Recommended reading: this Ezra Klein post about the reality of unemployment in America today. The national average may be three job seekers for every job opening, but for many people it’s worse than that:
“Nationally, there are three job seekers for every one open position. But because unemployment is much higher in some cities than in others, the reality is that most people who’ve been unemployed for more than 26 weeks live in areas where there are four, five, six, seven and even eight job seekers for each open job. They’re not being held back by their unemployment checks. They’re being held back by mass unemployment.”
But apparently the facts on the ground don’t matter for someone with his head stuck in dense clouds of libertarian dogma.
Families and officials in Centennial, Colorado, the scene of the latest school shooting, have been taking a subdued approach to discussing the identity of the shooter, requesting that the media not name him or show his picture. I wholeheartedly agree. I have long maintained that extensive coverage of the shooters themselves is unnecessary and contributes to the problem.
Some members of the media bristle at this; it smacks of censorship, they claim. It prevents us from understanding why the shooting happened. But mass shootings are media phenomena; the media is part of the story. It’s not just a passive vessel for static facts. We can understand what led to a mass shooting without the exhaustive, titillating exploration of every detail of the killers’ lives. Moreover, this sort of sensational coverage of the shooter himself leads us to believe it’s an individual problem as opposed to systemic. I would argue it gets us farther from the truth.
For the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice earlier this year, NPR Books asked me to create a one-page comic version of the story. This was something of an artistic challenge, but in the end it seemed to please Jane Austen fans and scholars, who made it the most-read story on NPR that day.
And lo, just in time for last-minute Christmas shopping (or in plenty of time for the 201st anniversary of Pride and Prejudice), I have prepared for you a lovely poster version of the comic, available hand-signed. The printer did an excellent job; the poster is on heavy stock with a smooth, silky finish that you’ll want to caress as Jane would Mr. Bingley.
I’ve noticed an uptick in angry email lately, ranging from the mildly disgruntled to the downright ugly. To wit, this gentleman’s missive:
How exactly was the “shutdown” an “actual economic disaster” you dumb c*nt?
oh, never mind.
(Asterisk added by me.) OK, here’s your answer:
“The bottom line is the government shutdown has hurt the U.S. economy,” S&P said in a statement. “In September, we expected 3 percent annualized growth in the fourth quarter because we thought politicians would have learned from 2011 and taken steps to avoid things like a government shutdown and the possibility of a sovereign default. Since our forecast didn’t hold, we now have to lower our fourth-quarter growth estimate to closer to 2 percent.”
More on how the government shutdown hurt the economy here.
Many people are unaware that the Library of Congress contains an incredible archive of comic books and cartoon art, which I’ve been fortunate to see on a couple occasions. Bleeding Cool has a nice post giving you a taste of what it’s like. I’m honored to have some of my own originals kept there, as part of the Small Press Expo collection. (A photo of a cartoon I did about Sarah Palin appears at the bottom.)
I finally completed my application for health insurance through the federal exchange today, with the assistance of an independent insurance broker. I’d visited with a navigator earlier in the month who did a good job of explaining how the tax credits and subsidies worked, but I decided to do the actual work of filling out the Healthcare.gov application myself. For weeks I’d been getting stuck at the final verification stage that allows you to proceed to choosing a plan. So I called up a professional insurance broker here in Austin, who was very helpful.
First, if you created your account on Healthcare.gov a few weeks ago and you’re still having problems, it’s a good idea to start over with a completely new account using a different email address. This eliminated the problem I was having before; the new account allowed me to sail right through the application process.
Talking to a private insurance broker is also useful if you have specific questions about different plans or companies. You don’t pay their fee — the insurance companies do. For maximum choice in providers, I went with a PPO plan (as opposed to an HMO, which can have lower premiums, but puts serious limitations on which doctors you can see). Look on Yelp to find highly-recommended brokers in your area.
My husband and I chose a Silver plan with much better coverage than our current individual plans, and with the ACA credits, we’ll be paying approximately $150/month less in premiums.
Assuming all goes as expected, I’m pretty excited about having reasonably-priced, non-crappy health insurance. It was such a relief not to have to fill out endless forms about my medical history and pre-existing conditions. As far as I can tell, there is no “crisis” — the real crisis would be if opponents of health insurance reform managed to undo all the hard work that got us this far.
The statement by the Walmart exec that associates are “excited” to work on Thanksgiving embodies everything that is wrong with elitist management culture and its dehumanization of low-level employees.
While drawing the second panel of this cartoon just before dinner, I have to admit I was overcome with a powerful craving for Turkitos, which, alas, do not exist in real life.
I find Rand Paul’s blend of cockiness and paranoia to be endlessly fascinating, so I got a little excited when I received a fundraising letter that was intended for a previous resident. What I like best is that along with all the usual 1960s-era Cold War government-as-fascism nonsense, you get a header taken straight from the Mad Men logo. All that’s missing is the cigarette.
He’s also asking for a $600 donation. That’s Don Draper money! Clearly he stands with the little people — all the ones with six hundred clams to send to a libertarian frootloop. At least he knows from what era he comes.