Tag Archives: Block

Man, this sea ice situation has really looked better.

One of the five newly installed turbines off the shore of Block Island, Rhode Island, will be late getting spinning because someone at the General Electric factory in Saint-Nazaire, France, left a six-inch drill bit inside it, which damaged critical magnets.

Fortunately, the turbine is still under warranty, so it’s GE’s responsibility to pay for floating new 60-pound magnets out to the broken turbine, hoisting them 330 feet into the air, and repairing the turbine’s generator.

The Block Island Wind Farm is noteworthy not because offshore wind is new (Europeans have been doing it since the ’90s), but because, as the first such installation in the U.S., it could herald a whole lot of offshore wind development along the Atlantic coast. The region is a significant user of coal, oil, and natural gas, but it’s geologically well-suited for offshore wind and many of its residents and leaders are motivated to switch to clean energy by the already-visible effects of sea-level rise.

Block Island has been getting its electricity from diesel generators, but now it will be able to ditch them (except for one it’ll keep for backup). Three other offshore wind projects in the region are already in the works.

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Man, this sea ice situation has really looked better.

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When it Comes to Helping the Poor, Block Grants Are an Epic Failure

Mother Jones

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I remain agnostic about the 1996 welfare reform act, simply because I haven’t studied it enough. But Ron Haskins, a former Republican congressional staff director, points out one very conspicuous failure:

Haskins said the reform has had important successes — improving day-care programs, helping local authorities collect child-support payments from absent fathers, establishing the value of work in American culture with an unequivocal statement by Congress and the president.

At the same time, Haskins said, the reform has done too little to help the worst off. Clinton’s reform gave states authority to use federal money to help parents train and find work, but many states used the money for other purposes, he said.

“This group of moms at the bottom needs help,” he said. “It’s disappointing to me that the states have not tried harder.”

I assume Haskins is sincere, but this is what happens when you leave social welfare programs up to the states, as Republicans have been hellbent on doing for decades. This usually takes the form of “block grants,” where federal programs are eliminated and money is instead given to states with only moderate strings attached.

Because of they way they’re funded, block grants are a handy way of ensuring that spending on the programs will never increase much: in the case of TANF, funding for the block grants was fixed forever at $16.5 billion. In inflation-adjusted terms, this means that funding has decreased from $21 billion to $16 billion since 1996. Even during the Great Recession, TANF funding only barely rose—for two or three years—to 1996 levels. This was despite the fact that the number of poor during the Great Recession far exceeded the number in 1996.

But that’s not all. Block granting also allows states more freedom to do what they want, and the plain truth is that there are a lot of states that don’t really want to do anything. So they do their best to game the system in every possible way, spending their block grant money on anything except helping the poor. As the CBPP chart on the right shows, only about 26 cents of every block grant dollar goes to cash assistance for the poor, and only half goes to core welfare programs at all.

This is especially ironic in the case of welfare reform, which was largely the result of experiments by states in the late 80s and early 90s. Some of those experiments had been pretty successful, which allowed the states to argue that they could handle welfare programs better than the sluggish federal bureaucracy. But once welfare reform was passed, the experiments ended. Instead, many states began pushing the envelope as hard as they could to redirect their block grant money away from poor people and into other programs. They argued—and continue to argue—that these programs help the poor more than actual welfare programs do, but in most cases this is obvious sophistry. They’re just plugging budget holes with welfare money and telling the poor to pound sand.

Of course, there are other ways states can show their contempt for the poor even more transparently. Obamacare allowed states to expand Medicaid for virtually no cost. It was a no-brainer. But lots of states didn’t want to help the poor, and when the Supreme Court gave them the opportunity to reject the free federal money, they did. This hurt their hospitals and hurt their economies, but no matter. Their hatred for spending money on the poor is so red hot that they pulled out of the expansion program anyway.

Whatever else you think about welfare reform, there’s one clear lesson we’ve learned: federal programs should remain federal programs. Lots of states actively hate spending money on the poor, and if you give them money they’ll do everything they can to avoid spending it on the people it’s designed to help.

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When it Comes to Helping the Poor, Block Grants Are an Epic Failure

Posted in FF, G & F, GE, LAI, LG, ONA, PUR, Uncategorized, Venta | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on When it Comes to Helping the Poor, Block Grants Are an Epic Failure

Tip for getting people to use the metro system: Block all the roads

Tip for getting people to use the metro system: Block all the roads

By on 25 Jun 2015commentsShare

“Not nearly enough people are taking advantage of the hands-down best way to get to Charles de Gaulle,” thought Paris-area taxi drivers. “How on earth can we get people to actually take advantage of this fairly fast and direct public transit to the airport, even if it sometimes smells a tiny bit like vomit?”

Je sais!” piped up one visionary. “Under the guise of protest against this American leech-company with a dumb German name — which, ugh — that has come in to take over the cab industry with its fancy apps and cheaper fares, let’s block all roads to the airport so that would-be travelers have no other option but to take the metro.”

A chorus of French cabbies arose: “Mais oui! C’est génie!

From Al-Jazeera:

French media showed images of burning tires blocking part of the ring road around central Paris, as well as scuffles between protesting cabbies and other drivers, while police in riot gear at one point intervened by shooting tear gas at demonstrators. …

“We are faced with permanent provocation [from Uber] to which there can only be one response: total firmness in the systematic seizure of offending vehicles,” G7 taxi firm head Serge Metz told BFM TV.

“We are truly sorry to have to hold clients and drivers hostage. We’re not doing this lightly,” he said.

Well played, French cabbies. Well played, indeed.

French taxi drivers strike in Uber fight

, Al-Jazeera.



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Tip for getting people to use the metro system: Block all the roads

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Bio Dome 60-cell Planting Block – Seed Starting Supplies


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40-cell Jumbo Planting Block – Seed Starting Supplies


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Ona Block


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