feeling a lot of nervousness and excitement about what is happening
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Lights Come On At Post-Maria Puerto Rico School, Glorious Pandemonium Results

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The image is blurry but the joy is ot: A teacher rings a bell
in a Puerto Rican school that erupted into gleeful pandemonium
 this weekwhen electricity was finally restored, four months
after Hurricane Mariet
One of our biggest national shames is the response the United States has had to the aftermath of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico.

Large swaths of the island still have no electricity, about four months after the hurricane blasted Puerto Rico.

At last report, at least 17 percent of the island still had no power because of the storm. If the U.S. allowed a mainland state to go that long after a disaster without electricity, there'd be rioting in the streets.

There's plenty of blame to go around for the slow response in Puerto Rico.

In any event, a viral video that surfaced this week both enrages me and fills me with absolute joy. Enrages, because it shows the power coming back on after nearly four months. What the hell took so long?

Absolute joy, because this happened in a school. The teachers and students were in there, doing the best they could without electricity, and then what seemed impossible happened: The lights flickered back on.

The pandemonium in the school that resulted is a wonder to behold. Watch and enjoy:

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jsled
3 hours ago
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South Burlington, Vermont
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BlackRock’s Message: Contribute to Society, or Risk Losing Our Support

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jsled
2 days ago
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This is both very interesting and very dangerous. It's well and good to say that companies should also work in the interest of society above-and-beyond(-though-not-incompatibly-with-) profits. But if "social benefit" simply becomes "create a company town" (as alluded to near the end of the article, in an uncharitable reading), that's pretty bad.

More generally: we can be governed by companies or we can be goverened by ourselves, through democratically-elected Representatives.

We've seen a lot of knocks against the democratic, liberal order in the last few years, and this has the potential to be a big one. The path it portends is, imho, a very dark one.
South Burlington, Vermont
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Gov. Scott Celebrates MLK Day By Announcing a New Prison

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MONTPELIER – We wish this were a satire article. We really do. But it is not. This one really happened. On a day dedicated to a man who gave his life fighting for equality, the governor of Vermont announced that he was building a giant mega-prison which, statistically speaking, will one day house a disproportionate number of African-American citizens.

We wish we could make up headlines as insanely ridiculous as this, but we can’t. We would have printed something silly like “Bernie Sanders Meets Secretly with Donald Trump and the Two Become Best Friends.” We might have written a story about Ben & Jerry’s new MLK-themed flavor, “Ice Have a Cream.” You know, something stupid. Never in our wildest dreams could we have come up with satire as perfect as the governor announcing a new prison on MLK Day.

Why was he even at work? Wasn’t it a state holiday? Why was he giving statements to the press about new prisons? Shouldn’t he have been at home tweeting out inspirational quotes with his family? When you think about it, it’s really just not a believable story. Someone forgot to fact check this thing. And yet, it is fact. If it weren’t true it would be hilarious! This is what we hope most people say about our articles. “Oh, it’s not true? Well then, it’s kind of funny.” But this one is true. Maybe it will be funny later?

Look, we’re sorry about this. I know we’re supposed to make up exaggerated fake stories to make some sort of point, but the real news is just becoming too absurd. What are we supposed to do in this situation? What could we possibly fabricate that would be more insane than a state governor doubling down on one of the worst systems of racial injustice on the day we remember Martin Luther King, Jr.? And even worse, it kind of makes yesterday’s post less satirical and more real as well.

Sorry folks. We’ll try to do better tomorrow.

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jsled
2 days ago
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South Burlington, Vermont
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Small Business Promotion Is Mostly A Bad Idea

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As the anti-monopoly movement has picked up steam in important policy circles, some have begun thinking that small business promotion is a good idea. This seems to be partially driven by the technical view that small businesses are a way to counteract corporate concentration and partially driven by the more ideological and aesthetic view that there’s something inherently just and beautiful about small-time entrepreneurs and mom and pop shops.

In reality, small business promotion is mostly a bad idea. Small businesses pay lower wages, provide worse benefits, are often exempt from important worker protections, and are incompatible with the way unionization works in this country.

Wages

According to the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW), smaller employers pay their workers considerably less than larger employers. In the first quarter of 2017, firms with 5 to 9 employees paid an average weekly wage of $849. For firms with 1,000 or more employees, the wage was $1,793.

The wage premium enjoyed by workers in large firms has been documented for a long time and is present within most sectors and subsectors of our economy.

Benefits

The wages reported in the QCEW exclude certain benefits, such as health insurance. When you include those, the picture looks even worse for small businesses. In 2016, around 20 percent of firms with 0 to 9 employees offered health insurance. For firms with 1,000 or more employees, it was 99.8 percent.

This is to be expected of course. In addition to small businesses providing their workers lower overall compensation, they also have less ability to construct the same elaborate benefit systems that larger employers can. It is very time-consuming to construct a welfare state, but that is what the American system asks employers to do. Larger employers tend to have the resources to make welfare systems for their workers while smaller employers do not.

Labor Protection

The US labor code provides a variety of protections for workers in the country. But small businesses are generally exempted from those protections. The table below shows how many employees an employer must have before they are covered by major employment protections.

Protection Statute Size of Covered Employers
Racial Discrimination CRA 15+ Employees
Gender Discrimination CRA 15+ Employees
Religious Discrimination CRA 15+ Employees
Disability Discrimination ADA 15+ Employees
Age Discrimination ADEA 20+ Employees
Medical Coverage After Discharge COBRA 20+ Employees
Family and Medical Leave FMLA 50+ Employees

The National Labor Relations Act, which protects the rights of workers to act collectively and organize into unions, does not require an employer to have a specific number of employees to be covered. But, constitutionally speaking, only employers whose activity in interstate commerce exceeds a minimal level are subject to the NLRA. In practice what this means is that smaller businesses, defined in terms of gross revenue as opposed to number of employees, are exempted from the NLRA.

Even for workers in small businesses that are big enough to be covered by the NLRA, unionization is often not practical. Under US labor law, unions are organized on the establishment level, meaning employer by employer and worksite by worksite. Because union representation has a lot of fixed costs, it is not economically feasible in many cases to represent small units of workers.

Anti-Monopoly Without Small Business Fetishism

The upshot of this analysis is that anti-monopoly policy agendas should not be focused on small business promotion, but instead on increasing the number of medium-sized and especially large businesses in each market. For instance, instead of having three or four companies receiving most of the business in a particular market, we could have ten or fifteen. This would deconcentrate industries without increasing the share of workers employed by small businesses.

None of this is to say that small businesses are totally useless. The creation of new businesses, which often start out small, is one of the ways that innovation gets injected into the system. But there is a difference between supporting small entrants in order to keep open an important channel of innovation and supporting an economic structure that seeks to keep businesses permanently small. The latter would probably be a disaster, especially for workers.

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jsled
2 days ago
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South Burlington, Vermont
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How to Be Encouraging When Your Friend Just Discovered Doges

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Here’s what to do when your friend keeps tagging you in the most ancient of memes.

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jsled
2 days ago
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South Burlington, Vermont
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the thing: CONTROVERSIAL??

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archive - contact - sexy exciting merchandise - search - about
January 15th, 2018next

January 15th, 2018: Sorry if this jammed any slam (dunks).

– Ryan

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jsled
3 days ago
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"…No?"
South Burlington, Vermont
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1 public comment
daanzu_alt_text_bot
3 days ago
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[rss title] the thing: CONTROVERSIAL??

[img title] *falls to knees* it has been yuuuuucccccccked

[mailto subject] they're going to be so disappointed when they find out "yuck" and "yum" don't even rhyme
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