More “stuff” to talk about…

In Editorial on January 19, 2012 at 10:03 am

Rekha Basu…a couple of strikes…and a home-run

One of the things that the official news organ for the Iowa Ministry of Economics and Tourism gets right is its retention of veteran columnist Rekha Basu.

Basu regularly pulls the tightie-whities of the tightie-righties into an atomic wedgie with her social liberalist views (often shared by Phyne Dyning).

But I am beginning to wonder if Basu’s knife is getting dull.

Last week, Basu opined that over-pricing was the official boogeyman of health care. In her op-ed column, “A lesson in health care: Indian style”, Basu held forth with her personal observations as a medical tourist in India.

She pointed out that she paid about $40 for a pair of eyeglasses from an Indian optometrist and wailed pathetically that the same pair, purchased in Des Moines, would cost “hundreds more”.

Here are the facts…

The average laborer’s wage in Des Moines is approximately $9/hr and yields a net income of about $1200/mo. According to data published by the New York Times, an Indian dabbawalla earns about 5000 rupees ($123) per month. [A dabbawalla is an honored guild profession of men who deliver home-cooked meals to Indian workers.]

The eyeglasses purchased by Basu, according to her, were “reading glasses” (single-vision). Such eyewear is readily available from many Des Moines optometrists for as little as $79/pair.

Do the math…

$40 eyeglasses on $123/month?

For the dabbawalla: The $40 Indian eyeglasses will cost about 33% of his monthly wage.

For the Des Moines laborer: The $79 US optometrist eyeglasses will cost about 7% of his/her monthly wage.

Even for a minimum wage Iowan, the $79 American glasses would cost only 8% of his/her net monthly income.

As one online wag put it, “Rekha is not very good with numbers. But she is very passionate about them.”

On the other hand…

Ms. Basu (almost) redeemed herself today. In her (near) home-run column, “There is flawed logic behind public-aid drug testing”, she takes on mean-spirited calls for drug testing welfare and unemployment assistance recipients.

A lot of people on the misinformed right (and left) hold the mistaken belief that recipients of public money (the poor recipients, not the corporations) use that money to buy drugs and live the good life.

Some people like such myths because they validate their world view that, “Being poor should be humiliating. I’m going to make sure they are humiliated.”

Besides, what good is it to be “better” than someone if you cannot lord it over them or dish them up a steaming bowl of humility?

What could be more humiliating than being forced to urinate into a small bottle in front of a perfect stranger for a bit of money?

Once again, the statist seeks to order someone into conduct for which they would otherwise be hauled to jail. Just try standing on any street corner with a sign advertising your willingness to publicly pee into a bottle for cash.

The truth?

According to research cited by Basu, people on welfare do not use illegal drugs at a higher rate than the general public.

Unfortunately, Basu ruined her otherwise excellent column with a bit of her own mean-spiritedness:

It’s not that government doesn’t have the right to set conditions on the aid it provides, especially in the interests of improving public health. Let them eliminate sodas and junk food from the items that can be bought with food stamps.:

“Let ‘em eat broccoli and bran flakes!” eh, Rekha?

Rabbi Joseph Telushkin gives the “right” outlook on this. What if the junk food and sodas purchased with food stamps will be consumed at a birthday party for an impoverished child who has an illness from which he or she will not survive to the next birthday?

Less dramatically, what if the soda and junk food are the only pleasant things the welfare recipient will enjoy? Telushkin echoes the sentiments of George Bailey in It’s a Wonderful Life, “Aren’t the poor entitled to some happiness?”

Just before Christmas, I stood in a checkout line at my local mass food retailer. Ahead, was a young family paying for their purchases. They had frozen pizza, chips, sodas, dips, and other such foods in their purchase. They paid for their items with a food stamp debit card. Behind their food items, were two twelve-packs of bad beer and an enormous bottle of cheap whiskey. The young man paid for the booze with cash…$67.79.

A nicely dressed couple behind me began to loudly complain that, “It must be nice…” to have taxpayer money so the young family could have a party. At one point, the man leaned over my shoulder and called to them, “You’re welcome!”

The young family ignored the taunts. Being publicly shamed for one’s poverty is the price of being poor in Iowa.

I did some quick math…

If there are 500,000 workers in Iowa, each worker contributed less than one penny of his/her tax money toward the purchase of the family’s liquor and food. I turned to the nicely dressed couple and asked them to “give it a rest” and offered them a dime to more than re-pay them for “their contribution” to the young family’s (obvious) Christmas party.

The nicely dressed man protested, “But it’s not just one person, there are thousands of people on welfare doing this.”

“Ah”, I replied, “but you are publicly humiliating only this family for the abuses committed by thousands. It hardly seems fair, eh?” The man muttered something and walked to another checkout lane.

While I admire Rekha’s social conscience, she missed the ball here. Like every statist liberal or statist tightie-rightie, they want the state to be the arbiter of what is acceptable.

According to Basu, it is “wrong” for the state to drug test welfare recipients, but it is “okay” for the state to tell them what they can (or cannot) eat.

We want you, Big Brother

Oh the irony!

The (dis)organized Washington, D.C. crime syndicate will consider “piracy” with an upcoming vote on House Bill 3261, the Stop Online Piracy Act, or SOPA, and Senate Bill 968, the Protect Intellectual Property

A meeting of Congress

Act, or PIPA.

Senator (and social media guru) Charles Grassley co-sponsored the senate version. Up for re-election and not wanting to look like a Kim Jong Il media censor, he now says the bill “needs further discussion”.

And, speaking of pirates!

“It’s not about the money…”

According to an article in the official news organ for the Iowa Ministry of Economics and Tourism, the city of Des Moines raked in almost $300,000 from its I-235 speed cameras. After paying its co-conspirator, Gatso USA, the city’s cut in the loot came to around $200,000.

The Register article (bylined by Josh Hafner) dutifully slobbered, “Luckily for drivers, the traffic camera citations count as civil infractions and don’t impact licenses.” The comment struck the Phyne Dyner as similar to saying, “Sure, I’m going to illegally sodomize you. But it’s a relatively small penis.”

Down the road, the sleepy hamlet of Windsor Heights is salivating at the prospect of installing their own digital highwaymen. Aside from its reputation as a University Avenue speed trap, Windsor Heights is best known for being a home to a Wal-Mart and a Sam’s Club.

Hanging Chad

The Iowa GOP unwittingly (it came naturally to them) supported Dr. Steven Bloom’s assertions that Iowa lacks sufficient sophistication to keep its “first in the nation” election status.

Another rat...same name

After weeks of waiting breathlessly for the caucus results to be certified, white smoke finally poured from the chimney at the headquarters of the Iowa Republican Party.

The new GOP pope?

Willard (What tax returns?) Romney!

Phyne Dyning was particularly amused with this, just under the headline in the Des Moines Register:

THE RESULTS: Santorum finished ahead by 34 votes
MISSING DATA: 8 precincts’ numbers will never be certified
PARTY VERDICT: GOP official says, ‘It’s a split decision’

According to Jennifer Jacobs, author of the Register article, the Iowa caucuses…”are a loose process in which colored slips of paper are gathered in cardboard boxes and plastic buckets and

Iowa Cuacuses: 2016

counted by hand as witnesses gather around — about as precise as choosing a class president.”

Methinks the next Iowa caucus should be monitored by United Nations election watchers?


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: