Thanks, everyone, for coming to visit at the temporary digs. I’ve moved the posts over to the other blog, so you can comment to your heart’s content
Matthew Yglesias, who very kindly redirected the two users we have in common to this site, points out that Porkbusters will not solve our budget problems:
This kind of thing is why people are always reaching for the name “Ramesh Ponnuru” when asked to name conservative pundits worth reading. As Scott Lemieux says “this is the central purpose of the Porkbusters campaign: to make difficult choices magically disappear, especially where the Iraq War is concerned.” As Ponnuru points out, the world simply doesn’t work like that. Conservatives either want to cut some major programs with substantial constituencies, or else they don’t really want to cut spending — pork is neither here nor there in big picture budgetary terms.
Too true, I’m afraid; the really big ticket budget items are entitlements, defense, and interest on the national debt . . . which is why we need Social Security Reform Now! Oh, yes, my little chickadees, I’ll be here all week. Don’t forget to tip your waiters.
But seriously, while this is true on some level, isn’t porkbusters still a good idea? There are other reasons to want to cut pork, besides being worried about the budget deficit. Pork may well have a big dragging effect on the economy by the distortions it introduces. And more than that, it’s morally distasteful that senators and congressmen spend so much time–time we pay them for–trying to grab fistfuls of cash out of the public trough before the other pigs can get at it. The people pushing porkbusters may not succeed in paying for the Iraq war, but surely they’re still doing God’s work?
In the comments, Rand Simberg says that she’s fine, and as bewildered as I am. Meanwhile, I’ve redirected my domain over here until I can get this sorted out.
Ezra is worried that American workers don’t get any paid vacation. Julian points out that most of us do, in fact, get paid vacation. Which is basically what I was thinking when I read that post: the government doesn’t mandate that we get free milk or cushy blankets, and yet most of us manage to secure some anyway. To which Ezra rejoinders that some, mostly low paid workers, still don’t and isn’t that a scandal?
This seems to be to be based on several unwarranted assumptions. The first is that paid vacation is a free good to employees: that employers can just be forced to offer people ten or thirty days off a year, and they’ll take the money out of profits (or from some other bad people we don’t like), rather than, say, paying the workers less per hour to compensate. Of course, we could have a higher minimum wage law. But a really stiff minimum wage, combined with lavish perks like generous vacation time, actually do have noticeable disemployment effects, which is one of the reasons that European unemployment, and particularly European youth unemployment, is so much higher than ours. So every low-wage worker enjoying twenty days of paid annual leave does so in part, by foregoing higher wages, and in part, by putting other people out of work. It is possible that he also does so in part, by taking money from the owners; but not in all cases, and the first two effects probably dwarf the third, labour markets being what they are.
If paid vacation days are not a free good to employees, then of course, this represents not a government goody, but the rough hand of the state forcing you to take vacation when you’d rather have cash . . . or letting your neighbour take vacation, when you’d rather have a job.
The second assumption is that Europeans use their vacation to, well, vacate. And of course, sometimes they do. But there is also evidence that Americans substitute money for leisure in performing chores. Europeans have more time off; but they spend a lot of that time painting their houses, cleaning out the gutters, taking care of the lawn, drying clothes by hand, and so forth. Much of this is work that even poorer Americans outsource.
I went to see Benjamin Barber talk yesterday, he of the “We consume too much! We need a more authentic, non-consumer lifestyle!” books. No doubt he would argue that this is a feature, not a bug . . . Europeans are caring for their bodies and homes in an authentic, natural way. To which I say, feh! I like many domestic tasks, like cooking, but that’s in part because I don’t have to do them; they’re a labour of love. And I challenge anyone to say that they get joy from regrouting their own bathroom tile.
You may have noticed something about my old site . . . like, it isn’t there.
Where’d it go? Who knows? I know exactly as much as you do, which is that when you type in http://www.janegalt.net, you get a page saying”This Account has been suspended. Please contact our billing department as soon as possible.” That appeared last night sometime between 6:04, when I received my last email at the janegalt.net address, and 7:31 when the first friend IM’d me to tell me my site was down.
As far as I know, the billing problem is not on my end. It appears to be affecting Kathy Kinsley, the woman from whom I buy server time, as her Bloghouse site is also down, so I assume one of a few things:
- There has been a massive snafu in the accounts department
- She, or someone above her in the hosting reselling chain, is having a little bit of a cash flow problem
- Something bad happened to Kathy, and I didn’t know it, and now the host has pulled the plug
Obviously, we’re pulling for 1 or 2 to be true.
This presents me with a slight problem. I would love to contact the billing department at eLinuxservers (the folks whose “account suspended” page currently graces the spot where my site used to be), I can’t. They have no observable website. Of course, I am enterprising, and mildly web savvy, so I looked ’em up on WHOIS and called the number that I found there.
Naturally, the phone number now belongs to an insurance agent who has no idea where one might contact eLinuxservers. I’ve emailed them, but frankly, I’m not exactly holding my breath.
This presents me with several small problems. I don’t want to move hosts, but if I don’t hear from Kathy (and Kathy, if you’re reading this, try my gmail address!), I think I kind of have to. Which means I have to find a host. More worrying is the archives; I haven’t backed up . I’m happy . . . well, willing, anyway . . . to pay some fraction of any bill in order to recover my files, but who to?
Any reader suggestions on any of this very much appreciated. Meanwhile, I’ll be blogging here. Apologies for the weird blog name; it was a test, and I can’t figure out how to change it.
Just the other day, I said “at least I have this much: unless me or a family member gets sick or dies, things actually cannot get any worse”. Obviously, this was an irresistible challenge to the gods.