Law

End State

California is a mess, but I love it all the same--especially the Bay Area, where I lived for 15 years. I went to Berkeley in 1962--a refugee from Amherst College, which at that time was dominated by frat boys with high SAT scores. I didn't go to Berkeley to go to school, but to be a bus ride away from North Beach and the Jazz Workshop. In a broader sense, I went to California for the same reason that other émigrés had been going since the 1840s. I was knocking on the Golden Door. Immigrants from Europe had come to America seeking happiness and a break with their unhappy pasts.

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Recessional

It's some 400 miles from Harvard Square to Capitol Hill, but when Rory Stewart made the trip last month, he chose an unlikely mode of transport: He took a plane. Stewart is an inveterate, epic walker. He spent part of this past summer strolling the 150 miles from Crieff to Penrith in his native Scotland. More impressively, in 2002, not long after he quit his job with the British Foreign Office, he walked across Afghanistan, a 600-mile jaunt that served as the basis for his best-selling book The Places In Between.

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I'm a bit late in getting to this, but I have to disagree with Suzy Khimm's take on GOP Senator Tom Coburn's co-authoring a piece for The Advocate with Christopher Barron, Chairman of GOProud. That organization was founded earlier this year (I wrote about it here) by a pair of disgruntled former employees of the Log Cabin Republicans, who argued that the flagship gay GOP organization had been hijacked by liberals.

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The OMB blog has an interesting item up about the effects of entering the labor market during a recession versus a tight labor market. On the one hand, there are the immediate effects you'd expect: lower wages and scarcer jobs. Per the item: "[A]ccording to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, less than 20 percent of the class of 2009 graduated from college with a job offer in hand, compared to 25 percent in the class of 2008 and more than 50 percent in the class of 2007." More interestingly, though, are the apparent longer-term effects.

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Yesterday I wondered about the long-term stock grants that pay czar Ken Feinberg is asking TARP recipients to give executives in lieu of cash salaries, which will fall sharply. The news reports said employees generally wouldn't be able to touch their stock grants for four years, but it wasn't clear if the employees would also forfeit their stock if they left sooner. For what it's worth, today's Wall Street Journal provides a little more detail on that question: The stock units, Mr.

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The Pay Czar Strikes

So it really does sound like Ken Feinberg is on the right track. I like the idea of cutting cash salaries to under $500,000 for top executives and shifting compensation toward long-term stock grants, which the Journal says wouldn't be touch-able for at least four years (with the possible exception of companies that pay back their bailout money early). One question: What happens to the stock if the executive leaves the firm sooner? According to the Journal, Feinberg wants the long-term grants to start this year.

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Trigger Unhappy

Jacob S. Hacker is the Stanley B. Resor Professor of Political Science at Yale University. An expert on the politics of U.S. health and social policy, he is author, coauthor, or editor of numerous books and articles, both scholarly and popular, including The Great Risk Shift: The New Economic Insecurity and the Decline of the American Dream (2006; paperback, January 2008) and Health At Risk: America’s Ailing Health System and How to Heal It (2008). As closed-door discussions continue in the Senate, the idea of triggering the public health insurance option is once again on the table.

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If you've been following the trials of the auto industry this last year, then you already know GM's management team, led by former CEO Rick Wagoner, left a lot to be desired. But, even so, Wagoner comes off as unbelievably lame in Steve Rattner's account of his time as Obama's auto guru. To wit: At GM's Renaissance Center headquarters, the top brass were sequestered on the uppermost floor, behind locked and guarded glass doors.

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This is the second installment of our new feature: Curbside Consult. For the uninitiated, curbside consults are a venerable medical tradition, whereby a doctor seeks informal advice from an experienced colleague in treating a patient with a complex condition. In covering or understanding complex health and social policies, we need sometimes help too. Today’s interview is with Katherine Swartz, PhD. She is Professor of Health Economics and Policy at the Harvard School of Public Health.

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Last Standish

Standish, Michigan It's two p.m. on a workday, and the casino parking lot is completely full. Hundreds of people have come for the $20 gambling coupons offered to those willing to donate blood. Turnout for the drive was "above and beyond" expectations, says Frank Cloutier, a spokesman for the Saginaw Chippewa Indians, who run the 800-slot complex. The nurses are already turning people away two hours before closing, and they will soon run out of blood bags. "We get free money!" one woman tells me, clutching her coupon as her friends nod in agreement.

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