The photos of pols past (5×8 – 7/29/11)

Jerome Liebling’s Minnesota, a good paddling, who pays no taxes, people who do good (cont’d), and cellphones, cancer, and kids.


Jerome Liebling died this week in Massachusetts at age 87. He photographed Minnesota politicians starting around 1956. Not long before his death, he donated his work to the Minnesota Historical Society, which released this video Thursday afternoon.


Ben Jonas has a good answer for the usual “how’d you spend your summer?” questions he’ll get at UW-Eau Claire soon. He set out to canoe from the Chippewa River to New Orleans via the Mississippi River. He made it, the Cap Times reports (h/t: Matt Germonprez):

Jonas averaged 35 to 50 miles a day, passing Prairie du Chien into Iowa, where at Fort Madison he met a couple on a boat who invited him ashore and gave him dinner, a shower and a game of pool.

There was a day when he was pummeled by ugly flying carp and another when a family of deer swam past his canoe close enough to touch.

He met a remarkable man in a bright orange kayak, a middle-aged Missourian named Danny Rees, who inspired Ben with his “unstoppable spirit” and insisted Ben visit him in the riverfront city of Cape Girardeau.

Jonas slept under the arch in St. Louis — the halfway point — and went ashore in Memphis for a taste of Beale Street.

Meanwhile, it looks like Ann Raiho and Natalie Warren are going to be successful in becoming the first women to paddle from the Twin Cities to Hudson Bay. According to their website tracking page, they’re on Lake Winnipeg.

Their blog is here, but hasn’t been updated in a week. I’m going to try to call them today.


Forty-six percent of Americans pay no federal income income tax. Who are these people? The Tax Policy Center at Brookings is out with a study that finally answers that. Low-income people, old people on Social Security, and people who take the earned income tax credit, the child credit, and the childcare credit . A family making $26,000 paid no tax this year, the study says (available here – pdf).



Volunteers will spread out in Little Falls, Swamville, Elmdale, and Bowless in Morrison County next weekend. When they’re done, eight low-income families or elderly homeowners who financially or physically can’t get the work done themselves will have fresh-painted homes. The Paint-A-Thon is now an annual event in the area.

Volunteers are needed.

Meanwhile, I told you yesterday about a nine-year-old girl who wanted to raise $300 for clean water in the third world. She died last week and as of yesterday, about $530,000 had been raised. Today: It’s up to $605,000.


A new study shows cellphones do not increase their risk of cancer, LiveScience reports. But the scientific community is debating whether the study, published this week in a respected medical journal, is bogus:

n a response sent to the media, Moskowitz pointed out what he considers several flaws in Röösli’s logic, starting with how little cellphone use (one call per week) counted as “regular.” This parameter flooded the pool of truly regular cellphone users with almost-non-users, he said, skewing the results. “Such a loose definition of regular use would be expected to reduce the association between cellphone use and tumor risk,” Moskowitz wrote.

When a subset of the data corresponding only to heavy cellphone users is analyzed, he pointed out, the results become much more striking. From the journal’s paper itself: “[There] was a highly significant association between the time since first subscription and brain tumor risk. Children who used cellphones for at least 2.8 years were more than twice as likely to have a brain tumor than those who never regularly used cellphones.” The authors went on to state: “As compared to never regular users, those who used cellphones for 4 or more years based on phone company records were 3.7 to 4.0 times more likely to have brain tumors, and those who made 2,638 or more calls were 2.9 to 4.8 times more likely to have brain tumors.”

Bonus 1: To bee. The Associated Press reports bees are thriving more in cities than in rural areas.

The Chicago bees’ success could be due to the city’s abundant and mostly pesticide-free flowers. Many bee experts believe city bees have a leg up on country bees these days because of a longer nectar flow, with people planting flowers that bloom from spring to fall, and organic gardening practices. Not to mention the urban residents who are building hives at a brisk pace.

Beekeeping is thriving in cities across the nation, driven by young hobbyists and green entrepreneurs. Honey from city hives makes its way into swanky restaurant kitchens and behind the bar, where it’s mixed into cocktails or stars as an ingredient in honey wine.

This is a busy time of the year for beekeepers in Minnesota. Did you catch this great set of photos about a beekeeper in Eagle Bend, Minnesota?

Bonus 2: Did David Sedaris go too far? A screed against the Chinese culture has a San Francisco columnist upset.

