America: land of opportunity

By Jim Stanford on March 6, 2013

Comments: 9 Comments

With Congress locked in a fiscal stalemate, federal agencies in Teton County are beginning to implement budget cuts mandated by the sequester. Citizens are preparing for the prospect of fewer climbing rangers at Jenny Lake this summer, or a possible delayed opening of some roads in Yellowstone.

This video, which has been making the rounds in social media, helps reframe the broader debate over government funding. The skewed public perception of wealth distribution shows just how far the goalposts have been moved in terms of generating more revenue vs. spending cuts.

Those who like to portray the discussion in terms of “job creators” and “makers vs. takers” should have a hard time justifying how this isn’t a banana republic, let alone a just society.

The stock market hit an all-time high yesterday, but as the N.Y. Times reported, the economic recovery has favored corporate profits while doing relatively little for adding jobs or workers’ pay. This video plainly illustrates why.

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Posted under Democratic Party, Economy, Environment, Politics, Republican Party

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Wyoming lawmakers react predictably to Newtown

By Jim Stanford on January 11, 2013

Comments: 20 Comments

The scene at the Capitol.

First came a bill to designate an official state gun.

Then another, inexplicably sponsored by Rep. Ruth Ann Petroff, R-Jackson, to exempt guns from sales tax.

And now House Bill 104, which would make any federal attempt at gun control, no matter how reasonable and justified, unenforceable in Wyoming. The bill is sponsored by Sen. Dan Dockstader, R-Afton, who represents Wilson and Hoback.

Not to be left out of all the rootin’ and tootin’ over shootin’, Rep. Keith Gingery, R-Jackson, is among the sponsors of yet another bill that would prohibit towns and counties from regulating firearms.

Then there’s the “Citizens’ and Students’ Self-Defense Act,” which would permit concealed weapons inside elementary and secondary schools and at any school, college or professional athletic event.

As usual, The Onion makes a forceful and sane counterargument.

Update 1/13: Co-sponsors Petroff and Dan Zwonitzer, R-Cheyenne, filed their bill two days before the Newtown massacre and could not withdraw it.

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Posted under Crime, Politics, Republican Party, Wyoming Legislature

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Wyoming bill would legalize hitchhiking

By Jim Stanford on November 26, 2012

Comments: 11 Comments

Thumbing it has long been a part of Western life.

In a move that will warm the hearts of Capt. Bob Morris and backcountry skiers, a state legislator from Teton County is working on a bill to legalize hitchhiking in Wyoming.

Sen. Leland Christensen, R-Alta, will seek to remove from the law a prohibition on soliciting rides, according to the News&Guide. The paper reported:

” ‘It’s a law on the books that doesn’t make sense, especially in these economic times,’ said Christensen, who remembers when his father used to hitch rides home when the family would visit his grandparents.”

Christensen’s view is reinforced by a recent New York Times op-ed, titled “Hitchhiking’s Time Has Come Again,” which argues that the dangers of soliciting rides have been overblown and even fabricated to dissuade people from the once-widespread practice.

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Posted under Crime, Environment, Politics, Republican Party, Wyoming Legislature

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storm’s impact hits home

By Jim Stanford on November 2, 2012

Comments: 9 Comments

Massive oak overturned by the storm outside the Stanford home on Long Island.

In 2005, in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, National Geographic ran a cover story about the increasing number and severity of hurricanes. I sent the magazine to a friend whose parents’ home was destroyed on the Mississippi coast.

At the time I was worried about the future of New Orleans — not New York.

The images coming out of Queens and New Jersey this week look a lot like Louisiana and Mississippi post-Katrina. My family was fortunate: Being far enough inland on Long Island, flooding was not a danger. But my mom said her house shook unlike anything she had experienced in her life, and a towering oak fell over in the front yard, luckily away from the house.

My family went without power for nearly four days. Cell service was wiped out for much of that time, but mom had her trusted, wall-mounted rotary phone that allowed her to stay in touch. An oil lamp brightened the nights.

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Posted under Economy, Environment, Politics, Republican Party, Weather

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viva la résistance

By Jim Stanford on October 8, 2012

Comments: 17 Comments

Liberté, fraternité et délicieux oeufs du Nora’s.

This weekend the French newspaper Le Monde ran a feature story in its magazine about U.S. campaign spending, focused on Jackson Hole financier Foster Friess. You don’t have to be a French scholar to understand the title, “Ses dollars sont pour Romney.”

In the print edition, there’s a photo of me debating Foster over breakfast at Nora’s. The caption identifies me as a city council candidate who made a “point of honor” of not asking supporters for a cent. According to the caption, I “combat all that [Foster] represents and all the ideas he defends.”

While we appear to be engaged in an intense debate, the conversation actually was pretty jovial, as per our usual bouts of verbal jousting. Foster and I agree on a few points: Health care in the United States is preposterously expensive. And Nora’s serves a good plate of huevos rancheros.

The publication is akin to the New York Times Magazine of France.

(Photo by David Stubbs)

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Posted under Politics, Republican Party

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