Thursday, September 30, 2010
China has so much money it can buy important magnet technology that we use for our smart bombs. They did so in 1995 when General Motors sold Magnequench to Chinese investors(Huan New Material High Tech Inc.and the China National Nonferrous Metals).Beijing has a policy to acquire high technology industries with military significance.They comb the international community for new technology to buy and bring home like a bee to the hive. Magnequench eventually bought out GA Powders who received a taxpayer subsidy to develop the powerful new magnets.Eventually,China bought and closed all of the American companies producing this new technology and now the USA is dependent on them for these magnets,including the ones needed for the smart bombs.Many Democrats expressed concern during the Bush years but they issued blanket statements asserting it has taken all appropriate steps to safeguard Americans from foreign threats.(I'm sure Clinton also did nothing to stop this problem). The Committee on Foreign Investment,a review panel for foreign companies that want to acquire American companies with national security products,does little to stop the spread of this disease.Only 12 of 1,500 reviews were sent to the White House since 1988 for review.
Since 1972,oil companies sought to explore China.They also told China they wanted to pay a corporate tax to China for the exploration work.Why? This tax could save the company millions by avoiding U.S. taxes which are higher.The U.S. allows American companies to reduce their taxes paid to foreign governments by a higher rate($1 for $1credit).The usual rate is $.35 on each dollar credit.The other reason is that our government allows American companies to pay no tax on money that stays offshore.Numerous companies,including large banks,hide their money in subsidiaries in foreign countries to avoid the U.S tax code.
A company with operations in the USA and another country can borrow money at home,deducting the interest and thus lowering its American taxes.At the same time it can earn interest on untaxed cash it keeps overseas.So when an American company closes a factory here and moves to China,provided it meets some technical rules,it can deduct interest charges on its U.S. tax return while building up profits offshore that may never be taxed.All along legislators are writing tax laws to encourage this stealing from the public.
As recent as 1985 trade between China and the U.S. was balanced.In 2006 the trade deficit with China reached $232 billion.That equaled more than $60 per month for every man, woman, and child in America.Today that number has tripled. Trade is imbalanced with Mexico and Canada($136 billion in 2006)Most of that number is from imported oil. China, Japan,Canada and Mexico account for 60% of our worldwide trade deficit.($764 billion in 2006).We don't make anything here anymore but financial instruments that make some people rich and the majority poor.(Debt Crash of 2008)
In the next decade or two,as many as 40 million American jobs will be at risk of moving overseas.One in four jobs might evaporate.That loss would be an economic catastrophe worse than the Great Depression.As America is losing jobs overseas,taxpayers are providing comfort to the George Steinbrenners of the world.The public share of building the new Yankee Stadium is well over $600 million. George also stole a beautiful park away from the citizens to create luxury seating for companies that segregate themselves from the common citizen who financed the bulk of the shrine.
Enough for today..more from "Free Lunch" tomorrow.
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
The payroll tax break would have let employers keep about $1 billion over the next decade, according to the nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation, while the tax increases would have taken back about $300 billion over the same period
Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) defended the bill as a "simple, common-sense" effort to "keep American jobs here in America" and to "stop forcing taxpayers in Nevada and across the nation to pay for giveaways that reward companies for sending American jobs overseas."
Four Democrats and Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (I-Conn.) voted with a united Republican caucus to block the bill, which was crafted to address the 9.6 percent unemployment rate in the run-up to November's midterm elections. On a vote of 53 to 45, the measure failed to garner the 60 votes needed to overcome a GOP filibuster.
Senate Democrats cobbled the measure together last week as it became clear that they would have to abandon plans to extend Bush administration tax cuts for the middle class before the election. While some Democrats wanted to stage a pre-election battle over taxes, the 59-member caucus was deeply divided, with some conservatives echoing GOP arguments that tax cuts should also be preserved for the nation's wealthiest families, at least until the economy fully recovers.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) on Tuesday blasted the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) for opposing legislation that attempts to in-source jobs by granting companies a payroll tax holiday that shift overseas jobs to the U.S. and limits the use of tax deferral.
"Of course they are [opposed]," Sanders told reporters. "They much prefer paying people in Vietnam 20 cents an hour than American workers a living wage."
Sanders suggested that these organizations oppose the bill because it bolsters the bottom lines of their members.
"It is to their advantage, in many cases, to shut down plants here and pay people a fraction of the wages that American workers lose by going to China," Sanders said. "What's the surprise about that?"
Democratic congressional candidate Matt Zeller of Victor on Tuesday announced his support for legislation in the House and Senate that he says would help 29th District resident.
H.R. 2378, the Currency Reform for Fair Trade Act, addresses the imbalance between the U.S. dollar and foreign currencies, specifically China's, he said.
The other bill, S-3816, the Creating American Jobs and Ending Offshoring Act, would provide an incentive to return overseas jobs to the United States, he said.
"The Chinese have a long history of artificially deflating the value of their currency," Zeller said.
The fair trade act is important to the district because it would reduce trade imbalances, make U.S. goods more competitive and reduce the national debt, he said.
Corning Inc. is building an $800 million plant in China to manufacture Gorilla Glass, Zeller said.
"That's something that could be done right here," he said. "Because China's currency is kept at an artificially low level, it's just that much cheaper for Corning to build their Gorilla Glass elsewhere."
The Senate bill would reduce Social Security taxes for two years that companies would pay for new employees who replace workers doing similar jobs overseas, Zeller said. It also eliminates loopholes in the tax code that encourage job outsourcing, he said.
"What it means for folks in the district is simple," he said. "It would put people back to work. It would get a large number of the jobs that we've lost to outsourcing back. It would actually reward American businesses for hiring American workers."
Republicans supported the National Association of Manufacturers who have turned their back on American workers since the 80's when Reagan gave them the green light.
Monday, September 27, 2010
According to Johnson, our annual income has been on the decline for more than three decades.The latest tax data showed the vast majority's average income(bottom 90%) peaked in 1973 at $31,248.By 2006 it had fallen to $30,659.Even with three decades of economic expansion,the vast majority has to get by on $11 less each week than it did a generation ago.An astonishing fact from government tax data has the top tenth of 1%(300,000 people) had nearly as much income as all 150 million Americans that make up the lower half of our population.Executives free lunch(subsidies,writing tax laws,hiding money in tax havens,etc.)is a major factor in America's growing inequality and why our economy is closest to those of Brazil,Mexico and Russia in how it distributes resources.
Nearly three decades after Mr.Reagan's revolution(starve the beast),the single biggest piece of our economy, a third of it ,is still government.From raking leaves in city parks to buy stealth bombers that cost $1.2 billion a copy,government takes the same share.But money for the basics that make society work is growing scarce.From leaves in the park to textbooks to highway bridge maintenance to food safety inspections,money is dwindling because so much has been diverted to the already rich through giveaways,tax breaks,and a host of subsides that range from the explicit to the deeply hidden.
The " Trust and Consequences" chapter reviewed a tragedy that took place when a switch broke at a crossing and 77 people were injured and 8 were dead while traveling on an Amtrak train.The company CSX were in charge of maintenance of the railroad crossing.The National Transportation Safety Board examined the crash and found CSX had covered up a wobbly switch mechanism with ballast. CSX was cutting costs ($2.4 billion) on maintenance throughout their rail system so they could increase revenue and stock prices.From the perspective of CSX, the economics of shortchanging safety made sense. The maximum fine was $20,000 for safety violations(average$1,600).One family did sue and eventually received $56 million as compensation from CSX.The other families received a fraction of this settlement because they didn't have the patience and determination.CSX didn't pay a dime to any party in the accident even if they were at fault.They sent the bill to Amtrak.Under federal law all claims arising from Amtrak(government owned) passengers,even in cases where Amtrak was not at fault,must be paid by Amtrak.CSX took advantage of this law to reduce maintenance costs for profit.Economists call someone who gets rewards but has little risk:moral hazard. It is obvious that CSX engaged in morally hazardous conduct and the American taxpayer paid for this behavior that has lead to numerous deaths and accidents.Only four of 3,000 accidents have been investigated since 2000.The government agencies that oversee safety are limited due to a lack of resources and number of inspectors.
More to come from"Free Lunch".
Saturday, September 25, 2010
- Many conservatives feel our current President lacks the "street credentials" to govern our land.I recently read a letter from a conservative developer from the West coast that stated President Obama doesn't understand the private sector and job development because he was sheltered from the harshness of competition in the marketplace.He hasn't struggled with the risk of operating a small or large business.This lack of "real life" experiences hinder his leadership because he doesn't understand the private workforce and the stress of living in an unstable economy. The anxieties and fears of the private sector allude him because he has been a public employee the majority of his life. President Obama also isn't an insightful Commander-In Chief because he didn't participate in the armed services and has no combat experience.His service as a community organizer is very pale compared to a man fighting the enemy on a daily basis.
This viewpoint,a private sector President, confuses me because it is a new twist in the debate over the management of public policy.Many past Presidents haven't had fruitful private sector experience. George W. Bush was an unsuccessful businessman.He started Arbusto Energy in 1979 with surplus money from his education trust fund(I bet President Obama wished he had one ) and had to sell it to Spectrum 7 in 1984 because of poor earnings.Under his leadership,Spectrum 7 also lost money and was merged into Harken. As CEO of Harken, the company's revenue declined annually.He left the oil business in 1987 to run his father's campaign.George H.W.Bush was successful with the help of his wealthy father.He co-founded Zapata Petroleum and became president of Zapata Offshore Drilling in 1954(ahead of his time as an environmentalist).He stayed president and became a millionaire until 1964 when he entered politics.His father,Prescott, was on the board of directors of Brown Brothers Harrison for twenty two years.(Wall St. Banker) Ronald Reagan moved to California in 1937 to be a successful actor.He was president of the Screen Actors Guild and a spokesperson for General Electric.He was a Democrat until 1962 until he switched parties after a Barry Goldwater speech.His experience in the private sector was very limited.Gerald Ford has no private sector experience.He was elected to congress in 1948 and served thirteen successive terms until he became President. President Nixon,like Ford,has no private sector experience.He was elected to congress in 1946 and stayed in many public positions until he became President.
President Carter had a successful private sector career before going into politics.He expanded his family business with increased revenue by the time he ran for governor in 1970.President Clinton and Obama have no private sector experience to speak of.Both were law professors before entering politics.As I tally the experiences, only two of the last eight Presidents had positive private sector experience. The two who had experience were helped enormously by their parents and didn't struggle the way most citizens do. The reality of this viewpoint by Conservatives seems invalid after reviewing the past experiences of the Presidents. The debate on who governs best will be continue as we get closer to the elections.
Friday, September 24, 2010
Posted on March 24, 2010 by Mitt Romney
President Obama's health care bill is unhealthy for America. Without a single Republican vote in the House or the Senate, he pushed through a bill that millions of Americans do not want, and for which we cannot conceivably pay.
