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“Austerity” Equals Fascism, Part I: The Republicans are Nazis

Russ Bel­lan­t’s Book about the GOP and the Nazis

COMMENT: The title of this post may appear extreme to some.  A fol­low-up post will dis­cuss “aus­ter­i­ty” and its effects will be ana­lyzed in some detail and against the back­ground of the Nazi T‑4 pro­gram and the the­o­ret­i­cal prin­ci­ples of Carl von Clause­witz.

We could do no bet­ter to begin this long post than to ref­er­ence a char­ac­ter­is­ti­cal­ly inci­sive post by “Pterrafractyl”–who’s work is now fea­tured in its own sec­tion, high­light­ed on the front page of this web­site (“Pter­rafractyl’s Nest”). Users of the web­site are emphat­i­cal­ly encour­aged to digest that post and con­sid­er it in the con­text of this entry. 

In Pter­rafractyl’s detailed arti­cle, we observe the poten­tial res­o­lu­tion of the glob­al eco­nom­ic melt­down threat­ened by the fail­ure of the Euro. That res­o­lu­tion is the kind of sub­ju­ga­tion of Euro­pean nation­al sov­er­eign­ty to Ger­man hege­mo­ny that was envi­sioned by the Third Reich in its plans for post­war vic­to­ry and con­se­quent con­trol.

Fail­ure to res­cue the Euro threat­ens a glob­al eco­nom­ic melt­down. In effect, Ger­many is in the posi­tion of black­mail­ing the U.S., as well as the rest of the world. “As goes Europe, so goes the world.”

The Unit­ed States is, of course, in a Pres­i­den­tial elec­tion year, with 23 Sen­ate seats held by Democ­rats up for grabs, as opposed to 10 seats cur­rent­ly held by Repub­li­cans.

In a fol­low-up post, we’ll look at the pos­si­ble effects of Euro­pean eco­nom­ic tur­moil on the U.S. elec­toral scene, the Pres­i­den­tial con­test in par­tic­u­lar. In that con­text, we will also touch on the pas­sive role of the Fed­er­al Reserve Bank and its chair­man Ben Bernanke in this imbroglio. 

In order to see the cur­rent elec­toral horse race in per­spec­tive, it is impor­tant to review and under­stand the nature of the con­tem­po­rary Repub­li­can Par­ty.

As dis­cussed in FTR #465 (among oth­er pro­grams), a core ele­ment of the post-World War II GOP is a direct off­shoot of the Third Reich and its cen­tral Euro­pean allies.

Fol­low­ing Dewey’s nar­row defeat by Har­ry Tru­man in the 1948 elec­tion (blamed on the “Jew­ish vote”),  Allen Dulles and his pro­tege Richard Nixon set about recruit­ing Axis vet­er­ans, many of them war crim­i­nals, to serve as polit­i­cal mobi­liz­ers in the East­ern Euro­pean eth­nic com­mu­ni­ties in the Unit­ed States. 

This recruit­ment pro­gram was inex­tri­ca­bly linked with an ille­gal domes­tic covert oper­a­tion, the Cru­sade for Free­dom. The CFF enlist­ed Roman­ian Iron Guard vet­er­ans, mem­bers of the Hun­gar­i­an Arrow Cross, the Bul­gar­i­an Nation­al Front, the Croa­t­ian Ustachi, the Slo­va­kian Hlin­ka Par­ty, Ukrain­ian fas­cists from the OUN/B of Stephan Ban­dera, Baltic fas­cists from Esto­nia, Latvia and Lithua­nia, Byeloruss­ian Nazis and oth­ers as com­bat­ants against the Sovi­et Bloc and as polit­i­cal cadre in the Unit­ed States.

Sig­nif­i­cant for our pur­pos­es here, it is impor­tant to remem­ber that Ronald Rea­gan was the chief spokesman for the CFF, the covert oper­a­tion cement­ed to the for­ma­tion and oper­a­tion of the GOP “eth­nics.” The State Depart­ment machi­na­tions used to bring the Nazis and fas­cists into the U.S. were over­seen by William Casey, lat­er Nixon’s head of the Secu­ri­ties and Exchange Com­mis­sion and, lat­er, Ronald Rea­gan’s head of the CIA.

Shep­herd­ed by Nixon, this Nazi GOP ele­ment was viewed as being able to deliv­er five key swing states in Pres­i­den­tial elec­tion years. Dur­ing Nixon’s sec­ond term, the GOP “eth­nics” were installed as a per­ma­nent ele­ment of the Repub­li­can Par­ty, when George H.W. Bush was chair­man of the Repub­li­can Nation­al Com­mit­tee.

The 1980 elec­tion marked the tri­umphal ascen­sion of the CFF/Nazi “eth­nics” to the pin­na­cle of Amer­i­can polit­i­cal pow­er. With CFF spokesper­son Rea­gan as Pres­i­dent, George H.W. Bush (who over­saw the instal­la­tion of the Nazis as a per­ma­nent, stand­ing ele­ment of the GOP) as Vice-Pres­i­dent and William Casey (who han­dled the machi­na­tions to import the Nazis under State Depart­ment aus­pices) as CIA direc­tor, the Nazi machin­ery was in con­trol of Amer­i­can polit­i­cal process.

The selec­tion of per­son­nel for the Rea­gan admin­is­tra­tion is worth not­ing as well. In charge of draw­ing up the list of indi­vid­u­als from which Rea­gan made his appoint­ments was Helene Von Damm, a close associate/protege of Otto von Bolschwing, anoth­er “Dulles Nazi” import­ed into the Unit­ed States. In the Third Reich, Von Bolschwing served as Adolf Eich­man­n’s supe­ri­or in admin­is­ter­ing “Jew­ish mat­ters” for Hitler.

(Yours Tru­ly played a small role in the actu­al break­ing of the Von Bolschwing sto­ry in 1981. Von Damm keeps the last name of her sec­ond hus­band, Chris­t­ian Von Damm, who was man­ag­ing Bank of Amer­i­ca’s branch in La Paz, Bolivia in the ear­ly 1980’s. It would be a rea­son­able sup­po­si­tion that the bank was han­dling a fair amount of cap­i­tal derived from the oper­a­tions of the “Coca Fascisti” who ascend­ed to pow­er in the “Cocaine Coup” of 1980. Lat­er, Von Damm became Rea­gan’s Ambas­sador to Aus­tria. There, she mar­ried a hote­lier named Goertler, who lat­er died of an alleged­ly self-inflict­ed gun shot wound.

Exem­pli­fy­ing the peo­ple tabbed by Van Damm was Yka­te­ri­na Chu­machenko, Deputy Direc­tor for Pub­lic Liai­son for Rea­gan and, at the same time, head of the UCCA, the key front orga­ni­za­tion for the OUN/B! She went on to become first lady of the Ukraine under Vic­tor Yuschenko.

The war crimes com­mit­ted by the OUN/B on behalf of the Third Reich are a sub­ject of con­tem­po­rary polit­i­cal ten­sion between Poland and the Ukraine.

Old Nazis, the New Right and the Repub­li­can Par­ty by Russ Bel­lant; South End Press (HC); Copy­right 1991 by Russ Bel­lant; pp. 76–77.

EXCERPT: . . . .On July 20, 1988, George Bush reaf­firmed the ties between the Repub­li­can Par­ty and the ABN by mak­ing a cam­paign stop at Fedorak’s Ukrain­ian Cul­tur­al Cen­ter in War­ren, Michi­gan. Bush deliv­ered a hard-line for­eign pol­i­cy speech to those attend­ing the annu­al Cap­tive Nations ban­quet spon­sored joint­ly by the Cap­tive Nations Com­mit­tee and the ABN. Shar­ing the dais with Fedo­rak and Bush was Kather­ine Chu­machenko, for­mer­ly the direc­tor of the UCCA’s Cap­tive Nations Com­mit­tee and cur­rent­ly the Deputy Direc­tor for Pub­lic Liai­son at the White House. [Empha­sis added.] Ignatius M. Billinsky, Pres­i­dent of UCCA, had already been named Hon­orary Chair of Ukraini­ans for Bush, and Bohdan Fedo­rak named Nation­al vice-chair of Ukraini­ans for Bush. . . .

COMMENT: In assess­ing the Naz­i­fied char­ac­ter of the GOP and the Reagan/Bush I admin­is­tra­tions, one should remem­ber that evi­dence sug­gests the Nazi hier­ar­chy and chain of com­mand remained intact, with the Bor­mann net­work in charge of an NSDAP gone under­ground. 

Fur­ther­more, the Nazi emi­gre milieu is inex­tri­ca­bly linked with the Gehlen orga­ni­za­tion. Even as Gehlen was cement­ing his deal with U.S. intel­li­gence, he was clear­ing his activ­i­ties with Admi­ral Karl von Doenitz (Hitler’s des­ig­nat­ed suc­ces­sor) and Gen­er­al Franz Halder.

“The Secret Treaty of Fort Hunt” by Carl Ogles­by; Covert Action Infor­ma­tion Bul­letin #35 (Fall of 1990).

EXCERPT: . . . . As Gehlen was about to leave for the Unit­ed States, he left a mes­sage for Baun with anoth­er of his top aides, Ger­hard Wes­sel: “I am to tell you from Gehlen that he has dis­cussed with [Hitler’s suc­ces­sor Admi­ral Karl] Doenitz and [Gehlen’s supe­rior and chief of staff Gen­eral Franz] Halder the ques­tion of con­tin­u­ing his work with the Amer­i­cans. Both were in agree­ment.” Hohne and Zolling, op. cit., n. 14, p. 61.

COMMENT: Return­ing to the sub­ject of “aus­ter­i­ty” and the elec­tions, it is vital to remem­ber the the Reagan/Bush I Naz­i­fied GOP admin­is­tra­tions cam­paigned against big gov­ern­ment and preached aus­ter­i­ty. At the same time, Reagan/Bush dras­ti­cal­ly increased the mil­i­tary bud­get, increas­ing the nation­al debt three and a half-fold under Rea­gan. By the time Bush I left office, the nation­al debt had increased five-fold!

The Naz­i­fied GOP had cre­at­ed the very sit­u­a­tion which they claimed to be able to solve! (It is worth not­ing that the U.S. had been a net cred­i­tor nation from the end of World War I through the Carter admin­is­tra­tion. By 1983, the U.S. was a net debtor nation. This is relat­ed to, but dis­tinct from, the nation­al debt per se.)

In eight years, Clin­ton, by con­trast, had actu­al­ly had bud­getary sur­plus­es in some years. 

When Bush II took office, he slashed tax­es while wag­ing two wars, dra­mat­i­cal­ly increas­ing the debt once again. 

The actions of five admin­is­tra­tions of Rea­gan and both Bush­es have been utter­ly dis­as­trous for this coun­try’s fis­cal sit­u­a­tion, set­ting the stage for a roll-back of the New Deal under a prospec­tive Rom­ney admin­is­tra­tion (with a GOP-dom­i­nat­ed Con­gress).

In pass­ing, we should remem­ber that the Bush II admin­is­tra­tion heav­i­ly over­lapped a par­al­lel net­work to the Nazi “eth­nics.” Karl Rove–“Bush’s Brain”–and Grover Norquist cre­at­ed the Islam­ic Free Mar­ket Institute to counter the “Jew­ish vote” of the Democ­rats. That milieu, in turn, is inex­tri­ca­bly linked with the Nazi-linked Bank Al-Taqwa and the fund­ing appa­ra­tus that helped sup­port Hamas, Al-Qae­da and Pales­tin­ian Islam­ic Jihad.

Also in this con­text, remem­ber the the­sis pre­sent­ed over and over on this web­site and in the broadcasts–that the Bush fam­i­ly is the point ele­ment of the Bor­mann cap­i­tal network–what banker famil­iar with its oper­a­tions termed “The great­est con­cen­tra­tion of mon­ey pow­er under a sin­gle con­trol in all of world his­to­ry.” We should also bear in mind the links of the GOP pres­i­dents, Nixon, Ford, Rea­gan and Bush I to the assas­si­na­tion of Pres­i­dent Kennedy.

Also in the con­text of GOP/Nazis, as set forth in FTR #652, Sarah Palin appears to be a cat’s paw for the Alaskan Inde­pen­dence Par­ty, a sedi­tious cor­re­spon­dent par­ty for the Aryan Nations.

Cal­i­for­ni­a’s “Governator”–Arnold Schwarzeneg­ger man­i­fest­ed a Nazi polit­i­cal ances­try, Nazi cul­tur­al and behav­ioral affil­i­a­tions, Nazi polit­i­cal con­nec­tions and a pos­si­ble Bor­mann net­work finan­cial backer.

In the cur­rent cam­paign, Mitt Rom­ney is joined at the hip with “alter­na­tive” can­di­date Ron Paul, whose Nazi/fascist links  are a mat­ter of record.

In a fol­low-up post, we will exam­ine the bud­getary and aus­ter­i­ty ques­tion at greater length–both in terms of the pos­si­ble impact of mat­ters Euro­pean on the U.S. elec­tion and on the real nature of “aus­ter­i­ty” itself, from an eco­nom­ic and social stand­point.

Discussion

47 comments for ““Austerity” Equals Fascism, Part I: The Republicans are Nazis”

  1. This is an impor­tant post. I’m email­ing it to every­one I can.

    Posted by GrumpuRex | June 14, 2012, 7:32 am
  2. You mean the exis­ten­tial threat to lib­er­ty isn’t due to too many lazy teach­ers, police, and fire­fight­ers?! Me so con­fused:

    ABC News
    Jun 12, 2012 6:00am
    Would Rom­ney Cut Fire­fight­ers?
    By Matt Negrin

    Mitt Rom­ney appears to be deny­ing that he would cut fire­fight­ers and teach­ers as pres­i­dent, though com­ments by his cam­paign and sup­port­ers haven’t ful­ly resolved a state­ment the can­di­date made last week about pub­lic work­ers.

    Rom­ney said on Fox News today that Democ­rats’ claim about him want­i­ng to cut those work­ers is a “very strange accu­sa­tion.”

    Lat­er, as reporters briefly cor­nered him in Orlan­do, Rom­ney refused to talk about his com­ment about fire­fight­ers and teach­ers. “Oh, I’m not going to talk about that,” he said.

    On Mon­day, though, his cam­paign did lit­tle to sug­gest that his recent com­ment about cut­ting back on fire­fight­ers, police offi­cers and teach­ers had been tak­en out of con­text.

    At first it seemed as if Romney’s state­ment about Pres­i­dent Oba­ma — “He says we need more fire­men, more police­men, more teach­ers. Did he not get the mes­sage in Wis­con­sin? The Amer­i­can peo­ple did. It’s time for us to cut back on gov­ern­ment and help the Amer­i­can peo­ple.” — was an unfor­tu­nate phras­ing or com­bi­na­tion of thoughts.

    But the cam­paign didn’t pro­vide any clar­i­fi­ca­tion on the record of what else Rom­ney might have meant to say. Asked repeat­ed­ly for elab­o­ra­tion, Aman­da Hen­neberg, a Rom­ney spokes­woman, pro­vid­ed a state­ment about Oba­ma being “out of touch.”

    Asked about his com­ment on Fox News, Rom­ney replied: “Of course, teach­ers and fire­men and police­men are hired at the local lev­el and also by states. The fed­er­al gov­ern­ment doesn’t pay for teach­ers, fire­fight­ers or police­men. So obvi­ous­ly that is com­plete­ly absurd, but he’s got a new idea, though, and that is to have anoth­er stim­u­lus and to have the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment to try and bail out cities and states. It didn’t work the first time. It cer­tain­ly wouldn’t work the sec­ond time.”

    John Sununu, a for­mer New Hamp­shire gov­er­nor who is one of Romney’s most vis­i­ble sup­port­ers in the media, said in a TV inter­view on Mon­day that lay­ing off teach­ers makes sense if few­er kids are in class­rooms and new tech­nol­o­gy assists in learn­ing.

    “I think this is a real issue, and peo­ple ought to stop jump­ing on it as a gaffe and under­stand there’s wis­dom in the com­ment,” Sununu said.

    Brad Wood­house, the com­mu­ni­ca­tions direc­tor of the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Nation­al Com­mit­tee, respond­ed on a con­fer­ence call short­ly after­ward: “I thought John Sununu’s com­ments were a bunch of hooey.”

    ...

    If we don’t fire fire­fight­ers our free­dom will burn to the ground. And it’s not like pri­vate cit­i­zens can’t pur­chase pri­va­tized fire pro­tec­tion. It would be fair­er AND cheap­er. At least, I’m pret­ty sure that’s how it works.

    And you have to agree that John Sununu has a point. If there are few­er kids in school, do we real­ly need more teach­ers. I hope you’re lis­ten­ing kids:

    Feb­ru­ary 11, 2009 7:22 PM

    Baby Boom ‘Echo’ Hits Schools

    Leave it to today’s school kids to trump their baby boomer par­ents.

    A total of 49.6 mil­lion chil­dren attend­ed pub­lic and pri­vate school in 2003, beat­ing the pre­vi­ous high mark of 48.7 mil­lion — set in 1970 when the baby boom gen­er­a­tion was in school.

    The growth is large­ly due to all the chil­dren born in the late 1940s to ear­ly 1960s, who have since become par­ents them­selves, the Cen­sus Bureau said Wednes­day. Ris­ing immi­gra­tion played a part, too.

    “You could have pre­dict­ed this back in 1970 when we had all those kids,” said Mark Math­er, a demog­ra­ph­er for the Pop­u­la­tion Ref­er­ence Bureau, which assess­es pop­u­la­tion trends. “We knew they were going to have kids of their own. We have this clas­sic echo effect going on.”

    Even if it isn’t sur­pris­ing, the record tal­ly of stu­dents in the first 12 grades pos­es steep chal­lenges for schools: recruit­ing teach­ers, help­ing chil­dren who don’t speak Eng­lish, keep­ing class sizes man­age­able and com­ing up with enough finan­cial aid for col­lege stu­dents.

    In pop­u­la­tion rings out­side urban areas and in West­ern states such as Neva­da and Cal­i­for­nia the growth has been con­cen­trat­ed, increas­ing demands on schools.

    “They just real­ly don’t have the fis­cal capac­i­ty to match this,” said Scott Young, senior pol­i­cy spe­cial­ist in edu­ca­tion for the Nation­al Con­fer­ence of State Leg­is­la­tures.

    ...

    “These kids are com­ing along at a time when — unlike the baby boomers — their chances of a mid­dle-class life with­out col­lege are almost nil,” Callan said. “It’s going to dri­ve high­er edu­ca­tion pol­i­cy over the next few years. This is a huge chal­lenge.”

    The enroll­ment growth is like­ly to con­tin­ue through this year, accord­ing to the Cen­sus Bureau report. Enroll­ment is expect­ed to drop slight­ly through 2010 — due to a decline in births from 1991 to 1997 — but then pick up again, the Cen­sus fig­ures show.

    All the esti­mates are based on sur­vey respons­es from a sam­ple of the pop­u­la­tion in 2003.

    ...

    Ok, well, there may be a record num­ber of stu­dents, but that still does­n’t mean we need more teach­ers! As Mr. Sununu also point­ed out, it’s not like there aren’t plen­ty of tech­no­log­i­cal replace­ments for teach­ers. Isn’ that right Niel?

    And when all these kids decide to head off to col­lege, let’s not fall into that trap of “oh, no, now we have to find a way to pay for all these co-eds”. None­sense. What good is it to have all these bil­lion­aire sug­ar-dad­dy’s if you can’t tap into their infi­nite founts of wis­dom AND check­books. Just don’t expect any hand­outs you lil’ moochers:

    Op-Ed Con­trib­u­tor
    The Col­lege Grad­u­ate as Col­lat­er­al
    By LUIGI ZINGALES
    Pub­lished: June 13, 2012

    Chica­go

    ACADEMIC econ­o­mists like to make fun of busi­ness­peo­ple: they want com­pe­ti­tion when they enter a new mar­ket but are quick to lob­by for sub­si­dies and bar­ri­ers to com­peti­tors once they get in. Yet schol­ars like me are no bet­ter. We work in the least com­pet­i­tive and most sub­si­dized indus­try of all: high­er edu­ca­tion.

    We crit­i­cize preda­to­ry loans by mort­gage bro­kers, when stu­dent loans can be just as abu­sive. To avoid the next cred­it bub­ble and debt cri­sis, we need to elim­i­nate gov­ern­ment sub­si­dies and link tuition financ­ing to the incomes of col­lege grad­u­ates.

    Near­ly eight mil­lion stu­dents received Pell grants in 2010, cost­ing $28 bil­lion. In addi­tion, the fed­er­al direct loan pro­gram, which allows non­af­flu­ent stu­dents to get gov­ern­ment-guar­an­teed loans at low inter­est rates, cost tax­pay­ers $13 bil­lion in 2010-11. Total sub­si­dies to uni­ver­si­ty edu­ca­tion amount to $43 bil­lion a year, includ­ing around $2 bil­lion in Con­gres­sion­al ear­marks — and that does not even include tax sub­si­dies (for col­lege funds); tax breaks (for uni­ver­si­ty endow­ments, for exam­ple); and sub­si­dies ded­i­cat­ed to research.

    Just as sub­si­dies for home­own­er­ship have increased the price of hous­es, so have edu­ca­tion sub­si­dies con­tributed to the soar­ing price of col­lege. Between 1977 and 2009 the real aver­age cost of uni­ver­si­ty tuition more than dou­bled.

    These sub­si­dies also dis­tort the cred­it mar­ket. Since the gov­ern­ment guar­an­tees stu­dent loans, lenders have no incen­tive to lend wise­ly. All the bur­den of mak­ing the right deci­sion falls on the bor­row­ers. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, 18-year-olds aren’t par­tic­u­lar­ly good at judg­ing the prof­itabil­i­ty of an invest­ment with­out expert advice, and when they do get such advice, it gen­er­al­ly coun­sels tak­ing the largest pos­si­ble loan. The stock of stu­dent loans has reached $1 tril­lion, while the per­cent­age of bor­row­ers in default jumped to 8.8 per­cent in 2009 from 6.7 per­cent in 2007.

    Last but not least, these sub­si­dized loans keep afloat col­leges that do not add much val­ue for their stu­dents, pre­vent­ing peo­ple from accu­mu­lat­ing use­ful skills.

    I do not want to sug­gest that help­ing under­priv­i­leged stu­dents attend col­lege is bad. A true free-mar­ket sys­tem equal­izes oppor­tu­ni­ties, if not for fair­ness, at least for effi­cien­cy: tal­ent should not be wast­ed.

    The best way to fix this inef­fi­cien­cy is to address the root of the prob­lem: most bright stu­dents do not have any col­lat­er­al and can­not eas­i­ly pledge their future income. Yet the ven­ture-cap­i­tal indus­try has shown that the pri­vate sec­tor can do a good job at financ­ing new ven­tures with no col­lat­er­al. So why can’t they finance bright stu­dents?

    Investors could finance stu­dents’ edu­ca­tion with equi­ty rather than debt. In exchange for their cap­i­tal, the investors would receive a frac­tion of a student’s future income — or, even bet­ter, a frac­tion of the increase in her income that derives from col­lege atten­dance. (This increase can be eas­i­ly cal­cu­lat­ed as the dif­fer­ence between the actu­al income and the aver­age income of high school grad­u­ates in the same area.)

    This is not a mod­ern form of inden­tured servi­tude, but a vol­un­tary form of tax­a­tion, one that would make only the ben­e­fi­cia­ries of a col­lege edu­ca­tion — not all tax­pay­ers — pay for the costs of it.

    ...

    Equi­ty con­tracts would diver­si­fy the risk of fail­ure, with high­ly com­pen­sat­ed super­stars help­ing to finance the edu­ca­tions of less suc­cess­ful col­lege grad­u­ates. They will also avoid push­ing grad­u­ates into lucra­tive jobs just to pay off debt. Most impor­tant, these con­tracts would pro­vide financiers with an incen­tive to coun­sel stu­dents wise­ly, as financiers would prof­it from good edu­ca­tion­al invest­ments and lose from bad ones. This would cre­ate more informed demand for the schools, exert­ing pres­sure on them to con­tain costs and improve qual­i­ty.

    That’s right, if we to ensure that “tal­ent isn’t wast­ed”, what we need to get is get all of our tal­ent­ed bet­ters (i.e. folks with lots of mon­ey) to start direct­ly “invest­ing” in the next gen­er­a­tion. For a prof­it, of course. So not only will we be able to pay for all those kid­dies’ col­lege edu­ca­tions, but those bright, aspir­ing stu­dents will get all that wis­dom and guid­ance passed down to them from their “investors”. Grant­ed, some areas of study might suf­fer as as result of this wise guid­ance. But think of all the valu­able “School of Life”-lessons that would be passed down!

    Who says aus­ter­i­ty can’t be expan­sion­ary. I feel my mind expand­ing already just think­ing about this wis­er AND cheap­er world ahead of us.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | June 15, 2012, 10:54 am
  3. The pos­si­bil­i­ties are end­less. I can envi­sion a ‘pen­ny stock’ seg­ment for this mar­ket, where those who can’t afford to invest in, say, a med­ical stu­dent, can still sub­si­dize a young wom­an’s beau­ti­cian course or a young man’s car­pen­try instruc­tion and then own a piece of their earn­ings for years out. There is income to be squeezed all around us if you have the eyes to see!

    Posted by Dwight | June 16, 2012, 3:31 am
  4. @Dwight:
    It looks like Louisiana might be show­ing us one of the future trends in the “squeez­ing prof­its in any way con­ceiv­able from education”-trend. I’m grim­ly fas­ci­nat­ed to see what Bible-based math looks like. 1 + 1 = Lib­er­als destroy glob­al pros­per­i­ty, appar­ent­ly:

    Louisiana’s bold bid to pri­va­tize schools

    By Stephanie Simon

    June 1 | Fri Jun 1, 2012 6:04pm EDT

    (Reuters) — Louisiana is embark­ing on the nation’s bold­est exper­i­ment in pri­va­tiz­ing pub­lic edu­ca­tion, with the state prepar­ing to shift tens of mil­lions in tax dol­lars out of the pub­lic schools to pay pri­vate indus­try, busi­ness­es own­ers and church pas­tors to edu­cate chil­dren.

    Start­ing this fall, thou­sands of poor and mid­dle-class kids will get vouch­ers cov­er­ing the full cost of tuition at more than 120 pri­vate schools across Louisiana, includ­ing small, Bible-based church schools.

    The fol­low­ing year, stu­dents of any income will be eli­gi­ble for mini-vouch­ers that they can use to pay a range of pri­vate-sec­tor ven­dors for class­es and appren­tice­ships not offered in tra­di­tion­al pub­lic schools. The mon­ey can go to indus­try trade groups, busi­ness­es, online schools and tutors, among oth­ers.

    Every time a stu­dent receives a vouch­er of either type, his local pub­lic school will lose a chunk of state fund­ing.

    ...

    BIBLE-BASED MATH BOOKS

    The con­cept of open­ing pub­lic schools to com­pe­ti­tion from the pri­vate sec­tor has been wide­ly pro­mot­ed in recent years by well-fund­ed edu­ca­tion reform groups.

    Of the plans so far put for­ward, Louisiana’s plan is by far the broad­est. This month, eli­gi­ble fam­i­lies, includ­ing those with incomes near­ing $60,000 a year, are sub­mit­ting appli­ca­tions for vouch­ers to state-approved pri­vate schools.

    That list includes some of the most pres­ti­gious schools in the state, which offer a rich menu of advanced place­ment cours­es, col­lege-style sem­i­nars and lush grounds. The top schools, how­ev­er, have just a hand­ful of slots open. The Dun­ham School in Baton Rouge, for instance, has said it will accept just four vouch­er stu­dents, all kinder­gart­ners. As else­where, they will be picked in a lot­tery.

    Far more open­ings are avail­able at small­er, less pres­ti­gious reli­gious schools, includ­ing some that are just a few years old and oth­ers that have strug­gled to attract tuition-pay­ing stu­dents.

    The school will­ing to accept the most vouch­er stu­dents — 314 — is New Liv­ing Word in Rus­ton, which has a top-ranked bas­ket­ball team but no library. Stu­dents spend most of the day watch­ing TVs in bare-bones class­rooms. Each les­son con­sists of an instruc­tion­al DVD that inter­spers­es Bib­li­cal vers­es with sub­jects such chem­istry or com­po­si­tion.

    The Upper­room Bible Church Acad­e­my in New Orleans, a bunker-like build­ing with no win­dows or play­ground, also has plen­ty of slots open. It seeks to bring in 214 vouch­er stu­dents, worth up to $1.8 mil­lion in state fund­ing.

    At Eter­ni­ty Chris­t­ian Acad­e­my in West­lake, pas­tor-turned-prin­ci­pal Marie Car­ri­er hopes to secure extra space to enroll 135 vouch­er stu­dents, though she now has room for just a few dozen. Her first- through eighth-grade stu­dents sit in cubi­cles for much of the day and move at their own pace through Chris­t­ian work­books, such as a begin­ning sci­ence text that explains “what God made” on each of the six days of cre­ation. They are not exposed to the the­o­ry of evo­lu­tion.

    “We try to stay away from all those things that might con­fuse our chil­dren,” Car­ri­er said.

    Oth­er schools approved for state-fund­ed vouch­ers use social stud­ies texts warn­ing that lib­er­als threat­en glob­al pros­per­i­ty; Bible-based math books that don’t cov­er mod­ern con­cepts such as set the­o­ry; and biol­o­gy texts built around refut­ing evo­lu­tion.

