So much news, so little time
Wednesday, October 14, 2009 2:25:10 PM
Some talk about taxing coke: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=113634715.
Surprisingly, I'm actually ok with this. As much as I love my coke, I know it's bad for me. And if I had to pay out the rear end for it (like smokers do with cigarettes), I would probably have to cut back, at least. I'm also pretty anti-tax for everything, but I can think of worse ideas than this. Curb a particularly unhealthy behavior and it could save millions of dollars in health care costs in the future.
Some talk about Felony Franks: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB125538779820481255.html.
James Andrews (not the famous surgeon in Birmingham) opened a hot dog stand in Chicago and hires only ex-felons in an effort to help rehabilitate them into society. He plays up the "felony" bit as part of his shtick. "Near the entrance hangs a mock list of Miranda rights: 'You have the right to remain hungry. Anything you order can and will be used to feed you here at Felony Franks.'" And so on.
Of course, there have been a lot of complaints, most prominently from a city alderman who seems to be engaged in a pissing match with Andrews over a proposed new sign that juts out into the road. A local pastor accuses Andrews of "pimping out" the community.
My take: While the name and marketing may be in extremely bad taste, Felony Franks does exactly what the pastor should be doing: helping to reintegrate ex-convicts into society in a lawful way. Andrews offers jobs, training, and stability to a class of citizens (felons are still citizens) who obviously have a difficult time finding these things after being released from prison.
Some talk about Hispanic farmers and how they've been discriminated against by the Dept. of Agriculture (USDA): http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=113730694.
This is a very well researched and thought out story from NPR about a lawsuit Hispanic farmers brought against the federal government for discriminatory lending practices. "The government settled a similar complaint brought by African-American farmers for $1 billion. And while the claims of discrimination and other factors are almost identical, the Hispanic farmers have gotten nothing."
During the 1970s, '80s and '90s, white farmers would apply for a loan and be approved quickly. Hispanic farmers either wouldn't be approved at all, or they would be approved too late in the growing season. Since they had to use that money to survive the winter, that meant the debt grew and grew. Farms were foreclosed upon.
The USDA has even admitted to all of this. But the result has been disappointing. The main problem is the judge in their case refused to grant the Hispanic farmers the right to sue as a class, as the black farmers did. That means each Hispanic farmer has to sue on their own, and the USDA deals with them on a case by case basis.
This response — that it's not the principle of the thing but the legal ruling that matters most — outrages the Hispanic farmers. What's made them even more furious is that within months after taking office, President Obama decided that the $1 billion the government has already given to the black farmers is insufficient, and he's requesting an additional $1.25 billion for them. It's been a bitter disappointment to the Hispanic farmers who fought the Bush Justice Department for eight years. They thought it was going be different after Obama was elected.
Sad on many levels, but just further proves that you should trust and depend on the government for nothing.