Health care reform shouldn't mean higher taxes, cuts to our seniors on Medicare, insurance price controls or greater federal involvement in our lives. But unfortunately that's just what we're getting.
Lets take Romney's first retort concerning the Affordable Care Act....higher taxes.
Health care reform shouldn't mean higher taxes, cuts to our seniors on Medicare, insurance price controls or greater federal involvement in our lives. But unfortunately that's just what we're getting.
Lets take Romney's first retort concerning the Affordable Care Act....higher taxes.
In 2010 and 2011 alone, these provisions will save Medicare an estimated $8 billion and almost $418 billion by 2019. These savings will protect the solvency of the Medicare Trust Fund through 2027, extending its life by 12 years.
These new savings will come largely as a result of reducing excessive payments to private health insurance companies, promoting better quality of care, and cutting Medicare waste and fraud through powerful new tools. These tools keep bad actors out of the Medicare program in order to prevent fraud in the first place and enhanced technologies to help law enforcement stop fraud quickly when it does occur.And there are many important investments in support of innovation for clinicians and health care organizations who are trying every day, as the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services is, to make health care better for patients and more affordable at the same time.
There are other actions in the new law that strengthen Medicare by improving the health of those who receive benefits. These include improving outreach and coordination efforts after a patient is discharged from the hospital to prevent unnecessary hospital readmissions and reducing preventable surgical errors.
Many of the programs in the Affordable Care Act are designed to ensure that people with Medicare continue to have access to quality, affordable care. This year, many people with Medicare who have fallen into the Medicare donut hole are receiving a one-time $250 rebate check to help with their drug costs, making sure that financial concerns do not interrupt needed treatment agreed on by a patient and a doctor.
And next year, all people with Medicare will have access to annual wellness visits and other preventive services with no cost-sharing, giving millions of Americans an opportunity to get potentially life-saving screenings. Over time, new reforms will also encourage better coordinated care.
Together, this adds up to a good deal for people with Medicare and taxpayers. If you or someone you love is on Medicare, make sure to check out sections like here and here on www.healthcare.gov that talk more about how the Affordable Care Act affects you.
Romney states that there will be cuts to our seniors on Medicare.
If you are covered by Medicare, here’s what you will see from Medicare under the Affordable Care Act:
- More benefits. Your guaranteed benefits under Medicare remain. Starting next year, help is on the way for if you are struggling to afford preventive services. Co-pays and other cost-sharing for key preventive services such as colon cancer screening and mammograms will be eliminated. And you can receive free annual wellness check-ups.
- Fighting fraud and keeping Medicare strong. Reducing waste, fraud and abuse is critical to ensuring that Medicare’s precious resources are going to support the health and well-being of seniors like you. We are committed to cutting fraud in the traditional Medicare program in half by 2012. The dollars we save will go right back into the Medicare trust funds to preserve the life of the program.
- Lower drug costs. The Medicare “donut hole” is a gap in prescription drug coverage where people with Medicare have to pay the full cost of their drugs. That gap will be closed under the Affordable Care Act. This year, if you fall into the donut hole, you will receive a one-time, tax-free rebate check for $250. Next year, if you reach the donut hole, you will receive about 50% off the cost of your brand name drugs, and by 2020 the donut hole will have been gradually closed.
- Better quality care. Medicare has long led the way in improving how care is delivered in America. Under the Affordable Care Act, we are going to keep improving quality by encouraging more integrated, coordinated care. Community health teams will provide patient-centered care so you won’t have to see multiple doctors who don’t work together
The Affordable Care Act puts people, not health insurance companies or government, in charge of health care. The new law strengthens the existing employer-based health insurance market while making the market fair for consumers by implementing landmark consumer protections. Families and individuals that don't have access to affordable coverage can receive tax credits to help them purchase coverage in the private health insurance market. There is no government-sponsored, public, or "single payer" plan in the law.
Other facts about the Affordable Care Act.
Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan: New York
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In August, eligible residents of New York will be able to apply for coverage through the state’s Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan program run by Group Health Incorporated.
To qualify for coverage:
For more information, please contact the New York State Department of Insurance Consumer Services Bureau at 800-342-3736.
To qualify for coverage:
- You must be a citizen or national of the United States or lawfully present in the United States.
- You must have been uninsured for at least the last six months before you apply.
- You must have had a problem getting insurance due to a pre-existing condition.
|Premium:||Approximately $400 to $600 per month|
|Deductible:||To be determined|
|Out of Pocket Limit:||To be determined|
For more information, please contact the New York State Department of Insurance Consumer Services Bureau at 800-342-3736.
Health insurance reform lowers costs for American businesses - especially small businesses - who are struggling to remain profitable and competitive under the status quo. The independent Congressional Budget Office confirmed that the bill would lower health insurance premiums for the same insurance plan by up to 4 percent for small businesses and 3 percent for large businesses, and the Business Roundtable estimated that provisions to help bend the health care cost curve like those in the bill could save $3,000 per person in health costs.
Routine health care that includes screenings, check-ups, and patient counseling to prevent illnesses, disease, or other health problems.
Routine health care that includes screenings, check-ups, and patient counseling to prevent illnesses, disease, or other health problems.
and the Affordable Care Act
Under the Affordable Care Act, you and your family may be eligible for some important preventive services—which can help you avoid illness and improve your health—at no additional cost to you.
What This Means for You:
If your plan is subject to these new requirements, you would not have to pay a copayment, co-insurance, or any deductible to receive preventive health services, such as recommended screenings, vaccinations, and counseling.
