“Let me tell you about that most dishonorable profession - sales. These are the same men and women who as boys and girls were the flibbertigibbets of the playground - full of words, opinions, and in general themselves. It never matters what you may think, they’ve already decided for you: how much of a dinosaur you are for not already knowing about their latest mortgage product, how “life-changing” their shiny new app is, and how badly you need (as if suddenly humankind’s basic necessities included one more item) what they have. To think of the hundreds, even thousands of cubicle farms across this country packed full of warm-bodies with one explicit purpose - “to pad their numbers” just so that they can sleep at night. Forget what “value-add” they peddle, anything that requires the act of selling is not at all important; it’s his ego that’s important, her place among her fellow tribesmen that matters. By answering the phone you’re only contributing to the deadweight loss in society. And don’t worry, you’ll find out sooner or later if whatever it is they’ve cooked up supplants food and water.”
— Publico, editor of Public.SQ
“To put it bluntly, the discipline of economics has yet to get over its childish passion for mathematics and for purely theoretical and often highly ideological speculation, at the expense of historical research and collaboration with the other social sciences. Economists are too often preoccupied with petty mathematical problems of interest only to themselves. This obsession with mathematics is an easy way of acquiring the appearance of scientificity without having to answer the far more complex questions posed by the world we live in.”
— Thomas Piketty

Letter to the Editor [NYTimes]:

Amtrak is a disgrace. Acela trains aside, the Northeast Corridor trains I’ve been on seem way past their prime. Cars are dimly lighted, and an overwhelming effluvium emanates from the bathrooms.

In my experience, the trains rarely leave on time and never arrive on time. I need not go into the indignities of entering or departing from Penn Station in New York. And yet the trains are packed; clearly, the public wants to travel by rail.

To say this is the railroad of a developing country would be an insult to the determination of an ambitious society; it is the railroad of an undeveloping country. I blame not Amtrak, but an inept Congress that is unable to grasp the importance of how to build (or maintain, for that matter) a collective infrastructure that would benefit the vast majority of its citizens.

-Andrew Goetz

Hear, hear.

“You have a lot of people who are coming out of the military that have the ability and knowledge to build I.E.D.’s and to defeat law enforcement techniques.”

Sgt. Dan Downing of Morgan County Sheriff’s Department attempt to rationalize his department’s obtaining military-grade equipment

So now our greatest threat to the homeland is the brave men and women returning from the battlefield? Are we so blind that we fail to make the connection that those who defend us abroad also defend us at home?

-Publico

“If a nation expects to be ignorant & free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was & never will be. The functionaries of every government have propensities to command at will the liberty & property of their constituents. There is no safe deposit for these but with the people themselves; nor can they be safe with them without information. Where the press is free and every man able to read, all is safe.”
— Thomas Jefferson, author of the Declaration of Independence, 3rd President of the United States of America
On its website, Richland County [South Carolina] Sheriff’s Department describes the pictured armored vehicle as “The Peacemaker”.

On its website, Richland County [South Carolina] Sheriff’s Department describes the pictured armored vehicle as “The Peacemaker”.

“This is not what I was looking for when I moved here, that my children would view their local police officer as an M-16-toting, SWAT-apparel-wearing officer.”
— Father of two who spoke out against his community receiving an armored truck via the Defense Department’s surplus equipment program, via The New York Times
“In a series of sweeps — conducted without warrants under the authority of the DBPR between August and October 2010 — 35 people were arrested on a charge of “barbering without an active license,” which is almost never used for custodial arrests in the state.”
“In the military, these weapons and vehicles exist on the lower end of a spectrum of force. Getting hit by an LRAD or being water-hosed is preferable to seeing the business end of a .50-caliber belt-fed machine gun or an M203 grenade launcher. But in police departments, this gear is on the upper end of the force spectrum. It’s a far, far cry from community policing.”
— Adam Weinstein, via Gawker
“In June, Matt Apuzzo of The New York Times wrote about how equipment from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan was now finding its way to local police departments in the United States. All of which helps explain the sudden hostilities at home and the response of local law enforcement, which seemed over equipped and underprepared, with everything in its tool belt save common sense.”
— David Carr, via The New York Times