    ...

    NO FISCAL ANALYSIS

    Offi­cials have not esti­mat­ed the price tag of these pro­grams but expect the state will save mon­ey in the long run, because they believe the pri­vate sec­tor can edu­cate kids more cheap­ly than pub­lic schools.

    Whether those sav­ings will mate­ri­al­ize is unclear.

    By law, the val­ue of each vouch­er can’t exceed the sum the state would spend edu­cat­ing that child in pub­lic school — on aver­age, $8,800 a year. Small pri­vate schools often charge as lit­tle as $3,000 to $5,000 a year.

    Yet at some pri­vate schools with low tuition, admin­is­tra­tors con­tact­ed by Reuters said they would also ask the state to cov­er addi­tion­al, unspec­i­fied fees, which would bring the cost to tax­pay­ers close to the $8,800 cap. The law requires the state to cov­er both tuition and fees.

    ...

    Here’s an addi­tion­al cost sav­ings approach: why both­er hav­ing sep­a­rate text books for dif­fer­ent sub­jects when you could just have one text book used for every class in every grade. I’m pret­ty sure you could get it past the state boards of edu­ca­tion:

    NY Times
    Texas School Board Set to Vote Text­book Revi­sions

    By MICHAEL BRICK
    Pub­lished: May 20, 2010

    AUSTIN, Tex. — After fac­ing months of protest, con­ser­v­a­tive mem­bers of the Texas Board of Edu­ca­tion were expect­ed Thurs­day night to vote to teach school­child­ren a ver­sion of Amer­i­can his­to­ry that empha­sizes the roles of cap­i­tal­ist enter­prise, the mil­i­tary, Chris­tian­i­ty and mod­ern Repub­li­can polit­i­cal fig­ures.

    The sched­uled vote was a pre­lim­i­nary tal­ly, with the final vote by the same group planned for Fri­day.

    The deci­sion, expect­ed to fall large­ly along the par­ty lines — the board has 10 Repub­li­cans and 5 Democ­rats — fol­lowed tens of thou­sands of pub­lic com­ments, a protest ral­ly and a day­long hear­ing where about 200 speak­ers addressed the board.

    By sheer force of its pop­u­la­tion size, Texas has long held out­size influ­ence on nation­al text­book pub­lish­ers, some of whom sent cur­ricu­lum writ­ers to take notes in the board­room.

    ...

    Last year, con­ser­v­a­tives on the board changed the state sci­ence cur­ricu­lum to under­mine the teach­ing of evo­lu­tion, cell for­ma­tion and the Big Bang.

    While many of the changes to the sci­ence cur­ricu­lum used cod­ed lan­guage to advance con­ser­v­a­tive prin­ci­ples, some addi­tions to the his­to­ry stan­dards were more overt­ly polit­i­cal. Board mem­bers planned to add lan­guage requir­ing high school stu­dents of the civ­il rights move­ment to “describe the role of indi­vid­u­als such as gov­er­nors George Wal­lace, Orval Faubus, and Lester Mad­dox and groups, includ­ing the Con­gres­sion­al bloc of south­ern Democ­rats, that sought to main­tain the sta­tus quo.

    In anoth­er pas­sage, the board would require stu­dents to explain the roles of “Phyl­lis Schlafly, the Con­tract With Amer­i­ca, the Her­itage Foun­da­tion, the Moral Major­i­ty, and the Nation­al Rifle Asso­ci­a­tion.”

    By the time of the vote on Thurs­day, con­ser­v­a­tives on the board had already out­lined their inten­tions in broad strokes.

    ...

    Oh well, at least Louisiana’s leg­is­la­tors aren’t entire­ly clue­less about the dan­gers of reli­gion cloud­ing edu­ca­tion­al cur­ricu­lums. Con­cepts like bla­tant, over­whelm­ing hypocrisy might still elude them, as well as the oxy­moron­ic nature of fun­da­men­tal­ist reli­gious “edu­ca­tion”, but you can’t say the dan­gers of mix­ing reli­gion and edu­ca­tion are entire­ly lost on these folks.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | June 16, 2012, 9:10 pm
  5. Note the over­whelm­ing sup­port in the state leg­is­la­ture for Lou­siana’s new edu­ca­tion pri­va­ti­za­tion scheme. Not enough votes? Eh, what­ev­er:

    $3.4B school fund­ing plan gets final pas­sage
    Jun 4, 2012 1:23pm

    BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — The Louisiana House gave final leg­isla­tive pas­sage Mon­day to a $3.4 bil­lion ele­men­tary and sec­ondary school spend­ing plan, with­out reach­ing the num­ber of votes usu­al­ly need­ed to approve a bill.

    House Speak­er Chuck Kleck­ley, R‑Lake Charles, decid­ed that since the multi­bil­lion-dol­lar spend­ing plans were con­tained in a leg­isla­tive res­o­lu­tion, they did­n’t require the 53 votes need­ed to pass a bill. Instead, Kleck­ley said the mea­sure required sup­port of a major­i­ty of those House mem­bers present and vot­ing.

    With that deci­sion, the House­’s 51–49 vote on the last day of the leg­isla­tive ses­sion gave the fund­ing for­mu­la a final OK. A day ear­li­er, the Sen­ate passed the mea­sure in a 24–15 vote, above the num­ber need­ed to pass a bill.

    The for­mu­la cov­ers state spend­ing for Louisiana’s 70 pub­lic school dis­tricts and for oth­er edu­ca­tion­al pro­grams involv­ing near­ly 700,000 stu­dents.

    The Jin­dal admin­is­tra­tion urged pas­sage of the spend­ing plans. They will fund the gov­er­nor’s new­ly cre­at­ed statewide vouch­er pro­gram that fun­nels tax dol­lars toward pri­vate and parochial school tuition for stu­dents who oth­er­wise would attend low-per­form­ing pub­lic schools.

    ...

    The vouch­er spend­ing and a change to char­ter school fund­ing in parish­es under fed­er­al deseg­re­ga­tion orders were expect­ed to bring court chal­lenges, pos­si­bly along with com­plaints about the vote thresh­old used for pas­sage in the House.

    “Know that it’s going to be in court,” said Rep. Joe Har­ri­son, R‑Napoleonville, an oppo­nent of the leg­is­la­tion.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | June 17, 2012, 5:51 pm
  6. The GOP isn’t shep­herd­ing us into fac­sism, they’re mere­ly offer­ing vague­ly out­lined “com­pre­hen­sive sys­temic change”. And whether or not the US pub­lic embraces this bold new vision will be heav­i­ly depen­dent on the fate of the euro­zone. And that will large­ly be a func­tion of how the pub­lic inteprets and digests all the valu­able lessons encap­su­lat­ed in the col­lapse of the Euro­pean wel­fare state. A vote for Rom­ney is a vote for a rad­i­cal response to the ever more evi­dent lessons of the euro­zone cri­sis that the wel­fare state is an unsus­tain­able lux­u­ry dur­ing an era of nec­es­sary aus­ter­i­ty. We neew a replace­ment of the New Deal social con­tract with a new New Deal that places favors risk over secu­ri­ty, effort over com­fort, and inno­va­tion over sta­bil­i­ty. Secu­ri­ty, com­fort, and sta­bil­i­ty are just not afford­able in our hi-tech econ­o­my (curse you Sci­ence!). This New­er Deal that phas­es out the safe­ty-net for upcom­ing gen­er­a­tions and pri­va­tizes edu­ca­tion is need­ed to save the chil­dren. Think of the chil­dren!

    Any­ways, that’s a meme get­ting pushed right now:

    Op-Ed Colum­nist
    What Repub­li­cans Think
    By DAVID BROOKS
    Pub­lished: June 14, 2012

    Democ­rats fre­quent­ly ask me why the Repub­li­cans have become so extreme. As they describe the sit­u­a­tion, they usu­al­ly fall back on some sort of ill­ness metaphor. Repub­li­cans have a mania. Pres­i­dent Oba­ma has said that Repub­li­cans have a “fever” that he hopes will break if he is re-elect­ed.

    I guess I’d say Repub­li­cans don’t have an ill­ness; they have a view­point. Let me describe it this way: In the 1950s, Dwight Eisen­how­er rec­on­ciled Repub­li­cans to the 20th-cen­tu­ry wel­fare state. Between Ike and George W. Bush, Repub­li­can lead­ers basi­cal­ly accept­ed that mod­el. Sure, they want­ed to cut tax­es and devolve pow­er, but, in prac­tice, they sus­tained the sys­tem, often fund­ing it more lav­ish­ly than the Democ­rats.

    But many Repub­li­cans have now come to the con­clu­sion that the wel­fare-state mod­el is in its death throes. Yuval Levin expressed the sen­ti­ment per­fect­ly in a defin­i­tive essay for The Week­ly Stan­dard called “Our Age of Anx­i­ety”:

    “We have a sense that the eco­nom­ic order we knew in the sec­ond half of the 20th cen­tu­ry may not be com­ing back at all — that we have entered a new era for which we have not been well pre­pared. ... We are, rather, on the cusp of the fis­cal and insti­tu­tion­al col­lapse of our wel­fare state, which threat­ens not only the future of gov­ern­ment finances but also the future of Amer­i­can cap­i­tal­ism.”

    To Repub­li­can eyes, the first phase of that col­lapse is play­ing out right now in Greece, Spain and Italy — cos­set­ed economies, unman­age­able debt, ris­ing unem­ploy­ment, falling liv­ing stan­dards.

    America’s eco­nom­ic stag­na­tion is just more grad­ual. In the decades after World War II, the U.S. econ­o­my grew by well over 3 per­cent a year, on aver­age. But, since then, it has failed to keep pace with chang­ing real­i­ties. The aver­age growth was a pal­try 1.7 per­cent annu­al­ly between 2000 and 2009. It aver­aged 0.6 per­cent growth between 2009 and 2011. Wages have failed to keep up with pro­duc­tiv­i­ty. Fam­i­ly net worth is back at the same lev­el it was at 20 years ago.

    In Amer­i­ca as in Europe, Repub­li­cans argue, the wel­fare state is fail­ing to pro­vide either secu­ri­ty or dynamism. The safe­ty net is so expen­sive it won’t be there for future gen­er­a­tions. Mean­while, the cur­rent mod­el shifts resources away from the inno­v­a­tive sec­tors of the econ­o­my and into the bloat­ed state-sup­port­ed ones, like health care and edu­ca­tion. Suc­ces­sive pres­i­dents have lay­ered on reg­u­la­tions and loop­holes, cre­at­ing a form of state cap­i­tal­ism in which big busi­ness­es thrive because they have polit­i­cal con­nec­tions and small busi­ness­es strug­gle.

    The wel­fare mod­el favors secu­ri­ty over risk, com­fort over effort, sta­bil­i­ty over inno­va­tion. Mon­ey that could go to schools and inno­va­tion must now go to pen­sions and health care. This mod­el, which once offered insur­ance from the dis­as­ters inher­ent in cap­i­tal­ism, has now become a giant machine for redis­trib­ut­ing mon­ey from the future to the elder­ly.

    This is the source of Repub­li­can extrem­ism: the con­vic­tion that the gov­ern­ing mod­el is obso­lete. It needs replac­ing.

    Mitt Rom­ney hasn’t put it this way. He wants to keep the focus on Pres­i­dent Oba­ma. But this world­view is implied in his (extreme­ly vague) pro­pos­als. He would struc­tural­ly reform the health care sys­tem, mov­ing toward a more mar­ket-based sys­tem. He would sim­pli­fy the tax code. He would reverse 30 years of edu­ca­tion pol­i­cy, decen­tral­iz­ing pow­er and increas­ing parental choice. The inten­tion is the same, to cre­ate a mod­el that will spark an effi­cien­cy explo­sion, lay­ing the ground­work for an eco­nom­ic revival.

    ...

    Oba­ma cham­pi­oned tar­get­ed sub­si­dies and tax cred­its. Repub­li­cans, mean­while, envi­sion com­pre­hen­sive sys­temic change. The G.O.P. vision is of an entire­ly dif­fer­ent mag­ni­tude: replace the tax code, replace the health care sys­tem and trans­form enti­tle­ments.

    This is what this elec­tion is about: Is the 20th-cen­tu­ry mod­el obso­lete, or does it just need rebal­anc­ing? Is Oba­ma obliv­i­ous to this his­tor­i­cal moment or are Repub­li­cans over­ly rad­i­cal, risky and imprac­ti­cal?

    Repub­li­cans and Democ­rats have dif­fer­ent per­cep­tions about how much change is need­ed. I sus­pect the like­ly col­lapse of the Euro­pean project will pro­found­ly influ­ence which per­cep­tion the coun­try buys this Novem­ber.

    Krug­man has a post from ear­ly 2011 that has some par­tic­u­lar­ly rel­e­vant obser­va­tions relat­ed to this meme:

    NY Times
    Jan­u­ary 10, 2011, 12:03 pm
    Eco­nom­ics and Moral­i­ty

    Mark Thoma directs me to Eric Schoeneberg, who argues that the right is win­ning eco­nom­ic debates because peo­ple believe, wrong­ly, that there’s some­thing inher­ent­ly moral about free-mar­ket out­comes. My guess is that this is only part of the sto­ry; there’s more than a bit of Ayn Ran­dism on the right, but there’s also the appeal of sim­plic­i­ty: gold­bug­gism is intel­lec­tu­al­ly easy, Key­ne­sian­ism is intel­lec­tu­al­ly hard, as evi­denced by the inabil­i­ty of many trained econ­o­mists to get it.

    Still, Schoeneberg is right about the ten­den­cy to ascribe moral val­ue to mar­ket val­ues, and the need for a counter-nar­ra­tive. I’m going to think about that; but right now, let me describe how I see the US income dis­tri­b­u­tion in terms of jus­tice or the lack there­of.

    The first thing one should say is that our sys­tem does reward hard work, up to a point. Oth­er things equal, those who put more in will earn more.

    But a lot of oth­er things are, in fact, not remote­ly equal. These days, Amer­i­ca is the advanced nation with the least social mobil­i­ty (pdf), except pos­si­bly for Britain. Access to good schools, good health care, and job oppor­tu­ni­ties depends on lot on choos­ing the right par­ents.

    So when you hear con­ser­v­a­tives talk about how our goal should be equal­i­ty of oppor­tu­ni­ty, not equal­i­ty of out­comes, your first response should be that if they real­ly believe in equal­i­ty of oppor­tu­ni­ty, they must be in favor of rad­i­cal changes in Amer­i­can soci­ety. For our soci­ety does not, in fact, pro­duce any­thing like equal oppor­tu­ni­ty (in part because it pro­duces such unequal out­comes). Tell me how you’re going to pro­duce a huge improve­ment in the qual­i­ty of pub­lic schools, how you’re going to pro­vide uni­ver­sal health care (for par­ents as well as chil­dren, because par­ents in bad health affect chil­drens’ prospects), and then come back to me about the equal chances at the start­ing line thing.

    Now, inequal­i­ty of oppor­tu­ni­ty is only one rea­son for the inequal­i­ty in out­comes we actu­al­ly see. But of what remains, how much reflects indi­vid­ual effort, how much reflects tal­ent, and how much sheer luck? No rea­son­able per­son would deny that there’s a lot of luck involved. Wall Street titans are, no doubt, smart guys (although talk­ing to some of them, you have to won­der...), but there are sure­ly equal­ly smart guys who for what­ev­er rea­son nev­er got a chance to grab the 9‑figure brass ring.

    So eco­nom­ics is not a moral­i­ty play; the social and eco­nom­ic order we have doesn’t rep­re­sent the play­ing out of some kind of deep moral prin­ci­ples.

    That doesn’t mean the order we have should be over­thrown: the pur­suit of Utopia, of per­fect eco­nom­ic jus­tice, has proved to be the road to hell, while wel­fare-state cap­i­tal­ism — a mar­ket econ­o­my with its rough edges smoothed by a strong safe­ty net — has pro­duced the most decent soci­eties ever known The point, though, is that any­one who claims that trans­fer­ring some income from the most for­tu­nate mem­bers of soci­ety to the least is a vile injus­tice is clos­ing his eyes to the obvi­ous real­i­ty of how the world works.

    Yep, the pro­posed new social con­tract that promis­es Freeeee­dom! is also a sys­tem pred­i­cat­ed on equal oppor­tu­ni­ty. It’s an own­er­ship soci­ety. It’s so ownership‑y that you own all the risk and con­se­quences of your lot in life. Bad lot? Too bad. Safe­ty-nets are so 20th cen­tu­ry. This is the safe­ty of vouch­er-nomic­s/Rom­ney-nomics. There isn’t a com­mitt­ment by soci­ety to pro­vide to pro­vide a basic ser­vice. There’s a com­mitt­ment to pro­vide a fixed pay­ment per stu­dent per year to a “ser­vice-provider” so we can bal­ance a ledger and declare our aus­tere nature. That’s the grand plan to save the future.

    Oh wow, Look, the kids can’t add but at least we man­aged to cut state and local spend­ing dras­ti­cal­ly

    This is why we can’t have nice things.

    And this.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | June 17, 2012, 9:40 pm
  7. Con­tin­u­ing desta­bi­liza­tion of Oba­ma by Ger­mans and Rom­ney?

    “Ger­man finance min­is­ter pub­licly rebuffs US pres­i­dent”

    http://wsws.org/articles/2012/jun2012/scha-j27.shtml

    Posted by ironcloudz | June 27, 2012, 10:13 am
  8. Way to, uh, raise the bar Flori­da. This just might be the cra­zi­est sto­ry com­ing out of Rick Scot­t’s admin­is­tra­tion we’ve seen so far:

    Updat­ed: 6:10 p.m. Sun­day, July 8, 2012 | Post­ed: 10:52 a.m. Sun­day, July 8, 2012
    Worst TB out­break in 20 years kept secret
    State rush­es clo­sure of its only TB hos­pi­tal in Lan­tana

    By Stacey Singer

    Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

    JACKSONVILLE -

    The CDC offi­cer had a seri­ous warn­ing for Flori­da health offi­cials in April: A tuber­cu­lo­sis out­break in Jack­sonville was one of the worst his group had inves­ti­gat­ed in 20 years. Linked to 13 deaths and 99 ill­ness­es, includ­ing six chil­dren, it would require con­cert­ed action to stop.

    That report had been penned on April 5, exact­ly nine days after Flori­da Gov. Rick Scott signed the bill that shrank the Depart­ment of Health and required the clo­sure of the A.G. Hol­ley State Hos­pi­tal in Lan­tana, where tough tuber­cu­lo­sis cas­es have been treat­ed for more than 60 years.

    As health offi­cials in Tal­la­has­see turned their focus to restruc­tur­ing, Dr. Robert Luo’s 25-page report describ­ing Jacksonville’s out­break — and the mea­sures need­ed to con­tain it — went unseen by key deci­sion mak­ers around the state. At the health agency, an order went out that the TB hos­pi­tal must be closed six months ahead of sched­ule.

    Had they seen the let­ter, deci­sion mak­ers would have learned that 3,000 peo­ple in the past two years may have had close con­tact with con­ta­gious peo­ple at Jacksonville’s home­less shel­ters, an out­pa­tient men­tal health clin­ic and area jails. Yet only 253 peo­ple had been found and eval­u­at­ed for TB infec­tion, mean­ing Florida’s out­break was, and is, far from con­tained.

    The pub­lic was not to learn any­thing until ear­ly June, even though the same strain was appear­ing in oth­er parts of the state, includ­ing Mia­mi.

    ...

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | July 9, 2012, 11:23 am
  9. And here I always thought Skynet or some oth­er man-made ari­tif­i­cal intel­li­gence would destroy human­i­ty. It turns sim­ple num­bers stored on com­put­ers will do the job. No intel­li­gence is required:

    Finan­cial Times
    July 11, 2012 12:02 pm
    Cur­rent debt cri­sis mere­ly a warm-up act

    By Jamil Baz

    It is some­times pos­si­ble to believe that suf­fer­ing is worth­while, a way of pay­ing for past sins. In this light, the age of aus­ter­i­ty in which we sup­pos­ed­ly live has a sort of redemp­tive qual­i­ty. Grit our teeth and we’ll come out the oth­er side, puri­fied and ready for robust eco­nom­ic recov­ery.

    How­ev­er, after five years, we are in a worse place than when we start­ed. One would have thought that the recent delever­ag­ing caused debt ratios to col­lapse. Yet, after the finan­cial mael­strom of the past five years, debt bal­looned to a weight­ed aver­age of 417 per cent of gross domes­tic prod­uct from 381 per cent in June 2007 in the 11 economies most under the mar­ket micro­scope.

    Strik­ing­ly, in each of Cana­da, Ger­many, Greece, France, Ire­land, Italy, Japan, Spain, Por­tu­gal, the UK and the US, the ratio of total (pub­lic and pri­vate) debt to gross domes­tic prod­uct is now high­er than it was in 2007.

    There are vari­a­tions, and it is notable that debt in the US has increased the least, from 332 per cent of GDP five years ago to 340 per cent today — although we shouldn’t draw too much con­so­la­tion from that, as the sta­tis­tics do not include social enti­tle­ments such as Medicare or Social Secu­ri­ty. Add in these off-bal­ance sheet items and the ratios would look much worse.

    Delever­ag­ing is prov­ing impos­si­ble to exe­cute. The world is still stag­ger­ing under a moun­tain of debt, the costs of which extin­guish the “ani­mal spir­its” which ought by now to be com­ing to the res­cue. Based on this analy­sis, we can make five pre­dic­tions.

    First, as delever­ag­ing has not even start­ed yet, the cri­sis of the world econ­o­my has not begun either. All the per­ceived unpleas­ant­ness of the past few years is mere­ly a warm-up act for the greater cri­sis still to come. The need to get debt lev­els down is as pro­nounced as ever in the euro­zone, par­tic­u­lar­ly in south­ern Europe, but also in the US and Japan.

    Sec­ond, it will take a min­i­mum of 15 years or so for the econ­o­my to reach escape veloc­i­ty and attain a lev­el con­sis­tent with healthy growth sce­nar­ios. This is because debt lev­els need to come down by at least 150 per cent of GDP in most coun­tries. His­to­ry sug­gests you can­not reduce debt by more than 10 per­cent­age points a year with­out unleash­ing major social and polit­i­cal dis­lo­ca­tion.

    Third, when we do final­ly start cut­ting our debt, the eco­nom­ic impact will be mas­sive. Coun­tries such as Japan and the US need to increase their pri­ma­ry bal­ance by more than 10 points of GDP, in order to sta­bilise the ratio of pub­lic debt to GDP to 2007 lev­els: con­sid­er­ing neg­a­tive feed­back loops between deficit cuts and growth, each stands to lose more than 20 per cent of GDP against trend.

    ...

    The fifth point is that there is no mag­ic bul­let. In the past, pol­i­cy mak­ers had var­i­ous instru­ments to cush­ion the impact of mea­sures tak­en to sta­bilise debt lev­els: they could cut inter­est rates, for exam­ple, or allow their exchange rates to fall, lead­ing to export-dri­ven recov­ery. But in an era of low or zero inter­est rates, with most coun­tries com­pet­ing to deval­ue their?currencies,?such pol­i­cy tools have lost effec­tive­ness, hence the high mul­ti­pli­er.

    ...

    In the words of an old Aus­tri­an adage, the sit­u­a­tion is hope­less, but not seri­ous. It is not seri­ous, as politi­cians sim­ply fail to acknowl­edge the ele­phant in the room, name­ly lever­age, intro­duc­ing instead a suc­ces­sion of pol­i­cy gim­micks. It is hope­less, in that virtue is not like­ly to be reward­ed for a gen­er­a­tion.

    Sor­ry kids, the world is going to suck even more than usu­al for the next gen­er­a­tion or so. We’re doing this for your own good. We may have cre­at­ed mon­ey, but now it now rules us and we have no choice. Sor­ry about that. We can’t sim­ply print more and give it away. There are these lit­tle mag­ic dig­its sit­ting in com­put­ers some­where and they need to be bal­anced and we’re told that the only way to pos­si­bly bal­ance them is to dras­ti­cal­ly cut spend­ing on things like your edu­ca­tion and future. Oth­er­wise the world will explode or some­thing. We hope you under­stand.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | July 11, 2012, 10:59 am
  10. Posted by Pterrafractyl | September 3, 2012, 7:51 pm
  11. Rom­ney­nomics for the 100%: A pre­view in pic­tures. A pre­view in prose. A pre­view in prepa­ra­tions. And, last, but cer­tain­ly not least, a pre­view in Paul.

    It’s mourn­ing morn­ing in Amer­i­ca and it’s look­ing like it’s going to be a bright shiny day.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | October 25, 2012, 8:04 am
  12. Wow: pri­vate prison com­pa­nies using gangs like the Aryan Knights to keep the rest of the pris­on­ers in con­trol in order to achieve an ide­o­log­i­cal goal (of mak­ing more mon­ey no mat­ter what the costs)...that kind of sounds a bit like ter­ror­ism. State-sanc­tioned pri­va­tized ter­ror­ism:

    APNews­Break: Ida­ho inmates claim gangs run prison
    By REBECCA BOONE, Asso­ci­at­ed Press

    BOISE, Ida­ho (AP) — A gang war that appears to have tak­en over parts of an Ida­ho pri­vate prison is spilling into the fed­er­al courts, with some inmates con­tend­ing prison offi­cials are ced­ing con­trol to gang lead­ers in an effort to save mon­ey on staffing.

    Eight inmates at the Ida­ho Cor­rec­tion­al Cen­ter are suing the Cor­rec­tions Cor­po­ra­tion of Amer­i­ca, con­tend­ing the com­pa­ny is work­ing with a few pow­er­ful prison gangs to con­trol the facil­i­ty south of Boise.

    The law­suit, filed Fri­day in Boise’s U.S. Dis­trict Court, paints the prison as a place where cor­rec­tion­al offi­cers work in fear of anger­ing inmate gang mem­bers and where hous­ing super­vi­sors ask per­mis­sion from gang lead­ers before mov­ing any­one new into an emp­ty cell. The inmates also con­tend that CCA offi­cials use gang vio­lence and the threat of gang vio­lence as an “inex­pen­sive device to gain con­trol over the inmate pop­u­la­tion,” accord­ing to the law­suit, and that hous­ing gang mem­bers togeth­er allows the com­pa­ny to use few­er guards, reduc­ing pay­roll costs.

    “The com­plaint alleges that CCA fos­ters and devel­ops crim­i­nal gangs,” attor­ney Wyatt John­son, who along with T.J. Angst­man rep­re­sents the inmates, said in a state­ment. “Ide­al­ly, the law­suit should force this to come to an end.”

    The inmates point to inves­tiga­tive reports from the Ida­ho Depart­ment of Cor­rec­tion that sug­gest gangs like the Aryan Knights and the Severe­ly Vio­lent Crim­i­nals were able to wrest con­trol from staff mem­bers after prison offi­cials began hous­ing mem­bers of the same gangs togeth­er in some cell­blocks to reduce vio­lent clash­es.

    The pow­er shift meant a prison staffer had to nego­ti­ate the place­ment of new inmates with gang lead­ers, accord­ing to the depart­ment reports, and that prison guards were afraid to enforce cer­tain rules.

    Cor­rec­tions Cor­po­ra­tion of Amer­i­ca, the nation’s largest pri­vate prison com­pa­ny, says its top pri­or­i­ty is the safe­ty and secu­ri­ty of its pris­ons, employ­ees and inmates.

    ...

    One won­ders how this bold form of cost sav­ings works when it’s applied out­side of a prison set­ting. We’ll just have to wait and see.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | November 19, 2012, 11:05 am
  13. Some­thing to con­sid­er while the US law­mak­ers engage in a dis­cus­sion over what to do about expir­ing Bush tax-cuts on the wealthy and how many cuts should be made in the enti­tle­ments: The US Com­merce Depart­ment just report­ed record prof­its for US cor­po­ra­tions in the third quar­ter. How unex­pect­ed.

    And speak­ing of unex­pect­ed devel­op­ments...this isn’t one of them.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | December 4, 2012, 1:49 pm
  14. It’s sort of beat­ing a dead horse at this point to note that the GOP is intent on destroy­ing the econ­o­my for ide­o­log­i­cal rea­sons, but when you’re deal­ing with a dead horse of the ‘zom­bie’ vari­ety, you don’t real­ly have a choice:

    TPM
    Edi­tor’s Blog
    Destroy­ing The Vil­lage Just Because

    Bri­an Beut­ler Jan­u­ary 4, 2013, 10:25 AM

    Basi­cal­ly good-if-not great news through­out today’s pay­roll report from the Depart­ment of Labor. My basic break­down is here. But I also want to empha­size that it, and basi­cal­ly all recent eco­nom­ic data, under­scores the fol­ly of a new debt lim­it fight.

    Obvi­ous­ly I’m not say­ing that play­ing games with the debt ceil­ing would be legit­i­mate way for Repub­li­cans to extract polit­i­cal con­ces­sions if the econ­o­my weren’t recov­er­ing, or if it were recov­er­ing more slow­ly. But at least they’d have a pre­tense to argue that the coun­try required imme­di­ate pol­i­cy changes to address an exist­ing eco­nom­ic cri­sis.

    The fact that we’re actu­al­ly recov­er­ing from an eco­nom­ic cri­sis gives the lie to the whole debt lim­it hostage-tak­ing project. It’s not about res­cu­ing the econ­o­my from poli­cies that are inhibit­ing growth right now. It’s about a nihilis­tic will­ing­ness to destroy actu­al growth in order to make progress on longer-term ide­o­log­i­cal goals.