For example, depending on your age, you may have free access to such preventive services as:
Some Important Details:
- Blood pressure, diabetes, and cholesterol tests;
- Many cancer screenings, including mammograms and colonoscopies;
- Counseling from your health care provider on such topics as quitting smoking, losing weight, eating healthfully, treating depression, and reducing alcohol use;
- Routine vaccinations against diseases such as measles, polio, or meningitis;
- Flu and pneumonia shots;
- Counseling, screening, and vaccines to ensure healthy pregnancies;
- Regular well-baby and well-child visits, from birth to age 21.
- This preventive services provision applies to people enrolled in job-related health plans or individual health insurance policies created after March 23, 2010. If you are in such a health plan, this provision will affect you as soon as your plan begins its first new “plan year” or “policy year” on or after September 23, 2010.
- If your plan is “grandfathered,” these benefits may not be available to you.
- If your health plan uses a network of providers, be aware that health plans are only required to provide these preventive services through an in-network provider. Your health plan may allow you to receive these services from an out-of-network provider, but may charge you a fee.
- Your doctor may provide a preventive service, such as a cholesterol screening test, as part of an office visit. Be aware that your plan can require you to pay some costs of the office visit, if the preventive service is not the primary purpose of the visit, or if your doctor bills you for the preventive services separately from the office visit.
- If you have questions about whether these new provisions apply to your plan, contact your insurer or plan administrator. If you still have questions, contact your State insurance department.
- To know which covered preventive services are right for you—based on your age, gender, and health status—ask your health care provider
Thursday, September 23, 2010
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act included more than $80 billion in the generation of renewable energy sources, expanding manufacturing capacity for clean energy technology, advancing vehicle and fuel technologies, and building a bigger, better, smarter electric grid, all while creating new, sustainable jobs.
Recovery Through Retrofit will eliminate key barriers in the home retrofit industry by providing consumers with access to straightforward information about their home’s energy use, promoting innovative financing options to reduce upfront costs, and developing national standards to ensure that workers are qualified and consumers benefit from home retrofits
For the first time, the U.S. will catalogue greenhouse gas emissions from large emission sources – an important initial step toward measurable and transparent reductions.
The U.S. Global Change Research Program, a collaborative effort involving 13 Federal Agencies, works to understand and respond to climate change as part of a government-wide effort to reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions and grow a clean energy economy. USGCRP’s guide, Climate Literacy: The Essential Principles of Climate Science, explains in plain English the principles and concepts fundamental to climate literacy, and Climate Change, Wildlife and Wildlands: Toolkit for Formal and Informal Educators provides useful resources for educators.
The Interagency Task Force on Ocean Policy is charged with developing a recommendation for a national policy that ensures protection, maintenance, and restoration of oceans, our coasts and the Great Lakes. It will also recommend a framework for improved stewardship, and effective coastal and marine spatial planning.
President Obama in March 2009 signed the Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009 (P.L. 111‐11), the most extensive expansion of land and water conservation in more than a generation. In April, 2010, President Obama signed a Presidential Memorandum establishing the America’s Great Outdoors Initiative to promote and support innovative community-level efforts to conserve outdoor spaces and to reconnect Americans to the outdoors.
President Obama established the Louisiana-Mississippi Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Working Group in October 2009 to improve Federal coordination of restoration activities within the Louisiana and Mississippi coastal regions. In response to the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill in the Gulf of Mexico, Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus is developing a plan to restore the Gulf Ecosystem, which will be informed by the Working Group’s March 2010 Roadmap for Restoring Ecosystem Resiliency and Sustainability
On December 22, 2009, the Administration released an Interim Federal Action Plan for the California Bay Delta that outlines near-term actions to restore the California Bay Delta and a reinvigorated Federal-state partnership.
On May 12, 2010, Obama Administration Officials released a new Federal strategy for the Chesapeake region, focused on protecting and restoring the environment in communities throughout the 64,000-square-mile watershed and in its thousands of streams, creeks and rivers.
In February 2009, President Obama proposed $475 million for a Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, the most significant investment in the Great Lakes in two decades. In February 2010, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson released an Action Plan, which covers FY 2010 through 2014, and lays out the most urgent threats facing the Great Lakes and sets out goals, objectives and key actions over the next five years to help restore the lakes.
The United States played a leading role in crafting a global, legally-binding agreement to limit the mercury emissions into the environment leading to an agreement on February 20, 2009, among more than 140 nations to negotiate a treaty to reduce mercury emissions globally, which they hope to conclude in 2013.
Through a Memorandum of Understanding signed by EPA, the Department of the Interior and the Army Corps of Engineers on June 11, 2009, Federal agencies have taken action to strengthen oversight and regulation, and minimize adverse environmental consequences of mountaintop coal mining in the six Appalachian states of Kentucky, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia.
On February 18, 2010, the White House Council on Environmental Quality proposed four steps to modernize and reinvigorate the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), in conjunction with its 40th Anniversary. These measures will enhance the quality of public involvement in governmental decisions relating to the environment, increase transparency and ease implementation.
That's enough for today..go to the Whitehouse.gov. for more information...if Palin,Romney or any other Republican candidate comes into office,all of what you've read is in jeopardy.
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
The following legislation has been signed by President Obama
The President signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, restoring basic protections against pay discrimination for women and other workers
Announced creation of a Joint Virtual Lifetime Electronic Record for members of the U.S. Armed Forces to improve quality of medical care
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act included a number of provisions of particular concern to people with disabilities.
