GamePolitics points out this interesting discussion about whether video game designers should unionize, a question prompted by disputes over how the folks who helped develop L.A. Noire were treated during the six years the game was under development. Michael Pachter says they shouldn’t:
It’s a thoughtful analysis, but also one that I disagree with. I think Pachter is right that game development is not a punch-in, punch-out kind of job, that gamer developers and designers have more autonomy than people on assembly lines, that their workplaces are not necessarily places where you’re in danger of being maimed, and that if you’re in game development, you are almost certainly paid a solidly middle-class wage, and have the potential for future earnings from profit pools. And I think those facts lead Pachter (who describes himself as a Democrat) to a fairly common conclusion about the proper and limited role of unions:
I think unions are in business to protect workers from, I think, dangerous working conditions and unfair and predatory labor practices. So dangerous, yeah, if you work in a factory and you can lose a finger, then the union has to make sure you have steel-toed shoes and the right kind of gloves…if you work in a sweatshop where they’re hiring children and not paying a minimum wage, absolutely you need a union to make sure there are fair labor practices. We’re talking about a games industry where the average compensation is well above $60,000…I just don’t think people who make $100,000 need a lot of protection because they might have to work overtime…I think sports unions like the NBA and the NFL make no sense at all…Once you get up to a certain wage level, you’re charged with being able to take care of yourself, and if you can’t handle it, don’t work there.
A couple of thoughts. First, the idea that just because you’re well-paid for doing a job you like means you can’t be abused isn’t really true. The reason that players in the National Football League need a union is that even though average player salaries are higher than the average game developer’s salary, they’re not necessarily high enough to pay for long-term care if you get a traumatic brain injury and leave money behind for your family if you die young. You’re probably not going to get a traumatic brain injury working in game development, but you can get treated badly and pressured by your boss, you can get sick from working too many hours. Taking a good salary doesn’t mean trading in your right to dignity.
Second, I actually think issues like being included in credits (one of the issues Team Bondi developers had with the L.A. Noire project) are, for folks working in the artistic industry, worth going to the wall for in the same way wages, benefits, and workplace salaries. Having your name on your work is absolutely critical to your ability to secure future work. The Visual Effects Society has raised similar issues about the crediting (as well as taking on common problems like extended crunch times) of folks who do visual effects work for movies. This is the kind of thing that I think often is treated as if it’s not a core union issue, or that it’s lower-level, the kind of thing that can be dealt with by a guild, or an informal complaint.
This is a huge challenge for unions, right? If you’re fighting a rearguard action for your survival, it’s really easy to justify your existence by pointing to the hugely vulnerable people you protect from the most abusive employees. But that can be easily turned against unions to narrow the public’s sense of the appropriate space for unions to operate in: if Don Blankenship isn’t burying you in a collapsed coal mine while laughing maniacally, you don’t really need a union (and maybe not even then). If game developers (and I’d love to hear from those of you in comments who are among that number) don’t want union representation, that’s one thing. But that seems like it’s an issue for them to decide, rather than a category for analysts to suggest they don’t belong in.
Congressional Black Caucus Chair: We Will Only Support A Clean Debt Ceiling Vote |
During a radio interview today, Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO), the Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, said the over 40 members of the CBC will be voting ‘no’ on any plan that cuts government services — including the plan put forward by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV). Cleaver says the caucus insists on a clean vote to raise the debt ceiling — the same kind of vote “we’ve done repeatedly since 1917.” Cleaver explained, “we can deal with the deficit questions later, but let’s not send the most powerful nation on the planet into default.” Rep. Allen West (R-FL), the one Republican member of the CBC, has said he will support Speaker Boehner’s (R-OH) plan.
David Leonhardt’s last “Economic Scene” column is basically awesome, but as he rides into the sunset of his new Washington Bureauchiefdom, he did offer one offhand remark that I don’t think is quite right:
When it comes to economics, we know that a market economy with a significant government role is the only proven model of success. The United States has outgrown Europe partly because of our greater comfort with market forces. China and India boomed after allowing more of a market economy. On the other hand, unencumbered market forces often lead to disaster, as 1929 and 2008 made clear.
Here’s a chart Matt Cameron made based on Angus Maddison’s data (XLS). The definition of Western Europe here is Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, and the UK. The United States, it’s worth noting, was richer than most of these countries as far back as 1820. Presumably the reason we were so rich in 1820 is the same as the reason Australia was so rich in 1820—we were stealing valuable land from its indigenous occupants. And as you can see, the gap in per capita output long predates the emergence of the postwar welfare state.
