Sunday, 16 January 2005

Roy Moore: on the ballot in 2006?

Sunday’s Mobile Register carried an interesting piece showing former Alabama supreme court justice Roy Moore (of “Ten Commandments” monument fame) with an eight-point lead over incumbent governor Bob Riley among likely GOP primary voters in a hypothetical head-to-head matchup, in a poll conducted by the University of South Alabama. (þ: How Appealing)

Update: A shorter version of the piece is making the rounds Tuesday.

Bad essay gets bad grade, news at 11

Everyone’s favorite Moonie-owned newspaper, the Washington Times, attempts to make a cause celebré out of a student who got a bad grade on an American government exam at Foothill College, a community college in the Bay Area. (þ: Wizbang)

Steven Taylor and James Joyner have offered their grades of the purported essay in question, and—like them—I’d be hard pressed to give a non-failing grade to the essay, even leaving aside the weak grammar; it fails to meaningfully respond to the question as written, instead going off on a tangent to discuss the contemporary constitution and its effects. That the essay may be a heartwarming account by a hard-working immigrant doesn’t redeem that failing; indeed, if the question had asked for such an essay, I’d be inclined to give the essay a significantly better grade, though probably not an A. As it stands, I’d probably give it something on the order of 12–13 points out of 20.

All that said, if the professor did indeed tell the student he needed “psychological treatment” (as the Times account alleges), the prof ought to be disciplined. There’s more from the student’s side here (þ: PoliBlog).

Social security history

Though the author’s sympathies lean heavily towards doing nothing about SS, there’s an excellent history of the program at the NYT.

The article also makes clear that each generation receives more benefits than the previous generation, due to the link to inflation-adjusted wage growth. Seeing the program lift the elderly out of poverty is well enough, but at some point it would make sense to simply link it to inflation to minimize the burden to younger generations. The elderly would keep their current purchasing power and taxes could be reduced (or would be less than they otherwise might). In fact, this whole controversey could probably be done away with—and private accounts ignored—with this one simple change. Here’s the relevant graf:

Since wages generally rise faster than inflation, retirees in each generation get more in real dollars than those in previous ones. Contemporary critics, like Kasich and the Bush council, would slow the rate of future increases by linking benefits only to inflation. Though this would save a lot of money, its effect on retirees should be understood.

Seniors now get an initial benefit that is tied to a fixed portion of their pre-retirement wages. If the index was changed, their pensions would be pegged to a fixed portion of a previous generation’s income. If this standard had been in force since the beginning, retirees today would be living like those in the 1940’s—like Ida Fuller, which would mean $300 a month in today’s dollars, as opposed to roughly $1,200 a month.

As a means of lifting the elderly out of poverty, SS has succeeded quite nicely. Not increasing the burden on future generations of workers would be a big improvement over the current situation.

Dorothy Parker

I love ridgerunners who know Dorothy Parker quotes.