- The Act included $500 million to help the Social Security Administration reduce its backlog in processing disability applications.
- The Act supplied $12.2 billion in funding to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA);
- The Act also provided $87 billion to states to bolster their Medicaid programs during the downturn; and,
- The Act provided over $500 million in funding for vocational rehabilitation services to help with job training, education and placement.
The President signed the Christopher and Dana Reeve Paralysis Act, the first piece of comprehensive legislation aimed at improving the lives of Americans living with paralysis.
- The Act includes $5 billion for early learning programs, including Head Start, Early Head Start, child care, and programs for children with special needs.
- The Act also provides $77 billion for reforms to strengthen elementary and secondary education, including $48.6 billion to stabilize state education budgets (of which $8.8 billion may be used for other government services) and to encourage states to:
- Make improvements in teacher effectiveness and ensure that all schools have highly-qualified teachers;
- Make progress toward college and career-ready standards and rigorous assessments that will improve both teaching and learning;
- Improve achievement in low-performing schools, through intensive support and effective interventions; and
- Gather information to improve student learning, teacher performance, and college and career readiness through enhanced data systems.
- The Act provides $5 billion in competitive funds to spur innovation and chart ambitious reform to close the achievement gap.
- The Act includes over $30 billion to address college affordability and improve access to higher education.
More to come tomorrow..I'm just in the E's. signed.Health Care and many other legislation that Sarah should admire.
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
The last week has seen a lot of analysis of the Tea Party Movement. It's a Republican rump, according to the NYT, and a national majority, according to Pat Caddell. My view is that it's so amorphous that you can slice it any which way. A minority of Americans seem enraged by the Obama administration in ways that are hard to explain. But many Americans also retain a healthy distrust of government and debt (even though they keep voting for lower taxes and more spending). They have a real point. Over the last decade, it is surely evident that big government has come back with a vengeance. And one has to grasp that part of the tea-party anger is pent up from the Bush years. Most of the rational tea-partiers accept that the GOP has been as bad - if not worse - than the Democrats on spending, borrowing and the size and scope of government in recent years. They repressed this anger during the Bush years out of partisan loyalty. Now, they're taking it all out on the newbie. It's both fair and also unfair.
It's fair because Obama is a liberal who believes government can and should help the poor and disadvantaged and has proven it by providing access to insurance for the working poor. But it's unfair because Obama's fiscal and governing record is massively distorted by the impact of the bank meltdown, the steep revenue-killing recession, and the stimulus. Until its last months, the Bush administration could claim no such excuses for its awful debt-management. The big Bush jumps in discretionary spending, the big leap in entitlements under the unfunded Medicare D program, the long nation-building wars put off-budget, and the huge claims for executive power dominant in the first term: all these are far more damning to my mind than Obama's pragmatism in grappling with an economic collapse or even the healthcare reform, which at least formally claims to reduce the deficit and pay for itself (unlike Bush's Medicare-D). Even the protests at the manner in which the health reform was passed are disingenuous. The Medicare-D process - involving holding the vote open for hours and brutal arm-twisting on the floor of the House - was far, far more cynical and brutal.
And this is why, despite my own deep suspicion of big government, I remain unmoved by the tea-partiers. Their partisanship and cultural hostility to Obama are far more intense, it seems to me, than their genuine proposals to reduce spending and taxation. And this is largely because they have no genuine proposals to reduce spending and taxation. They seem very protective of Medicare and Social Security - and their older age bracket underlines this. They also seem primed for maximal neo-imperial reach, backing the nation-building efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq, favoring war against Iran, etc. Only Ron Paul, peace be upon him, extends his big government critique to the military-industrial-ideological complex.
So they are truly not serious in policy terms, and it behooves the small government right to grapple with this honestly. They both support lower taxation and yet bemoan the fact that so many Americans do not pay any income tax. They want to cut spending on trivial matters while enabling the entitlement and defense behemoths to go on gobbling up Americans' wealth. And that lack of seriousness is complemented by a near-fanatical cultural alienation from the modern world.
In my view, this confluence of feelings can work in shifting the public mood, as seems to have happened. When there is no internal pushback against crafted FNC propaganda, and when the Democrats seem unable to craft any coherent political message below the presidential level, you do indeed create a self-perpetuating fantasy that can indeed rally and roil people. But the abstract slogans against government, the childish reduction of necessary trade-offs as an apocalyptic battle between freedom and slavery, and the silly ranting at all things Washington: these are not a political movement. They are cultural vents, wrapped up with some ugly Dixie-like strands.
When they propose cuts in Medicare, means-testing Social Security, a raising of the retirement age and a cut in defense spending, I'll take them seriously and wish them well.
Until then, I'll treat them with the condescending contempt they have thus far deserved.
Monday, September 20, 2010
Children growing up in low-income families face many challenges that children from more advantaged families do not. 1 These children are more likely to experience multiple family transitions, move frequently, and change schools. 2 The schools they attend are less well funded, and the neighborhoods they live in are more disadvantaged. 3 The parents of these children have fewer resources to invest in them and, as a consequence, their homes have fewer cognitively-stimulating materials, and their parents invest less in their education. 4 The stress of living in poverty and struggling to meet daily needs can also impair parenting. 5
Social and economic deprivation during childhood and adolescence can have a lasting effect on individuals, making it difficult for children who grow up in low-income families to escape poverty when they become adults. 6 Because the negative effects of deprivation on human development tend to cumulate, individuals with greater exposure to poverty during childhood are likely to have more difficulty escaping poverty as adults.
