This is a map of the number of hours worked at minimum wage, by state, needed to make rent on an average fair market rate two-bedroom apartment. (Average fair market rate is a HUD indicator, the 40th percentile of gross rent on a non-substandard unit.)
I’ve been writing a series of pieces on flood insurance for the Superstorm Research Lab blog. The first one is posted today:
The cost of risk: why taxpayers foot the bill for flood insurance
I find it interesting that, at least in terms of the people I’ve had casual chats with (which probably doesn’t represent a cross-section of people, but whatever), flood insurance seems to be a topic that people don’t know much about but are very interested in, in general. I actually find insurance, as a concept, very interesting too.
There’s only one provider of flood insurance in the United States: the government-run National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). This is because private insurance companies won’t offer flood insurance – they can’t provide a product at a price people are willing to pay while also meeting their own standards for profitability. Therefore, in 1968, the NFIP was established. Its overall goal was to reduce the amount of money paid out through federal disaster assistance, by introducing a market mechanism which would help people better appreciate the financial risk of living in flood-prone areas and recoup some of the expenses of disaster relief. [continued on the Superstorm Research Lab Blog]
Happy Thanksgiving! I for one am happy that you’re reading my blog despite my profoundly erratic content production habits.
On the subject of content production, I encourage you to watch this WNET special, “Black, White, and Dead All Over”, about the newspaper industry. It’s supposedly about the death of newspapers, but in reality it’s about how the people who own and manage the newspapers have effectively killed off investigative journalism.
The thing that is implicit here is that the owners of the newspapers thought that they were selling newspapers. And this was their mistake. They were selling two things – adspace in the paper, mostly in the form of classified ads, and content. Craigslist stole the classifieds. Then the owners decided to give away the content for free on the internet. So, unsurprisingly, newspapers aren’t making money any more. The documentary discusses ProPublica – an outfit which I think is great – while noting that these small, independent investigative newsrooms are no replacement for local papers which can be local watchdogs. (This is entirely true.)
What I then started to wonder is whether news, that is, the production of genuine independent reporting, has ever really been profitable. What newspapers are trying to do now is to sell the news itself, with a little bit of adspace. Although its clear that there is mismanagement and misallocation of funds (ahem, don’t dock your workers’ pay and then give yourself a bonus equivalent to the money that saved you. No. Never do that.), it’s also clear that the news alone is not a profitable product. I can’t help wondering if all true watchdog journalism is going to go the way of Propublica, to the nonprofit model. I think there’s a lot of freedom in the nonprofit model, there’s a lot more that you can do when you don’t have shareholders and owners. I also think that a lot of the public goods (like investigative journalism) that are fading away as capital becomes ever more concentrated in the hands of a few people, will end up going nonprofit.
The thing I really would have loved to see – the thing that was never discussed in the movie – would be a newspaper that was actually owned by its reporters. A co-op. Now that would be worth reading.
oh man. The past couple of weeks have felt like a neverending shitstorm (or is that… shutstorm?) of bad news. Here is a small collection of things from Twitter that have helped me feel a little bit better about life.
Goodnight moon, goodnight stars
Goodnight person peeing on the corner
Goodnight leather daddy
Goodnight San Francisco—
San Francisco Fog (@KarlTheFog) October 04, 2013
I really hope I can find a way to watch this live. I am not being ironic. And finally….
like a lot of academics and writers, I have a hard time focusing sometimes. Okay, a lot of the time. No, most of the time. I take active pleasure in falling down the internet rabbit hole because I know an hour or two of the time that I have set aside to work will be consumed by things like Climate Progress or 40 Days of Dating. Sometimes I just give up for a while – I queue up some interwebs TV and bust out the knitting. Because even though it’s just knitting, and even though I know I may never get my work-juju back and thus the evening is lost to me, I’m at least getting something (anything) done.
When Buzzfeed gets it right, they get it really, really right: 25 Deeply Painful PhD Student Problems
I’d like to draw your attention to #3, #9, #10, #12, #16.
24. Explaining to your friends with 9-to-5 jobs why you can’t go out on Friday night.
There’s a new Neko Case album out on September 3rd.
I am concerned that my head will explode when I hear it all the way through. I will make my way through it like chocolate-covered strawberries, savoring each song slowly and one by one.
While you are waiting, did you know you can download a whole album right now from her collaborator, Kelly Hogan? It’s called I like to keep myself in pain and it is great. Here is a nibble: