Daily Reformer: On risk + your garbage TV addictions

Nice trench coat, Stack.

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As expected, state government, a new economic forecast has revealed a huge budget deficit due to slightly higher-than-expected spending but mostly a massive revenue shortage. The total is $2.4 billion, which equals…the amount in the rainy day fund. Hmmm. Ricardo Lopez reports

There was quite a bit of Minnesota exceptionalism on social media Tuesday, patting ourselves on the back for all that money in the reserve. Kudos for the 2014 law pushed by then Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk that required money be put away in the reserve. But I’d also note that, like it or not, divided government since 2015 was helpful — both sides were thwarted in their main policy goals (education spending for DFL vs. tax cuts for GOP) so year after year they kept putting money on the bottom line as a compromise. 

In any case, all’s well that ends well. The hardest situation at the Legislature is a surplus because then you’re fighting over who gets what, or a deficit because you’re fighting over whose ox is gored. But in this situation you plug the hole with the reserve, pass a bonding bill and go home. 

At the same time, the federal government still needs to step up because there’s a bunch of stuff we should be doing to help people in desperate straits, and it’s good time to dump money into shellshocked economy. 

The National Guard will do a fly-over at 11 to salute health care and other frontline COVID-19 workers, Max Nesterak reports. Liam is super excited for this. 

Our case numbers continue to climb, topping 600 Tuesday. Rilyn Eischens has your daily tracker

State Sen. Justin Eichorn embarrassed himself by filming a video in front of a small homeless encampment and questioning why, if Gov. Tim Walz is OK with people “camping” in Saint Paul, he won’t open up campgrounds at state parks. Needless to say, this is not remotely the same. 

This is morally obtuse and ignores the growing homelessnesss problem in his own greater Minnesota district. Max Nesterak has more.

Eichorn’s foolishness aside….government and its bureaucracies can be risk averse. 

There’s a perfectly good reason for that. Government’s entire reason for being is to help mitigate risk. Government prevents the risk of a fire burning down your house by having a squad of people ready to put the fire out. Government prevents the risk of our enemies pillaging and plundering our towns by training a military to defend us. Government prevents the risk of your bank failing by having a mandatory insurance system for banks. Government prevents the risk of a new virus from killing you by building a huge infrastructure of scientists and logistics specialists to prevent its spread. (Oops.)

People don’t seem to get this because our government is pretty good at its mission and the downside risks don’t happen much. For the most part, when we approach an intersection, if the light is green, it’s safe to go. 

So then Americans question why we need government. 

And then we allow Wall Street to turn into a reckless casino without a pit boss. And then the whole debacle crashes the world economy. 

Or we think there’s no risk in electing a game show host with a history of high stakes business failures to captain this entire risk mitigating enterprise. 

That said, government officials can go overboard because it’s the safer course. It’s easier to say people shouldn’t use campgrounds than face the blowback from an outbreak that started at a campground after you said it would be OK to open campgrounds. 

Which is my long way of saying government should look at the newest data and determine if the risks of infections at campgrounds are significant enough to prohibit an activity that has a lot of upside during the pandemic. 

Same goes with youth baseball and softball.  

I’m no virologist and Walz and his cabinet should rely on scientific expertise, but hopefully they’re also basing decisions on how much risk is worth taking on relative to the rewards of the activity being banned or allowed. 

Crowded nightclubs? Keep ‘em closed and you lower the risk of spread of COVID-19. (Not to mention unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted disease!) 

Little League baseball? Allow it and there’s relatively low risk of infection but huge upside. 

End risk riff.

Now…to your favorite junk TV habits!

One reader is a garbage TV aficionado; who could it be!?: 

  • “Vanderpump Rules (Editor’s note: This is a spinoff of Real Housewives of Beverly Hills!
  • Below Deck (reality tv about crew/guests on fancy chartered yachts!) 
  • The Hills, season I (Nostalgia for being young in LA in the aughts!!!!! Lauren and Heidi are TERRIBLE employees and friends.) 
  • Love is Blind AND Too Hot To Handle, which is about vapid, hot, sex-obsessed narcissists who are put together on an island in bathing suits for a “dating show” with $100K shared prize. PLOT TWIST: every time they kiss or engage in other sexual activity, an Alexa knockoff subtracts thousands of dollars from the communal prize pot. Finished it in less than a week.

Worst evah?

This reader claims to have found the absolute most garbagey show: “I have been watching The Royals which was an E! Original series that ran for four seasons. It came up in my Prime Video recommended. Elizabeth Hurley plays a supermodel version of a queen. The Sydney Morning Herald described the series as “possibly the worst show in the history of TV.” 

Interesting that the algorithm thought you’d enjoy this! 

Missing restaurants? This show’s for you.

I had never heard of Worth it, in which two hosts and a cameraman go eat similar foods at three restaurants with radically different prices. This sounds like fun and I did not know Buzzfeed was doing TV. 

For the olds

Car 54, Where are You? Is an early 60s police sitcom. 

Doth protest too much

“Love is Blind and Too Hot To Handle on Netflix, and I don’t feel bad about it.”

With respect to Love is Blind, #TeamMark!

Melodrama pretending to be more

“I AM excited that the second season of Dead to Me (on Netflix) is starting soon. Love Christina Applegate and Linda Cardinelli.”

I’d actually forgotten we watched and loved this garbage. 

Too on brand for 2020

Alone on History Channel and Hulu “Survivalists get stranded with nothing but 10 personal items and whichever person stays the longest wins money. People slowly going insane on camera feels very relatable right now.”

80s nostalgia

“Old episodes of Unsolved Mysteries (the Robert Stack episodes only.)”

I love that this reader has a preference on hosts. Also, these unsolved mysteries are so old I suspect most have been solved. 


Rep. Frank Hornstein says he’s been dialing up concert clips and interviews from his favorite rockers and thoughtfully sent me this clip of Jerry Garcia and Bob Weir of the Grateful Dead on an early episode Dave Letterman where they sing “Deep Elem Blues”:  

“Once I knew a preacher, preached the Bible through and through / He went down to deep elem, now, his preaching days are through.” 

(Completely unrelated: House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler finally got to drop his legal cannabis bill Tuesday. Get ‘er done next year, Rep. Winkler.)

My own current favorite junk TV habit is Project Runway, in which young, unknown fashion designers complete a series of challenges in competition with each other. In the most recent episode I watched from 2012, they had to make baby clothes, so that added a layer of ridiculous cuteness. I would love to hang out with Michael Kors while he comments on people’s attire in, say, Las Vegas. The show is also a fascinating case study in changing social mores. How refreshing that less than a decade after the country was consumed by homophobia during the 2004 election, gay men and women appeared on national television and got to be themselves. At the same time, I was shocked at the behavior in the 2012 season of Ven Budhu. Assigned to make clothes for a non-model woman, he repeatedly insulted the client, all but calling her fat a half dozen times. The judges missed an opportunity to show there’s an ethical dimension to business and should have booted him for his appalling behavior.But look, now I’m politicizing my garbage TV habit! 

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Have a great day all.