Category Archives: Modern life-as-we-know-it

Mexico and imports, an explainer

46645_article_fullThe president of Mexico, Enrique Peña Nieto, has canceled a visit to Washington after heated rhetoric from the American president over a border wall he wants to build, which he intends to pay for by placing a 20 percent tax on all Mexican imports.

So here’s where things get weird — according to CNN Money, 40 percent of the items we import from Mexico were made in the U.S.A. And nearly 5 million jobs depend on that trade relationship, according to The Atlantic. So, as Leftover makes clear in the comments, Mexico won’t pay for that wall. We will, in the form of increased prices on the goods made there, in the form of lost jobs, all of it.

As the CNN article says, trade works both ways. I knew that. You knew that. The American president…



160 million Americans can’t afford a broken arm

8affb93180248f3a5835c393ee111775Elevate’s Center for the New Middle Class released a study that says that so-called “Non-Prime Americans,” who are, according to the study, “Americans with a credit score below 700, meaning that their access to credit is limited or curtailed:”

  • Nonprime Americans can only weather an unexpected expense of 31 percent of their monthly income. Prime, 53 percent
  • Nonprime Americans are significantly more likely to have lower incomes.
  • A bill becomes a crisis for nonprime Americans at $1,400. For Prime, it’s $2,900.
  • Many common expenses are above that threshold for nonprime Americans, but below it for prime Americans.
  • Half of nonprime Americans have an income that fluctuations month to month.
  • Almost half of nonprime Americans have more than three disrupting expense events a year.
  • Nonprime Americans can survive only half as long as prime Americans after a drop in income.

So Linda Bean steps in it and all hell breaks loose

175052_1914_42Linda Bean, of the L.L. Bean family, ran afoul of the Federal Elections Commission by donating too much money to a pro-Trump PAC. Here’s where things get tricky:

Bean, the granddaughter of L.L. Bean founder Leon Leonwood Bean, didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment Friday. She is a member of the retailer’s board and runs a lobster company called Linda Bean’s Lobster Dreams. She has run for Congress and is a big donor for Republican causes.

So word started getting around — I certainly spread the word — as a kind of (in my case) knee-jerk reaction to (in my case) a severe dislike of Donald J. Trump. (I don’t like him. Have I made that clear?)

But people started responding to the called-for boycott with stories of the apolitical nature of LL Bean. I emailed the company and got this back:

Good evening,

Thank you for taking the time to share your views. I apologize for the delay in responding.

I have forwarded your concerns to the appropriate department.

L.L.Bean does not endorse political candidates, take positions on political matters, or make political contributions. Simply put, we stay out of politics.  To our customers, employees and community-partners, we regret any undue negative attention that this situation attracted. We remain steadfast, however, that the company has at all times honored our long-standing focus on our products and customers, and not partisan politics.

We hope you find this background information helpful. You are a valued customer and we hope that you will continue to support our business.

It was signed by “Jordan.” I emailed him back to thank him for his response and I am going to stand down. There are all kinds of lists circulating of businesses that don’t agree with my politics — and I have a list of my own, but I wouldn’t want to be a part of unduly vicious response. Things are getting interesting, yes?

We must control our toddlers better

mtm2njq1mdk1odc5mdi2mjczAccording to the Press Union (building on research by the Washington Post), for the last two years, a toddler has shot someone every week. Two years. Every week.

How we see history

The Pew Research Center has a fascinating study of how we see historical events, by age, race, ethnicity, gender, politicaly party.

Here are some of the charts:

By age:

screenshot-2016-12-31-10-59-39By race/ethnicity:


You can read more at the link above.

CT has horrible income inequality

screenshot-2016-12-20-16-16-46From a Center on Budget and Policy Priorities study, as interpreted by Connecticut Voices for Children:

Connecticut ranks third in the country, with its richest residents— the top five percent of households— having average incomes 17 times as large as the bottom 20 percent of households and five times as large as the middle 20 percent of households. The top five percent of Connecticut’s households receive 20 percent of the state’s income, even without counting capital gains.


Today’s a big damn deal

And so we wait, to see what the electors (among them Bill Clinton, of New York) will do today.

Here’s more on what’s happening.