The past 140 years worth of growth rates don’t display any consistent trend. You can make the case that anti-market public policies explain why Europe hasn’t converged on American per capita output. But I think it’s difficult to characterize the pre-1870 U.S. economy as primarily “comfort with market forces” as opposed to high tariffs, expropriation of Native American land, and chattel slavery. The interesting question is perhaps not why American outgrew Europe during this period, but why American outgrew Mexico, Peru, and Brazil. Daron Acemoglu, Simon Johnson, and James A. Robinson (PDF) “Reversal of Fortune: Geography and Institutions in the Making of the Modern World IncomeDistribution” is the closest thing to a persuasive argument I’ve seen on this score.
Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX), who has been toying with running for the Republican presidential nomination, likes to brag about Texas’ job growth. But he’s made clear that he doesn’t consider public sector jobs (including his own) to be real jobs. “Government doesn’t create any jobs. They can actually run jobs away,” he told Glenn Beck.
However, as the Wall Street Journal pointed out today, public sector jobs (largely in education) have grown at a much higher rate under Perry’s watch than private sector jobs:
The Lone Star State gained more than a million jobs since the end of 2000, while the U.S. has lost almost 1.5 million, according data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
About 300,000 of the new Texas jobs were in government. Well over half of them, fueled by the surging population, were at public schools. Employment in the state’s public sector has jumped 19% since 2000, compared with a 9% rise in the private sector.
Bradlee Dean, once known for being a Christian metal rocker, now runs an incredibly homophobic ministry in Minnesota called the You Can Run But You Cannot Hide Ministry. Dean has many close ties to Minnesota social conservatives like Michele Bachmann, who he invites onto his “School of Hard Knocks Roxx”/”The Sons of Liberty” radio show, on which he regularly attacks gays and lesbians. This week, Dean filed a $50 million lawsuit against Rachel Maddow and Andy Birkey from the Minnesota Independent for highlighting radio tirades in which he supports the execution of homosexuals, calling the coverage “defamation” and “false accusations.”
According to the lawsuit, there’s a “very clear disclaimer” on the ministry’s website making it clear that it does not support the execution of homosexuals and claiming otherwise “seriously has harmed” Dean and the ministry. Maddow read that disclaimer in her coverage, but the lawsuit does not seem to acknowledge this fact. Though he now says “We are against anyone, anywhere, at any time, who executes homosexuals for being homosexual,” here is a round-up of some of his clips condemning homosexuality on the radio:
- EXECUTING HOMOSEXUALS IS MORAL: Dean is suing over a clip pulled from his radio show in May 2010. In it, he cited that Sharia Law calls for the execution of homosexuals, which he praised as being “more moral” than American Christianity. He also made the absurd claim that “On average, [homosexuals] molest 117 people before they’re found out”:
DEAN: Muslims are calling for the executions of homosexuals in America. This just shows you they themselves are upholding the laws that are even in the Bible of the Judeo-Christian God, but they seem to be more moral than even the American Christians do, because these people are livid about enforcing their laws. They know homosexuality is an abomination.
- INCARCERATING GAYS IS MORAL: Only a week later, Dean was broadcasting live from the Heritage Foundation, and he and his ministry’s co-leader, Jake McMillian, praised Malawi for arresting a gay couple who got engaged:
MCMILLIAN: They are very conservative. They sentence people for crimes against nature.
DEAN: They are very moral; they uphold the laws.
MCMILLIAN: We have got countries all over the world that are standing for what’s right and what’s wrong. In Rwanda, there’s legislation right now that repeat offenders of homosexuality will spend their life in prison.
- HOMOSEXUALITY IS AGAINST THE LAW: Back in January, 2010, Dean railed against President Obama for appointing Sharon Lubinski, a lesbian, as a U.S. Marshal in Minnesota. Citing Leviticus 18:22 (which calls homosexuality an abomination punishable by death), he blurred Old Testament Law with federal law and ignored the fact that Lawrence v. Texas overturned all “sodomy laws,” saying:
DEAN: Sodomy is against the law in the United States. Homosexuality is against the law in the United States. Statute 609.293 is sodomy in the state of Minnesota.