We find that individuals who grow up in poor families are much more likely to be poor in early adulthood. Moreover, the chances of being poor in early adulthood increase sharply as the time spent living in poverty during childhood increases. At all levels of poverty during childhood, African-Americans are more likely than whites to be poor in early and middle adulthood
Intergenerational Poverty: The Consequences of Growing Up PoorAdults who were poor during childhood are much more likely to be poor in early and middle adulthood than are those who were never poor (see Table 1). Few adults who did not experience poverty during childhood are poor in early and middle adulthood. At ages 20, 25, and 30, only four to five percent of those adults who were never poor during their childhood live in poverty. At age 35, less than one percent are poor.
Poverty rates for adults who were poor during childhood are much higher, especially for those individuals with high levels of exposure to poverty during childhood. For adults who experienced low-to-moderate levels of poverty during childhood (one to 50 percent of childhood years), 12 to 13 percent are poor at ages 20 and 25 and seven to eight percent are poor at ages 30 and 35. For adults who experienced moderate-to-high levels of poverty during childhood (51 to 100 percent of childhood years), between 35 percent and 46 percent are poor throughout early and middle adulthood
ConclusionOur examination of PSID data indicates that while most children never experience poverty, 35 percent of children born between 1970 and 1990 experienced poverty between birth and age 15. We also find that African-American children are more likely to experience poverty than are white children. These results have implications for adults: Individuals who were poor during childhood are more likely to be poor as adults than are those who were never poor, and this is especially true for African-Americans. Consequently, intergenerational poverty and persistent disadvantage impedes individuals’ ability to achieve the American Dream. Though there is considerable upward mobility in the United States, escaping poverty is difficult, and racial disadvantages mean that mobility out of poverty for African-Americans is far more difficult than it is for whites.
Sunday, September 19, 2010
The text of the Constitution has created problems for interpretation.The first word of the First Amendment is "Congress". Taken literally,that means the president and courts could prohibit freedom of speech.If we focus just on the text,the case for protecting free speech against government infringement generally is actually somewhat weak. For a hundred years, the states were free to suppress speech in any way they wished.The Bill of Rights applied only to the Federal Government.The Fourteenth Amendment(1868)has been interpreted to apply the First Amendment and most of the Bill of Rights to the states. The Fourteenth Amendment prohibits states from denying liberty without due process and infringing the privileges or immunities of citizens of the U.S. Those clauses have been incorporated into the First Amendment.
According to Strauss, the original understanding of the First Amendment wasn't clear about freedom of expression concerning the government.There was a robust tradition in England for punishing government protest before the Constitution was written(1704--Justice Holt)) To the extent that we can determine(Strauss) the original understandings,there is a good argument that the First Amendment was not understood to outlaw prosecutions for seditious libel.In 1798,the Sedition Act was enacted by Congress that expressly punished dissent(John Adams and Alexander Hamilton defended it--Madison,who is the most important drafter of Bill of Rights was against).There were persecutions for blasphemy and defamation during this time period in many states.Blasphemy would be unthinkable in our present while defamation law is subject to many important restrictions.The body of has been a product of the evolution of common law with regards to the First Amendment. It developed over time with principles that were tried and sometimes eventually accepted,sometimes abandoned,sometimes modified in light of ongoing experience.The law of the First Amendment is a creation of the living Constitution.
Winter's Bone is about an Ozark mountain girl who hacks through dangerous social terrain as she hunts down her drug dealing father.The families involved are from a dirt poor rural area with few jobs to speak of which is similar to many locations around the country. An hour drive from my house will bring you into desperate,unforgiving farms that have lost independence and revenue.The movie was typical in the sense that the heroine eventually overcame her obstacles and a somewhat happy ending ensued. What I came away with was the great poverty that that has existed in rural and urban white communities since the late fifties exposed it and tried to do something about it.The recent poverty figures have listed 12.3 % of white families are below the poverty line.65.1% of American households are white according to the 2010 census.If you do the math,24.6 million whites in America live in poverty.This numbers far encompasses the black community(9.1 million).It is true the black and Hispanic communities have a higher percentages(25%) of their people in poverty but the numbers of the white community are overwhelming.What can be done about rural and urban poverty has been an issue for fifty years and nobody has found an answer. The rural communities lack employment opportunities and have a hard time leaving their world for more urban areas.One of my main interests is how to bring jobs to communities throughout NYS. I will eventually do many blogs in this area but have to do the full research in order to make sense of the entire problem.It seems lower tax or non tax incentives isn't enough to encourage companies to invest.Does government need to be the provider of jobs(and revenue) where capitalism fails?
More on this issue and the living constitution tomorrow.
Friday, September 17, 2010
Moderate originalism is popular with many judges that feel obligated to follow the original"meanings" but not the original applications of the Constitution.The problem with moderate originalism is that it can justify anything. Once we say that we are bound by the principle,rather than by the specific outcomes,that the founders envisioned,we can always make the principle abstract enough to justify any result we want to reach. Judges are free to do what they want; they have to derive from some constitutional provision a "principle" that support them.
The text of the Constitution plays a minor role(ceremonial) in the vast majority of Supreme Court opinions.Most of the real work will be done by the Court's analysis of its previous decisions.The Court follows a detailed,careful account of precedents.Where the precedents leave off,or are unclear,the opinion will make arguments about fairness or good policy;why one result makes more sense than another,why a different ruling would be harmful to some important social interest.Briefs are filled with analysis of the precedents and arguments about which result makes sense as a matter of policy or fairness.The U.S. has over two centuries of experience grappling with the fundamental issues(Constitutional issues) that arise in a large,complex,diverse,changing society.Common law has been around for centuries,long before the Constitution was written. Common law restrains judges more effectively than originalism does.The common law approach provides a far better understanding of what our constitutional law actually is.Originalist feel the Constitution is binding because the person or entity commanded it and had the authority to issue it because of the legitimacy of democratic rule.They feel the Constitution and the amendments is law and anything that isn't ratified by the "people" to be outside the law. According to common law view,the authority of law comes from the fact that it has evolved and has been accepted by successive generations(Jefferson's point).
According to Strauss in "The Living Constitution", a common law approach is superior to originalism in at least four ways.(1)It is more workable..originalism requires judges to be historians(2)it is more justifiable..gives a plausible explanation for why we should follow precedent(3)it's what we actually do...constitutional law follows precedents(4)it's more candid..it is open to criticism. Originalism is different,it claims to be following orders from the founders.
More to come from"The Living Constitution"
Thursday, September 16, 2010
Struss argues that there are problems with a dead Constitution. There are many principles embedded in our law that would be repudiated if originalist held their position rigorously.(1) Racial segregation of public schools would be constitutional (2) The government would be free to discriminate against women(3)The federal government could discriminate against minorities(or anyone else) pretty much any time it wanted to (4)The Bill of Rights would not be applied to the states(5)States could freely violate the principle of "one person,one vote" in designing their legislatures.(6) Many Federal labor,environmental and consumer protection laws would be unconstitutional.Many other examples are available.
Brown v. Board of Education changed the face of racial segregation in public schools when the Supreme Court held that state- imposed racial segregation in schools is unconstitutional.. When the 14th Amendment (Equal Protection Clause)was debated (1868) the Senate galleries we segregated. At the same time of the amendment,women were discriminated and ignored under the (EPC).Not a lot has happened to the Constitution since the defeat of the Equal Rights Amendment. The Supreme Court(1970) has held that the (EPC) of the 14th Amendment limits the power of states to discriminate against women.The Constitution declares that no state shall deny any person equal protection of the laws....it doesn't say anything about the Federal government...so they could discriminate against anyone if you interpret it as an originalist. Again, the Constitution states that the Federal Government only applies the Bill of Rights,not the states.One could say that the states could abridge your religious freedom,unreasonable searches,etc. Since 1964, The Supreme Court has insisted that state legislative districts conform to the principle of one person,one vote.Before the rulings,the legislature were grotesquely malapportioned.
More to come tomorrow.
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
I'm between books today( New one..The Living Constitution by David Strauss) and wanted to tell you a story about what happened to me thirty-eight years ago while hitchhiking from Oakland to Los Angeles. It's not very interesting but it could have changed my life if I was open to an experience someone offered me. I lived in a large house on 47th St in Oakland when I went to California in 1972.The owner was a young man around two or three years older than me(a past roadie for the Jefferson Airplane). Around ten to fifteen men lived at the house at any given time.It had three floors and I lived in the attic. You gave the owner a few dollars to live there from time to time.People came and went as they pleased and women appeared and disappeared like the wind.One could say we were having a very good time the majority of our stay. The house was full of people from Ohio,Florida,Manhattan and the Bronx.I was a member of the Bronx contingent. Some of my friends were Viet Nam vets that returned a little unhappy about being involved in the very dangerous experience. They had "freaked" when they returned and became part of the underbelly of the counter culture movement. I say" underbelly" because a lot of vets were addicted to some form of drugs when they returned and this house provide the escape they needed on a daily basis.
I met a young lady through a friend that lived in L.A. and decided to go see her one day. Of course I had little money or transportation, so I started to hitchhike one morning.I've received numerous rides,some good and some very bad ,in my travels but one ride stands out because I was offered a job by the president of a company. I don't remember the type of company but I do recall we talked for a long time about my education,experiences and perception of our culture. I guess we debated the usual issues and tried to make our points about the war,business and general lifestyles.I knew a little about business because I had graduated from one of the better business schools in the country at the time. As I took business classes in college,the more I wanted to remove myself from that environment.I just thought it was very conforming and not very interesting.Also,I always had a poor response to authority which continues to today. I didn't think I could be competitive and take orders from someone who didn't fully respect me and see me as an equal.I was also radical when it came to one's attire. I fully believe to this day that a human should be able to wear what he/she wants at any time and in any situation. Judgemental people, with that one issue, has always been a thorn for me.My view of this issue has lead me to accept any attire in the form of clothing or tattoos.I like to tell the story that I was the first young man to wear bell bottoms and gym attire(outside) in the Bronx.
With this stated, the man still offered me a job if I would conform a little(clean up) and join the company. He pleaded with me to give up my perception and engage the other world that was ready for my arrival.What if I took him up with that proposal?Would I be a rich man living in a fancy San Francisco co-op,donating money to Nancy Pelosi and underprivileged children in Oakland. Would those years bring passion for my work and open my world to experiences I never had?
If you've been reading this blog, you might think I am distrustful of all business activities. I am not against the capitalist system and rejoice when companies are fulfilling places to work and grow. The majority of companies are very good to their employees and help communities flourish. They contribute to the welfare of many through donations and support programs. Wealthy individuals are very generous through their foundations that meet an assortment of needs. I wish all our citizens had wonderful jobs and experiences with their employees.