The reason for Sedaris’s disdain soon becomes clear: In his view, China is ugly and filthy, Chinese people are universally rude and hostile, and Chinese food is composed of vile ingredients prepared in the most unsanitary and grotesque fashion possible. This isn’t an exaggeration: Sedaris’s narrative is condescending, xenophobic and thoroughly venomous — a sweeping 2,700-word dismissal of an entire culture and society based on a few singular anecdotal experiences.


A new agreement between the Obama administration and auto manufacturers sets an average 54.5 miles per gallon as a fuel efficiency standard by the year 2025. Today’s Question: When you’re shopping for a car, what fuel efficiency standard do you look for?


Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) – First hour: The racial wealth gap.

Second hour: Film critics David Thomson and Richard Brody..

Midday (11 a.m. – 1 p.m.) – First hour: The health of Minnesota lakes.

Second hour: The “Bright Ideas” series with chef Isaac Becker

Science Friday (1-3 p.m.) – First hour: A a new documentary

about a 1970s experiment teaching sign language to a chimp.

Second hour: A space mission to Jupiter.

All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.)

  • Dave S.

    Regarding the taxes, my first reaction was, “Something’s wrong when 46% of the population isn’t paying taxes – it isn’t fair to the rest of us.” Then I thought, “Something’s wrong when 46% of the population is low-income.” While I think the American Dream is probably dead and we can’t expect everyone to have a high standard of living, we should be able to prevent nearly half our population from being poor. It may involve taxing the rich for now, but not just to redistirbute the wealth. That money needs to treat the root causes, whatever they may be. Thoughts, anyone?

    And Bob, are you going to join the Paint-a-Thon, seasoned pro that you are? 🙂

  • @ Dave S. – but that 46% is not paying income taxes. They DO pay other taxes. In fact, the most regressive tax on the books hits the working poor the hardest- the payroll tax -while “the rich” are able to avoid paying the payroll tax in some cases because they don’t collect a pay check. Actually, the ultra-rich don’t pay income taxes either – they can live on investments and therefore pay the capital gains tax – a lower rate than the income tax.

    This just goes to show, at least in my opinion, that the tax code itself needs to be reformed.

  • vivian

    Yah, how did we end up here at the bottom?

    Where is this money that the bottom people work so hard for get, and receive so little in return?

    Ah, wages must be low, insurance expensive, cost of food incredibly high to mention a few things.. It’s no wonder there is a 46% of the working poor.

    What I find amuzing is the ‘Thank you’ add to Cargill, General Mills and Blue Cross Blue Shield.

    These would be the Big Money. The Entitled Ones who have a hand in the creation of the gap to begin with? Thanks from making our life difficult? Thanks for your table scraps?

    So if we all play fairly, would there need to be charity? imagine if the wealth were redistributed fairly.

  • OK – another problem in this discussion is Dave S & vivian saying “46% are working poor.” That’s not true. The 46% is people who do not pay federal income taxes.

    Some of this 46% is the ultra-rich who can afford to set up their finances so they only pay capital gains taxes. You can see them represented on the pie chart as 1.3% of the 46%.

    The largest section of this 46% who do not pay federal income taxes is seniors at 44%. Most of these people are not working and therefore not the “working poor.”

    Closer examination of the pie chart reveals that 30.4% of the people who do not pay federal income taxes are the working poor – and children. The pie chart even says “working poor.”

    They’ve lumped child credits in with the working poor, so it’s not certain what percentage is actually the “working poor” vs. “children” but we’ll take the 30% figure. So the working poor is actually 30% of 46%. I suck at math, so someone else will have to tell me what that comes out to.

    This is not to place a moral value on these numbers, but simply pointing out the distortion of the numbers in this discussion.

  • According to Google, 30% of 46% is 13.8%. (And 44% of 46% is 20.2%)

    So the percentage of the working poor in America is 13.8% and not 46%. At least – based on this tax information.

  • Bob Collins

    You know what concerns me most about that comment above, right Drae? (g)

  • Kassie

    And of course, that’s just of people who file taxes. There are millions out there with absolutely no income, or only welfare benefits as income, who do not file taxes. Also, people who get paid under the table, people who work in illegal professions and people who just don’t think they need to follow the law and pay their taxes.

  • @ Bob – I would say there is a number of problems with my comment, as there is a number of problems in the analysis others are using. To say that because 46% of Americans don’t pay federal income taxes means 46% of Americans are low income or the working poor is simply a distortion. Additionally, there is “low income” and there is “working poor” and while there is overlap, they are not the same thing. I will say that 13.8% I stated is close to the current percent of Americans living at or below the poverty level which is about 14%.

