Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Krugman: Recognizes the Earth Has Shifted

Both validating and frightening at the same time when mainstream press finally realizes the earth has shifted.

"My sense is that most Americans still don’t understand this reality. They still imagine that when push comes to shove, our politicians will come together to do what’s necessary. But that was another country." - Paul Krugman, Novemeber 22 2010.


Friday, November 19, 2010

Top Tax Rates and Federal Debt 1950-2008

Patriotic Millionaires

From the Fiscal Strength project:

Only 375,000 Americans have incomes of over $1,000,000

Between 1979 and 2007, incomes for the wealthiest 1% of Americans rose by 281%

During the Great Depression, millionaires had a top marginal rate of 68%

In 1963, millionaires had a top marginal tax rate of 91%

In 1976, millionaires had a top marginal tax rate of 70%

Today, millionaires have a top marginal tax rate of 35%

Reducing the income tax on top earners is one of the most inefficient ways to grow the economy according to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office

44% of Congress people are millionaires

The tax cuts were never meant to be permanent

Letting tax cuts for the top 2% expire as schedule would pay down the debt by $700 billion over the next 10 years

Also see http://www.salon.com/news/opinion/joe_conason/2010/11/18/millionaires

Friday, November 12, 2010

Why Party Matters

Just found this fantastic post by Kel Munger explaining what I feel very strongly about: despite idealistic dreams to the contrary, the political party matters way more than the individual candidate.

Her original post is:
Why the party matters in elections

Why the party matters in elections

I’ve got a lot of friends who are insistently independent. It’s one of the things I love about them–the way they demand the right to make up their own minds, first and foremost. But when that “independence,” including their identity as “independent voters,” is tied to an election, well, I kinda want to give a civics lesson.

So for all you dear friends who "vote for the person, not the party,” here’s why I think that’s a much more idealistic (and possibly harmful) position than you seem to realize.

First—and while they’re teaching about the three branches of government and the electoral college in civic class, they rarely mention this—we have a two-party system. These days, it’s the Democratic Party and the Republican Party. We’ve had Whigs, too, and we started with the Federalists and the Anti-Federalists. You can read all about it here.

But since much of the business of government is conducted by elected officials, and elected officials represent the parties on whose tickets they ran as much as they do the voters who elected them, we also have things like caucuses. The ones we need to be concerned with here are the “informal meetings” that all the members of a party, or a sub-group of that party, attend—at which they decide their strategy for legislation.

And that, my friends, is why it makes a difference which party you vote for: We have a winner-take-all two-party system, and the party in the majority is the one that sets the agenda and makes the rules. The minority party can only force compromise by blocking the agenda of the majority party, and this has been the rule in the last three decades, since the Reagan Revolution.

Yeah, we’ve always been a partisan nation, but the neo-conservative movement, especially the politics of people like Grover NorquistLee Atwater and Karl Rove, has been as bad as anything since the Civil War. The first thing you’ll notice about those guys is that none of them was a candidate or elected official. They have been, instead, the political operatives. And, while they have their counterparts on the Democratic side of the aisle—James CarvilleDavid Axelrod—the Dems have never been as successful at staying on-message and fighting hard and dirty. And yes, the Dems take a lot of money from the same people who fund the Republicans; it’s just that the Republicans take nine times more of it (and that’s from the Independent Voters Network).

So let’s say the two candidates in your Congressional district are, hypothetically speaking, a  jackass idiot of a Democrat who can’t tie his shoelaces by himself and never worked a day in his life and a very nice, small businessman, moderate Republican. Who are you going to vote for?

Well, if you’re one of my friends, you’ll vote for the man, not the party—and that man happens to be a Republican.

The trouble is, it might be the wrong choice. Because that moderate Republican is going to be a junior Congressman in a system that is run by the parties. No matter what he thinks or cares about, he will either bow to the party’s agenda or he will get no support for re-election and he’ll face a primary contest from the right.

And that asshat Democrat? He, too, will be in a Congress that is run by the parties. Because he’s a Democrat, he’ll have some friends—the Blue Dog Democrats—and while he’ll get a chance to speak his mind, he will also be fairly quickly brought into line with the party’s agenda.

That’s why they call ‘em whips, folks.

And that’s why party matters. The party that’s in control of Congress also controls the agenda.

So what agenda are you voting for? It pays to know. You can read the party’s official platforms, Democratic and Republican.

In my perfect world, we’d have public campaign financing and limits on campaign spending; a limited campaign season; a return to the Fairness Doctrine; Instant Runoff Voting; and a multi-party system that required coalition building to form governments.

Under those circumstances, I’d probably be a Green or a Democratic Socialist. But that’s not the world we live in.

In the world I actually live in, it makes a great deal of difference to me which party is in power. Do I want the party that has consistently at least given lip service to equality for LGBT people; that has defended women’s access to reproductive health care, including abortion when necessary; that at least tries to restrict corporate power and that supports some modicum of environmental legislation?

Or do I want the party that has expressed, as its main goal, to make sure that President Obama only gets one term?

Yeah, go ahead; start screaming about how liberal I am. No one is surprised. Just don’t pretend that you’re an independent if you always vote for the same party’s candidates, and don’t pretend that it makes no difference. There is a big difference between the two parties. One of them is organized, on-message, and out to roll the clock back to the McKinley Administration. (Curious about what that means? I’ve attached a  .pdf copy of William Greider’s article on this subject to the post.)

The other is the Democratic Party. I don’t always like ‘em. I think they’re too damn timid and they don’t know how to stand up for themselves and for cryin’ out loud, can’t they communicate? I criticize ‘em a lot. But in the races where party counts—state and federal offices and legislatures—that’s how I’m voting.

Attached document: William Greider's article "Rolling Back the 20th Centruy" from The Nation, May 2003:

::posted by Kel Munger @ 2010-11-01 5:10 PM

Social Security: Lies You Accepted As Fact

Usually used in reference of how great modern times are, what with new technology and medicine, enlightened concepts of nutrition and personal hygiene, the old adage about how life expectancy has increased so much in the past century really grates my nerves . The statistic is skewed because of child mortality. People hundreds of years ago were just as able to live to a ripe old age as nowadays. Yet you'll often hear how back in the 1700s you'd be dead by the time you turned 50, or in "cave man" times, the number was 30 (invoked when talking about dental health and podiatry). But lately I've at least seen one mainstream acknowledgement of this skewing (which I didn't even know was actually a lot more comparable to modern times before a huge dip it took during the Industrial Revolution).

Sometimes it is used in a Mathusian sense, to explain the oncoming crisis of society having to take care of elderly now living many more years. And this is precisely where it starts to become less a mere annoyance and more a deliberate lie. Paul Krugman points this out in today's piece on the Budget Deficit Commission, which recommends raising the retirement age:

...working until you’re 69, which may sound doable for people with desk jobs, is a lot harder for the many Americans who still do physical labor.

But beyond that, the proposal seemingly ignores a crucial point: while average life expectancy is indeed rising, it’s doing so mainly for high earners, precisely the people who need Social Security least. Life expectancy in the bottom half of the income distribution has barely inched up over the past three decades. So the Bowles-Simpson proposal is basically saying that janitors should be forced to work longer because these days corporate lawyers live to a ripe old age.

Paul Krugman's full Op-Ed is here: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/12/opinion/12krugman.html

Thursday, November 11, 2010

UN Report is Causing Reverberations

First, it refutes mainstream Economics, and without attribution, makes the same observations of one Karl Marx. This blogger does a good job of pointing that out:

Second, it states that humans produce more stuff than they can afford to buy (I always had the feeling a lot of my job was make-work and we only have to put in 40 hours to
differentiate the deserving from the undeserving), and until now, the US has
bought most of that stuff (Americans being the Consumer of Last Resort). But since the richest Americans started hoarding all the wealth in the US, Americans will no longer be able to buy up all those exports from the rest of the world. So, the report warns all those developing countries to start sharing the goods.

The UN Report is here:

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Gold Standard

I hear some say "Return to the Gold Standard!"
Doesn't that make sense? Who ever let our government get away with moving off the Gold Standard (it was Nixon, btw) ? There are many issues involved, but I think I can offer up at least one kind of summary.

The bottom line is that a Gold Standard essentially limits how much a government can use monetary policy as an instrument of tweaking the economy. The tools a non-Tea Party government has at its disposal to "jump start a lagging economy" (that's the official technical term used on Econ exams...) are Fiscal and Monetary. Fiscal is having the government buy a few glasses of lemonade from the local kid to keep his spirits up and give him a little spending money himself with which to buy some sugar from Billy the sugar grower and Leona the lemon hoarder. Monetary policy is where the government can give freshly printed money to banks for just about free so that banks will have more with which to make loans to Billy so he can stock up on more sugar...though that is useless if no one is buying lemonade....

Of course, too much Easy Money via monetary policy can lead to high inflation if it backfires. And the worst thing for Rich People With Lots of Money Lent Out Everywhere is inflation ('cause by the time the borrowers pay back the loans, the money is worth significantly less). So some Rich People tend to be for a Gold Standard.

But some Rich People are for Easy Money, since its a win win deal for the Banks they might happen to own, and they'd rather Billy be forced to take out a loan from them than get a windfall in customers courtesy of Uncle Sam.

Nonetheless, having the Gold Standard ties Government hands to help the economy, so it accords well with Market Zealots.

For some discussion on this in the NY Times, see :

Friday, November 5, 2010

Excerpt from "A New Economics for the 21st Century"

Neva Goodwin writes:

The critical role for economic theory is no longer simply to explain how the existing system works, but also to explore how the economic system can be changed to become more adaptive and resilient in the face of the challenges of the 21st century, and how it can be more directly designed to support human well-being, in the present and the future.

The economic theory that was accepted as standard in the non-communist world during the second half of the twentieth century erects serious impediments to meeting the challenges of the twenty-first century. These impediments include:

1. Inappropriate goals: standard economic theory prizes wealth creation above all, and most often defines this goal in terms of steadily growing GDP – instead of focusing on what economies should really produce, which is human well-being, in the present and the future.

2. A bias toward monetary values: application of cost/benefit analysis or a focus on narrow measures of economic success often lead to an effort to apply monetary measures to human values, such as dignity, health, or fairness. The focus on what can be submitted to the measure of money leads to an overemphasis on formal markets, and pays insufficient attention to essential unpaid economic activities.

3. Difficulty in dealing with the future: the standard use of discounting often leads to conclusions that make future concerns appear less significant than they are.

4. A de-contextualized view of the economy: economic systems are viewed as operating in a vacuum, without regard for the critical ways in which the economy affects, and is affected by, its ecological and social contexts.

5. Bias toward the status quo: a number of tools and concepts used in economic analysis accept the existing distribution of resources as “given” – not really up for discussion. These include the concepts of Pareto optimality, aspects of the Coase theorem, and a focus on aggregate growth indices at the expense of disaggregated inequality indicators. The strong assumptions of rationality at the root of the theory often are used to assert that the existing system is the best possible; if it could have been made better, it would have. (This is the basis for the joke about the economist who walks past a ten dollar bill lying on the sidewalk. When asked why, he says “it couldn’t have been real; if it were, someone would have already picked it up.”)

6. Bias against the public sector and in favor of markets: economists, business people and politicians have joined in a chorus of disparagement against government, buttressed by an increasingly blind, but fervent, belief that markets can solve all problems. In fact, while markets can be a part of the solution to many human needs, they rarely can be the whole solution. Markets need boundaries, rules, and safeguards against their internal tendency toward concentration of power and their lack of internal motivation to work for the wider good. In many situations markets are, in fact, the problem. Some attention to environmental concerns has led to the idea that, if there are market failures, they can be corrected by internalizing externalities. It needs to be emphasized that market actors have no inherent incentive to do this: that incentive has to come from outside the market system.

7. Methods of analysis that exclude non-economists: Students, policy makers, and other citizens frequently complain about economists’ increasing reliance on highly mathematized modeling techniques. These require extreme simplifying assumptions – such as perfect competition, perfect information, and complete markets – and create a mindset reluctant to grapple with issues that are not amenable to such modeling. Meanwhile, the very sophistication of the mathematics used in these models means that fewer and fewer people can participate in an ever more obscure – and less relevant – discourse.

From The New Economics Institute

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Wealth Condensation

The number one reason I'm a Democrat? Wealth condensates. It really is quite simple. Due to the "magic" of compound interest, wealth will continue to follow a power law distribution without bounds. I'm not sure how, but in America, the aversion to inequality gets quite easily subverted. I think I'll conduct a poll to see if Americans know what the per family wealth would be if you evenly divided the entire net wealth of the nation, just for kicks, among every family. Its quite easy to figure out, but we'll see how off and in what direction most respondents are.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Chandler, Arizona Elections: Vote for Rebecca Schneider and Get Rid of Flake

Chandler voters ! Vote for Rebecca Schneider for US Congress in AZ District 6!

 Do NOT vote for Jeff Flake.  His kind of narrow-minded view of economics is the reason Arizona and the country are in such desperate straits.


Thursday, October 28, 2010

Quietly, Arizona Goes Through with Sale of Capitol

There was a lot of joking about this last year, because the Daily Show featured the idea as kooky.  But after the hype, one was left with the impression that the state wasn't actually going to go ahead with it.

A year later, one wonders.  Did they?  I hadn't heard anything in the news about it.  Well, that's because there wasn't any mention.  The Arizona Republic didn't mention the sale until 6 months after Brewer's office put out a press release on the sale on January 14, 2010.

January 14, 2010: http://www.azdoa.gov/news/011410release.pdf
June 11, 2010:  State-building sales net $300 mil for Arizona budget

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Workers Don't Have the Right Skills? That's BS

Read Krugman's "Workers Don't Have the Right Skills? That's BS"
"Structural” unemployment is a fake problem, which mainly serves as an excuse for not pursuing real solutions.

Tea Party Hates So Much They Don't Know When They've Been Given What They Want

They say "love is blind", but so is anger:

"My taxes have gone up!"  No, they've gone down.

The Obama stimulus bill cut taxes for 95 percent of working families, but few voters noticed, a troubling sign for Democrats.

Income Distribution 1979-2006

Working Group on Extreme Inequality » How Unequal Are We?

"· Percentage of U.S. total income in 1976 that went to the top 1% of American households: 8.9. · Percentage in 2007: 23.5. · Only other year since 1913 that the top 1 percent’s share was that high: 1928. · Combined net worth of the Forbes 400 wealthiest Americans in 2007: $1.5 trillion. · Combined n...
    The share of total income going to the top 1 percent of earners, which stood at 8.9 percent in 1976, rose to 23.5 percent by 2007.    "

Republicans Survival of the Fittest Law of Civilization Tea Party

Ayn Rand Conservatism at Work -- Firefighters Let Family's House Burn Down Because Owner Didn't Pay.

"Talk of limited government is appealing until you see what it actually means in practice: a society in which it's every man for himself."

Businessman tells it like it is, but Republicans are deaf

Let's be real folks..marginal tax cuts don't motivate

"I'm a venture capitalist and an entrepreneur. Over the past three decades, I've made both good and bad investments. I've created successful companies and ones that didn't do so well. Overall, I'm..."

Competition Among States: Race to the Bottom

Attention Arizona voters:

Cutting State Corporate Income Taxes Is Unlikely to Create Many Jobs

"Corporate income taxes are important sources of revenue that states use to fund public services, including services essential to long-term economic growth like education, infrastructure, health care, and public safety.
Nonetheless, a number of 2010 [ Republican ] gubernatorial candidates have made corporate tax cuts key planks of their campaign platforms. This continues a trend of the past couple of years, during which policymakers in several states have proposed cutting corporate income tax rates — or even eliminating the tax completely — as a strategy for stimulating economic growth and creating jobs. These proposals, however, offer false hope. Corporate income tax cuts are unlikely to have a positive impact on a state’s rate of economic growth or the pace at which it generates private-sector jobs. "

Creative Destruction not so creative

"This is important because Economists habitually downplay the difficulty of finding a new job, choosing to see shakeups as good for the economy and in the long run, for the employee, who'll no doubt just learn new skills in order to better compete in the new economy. Such consideration flies in the face of reality, as the IMF report shows. Of course, the IMF is a well-known Marxist organization, so I guess you have to take it with a grain of salt.    "  - Ezra Klein

Ezra Klein - Two graphs that should really scare us

Moody's, yes, the Wall Street friendly Moody's, says Republican Platform a Joke

Rich Americans Save Tax Cuts Instead of Spending, Moody's Says

"Give the wealthiest Americans a tax cut and history suggests they will save the money rather than spend it.
Tax cuts in 2001 and 2003 under President George W. Bush were followed by increases in the saving rate among the rich, according to data from Moody’s Analytics Inc. When taxes were raised under Bill Clinton, the saving rate fell.

The findings may weaken arguments by Republicans..."

Unemployment: Boeing Lays Off Only Guy Who Knows How To Keep Wings On Plane

 A sign of the future that awaits us. The Onion has foretold actual business decisions before (witness the 4 bladed razor).    
CHICAGO—With the airline industry continuing to suffer under the ongoing recession, the Boeing Company was forced Monday to lay off Al Freedman, the only guy left at the corporation who knows how to keep wings from falling off planes.

Reich: The Great Decoupling of Corporate Profits From Jobs

As I've noticed for a long time, corporations no longer are focusing on U.S. consumers as their primary target.  Not to sound provincial and xenophobic, but I think the signs were there when instructions for products not only started showing up in a gazillion languages, but English wasn't even prominent....you had to dig through to find it.  I'm not really whining about that (well, maybe I am), I'm just saying it was a SIGN.

From July 26, 2010:
"Second-quarter earnings reports are coming in, and they're making Wall Street smile. Corporate profits are up. And big American companies are sitting on a gigantic pile of money. The 500 largest non-financial firms held almost a trillion dollars in the second quarter, and that money pile is growing larger this quarter. Profits that plummeted in the recession have bounced back. Big businesses have recovered almost 90 percent of what they lost.
So with all this money and profit, they'll start hiring again, right? Wrong - for three reasons.
First, lots of their profits are coming from their overseas operations. So that's where they're investing and expanding production."
the rest at HuffPost

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Report: Unemployment High Because People Keep Blowing Their Job Interviews

From Th' Onion :
"WASHINGTON—With unemployment at its highest level in decades, the U.S. Department of Labor issued a report Tuesday suggesting the crisis is primarily the result of millions of Americans just completely blowing their job interviews."

Saturday, September 25, 2010

We Are The Super Rich

We are the Super Rich « Truth on the Market: Posted on September 15, 2010

We are the Super Rich

Posted by Todd Henderson on September 15, 2010

The rhetoric in Washington about taxes is about millionaires and the super rich, but the relevant dividing line between millionaires and the middle class is pegged at family income of $250,000. (I’m not a math professor, but last time I checked $250,000 is less than $1 million.) That makes me super rich and subject to a big tax hike if the president has his way.

I’m the president’s neighbor in Chicago, but we’ve never met. I wish we could, because I would introduce him to my family and our lifestyle, one he believes is capable of financing the vast expansion of government he is planning. A quick look at our family budget, which I will happily share with the White House, will show him that like many Americans, we are just getting by despite seeming to be rich. We aren’t.

I, like the president before me, am a law professor at the University of Chicago Law School, and my wife, like the first lady before her, works at the University of Chicago Hospitals, where she is a doctor who treats children with cancer. Our combined income exceeds the $250,000 threshold for the super rich (but not by that much), and the president plans on raising my taxes. After all, we can afford it, and the world we are now living in has that familiar Marxian tone of those who need take and those who can afford it pay. The problem is, we can’t afford it. Here is why.

