Saturday, November 13, 2010

Addiction stimulates the economy in Illinois

The Chicago Tribune on November 11, 2010 published an article Gambling our way to prosperity? in which the lame duck session of the Illinois Legislature is "expected to push through legislation expanding casinos in the state" following on the heels of recent legislation that legalized video poker.

Meanwhile, another issue reported about, but kept carefully apart from the gambling issue by time and/or space is the fact that the Illinois Department of Human Services seems to be suffering the most when the state's budget is being cut. The World Socialist Web Site focused on this issue in an article titled Illinois budget cuts gouge education, social services back in July of 2010. This article pointed out that mental health was primarily targeted:

The largest of the detailed spending cuts was made to the Department of Human Services, which is to lose $312.6 million, or nearly 8 percent of its funding. Although these cuts are expected to impact a wide variety of programs, the Chicago Sun-Times reported that programs for the mentally ill and developmentally disabled were particularly targeted. --

When these two issues are kept at a distance from one-another, it's easy to overlook their engineered interactivity. When considering the reaction of the business community to the state-wide smoking ban, one can get a sense of the motivation and back-room influence the business community has on the state's decision to most severely cut the budget of the Illinois Department of Human Services in the area of addiction, whether it be substance or behavior.

Mental health services deal with such economically influential addictions as gambling, over-indulging in consumption of mind-altering chemicals, food, and even hoarding. The Department of Human Services particularly deals with people who can't afford to pay for private assistance in these matters.

So it's easy to conclude that providing such services has a two-fold negative effect on the state's economy. First, it costs the state to help people fight their addictions, and secondly it costs the economy to have people gain control of their addictions and rein-in their spending habits, thus reducing the state's tax revenues through sales taxes on such things as cigarettes, alcohol, the state lottery, and even the revenues gained by law enforcement seizing drug money.

So when wondering about half-hearted attempts at law enforcement, national border security, the war on drugs, and the poor treatment of the good people at the Department of Human Services, just follow the money.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Craigslist has a serial "Flagger"

The site, specifically the site for Springfield, Illinois [ ] has a section called "Rants and Raves" where people usually post general complaints or compliments about anything.

The problem is that some users indiscriminately "flag" posts, not because they are offensive, but simply because the user wants to feel some sense of power. This comes from a sense of inferiority, or perhaps the user feels powerless over his or her own life and feels the need to lash out, much like a serial killer of online posts.

Another problem is that automatically removes the posts that are flagged, without reviewing the posts first, then they send an email stating "98% of posts flagged are removed legitimately...but feel free to re-post if you feel...." Actually, the opposite is true. I can say this because my posts that were flagged were all perfectly acceptable for the forum, because you see, I am not only a college graduate, my degree is in communication.

There's really no way to deal directly with the serial "Flagger." Some users actually attempt to get back at the flagger by posting insults and complaints about him or her, but this just validates the flagger, making the flagger feel more powerful.

I propose a solution for this problem. Instead of allowing a post to be removed because it was flagged by only one other user, a post should be flagged by no less than 10 separate users before it can be removed. This way, either a consensus about the offensiveness of a post must be created, or the flagger will need to have ten separate computers with ten different IP addresses from which to flag a post for removal at Craigslist.

I hope the administrators over at take my suggestion seriously.