The downgrade debacle, dragon boats, the 78-square-foot apartment, the food truck controversy in St. Paul, and cigarettes and the first 30 minutes of your day.
The Monday Morning Rouser:
1) IT’S THE STUPID, ECONOMY
This morning we’ll find out what the stock markets think about Friday’s Standard & Poor’s downgrade of the U.S. credit rating. You don’t often see a food fight in the big-money world but the Treasury Department let S&P have it after the downgrade:
…Independent of this error, there is no justifiable rationale for downgrading the debt of the United States. There are millions of investors around the globe that trade Treasury securities. They assess our creditworthiness every minute of every day, and their collective judgment is that the U.S. has the means and political will to make good on its obligations. The magnitude of this mistake – and the haste with which S&P changed its principal rationale for action when presented with this error – raise fundamental questions about the credibility and integrity of S&P’s ratings action.
Yahoo’s finance blog, though, says we deserved it:
The Financial Times is calling the downgrade “a contentious and historic move that highlights the weakened fiscal stature of the world’s most powerful country.” The key word there is “highlights.” Which is humiliating but hard to argue. Make no mistake: The U.S. more than earned this downgrade. The nation is absurdly debt-laden and shows absolutely no signs of stopping.
The downgrade came after the debt deal ending the threat of a government default. The Washington Post revisits the showdown and finds the table for it was set years ago…
The frantic showdown that followed, bringing the nation to the brink of default, looked like the haphazard escalation of a typical partisan standoff.
It was the natural outgrowth of a years-long effort by GOP recruiters to build a new majority and reverse the party’s fortunes. That effort began before the economy collapsed in 2008, before the government bailouts that followed, before the tea party rose in response to push its anti-tax, anti-spending message.
S&P attributed the downgrade to the dysfunctional Washington politicians, who spent yesterday proving S&P right.
Dave Kansas, who writes the Morning Market Beat for the Wall St. Journal, says the overnight markets in Europe probably have more to do with the debt crisis there than here. Kansas, by the way, is writing his last column today. He is moving back to his home state of Minnesota to become the new chief operating officer at MPR.
This is all a big story, of course, which is why MPR is dedicating much of its programming to the issue today. We’ve also trotted out a live blog to follow all the, err, action.
2) A MINNESOTA WEEKEND: DRAGON BOATS
Does any state in the nation have the breathtaking array of festivals every weekend that Minnesota has?
This weekend’s pick: The annual Dragon Boat Festival on Lake Bemidji.
Minneapolis had its Fringe Festival…
You make it hard not to love you, Minnesota.
3) OTHER STUFF
In my neck of the woods — Woodbury — a neighbor is building a shed in his backyard, the roof of which is as tall as his house and the footprint of which could easily house a small family, or at least most of his “stuff.” Many of my neighbors have sheds, which has always struck me as a signal that you’ve got too much stuff. But the new display of status seems to be the size of your shed.
Architect Luke Clark Tyler does not have too much stuff. He lives in a 78-square foot apartment. He also works from home.
That’s New York, of course, where there’s a shortage of affordable housing to begin with. The Twin Cities are heading in that direction. The Star Tribune reports there’s a shortage of apartments here.
4)BUT…BUT… THEY’RE OPEN AFTER 1:30 PM
It was only a matter of time. Restaurant owners in downtown St. Paul are fighting back against food trucks, the Pioneer Press says.
At Faces in Lowertown, chef/owner David Fhima calls food trucks “fair weather friends,” around only on nice days or when a big festival is going on: “Where are they when it’s 100 degrees or it’s snowing?”
Still, he appreciates that food trucks bring diversity to downtown and give people more eating options. He just doesn’t want a noisy truck parked outside his patio for hours. He thinks the rules of the game need to be spelled out.
“They get to come and go as they please,” he said. “It’s a little bit of an unfair advantage. I can’t walk outside and tell someone my bread is organic or my salami is better-quality.”
5) ONE MORE REASON TO FEAR MONDAY MORNING
New research says lighting a cigarette within 30 minutes of waking up nearly doubles the already high risk of lung cancer.
Bonus: Just because…
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta is asking that the Pentagon be exempt from further spending cuts when congressional negotiators begin budget work this fall. Today’s Question: Should the U.S. military be spared deep cuts in the budget process?
WHAT WE’RE DOING
Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) – First hour: How to trust your boss.
Second hour: Linguist John McWhorter looks at how we define language, how languages evolve, and what we’ll lose when these languages are gone.
Midday (11 a.m. – 1 p.m.) – First hour: a preview of the Iowa straw poll.
Second hour: TBA
Talk of the Nation (1-3 p.m.) – First hour: TBA
Second hour: Rethinking school discipline.