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Archive for June, 2011


[ 44 ] June 2, 2011 |

Dana Goldstein:

I recently picked up Ross Perlin’s “Intern Nation: How to Earn Nothing and Learn Little in the Brave New Economy.” The book is a scathing critique of intern culture, which Perlin indicts as “unethical” and “illegal” for all the expected reasons: Low- and middle-income students don’t have equal access to the best internships; many internships don’t provide real learning opportunities; and internships have replaced good, paid, entry-level jobs at many companies and nonprofit organizations.

Where I take issue with Perlin is his solution to these problems: He proposes an “Intern Bill of Rights” that would require employers to pay almost all interns at least minimum wage. This would most certainly result in fewer internships, when what we really need to equalize opportunity are more internships organized through the school system. Every high school, community college and university student in America should be required to complete several internships for credit, and should be given time during the school day and year to intern.

Um… doesn’t this seem like a middling effort to solve problem 1 (access), while doing nothing about problem 2 (learning opportunities) and egregiously exacerbating problem 3 (free labor competing with paid labor)? I’m not even convinced that problem 1 is really being solved; at the high school and especially at the college level, the barrier between low and middle income students and “good” internships isn’t so much the lack of provision of college credit as it is the inability of students to relocate to where the “good” internships are.


Today In The War On (Some Classes of People Who Use Some) Drugs vs. the Constitution

[ 23 ] June 1, 2011 |

Odd how searches with nothing resembling probable cause tend to be enforced in a racially discriminatory manner.

The Awfulness of Alan Simpson

[ 39 ] June 1, 2011 |

Over at the United Steelworkers blog, Dean Baker unloads on Alan Simpson and the idea that Simpson knows anything useful about Social Security:

Former Wyoming Senator Alan Simpson has been a holy terror ever since he was appointed by President Obama to co-chair his deficit commission last year. With equal fervor he has attacked both his opponents and the basic facts surrounding the budget in general and Social Security in particular.

Ordinarily, either his rudeness or his lack of understanding of the facts on the issues where he is supposed to be an expert would be sufficient to have him exiled from the public limelight. Yet, because his views coincide with the editorial positions at elite news outlets like the Washington Post, his credibility as a spokesperson on the budget and Social Security is never tarnished.

The bill of particulars against Senator Simpson is getting quite lengthy at this point. In the rudeness category, Mr. Simpson sent a late-night e-mail to the head of a major national women’s organization implying that she was too dumb to read a simple graph. More recently he directed an obscene gesture towards the AARP. This goes along with numerous insults directed against reporters in interviews and a tirade about Snoopy Snoopy Poop Dog.

One can debate how seriously these actions should be viewed. But the contrast with Van Jones, an advisor on environmental issues to President Obama, is striking. Most Washington insider types felt that Jones had to be quickly sent packing after a single off-color remark about Republicans was made public.

I last remember Simpson completely losing his composure on Bill Maher’s show 7 or 8 years ago. And then all of as sudden he is Washington’s darling despite (or because) of his fuzzy understanding of economics and his shocking realization that there are a lot of older people in the United States. The Beltway at its finest!


[ 51 ] June 1, 2011 |

I’d like to start my first post at LGM by thanking everyone else here for asking me to join the blog. I’ve been blogging in obscurity at Alterdestiny since 2004 and expanding my audience by 20 times or more is going to be fun.

I also want to say how intimidating it is to be replacing someone as superb as Charli Carpenter. Those are some big shoes to fill. I know I’ll miss reading her posts.

I am an environmental and labor historian of the United States and will be writing about these issues quite a bit here. I am presently a Visiting Assistant Professor at the College of Wooster in Ohio and am starting a tenure-track position at the University of Rhode Island this fall. My own work is on the intersection between work and nature in the Pacific Northwest forests from the mid-19th century to the present. Growing up in a timber-supported working-class household during the spotted owl crisis of the 1990s has given me what I think is a somewhat different perspective on environmentalism than most scholars of the subject and you’ll see that represented pretty heavily in my posts.

I’ve also worked as a union organizer in my pre-academic days. It’s my contention that arguably the worst thing about the progressive blogosphere is the irrelevancy of labor to most writers and readers. I will try to provide coverage of the important labor issues of the day and an understanding of labor history.

I’ll also write about some of the things you are used to seeing here–music, film, baseball, other political issues that make me angry, occasional random denunciations, how the citrus industry conspired to force us to have slices of lemon in our water at restaurants, etc. And some issues that get a bit less coverage–the American West broadly and state politics of places that I’ve lived in and still follow (particularly OR, TN, TX, NM, OH, and presumably very soon RI).

I will probably be a bit here and gone for the first month or two of my tenure here–I am getting married and moving so I am crazy busy, even compared to normal.

Most importantly, I’ll be joining Rob in vigorously proclaiming the superiority of Oregon football to the Washington Huskies. As they say in Texas, Hook ’em Ducks!

A New Contributor

[ 26 ] June 1, 2011 |

First, I’d like to thank Charli for her contribution to LGM. She has moved to other projects for the time being, but we hope that someday she’ll be able to return.

Second, I’d like to welcome our newest regular contributor. Many of you will be familiar with Erik Loomis from his plentiful comments on this site, as well as from his blogging at Alterdestiny. Erik has also served as a guest blogger on a couple of occasions. Erik received his BA in History from the University of Oregon in 1996, his MA in History from the University of Tennessee in 1999, and his Ph.D. in History from the University of New Mexico in 2008. In the fall, he will join the Department of History at the University of Rhode Island as an assistant professor.

Facts about Erik*:

  • He’s such a lapsed Lutheran that he’s marrying a Catholic
  • He stabbed a man in Bangalore, just to watch him die.
  • He’s more familiar with the north Cambodian opium industry than he really should be.
  • He has a soft spot for Knoxville, Tennessee.
  • He once co-habitated with Maoists.
  • He is often mistaken for an albino Mormon.
  • He’s more familiar with the North Texas/Southern Oklahoma crystal methamphetamine industry than he really should be.

*Only some of these facts are true.

Will Anyone Be Held Accountable?

[ 7 ] June 1, 2011 |

I approached yesterday’s decision on the Ashcroft DOJ’s practice of using material witness warrants as a pretext to detain suspects without probable cause with a certain weary resignation; I don’t like the fact that in American politics people with theoretical power and responsibility tend to be the least likely to be held accountable, but the Court didn’t invent it and I don’t expect them to use this kind of case to innovate. The question going forward is whether this will turn into the same kind of Catch-22 that conservatives have constructed with respect to prosecutorial immunity — in which essentially nobody can be held accountable for the most egregious rights violations — or whether the Court will at least hold that this practice violates the Fourth Amendment and also hold the officials who lied by omission in seeking the warrant accountable.

It would also help going forward if Obama hadn’t appointed a justice who has to recuse herself in most of these cases…

Training Teachers

[ 26 ] June 1, 2011 |

Comparative lessons.

It’s also worth remembering that one of the things these countries don’t do is fire lots of teachers based on extensive standardized testing and hope a whole bunch of good teachers magically show up to replace them.


[ 1 ] June 1, 2011 |

Rand Paul-inspired edition:

He’s not unusual. There are genuine libertarians out there. But political figures who talk a lot about liberty and freedom invariably turn out to mean the freedom to not pay taxes and discriminate based on race; freedom to hold different ideas and express them, not so much.

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