Friday, April 13, 2012

I love taxes

Catching up on all the news items that have accumulated in the last week.

Sixty years ago intelligence agencies considered gays to be a security risk because they could be easily blackmailed. Now these same agencies are recruiting gays, see them as assets, and hold discussions on how to be more accommodating of gay employees.

As part of an Easter celebration someone created a diorama of marshmallow peeps supporting marriage equality.

A recent study found a correlation found between existence of Wal Mart stores and of hate groups in the same area. There is now speculation of what big box stores do to small communities. Perhaps they decimate the leadership class and impoverish everyone else.

Last summer I drove through the town where I was born. The business district was a ghost-town. My aunt, who still lives in the area, says shoppers are attracted by low prices at malls in nearby big cities. The local leadership class was decimated. I don't know about hate groups in the area.

Back at the age of 14 Gabriel Arana was forced out to his mother. She enrolled him in an ex-gay program. Arana is now married to his husband. He has written an account of his time in ex-gay therapy. It didn't work. He also talks of the psychological toll such therapy had on his young life -- he felt like committing suicide while in college and checked himself into a psych ward.

Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight has rated the level of conservatism in the US Supremes over more than 70 years. He used a Martin-Quinn rating method based on the rulings in each year, then ranked the justices from most to least liberal. This method means that one line down the graph isn't always the same justice and when one retires there may be an abrupt jump to the left or right.

For 2010 (the most recent he was able to analyze) the lines show four liberal justices clustered near the liberal/conservative balance point. That means our liberal justices aren't all that liberal and are the most conservative liberals since about 1938. Yes, this court is the most conservative since the start of this data. There is a big gap between the liberals and the swing voter and another gap between the swing and the least conservative. That means he will be the deciding vote on most issues.

Back on April 2, Melissa Chadburn did a commentary aired on the NPR Marketplace program. She talked about why she loves taxes. She sees it as a way of telling the members of her community how much she values them. These people include the public transportation worker who got her to school and to job interviews, the public school teachers who set her on her career path, the nurses who attended her when she was exposed to tuberculosis, the military that helped many in her family escape poverty, and the firefighters who run into burning buildings to save strangers and who also visit homeless shelters.

Don't bother reading through the comment section.

Dr. Richard Ryan, professor of Psychology at the University of Rochester, conducted a series of studies that show that gay people who must repress their own orientation are more likely to be hostile homophobes. There is a reason why our loudest enemies turn out to be gay.

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