- FOREFATHERS CALLED FOR PROSECUTING HOMOSEXUALS: Dean triumphed Leviticus 18:22 again last November, but this time claimed Thomas Jefferson and George Washington were on his side:
DEAN: The question I wanted to know is: “What did our forefathers have to say about it?” And I’m beginning to tell ya, I mean, for example, I went back to Thomas Jefferson. He was writing a bill to penalize sodomy by castration. George Washington would basically send forth the pipers and the drummers and he would drum them out shamefully, never to come back again. And then I began to read off state statutes, and they absolutely did not tolerate crimes against nature whatsoever. Again, all the way up until 1961, you’d go to prison for 20-21 years if you were caught in the act of sodomy. In Rhode Island, it was considered a mental illness, and folks, it is.
- HOMOSEXUALS ARE COMING FOR CHILDREN: Just this week, Dean had an “epic rant” against “The Homosexual Agenda” for trying to fight bullying in Anoka-Hennepin School District. His co-host Heather cited pro-pedophilia gay and lesbian groups and cited an “actual statistic” that “homosexuals commit more than 33% of all reported child molestations in the United States.” Dean went off:
DEAN: See folks, this isn’t a fire to be played with. These are crimes… You need to understand, you’ve got to get off the sympathy train, if you’re on that sympathy train folks, because… they are not the victims. Who are the victims? The children are.
If the notion that Dean supports death for gays is causing him so many problems, perhaps he should stop reinforcing it on the air.
Dean was scheduled to appear on Sirius XM’s Michelangelo Signorile show this afternoon, but canceled his appearance after claiming he was “overwhelmed” by interview requests. Listen to Signorile school Dean:
The Village Voice has video of Dean’s press conference announcing the suit this morning. In it, he claims that MSNBC caters to “progressives, meaning a generally secular, frequently atheist, pro-gay rights, socialist, and big-government market among its viewers.” Watch it:
April 10, 2012 – Through his attorney, Dean has accused ThinkProgress of making “”false and defamatory claims” in this post. We stand by our reporting, but have agreed to publish his attorney’s letter so that his words can speak for themselves:
March 28, 2012
Re: Bradlee Dean and You Can Run International
Dear ThinkProgress/Zack Ford:
Bradlee Dean and You Can Run International concerning the false and defamatory statements published in ThinkProgress on July 27th, 2011 have retained our law firm. The article, “Bradlee Dean Never Calls for the Persecution of Gays, Except all the Time” falsely states that Bradlee Dean and has expressed agreement with an extreme Muslim position that calls for the execution of homosexuals. In your article you give a quote from Bradlee Dean’s radio broadcast to support your false and defamatory claims. This quote must be given in its entirety if you choose to use it in your article; you will find the text below.
“Muslims are calling for the executions of homosexuals in America. This just shows you they themselves are upholding the laws that are even in the Bible of the Judeo-Christian God, but they seem to be more moral than even the American Christians do, because these people are livid about enforcing their laws. They know homosexuality is an abomination. And I continually reach out to the homosexual communities on this radio show, and I warn them, which one’s love? Here you have Obama condemning it behind the backs of the homosexuals but to their faces he’s promoting it. Because he’s the one that said that he would never, no matter which way the winds go, Obama said he is not going to condemn or go against the Muslim nation. He’s also the guy that said we are no longer a Christian nation, we’re a Muslim nation … The homosexuals, they need to listen… I say this to my gay friends out there, the ones that continuously nitpick everything I say in their defense and for t heir eternal destination, Hollywood is promoting immorality and God of the Heavens in Jesus’ name is warning you to flee from the wrath to come, yet you have Muslims calling for your execution.”
Neither Bradlee Dean nor You Can Run International have ever called for the execution of homosexuals nor have they in any way expressed agreement with the statement that homosexuals should be executed.
Bradlee Dean and You Can Run International have sued Rachel Maddow and MSNBC for creating this false claim by deliberately deleting portions of a statement made by Bradlee Dean to make it appear that he was in agreement with this extreme Muslim position. Furthermore, your coverage of this lawsuit in the article is false as you fail to mention the second report done by Rachel Maddow highlighting Bradlee Dean. This second report done in August of 2011 is the subject of the lawsuit and should be acknowledged in your report. The reporter should understand and know the facts about this case before reporting.
If you contend that you have facts to support your false and defamatory claim, please produce those facts. If you have no facts supporting your false statement, then promptly remove the statement from your webpage or promptly make the corrections needed in order for this article correct and truthful.