    Like their human zom­bie coun­ter­parts, zom­bie hors­es have an insa­tiable appetite for brains. The crav­ing are thought to be relat­ed to their lack of a func­tion­ing one and, on some lev­el, they real­ize this and it hurts their zom­bie sen­si­bil­i­ties. Poor dears. Zom­bies, you see, have exis­ten­tial crises too.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | January 4, 2013, 8:57 am
  15. It looks like the GOP is final­ly real­iz­ing that a par­ty “rebrand­ing” as a kinder, gen­tler GOP might be in order. Appar­ent­ly, it no longer sells to be the socioe­co­nom­ic sui­cide bombers for aus­ter­i­ty-obsessed bil­lion­aires:

    Analy­sis: Even brief spend­ing cuts could hit U.S. econ­o­my hard

    By Jason Lange

    WASHINGTON | Wed Feb 6, 2013 6:53pm EST

    (Reuters) — The U.S. econ­o­my could take a big hit from auto­mat­ic gov­ern­ment spend­ing cuts even if Con­gress only leaves them in place for a month or two.

    The cuts were meant to be so painful that they would force Con­gress to find a more thought­ful way to tight­en the bud­get.

    But many ana­lysts assume they will take effect as sched­uled, forc­ing fed­er­al offices to fur­lough some of their 2.8 mil­lion work­ers and trim spend­ing on every­thing from paper clips to mis­siles.

    It is any­one’s guess, how­ev­er, how long law­mak­ers will be able to stom­ach the eco­nom­ic pain. The dura­tion of the aus­ter­i­ty mea­sures will deter­mine the force of the blow to the econ­o­my. Some ana­lysts think hav­ing the cuts in place for more than a few months could trig­ger a brief reces­sion.

    ...

    Pen­ta­gon offi­cials have said up to 800,000 of the mil­i­tary’s civil­ian employ­ees would work one less day a week because of the cuts.

    The Air Force said it would have to cur­tail orders for Lock­heed Mar­tin Cor­p’s F‑35 fight­er jet and delay a new ver­sion of the MQ‑9 Reaper drone being built by pri­vate­ly held Gen­er­al Atom­ics.

    Con­gress has been scram­bling to find a way to post­pone the bud­get cuts, but has shown lit­tle sign of progress.

    ...

    Most Wall Street banks expect the cuts, known as the “sequester” in Wash­ing­ton par­lance, to take effect at least briefly.

    ...

    Uh oh, the GOP’s insis­tence on deep spend­ing cuts might tank the econ­o­my. Let’s see what type of new slo­gan the par­ty might be pon­der­ing to counter this neg­a­tive image:

    TPM
    Tom Cole: GOP Prefers Deep Defense Cuts To Any Rev­enue

    Sahil Kapur Feb­ru­ary 5, 2013, 4:48 PM

    There’s no way in the world House Repub­li­cans would agree to raise any new rev­enue in order to avoid the upcom­ing auto­mat­ic spend­ing cuts known as the sequester, a senior GOP law­mak­er said Tues­day after­noon.

    I’m all against rais­ing any addi­tion­al rev­enue on this. Look, these are writ­ten into law,” Rep. Tom Cole (R‑OK), a deputy major­i­ty whip, told TPM between votes. Cole said there are oth­er, prefer­able ways to make the sequester cuts that he is open to, but new rev­enue will not be part of the equa­tion.

    “We just had addi­tion­al rev­enue for the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment, so I don’t see any way in the world the sequester won’t hap­pen either as writ­ten or rene­go­ti­at­ed or real­lo­cat­ed cuts. But I don’t see any rev­enue com­ing in the pic­ture.”

    His com­ments, which echo the hard­line posi­tion artic­u­lat­ed by Speak­er John Boehn­er (R‑OH) and Rep. Paul Ryan (R‑WI) recent­ly, came short­ly after Pres­i­dent Obama’s tele­vised remarks Tues­day after­noon call­ing on Con­gress to “delay the eco­nom­i­cal­ly dam­ag­ing effects of the sequester for a few more months” if it can­not agree to a com­pre­hen­sive solu­tion by the March 1 dead­line.

    The seques­tra­tion cuts, passed in the 2011 debt lim­it law, slash domes­tic and defense spend­ing pro­grams across the board by rough­ly $1 tril­lion over 10 years. Con­gress delayed them until March in the fis­cal cliff agree­ment. Now Repub­li­cans, appar­ent­ly hav­ing reached their lim­it on new rev­enues, are deter­mined to stonewall Democ­rats’ efforts to replace the sequester cuts with a mix of rev­enue via clos­ing tax loop­holes and tar­get­ed spend­ing cuts.

    The GOP’s nego­ti­at­ing stance is a dra­mat­ic shift from their posi­tion just months ago, when par­ty lead­ers char­ac­ter­ized the defense cuts as unac­cept­able and deeply dam­ag­ing to the mil­i­tary. Back in Octo­ber, Cole him­self warned that “the mil­i­tary will face dev­as­tat­ing spend­ing cuts accom­pa­nied by mas­sive lay-offs to the defense indus­try” if the sequester is not avert­ed. The turn­around came last month as Repub­li­cans began fold­ing on bat­tles involv­ing the fis­cal cliff and debt lim­it, at which point Boehn­er told the Wall Street Jour­nal that the sequester is “as much lever­age as we’re going to get” in forc­ing Democ­rats to accept sub­stan­tial domes­tic spend­ing cuts.

    ...

    Cole said Repub­li­cans are con­cerned about the sequester and not­ed that the House passed a GOP bill last year to replace it — with deep cuts to domes­tic pro­grams that large­ly ben­e­fit low-income Amer­i­cans. He likened the sit­u­a­tion to the fis­cal cliff predica­ment, but with Repub­li­cans hold­ing the lever­age this time.

    ...

    Hmmm...so the new “kinder, gen­tler” GOP is going to demand on no tax likes for bil­lion­aires but they’d cer­tain­ly be open to gut­ting defense spend­ing or deep cuts in pro­grams that help the poor. The Par­ty of Peace and Pover­ty does kind of have a ring to it. Per­haps “The Par­ty of Prin­ci­pled Flex­i­bil­i­ty” might res­onate more. Yes, they’re still the par­ty of, by, and for bil­lion­aires because, you know, a par­ty’s got to have prin­ci­pals prin­ci­ples, but it’s not like they’re only into cut­ting pro­grams for the poor. This might work, but they’re going to have to show a lit­tle more flex­i­bil­i­ty if they real­ly want to win back waver­ing vot­ers. Some­times, suc­cess­ful rebrand­ings require a clas­sic:

    Wash­ing­ton Post
    U.S. should sell assets like gold to get out of debt, con­ser­v­a­tive econ­o­mists say

    By Joel Achen­bach, Pub­lished: May 15, 2011

    With the Unit­ed States poised to slam into its debt lim­it Mon­day, con­ser­v­a­tive econ­o­mists are eye­balling all that gold in Fort Knox. There’s about 147 mil­lion ounces of gold parked in the leg­endary vault. Gold is sell­ing at near­ly $1,500 an ounce. That’s many bil­lions of dol­lars in bul­lion.

    “It’s just sort of sit­ting there,” said Ron Utt, a senior fel­low at the Her­itage Foun­da­tion. “Giv­en the high price it is now, and the tremen­dous debt prob­lem we now have, by all means, sell at the peak.”

    But that’s cocka­mamie, declares the Oba­ma admin­is­tra­tion. Mary J. Miller, Treasury’s assis­tant sec­re­tary for finan­cial mar­kets, said the U.S. should sell assets in an order­ly, “well-telegraphed” man­ner, not in a “fire sale” atmos­phere with a debt lim­it dead­line accel­er­at­ing the process.

    “It would be bad for the tax­pay­ers. It would be bad for the mar­kets,” Miller said.

    Anoth­er senior admin­is­tra­tion offi­cial, not autho­rized to speak for attri­bu­tion, described the sit­u­a­tion more blunt­ly: “Sell­ing off the gold is just one lev­el of crazy away from sell­ing Mount Rush­more.”

    The Unit­ed States may have run up a huge debt, but it is not a poor coun­try by any stretch of the imag­i­na­tion. The fed­er­al gov­ern­ment owns rough­ly 650 mil­lion acres of land, close to a third of the nation’s total land mass. Plus a mil­lion build­ings. Plus elec­tri­cal util­i­ties like the Ten­nessee Val­ley Author­i­ty. And an inter­state high­way sys­tem.

    Econ­o­mists of a con­ser­v­a­tive or lib­er­tar­i­an bent have long argued that the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment needs to get out of cer­tain busi­ness­es, unload unneed­ed assets, and pri­va­tize such func­tions as pas­sen­ger rail ser­vice and air traf­fic con­trol. No one advo­cates sell­ing Yel­low­stone, but why, some econ­o­mists ask, should the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment be in the elec­tric­i­ty busi­ness?

    Econ­o­mist Kevin Has­sett of the Amer­i­can Enter­prise Insti­tute said the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment should con­sid­er the sale of inter­state high­ways. Motorists would have to pay tolls to the pri­vate own­ers, he said, but the roads would like­ly be in bet­ter shape. Fed­er­al, state and local gov­ern­ments could raise hun­dreds of bil­lions of dol­lars through high­way pri­va­ti­za­tion, he said.

    “Many of the world’s roads were orig­i­nal­ly built as toll roads, so it would hard­ly be rev­o­lu­tion­ary to return to that mod­el,” Has­sett said. “If it can work for the Riv­er Styx, why not the Belt­way?”

    The Her­itage Foun­da­tion on Tues­day released a plan for bal­anc­ing the bud­get that did not include tax increas­es, but did include a pro­pos­al to sell $260 bil­lion in fed­er­al assets over 15 years. The plan does not spec­i­fy the assets. It refers to “par­tial sales of fed­er­al prop­er­ties, real estate, min­er­al rights, the elec­tro­mag­net­ic spec­trum, and ener­gy-gen­er­a­tion facil­i­ties.”

    “We’re not going to say we’re going to sell off the Smith­son­ian and the Capi­tol. We would not pro­pose that any­way. There’s no spe­cif­ic build­ing that we would point to,” said Ali­son Fras­er, head of the Eco­nom­ic Pol­i­cy Stud­ies depart­ment at Her­itage.

    ...

    That’s right, the GOP could just roll out one of its ideas of yes­ter­year: turn the coun­try into a giant fire sale! Every­one likes a sale, right? Espe­cial­ly if they’ve seen their incomes stag­nate for decades. But one thing the GOP def­i­nite­ly does­n’t want to do if it pur­sues the pri­va­ti­za­tion path: don’t hold our nation­al fire sale in secret, oth­er­wise what’s the point? In oth­er words, don’t do what Flori­da does. That’s gen­er­al­ly good advice:

    Moth­er Jones
    Flori­da Repub­li­cans’ Plan to Block Out the Sun­shine

    —By Adam Wein­stein
    | Sat Jan. 21, 2012 3:00 AM PST

    In their long­stand­ing fight to pri­va­tize the state’s prison system—and a lot of oth­er pub­lic services—Republican law­mak­ers in Flori­da are try­ing a new angle: doing it in secret.

    Pro­posed Com­mit­tee Bill 7170, intro­duced Tues­day in the GOP-dom­i­nat­ed state leg­is­la­ture, aims to pre­vent “infor­ma­tion relat­ing to the out­sourc­ing or pri­va­ti­za­tion of an agency func­tion” from being report­ed to the vot­ing pub­lic “until after the con­tract for such func­tions is exe­cut­ed.” In oth­er words, tax­pay­ers would­n’t get to know about gov­ern­ment work turned over to a con­trac­tor until after the con­tract has been signed. The bill is expect­ed to come to a floor vote lat­er in the recent­ly con­vened spring ses­sion; with Repub­li­cans hold­ing super­ma­jori­ties in both cham­bers of the leg­is­la­ture and Rick Scott sit­ting in the gov­er­nor’s office, it could become law by this sum­mer.

    ...

    Actu­al­ly, giv­en that mass pri­va­ti­za­tions won’t real­ly help aver­age Amer­i­cans avoid plung­ing fur­ther into per­son­al debt, there is one instance where the GOP may want to fol­low the Flori­da exam­ple. Clear­ly, there are no easy answers. Good luck with your rebrand­ing GOP!

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | February 6, 2013, 8:48 pm
  16. Stu­pid? Evil? How about both?

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | February 7, 2013, 10:51 am
  17. That Paul Ryan seems like such a nice young man:

    Slate
    Will Paul Ryan Cut Spend­ing on the Elder­ly?

    By Matthew Ygle­sias

    Post­ed Tues­day, March 5, 2013, at 11:43 AM

    It looks like the Repub­li­can lead­er­ship is start­ing to wres­tle with the prob­lems inher­ent in their promise to find a way to bal­ance the bud­get over ten years with all spend­ing cuts. In par­tic­u­lar, it turns out that they might need to cut spend­ing on pro­grams that ben­e­fit peo­ple who are old right now.

    Here’s the basic dilem­ma. Nor­mal­ly when Repub­li­cans want to cut spend­ing they want to cut it right away. Seques­tra­tion reduces the amount of mon­ey avail­able to pro­vide healthy food to low-income preg­nant women and their new­born chil­dren right now. And that’s the part of seques­tra­tion Repub­li­cans like. They want to replace the part that cuts spend­ing on the mil­i­tary with imme­di­ate reduc­tions in oth­er spend­ing designed to boost the liv­ing stan­dards of poor peo­ple. But the gov­ern­men­t’s biggest domes­tic programs—Social Secu­ri­ty and Medicare—are tar­get­ed at the elder­ly, and since old­er cohorts are whiter and more intol­er­ant of gays and les­bians the core of the GOP elec­toral coali­tion is old­er Amer­i­cans.

    Con­se­quent­ly their recent bud­gets have includ­ed impor­tant excep­tions to the prin­ci­ple of spend­ing cuts right away. Their promise is that if you’re get­ting Social Secu­ri­ty or Medicare today, your ben­e­fits will nev­er be reduced by one red cent. In fact, your ben­e­fits will nev­er be cut as long as you’re lucky enough to have been born before 1958. The idea is that some­one who’s 57 today can vote Repub­li­can, see Paul Ryan’s bud­get pass, and then be relax­ing thir­ty years from now at the age of 87 still enjoy­ing full Social Secu­ri­ty and Medicare ben­e­fits.

    It’s a sweet deal, but it means that the cuts to the parts of the bud­get that aren’t Social Secu­ri­ty and Medicare would have be real­ly extreme to bal­ance the bud­get with­in ten years. Look­ing it over, Ryan is report­ed­ly com­ing to the con­clu­sion that he might need to trim the scope of that exemp­tion from cuts and make peo­ple born in the mid-fifties bear some pain. This is—rightly—making Repub­li­cans from more mar­gin­al House seats ner­vous. The pol­i­tics of present-day con­ser­v­a­tive bud­get­ing hinge entire­ly on per­suad­ing old peo­ple that dra­con­ian cuts to pro­grams for old peo­ple can be imple­ment­ed with­out tak­ing any­thing away from the peo­ple who are already old. Any­thing that calls that into ques­tion is very dan­ger­ous.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | March 5, 2013, 9:40 am
  18. LOL, Paul Ryan was rolling out the details for his ‘new’ 10 year bud­get pro­pos­al this morn­ing. He had a bit of a ver­bal acci­dent, though. He acci­den­tal­ly told the truth:

    The Hill
    Ryan: ‘We are not going to give up on destroy­ing the health­care sys­tem’
    By Adele Hamp­ton — 03/12/13 01:36 PM ET

    Dur­ing the unveil­ing of his new bud­get pro­pos­al, House Bud­get Com­mit­tee Chair­man Paul Ryan (R‑Wis.) made a slip of the tongue while rail­ing against Pres­i­dent Oba­ma’s health­care law.

    “This is some­thing we will not give up on because we are not going to give up on destroy­ing the health­care sys­tem for the Amer­i­can peo­ple,” Ryan acci­den­tal­ly said.

    Some who were watch­ing his speech were quick to pounce on the gaffe, tak­ing to Twit­ter to point out Ryan’s “Freudi­an slip,” accord­ing to media reports.

    Ryan’s new bud­get pro­pos­al would cut spend­ing by $5.7 tril­lion, reduce the top tax rate to 25 per­cent, and bal­ance the bud­get with­in 10 years.

    The plan would make pro­found changes to gov­ern­ment, bring­ing spend­ing down from 22.2 per­cent of the econ­o­my to 19.1 per­cent by 2023. It dou­bles down on many of the pro­pos­als Ryan advanced as his party’s vice pres­i­den­tial can­di­date in 2012.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | March 12, 2013, 2:02 pm
  19. Fans of Russ­ian Roulette will love the spe­cial “DC” rules. It’s WAY more dead­ly, but its dead­ly for oth­er peo­ple so it’s fun. Here’s how you play:
    1. Replace the revolver with a how­itzer.
    2. Point the how­itzer at a large mass of peo­ple. It does­n’t mat­ter what their age it, just lots and lots of peo­ple. The more the bet­ter.
    3. Now invite a crazed lunatic into the game. Make him an offer...he can either open fire on the crowd now OR he can come back lat­er after you’ve replaced the how­itzer with an even BIGGER gun. Nukes are accept­able, but it sort of ruins the game if you jump to them right away.
    4. If the crazed lunatic opens fire, well, game’s over. If the crazed lunatic takes a pass then find a big­ger gun and repeat.
    5. The game ends when a bloody mas­sacre occurs.
    6. Option­al rule: Instead of end­ing the game when the bloody mas­sacre occurs, just wait for new peo­ple to wan­der into the play­ing field and play again

    It’s so excit­ing! Look, we have this how­itzer all set up and here comes a crazed lunatic...what’ll it be? “Fire” or “Big­ger”?

    Woohoo, “Big­ger” it is!

    Best. Game. Ever.

    Ok, it may not be the BEST game ever. THAT title goes to the “Starve a poor fam­i­ly and blame it on their kids” game. But it’s still pret­ty sweet.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | April 5, 2013, 11:32 am
  20. The forces of dark­ness will appar­ent­ly nev­er stop until we all the poor see the light. Well, at least a tun­nel of light. Bye bye social safe­ty-net. There be mon­sters afoot and they’re always hun­gry:

    Salon
    Mon­day, Jul 8, 2013 01:51 PM CST
    House GOP appar­ent­ly wants to be even more unpop­u­lar
    Instead of immi­gra­tion reform, they’re now mak­ing plans to ... pri­va­tize Medicare and pass the Paul Ryan bud­get!
    By Joan Walsh

    With the July 4 hol­i­day behind them, House mem­bers might be expect­ed to take up work on the immi­gra­tion reform bill passed by the Sen­ate. But they won’t. They’re look­ing at piece­meal reforms that will be heav­ier on bor­der enforce­ment than the Sen­ate bill – which dou­bled the num­ber of bor­der con­trol agents, after the bor­der con­trol bud­get already dou­bled in size in the last decade — and even nut­ti­er ideas.

    Instead the House GOP is appar­ent­ly mak­ing big plans for anoth­er debt ceil­ing hostage-tak­ing, and this time they’ve got a strat­e­gy to demand big bud­get cuts from Pres­i­dent Oba­ma and the Democ­rats. Accord­ing to the Nation­al Jour­nal, House lead­ers are work­ing on a “menu” of bud­get-slash­ing offers to Oba­ma in exchange for lift­ing the debt ceil­ing for a short, medi­um or long peri­od of time. Their tem­plate is Rep. Paul Ryan’s bud­get – the bud­get so unjust and biased against the poor that the U.S. Con­fer­ence of Catholic Bish­ops took time out from restrict­ing women’s rights to crit­i­cize the Ryan plan.

    House mem­bers reluc­tant­ly vot­ed to raise the debt ceil­ing in Jan­u­ary promis­ing to come back with a strength­ened hand on behalf of bud­get cuts next time around (which will prob­a­bly be the end of this year). So House Speak­er John Boehn­er is report­ed­ly meet­ing with Ryan and oth­er con­ser­v­a­tives like Louisiana Rep. Steve Scalise, who boast­ed about their talks to the Nation­al Jour­nal. The key points:

    For a long-term deal, one that gives Trea­sury bor­row­ing author­i­ty for three-and-a-half years, Oba­ma would have to agree to pre­mi­um sup­port. The plan to pri­va­tize Medicare, per­haps the most con­tro­ver­sial aspect of the Ryan bud­get, is the holy grail for con­ser­v­a­tives who say major deficit-reduc­tion can only be achieved by mak­ing this type of cut to manda­to­ry spend­ing. “If the pres­i­dent wants to go big, there’s a big idea,” said Rep. Steve Scalise, chair­man of the Repub­li­can Study Com­mit­tee.

    For a medi­um-sized increase in the debt-lim­it, Repub­li­cans want Oba­ma to agree to cut spend­ing in the SNAP food stamp pro­gram, block-grant Med­ic­aid, or tin­ker with chained CPI.

    For a small­er increase, there is talk of means-test­ing Social Secu­ri­ty, for exam­ple, or end­ing cer­tain agri­cul­tur­al sub­si­dies.

    …Even at the small­est end of the spec­trum — anoth­er months-long exten­sion of debt-lim­it — there is talk of push­ing back the eli­gi­bil­i­ty age for Social Secu­ri­ty by an equal num­ber of months.

    ...

    It’s some­what curi­ous that the “medi­um-sized” increase in the debt-lim­it include the options of cuts in the SNAP food stamp pro­gram, block-grant Med­ic­aid, or tin­ker with chained CPI. The Ryan plan cuts to SNAP recent­ly passed by the GOP in the House under, for instance, only cut around $20 bil­lion in food aid to poor over the next five years. Where­as Ryan plan to block grant med­ic­aid would cut over $800 bil­lion in aid to the poor over the next decade. That’s $4 bil­lion vs $80 bil­lion per year! Using GOP-log­ic, should­n’t $20 bil­lion in food stamp cuts to the poor only be a “small” on the menu? This is a very dis­ap­point­ing “menu”. We should expect bet­ter from our mon­sters.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | July 8, 2013, 6:52 pm
  21. @Pterrafractyl–

    It is a safe bet that this would appeal to that lit­tle fas­cist “Fast Eddie Snow­den,” who wants to elim­i­nate Social Secu­ri­ty, return to the gold stan­dard and thinks high unem­ploy­ment is just ducky.

    Keep a weath­er eye on the so-called pro­gres­sive sec­tor as they rag on Oba­ma, part of the desta­bi­liza­tion effort I pre­dict­ed and which is in full swing.

    As always, they have com­plete­ly missed that “Snow­den’s Ride” is fas­cist. Peter Thiel/Palantir/Cato Insti­tute, Nazi Ron Paul (cap­i­tal­ized by Thiel and an asso­ciate of KKK/American Nazi Par­ty crony David Duke), Cato Insti­tute-net­worked Glenn Green­wald, Nazi-linked Julian Assange (whose asso­ciate Joran Jer­mas is part of a milieu includ­ing David Duke, as is Carl Lund­strom, whose servers Wik­iLeaks uses).

    Great stuff.

    Yeah, the so-called pro­gres­sive sec­tor can’t be fooled.

    Not more than a half-dozen times before lunch on Fri­day.

    I noticed that the Egypt­ian army closed down some Al Jazeera facil­i­ties and arrest­ed some of their per­son­nel.

    I’ve dis­cussed Al Jazeer­a’s asso­ci­a­tion with the Mus­lim Broth­er­hood before–it is pro­found.

    Paci­fi­ca Radio fea­tures Al Jazeera as a fun­da­men­tal part of their morn­ing pro­gram.

    Yeah, the Mus­lim Broth­er­hood is sure a great news source for so-called pro­gres­sives.

    Small won­der, then, that they wind up with their heads lodged secure­ly between their but­tocks.

    Again, keep up your great work!

    Best,

    Dave

    Posted by Dave Emory | July 8, 2013, 7:43 pm
  22. The GOP’s new social-con­tract: we’ll help the poor, but only when they’re vis­i­bly starv­ing.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | August 10, 2013, 5:40 pm
  23. So will it be a zom­bie or vam­pire future Fed­er­al Reserve Chair­man Mil­ton Fried­man in Rand Paul’s Lib­er­tar­i­an Pop­ulist par­adise?

    Busi­ness­week
    Rand Paul on Repub­li­cans’ Vot­er Appeal and the Fed­er­al Reserve
    August 08, 2013

    How seri­ous­ly are you think­ing about the White House?
    At this point we’re think­ing about ways to grow the Repub­li­can Par­ty and won’t make any deci­sion about whether that involves me run­ning or not for about a year. But I am very seri­ous about mak­ing the par­ty more inclu­sive, mak­ing it a par­ty where every eth­nic group is wel­come. That includes try­ing to grow our par­ty with­in the work­ing class. I am going to attempt over the next year or so to expand that appeal to peo­ple who I call the not-yet-haves—not the have-nots, but the not-yet-haves—to show them that we are the par­ty of oppor­tu­ni­ty.

    And what’s going to be a part of that strat­e­gy?
    The ori­gins of the Tea Par­ty and the Occu­py Wall Street move­ment real­ly had some com­mon­al­i­ty, and that com­mon­al­i­ty was that gov­ern­ment shouldn’t bail out Big Busi­ness. It has been a part of the ear­ly mes­sage of the Tea Par­ty, but the Repub­li­can Par­ty hasn’t cap­tured that mes­sage. The aver­age guy who’s work­ing class is not real excit­ed about pay­ing tax­es and send­ing it out to bail out a guy who makes $100 mil­lion a year. And so I think the Repub­li­can mes­sage should be that we treat peo­ple the same whether you’re a small busi­ness per­son, a work­ing-class guy, or a big bank on Wall Street.

    What are your big achieve­ments in Wash­ing­ton?
    There’s an emer­gence of a new wing of the Repub­li­can Par­ty that’s con­cerned not only with eco­nom­ic lib­er­ty but with per­son­al lib­er­ty and with hav­ing a less aggres­sive for­eign pol­i­cy. So it’s pro­vid­ing peo­ple with an avenue to sup­port a wing of the Repub­li­can Par­ty that didn’t real­ly, frankly, have much rep­re­sen­ta­tion before 2010.

    ...

    You’re a big read­er of Aus­tri­an econ­o­mists such as Friedrich Hayek and Lud­wig von Mis­es, who don’t believe in stim­u­lus and say the econ­o­my can return to health only through aus­ter­i­ty.
    You can stim­u­late pros­per­i­ty by leav­ing more mon­ey in the hands of those who earn it. If you want to stim­u­late the econ­o­my in Louisville, leave more mon­ey in Louisville and send less to Wash­ing­ton. My plan has a 17 per­cent flat tax with very few deduc­tions, and it would leave $600 bil­lion in the econ­o­my. But it would work bet­ter than a gov­ern­ment stim­u­lus because of the Mil­ton Fried­man propo­si­tion that nobody spends some­body else’s mon­ey as wise­ly as they spend their own. I think you’d have a boom like you’ve nev­er seen in this coun­try.

    Who would your ide­al Fed chair­man be?
    Hayek would be good, but he’s deceased.

    Non­dead Fed chair­man.
    Fried­man would prob­a­bly be pret­ty good, too, and he’s not an Aus­tri­an, but he would be bet­ter than what we have.

    Dead, too.
    Yeah. Let’s just go with dead, because then you prob­a­bly real­ly wouldn’t have much of a func­tion­ing Fed­er­al Reserve.

    It will be quite a coup for the far-right if the US has to spend to next cou­ple of decades con­stant­ly oscil­lat­ing between pres­i­dents and con­gress­es that either want to appoint some­one to run the Fed or end it. If Rea­gan’s Lib­er­tar­i­an Rev­o­lu­tion was­n’t pure enough to get the job done per­haps the Rand rev­o­lu­tion will do.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | August 11, 2013, 10:41 pm
  24. The soon­er you teach mal­nour­ished chil­dren that they have no val­ue in soci­ety the soon­er those chil­dren will spon­ta­neous­ly learn how to cre­ate val­ue by pulling them­selves up from their own boot­straps! It’s just the right thing to do:

    Politi­co
    House GOP seeks cuts in food stamps

    By DAVID ROGERS | 9/16/13 4:52 PM EDT Updat­ed: 9/17/13 2:33 PM EDT

    New inde­pen­dent esti­mates Mon­day night show that as many as 3.8 mil­lion peo­ple would lose their food stamp ben­e­fits in 2014 under a House Repub­li­can plan to tight­en eli­gi­bil­i­ty and end state waivers for able-bod­ied adults who are unem­ployed.

    The Con­gres­sion­al Bud­get Office num­bers paint a dark­er pic­ture than the GOP has admit­ted to thus far. The con­tra­dic­tions – which con­tin­ued to play out Mon­day after­noon — add to the ten­sions sur­round­ing what is already a bit­ter fight over the nutri­tion title of the House farm bill.

    Accord­ing to the CBO, 1.7 mil­lion peo­ple would be forced off the rolls in the com­ing year if the state waivers are repealed as pro­posed by Major­i­ty Leader Eric Can­tor (R‑Va.). Anoth­er 2.1 mil­lion would be dropped in 2014 as a result of the tighter eli­gi­bil­i­ty rules backed by the GOP.

    In both cas­es, the impact would decline as the econ­o­my improves and more jobs become avail­able. But on aver­age, CBO esti­mates that a total of 2.8 mil­lion peo­ple would lose their ben­e­fits over the next decade, and anoth­er 850,000 house­holds will see an aver­age reduc­tion of about $90 a month in ben­e­fits.

