Lupin open house a success

Despite an ongoing conflict with Ed and Kassandra Dennis, the Stout Family Open House held on the Lupin property this weekend was a smashing success. About 2000 invitations had been sent out on short notice; even on a cool, drizzly Saturday in January, an estimated 200-300 people showed up. The main parking area was overflowing and I can’t remember ever seeing the clubhouse so full of people. This was a truly heartwarming experience. For all who attended, thank you very much!

Two surveys were available to help guide the future of Lupin; these are available on line. Completed surveys should be mailed to Ardis Williams, 4295 Hendrix Way, San Jose CA 95124-4714.

Understanding working class conservatives

One of the ideas I’ve heard for understanding the willingness of so many working class people to support policies which operate against their own interest is that following the fable of unlimited opportunity, people believe they will be rich some day. An individual who believes [s]he will be rich may be more likely to acquiesce to policies favoring the rich, particularly if those policies are framed well, such as with fabled ‘tax relief’ that disproportionately favors the wealthy, or ‘welfare reform’ which widen the gaps in the mesh of the social safety net.

The Gallup Poll. Jan. 20-22, 2003. N=1,006 adults nationwide. MoE ± 3 (total sample).
“Looking ahead, how likely is it that you will ever be rich? Would you say it is very likely, somewhat likely, not very likely, or not at all likely?”

Not Very
Not At
All Likely
Rich (vol.)
% % % % %
1/03 10 21 36 30 2

“Just thinking about your own situation, how much money per year would you need to make in order to consider yourself rich?” Form A (N=502, MoE ± 5)
Median response = $120,000

“Just thinking about your own situation, how much money would you need to have saved up in cash, stocks, real estate and other investments in order to consider yourself rich?” Form B (N=504, MoE ± 5)

Median response = $1,000,000

‘No one who works full time should have to live in poverty’

The New York Times has an article on the effect of injecting morality into the debate over a living wage. The problem, of course, is that business owners frame any attempt to raise the minimum wage as a “job killer,” even though “[i]ncreasing the minimum wage to $7.25 an hour would directly affect the wages of only about 7 percent of the work force.” So while it is often legally possible to raise the minimum wage above the federal standard, “[w]hether a wage campaign was winnable turned out to be a more complicated matter. In the late 1990’s, Kern helped Acorn in a series of attempts to raise the minimum wage in Denver, Houston and Missouri. They all failed. ‘It wasn’t even close,’ she says. In the past few years, though, as the federal minimum wage has remained fixed at $5.15 and the cost of living (specifically housing) has risen drastically in many regions, similar campaigns have produced so many victories (currently, 134) that Kern speaks collectively of ‘a widespread living-wage movement.'”

The tenor of this debate began to change in the mid-1990’s following some work done by two Princeton economists, David Card (now at the University of California at Berkeley) and Alan B. Krueger. In 1992, New Jersey increased the state minimum wage to $5.05 an hour (applicable to both the public and private sectors), which gave the two young professors an opportunity to study the comparative effects of that raise on fast-food restaurants and low-wage employment in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, where the minimum wage remained at the federal level of $4.25 an hour. Card and Krueger agreed that the hypothesis that a rise in wages would destroy jobs was “one of the clearest and most widely appreciated in the field of economics.” Both told me they believed, at the start, that their work would reinforce that hypothesis. But in 1995, and again in 2000, the two academics effectively shredded the conventional wisdom. Their data demonstrated that a modest increase in wages did not appear to cause any significant harm to employment; in some cases, a rise in the minimum wage even resulted in a slight increase in employment.

Lost e-mail

I have spent most of the last day and a half converting my primary server from Linux to FreeBSD. I’ve been nervous about Linux being directly on the net since it turned out that there were multiple copies of an insecure version of the gzip library in the Linux kernel code a while ago. My server is now directly on the net, which will allow things like FTP to work, which apparently can’t be made to work across a firewall despite the instructions to be found on the web.

Unfortunately, I used FreeBSD ports to install Dan Bernstein’s software. Bad idea. Very bad idea. Who knows how much e-mail I have lost. I have wound up going through every configuration with a fine-tooth comb. I was also unable to run multiple instances of tinydns and dnscache on FreeBSD; my local DNS and white and blacklisting now runs on my OpenBSD router, where it has no problem.

I’m hoping the e-mail lists are up now. And I’m hoping I haven’t been unsubscribed from too many news site lists. We’ll see.

More on Swiss report on prisons

The International Herald Tribune reports that “Switzerland is conducting criminal investigations to track down the source of a leak to the Zurich-based newspaper SonntagsBlick of what it reported was a secret document citing clandestine C.I.A. prisons in Eastern Europe.” A conviction could result in a five year sentence, but “no one prosecuted under the law has ever served any prison time.”

Europe looks to next moves in CIA prison scandal

Deutschewelle reports that “A Swiss newspaper” has reported proof, from Egyptian sources, of CIA-run prisons within Europe. The Council of Europe “whose chief mission is to monitor compliance to the European conventions on human rights and prohibiting torture … has already appointed its own investigator, Dick Marty of Switzerland, who is to present his report at the end of January.” If proof is found, the European Union “will have the duty to decide on how to handle the serious breach in EU law.”

Canada’s beleaguered Labour Party to seek ban on weaponization of space

Headed for defeat in elections following the Sponsorship Scandal and launching attack ads to prove it, Canada’s Labour Party “would seek an international deal to permanently ban weapons in space” if re-elected. Presumably, this would include “directed-energy weapons” which “may well signal a revolution in military hardware—perhaps more so than the atomic bomb.”

Friends point out to me that space exploration has always been about military advantage. John F. Kennedy called for landing a man on the moon in response to a perceived Soviet advantage in space exploration. And it is thus no surprise that President Bush has sought to return men to the moon, and send them on to Mars, as China progresses in its own space program.

But for me, it is profoundly troubling that the “final frontier” must be the final battleground in earthbound rivalries. We have already screwed up our own planet. Is it really so essential that we do the same on other worlds?

Florida re-examines ‘boot camps’ for juveniles

”These places are terrible, they have been shown to be unsuccessful, and they should be shut down,” said state Rep. Gustavo ”Gus” Barreiro, a Miami Beach Republican who chairs the House Criminal Justice Appropriations Committee, and heads a separate committee that is investigating the treatment of youth in state care. “I think they should be eliminated.”

“Boot camps” for juvenile offenders have persisted for years due to pressure from sheriffs, despite empirical evidence that the camps don’t work.

[The Department of Juvenile Justice’s] records show about 62 percent of the youth who graduate from one of the state’s boot camps are arrested again for some type of offense — a recidivism rate experts call very high. Other programs for moderate-risk kids, such as wilderness camps, also have high re-arrest rates, but some, such as halfway houses, are much lower.