Any further publication will be with full knowledge that the statements and claims are false and with a reckless disregard of the truth and will result in further legal action.
Rep. Walsh Confirms He Has Been Taking Debt Ceiling Advice From RedState’s Erick Erickson |
On Monday, Redstate’s Erick Erickson wrote that he has been receiving “call after call after call from members of the United States Congress” seeking permission on a potential debt ceiling deal. (The conservative blogger has denied permission.) Though Erickson did not reveal whom he’d spoken with, ThinkProgress found one such member today: Rep. Joe Walsh (R-IL). Walsh confirmed that he has spoken with Erickson multiple times, calling Redstate a “great” organization and parroting Erickson’s advice, “hold the line.”
While the administration’s interim regulations governing the operation of state-based exchanges in the Affordable Care Act received generally positive reviews for their “flexibility,” some consumer advocates argued that the federal government could be doing more to protect consumers. At today’s “Health Insurance Exchange Development” event sponsored by the Bipartisan Policy Center, Stephen Finan, Senior Director of Policy for the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, laid out his concerns of where HHS has fallen short:
1) No minimum standards for the governance of the exchange, marketing rules, and network adequacy.
2) The partnership between the states and the federal government could allow states to opt out of establishing critical regulations and leave the federal government in charge of governing essential elements of the new market place.
Indeed, consumer advocates have expressed some disappointment that the rule establishes governing standards that only stipulate that a majority of voting governing board members not have a financial conflict of interest. “Even in a voting minority, insurer representatives may dominate a board. It is also hard to imagine conflict of interest standards that have integrity that would not keep them from voting, even from being present for the discussion of, most of the important issues that exchanges will deal with,” Timothy Jost has pointed out.
Meanwhile, Steve Larsen, Director of the CMS Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight, remained optimistic that the proposed regulations would inspire more states to establish their own exchanges, thus keeping the federal government out of the business of running them. The Affordable Care Act requires the federal government to intervene if the state fails to build an operable exchange.
“I think we anticipate with the release of the most recent regulation that lays out this hybrid partnership model that the level of activity will increase significantly this summer,” Larsen said. “And then in terms of the appetite some states have in moving forward….I have never met a governor that didn’t want to control their own destiny in their state. And I think that as states look more closely at the regulations that we put out and then the next phase that will come, I think you’ll see a lot more activity to build on what’s already going on.”
So far, “virtually every state has made at least some progress toward setting up [the] health insurance marketplaces,” including states like Indiana, Mississippi, and Alabama — which are also challenging the the constitutionality of the health law. In total, 16 states have “passed exchange-related legislation,” 39 states have introduced exchange legislation this year, and “48 states (all except Louisiana and Florida) plus the District of Columbia are engaged in some level of exchange planning.” Only Louisiana has publicly announced that it won’t set up an exchange.”
By Climate Guest Blogger on Jul 27, 2011 at 4:06 pm
by Richard Caperton
It sure would be nice if members of Congress actually listened to the Congressional Budget Office. If they did, they would learn what we’ve known for quite some time: shifting to cleaner electricity generation is an affordable and effective way to reduce carbon emissions.
The CBO just released a summary of seven different types of standards from a variety of sources. The summary uniformly finds that either an RES (renewables alone) or a CES (some combination of renewables, natural gas, nuclear and CCS) will reduce carbon emissions, and that any price impacts to consumers will be minimal. Some consumers may even pay lower utility bills.
The report does acknowledge that some regions could see price increases. You can bet that some people will jump all over this and claim that clean energy mandates drive up rates. But let’s put the figures into perspective.
Only one out of seven scenarios sees a price increase of more than 5 percent by 2030. At the same time, in five of the seven scenarios, at least one region of the country is projected to see lower electricity prices.
Virtually all price impacts are between plus or minus 5 percent, which is extremely small compared to other expected price impacts. For example, a price increase of 1 percent would be overwhelmed by any change in the price of natural gas generation or in a regulated utility’s allowable rate of return. Electric rates for all consumers will change by 2030, and virtually none of that change would be because of a clean energy standard.
The CBO report also discusses the best ways to make clean energy standards more cost-effective for consumers. While CBO isn’t in the business of making recommendations, it’s clear that these will be a key part of designing a successful clean energy standard. In fact, that’s why the Center for American Progress included these cost-effective measures in our clean energy standard proposal. Specifically, CBO’s report validates these aspects of our proposal: