“The accelerating rate of incarceration over the past few decades is just as startling as the number of people jailed: in 1980, there were about two hundred and twenty people incarcerated for every hundred thousand Americans; by 2010, the number had more than tripled, to seven hundred and thirty-one. No other country even approaches that. In the past two decades, the money that states spend on prisons has risen at six times the rate of spending on higher education.”—Mass Incarceration and Criminal Justice in America : The New Yorker
“Employees work excessive overtime, in some cases seven days a week, and live in crowded dorms. Some say they stand so long that their legs swell until they can hardly walk. Under-age workers have helped build Apple’s products, and the company’s suppliers have improperly disposed of hazardous waste and falsified records, according to company reports and advocacy groups that, within China, are often considered reliable, independent monitors.”—Apple’s iPad and the Human Costs for Workers in China - NYTimes.com
“While public investment may take longer to unleash its positive forces, the case for it is compelling, in part because rising entitlement expenditures have crowded out government’s investment activities. In the early 1950s, government devoted about 1.2 percent of gross domestic product to infrastructure; by 2010, that amount had fallen to just 0.2 percent. Meanwhile, federal spending on research and development dropped from a high of nearly 2 percent in 1964 to 0.9 percent in 2009.”—The Dangerous Notion That Debt Doesn’t Matter - NYTimes.com
“The Catholic Church does not, to my mind, have an enlightened view of homosexuality— despite the number of gay priests. The “love the sinner, hate the sin” doctrine fosters shame and guilt, which I think is particularly poisonous to young people. Schwinger left those judgments to a higher power. It made him nearly as unique as the landmark 1880s church’s towering Medina sandstone steeple. As Schwinger told me 16 years ago, days before his last Mass before retiring: “Everyone is welcome here. I don’t ask about lifestyle. We’re all God’s children.””—Priest’s legacy of tolerance is all-embracing - Donn Esmonde - The Buffalo News
“When financiers rig the system, they should remember the warning of John Maynard Keynes: “The businessman is only tolerable so long as his gains can be held to bear some relation to what, roughly and in some sense, his activities have contributed to society.””—Is Banking Bad? - NYTimes.com
But Buffalo also struggles because it remains among the highest-taxed localities in the country. According to Cato Institute scholar Dean Stansel, a Buffalo resident pays 25% more in income taxes than does the average resident in America’s 100 largest metro areas. Buffalo’s 8.75% sales tax, according to the Tax Foundation, is the fifth highest among the country’s 120 cities with more than 200,000 residents. And the property-tax burden in Buffalo and surrounding Erie County ranks in the top 10% nationwide.
Stimulus spending never ‘ruined’ buffalo. A lot of the urban renewal projects around downtown, particularly the large-block developments (like the convention center and the HSBC building) and the building of some highways like the Kennsington and the 190 did hurt the urban fabric considerably, though. (That and tearing down so many buildings to make parking lots.)
And the idea that the metro rail killed downtown is laughable. Downtown retail died out because nobody lived close enough to warrant shopping there anymore (and those that did didn’t have any money because all there jobs were shipped overseas), just like every other Midwestern mid-size city without a light rail. If anything, the metro rail has been incredibly successful, with one of the highest ridership rates in the country on a per mileage basis. The only problem was that it wasn’t built far enough out to Amherst (UB) or the airport to warrant even higher ridership rates.
No, what ‘ruined’ Buffalo (if Buffalo has indeed been ruined) have been long-term structural changes in the U.S. economy, away from rail and water based freight, as well as the de-industrialization of America, so that the hundreds of thousands of manufacturing jobs that we had in the 70s and 80s were lost to Mexico and China. Part of this is due to unionization, as the article contends, but it’s not exactly the union’s fault that people in China are willing to work for 1/10th the wage in a 10 times more dangerous working environment. This coupled with a lack of ‘smart investment’ in universities and a knowledge-based economy has resulted in Buffalo being a relative backwater. I would go so far as to say that more stimulus spending in the form of higher education spending, research centers, and smarter infrastructure’ could have saved Buffalo.
The article gets some things right about the largess of New York State government bureaucracy and the ossification of public sector employees, but it’s too busy screaming up and down yelling that ‘big government is bad’ to present a more nuanced, rational argument.
Ironically, government stimulus spending, in the form of the Erie Canal, also ‘made’ Buffalo into the most prosperous city in the country in the 19th century. So it’s clear that not all government investment is bad.
“Many introverts seem to know this instinctively, and resist being herded together. Backbone Entertainment, a video game development company in Emeryville, Calif., initially used an open-plan office, but found that its game developers, many of whom were introverts, were unhappy. “It was one big warehouse space, with just tables, no walls, and everyone could see each other,” recalled Mike Mika, the former creative director. “We switched over to cubicles and were worried about it — you’d think in a creative environment that people would hate that. But it turns out they prefer having nooks and crannies they can hide away in and just be away from everybody.””—The Rise of the New Groupthink - NYTimes.com
“This is where the left is truly deluded. By misunderstanding Obama’s strategy and temperament and persistence, by grandstanding on one issue after another, by projecting unrealistic fantasies onto a candidate who never pledged a liberal revolution, they have failed to notice that from the very beginning, Obama was playing a long game. He did this with his own party over health-care reform. He has done it with the Republicans over the debt. He has done it with the Israeli government over stopping the settlements on the West Bank—and with the Iranian regime, by not playing into their hands during the Green Revolution, even as they gunned innocents down in the streets. Nothing in his first term—including the complicated multiyear rollout of universal health care—can be understood if you do not realize that Obama was always planning for eight years, not four. And if he is reelected, he will have won a battle more important than 2008: for it will be a mandate for an eight-year shift away from the excesses of inequality, overreach abroad, and reckless deficit spending of the last three decades. It will recapitalize him to entrench what he has done already and make it irreversible.”—Andrew Sullivan: How Obama’s Long Game Will Outsmart His Critics - The Daily Beast
“But then I picked up Eugenides’s new novel, “The Marriage Plot,” an exuberantly bookish book that offers the clearest account to date of his cohort’s collective aspirations and anxieties. There is, it turns out, a unifying thread; it’s just not a matter of form. The central question driving literary aesthetics in the age of the iPad is no longer “How should novels be?” but “Why write novels at all?””—‘Why Write Novels at All?’ - NYTimes.com
“Unsurprisingly, Mr. Gideon doesn’t know precisely what he is going to do with his life after he graduates. This young man strikes the committee as an ideal candidate for a job at Goldman Sachs. Yes, in our experience, even the Gideons of this world can be persuaded. After all, what better way for him to improve our behavior than to become one of us? Put that way, he almost has an obligation to take his natural resting place among us.”—Princeton Brews Trouble for Us 1 Percenters: Michael Lewis - Bloomberg
“Once they reach college age, those who come from disadvantaged backgrounds are far less likely to go to college — and vastly less likely to go to a top-tier school — than those luckier in their parentage. At the most selective, “Tier 1” schools, 74 percent of the entering class comes from the quarter of households that have the highest “socioeconomic status”; only 3 percent comes from the bottom quarter.”—America’s Unlevel Field - NYTimes.com
“Cole had created the first Shoupista paradise: No parking requirements, parking meters where once there were none. His city grew rich off the notion—and nobody has tried it since. “For 5,000 years,” says Cole, “we built cities around people, and they worked well. For 50 years we’ve built them around the parking lot—a ridiculous use of land, of money, and an intrusion into the intimacy of human scale. Now we’ve painted ourselves into a corner. The saving grace is that the first 5,000 years might come back again.””—Between the Lines - Features - Los Angeles magazine
“The 5.2 inches of snow so far, at the National Weather Service office in Cheektowaga, also is pretty rare. Through Dec. 31, the Weather Service had recorded 3.8 inches of snow this season. That’s tied for the second-lowest ever, back to the 1880s. The lowest total through Dec. 31 was 3.6 inches in 1896, followed by 3.8 inches in 1931. Not too many people can remember either of those two snowless winters.”—Where is winter lurking? - Winter 2011-12 - The Buffalo News
“In August, during the run-up to the Ames straw poll, some Iowans were baffled to turn on their TVs and see a commercial that featured shots of ruddy-cheeked farm families, an astronaut on the moon and an ear of hot buttered corn. It urged viewers to cast write-in votes for Rick Perry by spelling his name with an “a” — “for America.” A voice-over at the end announced that the commercial had been paid for by an organization called Americans for a Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow, which is the name of Colbert’s super PAC, an entity that, like any other super PAC, is entitled to raise and spend unlimited amounts of soft money in support of candidates as long as it doesn’t “coordinate” with them, whatever that means. Of such super-PAC efforts, Colbert said, “This is 100 percent legal and at least 10 percent ethical.””—How Many Stephen Colberts Are There? - NYTimes.com
““Today,” said Cuomo, “I say to national and global industries: Come to Buffalo. The State of New York is ready to invest $1 billion in a multi-year package of economic development incentives,” he said, in order to leverage a five-to-one return on investment. Cuomo also announced major initiatives in energy, including seeking increased hydropower from Quebec, increased “fossil fuels” from Western New York for Downstate users, and a plan to create more Buffalo-area access for renewable energy, including hydro and solar, that is generated regionally. Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown responded to the governor’s statement by stating that developments like Canalside and the Buffalo Medical Campus were already underway and should receive further state investment. The recent recommendations of the Regional Economic Council, however, made no reference to Canalside, focusing instead on workforce investment, technology development and various anti-sprawl initiatives.”—Cuomo’s billion: Pay careful attention to the language | Artvoice Daily