    The net 10-year sav­ings for the gov­ern­ment would be approx­i­mate­ly $39 bil­lion, near­ly dou­ble what was first rec­om­mend­ed by the House Agri­cul­ture Com­mit­tee in June and far in excess of what the full Sen­ate has approved.

    Nonethe­less, Can­tor has been the dri­ving force behind the 109-page sub­sti­tute nutri­tion tile — even at the risk of the larg­er farm bill. The whole leg­isla­tive process is quite extra­or­di­nary with the Vir­gin­ian oper­at­ing as almost a com­mit­tee of one.

    Agri­cul­ture Chair­man Frank Lucas (R‑Okla.) retains juris­dic­tion and is list­ed as the spon­sor on doc­u­ments filed with the House Mon­day after­noon. But Can­tor and his staff have dom­i­nat­ed the prepa­ra­tion, and their work prod­uct will go to the House floor with­out ever being sub­ject to any real leg­isla­tive markup.

    Toward this end, the House Rules Com­mit­tee announced it will meet on the nutri­tion bill Wednes­day in antic­i­pa­tion of votes by the end of the week. Whip counts sug­gest it will be a close­ly-fought con­test giv­en the strength of the Demo­c­ra­t­ic oppo­si­tion. And the sever­i­ty of the cuts is also caus­ing con­cern among rank-and-file Repub­li­cans with low-income rur­al com­mu­ni­ties in their dis­tricts.

    ...

    Moth­ers with preschool chil­dren would face tougher work require­ments. At the same time, the CBO score sug­gests that some of the most-con­tentious pilot pro­grams in the pack­age could end up adding to fed­er­al costs — not sav­ings.

    ...

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | September 18, 2013, 8:08 am
  25. Well here’s an uplift­ing sound­ing sto­ry: Kevin Cramer, North Dako­ta’s lone rep­re­sen­ta­tive, recent­ly had an inter­view with TheHill.com, where he took issue with the GOP’s neg­a­tive mes­sag­ing and sug­gest­ed that the Tea Par­ty rhetoric had hurt the par­ty’s image by not being upbeat and com­pas­sion­ate enough on social issues and immi­gra­tion:

    The Hill
    Rep. Cramer, a loy­al Repub­li­can, is wary of Tea Party’s mas­ter­minds
    By Blake Neff — 09/06/13 06:00 AM ET

    Kevin Cramer final­ly made it to Wash­ing­ton through sheer per­se­ver­ance. Pol­i­tics is rarely kind to can­di­dates who lose repeat­ed­ly, but Cramer is the excep­tion to the rule.

    ...

    Cramer has been bat­tling in the polit­i­cal are­na for most of his adult life, but as a young man he had dif­fer­ent aspi­ra­tions. Raised in a main­line Luther­an church, Cramer attend­ed Con­cor­dia Col­lege in Min­neso­ta and planned to become a min­is­ter. That plan fell out of favor as he felt the church’s beliefs and his own diverg­ing (he is now an evan­gel­i­cal), but Cramer still speaks much as a min­is­ter would. He refers to pub­lic ser­vice as a “voca­tion” rather than a career, and uses Mar­tin Luther’s doc­trine of a “priest­hood of all believ­ers” to describe it as just anoth­er form of min­istry.

    “Peo­ple cringe some­times when I talk like this, but it’s just my heart,” Cramer said. “I real­ly see the voca­tion of pol­i­tics like I see every voca­tion, whether it’s being a reporter or serv­ing in pub­lic life or being a plumber, as an exten­sion of min­istry.”

    ...

    The ongo­ing oil boom has boost­ed Cramer’s sta­tus in Wash­ing­ton, where he is eager to pro­mote his state as a mod­el for the rest of the nation.

    “Eric Sevareid, the famous CBS news­man of the Viet­nam War era, once called North Dako­ta ‘the large, rec­tan­gu­lar blank spot on the nation’s mind,’ ” Cramer says. “I always say now we’re the rec­tan­gu­lar stage under the nation’s spot­light.”

    As North Dakota’s only rep­re­sen­ta­tive, Cramer says he feels more like a “third sen­a­tor,” which brings extra atten­tion at home and extra respon­si­bil­i­ty in the cap­i­tal. He serves on the Nat­ur­al Resources and Sci­ence, Space, and Tech­nol­o­gy com­mit­tees, where he is an avid pro­po­nent of ener­gy devel­op­ment and the Key­stone XL pipeline. Dur­ing the August recess, he brought House Major­i­ty Leader Eric Can­tor (R- Va.) out to see the state’s oil fields in the Bakken for­ma­tion.

    While he has spo­ken at Tea Par­ty ral­lies, Cramer expressed mixed feel­ings about the move­ment as it cur­rent­ly stands, sug­gest­ing that orga­ni­za­tions have “co-opt­ed” the Tea Par­ty mantra and have used it to hurt Repub­li­cans more than Democ­rats.

    “I love the move­ment … espe­cial­ly at the time [in 2009-10], it was tru­ly spon­ta­neous, it was tru­ly grass­roots. I think part of the prob­lem today is that the Tea Par­ty is less grass­roots and more con­trolled by orga­ni­za­tions who ben­e­fit from a fight more than they ben­e­fit from pol­i­cy suc­cess­es,” Cramer said.

    He said that while he appre­ci­at­ed the Tea Par­ty groups’ con­tri­bu­tion to keep­ing the par­ty dis­ci­plined, such dis­ci­pline could go too far and leave the par­ty with­out any wig­gle room for pol­i­cy suc­cess­es.

    Cramer also argues that con­ser­v­a­tives must work to be a more upbeat and com­pas­sion­ate par­ty, espe­cial­ly on social issues and immi­gra­tion.

    “If you’re a per­son of faith that is con­ser­v­a­tive, that’s pro-life, as I am, that believes strong­ly in tra­di­tion­al fam­i­ly val­ues, as I do … then how we talk about them mat­ters. Some­times, we find our­selves as con­ser­v­a­tives being angry when we should be joy­ful, find­ing our­selves being neg­a­tive when we should be pos­i­tive, because we have a pos­i­tive mes­sage to send … We ought to be the most com­pas­sion­ate peo­ple in the world.”

    Cramer says that hav­ing strong posi­tions is not prob­lem­at­ic if it is cou­pled with gen­er­al good­will and an open­ness to wild­ly dif­fer­ent views. Along with fel­low Repub­li­cans, he refers to Ami Bera (D‑Calif.) and Collin Peter­son (D‑Minn.) as good friends of his in the cham­ber.

    “While I have these very strong views, and I don’t shy away from them, I’m not afraid to talk about them. I love lis­ten­ing to oth­er people’s views too. I enjoy the debate … I haven’t met a sin­gle per­son in Con­gress yet that I dis­like,” he said. “It’s not about mod­er­at­ing your views, it’s about being able to talk about them and defend­ing them in a way that’s uplift­ing to peo­ple.”

    Well that sound­ed pret­ty uplift­ing. Hope­ful­ly Rep. Cramer’s unmod­er­at­ed views inspired by scrip­ture include com­pas­sion for poor and hun­gry. Let’s see...:

    TPM­LiveWire
    GOP Rep. Quotes Bible On Food Stamps: ‘If Any­one Is Not Will­ing To Work, Let Him Not Eat’
    Igor Bobic – Sep­tem­ber 20, 2013, 5:39 PM EDT

    Rep. Kevin Cramer (R‑ND) on Fri­day respond­ed to a con­stituent opposed to dras­ti­cal­ly cut­ting food stamps for the young, elder­ly and poor by cit­ing a Bib­li­cal quote: “If any­one is not will­ing to work, let him not eat.”

    After House GOP lead­ers capit­u­lat­ed to con­ser­v­a­tive demands, Cramer on Thurs­day joined 216 oth­er House Repub­li­cans in nar­row­ly pass­ing leg­is­la­tion to cut food stamp spend­ing by near­ly $40 bil­lion over 10 years. A con­stituent, Kevin R Tenges­dal, took to Cramer’s Face­book page to express his appar­ent dis­plea­sure by quot­ing some Bib­li­cal pas­sages...

    That could have been a lot more uplift­ing.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | September 20, 2013, 10:02 pm
  26. More “Fam­i­lyVal­ues from the GOP:

    TPM­Livewire
    House GOP­er: Sen­ate Will ‘Find Jesus’ And Defund Oba­macare

    Dylan Scott – Sep­tem­ber 20, 2013, 5:55 PM EDT

    Most think it’s a long shot that Sen­ate Democ­rats will vote to defund Oba­macare, even after the House approved a defund mea­sure Fri­day, but at least one con­gres­sion­al Repub­li­can is expect­ing some divine inter­ven­tion.

    “I think there are sen­a­tors who are going to find Jesus and do the right thing,” Rep. Jim Jor­dan (R‑OH) told CNN’s Jake Tap­per on Fri­day. Jor­dan quick­ly clar­i­fied, at Tap­per’s urg­ing, that his metaphor was about the bil­l’s pas­sage and not about find­ing reli­gion.

    The House gov­ern­ment spend­ing bill passed 230–189. Sen­ate Major­i­ty Leader Har­ry Reid (D‑NV) has said that the defund bill is dead on arrival in that cham­ber, and no Sen­ate Democ­rats have pub­licly sup­port­ed it. A Sen­ate vote is expect­ed some­time next week.

    I think I found him!

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | September 21, 2013, 5:22 pm
  27. With more and more of the US ask­ing them­selves in wake of the Great Shut­down Default Deba­cle of 2013 how it could be that one of the two major par­ties col­lec­tive­ly went insane, it’s impor­tant to keep in mind that the GOP’s strat­e­gy of cre­at­ing a fis­cal emer­gency in order to force dra­mat­ic cuts in social spend­ing was­n’t just some strat­e­gy that the GOP pulled out of thin air. Nor have they they been behav­ing in a bub­ble that’s entire­ly detached from real­i­ty. That’s because this is pret­ty much the strat­e­gy that Bun­des­bank chief Jens Wei­d­mann has been advo­cat­ing for years and con­tin­ues to advo­cate:

    Finan­cial Times
    Bun­des­bank chief Jens Wei­d­mann sticks to Germany’s red light rule

    By Michael Steen in Frank­furt
    Ger­man cen­tral bank head warns against eco­nom­ic com­pla­cen­cy
    Octo­ber 9, 2013 7:18 pm

    There’s noth­ing quite like see­ing your own name in the text of a cen­tral banker’s speech to make you break out into a slight sweat. This hap­pened to me this week while read­ing Jens Weidmann’s lat­est thoughts on the euro­zone.

    Touch­ing on Germany’s Vor­bild­funk­tion – exem­plary role – the Bun­des­bank pres­i­dent warned against com­pla­cen­cy, not­ing it would be a big mis­take for the coun­try to retreat from its labour mar­ket reforms. He then quot­ed from an analy­sis by this cor­re­spon­dent, pub­lished last month on Germany’s elec­tion day, to back up his point.

    So why the sweaty palms? Well, aside from a reporter’s nat­ur­al dif­fi­dence, any neu­tral observ­er might pause at being embraced too whole­heart­ed­ly by the super ortho­dox Bun­des­bank. Mr Wei­d­mann holds con­tro­ver­sial views. His was the lone voice on the gov­ern­ing coun­cil of the Euro­pean Cen­tral Bank a year ago, try­ing to stop the launch of out­right mon­e­tary trans­ac­tions, the bank’s bond-buy­ing scheme.

    Since then OMT’s exis­tence has been pret­ty much uni­ver­sal­ly cred­it­ed for the ensu­ing finan­cial mar­ket calm.

    The upshot has been that a gov­ern­ment cri­sis in Italy, Por­tu­gal or Greece can now blow past with­out euro­zone bond mar­kets going into melt­down.

    Has that done any­thing to dent the Wei­d­mann doc­trine? Not real­ly.

    “I don’t share the view that the Eurosys­tem [the ECB and its 17 nation­al cen­tral banks] was the only insti­tu­tion capa­ble of act­ing dur­ing the cri­sis,” Mr Wei­d­mann said in his speech in Berlin on Tues­day evening. “Had it not jumped into the breach, politi­cians would have been forced to act. And, as the demo­c­ra­t­i­cal­ly legit­i­mate actors, I have no doubt they would have tak­en action.”

    Mr Weidmann’s pre­scrip­tion for the bloc is a “sta­bil­i­ty” union, found­ed on tough and rig­or­ous­ly enforced fis­cal rules that do not get bro­ken in the way that both France and Ger­many vio­lat­ed ear­li­er ones in 2003.

    In future, state bank­rupt­cies and above all bank insol­ven­cies must be pos­si­ble, with­out the sta­bil­i­ty of the finan­cial sys­tem being put in dan­ger, he said.

    To that end he backs a bank­ing union, but the ECB should only act as bank super­vi­sor until anoth­er body can be set up to pre­vent con­flicts of inter­est with its mon­e­tary pol­i­cy. And banks must be pre­vent­ed “over the medi­um term” from treat­ing sov­er­eign debt as a risk-free asset.

    Like so much of the Wei­d­mann doc­trine, this is all log­i­cal and coher­ent. But as in the joke about the man ask­ing direc­tions to Dublin and being told: “I wouldn’t start from here”, it does lit­tle to take into account the real­i­ty.

    Just tak­ing Mr Weidmann’s idea on risk weight­ings for sov­er­eign debt: this would dis­pro­por­tion­ate­ly affect the eurozone’s cri­sis-hit coun­tries where sov­er­eign bond yields are high­er and local banks hold pro­por­tion­ate­ly more of it. Mak­ing con­di­tions hard­er for the weak­est lenders in the weak­est coun­tries is at the very least provoca­tive.

    ...

    While Mr Wei­d­mann sees chal­lenges for Ger­many – among them, a grey­ing pop­u­la­tion, low labour par­tic­i­pa­tion among women and invest­ment in edu­ca­tion – there is not a flick­er of a dis­cus­sion about Germany’s per­ma­nent cur­rent account sur­plus­es or stim­u­lat­ing Ger­man demand more to lift the euro­zone as a whole.

    ...

    Sim­i­lar­ly, when the GOP is clam­or­ing about the pro­found evils of deficits while simul­ta­ne­ous­ly demand­ing no new tax­es, they aren’t doing this in an inter­na­tion­al vac­cu­um.

    So when we’re try­ing to fig­ure out how it’s pos­si­ble that so many in the GOP could sud­den­ly take the posi­tion that not rais­ing the debt ceil­ing would­n’t be a prob­lem because the US could still pay inter­est on its debts and would just have to dra­mat­i­cal­ly and sud­den­ly slash spend­ing with no tax increas­es it’s impor­tant to recall Wei­d­man­n’s state­ment about desir­ing to see a future where “state bank­rupt­cies and above all bank insol­ven­cies must be pos­si­ble, with­out the sta­bil­i­ty of the finan­cial sys­tem being put in dan­ger”. Nor­mal­iz­ing the abil­i­ty of the oli­garchs to push a soci­ety into a debt-cri­sis trap — where the decon­struc­tion of the social safe­ty-net and labor stan­dards can be demand­ed by the far-right in exchange for an agree­ment to extri­cate the nation from the trap — is a key goal of far-right­ists on both sides of the pond. On the one hand we have the GOP say­ing “default? What default? Just slash spend­ing” and on the oth­er we have Bun­des­bank and its allies say­ing “Default? So what? Just slash spend­ing and every­thing will be fine”. It’s the two sides of the same bath­tub-mur­der-scene com­mem­o­ra­tive coin.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | October 19, 2013, 7:22 pm
  28. So long All Hal­lows’ Eve and hel­lo All Saints’ Day! What a per­fect day to pen­ny-pinch on aid to the poor:

    Think Progress
    The Com­ing Food Stamp Cut Will Hit 900,000 Vet­er­ans

    By Bryce Covert on Octo­ber 29, 2013 at 9:00 am

    Ben­e­fits from the Sup­ple­men­tal Nutri­tion Assis­tance Pro­gram (SNAP), oth­er­wise known as food stamps, will auto­mat­i­cal­ly drop come Fri­day thanks to the loss of addi­tion­al funds from the 2009 stim­u­lus bill. That cut will hit about 900,000 of the country’s vet­er­ans, accord­ing to an analy­sis by the Cen­ter on Bud­get and Pol­i­cy Pri­or­i­ties.

    “Nation­wide, in any giv­en month, a total of 900,000 vet­er­ans nation­wide lived in house­holds that relied on SNAP to pro­vide food for their fam­i­lies in 2011,” CBPP writes. The num­ber varies state to state, with over 100,000 vet­er­ans in house­holds that rely on the ben­e­fits in Flori­da and Texas each.

    The com­ing cut will range from $36 a month for a fam­i­ly of four to $11 a month for a sin­gle per­son. Food stamps will aver­age less than $1.40 per per­son per meal next year with the cut. Ben­e­fits were already sparse, at just $133 a month on aver­age.

    Vet­er­ans can face a lot of chal­lenges find­ing work when they return from ser­vice. While over­all the unem­ploy­ment rate for vet­er­ans is 6.5 per­cent, those who have served since 2001 to the present have an unem­ploy­ment rate of 9.7 per­cent. Near­ly one in 10 vet­er­ans with dis­abil­i­ties were with­out employ­ment in 2010. They are also dis­pro­por­tion­ate­ly like­ly to live in pover­ty and to be home­less. In 2010, near­ly a mil­lion vet­er­ans ages 18 to 64 had expe­ri­enced pover­ty over the past year. As of 2011, near­ly one in sev­en home­less adults was a vet­er­an and more than four in ten home­less vet­er­ans were with­out shel­ter. They are there­fore heav­i­ly impact­ed by cuts to the social safe­ty net.

    The auto­mat­ic reduc­tion in food stamps won’t like­ly be the last cut, how­ev­er. House and Sen­ate law­mak­ers are set to nego­ti­ate this week over a bill to con­tin­ue fund­ing the pro­gram, and House Repub­li­cans want to cut it by $40 bil­lion, while Sen­ate Democ­rats have pro­posed cut­ting it by $4 bil­lion. If Repub­li­cans get their way, as many as 6 mil­lion peo­ple could be dropped from SNAP.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | October 31, 2013, 9:56 pm
  29. A look at what it takes to get the Tea Par­ty’s endorse­ment:

    RightwingWatch.org
    Gra­ham’s Tea Par­ty Chal­lenger: Able-Bod­ied Food Stamp Recip­i­ents ‘Should­n’t Eat,’ Social Safe­ty Net ‘Role Of The Church’
    Sub­mit­ted by Miran­da Blue on Thurs­day, 12/5/2013 4:00 pm

    South Car­oli­na state Sen. Lee Bright is cur­rent­ly lead­ing the field of Tea Par­ty pri­ma­ry chal­lengers to Repub­li­can U.S. Sen. Lind­sey Gra­ham, all of whom think the very con­ser­v­a­tive sen­a­tor is not con­ser­v­a­tive enough.

    To give you an idea of what some­one run­ning to the right of Lind­sey Gra­ham looks like, Bright wants any­one enforc­ing health care reform in South Car­oli­na to go to jail, wants the state to have its own cur­ren­cy and has even joked about seces­sion.
    ...

    In Sen­a­tor Bright’s defense, he only wants to jail any­one enforc­ing Oba­macare in South Car­oli­na for a year. It’s not like the peo­ple caught enforc­ing Oba­macare get imme­di­ate­ly death-pan­eled. He’s not crazy or any­thing.

    Con­tin­u­ing...

    ...
    At a fundrais­ing event in Tul­sa, Okla­homa, on Tues­day, Bright elab­o­rat­ed even fur­ther on his far-right beliefs, call­ing for immi­grants to “self-deport,” say­ing that all social ser­vices should be pro­vid­ed by the Church and that able-bod­ied peo­ple rely­ing on food stamps “shouldn’t eat,” and com­par­ing the IRS’s income-tax col­lec­tion to Nazi Ger­many.

    ...

    Lat­er in the talk, Bright alleged that immi­gra­tion reform is just a “band-aid” because “a lot” of Amer­i­cans “won’t work.”

    “It’s not polit­i­cal­ly cor­rect to say this, but we’ve got a lot of peo­ple who won’t work,” he said. “And they won’t work because we’ll pro­vide their food, and we’ll pro­vide their hous­ing, and we’ll pro­vide some spend­ing mon­ey. We’ve all seen it, the folks in line who are using [food stamps], yet they’ve got the nicest nails and the nicest pock­et­book and they get the nicest car.”

    Bright acknowl­edged that there are some Amer­i­cans who are phys­i­cal­ly unable to work, but said they should be the respon­si­bil­i­ty of the Church: There’s peo­ple that are men­tal­ly ill, there are peo­ple that are dis­abled. I under­stand that, though I still think that’s the role of the Church to take care of those folks.

    “But able-bod­ied peo­ple, if they don’t work, they shouldn’t eat,” he said.

    In fact, three-quar­ters of house­holds receiv­ing SNAP ben­e­fits include a child, an elder­ly per­son or a dis­abled per­son and a third of recip­i­ents do work, but don’t earn liv­ing incomes.

    Final­ly, Bright voiced his sup­port for the Tea Par­ty dream of abol­ish­ing the IRS and income tax­es, say­ing that “there is no oth­er insti­tu­tion in our gov­ern­ment that peo­ple are more fear­ful of,” he said. Get­ting a let­ter from the IRS, he added, is some­thing out of “Nazi Ger­many.”

    So under Sen­a­tor Bright’s plans, the church­es would get the priv­i­lege of car­ing for the men­tal­ly ill. That should be fun. But not as much fun as what Sen­a­tor Bright has in mind: Civ­il War reen­act­ments! Although it’s not so much a reen­act­ment as it is a Civ­il War reimag­ined

    RightWingWatch.org
    South Car­oli­na Sen­ate Can­di­date Itch­ing To Refight The Civ­il War
    Sub­mit­ted by Miran­da Blue on Fri­day, 12/6/2013 3:48 pm

    Yes­ter­day, we took a look at South Car­oli­na Sen. Lind­sey Graham’s top-polling Tea Par­ty pri­ma­ry chal­lenger, state Sen. Lee Bright, who thinks the income tax is some­thing out of Nazi Ger­many and is con­cerned about women with nice nails and pock­et­books get­ting food assis­tance.

    It turns out that Bright doesn’t just want to elim­i­nate a host of core fed­er­al programs…he’s also itch­ing to refight the Civ­il War.

    In a series of speech­es to Repub­li­can and Tea Par­ty gath­er­ings this year, Bright has riled up crowds with the states-rights ral­ly­ing cry, “If the Tenth Amend­ment won’t pro­tect the Sec­ond, we might have to use the Sec­ond to pro­tect the Tenth.”

    Bright is a pro­po­nent of nul­li­fi­ca­tion, the uncon­sti­tu­tion­al idea that states can “nul­li­fy” fed­er­al laws that they don’t like. This year, he spon­sored a bill in the state sen­ate to nul­li­fy the Afford­able Care Act.

    At a gun-rights ral­ly in front of the South Car­oli­na state­house in Jan­u­ary, Bright stood before two con­fed­er­ate flags to offer his view that while he finds slav­ery “moral­ly rep­re­hen­si­ble,” Pres­i­dent Lincoln’s Rev­enue Act of 1862 – which intro­duced a pro­gres­sive income tax in order to fund the Union Army – “was when gov­ern­ment start­ed becom­ing God and tak­ing over this coun­try.”

    Lat­er in the speech, Bright declared he was ready to “lay down my life” fight­ing the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment: “We don’t want to have to use the Sec­ond Amend­ment, we’re a peace­ful peo­ple. But we will not be the gen­er­a­tion that lost our lib­er­ty. Peo­ple ask me all the time, ‘I don’t know what I’ll tell my chil­dren, I don’t know what I’ll tell my grand­chil­dren.’ Well, I’m not going to have that prob­lem, because I’m not going to be here. I want to lay down my life for my lib­er­ty just like my fore­fa­thers did.”

    At a Feb­ru­ary “Day of Resis­tance Ral­ly” in Greenville, Bright warned that Jus­tices Kagan and Sotomay­or might even want to dis­solve the states, and expand­ed on his view of 19th cen­tu­ry Amer­i­can history…adding that it is Amer­i­cans today who are in fact under “the chains of slav­ery.”

    “I went to pub­lic school,” he said, “and I was taught about the Civ­il War, and then I learned it was the War Between the States, and then I learned it was the War of Nul­li­fi­ca­tion, and then final­ly I learned out it was Lincoln’s War.”

    He then accused Pres­i­dent Oba­ma of want­i­ng to be a “king.” “I’ll say what my fore­fa­thers said,” he added. “No king but Jesus.”

    “We have got to be orga­nized, we have got to par­tic­i­pate in these elec­tions,” he said. “Because I’ve got to tell you, if we don’t, we might have to use the Sec­ond Amend­ment to defend the Tenth. And let me tell you, I want peace. Lis­ten, peace is sweet, but it’s not so sweet for the chains of slav­ery.”

    ...

    Our strange polit­i­cal real­i­ty is get­ting even stranger. Now you know why John Boehn­er and Paul Ryan have been feel­ing like this in recent days...although not after tonight’s vote:

    TPM DC
    No More Shut­downs! House Pass­es Bipar­ti­san Bud­get Deal
    Sahil Kapur – Decem­ber 12, 2013, 6:28 PM EST

    The Repub­li­can-led House on Thurs­day passed a bipar­ti­san bud­get deal aimed at mit­i­gat­ing painful spend­ing cuts and avoid­ing more gov­ern­ment shut­downs.

    The vote was 332 to 94 with 169 Repub­li­cans and 163 Democ­rats vot­ing for it.

    The bill now goes to the Sen­ate, where it is expect­ed to pass, and sub­se­quent­ly be signed into law by Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma. If the bill becomes law, it would mark a major turn­ing point after three years of par­a­lyz­ing par­ti­san dis­putes which cul­mi­nat­ed in the 16-day gov­ern­ment shut­down last Octo­ber. It means Con­gress would return to the nor­mal bud­get process, if only for two years, rather than fund­ing the gov­ern­ment in incre­men­tal steps.

    The mod­est deal, bro­kered by Rep. Paul Ryan (R‑WI) and Sen. Pat­ty Mur­ray (D‑WA), boosts dis­cre­tionary spend­ing from $967 bil­lion to $1.012 tril­lion in 2014 and $1.014 tril­lion in 2015. It relieves $63 bil­lion in across-the-board sequester cuts to defense and domes­tic pro­grams, and is pro­ject­ed to low­er the deficit over 10 years rel­a­tive to cur­rent law.

    ...

    The deal is Ryan’s first major bipar­ti­san break­through that stands a chance of becom­ing law. While mod­est, the high­er spend­ing lev­els have drawn rebukes from hard line con­ser­v­a­tives who often praise Ryan as a con­ser­v­a­tive hero. The House bud­get chief has struck a con­cil­ia­to­ry tone while sell­ing the plan, describ­ing it as imper­fect but an impor­tant step in the right direc­tion. It’s a marked change in tone from his no-com­pro­mise pos­tur­ing in Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma’s first term, when he pushed to sub­vert large tax-and-spend­ing deals and pre­serve hopes for enact­ing his bud­get that slash­es tax­es and pri­va­tizes Medicare.

    ...

    Democ­rats weren’t thrilled with the agree­ment but reluc­tant­ly accept­ed it as an improve­ment on the sta­tus quo. They’re angry that it does­n’t extend emer­gency unem­ploy­ment ben­e­fits, which are set to expire on Dec. 28; they believe it serves spe­cial inter­ests by fail­ing to unwind any tax loop­holes for cor­po­ra­tions; they dis­like the effec­tive pen­sion cuts for fed­er­al work­ers.

    House Minor­i­ty Leader Nan­cy Pelosi (D‑CA) report­ed­ly urged Democ­rats to “embrace the suck” so that they could move for­ward. She told reporters that she while she does­n’t like the bill, it’s “an OK thing to vote for.”

    ...

    Today’s vote may not be good news for the long-term unem­ployed or fed­er­al work­ers. But for Paul Ryan and John Boehn­er it was a very good day.

    It was actu­al­ly a real­ly good day for the Tea Par­ty too but...well...

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | December 12, 2013, 10:16 pm
  30. If you’re a poor Amer­i­can, run!!!!! The Tea Par­ty is look­ing for you. They want to help:

    Tea Par­ty’s Mike Lee leads unlike­ly Repub­li­can push against pover­ty

    Utah sen­a­tor has been on a qui­et mis­sion to rebrand his image and that of the rad­i­cal Repub­li­can wing he rep­re­sents

    Paul Lewis in Wash­ing­ton
    theguardian.com, Wednes­day 19 Feb­ru­ary 2014 09.54 EST

    He’s the Tea Par­ty dar­ling with an impec­ca­bly con­ser­v­a­tive vot­ing record, known in Wash­ing­ton as the right-hand man to Ted Cruz, the uncom­pro­mis­ing Texas sen­a­tor who infu­ri­at­ed main­stream Repub­li­cans by bring­ing the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment to a halt last year.

    Yet in the months since sen­a­tor Mike Lee helped Cruz orches­trate the shut­down, Lee has been on a qui­et mis­sion to rebrand his image and, by asso­ci­a­tion, that of the rad­i­cal Repub­li­can wing he rep­re­sents.

    “Few have done more to burn ide­o­log­i­cal bridges with­in the GOP,” said Michael Ger­son, the for­mer chief speech­writer for pres­i­dent George W Bush, who has not­ed the shift. “Yet no one from the Tea Par­ty side is now doing more to con­struct them.”

    The cause Lee believes will help build bridges among Repub­li­cans? Com­bat­ing pover­ty.

    “There is a nat­ur­al ten­sion that tends to exist between a party’s base and its elect­ed polit­i­cal lead­ers,” Lee said in recent inter­view with the Guardian. “That ten­sion has cre­at­ed what some have described as a hole with­in the Repub­li­can par­ty.”

    “But I think that hole is exact­ly the size and shape of a con­ser­v­a­tive reform agen­da – one that focus­es on eco­nom­ic oppor­tu­ni­ty and upward mobil­i­ty, one that focus­es on fight­ing pover­ty and help­ing the mid­dle class.”

    He added: “This is one of the things that can help bridge that gap, that can help fill that hole.”

    Tack­ling pover­ty may seem a counter-intu­itive agen­da for one of the most con­ser­v­a­tive fig­ures in Con­gress, least of all one who claims to want to heal wounds in the Repub­li­can par­ty.

    But he is not the only top Repub­li­can fig­ure to lay out a man­i­festo for deal­ing with inequal­i­ty, an issue many believe needs to be addressed to counter the pop­ulist Demo­c­ra­t­ic cam­paigns expect­ed in this year’s midterm elec­tions.

    A host of oth­er Repub­li­cans, includ­ing Paul Ryan and Eric Can­tor in the House, and Mar­co Rubio in the Sen­ate, have done the same.

    But arguably none have been as com­mit­ted to the cause in recent months as Lee, who declared a “war on pover­ty” last Novem­ber.

    Vanes­sa Williamson, a Har­vard aca­d­e­m­ic who co-wrote a book on the Tea Par­ty, said the GOP may be real­is­ing it needs to mod­er­ate its mes­sage, even if the poli­cies remains tren­chant­ly con­ser­v­a­tive.

    “Many peo­ple in the Repub­li­can Par­ty have noticed that extreme tac­tics haven’t been work­ing very well for them late­ly,” she said. “They went to the mat on a num­ber of gov­ern­ment shut­down-type approach­es — the absolute non-com­pro­mise tac­ti­cal posi­tion. But I think there is less dis­agree­ment on the pol­i­cy goals, which tend to remain rel­a­tive­ly extreme.”

    Lee is arguably a case in point. While he may have adopt­ed a tra­di­tion­al­ly lib­er­al cause his pre­scrip­tions are root­ed in firm­ly con­ser­v­a­tive ground. In his view, gov­ern­ment caus­es pover­ty, and has lit­tle hope of alle­vi­at­ing the prob­lem. Only the enabling pow­er of a free-mar­ket econ­o­my, aid­ed by a civic vol­un­tary sec­tor, high­er rates of mar­riage, and more con­sid­ered spend­ing, will improve social mobil­i­ty.

    His lat­est con­tri­bu­tion was a bill, intro­duced last week, that would restore a work require­ment for recip­i­ents of food stamps that was first intro­duced by pres­i­dent Bill Clin­ton in 1996.

    Joshua Smith, a senior pol­i­cy ana­lyst at the Eco­nom­ic Pol­i­cy Insti­tute, a lib­er­al think­tank, described the mea­sure as “com­plete­ly back­wards log­ic”, because it wrong­ly assumes there are swaths of unem­ployed peo­ple who would work if only they were giv­en a nudge.

    “In fact, it pret­ty clear the prob­lem is a lack of labor demand,” he said.

    Smith is even more scathing of anoth­er pro­pos­al con­tained in Lee’s bill: cap­ping means-test­ed wel­fare spend­ing at 2007 lev­els, a move the sen­a­tor says will save $2.5tn. The reduc­tion would be adjust­ed for infla­tion, phased in over three years, and only come into force when unem­ploy­ment is below 6%.

    But it still con­sti­tutes a dra­mat­ic reduc­tion on gov­ern­ment mon­ey spent on the poor – dis­tort­ing a bud­get that ordi­nar­i­ly ris­es and falls depend­ing on the per­for­mance of the econ­o­my. “It doesn’t make sense,” Smith said. “It can only hurt the most vul­ner­a­ble peo­ple.”

    Asked who would bear the bur­den of the mas­sive wel­fare cut, Lee was non-com­mit­tal. “It would have to be worked out between the var­i­ous state pro­grams, in fig­ur­ing out how they are going to do more with less mon­ey,” he said.

    In his speech before the rightwing Her­itage Foun­da­tion in Novem­ber, Lee did not men­tion plans to suck such large sums out of the food stamps pro­gram.

    Instead, he acknowl­edge the US was “third from the bot­tom” among advanced coun­tries in terms of upward social mobil­i­ty, empha­siz­ing the need to help under­priv­i­leged schools.

    Lee made no men­tion of deficit reduc­tion or out-of-con­trol gov­ern­ment spend­ing – a curi­ous omis­sion giv­en his cen­tral role in the shut­down – and even went so far as to tell the audi­ence: “Just as we can­not spend our way out of pover­ty, we can­not real­ly cut our way out, either.

    All of which has some crit­ics ques­tion­ing whether Lee has mere­ly been engag­ing in a rebrand­ing exer­cise. “The sen­a­tor is just talk­ing the talk,” said one GOP insid­er. “He has an image prob­lem he’s try­ing to fix.”

    ...

    So the states are going to have to fig­ure out how “they are going to do more with less mon­ey” but “just as we can­not spend our way out of pover­ty, we can­not real­ly cut our way out”? It’s not clear how exact­ly the Tea Par­ty’s image prob­lem is going to be helped by acknowl­edg­ing that we can’t expect to cut our way out of pover­ty and then propos­ing a bunch of cuts to poor. It looks like the GOP has become so aller­gic to help­ing that even when it’s try­ing to help itself by help­ing oth­ers it just ends hurt­ing every­one!

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | February 20, 2014, 3:37 pm
  31. Inspired by events in Ukraine, this reads a lit­tle like a run-on sen­tence but makes some very good points:

    http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/03/20/the-rise-of-fascism-in-the-west/

    March 20, 2014
    Ukraine as Stalk­ing Horse

    The Rise of Fas­cism in the West
    by NORMAN POLLACK

    Fas­cism drib­bles off the tongue too eas­i­ly, yet it is pos­si­ble to wrap one’s arms around the con­cept and prac­tice with, allow­ing for his­tor­i­cal vari­a­tions, some degree of pre­ci­sion. Hitler’s Ger­many may be the gold stan­dard by which to mea­sure all else, but even there cor­rec­tion can be made for both under­ly­ing struc­tur­al fea­tures and ide­o­log­i­cal themes applied to oth­er and dif­fer­ent set­tings. By that I mean, e.g., func­tion­al equiv­a­lents of Nazi soci­etal orga­ni­za­tion, if you will, foun­da­tions or per­haps sub-foun­da­tions of the social order and polit­i­cal cul­ture. If we return to Franz Neumann’s Behe­moth, the now-neglect­ed clas­sic on the sub­ject and Robert A. Brady’s Spir­it and Struc­ture of Ger­man Fas­cism, also near-for­got­ten, focused on the ide­ol­o­gy of busi­ness orga­ni­za­tion, we can say that the pri­mal fac­tor in fascism’s inter­nal com­po­si­tion is cap­i­tal­ism, not your every­day Smithi­an vari­ety hap­pi­ly ensconced in Econ. 101 text­books, but the real thing at an advanced form of devel­op­ment: monop­o­liza­tion, greater cohe­sion through trade asso­ci­a­tions, neu­tral­iza­tion of labor as a col­lec­tive-bar­gain­ing social force, above all, an hier­ar­chi­cal class sys­tem with com­mand­ing deci­sions at the top then fil­tered down through gra­da­tions of rank, inte­grat­ed with and com­ple­ment­ed by the polit­i­cal-struc­tur­al frame­work of busi­ness-gov­ern­ment inter­pen­e­tra­tion.

    This par­a­digm of cen­tral­ized pow­er embed­ded in the syn­the­sis of cor­po­ratism and the State, the lat­ter, itself the more pow­er­ful the bet­ter, in order to serve and pro­tect the busi­ness sys­tem, its dom­i­nance over labor, its pen­e­tra­tion of for­eign mar­kets, its fur­ther con­cen­tra­tion through pre­vent­ing internecine com­pe­ti­tion, is equal­ly char­ac­ter­is­tic of 1930s Ger­many (already most­ly evi­dent under Weimar) and the US begin­ning in earnest still ear­li­er but per­haps tak­ing more pro­tract­ed form. Dia­gram­mat­i­cal­ly, we are, cir­ca 2014, more than super­sed­ing that Ger­man stage, our “car­tels” dis­guised by oth­er names, our rate of con­cen­tra­tion the apogee of cap­i­tal­ist inner log­ic. From here it is read­i­ly appar­ent the appet­i­tive and com­bat­ive nature of cap­i­tal­ism, egged on or rein­forced by the Sta­tist dimen­sion: America’s ver­sion of glob­al­iza­tion to a tee.

    This under­pin­ning, not the con­cen­tra­tion camp or gas cham­ber, estab­lish­es the bedrock on which the fas­cist edi­fice rests, makes them pos­si­ble, embod­ied in mil­i­taris­tic aggres­sion in Ger­many, but, for the US, and as Bar­ring­ton Moore point­ed out, in Social Ori­gins of Dic­ta­tor­ship and Democ­ra­cy, for Japan as well, what is crit­i­cal to fas­cism is not only busi­ness-gov­ern­ment inter­pen­e­tra­tion (Masao Maruya­ma years ago termed this, for Japan, the “close-embrace” sys­tem), but also the reg­i­men­ta­tion of the peo­ple, glimpses of which appear in the NSA whole­sale sur­veil­lance of the pub­lic, and a prepack­aged ide­ol­o­gy of per­ma­nent-war readi­ness but­tressed by a sat­u­rat­ed cli­mate of coun­tert­er­ror­ism.

    I think you get the pic­ture. Amer­i­ca is not all Inno­cence and Milk-and-Hon­ey, the hege­mon­ic demi­urge in full throt­tle under Oba­ma, now poised for the much antic­i­pat­ed (and, I believe, wel­comed) con­flict with Rus­sia, hav­ing care­ful­ly arranged the chess board, the rooks, IMF and NATO, the queen, all-pur­pose pri­va­ti­za­tion, the pawns, “friends and allies” per­suad­ed to do America’s bid­ding, final­ly, the king, not the innocu­ous piece, nor here, a sin­gle indi­vid­ual, but Obama’s col­lec­tive nation­al-secu­ri­ty advi­sors, tak­ing in CIA, NSA, Pen­ta­gon offi­cials, even then, the tip of the ice­berg of war-mak­ing, war-striv­ing appa­ra­tus, Wash­ing­ton up to its neck from every quar­ter, bipar­ti­san all the way, in sharp­en­ing the killer instinct. Ker­ry and Biden are the cheer­lead­ers for impe­ri­al­ism and, increas­ing­ly, mil­i­tarism, for they, and Oba­ma, rec­og­nize the two are insep­a­ra­ble, to which they seem espe­cial­ly ded­i­cat­ed. Ukraine has found its soul mates.

    More at link

    Posted by Swamp | March 22, 2014, 9:36 am
  32. What lies at the heart of a black hole? That’s one of those ques­tions that might remain a mys­tery for­ev­er. The con­tents of black hole hearts, on the oth­er hand, is much eas­i­er to under­stand: It’s most­ly lies:

    Los Ange­les Times
    Paul Ryan rehash­es an old Social Secu­ri­ty lie–at your expense

    By Michael Hiltzik

    April 1, 2014, 12:27 p.m.

    There should be a rule–or even a law–that politi­cians who pro­pose “fix­es” to Social Secu­ri­ty should at least show they know some­thing about the pro­gram. By that stan­dard, House Bud­get Com­mit­tee Chair­man Paul Ryan, R‑Wisc., would flunk.

    What’s worse, his misunderstandings–heck, let’s go ahead and call them misrepresentations–are aimed at tak­ing your mon­ey.

    What’s at issue is a pas­sage in the bud­get res­o­lu­tion Ryan released today, the fourth annu­al ver­sion of his “Path to Pros­per­i­ty” bud­get. Like the oth­ers, this bud­get calls for large cuts in gov­ern­ment pro­grams for the poor, in order to pre­serve tax breaks for the rich and finance lav­ish defense spend­ing.

    But what con­cerns us here is his descrip­tion of the Social Secu­ri­ty trust fund, which cur­rent­ly holds close to $3 tril­lion in U.S. Trea­sury bonds, all pur­chased with pay­roll tax income paid by work­ing men and women since 1983.

    The idea of build­ing up this trust fund was to bank excess tax rev­enues against the loom­ing wave of baby boomer retire­ments, which has now begun. But the trust fund is still grow­ing, because Social Secu­ri­ty’s income streams–the pay­roll tax, inter­est on its bonds, and rev­enues from income tax­a­tion of benefits–still are suf­fi­cient to cov­er cur­rent ben­e­fits, and then some.

    Ryan wants you to think dif­fer­ent. Here’s the pas­sage in ques­tion, from page 66 of his plan.

    “Any val­ue in the bal­ances in the Social Secu­ri­ty Trust Fund is derived from dubi­ous gov­ern­ment account­ing. The trust fund is not a real sav­ings account. From 1983 to 2010, it col­lect­ed more Social Secu­ri­ty tax­es than it paid out in Social Secu­ri­ty ben­e­fits. But the gov­ern­ment bor­rowed all of these sur­plus­es and spent them on oth­er gov­ern­ment pro­grams unre­lat­ed to Social Secu­ri­ty. The Trust Fund holds Trea­sury secu­ri­ties, but the abil­i­ty to redeem these secu­ri­ties is com­plete­ly depen­dent on the Treasury’s abil­i­ty to raise mon­ey through tax­es or bor­row­ing.”

    The same lan­guage appeared in Ryan’s 2012 bud­get res­o­lu­tion, but not in his 2013 and 2014 ver­sions (as far as we could tell). It’s back now, and no more accu­rate or hon­est than it was three years ago.

    Let’s exam­ine the mis­rep­re­sen­ta­tions embed­ded in these 90 words by explain­ing exact­ly how the trust fund works.

    From 1983 on, the pay­roll tax was increased to pro­duce more rev­enue than was need­ed to pay ben­e­fits each year. The idea was to build up a reserve to cov­er the com­ing wave of baby boomer retire­ments; in effect, the baby boomers have been pre-fund­ing their own old-age ben­e­fits.

    The nat­ur­al ques­tion was: what should be done with the mon­ey in the mean­time? It would­n’t make sense to just place it under a nation­al mat­tress, for infla­tion would have reduced the val­ue of the hold­ings by as much as half over the last three decades.

    The answer was to place the mon­ey in an inter­est-bear­ing account–that is, invest it for a yield above infla­tion. (This is the fol­ly of Al Gore’s old line about keep­ing the mon­ey in a “lock­box.” That can’t be done, because the lock­boxed funds would turn to dust.)

    That’s what’s been done. The mon­ey has been invest­ed in U.S. Trea­sury secu­ri­ties, just as you might do by pur­chas­ing Series EE sav­ings bonds, or TIPS. Why do peo­ple invest in T‑bonds? Because they’re the safest secu­ri­ties in the world. The U.S. has nev­er, ever default­ed on them (although the Tea Par­ty wing of the GOP seems to think that would be a good idea). The mon­ey isn’t invest­ed in cor­po­rate secu­ri­ties or any­thing else, because Con­gress has­n’t allowed that.

    The Social Secu­ri­ty trust fund’s bonds are backed by exact­ly the same com­mit­ment of the U.S.‘s “full faith and cred­it” as any oth­er Trea­sury secu­ri­ty. Keep your eye on that ball, because Ryan is going to try to palm it.

    When one buys a T‑bond, one is effec­tive­ly lend­ing the mon­ey to the gov­ern­ment, which then uses it to do things. So, yes, Ryan is cor­rect in stat­ing that “the gov­ern­ment bor­rowed all of these sur­plus­es and spent them on oth­er gov­ern­ment pro­grams unre­lat­ed to Social Secu­ri­ty.”

    Right. On nation­al defense. Two wars. Con­struc­tion of roads, school build­ings, cour­t­hous­es. On the salaries of Con­gress­men like Rep. Ryan. What of it?

    Was this mon­ey wast­ed? Hard­ly. The US econ­o­my has more than dou­bled in size (adjust­ed for infla­tion) over that time, in sig­nif­i­cant part because of the infra­struc­ture and ser­vices pro­vid­ed by government–including with that bor­rowed mon­ey.

    It’s worth not­ing, how­ev­er, that under George W. Bush, the gov­ern­ment also used those sur­plus­es to pre­serve tax breaks for the wealthy, by spend­ing the bor­rowed funds on those wars with­out hav­ing to raise the income tax, which is pre­dom­i­nant­ly paid by the wealthy. The pay­roll tax is pre­dom­i­nant­ly paid by the mid­dle class and the work­ing class, so in effect the lat­ter has made an inter­est bear­ing loan to the for­mer.

    As I’ve writ­ten before, when you hear peo­ple like Paul Ryan talk as though the coun­try can’t afford to pay back the mon­ey by redeem­ing the bonds in the trust fund, what you’re hear­ing is the sound of the wealthy prepar­ing to stiff the work­ing class. If the income tax has to be raised to turn those T‑bonds into cash for pay­ment of ben­e­fits over the next cou­ple of decades, that’s how the rich will be made to repay the peo­ple who lent them the mon­ey. Some peo­ple love to claim that the gov­ern­ment has “stolen” the trust fund. The cor­rect reply to that is: “Not yet.”

    But if Ryan has his way, yes, the mon­ey will be stolen. It’s up to you and me to make sure that does­n’t hap­pen.

    So, to put all these pieces togeth­er, there’s no “dubi­ous gov­ern­ment account­ing” involved here–the dubi­ous account­ing is all Ryan’s. The trust fund is indeed a real sav­ings account, involv­ing deposits and inter­est. Yes, the gov­ern­ment bor­rowed the mon­ey, and it has paid inter­est on it every year (duly record­ed and pub­lished, down to the last dol­lar, in the annu­al reports of the Social Secu­ri­ty trustees).

    And yes, “the abil­i­ty to redeem these secu­ri­ties is com­plete­ly depen­dent on the Treasury’s abil­i­ty to raise mon­ey through tax­es or bor­row­ing.” What Ryan does­n’t say is that the Trea­sury’s abil­i­ty to raise tax­es and bor­row­ing is effec­tive­ly unlim­it­ed.

    ...

    Remem­ber folks, if non-US gov­ern­ment enti­ties buy US bonds, it’s one of the safest invest­ments in the world. But if those bonds are held in, say, a gov­ern­ment trust fund for the elder­ly and poor, the bonds are sud­den­ly flim­flam mon­ey that we should assume isn’t real­ly there. Yes, accord­ing to Paul Ryan, the US’s full faith and cred­it has a Black Hole Heart Loop­hole. Where the mon­ey goes no one knows...

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | April 1, 2014, 1:11 pm
  33. This is pre­cious: How does Paul Ryan’s new GOP bud­get save $5 tril­lion by 2024? Well, in part, by cut­ting the Oba­macare ben­e­fits but keep­ing the extra tax­es:

    Nation­al Jour­nal
    Ryan’s Bud­get Spells Out a GOP Man­i­festo
    The plan might be going nowhere, but it pro­vides plen­ty of fod­der for cam­paigns in 2014 and beyond.

    By Bil­ly House

    April 1, 2014

    Rep. Paul Ryan’s Repub­li­can bud­get pro­vides plen­ty of lines of par­ti­san engage­ment this elec­tion year, includ­ing its call for a “full” repeal of the Afford­able Care Act, its embrace of a form of “dynam­ic” fis­cal scor­ing, and its revival of the bat­tle over turn­ing the Medicare sys­tem into a vouch­er-like pro­gram.

    This aus­tere plan is to be for­mal­ly adopt­ed by Ryan’s Bud­get Com­mit­tee on Wednes­day. But to achieve its envi­sioned cut of about $5.1 tril­lion in spend­ing and a bal­anced bud­get by 2024, the doc­u­ment includes what appear to be a num­ber of mere­ly philo­soph­i­cal, aspi­ra­tional, and even fan­tas­ti­cal under­pin­nings.

    The real­i­ty is that no one expects this bud­get doc­u­ment that push­es high­er defense spending—and cuts and changes to Medicare, Med­ic­aid, food stamps, and oth­er social safe­ty-net programs—really has any chance of becom­ing law. The Sen­ate won’t take it up; Democ­rats who con­trol the cham­ber aren’t even doing a bud­get of their own.

    Even Ryan admits that the pro­pos­al has no prac­ti­cal impact right now, as appro­pri­a­tors from both par­ties aren’t focus­ing beyond fis­cal 2015. And spend­ing lev­els for the next fis­cal year start­ing in Octo­ber have already been set under the two-year deal the Wis­con­sin Repub­li­can worked out in Decem­ber with Demo­c­ra­t­ic Sen. Pat­ty Mur­ray, chair of the Sen­ate Bud­get Com­mit­tee.

    But all of that is not nec­es­sar­i­ly the point.

    Rather, this longer-term spend­ing pro­pos­al is more an exer­cise by Repub­li­cans to pro­vide vot­ers a road map, of sorts, of what they would do if they were total­ly in charge. Or, as Ryan said on Tues­day: “We also think it’s impor­tant to show our vision as a par­ty for the future.”

    Per­haps the bud­get that Ryan’s com­mit­tee will mark up is real­ly an accu­rate depic­tion of that GOP vision. Who knows?

    ...

    Some 40 per­cent of the $5.1 tril­lion in sav­ings envi­sioned in Ryan’s “big­ger pic­ture” of the next 10 years is depict­ed as com­ing through a full repeal of the Afford­able Care Act. In all, his plan would spend about $42.6 tril­lion over 10 years, com­pared with about $47.8 tril­lion under exist­ing poli­cies.

    At the same time, Ryan’s bud­get does not say pre­cise­ly what he would replace Oba­macare with, only offer­ing the expec­ta­tion that it will be replaced. And Democ­rats, like Bud­get Com­mit­tee rank­ing mem­ber Chris Van Hollen of Mary­land, com­plain that Ryan’s pro­pos­al, even while scrap­ping the health care law, keeps all of its more than $700 bil­lion in Medicare sav­ings, as well as $1 tril­lion in rev­enues from Oba­macare.

    Ryan and the sec­ond-rank­ing Repub­li­can on the Bud­get Com­mit­tee, Tom Price of Geor­gia, say that what they are real­ly doing is stop­ping a “raid” on Medicare fund­ing under the Afford­able Care Act, and keep­ing the mon­ey inside the pro­gram. And com­pre­hen­sive tax reform, they say, would replace some of the relat­ed tax­es.

    But on that point—a tax-code overhaul—Ryan’s bud­get does not lay out a detailed plan or even embrace a recent one pro­posed by Ways and Means Chair­man Dave Camp of Michi­gan. Rather, it sim­ply calls for reduc­ing tax­es on the wealthy—individuals would have just two rates, 25 and 10 percent—and cut­ting the cor­po­rate tax rate to 25 per­cent.

    Ryan’s plan would abide by the split agreed upon with Mur­ray in spend­ing lev­els between defense and non­de­fense pro­grams for fis­cal 2014 and 2015. But his longer-range mil­i­tary spend­ing would blow past that deal. Mil­i­tary spend­ing through 2024 would actu­al­ly be increased by $483 bil­lion over a cap estab­lished in 2011, and to pre-sequester levels—$274 bil­lion more than request­ed by the pres­i­dent. Mean­while, non­de­fense spend­ing would be cut by $791 bil­lion.

    To reach bal­ance in 10 years, Ryan’s plan embraces a con­tro­ver­sial “dynam­ic scor­ing” notion that there would be some pos­i­tive impact on the nation’s eco­nom­ic growth sim­ply by reduc­ing the deficit and cut­ting spending—although some econ­o­mists dis­agree with this and even sug­gest that it could slow the econ­o­my. Ryan had not includ­ed such a cal­cu­la­tion in his pre­vi­ous bud­get pro­pos­als.

    Ryan pro­pos­es turn­ing more con­trol of Med­ic­aid and food stamps over to states—an annu­al pro­pos­al that some say would save mon­ey but has been a pop­u­lar elec­tion-year tar­get for Democ­rats.

    The plan also retains Ryan’s idea for each Medicare recip­i­ent to choose from a list of cov­er­age options and pay­ments that would “best suit his or her needs,” and then pay­ments would be made direct­ly to that plan. Longer term, the pro­pos­al dis­cuss­es giv­ing seniors who first become eli­gi­ble when turn­ing 65 on or after Jan. 1, 2024, a choice of select­ing pri­vate plans along­side the tra­di­tion­al fee-for-ser­vice Medicare pro­gram.

    Ryan insists that this is not a “vouch­er sys­tem,” a phrase that some Democ­rats see as poten­tial attack ammu­ni­tion on the cam­paign trail. Van Hollen told reporters: “The vouch­er plan is back!”

    Well, at least now we know how to get the GOP to agree to a tax-hike: you have to pre­tend the mon­ey is going to those in need. Pre­tend. That’s what makes it worth it to them. The addi­tion­al tax cuts for the rich and ‘dynam­ic scor­ing’ scheme too pre­sum­ably sweet­en the deal too but that health­care switcheroo, all the build up of hope only to have it snatched away...wow, that has to be price­less.

    So is a Three Card Monte strat­e­gy one the US can use in the future? Promis­ing tax hikes to help out some group in need only to hank away the ben­e­fits while keep­ing the tax­es? Maybe, but that assumes even pre­tend­ing to help those in need is still some­thing the US does in the future.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | April 2, 2014, 9:11 am
  34. Posted by Pterrafractyl | April 29, 2014, 7:29 pm
  35. What does a Sub­aru have in com­mon with Paul Ryan’s plans to address pover­ty? It’s the same thing that can make a brown paper bag so much more than just a brown paper bag. And it’s the same thing Paul Ryan can’t stop talk­ing about when­ev­er the top­ic of pover­ty comes up (to the exclu­sion of any mean­ing­ful pol­i­cy solu­tions): Love:

    TPM News
    Bush, Ryan Focus On Pover­ty While Court­ing Donors

    STEVE PEOPLES – May 13, 2014, 7:09 AM EDT

    NEW YORK (AP) — For­mer Flori­da Gov. Jeb Bush and Wis­con­sin Rep. Paul Ryan court­ed some of Wall Street’s most pow­er­ful polit­i­cal bene­fac­tors on Mon­day, insist­ing that love, friend­ship and “tra­di­tion­al mar­riage” can com­bat pover­ty bet­ter than gov­ern­ment pro­grams.

    The prospec­tive Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial con­tenders were fea­tured guests at an award cer­e­mo­ny host­ed by the Man­hat­tan Insti­tute, a right-lean­ing think tank led by high-pro­file Repub­li­can donor Paul Singer. Like oth­ers gath­ered in the mid­town Man­hat­tan ball­room Mon­day night, Singer already has begun siz­ing up the evolv­ing 2016 field after help­ing to pump mil­lions of dol­lars into the last pres­i­den­tial race.

    Bush and Ryan offered a decid­ed­ly soft­er tone on the nation’s prob­lems than some of their more con­ser­v­a­tive Repub­li­can col­leagues.

    Hav­ing toured the coun­try in recent months focus­ing on the nation’s poor, Ryan declared that “the best way to turn from a vicious cycle of despair and learned hope­less­ness to a vir­tu­ous cycle of hope and flour­ish­ing is by embrac­ing the attrib­ut­es of friend­ship, account­abil­i­ty and love.”

    “That’s how you fight pover­ty,” Ryan, the House Bud­get Com­mit­tee chair­man and 2012 vice pres­i­den­tial nom­i­nee, told a crowd of rough­ly 750 dressed in tuxe­dos and gowns.

    Bush, the son of one pres­i­dent and broth­er of anoth­er, called for more wel­com­ing immi­gra­tion poli­cies, while offer­ing his own pover­ty pre­scrip­tion: “A lov­ing fam­i­ly tak­ing care of their chil­dren in a tra­di­tion­al mar­riage will cre­ate the chance to break out of pover­ty far bet­ter, far bet­ter than any of the gov­ern­ment pro­grams that we can cre­ate.”

    They were large­ly cheered by the donors who main­ly rep­re­sent the prag­mat­ic wing of the Repub­li­can Par­ty, a group that includes many Wall Street exec­u­tives frus­trat­ed by Wash­ing­ton grid­lock dri­ven, in part, by the GOP’s more ide­o­log­i­cal mem­bers.

    ...

    Well, ok, the Paper Bag of Love com­par­i­son was­n’t real­ly fair to Sub­aru.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | May 13, 2014, 2:45 pm
  36. Here’s a lit­tle peak into the mind of Ari­zon­a’s state school super­in­ten­dent:

    TPM Livewire
    Ari­zona GOP­er Went Birther, Com­pared Poor To ‘Lazy Pigs’ In Anony­mous Blog Com­ments

    Tom Kludt – June 19, 2014, 10:31 AM EDT

    A Repub­li­can offi­cial in Ari­zona on Wednes­day con­firmed some­thing that’s long been sus­pect­ed.

    State schools super­in­ten­dent John Hup­penthal has been a pro­lif­ic and often incen­di­ary anony­mous com­menter on local polit­i­cal blogs.

    Under var­i­ous pseu­do­nyms, includ­ing Falcon9, Thucky and Thucy­dides, Hup­penthal has authored hun­dreds of com­ments at the pro­gres­sive Blog for Ari­zona since at least 2011.

    He engaged in self-pro­mo­tion, writ­ing in Feb­ru­ary that he’s “sure” Hup­penthal, who’s up for re-elec­tion this year, “will be our next super­in­ten­dent.”

    He once decried Barack Oba­ma for “reward­ing the lazy pigs with food stamps (44 mil­lion peo­ple), air-con­di­tion­ing, free health care, flat-screen TV’s (typ­i­cal of ‘poor’ fam­i­lies).” and even went birther, claim­ing that the pres­i­dent wrote in his mem­oir that “he was born in Kenya!!!”

    In one com­ment, he com­pared Mar­garet Sanger to Adolf Hitler, writ­ing that the Planned Par­ent­hood founder “fed 16 mil­lion African-Amer­i­cans into the abor­tion mills. He also argued that Franklin D. Roo­sevelt’s “dis­as­trous eco­nom­ic poli­cies drug down the whole world and direct­ly led to the rise of a no-name hack named Adolph Hitler who was going nowhere until Ger­many’s econ­o­my went into the tank.”

    Attor­ney Bob Lord, who writes at the Blog for Ari­zona, has long believed that Hup­penthal was behind the com­ments. He told TPM last week, before the super­in­ten­den­t’s admis­sion, that he’d traced the IP address linked to one of the com­ments to a com­put­er inside the Depart­ment of Edu­ca­tion Build­ing.

    Lord also said Hup­penthal fre­quent­ed sev­er­al local polit­i­cal sites and had earned a rep­u­ta­tion in the com­ment­ing com­mu­ni­ties.

    “He’s post­ing, as far as I can tell, on every con­ser­v­a­tive or lib­er­al blog out there in Ari­zona,” Lord said. “If you go to the con­ser­v­a­tive sites, they’ll say like, ‘Oh, it’s just Hup­penthal doing this again.’ It’s sort of com­mon knowl­edge with them.”

    Lord said Hup­penthal once “absent-mind­ed­ly signed his name” to a com­ment on anoth­er blog.

    ...

    On Wednes­day, Hup­penthal owned up to the com­ments in a state­ment to the Ari­zona Repub­lic. Although he said he has “occa­sion­al­ly dipped into the morass of inci­vil­i­ty,” Hup­penthal, who’s held his statewide post since 2011 and served in the Ari­zona leg­is­la­ture before that, most­ly defend­ed his com­ments.

    “I believe in rig­or­ous pub­lic dis­course, in fur­ther­ing ideas and reform­ing ide­olo­gies that don’t always work,” Hup­penthal said in the state­ment.

    “Anonymi­ty has its val­ue as our found­ing fathers believed when they devel­oped the Fed­er­al­ist Papers,” he added. “It is not a new con­cept, our his­to­ry reflects that.”

    He said that some of his anony­mous com­ments have been tak­en “com­plete­ly out of con­text, or per­haps mis­un­der­stood.”

    “Specif­i­cal­ly, my ref­er­ence to a phrase in a nurs­ery fable, the Lit­tle Red Hen, in which a fat lazy pig refus­es to help the lit­tle red hen sow her seeds was inac­cu­rate­ly pre­sent­ed to char­ac­ter­ize my views regard­ing those on wel­fare,” he said in the state­ment. “I have nev­er been insen­si­tive to issues around pover­ty and have fought for pub­lic pol­i­cy that pro­vides oppor­tu­ni­ties for jobs for all our cit­i­zens who want to work and sup­port for those who are vul­ner­a­ble.
    ...

    “I have nev­er been insen­si­tive to issues around pover­ty and have fought for pub­lic pol­i­cy that pro­vides oppor­tu­ni­ties for jobs for all our cit­i­zens who want to work and sup­port for those who are vul­ner­a­ble.” Wow, that sure sounds like Mr. Hup­penthal sup­ports some­thing like FDR’s poli­cies that make the gov­ern­ment the employ­er of last resort. But, as we also saw, Mr. Hup­penthal is rather crit­i­cal of FDR’s “dis­as­trous eco­nom­ic poli­cies” that “drug down the whole world and direct­ly led to the rise of a no-name hack named Adolph Hitler who was going nowhere until Ger­many’s econ­o­my went into the tank.” Hmmm, that’s a lit­tle con­fus­ing. Maybe he’s just try­ing to have some fun.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | June 19, 2014, 2:19 pm
  37. Paul Ryan is still out there push­ing his new “life coach­es for the poor (instead of actu­al help)” anti-pover­ty plan and, shock­er, his anti-pover­ty plans include a lot of anti-pover­ty lies:

    The Huff­in­g­ton Post

    Paul Ryan Recy­cles Weak Talk­ing Point On Wel­fare Reform

    Arthur Delaney

    Post­ed: 08/20/2014 12:42 pm EDT

    WASHINGTON — Rep. Paul Ryan (R‑Wis.) on Wednes­day praised wel­fare reform for reduc­ing child pover­ty, even though child pover­ty is high­er today than it was before wel­fare reform.

    Speak­ing to for­mer GOP con­gress­man and cur­rent MSNBC host Joe Scar­bor­ough, Ryan said, “You vot­ed for a bipar­ti­san bill in 1996, wel­fare reform, that did more to reduce child pover­ty than any reform in the mod­ern era.”

    The child pover­ty rate in 1996 was 20.5 per­cent, accord­ing to the gov­ern­men­t’s num­bers. The rate declined each year after Con­gress passed the Per­son­al Respon­si­bil­i­ty and Work Oppor­tu­ni­ty Act until 2000, when it fell to 16.2 per­cent. But then some­thing sad hap­pened: The rate start­ed going back up. It reached 21.8 per­cent in 2012, the most recent year for which data is avail­able.

    “You can­not base your assess­ment on the first four years and stop,” LaDon­na Pavet­ti, a wel­fare expert at the Cen­ter on Bud­get and Pol­i­cy Pri­or­i­ties, said in an inter­view.

    But it seems Ryan can. The House Bud­get Com­mit­tee boss has used the talk­ing point many times over the years, includ­ing in a Jan­u­ary speech at the Brook­ings Insti­tu­tion and in a bud­get blue­print for fis­cal year 2013.

    Ryan’s recent bud­get doc­u­ments have pre­sent­ed more nuanced argu­ments for the suc­cess of wel­fare reform, which insti­tut­ed time lim­its and work require­ments for poor par­ents receiv­ing ben­e­fits, espe­cial­ly sin­gle moms. One sec­tion of Ryan’s lat­est pro­pos­al for a broad over­haul of fed­er­al pro­grams focused on pover­ty in house­holds most affect­ed by wel­fare reform.

    “Com­bined with a strong econ­o­my, work-first pro­grams reduced child pover­ty in female-head­ed house­holds to the low­est lev­els on record,” Ryan’s July dis­cus­sion draft said.

    And his office cit­ed a 2011 Con­gres­sion­al Research Ser­vice report not­ing that child pover­ty in female-head­ed house­holds fell from 55.4 per­cent in 1991 to 39.3 per­cent in 2001. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, the rate rose to 47.6 per­cent in 2011, though the CRS report said “progress appears to have been large­ly sus­tained in both reduc­ing wel­fare depen­den­cy and pover­ty among chil­dren in female-head­ed fam­i­lies, in spite of the recent reces­sion.”

    ...

    Ryan, who went on MSNBC Wednes­day to pro­mote both his new book and his new anti-pover­ty pro­pos­als, said the lessons of wel­fare reform should be applied to oth­er pro­grams, espe­cial­ly food stamps. He has sug­gest­ed poor peo­ple seek­ing gov­ern­ment assis­tance should get a “life plan” instead of just cash.

    “Let’s take the oth­er wel­fare pro­grams that have not been reformed and cus­tomize them to a person’s indi­vid­ual, spe­cif­ic needs so that we can work on fight­ing pover­ty soul to soul, eye to eye, and back up the com­mu­ni­ty,” Ryan said.

    Well, at least if the plan “life coach­es” ends up being a giant scam the recip­i­ents of will have all learned an impor­tant les­son in suc­cess: lying and scam­ming works, just ask the guy that came up with the ‘life coach’ plan you’re all expe­ri­enc­ing! He almost became vice pres­i­dent!

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | August 21, 2014, 12:19 pm
  38. Old zom­bies can learn new tricks:

    Wash­ing­ton Post
    GOP has learned not to shut down the gov­ern­ment

    By Jen­nifer Rubin August 29 at 2:25 PM

    As we pre­dict­ed, GOP lead­er­ship in the House and Sen­ate are squelch­ing any talk of a gov­ern­ment shut­down. The Hill reports:

    Sen­ate Minor­i­ty Leader Mitch McConnell (R‑Ky.), who’s fac­ing a tough reelec­tion chal­lenge this fall, said turn­ing the lights out in Wash­ing­ton is a “failed pol­i­cy.”

    “Remem­ber me? I am the guy that gets us out of shut­downs,” he quipped to CNN.

    And Speak­er John Boehn­er and his lead­er­ship team are rul­ing out a repeat of Octo­ber, when Texas Sen. Ted Cruz led a con­ser­v­a­tive rebel­lion and forced the gov­ern­ment to close for two weeks in a bid to defund Oba­maCare.

    It is now con­ven­tion­al wis­dom for all but a tiny sliv­er of the GOP that the shut­down was a dis­as­ter,. And even now while cranks such as Rep. Steve King (R‑Iowa) are sug­gest­ing the par­ty jump off the cliff again, you don’t see the rab­ble rousers like Jim DeMint or Her­itage Action push­ing the idea. The only one of the shut­down lead­ers who was hint­ing he’d do it over immi­gra­tion is Sen. Mar­co Rubio (R‑Fla.), who seems to be rein­forc­ing his rep­u­ta­tion for flight­i­ness and lack of grav­i­tas.

    Plain­ly before the recent ker­fuf­fle, Rep. Paul Ryan (R‑Wis.) wrote for his new book that the shut­down was a griev­ous error. (“No core prin­ci­ples were advanced. And the rep­u­ta­tion of the GOP dropped to new lows.”) He writes terse­ly, “It was a sui­cide mis­sion.”

    Since so many Repub­li­cans have reached the same con­clu­sion and will oppose a repeat, how did the feed­ing fren­zy over a poten­tial shut­down begin? The exact same way the impeach­ment talk ramped up: A very few cranks pop off and the media run with it, delight­ed to por­tray the GOP as irre­spon­si­ble and delu­sion­al. Rather than act­ing as the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Nation­al Committee’s tran­scrip­tion ser­vice to fan rumors designed to skew­er the GOP, the main­stream media might report accu­rate­ly: While one or two peo­ple are try­ing to whip up enthu­si­asm for the shut­down, the vast major­i­ty of Repub­li­cans have learned their les­son and want no part of it. That would be true, but not a very juicy sto­ry.

    ...

    Ah, ok, accord­ing to Jen­nifer Rubin it’s just one or two peo­ple in the GOP “try­ing to whip up enthu­si­asm for the shut­down”. So noth­ing to wor­ry about. It’s prob­a­bly just a cou­ple of back benchers:

    Think Progress
    McConnell Promis­es Bil­lion­aire Donors He Won’t Waste Time On ‘Gosh Darn’ Min­i­mum Wage Increas­es

    by Josh Israel Post­ed on August 27, 2014 at 9:52 am

    At a Koch Broth­ers-host­ed secret strat­e­gy con­fer­ence of right-wing mil­lion­aire and bil­lion­aire polit­i­cal activists in June, Sen­ate Minor­i­ty Leader Mitch McConnell (R‑KY) promised that if his par­ty wins con­trol of the Unit­ed States Sen­ate this Novem­ber, the Sen­ate will not waste time on things like increas­ing the min­i­mum wage for peo­ple mak­ing only about $15,000 annu­al­ly. Instead, audio of his remarks obtained by The Nation reveals, his Sen­ate will focus on repeal­ing Wall Street reforms, envi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tions, and afford­able health­care.

    McConnell spoke at an annu­al event host­ed by oil bil­lion­aires Charles and David Koch at the St. Reg­is Monarch Bay resort in Dana Point, CA. The con­fer­ence, titled “Amer­i­can Courage: Our Com­mit­ment to a Free Soci­ety,” report­ed­ly attract­ed hun­dreds of the nation’s wealth­i­est indi­vid­u­als and aimed to raise $500 mil­lion toward mak­ing McConnell the Sen­ate major­i­ty leader next year and anoth­er $500 mil­lion to defeat a poten­tial Hillary Clin­ton pres­i­den­tial cam­paign.

    McConnell, who has been attacked by his oppo­nent for vot­ing 17 times against min­i­mum wage increas­es, made it clear that under his lead­er­ship there would not be any increase in the cur­rent $7.25 fed­er­al min­i­mum wage. “And we’re not going to be debat­ing all these gosh darn pro­pos­als. That’s all we do in the Sen­ate is vote on things like rais­ing the min­i­mum wage,” he told the bil­lion­aires in atten­dance.

    In the same speech, McConnell lament­ed the sign­ing of the Bipar­ti­san Cam­paign Reform Act of 2002 (“McCain-Fein­gold”) as “the worst day of my polit­i­cal life,” and praised the Supreme Court’s 5 to 4 Cit­i­zens Unit­ed rul­ing for “[lev­el­ing] the play­ing field for cor­po­rate speech” and cre­at­ing “the most free and open sys­tem we’ve had in mod­ern times.” Thanks large­ly to that rul­ing, out­side groups have already spent more than $8.5 mil­lion in sup­port of McConnell’s own re-elec­tion and against his Demo­c­ra­t­ic oppo­nent.

    ...

    As he did last week, McConnell told the wealthy activists that a Repub­li­can major­i­ty would insert lan­guage into gov­ern­ment spend­ing bills that would require Pres­i­dent Oba­ma to repeal his administration’s prin­ci­pal accom­plish­ments or risk anoth­er gov­ern­ment shut­down.

    McCONNELL: So in the House and Sen­ate, we own the bud­get. So what does that mean? That means that we can pass the spend­ing bill. And I assure you that in the spend­ing bill, we will be push­ing back against this bureau­cra­cy by doing what’s called ‘plac­ing rid­ers in the bill.’ No mon­ey can be spent to do this or to do that. We’re going to go after them on health­care, on finan­cial ser­vices, on the Envi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency, across the board.

    This com­ment seems to con­tra­dict his own pledge last Octo­ber that “there will not be anoth­er gov­ern­ment shut­down. You can count on that.”

    ...

    Well, here we go again. Again.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | August 29, 2014, 6:13 pm
  39. Here’s a bit of good news: It turns out only four states are car­ry­ing through with the big food stamp cuts leg­is­lat­ed into the 2014 farm bill. How? Well, before, the fed­er­al law allowed for states to give more assis­tance to fam­i­lies that also receive fed­er­al heat­ing assis­tance, so some states would give indi­vid­u­als as lit­tle as $1 in heat­ing assis­tance in order to qual­i­fy them for the high­er food stamp ben­e­fits. So the GOP’s new food stamp bill upped that cut­off to $20 in heat­ing assis­tance in order to qual­i­fy for the addi­tion­al food stamps, in the hopes that this would force states to cut back on food stamps by mak­ing the heat­ing assis­tance too expen­sive. But now 12 out of the 16 states that have this loop­hole are find­ing the addi­tion­al mon­ey to pay peo­ple the high­er min­i­mum heat­ing assis­tance any­ways result­ing in food stamp cuts in only Wis­con­sin, New Jer­sey, Michi­gan, and New Hamp­shire. As aus­te­ri­ans every­where must be ask­ing them­selves, where’s a Troi­ka when you need one:

    Food stamps cuts will only hit four states, review finds

    BY Mary Clare Jalonick, Asso­ci­at­ed Press Sep­tem­ber 17, 2014 at 9:52 AM EDT

    WASHINGTON — Cuts to the nation’s food stamp pro­gram enact­ed this year are only affect­ing four states, far from the sweep­ing over­haul that Repub­li­cans had pushed, an Asso­ci­at­ed Press review has found.

    As a result, it’s unclear whether the law will real­ize the esti­mat­ed $8.6 bil­lion in sav­ings over 10 years that the GOP had adver­tised.

    A farm bill signed by Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma in Feb­ru­ary attempt­ed to save mon­ey by scal­ing back what law­mak­ers called a loop­hole in the food stamp pro­gram that enti­tles low-income fam­i­lies to more food aid if they par­tic­i­pate in a fed­er­al heat­ing assis­tance pro­gram. States were giv­ing some peo­ple as lit­tle as $1 a year in heat­ing assis­tance so they could get more food aid. It’s called “heat and eat.”

    Among the 16 states that allow the prac­tice or some form of it, 12 gov­er­nors have tak­en steps to avoid the food stamp cuts.

    “Government’s role is to help peo­ple help them­selves, and these steps are nec­es­sary to help our most vul­ner­a­ble res­i­dents and fam­i­lies meet their most basic needs,” Mass­a­chu­setts Gov. Deval Patrick said when he announced his state’s move ear­li­er this year.

    The farm bill was held up for more than two years as con­ser­v­a­tives insist­ed on cut­ting the nation’s food stamp pro­gram, which now serves 1 in 7 Amer­i­cans at a cost of around $80 bil­lion a year. The rough­ly 1 per­cent cut was a com­pro­mise between Repub­li­cans who had hoped for far larg­er cuts and Democ­rats who didn’t want to see any cuts at all.

    The states’ workaround — most­ly by Demo­c­ra­t­ic gov­er­nors — has infu­ri­at­ed Repub­li­cans who pushed the cuts. In March, House Speak­er John Boehn­er, R‑Ohio, called the states’ moves “fraud.” House Agri­cul­ture Chair­man Frank Lucas, R‑Okla., and House Ener­gy and Com­merce Chair­man Fred Upton, R‑Mich., have asked the Oba­ma admin­is­tra­tion to “hold states account­able” for dodg­ing the cuts.

    The gov­er­nors say they are fol­low­ing the law while pre­serv­ing cru­cial ben­e­fits for their need­i­est cit­i­zens.

    The new law says that peo­ple can’t get the high­er food ben­e­fits unless they receive more than $20 a year in heat­ing assis­tance, which law­mak­ers hoped would be too expen­sive for states to pay. But the gov­er­nors in 12 states and the may­or of the Dis­trict of Colum­bia have said they will find a way. Most will use fed­er­al heat­ing assis­tance dol­lars. At least one state, Cal­i­for­nia, will use its own mon­ey.

    As of now, the cuts will only affect Michi­gan, Wis­con­sin, New Jer­sey and New Hamp­shire. All but New Hamp­shire have Repub­li­can gov­er­nors.

    There are about 1.8 mil­lion house­holds that receive food stamps in those four states, out of almost 23 mil­lion house­holds nation­wide.

    It’s unclear how many peo­ple will be affect­ed. Offi­cials in Wis­con­sin, New Jer­sey and New Hamp­shire said they don’t track that num­ber. Michi­gan offi­cials say around 20 per­cent of the state’s recip­i­ents, or around 170,000 house­holds, par­tic­i­pat­ed in the “heat and eat” pro­gram and will see cuts.

    ...

    LIHEAP is the Low Income Home Ener­gy Assis­tance Pro­gram, and it is paid to states as fed­er­al grants each year. New Hamp­shire did not give recip­i­ents $1 pay­ments but did allow a LIHEAP appli­ca­tion to qual­i­fy them for high­er food ben­e­fits. The farm bill’s change in pol­i­cy will dis­con­tin­ue that prac­tice.

    The states that are using that fed­er­al heat­ing assis­tance mon­ey to avoid the food stamp cuts say they believe they can do it with­out sig­nif­i­cant­ly reduc­ing heat­ing aid to oth­ers who need it, even with­out more mon­ey from the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment. Peter Mer­rill, the deputy direc­tor of Maine­Hous­ing, says he esti­mates that main­tain­ing the food stamp ben­e­fits will only reduce fed­er­al heat­ing assis­tance pay­ments to Maine res­i­dents by about $4 a year on aver­age.

    In Wash­ing­ton state, res­i­dents will see food stamp ben­e­fits reduced briefly, in Novem­ber and Decem­ber, due to a back­log in get­ting their com­put­er sys­tems run­ning. A spokes­woman for the gov­er­nor said the state will rein­state the high­er heat­ing assis­tance pay­ments in Jan­u­ary, once the back­log clears, and 200,000 house­holds will see their ben­e­fits go back up.

    On Capi­tol Hill, Repub­li­cans say the states’ deci­sions don’t mean the farm bill cuts are oblit­er­at­ed. A GOP memo from the House Agri­cul­ture Com­mit­tee staff notes that some states may reverse their deci­sions to avoid the cuts, espe­cial­ly as cur­rent recip­i­ents move off the rolls. And the Con­gres­sion­al Bud­get Office, which fig­ures out how much bills cost, account­ed for some states bow­ing out when com­ing up with its $8.6 bil­lion esti­mate over 10 years. But the CBO hasn’t said whether it account­ed for high-pop­u­la­tion states like Cal­i­for­nia, New York and Penn­syl­va­nia main­tain­ing the high­er food stamp ben­e­fits.

    Oth­er states that have dodged the cuts are Con­necti­cut, Delaware, Mon­tana, Ore­gon, Rhode Island and Ver­mont.

    Pat Bak­er of the Mass­a­chu­setts Law Reform Insti­tute, an advo­ca­cy group that focus­es on pover­ty issues, says the “heat and eat” recip­i­ents are often elder­ly or dis­abled, some­times liv­ing in apart­ments where util­i­ties are includ­ed but the rent is high­er. “This would be a sig­nif­i­cant loss in nutri­tion ben­e­fits to the low­est-income and need­i­est res­i­dents,” she says.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | September 17, 2014, 1:23 pm
  40. Well, that’s one way for the GOP to live down its “47%” taint of 2012: wait for work­ing poor to for­get it Just up the ante:

    Think Progress
    John Boehn­er Says Unem­ployed Peo­ple ‘Just Sit Around,’ Don’t Think They Have To Work

    by Igor Vol­sky Post­ed on Sep­tem­ber 19, 2014 at 9:07 am

    House Speak­er John Boehn­er (R‑OH) seemed to echo Mitt Romney’s infa­mous claim that 47 per­cent of Amer­i­cans are “tak­ers” who suck up gov­ern­ment ben­e­fits dur­ing a speech at a con­ser­v­a­tive Wash­ing­ton D.C. think tank on Thurs­day. Address­ing the Amer­i­can Enter­prise Insti­tute, Boehn­er sug­gest­ed that Pres­i­dent Barack Obama’s econ­o­my has lulled many unem­ployed peo­ple into a sense of depen­dence on gov­ern­ment.

    “This idea that has been born, maybe out of the econ­o­my over the last cou­ple years, that you know, I real­ly don’t have to work. I don’t real­ly want to do this. I think I’d rather just sit around. This is a very sick idea for our coun­try,” he said.

    “If you want­ed some­thing you worked for it,” Boehn­er said, adding, “Trust me, I did it all.”

    But the unem­ployed aren’t job­less because they’re lazy or receive gov­ern­ment ben­e­fits. Most face huge obsta­cles to find­ing good pay­ing jobs in a slow eco­nom­ic recov­ery.

    Cur­rent­ly, there are more than two job seek­ers for every job open­ing in the coun­try and the sever­i­ty of the reces­sion has cre­at­ed a long-term unem­ploy­ment prob­lem that has made many job seek­ers almost unem­ploy­able. Research shows that being unem­ployed for nine months has the same impact on your odds of get­ting hired as los­ing four full years of expe­ri­ence from a résumé. As a result, many peo­ple who lost their jobs have gone back to school, retired ear­ly, or con­tin­ue to look for work with­out suc­cess.

    In fact, mil­lions of unem­ployed peo­ple are hav­ing a hard­er time find­ing a job since Con­gres­sion­al Repub­li­cans allowed the long-term unem­ploy­ment ben­e­fits pro­gram to lapse. Research — and real world expe­ri­ence — has found that the program’s job search require­ments encour­age peo­ple to spend more time job hunt­ing and helps cov­er essen­tials like inter­net ser­vice for job appli­ca­tions or gas mon­ey for inter­views.

    Boehner’s remarks are sim­i­lar to com­ments made by Rep. Paul Ryan (R‑WI) in March. Dur­ing an appear­ance on a con­ser­v­a­tive radio show, Ryan claimed, “We have got this tail­spin of cul­ture, in our inner cities in par­tic­u­lar, of men not work­ing and just gen­er­a­tions of men not even think­ing about work­ing or learn­ing the val­ue and the cul­ture of work, and so there is a real cul­ture prob­lem here that has to be dealt with.”

    Come on, we all know why those lazy unem­ployed peo­ple ‘choose’ to stay unem­ployed. They just want all the awe­some lux­u­ries that come with unem­ploy­ment in Amer­i­ca. Like sleep:

    The Atlantic
    When You Can’t Afford Sleep
    Many low-income work­ers get just four or five hours of rest each day. Research shows their bod­ies might nev­er recov­er.
    Olga Khaz­an Sep 15 2014, 8:00 AM ET

    NEW YORK—If it’s a Tues­day, Wednes­day, Thurs­day, Fri­day, or Sat­ur­day, Sam McCal­man wakes up in his tiny one-bed­room apart­ment in Flat­bush well before the near­est Star­bucks opens for busi­ness. He catch­es the 5 a.m. bus to the John F. Kennedy Air­port in Queens. From 7 a.m. to 3 p.m., he works there as a wheel­chair atten­dant, gen­tly rolling dis­abled and elder­ly trav­el­ers from gate to gate. Between clients, he is not per­mit­ted to sit down.

    After a 30-minute break, he starts his sec­ond job wran­gling lug­gage carts for Smart Carte. At 10 p.m., his shift is over, and he takes the B15 or B35 back to Brook­lyn. He often falls asleep on the bus—so much so he fre­quent­ly miss­es his stop and has to walk the last few blocks back home. By the time he crawls into bed, it’s near­ly mid­night. Four and a half hours lat­er, it’s time to do it all over again.

    McCal­man immi­grat­ed from Guyana, a small coun­try that bor­ders Venezuela and Brazil, in 2010. His moth­er was already here, and he describes him­self as the kind of guy who always want­ed to come to Amer­i­ca. It pre­sent­ed “a bet­ter oppor­tu­ni­ty to do some­thing,” he said.

    He got the wheel­chair job a few months lat­er, and picked up the sec­ond in 2013 when he real­ized he need­ed some extra cash. A series of exes bore him four children—two of whom still live in Guyana—and he sends them a total of $400 each month. He also owes $900 a month for the packed, non-air­con­di­tioned apart­ment, which is decked out with reli­gious iconog­ra­phy and vinyl-cov­ered white fur­ni­ture.

    We met on a Mon­day, his only day off. By Tues­day after­noon, he can hard­ly wait for Wednes­day, when he only works one job. Between the two jobs, he brings home $500 a week.

    The tight sched­ule lends McCal­man a height­ened aware­ness of how seem­ing­ly minor changes—a missed stop here, a traf­fic jam there—shave pre­cious min­utes off his sleep. “If the bus­es are messed up, I’m not get­ting that four hours,” he said. “If I had my own trans­porta­tion, I might only need an hour to get to work.”

    By 2 p.m. each day, McCal­man finds him­self “lit­er­al­ly falling asleep. I’m with a chair, and I’m wait­ing at the check­point, and because I’m wait­ing, my eyes start clos­ing.”

    McCalman’s life reveals a par­tic­u­lar­ly sor­ry side of America’s sleep-deprived cul­ture. Though we often praise white-col­lar “super­women” who “nev­er sleep” and jug­gle leg­endary careers with busy fam­i­lies, it’s actu­al­ly peo­ple who have the least mon­ey who get the least sleep.

    Though Amer­i­cans across the eco­nom­ic spec­trum are sleep­ing less these days, peo­ple in the low­est income quin­tile, and peo­ple who nev­er fin­ished high school, are far more like­ly to get less than sev­en hours of shut-eye per night. About half of peo­ple in house­holds mak­ing less than 30,000 sleep six or few­er hours per night, while only a third of those mak­ing $75,000 or more do.

    “We all have sleep prob­lems,” McCal­man says, speak­ing of his fel­low air­port work­ers. “Every­one who is doing two jobs has a sleep prob­lem.”

    * * *

    For most of the 1800s, a 12 to 16-hour work­day was com­mon. “Coal heavers” in Philadel­phia protest­ed in 1835 for the right to work just 10 hours per day. The labor move­ment, along with pater­nal­is­tic indus­tri­al­ists like Hen­ry Ford, were essen­tial in nor­mal­iz­ing the idea that peo­ple should work only eight hours. The cho­rus of one of the most pop­u­lar labor songs from the 19th cen­tu­ry went like this:

    We want to feel the sun­shine and we want to smell the flow­ers

    We are sure that God has willed it and we mean to have eight hours;

    Eight hours for work, eight hours for rest,

    Eight hours for what we will.

    But many low-income work­ers don’t even get an hour for “what they will,” and the eight hours of rest are increas­ing­ly hard to come by, too. Work­ing min­i­mum wage for eight hours per day would earn a work­er $1,386 per month, less than half of the cur­rent medi­an aver­age rent in Brook­lyn.

    ...

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | September 20, 2014, 6:39 pm
  41. Well, that’s one way for the GOP to live down its “47%” taint of 2012: wait for work­ing poor to for­get about it Just up the ante:

    Think Progress
    John Boehn­er Says Unem­ployed Peo­ple ‘Just Sit Around,’ Don’t Think They Have To Work

    by Igor Vol­sky Post­ed on Sep­tem­ber 19, 2014 at 9:07 am

    House Speak­er John Boehn­er (R‑OH) seemed to echo Mitt Romney’s infa­mous claim that 47 per­cent of Amer­i­cans are “tak­ers” who suck up gov­ern­ment ben­e­fits dur­ing a speech at a con­ser­v­a­tive Wash­ing­ton D.C. think tank on Thurs­day. Address­ing the Amer­i­can Enter­prise Insti­tute, Boehn­er sug­gest­ed that Pres­i­dent Barack Obama’s econ­o­my has lulled many unem­ployed peo­ple into a sense of depen­dence on gov­ern­ment.

