Sunday, July 01, 2007

Gambling, Taxes and Cats

July 1, 2007, 8:00, 10:15 a.m. [times reflect additions to the entry -- for the benefit of those few individuals who check back occasionally during the day -- as well as reflecting the fact that what is called "life" occasionally interrupts blogging]

A number of stories today -- with links and commentary to come: "the beat goes on" (with President Sally Mason's public relations pieces behind us, today is Ken's turn; but when will we learn the true life stories of their three cats?); Iowa's economic future looking up (today is tax shift day and with one more gambling casino now open can Iowans' prosperity be far behind?); Des Moines' voters smarter than Iowa City's (poll indicates 17% hike in sales tax shift from rich to poor seemingly understood for what it is by residents).

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The Gazette gives two stories equal billing on page one below the fold this Sunday: Diane Heldt, "Other Half of Mason Team Has His Own Plans for UI; Hopes teaching, writing background Will Serve Him in IC," The Gazette, July 1, 2007, p. A1; Orian Love, "Ready to Roll: Waterloo Welcomes Isle Casino," The Gazette, July 1, 2007, p. A1 (both available here).

The Gazette notes in its editorial that Iowa City voters were willing to increase their sales tax by 20% notwithstanding that neither they nor the school board had a clue how the money was going to be spent. (It was ostensibly a "school infrastructure local option" sales tax, hence "SILO"). Editorial, "Changes? A Penny for Your Thoughts," The Gazette, July 1, 2007, p. A7.

Meanwhile, thank goodness, the Press-Citizen is able to report that the tax will have no effect on the availability of SHOPPING as locals' primary leisure time activity, not to mention treatment for depression and contribution to Americans' mounting debt. Rob Daniel, "New Tax to Go Into Effect Today; Most Shoppers Say They Are Undeterred," Iowa City Press-Citizen, July 1, 2007.

However, in Des Moines, it may not be the "Destiny" of those who don't own property to accept a shift of tax payments from property owners onto the backs of the poor. Apparently they've fallen for "trust me" one time too many. The current poll indicates that, by 61% to 32%, potential voters are saying "No" to "Yes to Destiny." Melissa Walker and Jonathan Roos, "'Destiny' Faces 2-to-1 Opposition; A Poll Finds a Lack of Confidence in Public Officials to Spend the Money in the Best Interests of Residents," Des Moines Register, July 1, 2007, p. 1A.

And Rekha Basu uses "Destiny" as but one example of why the "liberal" and "conservative" labels have become virtually devoid of meaning and utility. Rekha Basu, "Political Labels Not So Clear Now," Des Moines Register, July 1, 2007, p. OP3. Her other examples include immigration reform, single-payer universal health care, environmental protection, and government spending. (I'm not going to repeat how she builds her case for each; if you're interested click on the link and read the column; it's not that long.)

General semanticists make the point that what we say, and the way we say it, is more a function of how the product of our various sensory apparatus is processed into speech by the electro-chemical soup inside our skulls than it is truly reflective of anything going on outside our skins.

They also refer to what they call "purr words" and "slur words." Some words are designed to (at least in part) invoke more of an emotional than an analytical response. They are sometimes used deliberately for that purpose -- in advertising or political speeches, say. And sometimes they've become so common that a speaker may use them without reflecting on their emotional content.

In any event, it seems to me that is what has now happened to "liberal" and "conservative." They have ceased to be very descriptive of anything, and certainly not very helpful in analyzing public policy issues -- for the reasons Ms. Baku points out, and more.

They tell you very little regarding the public policy being discussed -- indeed, very little about the person being described. All they really tell you is that, coming from some people, the charge of "liberal" (like the derogatory terms used for Italians, Hispanics, African-Americans, Jews and others) is that the speaker disagrees with the proposal, or the person, being so described. (Ditto for "conservative" coming from others.)

As Ms. Basu concludes, "each of us needs to carefully examine the issuesbeneath the labels to see who really wins and loses."

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hlthscistaff said...

it didnt take long...

welmark is starting to buy the ui already. im ashamed to be part of the health sci staff and seeing this happen is disturbing. the college of public health will soon bear its name.

this is shameful. wellmark runs one president out, fixes the search, give their shill on the commitee a plumb endowed position for colluding, and embarass the entire ui community, and then they buy the college. all just days after the search outcome is announced. dean merchant should be ashamed of himself putting something like this through as he goes out the door.

just wait until the press citizen reveals the other pays off -- another promotion to a search committee member.

next thing you know, pomerantz or forsythe will be named dean or something of the college.

i hope mason knows what she is getting into.

Anonymous said...

Huh? What is the basis for this?

What other payoff are you talking about?

What are you talking about that Wellmark has "bought" a college?