ABCs of School Finance

Oklahoma Policy – ABCs of School Finance

Just a nice basic primer of how school funding works.




The Disability Gulag

The Disability Gulag

This one tugged on my heartstrings a bit.

It’s a piece written by a woman with neuromuscular disease discussing the way the American healthcare system strips disabled people of autonomy and the right to make decisions over their lives and their bodies. A woman’s struggle throughout her life to avoid ‘disability gulag’, ended up in a state-funded nursing home, where her nurses are chosen by others, treat her according to a nursing plan written by others, and basically render you trapped with no control over your daily life or your body (Eg, your hair will be cut short for their convenience. You’ll be seen naked by people you didn’t choose every time you have to use the bathroom. And on, and on.) It’s a never ending battle, trying to get the assistance you need out of private funds because Medicaid finds it easiest just to put people like her in those same nursing homes, but if her health deteriorates, or she can’t manage the resources necessary to pay for the help she has to have to live, that’s where she’ll end up. Every day of her life, from childhood onward.

I had a moment of visceral fear, when reading about her going to consult with administrators at a state-run institution, and then having lunch with some friends she knew as a child in school who ended up there at the facility…where a staff member mistakes her for a new patient, and she flatly panics, a panic reaction urge to scream, but knowing if she throws a fit things will get so much worse, and so she just freezes, until one of her friends, a gentleman with cerebral palsy, comes to her aid, and convinces the nurse that she can’t be a patient, look, she has long hair, she’s wearing jewelry.

Harriet McBryde Johnson was an American author, attorney, and disability rights activist.

Johnson died at home on June 4, 2008.


So what is the Glass-Steagall Act?

What Is Glass-Steagall? The 82-Year-Old Banking Law That Stirred the Debate

Plenty of mention of this in the recent Dem debates. A pretty good breakdown of what it is. Basically, in the depths of the Great Depression, Congress passed a law saying that banks that people put their life savings in, should not be allowed to try to make money by gambling on the stock market. That’s the really simplified version and the article does a lot better at explaining it.

‘The Big Short,’ and Krugman

‘The Big Short,’ Housing Bubbles and Retold Lies

I saw The Big Short with Wee Fierce Beastie the other day, and yes, that’s our idea of a date night. A pretty good one.

Spoiler: I emphatically recommend this movie.

For those of you who have no idea what this movie is: It’s a story of the housing bubble bursting back in ’07-’08. It’s a movie about few groups of outsiders on the fringes of the Wall Street world realizing before anyone else that the housing market is turning into a giant bubble, and maneuvering to make a killing off of it when it finally bursts, in the face of much of the rest of the world thinking they’re flatly insane.

It’s educational, and despite that, it isn’t boring, and it is a lot of fun.

It was good. While I’m an econ nerd, I think most people would find it pretty entertaining. Don’t expect action, but it’s funny, it’s accessible, and who doesn’t enjoy foul-mouthed biting sarcasm, and plots to become fabulously, fantastically wealthy? In a way, it almost comes across as a heist movie, but a skewed one. There isn’t anything illegal in what the protagonists are doing, if anything, they’re profiting from the loss of those who are breaking the law, or at least behaving very unethically.

I’m in the age bracket to remember the housing bubble and the market crash, but not old enough to have really been able to relate to it, I lacked life experiences with mortgages, debt, etc, and it didn’t really directly affect me, nor did I at any sort of deep level understand what was happening.

So I really got a lot out of this. I think anyone who’s heard of the crash and had any experience with it’s consequences (Eg, been an adult in the last eight years or so) will too, especially if you DON’T know a lot about the events of the movie or how it all worked. They do a great job of explaining any time they start getting technical or confusing, interrupting the movie on an irregular basis for an interlude with Margot Robbie in a bubble bath, drinking champagne, explaining the term ‘sub-prime’ before telling you to ‘fuck off’ so she can finish her bath, or Selena Gomez doing an excellent job of illustrating what a ‘synthetic collateralized debt obligation’ is.

Oh, and Krugman, one of my favorite writers, did a piece talking about the movie. He liked it. He contends that it’s substantially accurate in the significant details (Context: Paul Krugman is a Nobel-winning economist with a PhD in economics from MIT who writes for the New York Times).

So yeah, go see The Big Short. It’s still in theaters.


Homan Square

Homan Square (The Guardian)

Homan Square (Mother Jones)

It’s a facility run by the Chicago Police Department, out of a bland looking warehouse in Chicago’s west side. Out of it operates the headquarters of Chicago SWAT, organized crime units dealing with drugs and gangs. It also contains ‘several standard interview rooms’, though the facility ‘lacks a lockup facility, where mug shots and fingerprints of arrestees are normally taken. As such, arrestees are not fingerprinted at Homan Square’.

In reality, whatever other uses it has, it serves as a off-book holding facility to detain and interrogate individuals the Chicago Police Department wishes to keep off record, out of the system. Detainees are held without being mirandized, without being booked, denied their phone call, denied access to their legal representation. It has a reputation among lawyers in Chicago, if you can’t find your client, they’re probably being held there. Lawyers attempting to find their clients evidently are routinely turned away from the facility, because it is a ‘secure facility’.

Things like this are supposed to be an absolute no-go, do not pass go, do not collect $200, go directly to the end of your career, for police.

This is the first I’ve heard of this, and the original story from The Guardian has been floating around since February of last year. I think the militarization of police in recent years has been pretty obvious. The lack of accountability for deaths caused by police is pretty well recognized at this point, I think. I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a stark example in recent memory of such systematic and flagrant violation of fundamental principles of law enforcement in this country. Even when people are killed by police, you’ll always find police and district attorneys explaining how it was absolutely justified, or at least an unavoidable, utterly explainable mistake. Even Guantanamo Bay is defended on the basis of necessity. If there’s truth to this story, then this is completely indefensible.