The biggest expense for us is financing government. Last year, my wife and I paid nearly $100,000 in federal and state taxes, not even including sales and other taxes. This amount is so high because we can’t afford fancy accountants and lawyers to help us evade taxes and we are penalized by the tax code because we choose to be married and we both work outside the home. (If my wife and I divorced or were never married, the government would write us a check for tens of thousands of dollars. Talk about perverse incentives.)

Our next biggest expense, like most people, is our mortgage. Homes near our work in Chicago aren’t cheap and we do not have friends who were willing to help us finance the deal. We chose to invest in the University community and renovate and old property, but we did so at an inopportune time.

We pay about $15,000 in property taxes, about half of which goes to fund public education in Chicago. Since we care the education of our three children, this means we also have to pay to send them to private school. My wife has school loans of nearly $250,000 and I do too, although becoming a lawyer is significantly cheaper. We try to invest in our retirement by putting some money in the stock market, something that these days sounds like a patriotic act. Our account isn’t worth much, and is worth a lot less than it used to be.

Like most working Americans, insurance, doctors’ bills, utilities, two cars, daycare, groceries, gasoline, cell phones, and cable TV (no movie channels) round out our monthly expenses. We also have someone who cuts our grass, cleans our house, and watches our new baby so we can both work outside the home. At the end of all this, we have less than a few hundred dollars per month of discretionary income. We occasionally eat out but with a baby sitter, these nights take a toll on our budget. Life in America is wonderful, but expensive.

If our taxes rise significantly, as they seem likely to, we can cut back on some things. The (legal) immigrant from Mexico who owns the lawn service we employ will suffer, as will the (legal) immigrant from Poland who cleans our house a few times a month. We can cancel our cell phones and some cable channels, as well as take our daughter from her art class at the community art center, but these are only a few hundred dollars per month in total. But more importantly, what is the theory under which collecting this money in taxes and deciding in Washington how to spend it is superior to our decisions? Ask the entrepreneurs we employ and the new arrivals they employ in turn whether they prefer to work for us or get a government handout.

If these cuts don’t work, we will sell our house – into an already spiraling market of declining asset values – and our cars, assuming someone will buy them. The irony here, of course, is that the government is working to save both of these industries despite the impact that increasing taxes will have.

The problem with the president’s plan is that the super rich don’t pay taxes – they hide in the Cayman Islands or use fancy investment vehicles to shelter their income. We aren’t rich enough to afford this – I use Turbo Tax. But we are rich enough to be hurt by the president’s plan. The next time the president comes home to Chicago, he has a standing invitation to come to my house (two blocks from his) and judge for himself whether the Hendersons are as rich as he thinks.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Something I said 3 years ago

"The notion that I got from reading the original quote (from the interview, excerpted below) was more about how it could be a metaphor for an economy. That is, the more dynamic an economy becomes, perhaps there is a threshold at which it is TOO dynamic...goes too fast to allow a economic actor to react rationally to it (and it just becomes a series of random success stories).

Furthermore, I could see how the dyamicism introduced by global free trade could potentially, POTENTIALLY, push the rate of change beyond this threshold.

I think economic models must always be careful to figure in some real flesh constants related to the human lifespan (and, though obviously frought with hard to define numbers, constants matched to life STAGES...say, the "3 different phases of an adults work life/career")."

DC: Evolutionary psychology portrays us as having impulses that took form long ago, in a very pre-modern context (say, 10,000 years ago), and now these impulses are sometimes rather ill-adapted to our contemporary world. For example, in a food-scarce environment, we became programmed to eat whenever we can; now, with food abounding in many parts of the world, this impulse creates the conditions for an obesity epidemic. Given that our world will likely continue changing at a rapid pace, are we doomed to have our impulses constantly playing catch up with our environment, and does that potentially doom us as a species?

SK: In fact, we’re not playing catch up; we’re stuck. For any evolutionary change to take place, the environment has to remain more or less constant for many generations, so that evolution can select the traits that are adaptive and eliminate those that are not. When the environment undergoes rapid change within the space of a generation or two, as it has been for the last couple of millennia, if not more, then evolution can’t happen because nature can’t determine which traits to select and which to eliminate. So they remain at a standstill. Our brain (and the rest of our body) are essentially frozen in time — stuck in the Stone Age.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Hillary Clinton Drags Taliban Leader's Body Through Streets Of Kabul

Just to reiterate, we'd have been a lot better off with Hillary than Obama.