    “This idea that has been born, maybe out of the econ­o­my over the last cou­ple years, that you know, I real­ly don’t have to work. I don’t real­ly want to do this. I think I’d rather just sit around. This is a very sick idea for our coun­try,” he said.

    “If you want­ed some­thing you worked for it,” Boehn­er said, adding, “Trust me, I did it all.”

    But the unem­ployed aren’t job­less because they’re lazy or receive gov­ern­ment ben­e­fits. Most face huge obsta­cles to find­ing good pay­ing jobs in a slow eco­nom­ic recov­ery.

    Cur­rent­ly, there are more than two job seek­ers for every job open­ing in the coun­try and the sever­i­ty of the reces­sion has cre­at­ed a long-term unem­ploy­ment prob­lem that has made many job seek­ers almost unem­ploy­able. Research shows that being unem­ployed for nine months has the same impact on your odds of get­ting hired as los­ing four full years of expe­ri­ence from a résumé. As a result, many peo­ple who lost their jobs have gone back to school, retired ear­ly, or con­tin­ue to look for work with­out suc­cess.

    In fact, mil­lions of unem­ployed peo­ple are hav­ing a hard­er time find­ing a job since Con­gres­sion­al Repub­li­cans allowed the long-term unem­ploy­ment ben­e­fits pro­gram to lapse. Research — and real world expe­ri­ence — has found that the program’s job search require­ments encour­age peo­ple to spend more time job hunt­ing and helps cov­er essen­tials like inter­net ser­vice for job appli­ca­tions or gas mon­ey for inter­views.

    Boehner’s remarks are sim­i­lar to com­ments made by Rep. Paul Ryan (R‑WI) in March. Dur­ing an appear­ance on a con­ser­v­a­tive radio show, Ryan claimed, “We have got this tail­spin of cul­ture, in our inner cities in par­tic­u­lar, of men not work­ing and just gen­er­a­tions of men not even think­ing about work­ing or learn­ing the val­ue and the cul­ture of work, and so there is a real cul­ture prob­lem here that has to be dealt with.”

    Come on, we all know why those lazy unem­ployed peo­ple ‘choose’ to stay unem­ployed. They just want all the awe­some lux­u­ries that come with unem­ploy­ment in Amer­i­ca. Like sleep:

    The Atlantic
    When You Can’t Afford Sleep
    Many low-income work­ers get just four or five hours of rest each day. Research shows their bod­ies might nev­er recov­er.
    Olga Khaz­an Sep 15 2014, 8:00 AM ET

    NEW YORK—If it’s a Tues­day, Wednes­day, Thurs­day, Fri­day, or Sat­ur­day, Sam McCal­man wakes up in his tiny one-bed­room apart­ment in Flat­bush well before the near­est Star­bucks opens for busi­ness. He catch­es the 5 a.m. bus to the John F. Kennedy Air­port in Queens. From 7 a.m. to 3 p.m., he works there as a wheel­chair atten­dant, gen­tly rolling dis­abled and elder­ly trav­el­ers from gate to gate. Between clients, he is not per­mit­ted to sit down.

    After a 30-minute break, he starts his sec­ond job wran­gling lug­gage carts for Smart Carte. At 10 p.m., his shift is over, and he takes the B15 or B35 back to Brook­lyn. He often falls asleep on the bus—so much so he fre­quent­ly miss­es his stop and has to walk the last few blocks back home. By the time he crawls into bed, it’s near­ly mid­night. Four and a half hours lat­er, it’s time to do it all over again.

    McCal­man immi­grat­ed from Guyana, a small coun­try that bor­ders Venezuela and Brazil, in 2010. His moth­er was already here, and he describes him­self as the kind of guy who always want­ed to come to Amer­i­ca. It pre­sent­ed “a bet­ter oppor­tu­ni­ty to do some­thing,” he said.

    He got the wheel­chair job a few months lat­er, and picked up the sec­ond in 2013 when he real­ized he need­ed some extra cash. A series of exes bore him four children—two of whom still live in Guyana—and he sends them a total of $400 each month. He also owes $900 a month for the packed, non-air­con­di­tioned apart­ment, which is decked out with reli­gious iconog­ra­phy and vinyl-cov­ered white fur­ni­ture.

    We met on a Mon­day, his only day off. By Tues­day after­noon, he can hard­ly wait for Wednes­day, when he only works one job. Between the two jobs, he brings home $500 a week.

    The tight sched­ule lends McCal­man a height­ened aware­ness of how seem­ing­ly minor changes—a missed stop here, a traf­fic jam there—shave pre­cious min­utes off his sleep. “If the bus­es are messed up, I’m not get­ting that four hours,” he said. “If I had my own trans­porta­tion, I might only need an hour to get to work.”

    By 2 p.m. each day, McCal­man finds him­self “lit­er­al­ly falling asleep. I’m with a chair, and I’m wait­ing at the check­point, and because I’m wait­ing, my eyes start clos­ing.”

    McCalman’s life reveals a par­tic­u­lar­ly sor­ry side of America’s sleep-deprived cul­ture. Though we often praise white-col­lar “super­women” who “nev­er sleep” and jug­gle leg­endary careers with busy fam­i­lies, it’s actu­al­ly peo­ple who have the least mon­ey who get the least sleep.

    Though Amer­i­cans across the eco­nom­ic spec­trum are sleep­ing less these days, peo­ple in the low­est income quin­tile, and peo­ple who nev­er fin­ished high school, are far more like­ly to get less than sev­en hours of shut-eye per night. About half of peo­ple in house­holds mak­ing less than 30,000 sleep six or few­er hours per night, while only a third of those mak­ing $75,000 or more do.

    “We all have sleep prob­lems,” McCal­man says, speak­ing of his fel­low air­port work­ers. “Every­one who is doing two jobs has a sleep prob­lem.”

    * * *

    For most of the 1800s, a 12 to 16-hour work­day was com­mon. “Coal heavers” in Philadel­phia protest­ed in 1835 for the right to work just 10 hours per day. The labor move­ment, along with pater­nal­is­tic indus­tri­al­ists like Hen­ry Ford, were essen­tial in nor­mal­iz­ing the idea that peo­ple should work only eight hours. The cho­rus of one of the most pop­u­lar labor songs from the 19th cen­tu­ry went like this:

    We want to feel the sun­shine and we want to smell the flow­ers

    We are sure that God has willed it and we mean to have eight hours;

    Eight hours for work, eight hours for rest,

    Eight hours for what we will.

    But many low-income work­ers don’t even get an hour for “what they will,” and the eight hours of rest are increas­ing­ly hard to come by, too. Work­ing min­i­mum wage for eight hours per day would earn a work­er $1,386 per month, less than half of the cur­rent medi­an aver­age rent in Brook­lyn.

    ...

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | September 20, 2014, 6:40 pm
  42. While most zom­bie apoc­a­lypses involve an ever grow­ing horde of zom­bies con­sum­ing soci­ety it’s worth keep­ing in mind that when it’s a zom­bie ideas apoc­a­lypse, a sin­gle zom­bie is all you need:

    TPM Livewire
    Report: New Con­gress Dump­ing CBO Chief To Clear Way For Spe­cial GOP Bud­get Math

    By Daniel Strauss
    Pub­lished Decem­ber 22, 2014, 5:45 PM EST

    The incom­ing lead­ers of the new Repub­li­can-con­trolled Con­gress have opt­ed against reap­point­ing Doug Elmen­dorf as head of the Con­gres­sion­al Bud­get Office, Bloomberg News report­ed Mon­day cit­ing an “aide briefed on the deci­sion.” The move helps clear the way for so-called “dynam­ic scor­ing” — a Holy Grail of con­ser­v­a­tive GOP bud­get wonks who don’t like the way the costs of tax cuts are cur­rent­ly cal­cu­lat­ed.

    Elmen­dorf pre­vi­ous­ly served as an econ­o­mist with the Trea­sury Depart­ment and the Fed­er­al Reserve. He was appoint­ed to lead the CBO in 2009 after Peter Orszag, the pre­vi­ous direc­tor, was nom­i­nat­ed to run the White House Office of Man­age­ment and Bud­get. After that, in 2011, Elmen­dorf was con­firmed for a four-year term after Repub­li­cans took over the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives.

    ...

    Over the past few months Repub­li­cans have renewed their focus on chang­ing the way CBO scores bud­gets if they were to take con­trol of the Sen­ate and keep con­trol of the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives. Dynam­ic scor­ing cal­cu­lates bud­gets through a con­tro­ver­sial view that tax cuts both cre­ate eco­nom­ic growth and counter lost rev­enue. Cur­rent­ly the CBO does not use dynam­ic scor­ing.

    Both Rep. Paul Ryan (R‑WI), the incom­ing chair­man of the House Ways and Means Com­mit­tee, and incom­ing Sen­ate Major­i­ty Leader Mitch McConnell (R‑KY) have argued in favor of dynam­ic scor­ing.

    ...*braaai­i­i­innns*...*groan*...

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | December 22, 2014, 4:44 pm
  43. Trick­le-down eco­nom­ics: One of the many “con­tro­ver­sial” ecnom­ic dreams (of bil­lion­aires) that nev­er dies. Ever:

    Reuters

    Repub­li­cans To Push Con­tro­ver­sial Fis­cal Pol­i­cy In 2015
    Post­ed: 12/31/2014 4:39 pm EST Updat­ed: 5 hours ago

    By Kevin Draw­baugh

    WASHINGTON, Dec 31 (Reuters) — As Repub­li­cans assume con­trol of the entire U.S. Con­gress in the new year, they are expect­ed to push a con­tro­ver­sial change to use more macro­eco­nom­ic pro­jec­tions in deter­min­ing the impact of tax and bud­get leg­is­la­tion on the fed­er­al deficit.

    Crit­ics say wider use of “dynam­ic scor­ing,” as the Repub­li­can-favored approach is known, would intro­duce new uncer­tain­ties into fis­cal pol­i­cy and degrade the val­ue of present analy­sis now done by Capi­tol Hill staff experts.

    Repub­li­can advo­cates argue it would make fis­cal analy­sis bet­ter reflect what they call eco­nom­ic real­i­ties. Dynam­ic scor­ing, as they envi­sion it, would assumes that low­er tax rates boost growth, off­set­ting some lost rev­enue.

    The “scor­ing” of tax and bud­get bills mat­ters because it can influ­ence whether a bill becomes law. Law­mak­ers shy from mea­sures that would bal­loon the deficit. So any math that makes scores look less wor­ri­some has polit­i­cal appeal.

    House Repub­li­cans were sched­uled to meet on Mon­day to con­sid­er rules for the new Con­gress that con­venes in Jan­u­ary. One pro­posed rule, qui­et­ly unveiled two days before Christ­mas, is to require more dynam­ic scor­ing.

    The top Demo­c­rat on the tax-writ­ing House Ways and Means Com­mit­tee has been sharply crit­i­cal of this approach.

    “In the guise of dynam­ic scor­ing, Repub­li­cans are try­ing to rig the sys­tem in ways that can be very destruc­tive,” said Michi­gan Demo­c­rat Sander Levin in a recent state­ment.

    “The pro­posed change would under­mine fis­cal respon­si­bil­i­ty and fur­ther embrace Repub­li­can trick­le-down eco­nom­ics,” he said.

    At the moment, when a U.S. law­mak­er wants to raise or low­er a tax or change the bud­get, the pro­pos­al has to be “scored” by the non-par­ti­san staff experts of Con­gress’s Joint Com­mit­tee on Tax­a­tion (JCT) or the Con­gres­sion­al Bud­get Office (CBO).

    JCT and CBO scores esti­mate how much a pro­pos­al will raise or low­er pro­ject­ed gov­ern­ment rev­enues and spend­ing, a cru­cial fac­tor when con­sid­er­ing such mea­sures because of the large fed­er­al bud­get deficit.

    Scores cur­rent­ly are based on pro­ject­ed alter­ations in behav­ior due to changes in tax law and the bud­get, but not on changes in the broad econ­o­my. For instance, stan­dard JCT scores hold gross domes­tic prod­uct (GDP) con­stant. GDP mea­sures the econ­o­my’s total out­put.

    Dynam­ic scor­ing, as Repub­li­cans urge, would include more pro­ject­ed macro­eco­nom­ic impacts.

    ...

    Well, it could be worse. The GOP could still be push­ing for ‘expan­sion­ary aus­ter­i­ty’ too. Of course, once the ‘dynam­ic scoring’-driven tax cuts fail to increase rev­enues, ‘expan­sion­ary aus­ter­i­ty’ schemes are real­ly just a mat­ter of time...assum­ing they both­er wait­ing...

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | January 1, 2015, 3:52 pm
  44. Wis­con­sin Gov­er­nor, and cur­rent GOP heart­throb, Scott Walk­er just gave a major boost to his pres­i­den­tial ambi­tion: he worked a mir­a­cle. Specif­i­cal­ly, Scott Walk­er man­aged to make Texas Gov­er­nor Rick Per­ry sound like the adult in the room. Grant­ed, this room in ques­tion hap­pened to be the CPAC con­ven­tion hall, so it’s a pret­ty low bar. But still, this is Rick Per­ry we’re talk­ing about here. Sound­ing sane and some­what wise. It’s clear­ly a mir­a­cle:

    MSNBC
    Rick Per­ry calls Scott Walker’s ISIS-labor com­par­i­son ‘inap­pro­pri­ate’
    02/27/15 12:19 AM—Updated 02/27/15 08:37 AM

    By Kasie Hunt

    NATIONAL HARBOR, Mary­land – Wis­con­sin Gov. Scott Walker’s com­par­i­son of his fight with labor unions to the U.S. strug­gle against the Islam­ic State was “inap­pro­pri­ate” and a “mis­take,” like­ly Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial com­peti­tor and for­mer Texas Gov. Rick Per­ry said Thurs­day.

    These are Amer­i­cans,” Per­ry said in an inter­view after Walk­er made the com­ments at the Con­ser­v­a­tive Polit­i­cal Action Con­fer­ence ear­ly Thurs­day evening. “You are talk­ing about, in the case of ISIS, peo­ple who are behead­ing indi­vid­u­als and com­mit­ting heinous crimes, who are the face of evil. To try to make the rela­tion­ship between them and the unions is inap­pro­pri­ate.”

    In a ques­tion-and-answer ses­sion at CPAC, Walk­er was asked how he would fight the ter­ror group that’s been behead­ing West­ern­ers and seiz­ing ter­ri­to­ry across Iraq and Syr­ia. He con­clud­ed a lengthy answer by refer­ring to his own polit­i­cal fights with labor unions in his home state: “If I can take on 100,000 pro­test­ers, I can do the same across the world,” he said.

    When asked if he thought Walker’s com­ments went too far, Per­ry said, “yes.”

    Yes, Scott Walk­er’s bat­tle with evil unions makes him the per­fect leader for rid­ding the world of evil-doers like ISIS. But don’t assume Walk­er was being boast­ful here. He would­n’t do it him­self. He has an entire army at his com­mand! Meet Scott Walk­er’s Pen­ta­gon...it’s where he gets his march­ing orders:

    PRWatch
    Wis­con­sin Intro­duces Word-for-Word ALEC Right to Work Bill
    Post­ed by Bren­dan Fis­ch­er on Feb­ru­ary 20, 2015

    Wis­con­sin Repub­li­cans have called a spe­cial ses­sion to take up a “right to work” mea­sure attack­ing pri­vate sec­tor unions–and the text of the bill, the Cen­ter for Media and Democ­ra­cy has dis­cov­ered, is tak­en word-for-word from Amer­i­can Leg­isla­tive Exchange Coun­cil (ALEC) mod­el leg­is­la­tion.

    See the side-by-side of the Wis­con­sin leg­is­la­tion and the ALEC bill here.

    Sen­ate Major­i­ty Leader Scott Fitzger­ald, a for­mer ALEC state chair­man, says that the leg­is­la­ture has the votes to enact the mea­sure, which under­mines col­lec­tive bar­gain­ing by allow­ing work­ers to opt-out of pay­ing the costs of union rep­re­sen­ta­tion. Right to work laws are asso­ci­at­ed with low­er wages for both union and non-union work­ers.

    Fitzger­ald has long sup­port­ed right to work, and in the past has­n’t been shy about describ­ing the ALEC con­nec­tion. In Decem­ber 2010, after Repub­li­cans took con­trol of the leg­is­la­ture, he was asked by Jeff May­ers of Wis­Pol­i­tics about mak­ing Wis­con­sin a right to work state.

    Fitzger­ald replied: “I just attend­ed an Amer­i­can Leg­isla­tive Exchange Coun­cil meet­ing and I was sur­prised about how much momen­tum there was in and around that dis­cus­sion, noth­ing like I have seen before.” See the video here.

    ...

    Walk­er worked to pro­mote many ALEC bills dur­ing his time as a state leg­is­la­tor (1993–2002) and first co-spon­sored a right to work bill as a fresh­man leg­is­la­tor (SB 459). Just days after Walk­er was first sworn-in as gov­er­nor in Jan­u­ary 2011, he spoke frankly about his plans to “divide and con­quer” Wis­con­sin unions in con­ver­sa­tion with bil­lion­aire GOP financier Diane Hen­dricks for a doc­u­men­tary which only became pub­lic more than a year lat­er. Hen­dricks gave Walk­er $500,000 for his 2012 recall effort, and gave $1 mil­lion to the Repub­li­can Par­ty of Wis­con­sin in 2014.

    “Any chance we’ll ever get to be a com­plete­ly red state and work on these unions?,” Hen­dricks asks in the Jan­u­ary 2011 video.

    “Oh, yeah!” says Walk­er.

    “And become a right-to-work [state]?,” Hen­dricks asks.

    Walk­er replies: “Well, we’re going to start in a cou­ple weeks with our bud­get adjust­ment bill. The first step is we’re going to deal with col­lec­tive bar­gain­ing for all pub­lic employ­ee unions, because you use divide and con­quer.… That opens the door once we do that.”

    Scott Walk­er, as we can see, has been hon­ing his divide and con­quer skills for years. Could he apply this same tac­tic to ISIS? Well, maybe. But keep in mind that divid­ing and con­quer­ing is what ISIS to climb to pow­er in the first place, so it may not be the cake­walk Walk­er is expect­ing:

    Finan­cial Times
    Isis uses humil­i­ty as tac­tic for con­quest

    By Eri­ka Solomon in Beirut
    July 27, 2014 1:00 pm

    The black and white flag of the Islam­ic State of Iraq and the Lev­ant (Isis) now flut­ters over much of Syria’s east­ern city of Deir Ezzor but few of its fight­ers have a pres­ence on the ground, say oth­er rebels.

    The group con­trols the city at arm’s length, using local forces to impose order. “They came and said: ‘No one will both­er you. But if you need any­thing, we are here’,” said Mund­hir Saf­fan of Deir Ezzor’s Hamza Brigade.

    Like many rebel groups fight­ing Pres­i­dent Bashar al-Assad’s forces, Mr Saffan’s unit has kept work­ing even as Isis, an al-Qae­da break­away, claims to con­trol 90 per cent of its province. “They let our bat­tal­ions run the area just like before,” he said.

    An impor­tant ele­ment of Isis’s light­ning expan­sion across much of Syr­ia and Iraq is how lit­tle mil­i­tary force it employs to main­tain its hold on the ter­ri­to­ry it has cap­tured. Isis appears to be per­fect­ing a mod­el mix­ing fear, divi­sive­ness and soft pow­er tac­tics to slow­ly seize con­trol from under the feet of oth­er rebel groups.

    Activists and res­i­dents of Isis-con­trolled areas say the group begins plan­ning for gov­er­nance before it even starts a mil­i­tary attack. Sleep­er cells of com­bat­ants and activists pre­pare not just for the ini­tial strike but for admin­is­tra­tive and social projects to grad­u­al­ly cement their hold.

    To soft­en resis­tance, Isis first shares con­trol of ter­ri­to­ry with non­aligned but unthreat­en­ing local groups, like Mr Saffan’s Hamza Brigade, and the thou­sands of rebels who pledged their loy­al­ty to the group as it advanced.

    “It’s like the Ara­bic expres­sion, ‘be hum­ble to con­quer’. They make allies as they spread and firm their hold. After that, they can impose full con­trol,” said Rami Abdel­rah­man, head of mon­i­tor­ing group the Syr­i­an Obser­va­to­ry for Human Rights.

    Now call­ing itself the “Islam­ic State”, Isis claims to be build­ing a caliphate. It has become one of the wealth­i­est and most pow­er­ful jiha­di groups in his­to­ry by cap­tur­ing oil­fields, banks and mil­i­tary sites. In areas under its full con­trol, Isis imple­ments strict inter­pre­ta­tions of Islam­ic law that impose ampu­ta­tions for theft, face and hair cov­er­ings for women, and enforce a sub­ju­gat­ed sta­tus on reli­gious minori­ties.

    With these tac­tics the group has man­aged to advance on four dif­fer­ent fronts – Syria’s north and oil-rich east, and north­ern and west­ern Iraq.

    Isis’s progress has been helped by its abil­i­ty to keep oth­er Sun­ni insur­gents engaged in fight­ing their shared oppo­nents – Mr Assad in Syr­ia and the Shia-dom­i­nat­ed gov­ern­ment of Nouri al-Mali­ki in Iraq.

    Accept­ing the group’s arrange­ment is a mis­take, say res­i­dents in Syria’s north­ern Raqqa province. Raqqa was the first province to fall com­plete­ly to oppo­si­tion forces but Isis forced its rivals out in Jan­u­ary.

    “At first, every­one ignored their strict reli­gious rulings?.?.?.?Isis played nice while they test­ed the water. They worked slow­ly to divide and con­quer. Even­tu­al­ly, the rebels col­lapsed and with­drew,” said Saleh, a shop­keep­er in Raqqa who asked not to be named in full.

    “Days after the rebels left, Isis began beat­ing women who weren’t wear­ing the niqab (face veil).”

    ...

    Ini­tial­ly, it was unclear who was in con­trol in Mosul. Rules based on Isis’s strict inter­pre­ta­tions of Islam­ic law were announced, but large­ly ignored. Many insur­gent groups appeared to be patrolling the streets.

    A month lat­er, there are signs that Isis has con­sol­i­dat­ed pow­er. The first pub­lic lash­ings were report­ed in the past week and the remain­ing mem­bers of Mosul’s his­toric Chris­t­ian com­mu­ni­ty have fled – report­ed­ly after they were giv­en a choice to con­vert or leave.

    With Isis’s lim­it­ed num­bers, psy­cho­log­i­cal tools are crit­i­cal to main­tain­ing pow­er.

    Pic­tures post­ed on its social media sites show fight­ers hand­ing out food and cud­dling kit­tens but also shoot­ing pris­on­ers in mass graves and pos­ing with behead­ed corpses – send­ing a mes­sage that those who accept its rule are safe but those who do not face a bru­tal end.

    Despite its excess­es, Isis has been accept­ed and even wel­comed by many Syr­i­an civil­ians exhaust­ed by war.

    “Under the rebels, the kid­nap­pings and loot­ing were out of con­trol,” said Saleh in Raqqa. “Isis cru­ci­fies and beheads crim­i­nals – and its oppo­nents. But it leaves the rest of us alone.”

    Unlike oth­er groups, Isis has allowed med­ical and human­i­tar­i­an aid to pass into oppo­nents’ areas, activists say. And this week, after Isis seized every oil well in Deir Ezzor, worth mil­lions of dol­lars in month­ly rev­enue, it forced sales­men to refine and sell fuel at afford­able prices.

    “To a civil­ian, Isis seems more humane than the rebels,” Karam said. “They work and think like an army, not like gangs the way rebels did.”

    Well, it clear­ly isn’t going to be easy for Scott Walk­er to work any divid­ing and con­quer­ing mir­a­cles. ISIS is work­ing from the same play book!

    ...
    Pic­tures post­ed on its social media sites show fight­ers hand­ing out food and cud­dling kit­tens but also shoot­ing pris­on­ers in mass graves and pos­ing with behead­ed corpses – send­ing a mes­sage that those who accept its rule are safe but those who do not face a bru­tal end.

    Despite its excess­es, Isis has been accept­ed and even wel­comed by many Syr­i­an civil­ians exhaust­ed by war.

    “Under the rebels, the kid­nap­pings and loot­ing were out of con­trol,” said Saleh in Raqqa. “Isis cru­ci­fies and beheads crim­i­nals – and its oppo­nents. But it leaves the rest of us alone.”

    Unlike oth­er groups, Isis has allowed med­ical and human­i­tar­i­an aid to pass into oppo­nents’ areas, activists say. And this week, after Isis seized every oil well in Deir Ezzor, worth mil­lions of dol­lars in month­ly rev­enue, it forced sales­men to refine and sell fuel at afford­able prices.
    ...

    Kit­ten pics plus behead­ings?! How on earth is Scott Walk­er going to counter that when all his divide and con­quer plans involve union bust­ing and crush­ing health­care and edu­ca­tion? That form of divid­ing and con­quer­ing might work in Wis­con­sin, but does Walk­er real­ly have what it takes to divide and con­quer ISIS when ISIS has clear­ly already mas­tered Walk­er’s tac­tic of choice? This does­n’t feel right...

    Oh wait, did this analy­sis just equate Scott Walk­er to ISIS? Uh oh. As a some­what wise man once said, oops. He’s not like ISIS at all. Well, ok, there are sim­i­lar­i­ties.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | February 27, 2015, 9:17 am
  45. Here’s a great exam­ple of what keeps Wis­con­sin gov­er­nor Scott Walk­er either near the top of list for 2016 GOP pres­i­den­tial nom­i­na­tion: Scott knows what bil­lion­aires want. Inti­mate­ly. And that means he knows that what bil­lion­aires want is some­one that knows which ass­es need kick­ing and which ass­es need kiss­ing. On top of that, he’s a fab­u­lous kiss­er:

    The Huff­in­g­ton Post
    Scott Walk­er: Abol­ish­ing Fed­er­al Income Tax ‘Sounds Pret­ty Tempt­ing’
    Post­ed: 03/14/2015 2:12 pm EDT Updat­ed: 03/14/2015 2:59 pm EDT

    Igor Bobic

    WASHINGTON — Wis­con­sin Gov. Scott Walk­er ® said Sat­ur­day that elim­i­nat­ing the fed­er­al income tax sound­ed like a pret­ty appeal­ing idea.

    “I haven’t pro­posed that, although it sounds pret­ty tempt­ing right now. Par­tic­u­lar­ly in this state, I’d love that,” Walk­er said, speak­ing to a group of Repub­li­cans in New Hamp­shire.

    But the like­ly 2016 pres­i­den­tial con­tender did not out­right endorse the idea, which remains pop­u­lar among fringe, lib­er­tar­i­an vot­ers in the Gran­ite State. (New Hamp­shire is one of only nine states in the coun­try that does not have a state income tax.) Instead, Walk­er ably piv­ot­ed to a dis­cus­sion of low­er­ing income tax rates, an alter­na­tive more con­sis­tent with main­stream views in the Repub­li­can Par­ty.

    “Cer­tain­ly I think low­er rates, we’ve talked about that. We’ve looked at that,” Walk­er said, adding, “should I get in this race, that’s some­thing we’ll take on in that growth cat­e­go­ry out there.”

    “I think putting more mon­ey back in the hands of the hard­work­ing tax­pay­ers, which is your mon­ey to begin with, is a much bet­ter way to grow the econ­o­my than through gov­ern­ment so-called stim­u­lus, which has a much low­er rate of return than it does if you and oth­er job cre­ators have that mon­ey out there,” he said.

    In 2014, Walk­er drew crit­i­cism from Mary Burke, who unsuc­cess­ful­ly chal­lenged him for the gov­er­nor­ship, after he expressed inter­est in elim­i­nat­ing Wis­con­sin’s state income tax.

    ...

    *smm­m­m­m­moooooooch*
    Well that prob­a­bly went over well with the base. Although at this point does­n’t pret­ty much every GOP can­di­date basi­cal­ly sup­port elim­i­nat­ing the income tax? Heck, even Jeb Bush recent­ly refused to deny that he would con­sid­er abol­ish­ing the IRS and replac­ing it with a flat tax.

    But that’s all part of what gives Scott Walk­er the 2016 edge: any can­di­date can pledge to do the bil­lion­aires’ bid­ding once they get elect­ed. But Scott Walk­er, as gov­er­nor, has already done their bid­ding. Over and over. And it’s exact­ly the kind of bid­ding that the GOP’s bil­lion­aires have just got to love. Scott knows how to please his clients, and while pleas­ing clients isn’t some­thing unique to Scott Walk­er, it’s also not exact­ly a sim­ple task to posi­tion your­self for a pres­i­den­tial run while simul­ta­ne­ous­ly bend­ing over back­wards to sat­is­fy the every whim of a client base that hap­pens to be the heirs to this lega­cy:

    Pan­do Dai­ly
    As “Right To Work” becomes law in Wis­con­sin, a reminder of its inventor’s racist past

    By Mark Ames
    On March 13, 2015

    On Mon­day, Wis­con­sin gov­er­nor Scott Walk­er signed into law the con­tro­ver­sial anti-union “Right To Work” bill, fol­low­ing weeks of protests in Madi­son. Right To Work laws are designed to kill unions by man­dat­ing “open shop” work­places, allow­ing work­ers to work in union­ized work­places, with­out pay­ing union dues.