I couldn't take that leap because I was truthful to myself at that time in my life. The world was upside down for those of us that needed something new. Why that happened sometimes remains a mystery to me. Only a small percentage of my peer group took the counter culture path in earnest. It was a challenge at times to turn your back on the culture you came from and go down an unlit road. Many stumbled and got caught up in the darkness of drugs and bad dreams. Each path was open at twenty-two for me. I think about the "straight"job sometimes and wonder where those steps might have led me. In the end, it really only matters if the time spent here was worthwhile. When I think in those terms,I know that I took the correct path because I've been very happy being true to the person I think I am.
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
The level of state intervention in the U.S. and United Kingdom is comparable to that of wartime expenses.The huge bailouts of major institutions means that the Anglo-Saxon model of capitalism has failed.It is a 100% pure form of socialism for the rich.The unregulated boom where all the upside went into private hands(top 10% income levels) is followed by a gigantic bust in which losses were socialized. The Western world can't afford another bust like this one for another generation.On a political level,we have the chance to insist that our governments change the rules to make sure that this never happens again.
Free-market capitalism's victory party(last twenty years) has come to an end. We have to slow down and decide how to make the finance industry back into something which serves the rest of society rather than preying on it.Citizens have to start thinking about when we have sufficient money,sufficient stuff and start worrying about our neighbors who might be without.In a world running out of resources,the most important ethical,political and ecological idea can be summed up in one word:"enough". Credit bubbles(low rates) and asset bubbles(CDO's) didn't happen without people joining in the process. Citizens borrowed and spent more(junk),bet assets would grow higher in price,used credit cards like ATM's and became greedy through increased materialism
Maybe the West should have listened to the ideas and perspectives of the counter culture movement forty years ago. The movement rejected materialism by building owner designed small scale housing(under 1000 sq.ft.),limiting purchasing of new clothing,furniture,appliances,haircuts,food(welcomed vegetarianism),automobiles,costly heating and air conditioning systems,vacation trips and entertainment. The movement grew gardens and explored "free" nature in the public parks and rivers of our nation.Many mothers and fathers stayed home to raise their children and make them their priority.They worked at jobs that they found interesting and avoided workplaces that focused on profits before people. As the media talked about buying new consumer goods, the movement recycled and formed coops for health and food needs.The same media(their revenue coming from capital companies thru advertising) trashed the movement as drug infested and self serving at every opportunity. Traditional Christian religions joined the attack because the movement found peace in nature,not in the buildings of man. The greed for the new and better didn't come from the counter culture because we knew America could do better.
I highly recommend"I.O.U" by John Lanchester for all its insights.
Monday, September 13, 2010
Well,John Fogarty was great yesterday and played like a youthful twenty-two at sixty-five. I was very glad I went to see his band play. They all were very exuberant about the show and John performed non-stop for two hours.He played all of his hits from Creedence and more. I didn't realize what a fine player he is. His young band was excellent and every song had instrumental parts where John excelled.Every form of rock was played and they continued the pace throughout the show.I'm also glad a nice crowd turned up to support Family.
The "asset price bubble"is economist speak for the housing bubble.During the years of the buildup,while interest rates were low and poured into houses; or many took money out of their homes by taking out loans against the increased value,people treated their houses like giant ATM machines. Greenspan(Central bankers) claimed that China kept interest loans low buying T-bills and that the central bankers didn't raise rates(slow the bubble) because there was no reason for prices to rise. The housing bubble also took place in the United Kingdom and most of Europe. The Chinese didn't invest in these countries like the U.S. and therefore Greenspan's account is false and misleading. Under his watch,interest rates remained so low that it encouraged the market to spin out of control. This lack of insight was one of the main causes of the bubble that lead to disaster for so many citizens.
The movement to de-regulate the financial industry went too far by exaggerating the resilience of laissez-faire capitalism. There was a decades long process of deregulation and opening up, of stripping out(by lobbyist and pro- business politicians) all measures designed to second guess the financial world's ability to regulate by "market discipline". The total free-for-all started with the 1982 Garn-St. Germain Depository Institutions Act(Reagan) that created insurance for mortgage lenders which increased their reckless practices and eventually begot the savings and loan crash and a bailout of $124.6 billion. This bill stood at the beginning of two and a half decades(Reagan, Bush, Clinton and Bush) of consistent deregulation and loosening of regulatory supervision and all subsequent legislation.
The bankers asked for and got the following: (1) insistence on free movement of capital across borders (2)the repeal of Depression era regulations separating commercial and investing banking (3) a congressional ban on the regulation of credit de-fault swaps(4)Major increases in the amount of leverage allowed to investment banks(5) a light hand at the SEC in enforcement(6) an international agreement to allow banks to measure their own risks(7)an intentional failure to update regulations so as to keep up with financial innovation.
In 2004,the SEC agreed to allow five big banks to cut the amount of capital they needed to hold in reserve against potential losses in its investments.This change allowed the banks to increase their leverage hugely.(3 of 5 eventually went under after 2008..Lynch,Lehman and Bear Stearns) Stearns increased its leverage to the point where it had $33 in debt for every $1 of equity.
The Gramn-Leach-Bliley Act of 1999 killed the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933 that separated commercial and investment banking.The bill was sponsored by three republicans and backed by Treasury Secretary Larry Summers(Dem). This bill allowed the banks to use commercial money for high risk investment that increased the probability of failure in the housing market,especially subprime mortgages.The culture which lead to this point was ingrained in the system that was a secular religion with no apologies to the millions who lost their jobs when the crises came.
More to come from "I.O.U" by John Lanchester.