Friday, May 01, 2015

Senator Warren: Wall Street is "cheating American families"

Good profile of Elizabeth Warren in the May 4 New Yorker (The Virtual Candidate):

[Hillary] Clinton’s advisers are respectful of Warren, but they privately argue that Clinton has a more sophisticated understanding of the economy, and that Warren places too much blame on Wall Street as the root of America’s economic problems. “The challenge of wage stagnation is that it’s happening in large swaths of the economy, many parts of which are relatively untouched by the influence of the banks,” a longtime Clinton adviser said. “There is a legitimate line of economic thought that countries without as large a financial sector as the U.S. have less inequality, but Goldman Sachs doesn’t really have much to do with the rise of Uber and TaskRabbit.”

Warren took exception to the Clinton camp’s critique. "I think it’s important to hold Wall Street accountable" she told me. "Some of the biggest financial institutions in this country developed a business model around cheating American families, and they put out the riskiest possible products. They sold mortgages that were like grenades with the pins pulled out, and then they packaged up those risks and sold them to pension plans and municipal governments, groups that did not intend to buy high-risk financial products. That’s how Wall Street blew up the American economy. That’s a genuine threat, and that’s worth paying attention to."

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Ed Reiskin and the Bicycle Derangement Syndrome

What is it about bicycles that encourages people to do and say foolish things? Riding bikes is mostly for young white men, but there are older white men whose mid-life crisis puts them on bicycles in an apparent attempt to be cool and, while they're at it, struggle against growing old.

Let's call it the  Bicycle Derangement Syndrome (BDS). Unfortunately, the guy in charge of the city's transportation system is suffering from an advanced case of that malady. 

From the SF Examiner on Tuesday:

Ed Reiskin, transportation director of the SFMTA, stressed the importance of the Masonic Avenue improvements, saying years ago his wife would not let him ride his bicycle along Masonic Avenue with his then-young daughter in tow because it may be unsafe. Masonic Avenue has long been one of the most dangerous streets in San Francisco. From 2007 to 2012, according to the SFMTA, 117 people were injured and two people were killed in traffic collisions “It’s like a minifreeway,” Reiskin said. “It’s really uninviting [to bicyclists]. Even crossing Masonic on foot is not a great experience.”

It must have been a sobering experience for Reiskin's wife to learn that even their child is an accessory to her husband's BDS affliction.

Like it was for Tim Hickey's wife. From a C.W. Nevius column:

Tim Hickey has been using his bike as his primary transportation for four years, sometimes taking his 20-month-old son, Liam, with him. He's been hit by cars three times and believes protected bike lanes are the only reasonable solution. "My wife would not let me take Liam on Polk," he said. "It's too dangerous."

Which city streets in particular does Hickey think are safe to take his infant son on his bike? There really aren't any, since a simple fall can cause serious injury---especially for children---or someone running a stoplight can be fatal to both father and child.

And this guy interviewed by Nevius:

With so many sad stories, you'd think the riders would begin to wonder about [the danger of]urban cycling. But art professor Anthony Ryan, who was hit by a car on the way to work at San Francisco State, says that isn't going to happen. "All implants," he said, tapping his upper row of front teeth. "I landed face first, and my teeth were all over the street. But I haven't quit. I sold my car three years ago. I guess I'm either committed or I should be committed."

Later: I meant to add Noah Budnick to the list of those who clearly suffer from BDS:

On Tuesday, March 29[2005] T.A.'s[Transportation Alternatives] Projects Director, Noah Budnick, struck a deep pothole and crashed as he bicycled in Brooklyn near the exit of the Manhattan Bridge bike path. Noah was transported by ambulance to a local hospital, where he remained in intensive care for nine days. On April 13, Noah was airlifted to Boston where he is now undergoing rehabilitation for the head injuries he sustained in the crash.

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