taxi ride needed to get all the food you need.

  47. #47 |  JOR | 

    I’d rather the teacher be paid to do nothing than be paid to continue brainwashing kids.

  48. #48 |  Mister Pickles | 

    re: “The return of the debtor’s prison”

    Yeah it’s bad here in FL. If you get arrested you’ve got long term financial liabilities. Many people here are sentenced to some sort of “counseling” like anti-theft, anti-violence, alcohol and drug abuse, etc. They have to pay for that. This crap is especially prevalent in plea bargain cases where sometimes innocent people get scared of facing prison time, don’t want to risk their freedom at trial, so they plead something like no lo contendere or whatever and get stuck. Then there are the fees for court costs, supervision/probation, public defender, and all kinds of other crap.

    Police states need money. They’re very creative in how they get it.

  49. #49 |  Roberta X | 

    For Andrew Roth (et al) on the IMPD evidence “oopsie:” looks like the local FBI has “been invited to look into it.” ‘Cos you know how local police departments love to open up to outsiders, especially Feds.

    This entire mess, from the accident that began it to the present day, has been so egregious that the big boys like Radley have been content to let the thing speak for itself. Which it does — and it’s not saying anything good.

  50. #50 |  Leon Wolfeson | 

    @46 – Oh I’m sure, you know exactly what the person’s like because they want what was promised to them to take the job. Funny that, I bet you want YOUR compensation. Or are you saying when a law reduces your spending power you don’t have a problem with that?

    Oh and Radley, on the food deserts that data’s incomplete. “More shops”. Great, and what floor area? What average price for vegetables and fresh foods? What are the opening hours like and what are the working hours of the people in the area?


    Your claim isn’t sustainable on the raw numbers of shops alone.

  51. #51 |  V | 


    You’re right, people do come in all shapes and sizes. And then we do some math, and we come up with an average height and weight, which probably excludes activities like training for triathalons, because that’s not the average amount of activity for an average individual.