Boy it's nice to open up the paper and read some good news for a change:
For a peek inside an economic slowdown, step into downtown Miami's Burrito Express and look for sandwich bags and tinfoil.
''They're bringing their own lunch,'' cook John Sierra said as he stood by an idle grill. ``They're not spending the money. People will come in, ask for a drink and eat their own lunch.''
With sales down for the year, Sierra has watched his parents' restaurant suffer through an economic slowdown punishing businesses throughout South Florida.
To measure the fallout, Business Monday recently dispatched eight reporters to survey 151 shops, restaurants and salons on how their sales are shaping up this year.
The results: a broad consensus that South Floridians are cutting back on spending and that tourist dollars aren't making up the difference.But sandwich bag sales are up!
Then I read George Will's column on Sunday, and thought that perhaps the apocalypse was upon us, and that the Grim Reaper had finally extended his cold dark fingers into my soul, because for once I actually partially agreed with him:
The denial of annual increases, Roberts wrote, "has left federal trial judges -- the backbone of our system of justice -- earning about the same as (and in some cases less than) first-year lawyers at firms in major cities, where many of the judges are located." The cost of rectifying this would be less than .004 percent of the federal budget. The cost of not doing so will be a decrease in the quality of an increasingly important judiciary -- and a change in its perspective. Fifty years ago, about 65 percent of the federal judiciary came from the private sector -- from the practicing bar -- and 35 percent from the public sector. Today 60 percent come from government jobs, less than 40 percent from private practice. This tends to produce a judiciary that is not only more important than ever but also is more of an extension of the bureaucracy than a check on it.So federal judges are badly unperpaid, but how about our state court system? Rumpy cogently explored this issue a few days ago, but I found this comment from Victor Crist to be flat-out laughable:
The committee chairman, Sen. Victor Crist of Tampa, said the justice had a legitimate concern, but that the judicial branch could be spared the most because courts and county clerks could raise court fines and fees and do a better job collecting them -- especially in Miami-Dade County, where millions haven't been collected in some years.So let me get this straight: downtown workers are so strapped that they are bringing in their own sandwiches for lunch, the economy is in a deepening recession and millions are losing their homes, but Victor Crist thinks the County can recover fines and filing fees that have thus far been uncollected?
Just what did they put in ole' Victor's barbeque sauce?
Question -- if the federal and state criminal and civil justice systems are choked, shriveled, and incapable of functioning properly, who benefits?
Answer -- those who can game the system.
Which leads to this question: who can best game the system, those who money, power, and access, or those who are bringing in their own lunches and who can't afford to pay a fine or get their car out of the repair shop?