"Trade in your Social Security check"
40 acres and a mule, updated

Another multi-faceted Easterbrook column

Gregg Easterbrook provides more interesting stuff.

On the stimulus bill:

Buried in the stimulus bill is an obscure provision that raises the "conforming" mortgage ceiling from a current $417,000 to as much as $730,000, depending on the city. "Conforming" mortgages can be backed by federal agencies, so they are, in effect, federally guaranteed; they sell for less than "jumbo" mortgages that exceed the ceiling. Typically, the interest on a conforming mortgage is 1 to 3 percent lower than on a jumbo. Between falling interest rates and a higher ceiling for guaranteed loans, if you have a mortgage problem, refinance now or don't complain later! But the new $730,000 ceiling for conforming loans seems incredibly high, considering the median home value in the United States is about $245,000. Sure, houses cost more in Seattle or Boston than in Nebraska. But by raising the federally backed mortgage ceiling to three times the median home price, isn't Congress merely encouraging another wave of real estate speculation based on funny money? Won't there be another demand for bailouts after the next bubble bursts?

On proper feminine role models:

Be that as it may, it's far from clear the Victoria's Secret visual ideal is even sexy, and I don't mean those ridiculous angel wings. The majority of models in the company's television specials and catalogs appear emaciated: not just a tad thin, but unhealthy. Most of them look as though they really need a milkshake but would be too weak to lift the glass. Why does extolling gauntness work as a sales strategy? Forget Victoria's Secret lingerie models, give me pro sports cheerleaders as a sex symbol any day. NFL and NBA cheerleaders are fit, strong, confident and athletic -- check the dance moves of the Philadelphia Eagles or Miami Heat cheerleaders, among others. All pro cheerleaders, plus most in college and many in high school, can drop and give you 25 straight-legged pushups. Obviously, pro cheerleaders are an impossible ideal in their own way: In the real world, no woman can always look great and always be smiling and outgoing. But cheerleaders are a positive archetype of fitness, confidence and upbeat life. Contrast that to the women in the Victoria's Secret runway shows, who seem miserable.

And on NFL head coaching jobs:

Another reason NFL assistant coaches who have never been head coaches constitute most NFL head-coaching hires is that NFL assistant coaches know the seriousness of the NFL game and are mentally prepared for its being much, much tougher than college. There are more games, one to two more months' worth, depending on the NFL team, giving the season a marathon feeling. The players talk back, and the media knives are always out. If you want to win in the NFL, you simply don't get a day off between the first of July and the double whistle on your final game. You can't take days off to play golf, as Spurrier did when Redskins coach. An NFL season is grueling. NFL assistant coaches get that, which is why they dominate the list of promotions to NFL head coaches.

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