Hillary Clinton Drags Taliban Leader's Body Through Streets Of Kabul
KABUL, AFGHANISTAN—As members of the international press looked on, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton rode on horseback through the streets of Kabul Monday, dragging the mutilated remains of Taliban leader Mullah Abdul Jalil through the dirt behind...


Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Macroeconomics? In America, that means Study the Rich

In 1994, as we created economic models in grad school, this fact was explained to me (that "we U.S. economists" really only need to be concerned with the spending patterns of the rich, since that spending accounts for most of the US economy).

us-economy-is-increasingly-tied-to-the-rich: Personal Finance News from Yahoo! Finance

Monday, August 9, 2010

Krugman: Crumbling Infrastructure

Remember that bridge in Minnesota....

Paul Krugman at NYT Op-Ed page: America Goes Dark
"With infrastructure and education crumbling, we’re on the unlit, unpaved road to nowhere."

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Companies Not Restoring 401(k)s

Daniel Gross reports on the sweet benevolence of business:

The 401(k) Travesty

"Recent government data suggest an economy in confusion. Growth and consumption are slowing, but savings are rising, up to 6.4 percent of personal income. The savings rate, in fact, has been climbing for three years, as Americans have been hoarding cash to protect themselves against the struggling economy....."

Hugely profitable companies that won't restore the 401(k) match they ditched in 2008.

Friday, July 30, 2010

The Superlatives Can Now Be Uttered, and Blame on the Boomers

A new study highlights a devastating trend of increasing economic insecurity among American families.
    Thanks a lot, previous generations. You really squandered things for us.    

"The pain coursing through American families is all too real and no one seems to know what to do about it. A rigorous new analysis for the Rockefeller Foundation shows that Americans are more economically insecure now than they have been in a quarter of a century, and the trend lines suggest that things will only get worse."

Rockefeller Foundation Study - Long-Term Economic Pain for American Families

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Judge Bolton's ruling on SB1070 Full-text

The takeaway? The law was written so poorly as to suggest its authors were as unfamiliar with writing a legal statute as a slug is to riding a bicycle.

You gotta love this line: "In its Motion, the United States provided evidence that Arizona police officers have no familiarity with assessing whether a public offense would make an alien removable from the United States."

Read the ruling here: SB1070 Ruling

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Shouldn't High Unemployment = Less Work To Do?

Productivity, a better future....Dave Johnson writes:

Source: www.seeingtheforest.com
"Simple question: have we reached a point where machines and computers leave us with less work to do? If so it can mean a lot of people are left without jobs and incomes, losing their homes and health, while the rest have our wages dragged ever downward. Or we can make some changes in who gets what for what, and every one of us ends up better off."  Continued..

Monday, May 17, 2010

"What was worse than what you did, is that you LIED to me about it"

David Neiwart points out what I've been saying all along on this SB-1070 issue:
"Will a driver's license suffice as proof of citizenship in Arizona? Maybe, but only if you're from Arizona

One of the claims being made by defenders of Arizona's police-state immigration law is that Latino citizens won't have to carry their birth certificate or other proof of citizenship in order to avoid arrest should they have contact with police -- all they need to carry is their driver's license."

He goes on to show how that's a bold faced lie.
Original at Crooks and Liars

Reprinted here:

Crooks and Liars

Will a driver's license suffice as proof of citizenship in Arizona? Maybe, but only if you're from Arizona

