The Supreme Court released a bunch of decisions yesterday, not all of them good, but this one's a gem: the Court ruled, by a 9-0 margin, that law enforcement can't search a smartphone without a warrant. The concept of getting a warrant from a judge turns out to be not so quaint after all. Chief Justice Roberts seems to get cell phones -- "They could just as easily be called cameras, video players, rolodexes, calendars, tape recorders, libraries, diaries, albums, televisions, maps or newspapers," all holding "the privacies of life," he says. The Court even sounds like it thinks Americans have a right to privacy.
Josh Barro explains how government pensions have come to rely more and more on risky investments. Long story short: pension funds used to invest mainly in bonds, but bond interest rates started falling, after which governments turned more and more to stocks and to managed investment funds -- but, since fund manager fees tend to outrun the extra money a pension fund makes, the pension fund doesn't really make out in the long run. I wish Mr. Barro had explained why bond interest rates fell in the first place, though, especially since it seems to have started right around the first Reagan inaugural.
ProPublica finds that right-wingers who oppose limiting physical restraints on schoolkids often invoke a "states' rights' argument. Which is hardly surprising, since I've been saying for a while now that folks don't invoke "states' rights" until they need to justify actually hurting other people. Personal to folks afraid of laws proscribing physical restraints because they dislike Big Gummint involvement in public schools: what's the problem if such involvement defends civilized values on the people's behalf and at the people's behest?
If you haven't acted on the FDA's proposed tobacco regulations yet, you may want to consider this item: the FDA's proposal counts "lost pleasure" extremely heavily in its cost-benefit analysis. Never mind the gained pleasure of not dying from lung cancer and from better breathing; the FDA's analysis would cut any figure measuring such benefits by 70 percent, due to the "lost pleasure" of smoking. But how do you even measure the "pleasure" of a freaking addiction? Next up: the lost pleasure poor coal executives suffer because carbon emissions regulations prevent them from gilding the plumbing in their ninth vacation home.
Finally, the Christian Science Monitor provides a difficult but uplifting account of folks starting community gardens in Camden, NJ, widely regarded as the poorest and most dangerous city in America. By article's end, you will root for all of these folks as they wonder whether Camden is really salvageable -- as I believe it is, even as I know the violence and the hardship would beat me down if I were struggling against it.