    @ Kassie – you truly highlight the need for major tax reform. What I think is as bad as all you say is the legal ways our tax code allows people to avoid paying what they should. For example – what I’ve already stated about the ultra-rich not paying income taxes or payroll taxes, but just capital gains taxes. They pay nothing to Social Security yet are allowed Social Security benefits. CEOs take compensation packages with stocks and bonds so they can avoid income taxes & payroll taxes. It’s all quite legal.

  • Vivian

    Well Drae, Bravo, you know Pie better than we do; an asset that will land your foot in the door everytime.

    I was commenting more on Dave S’ 46% comment.

    if you want to dime everything:

    //Closer examination of the pie chart reveals that 30.4% of the people who do not pay federal income taxes are the working poor – and children. The pie chart even says “working poor.”

    Children do not pay taxes but those who parent them sure do. EIC is available for families making under 35,000 (roughly). Not really rolling in wealth those who can use this credit.

    ///They’ve lumped child credits in with the working poor, so it’s not certain what percentage is actually the “working poor” vs. “children” but we’ll take the 30% figure. So the working poor is actually 30% of 46%. I suck at math, so someone else will have to tell me what that comes out to.

    @ Bob,

    //You know what concerns me most about that comment above, right Drae? (g)

    please tell all of us your concern as I think I know what it is but I am not one to make assumptions

    : _)

  • Bob Collins

    It was doing the math via google.

  • Additional problems with the previous analysis- income is not the same as wealth. It’s possible for a retiree to be drawing a low income from Social Security and/or pensions but they hold other assets such as real estate, stocks, bonds, gold, and/or cash and would thus qualify as “rich.” Income alone doesn’t give you a full picture of anyone’s financial status. It may be an indication, but not always.

    There are also middle-class families who can wipe out their federal income tax burden through deductions and child or education credits. It’s all a matter of context, imo.

    I would guess Bob’s biggest concern with my 13.8% figure is that it’s based off this particular income tax information, which I think is a bit fuzzy, and not from labor or other economic statistics.

  • Jim Shapiro

    Re David Sedaris on China;

    Apparently you have to be a gay misanthropic humor writer to tell the truth about China.

    I guess the rest of us are too afraid that they’ll stop selling us cheap TVs if we don’t talk nice as we kowtow our way to the unemployment line.

  • @ Bob – the funny thing is I was going to say the google math but then I had to over think it and well – you can see what that did. lol

  • Bob Collins

    And I would’ve thought by now you would have learned that when it comes to responding to something I write, it’s best not to think. (g)

  • @ Bob – I’ll make “google math” my default answer. What concerns Bob about the debt ceiling crisis? The google math.

  • Bob Collins

    Nailed it.

  • Jamie

    // “…there is a number of problems with my comment, as there is a number of problems in the analysis…” //

    You’re just doing that to bug me, aren’t you?

    “…there ARE a number of problems…”

    Re: China — I think it’s fine for someone to dislike a culture, or parts of a culture. I didn’t see the David Sedaris comments, but we’re generally too careful, too politically correct about stuff like that. I agree with Jim S.

  • @ Jamie – Yes. I was specifically targeting you.

  • Bob Collins

    You may be right, Jamie, but I think we owe it to ourselves to gather all available data before determining a conclusion.

    I give our pal, Jim — and where’ve you been lately, Jim? — credit for consistency, however. His view on the Juan Williams controversy reached roughly the same conclusion.

  • Jim Shapiro

    Bob, I’m honored that my temporary absence was noted. ( That said, I’m a little hurt by the “consistency” plaudit – said characteristic being “the hobgoblin of little minds” and stuff like that.)

    I was visiting too-rapidly aging parents in northern Wisc. for July.

    Managed to stop by the Twin Cities long enough to learn about “heat index” (my computer melted, thus the incommunicado status).

    Learned that road repair work apparently is considered an essential service during a state shutdown, while informative and accurate signage apparently is not.

    Discovered that there is no reason in the short term to put mosquitoes on the endangered species list.

    Taught the wife and kids the joy of peeing in the woods on the trip up north, thanks to rest areas being barricaded. (Wife somewhat less thrilled with the opportunity than thing 1 and thing 2).

    Learned that it is possible to receive a ticket for parking “within 30 feet of a cross-walk”, even if said entity is not visible to the human eye.

    Yet in spite of this plethora of minor challenges, I would resettle in my beloved Minnesota in a minute, and my lawyer is currently researching the possibility of pre-emptively requesting a restraining order against my wonderful spouse, in anticipation of the inevitable minor challenge when the mercury hits -27F and thing one and thing two both have an impressive mucus-producing virus not known to exist 200 yards from the beach in southern California.