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Showing posts from September, 2008

SNL Isn't Laughable - Sarah Palin Is

Saturday Night Live has gotten a bit of a bad reputation over the past few years for becoming, well, quite lame. Recently though, SNL has been getting rave reviews thanks to Tina Fey's Sarah Palin parodies. The Katie Couric interview spoof that aired on Saturday night has been wildly popular.

While some comedy optimists are talking about some sort of SNL comeback, the reality is that it isn't coming. The Sarah Palin skits aren't funny because of brilliant writing, they are hilarious because of an extraordinarily incompetent VP candidate. In essence, Palin is writing material for SNL with each interview she does. Over the past two days, just about everyone with a cable TV show that is somehow categorized as "news" has spliced the clips together to create an embarassing moment for the VP candidate: parts of the parody are verbatim from the interview!

Sarah Palin is perhaps the best thing to happen to Saturday Night Live in years. Unfortunately, she is also one of the…

The Problem With Unpaid Internships

I recently read quite a few good discussions regarding the legality of unpaid internships. After all, America does have a minimum wage law that is designed to protect workers from exactly what unpaid internships do: allow an organization to benefit from someone's labor at a cost so low that he or she wouldn't be able to survive on that job. As it turns out, nevertheless, unpaid internships are not illegal.

Of course, that doesn't mean they aren't without their problems. Specifically, I think there are three major issues I want to point out.

First, unpaid internships are off-limits to thousands of students: it sure would be nice if every college student was a trust fund kid who never has to worry about money; unfortunately, the world isn't such a wonderful place. There are plenty of students who have to babysit, wait tables or deliver pizzas just to afford rent and Ramen Noodles. The prospect of an unpaid internship would mean that these students would need to either …

We Won't Learn From the Financial Crisis

Economic crises seem to be a dime a dozen nowadays. In this decade alone we've had the dot-com bust, the housing collapse, and now the complete financial meltdown. We've also had a few political crises as well, 9/11 and Katrina jump to mind. The handling of each crisis has been almost eerily similar, and it is likely that crises will be handled the same way again in the future. The writing is on the wall: the energy crisis will be next. It will occur because we live in a duel-state of denial and optimism about the world's energy equation. So how does it look like the energy crisis will play out?

Phase 1 - we didn't see it coming: the first phase of any crisis is denying accountability by claiming you couldn't see the disaster coming; then you insinuate that if you had, you could have preempted it. The problem is that eventually overwhelming evidence surfaces that the crisis was predictable and there were probably very intelligent people shouting from the rooftops an…

An Open Letter to Cleveland's Leaders

The following is an open letter to Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson, City Council President Martin Sweeney, and City Coucil Members Nina Turner, Robert White, Zach Reed, Kenneth Johnson, Phyllis Cleveland, Mamie Mitchell, Stephanie Howse, Sabra Pierce Scott, Kevin Conwell, Roosevelt Coats, Michael Polensek, Anthony Brancatelli, Joe Cimperman, Joe Santiago, Brian Cummins, Kevin Kelley, Matt Zone, Jay Westbrook, Dona Brady and Martin Keane.

A condensed version of this letter has been submitted to The Plain Dealer as a letter to the editor. Edit: The Plain Dealer published my letter on Friday, September 26th, 2008. Thanks to everyone who has helped spread the word thusfar!

Dear Mayor Jackson and Cleveland City Council Members,

Yesterday’s announcement that Eaton Corp. will most likely flee from Cleveland to the suburbs was a colossal disappointment and a crushing blow to my confidence in Cleveland’s leadership. Mayor Jackson keeps talking about the concept of “regionalism” and the 50/50 tax sp…

Time Of Our Lives

"Enjoy college - it is the best time of your life." - this was a comment that I frequently heard from colleagues during my internship last winter. But what exactly makes college so wonderful? Probably not the classes, or the exams, or the papers... it can't be money, as students are usually beyond poor, surviving on Ramen noodles that they buy in bulk when they go on sale; so what is it?

Last year I read Dan Gilbert's best-seller Stumbling on Happiness. Gilbert's central thesis is that we are terrible at imagining what will make us happy, and thus we make poor decisions about how to live our lives. When it comes to college, most folks claim to know what they want in the future: they want the exciting job; they want lots of money; they want a big house in the suburbs, on an acre of grass; they want a fancy car and they want to share all of these things with their life partner.

So why do the people who have the career and the spouse and the money and house in the sub…

Yes, Many Economists Do Support Obama

As a student of economics, I am often pressed to justify my support for Democratic politicians, and specifically, Barack Obama. People often point me to articles like the Feldstein and Taylor piece in the Wall Street Journal praising the McCain tax plan; the Washington Post editorial criticizing the structure of Obama's tax plan; or the strange editorial from last year's Las Vegas Review Journal claiming that Obama will spark some sort of economic class warfare. The thread that all of these articles share is that they are centered around tax policy. Fair enough, there is certainly debate to be had over which candidate's tax policy is superior; and frankly I am pretty torn on this issue. However, there is a lot more to the economy then just tax policy.

Perhaps for this reason, a new survey, which asked 523 economists (members of the American Economic Association) who they would vote for in the November election, the results came back: 66% for Obama and 28% for McCain. There …

We Aren't Stupid, We Just Don't Care

Earlier this month, Barack Obama made these comments while speaking to a crowd in Indiana:

Suddenly he's the change agent! He says, “I’m going to tell those lobbyists that their days of running Washington are over.” Who’s he going to tell? Is he going to tell his campaign chairman who’s one of the biggest corporate lobbyists in Washington? Is he going to tell his campaign manager who was one of the biggest corporate lobbyists in Washington? Is he going to tell all the folks who are running his campaign who are the biggest corporate lobbyists in Washington? Who is it that he’s going to tell that change is coming? I mean come on, they must think you’re stupid!
These comments underscore a key to Obama's campaign philosophy. He believes that Americans are inherently smart - that if you tell them the truth and make a legitimate case that they will make the correct voting decision. Is Obama correct? Last April I blogged about how folks who watch satire news are more informed about pol…

Until Its Gone...

The hospital is about the last place anybody wants to spend their vacation, but that's exactly where I found myself about a week and a half ago. Chicago is a great city (what I saw of it anyways), but unfortunately, my most prominent memory will be of Northwestern Hospital. Maybe it was fatigue or maybe a temporary lapse of judgment, but after by biking about 22 miles up and down the Chicago shore I managed to get myself into my worst bicycling wreck to date. Apparently, my right wrist absorbed 100% of the impact from the fall, as there isn't a scratch anywhere else on my body. But as for the wrist, I fractured three bones, had to have surery on it, and now have a metal plate and a bunch of pins in my arm. In other words, my entire right hand, wrist, and arm is basically useless right now.

It isn't uncommon to hear phrases like, "you don't know what you have until its gone," or "you can't truly appreciate something until you've lost it;" and …