[media id=12823]
One of the claims being made by defenders of Arizona's police-state immigration law is that Latino citizens won't have to carry their birth certificate or other proof of citizenship in order to avoid arrest should they have contact with police -- all they need to carry is their driver's license.
Among others making this claim is the bill's co-author, State Sen. Russell Pearce, last week on Neil Cavuto's Fox News show:
Pearce: Citizens aren't required to carry any documentation they weren't required to carry yesterday. In Arizona, if you have a driver's license, a state ID, an identity card, that's presumption that you're in the state legally.
Pearce is far from alone in claiming this. In his NYT op-ed on the law, Kris Kobach -- another key player in the bill's authorship -- wrote the same thing:
Because Arizona allows only lawful residents to obtain licenses, an officer must presume that someone who produces one is legally in the country.
Roy Beck's nativist outfit, NumbersUSA, made a similar claim on its fact sheet:
The majority requests for documentation will take place during the course of other police business such as traffic stops. Because Arizona allows only lawful residents to obtain licenses, an officer must presume that someone who produces one is legally in the country.
And Byron York, in his much-quoted (by conservatives) defense of SB 1070, writes similarly:
But what if the driver of the car had shown the officer his driver's license? The law clearly says that if someone produces a valid Arizona driver's license, or other state-issued identification, they are presumed to be here legally. There's no reasonable suspicion.
Here's what the text of SB 1070 says:
But as Stephen Lemon points out, this language is actually pretty startling: You will be presumed to be an illegal alien in Arizona unless you can produce one of these four kinds of ID.
Now, I haven't been able to find anything in Arizona code requiring citizens to carry one of these forms of ID with them at all times. But SB1070 certainly does create that requirement. As Lemons says:
If during any police investigation, a cop has "reasonable suspicion" to think you're in the country illegally, he or she can presume you're an undocumented alien unless you provide one of several forms of ID.
... Subsequently, even U.S. citizens could be held until someone from Immigration and Customs Enforcement is called to sort them out.
Keep in mind that a cop can stop someone and begin the process during the "enforcement of any other law or ordinance of a county, city or town or this state." That's so broad as to include weed abatement and barking dogs.
But this also raises a huge question: What if you're from another state? What if you're only carrying an out-of-state driver's license?
Many states refuse to require proof of citizenship when issuing driver's licenses: they wisely understand that it's more important to have people driving their roads with licenses and documentation than not, and requiring citizenship papers is a good way to discourage it.
So if someone -- say, a fourth-generation Latino citizen with an accent -- traveling through Arizona with a California or a Washington driver's license has the misfortune to be pulled over in a traffic stop -- or maybe just one of Sheriff Joe Arpaio's roadblocks -- and has the similar misfortune to arouse an officer's "reasonable suspicion" (say, he has a heavy accent or looks nervous), he could be hauled in and arrested under SB 1070, until someone back home can fax the birth certificate.
Finally, as much as the law's apologists might make this claim, the reality is that Latino drivers in Arizona are already being arrested for failing to carry a birth certificate of proof of citizenship. Remember this fellow?
[media id=12614]
He first showed the officers who arrested him his driver's license.
All this would explain why ConsumerTraveler.com issued the following advisory:
U.S. legal resident aliens, and especially U.S. citizens, normally don’t carry proof of their immigration status or citizenship, when traveling domestically. In fact, most U.S. citizens don’t even have proof of citizenship. Fewer than 22% of Americans have passports, and probably fewer than 30% have “certified” birth certificates. Most Americans only have “hospital” birth certificates. U.S. Citizens could carry their passport, passport card, certified birth certificate if born in the U.S., or naturalization papers to prove citizenship, but that would be a first for U.S. citizens, traveling in their own country, to have to prove citizenship.
After reviewing the new law, and carefully considering the statements of the law’s supporters and critics, especially if you’re a swarthy skinned traveler in Arizona, I’d recommend you carry proof of U.S. citizenship or legal immigration status to avoid possible detention, if this law goes into effect.
Travel agents with whom I’ve spoken are unanimous, that if the law goes into effect, they will add a strongly worded advisory, to all client invoices and itineraries for travel to or through Arizona, to carry proof of citizenship or legal immigration status.
And if you live in Arizona, I would not count on the assurances of Russell Pearce and Kris Kobach. Because a driver's license may get you off the hook -- or maybe not. It'll depend on the officer, apparently.
Sure sounds like a police state to me."

Update: Until the governor sneakily re-wrote the law just prior to signing it.