    Wis­con­sin is his­tor­i­cal­ly one of the most pro-union, pro­gres­sive states, home to the leg­endary “Fight­ing Bob” LaFol­lette, and the only com­mu­ni­ty-owned non­prof­it NFL foot­ball team— so gut­ting unions in labor’s his­tor­i­cal heart­land is like what Russ­ian homi­cide detec­tives call a “con­trol shot” — the point-blank bul­let to the head that makes sure the bleed­ing tar­get on the ground nev­er breathes again.

    It’s also gra­tu­itous, like doing donuts on road kill, when you con­sid­er how close to extinc­tion labor unions have fall­en over the years. Only 6.6% of pri­vate sec­tor work­ers are in unions today, down from a peak of 35% in the mid-1950s. It’s only thanks to pub­lic sec­tor unions—which Scott Walk­er destroyed in Wis­con­sin in 2011—that the over­all per­cent­age of the work­force that’s union­ized is 11.1%. Cal­i­for­nia, which has reject­ed “Right To Work” laws in the past, has the largest num­ber of union mem­bers in the coun­try — 2.5 mil­lion work­ers — though as a per­cent­age, Cal­i­for­nia ranks sixth high­est.

    Which reminds me of two things: First, Scott Walk­er proves that pranks don’t work. Four years ago, when Walk­er first waged right-wing jihad on Wisconsin’s pub­lic sec­tor work­ers, an old com­rade of mine, “Buf­fa­lo” Ian Mur­phy, pulled off the sin­gle great­est phone prank ever. Pos­ing as bil­lion­aire David Koch’s voice, Mur­phy man­aged to swag­ger his way past Gov. Walker’s aides and into the governor’s hand­set for a long 20 minute call, which revealed Walk­er as a grotesque­ly slav­ish Koch tow­el­boy. Four years lat­er: Walk­er is a top pres­i­den­tial con­tender, the Kochs are worth over $100 bil­lion, Koch-backed groups passed “Right To Work” in Wisconsin…and “Buf­fa­lo” Mur­phy is an ex-con, jailed in 2013 for bran­dish­ing an uncon­cealed, ful­ly loaded dil­do at a mob of homo­pho­bic reli­gious fanat­ics. As the say­ing goes, “The Koch is might­i­er than the prank.”

    The oth­er thing Walker’s RTW law reminds me of is some unfin­ished busi­ness I have with the num­ber one nation­al orga­ni­za­tion behind the law: The Nation­al Right To Work Com­mit­tee.

    A cou­ple of years ago, I wrote an arti­cle for NSFWCORP (since acquired by Pan­do) expos­ing the ugly, racist roots of the whole “Right To Work” move­ment, trac­ing it back to the brains behind “Right To Work”: Vance Muse, the loonie anti-Semit­ic, anti-black Tex­an who coined “Right To Work” in the ear­ly 1940s, and worked Karl Rove-like to push through the first “Right To Work” laws in the South in the 40s and ear­ly 50s. Since a lot of peo­ple these days are not in tune with labor union strug­gles and what “right to work” laws even mean, my arti­cle expos­ing the KKK racist who start­ed “Right To Work” cre­at­ed a bit of a PR headache for the union-bust­ing move­ment.

    In the weeks and months that fol­lowed the pub­li­ca­tion of my arti­cle, peo­ple I know start­ed for­ward­ing me emails from a cer­tain Stan Greer of the Wash­ing­ton, DC-based “Nation­al Right To Work Com­mit­tee”. Greer avoid­ed me per­son­al­ly, but trolled any­one who quot­ed my arti­cle, false­ly claim­ing that my arti­cle mis­quot­ed Vance Muse, inven­tor of “Right To Work”. A great labor reporter, Moshe Mar­vit, for­ward­ed me one of Greer’s trolling emails he sent to Mavrit’s co-author of their book “Why Labor Orga­niz­ing Should Be A Civ­il Right”:

    ———- For­ward­ed mes­sage ———-
    From: Stan­ley T. Greer
    Date: Thu, Jan 24, 2013 at 9:08 AM
    Sub­ject: Sub­mit­ted to Snopes.com today
    To: XXX

    Richard Kahlen­berg, for your infor­ma­tion, I sub­mit­ted the fol­low­ing note to Snopes.com this morn­ing. Per­haps your coau­thor Moshe Mar­vit would also be inter­est­ed, but I do not have an email address for him.

    Stan Greer

    Nation­al Right to Work Com­mit­tee

    Recent­ly, a num­ber of com­men­ta­tors on the Inter­net who oppose state Right to Work laws have alleged such laws have “racist roots.” As proof, they cite an alleged 1937 quote from one Vance Muse, who became a Right to Work activist in the ear­ly 1940’s.

    The ear­li­est source I can find for the quote dates from more than 40 years after the words were alleged­ly said. I think it’s bogus, but it’s hard to prove that.

    Here is the quote and a link to a new Inter­net blog post cit­ing it:

    A key dri­ver of the right-to-work move­ment begin­ning in the 1930s was Texas busi­ness­man and white suprema­cist Vance Muse, who hat­ed unions in part because they pro­mot­ed the broth­er­hood of work­ers across racial lines. As author Mark Ames notes, Muse blunt­ly out­lined the think­ing behind “right to work,” declar­ing, “From now on, white women and white men will be forced into orga­ni­za­tions with black African apes whom they will have to call ‘broth­er’ or lose their jobs.”

    http://peoplesworld.org/the-ugly-racial-history-of-right-to-work/

    Stan Greer

    After I got that email from Greer, oth­ers I know start­ed ask­ing me for hard copy proof of my quotes. I had a librar­i­an from the Uni­ver­si­ty of Neva­da Las Vegas help me scan and send orig­i­nal page copies of the book “South­ern Expo­sure” by the leg­endary under­cov­er jour­nal­ist Stet­son Kennedy, in which the quotes were print­ed. For the rest of you—here is a pho­to from my own marked-up book of the Vance Muse quote Greer denies ever exist­ed, pub­lished in 1946, in the heat of Muse’s “Right To Work” cam­paign:

    [see excerpt]

    That Vance Muse invent­ed “Right To Work” is not in dis­pute: If you don’t have time to read Kennedy’s book [avail­able here for free], you can read a more recent his­to­ry of “Right To Work” by Dart­mouth pro­fes­sor Marc Dixon in the “Jour­nal of Pol­i­cy His­to­ry”.

    In the 1920s and 30s, before Muse invent­ed “Right To Work,” he was noto­ri­ous for lob­by­ing against women’s suf­frage, against out­law­ing child labor, against the 8‑hour work­day, and for “Amer­i­can­iza­tion of the Supreme Court” to remove Aus­tri­an-born Jew­ish Supreme Court Jus­tice Felix Frank­furter. Muse and his groups were inves­ti­gat­ed by numer­ous com­mit­tees and the FBI, but he always land­ed on his feet thanks to his wealthy spon­sors, rang­ing from Texas oil and cot­ton mag­nates, to north­ern petro­chem­i­cals titans like the DuPonts and the Pews.

    To get a sense of this strange beast Vance Muse, I’ll quote Kennedy’s descrip­tion cir­ca-1946:

    The man Muse is quite a char­ac­ter. He is six four, wears a ten-gal­lon hat, but gen­er­al­ly reserves his cow­boy boots for trips Nawth. Now over fifty, Muse has been pro­fes­sion­al­ly engaged in reac­tionary enter­pris­es for more than a quar­ter of a cen­tu­ry.

    Any­way, as part of my belat­ed response to the Nation­al Right To Work Committee’s trolling of my arti­cle, here again are some career high­lights and quotes from Vance Muse, the Found­ing Father of the Right To Work move­ment:

    * In 1936, Vance Muse plant­ed pho­tos of first lady Eleanor Roo­sevelt walk­ing with two African-Amer­i­can pro­fes­sors at Howard Uni­ver­si­ty in news­pa­pers in the South, in the hopes of turn­ing racist south­ern Democ­rats against the New Deal, or what Muse called “the Black New Deal.” This fol­lowed rev­e­la­tions in 1929 of Muse’s plan to “Black­en” the Democ­rats in the South and help Repub­li­cans by run­ning African-Amer­i­can Democ­rats in the North and pub­li­ciz­ing that in the South;
    * Vance Muse incor­po­rat­ed “Chris­t­ian Amer­i­can Asso­ci­a­tion Inc.,” the orig­i­nal “Right To Work” lob­by front, in 1936, and appoint­ed an anti-Semit­ic Hitler apol­o­gist, Lewis Ulrey, as chair­man of Chris­t­ian Amer­i­can. In the late 1930s, Ulrey wrote pro-Hitler columns for a mag­a­zine run by Ger­ald Win­rod, a noto­ri­ous anti-Semi­te was arrest­ed dur­ing World War Two for pro-Nazi sedi­tion;
    ...

    Note that you can read more about Vance Muse and his “Chris­t­ian Amer­i­can Asso­ci­a­tion” on page 126 of The Nazis Go Under­ground.

    Con­tin­u­ing...

    ...
    * Vance Muse quote: “From now on, white women and white men will be forced into orga­ni­za­tions with black African apes whom they will have to call ‘broth­er’ or lose their jobs.”;
    * Dur­ing the war, Vance Muse smeared Eleanor Roosevelt’s “Eleanor Clubs” as a “RED RADICAL scheme to orga­nize negro maids, cooks and nurs­es in order to have a Com­mu­nist informer in every South­ern home”; Muse’s sis­ter, who served as trea­sur­er of his anti-union Chris­t­ian Amer­i­can group, told a reporter for the Anti­och Review she opposed “Eleanor Clubs” because they stood for “$15 a week salary for all nig­ger house help, Sun­days off, no wash­ing, and no clean­ing upstairs. . . . My nig­ger maid wouldn’t dare sit down in the same room with me unless she sat on the floor at my feet!” As for Chris­t­ian American’s ties to pro-Nazis like Ger­ald Win­rod, Muse’s sis­ter told the reporter, “Chris­t­ian Amer­i­cans can’t afford to be anti-Semit­ic, but we know where we stand on the Jews, all right. . . . You’d be sur­prised how many impor­tant cor­po­ra­tions sup­port our work”;
    * In 1943, Muse wrote a let­ter to the chair­man of the Har­ris Coun­ty, Texas Repub­li­can Par­ty about his efforts to divide the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty vote and remake Texas’ Repub­li­can Par­ty: “The negro ques­tion plus inca­pable lead­er­ship has pre­vent­ed many cit­i­zens from open­ly affil­i­at­ing with the Repub­li­can par­ty in Texas in the past but since the Demo­c­ra­t­ic par­ty has large­ly been trans­formed into the Black New Deal par­ty this ques­tion should no longer be an issue.”

    All of this is doc­u­ment­ed in Kennedy’s book and backed by newsclips from the peri­od.

    ...

    Today most of us, includ­ing lib­er­als and pro­gres­sives, couldn’t tell you what Right To Work is or why it’s bad. But Sil­i­con Valley’s favorite politi­cian, Rand Paul, is the Right To Work can­di­date for pres­i­dent. Rand Paul’s sen­ate staff is led by peo­ple from Stan Greer’s Nation­al Right To Work Com­mit­tee — includ­ing the Doug Stafford, exec­u­tive direc­tor of RAND PAC and Paul’s for­mer chief of staff, pre­vi­ous­ly vice pres­i­dent of the Nation­al Right To Work Com­mit­tee.

    No sur­prise then that Sen­a­tor Rand Paul has been push­ing for a fed­er­al “Right To Work” law cov­er­ing all states, whether they like it or not. With all the Sil­i­con Val­ley mon­ey pour­ing into his 2016 cam­paign cof­fers, a Pres­i­dent Paul may just get his Right To Work wish.

    That’s the proud tra­di­tion Scott Walk­er is help­ing to uphold: a tra­di­tion of cyn­i­cal oli­garchs manip­u­lat­ing racist imbe­ciles for polit­i­cal gain. And as we can see, Scott Walk­er is more than up to the task for car­ry­ing on the tra­di­tion.

    At the same time, we can’t ignore the above warn­ing:

    ...
    Today most of us, includ­ing lib­er­als and pro­gres­sives, couldn’t tell you what Right To Work is or why it’s bad. But Sil­i­con Valley’s favorite politi­cian, Rand Paul, is the Right To Work can­di­date for pres­i­dent. Rand Paul’s sen­ate staff is led by peo­ple from Stan Greer’s Nation­al Right To Work Com­mit­tee — includ­ing the Doug Stafford, exec­u­tive direc­tor of RAND PAC and Paul’s for­mer chief of staff, pre­vi­ous­ly vice pres­i­dent of the Nation­al Right To Work Com­mit­tee.

    No sur­prise then that Sen­a­tor Rand Paul has been push­ing for a fed­er­al “Right To Work” law cov­er­ing all states, whether they like it or not. With all the Sil­i­con Val­ley mon­ey pour­ing into his 2016 cam­paign cof­fers, a Pres­i­dent Paul may just get his Right To Work wish.

    Yep, Scott Walk­er may be a bil­lion­aire ass-kiss­er extra­or­di­naire, but he’s going to have plen­ty of com­pe­ti­tion if he wants to get the top job in the White House.

    How he goes about obtain­ing that job is going to be some­thing to watch, but at this point it’s hard to dis­miss the gov­er­nor of Wis­con­sin and his nation­al ambi­tions. If any­one knows how to bust a union, it’s Scott Walk­er, and let’s just say that, while union-bust­ing may not be a trans­fer­able skill in the way that Walk­er describes it, what Scott Walk­er has gained from his union-bust­ing is still very trans­fer­able.

    He’s clear­ly ready.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | March 16, 2015, 6:50 pm
  46. Now that the US is seri­ous­ly flirt­ing with elect­ing an aggres­sive and unhinged dem­a­gogue to the White House who promis­es to be all things to all peo­ple (except for the ever-grow­ing list bad peo­ple who he will van­quish), some­thing to keep in mind is that if Trump wins and we see the GOP in full con­trol of Con­gress, we’re almost cer­tain to see mas­sive cuts to the kinds of pub­lic spend­ing that a large num­ber of Trump/GOP vot­ers rely on to basi­cal­ly live. And the more the Trump/GOP bud­get poli­cies gut the pro­grams Trump’s sup­port­ers rely on, the more Trump is going to be com­pelled to pick a scape­goat (Mex­i­cans, etc) in order to shore up the very base his poli­cies are harm­ing.

    In oth­er words, the big­ger the inevitable Trump/GOP pol­i­cy and bud­get deba­cle becomes and the more enti­tle­ments and help­ful social pro­grams get cut, the big­ger a dem­a­gogue Trump needs to become in order to dis­tract from (or com­pen­sate) his sup­port­ers who just vot­ed Trump into office with the hopes of see­ing their lives improve and instead end up watch­ing Trump and the GOP car­ry out a liq­ui­da­tion of any gov­ern­ment poli­cies that actu­al­ly help the rab­ble. That’s a pret­ty impor­tant dynam­ic to keep in mind because Trump is going to need a lot of dis­tract­ing scape­goats:

    Think Progress

    So much for that ‘new direc­tion’ on pover­ty: Paul Ryan’s tax plan is a mas­sive hand­out for the rich

    Bryce Covert
    9/20/2016

    Paul Ryan (WI), Repub­li­can Speak­er of the House, has late­ly fash­ioned him­self as a cru­sad­er for the poor, apol­o­giz­ing for say­ing those on gov­ern­ment assis­tance are “tak­ers” and rolling out pol­i­cy planks that he says offer “a new direc­tion.” But the tax plan that he unveiled in June would give so much to the rich­est Amer­i­cans that bare­ly any­thing would be left over for the poor­est.

    Accord­ing to a new analy­sis from the non­par­ti­san Tax Pol­i­cy Cen­ter, after a decade of being in place Ryan’s tax plan would hand 99.6 per­cent of its ben­e­fits to the rich­est 1 per­cent of Amer­i­cans.

    That leaves just 0.4 per­cent to be doled out to every­one in the bot­tom 99 per­cent. While the poor­est Amer­i­cans would see an extra $100 in their pock­ets after a decade of Ryan’s tax cuts, the top fifth would get $10,710 more and the 1 per­cent would ben­e­fit from near­ly a quar­ter mil­lion dol­lars.

    Ryan and the House Repub­li­cans claimed that their plan wouldn’t raise the deficit, but that’s not what the analy­sis finds. The Tax Pol­i­cy Cen­ter found that it would cost the gov­ern­ment $3.1 tril­lion over a decade, rais­ing the fed­er­al debt by $6.6 tril­lion.

    If Ryan want­ed to keep all of his poli­cies deficit-neu­tral, that would require deep cuts else­where, which could fall on the poor­est who rely on var­i­ous gov­ern­ment ser­vices to get by.

    ...

    “Ryan and the House Repub­li­cans claimed that their plan wouldn’t raise the deficit, but that’s not what the analy­sis finds. The Tax Pol­i­cy Cen­ter found that it would cost the gov­ern­ment $3.1 tril­lion over a decade, rais­ing the fed­er­al debt by $6.6 tril­lion.”

    A $6.6 tril­lion fis­cal gap (the amount of addi­tion­al debt after you fac­tor in all of the Ryan plan’s social spend­ing cuts) that can only real­is­ti­cal­ly be filled with mas­sive social spend­ing cuts. So what kind of scape­goat is going to ade­quate­ly dis­tract from that? Invad­ing Mex­i­co? Nuclear war with Rus­sia and Chi­na simul­ta­ne­ous­ly? At a min­i­mum, if Trump wins, Don­ald Trump Jr. going to be very busy retweet­ing neo-Nazi memes about Mex­i­cans and Mus­lims over the next four years, not just because he wants to because he’ll have to. A suc­cess­ful Trump pres­i­den­cy — if suc­cess is defined as Trump’s abil­i­ty to imple­ment a clas­sic GOP pro-oli­garch agen­da while keep­ing the rubes in line while the GOP slash­es the pro­grams they depend on — is going to depends on it.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | September 21, 2016, 6:39 pm
  47. Remem­ber all those reports about how Wal­mart was hold­ing employ­ee food dri­ves for its low-wage employ­ees and how McDon­alds would gives its employ­ees direc­tions on how to receive gov­ern­ment ser­vices like food stamps? Well, it looks like the like­ly next Labor Sec­re­tary, fast-food CEO Andrew Puzder, is a big fan of that socioe­co­nom­ic mod­el. At least the “pay your employ­ees so lit­tle they require wel­fare to live” part of the mod­el. The actu­al­ly wel­fare pro­grams? Yeah, it turns out he’s against those:

    The Huff­in­g­ton Post

    Don­ald Trump Choos­es Fast-Food CEO To Be His Labor Sec­re­tary
    The man who’s helmed Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr. could become the nation’s top work­place watch­dog. Best of luck, Fight for $15.

    Dave Jamieson Labor Reporter
    12/08/2016 11:55 am ET | Updat­ed

    In a rebuke to Pres­i­dent Barack Obama’s work on the labor front, Pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump on Thurs­day chose a fast-food exec­u­tive to be the nation’s next labor sec­re­tary, tasked with enforc­ing work­place safe­ty and wage laws on behalf of U.S. work­ers.

    Andrew Puzder, who advised Trump dur­ing his pres­i­den­tial cam­paign, is the chief exec­u­tive of CKE Restau­rants, which includes the burg­er chains Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr. among its brands. He’s large­ly cred­it­ed with turn­ing around Hardee’s after tak­ing over the com­pa­ny in 1997.

    The Wall Street Jour­nal and The New York Times report­ed the Puzder pick on Thurs­day, cit­ing anony­mous tran­si­tion offi­cials. Trump’s tran­si­tion team lat­er con­firmed Puzder’s appoint­ment in a state­ment, with Trump laud­ing “his exten­sive record of fight­ing for work­ers.”

    Just as with his Cab­i­net picks for health and edu­ca­tion, Trump’s choice of Puzder for the labor post sug­gests an eager­ness to dis­man­tle much of Obama’s lega­cy and gov­ern as a firm con­ser­v­a­tive.

    Puzder was a sharp crit­ic of Obama’s labor poli­cies, lam­bast­ing him for expand­ing over­time pay for work­ers and for try­ing to raise the min­i­mum wage. While Oba­ma aligned him­self with fast-food work­ers who’ve gone on strike to raise wages, Trump is instead nam­ing one of their boss­es to be the country’s top work­place watch­dog.

    Puzder has made his phi­los­o­phy of gov­ern­ing fair­ly clear through his op-eds, tele­vi­sion appear­ances and per­son­al blog. Like Trump, he argues that the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment has made reg­u­la­tions too bur­den­some on busi­ness­es, sti­fling job growth. Two of the major reg­u­la­tions he has crit­i­cized — the min­i­mum wage and over­time — are ones he would be tasked with enforc­ing.

    Ear­li­er this year, the Oba­ma admin­is­tra­tion over­hauled the nation’s over­time rules, try­ing to make them more gen­er­ous to work­ers. Under the changes, which are now blocked in court and may nev­er see the light of day, 4.2 mil­lion more salaried work­ers would be guar­an­teed time-and-a-half pay when they work over 40 hours in a week. The over­time changes would be the most sig­nif­i­cant labor reform of the Oba­ma era.

    Puzder is not a fan of them. Writ­ing in The Wall Street Jour­nal in 2014, he said the rules would hurt the work­ers they were intend­ed to help, like the fast-food man­agers who work for Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr. Many of those man­agers would be new­ly enti­tled to over­time. “Over­time pay has to come from some­where, most like­ly from reduced hours, reduced salaries or reduced bonus­es,” Puzder wrote.

    In an inter­view ear­li­er this year, Puzder also made clear that he didn’t want to see a major hike in the fed­er­al min­i­mum wage, which is cur­rent­ly $7.25 per hour and was last raised in 2009. Rais­ing the wage floor sig­nif­i­cant­ly, he said, would com­pel busi­ness­es to look into replac­ing work­ers with machines. “With gov­ern­ment dri­ving up the cost of labor, it’s dri­ving down the num­ber of jobs,” he said. “You’re going to see automa­tion not just in air­ports and gro­cery stores, but in restau­rants.”

    Puzder told the Los Ange­les Times that he isn’t opposed to a min­i­mum wage in prin­ci­ple, and doesn’t mind an occa­sion­al bump. He also told the paper he’d be open to index­ing the wage floor so that it ris­es grad­u­al­ly over time.

    In the same inter­view, Puzder didn’t seem to show much empa­thy for work­ers. He laid out all the rea­sons a com­pa­ny might pre­fer to use machines rather than humans for its labor force: “They’re always polite, they always upsell, they nev­er take a vaca­tion, they nev­er show up late, there’s nev­er a slip-and-fall, or an age, sex, or race dis­crim­i­na­tion case.”

    In an op-ed he wrote for The Hill, Puzder argued that safe­ty net pro­grams like food stamps dis­cour­age poor peo­ple from work­ing and need to be reined in. Acknowl­edg­ing that some employ­ees in his own chains would earn wages low enough to qual­i­fy for pub­lic assis­tance, Puzder said some work­ers don’t want to earn more mon­ey because they would lose their ben­e­fits. “Con­sid­er that some of our crew mem­bers are declin­ing pro­mo­tions to shift leader posi­tions because the increase in income would dis­qual­i­fy them for food, hous­ing, med­ical or oth­er gov­ern­ment ben­e­fits,” he wrote.

    Puzder helmed Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr. at a time the chains became famous for their con­tro­ver­sial TV ads. They showed the likes of Paris Hilton and Kate Upton, scant­i­ly clad, eat­ing cheese­burg­ers in a sur­pris­ing­ly sex­u­al­ized man­ner. Puzder defend­ed the spots, say­ing they worked well for the young male demo­graph­ic his com­pa­ny tar­gets. He even said women eat­ing burg­ers in biki­nis is “very Amer­i­can.”

    In addi­tion to advis­ing Trump, Puzder was also an advis­er to the 2012 cam­paign of GOP pres­i­den­tial hope­ful Mitt Rom­ney. This elec­tion cycle, Puzder and his wife gave $150,000 to the Trump Vic­to­ry Fund, Trump and the Repub­li­can Nation­al Committee’s joint fundrais­ing com­mit­tee, accord­ing to cam­paign finance records. Puzder him­self gave anoth­er $10,000 to Rebuild­ing Amer­i­ca Now, a polit­i­cal action com­mit­tee sup­port­ing Trump.

    No one can say Puzder is unfa­mil­iar with the Labor Department’s work. Like oth­er fast-food chains, Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr. restau­rants are often inves­ti­gat­ed for pos­si­ble min­i­mum wage and over­time infrac­tions. A recent analy­sis from Bloomberg BNA found that offi­cials dis­cov­ered vio­la­tions in rough­ly 60 per­cent of their inves­ti­ga­tions of those chain’s loca­tions. Most Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr. loca­tions are oper­at­ed by fran­chisees, rather than by CKE Restau­rants itself, mean­ing the com­pa­ny itself is typ­i­cal­ly not con­sid­ered respon­si­ble under the law.

    Oba­ma used the pow­er of the exec­u­tive pen to insti­tute many labor reforms, par­tic­u­lar­ly in the last three years of his tenure, and Trump’s nom­i­na­tion of Puzder does not bode well for them. Aside from the over­time changes, Oba­ma signed exec­u­tive orders rais­ing the min­i­mum wage for fed­er­al con­trac­tors and guar­an­tee­ing them paid sick days, as well as an order that would take con­tracts away from firms that break labor laws.

    It’s ulti­mate­ly up to Trump whether he wants to reverse those exec­u­tive orders, or write new rules that com­plete­ly undo the ones insti­tut­ed by Oba­ma. A good exam­ple would be the Labor Department’s fidu­cia­ry rule, which basi­cal­ly cracks down on 401(k) fees and is tied up in court. In Puzder, Trump would have a Cab­i­net offi­cial who’s advo­cat­ed for loos­en­ing the very types of reg­u­la­tions that the Oba­ma admin­is­tra­tion cham­pi­oned.

    One area where Puzder appears mod­er­ate is immi­gra­tion. In an inter­view with The Hill last year, Puzder said the par­ty needs to have empa­thy for undoc­u­ment­ed immi­grants. (Fast-food restau­rants employ a dis­pro­por­tion­ate amount of immi­grant work­ers, includ­ing many who are undoc­u­ment­ed.) “Peo­ple vote with their hearts ... Our val­ues indi­cate we should be the par­ty of immi­gra­tion reform,” Puzder said. “[Many undoc­u­ment­ed immi­grants] live in fear of being deport­ed, los­ing what they’ve built and being sep­a­rat­ed from their fam­i­lies.”

    The pro-busi­ness Com­pet­i­tive Enter­prise Insti­tute hailed Trump’s deci­sion to choose Puzder, say­ing he “under­stands that the key to eco­nom­ic growth and ris­ing wages is empow­er­ing busi­ness to increase pro­duc­tiv­i­ty, not arti­fi­cial, gov­ern­ment-imposed wage and hour man­dates.”

    ...

    “In an op-ed he wrote for The Hill, Puzder argued that safe­ty net pro­grams like food stamps dis­cour­age poor peo­ple from work­ing and need to be reined in. Acknowl­edg­ing that some employ­ees in his own chains would earn wages low enough to qual­i­fy for pub­lic assis­tance, Puzder said some work­ers don’t want to earn more mon­ey because they would lose their ben­e­fits. “Con­sid­er that some of our crew mem­bers are declin­ing pro­mo­tions to shift leader posi­tions because the increase in income would dis­qual­i­fy them for food, hous­ing, med­ical or oth­er gov­ern­ment ben­e­fits,” he wrote.”

    So is Mr. Puzder’s plan to instill low-wage employ­ees with a hunger for bet­ter pay actu­al hunger? Well, not quite. As Puzder lays out in his op-ed in The Hill last year, what he would pre­fer to see is all those wel­fare pro­grams he feels should be “reined in” instead rolled into an expand­ed Earned Income Tax Cred­it:

    The Hill

    More work, less wel­fare

    By Andy Puzder — 06/22/15 06:31 PM EDT

    After six years of a recov­ery that has failed to mean­ing­ful­ly help work­ing-class Amer­i­cans, our nation is fac­ing a cri­sis of entrenched pover­ty and declin­ing oppor­tu­ni­ty.

    ...

    Not sur­pris­ing­ly, the num­ber of peo­ple depen­dent on the Sup­ple­men­tal Nutri­tion Assis­tance Pro­gram (SNAP), fed­er­al hous­ing assis­tance and Med­ic­aid con­tin­ues to grow. The num­ber of peo­ple receiv­ing SNAP ben­e­fits (food stamps) alone has dou­bled since 2008, to 74.7 mil­lion; in trou­bled cities like Bal­ti­more, more than 1 in 3 res­i­dents receives them.

    These impor­tant pro­grams gen­uine­ly help peo­ple in need, and we are a nation rich enough to assist the eco­nom­i­cal­ly dis­ad­van­taged. But these pro­grams have the unin­tend­ed con­se­quence of dis­cour­ag­ing work rather than encour­ag­ing inde­pen­dence, self-reliance and pride.

    At quick-ser­vice restau­rant brands Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s, we’ve seen these poli­cies’ unin­tend­ed con­se­quences first­hand.

    Con­sid­er that some of our crew mem­bers are declin­ing pro­mo­tions to shift leader posi­tions because the increase in income would dis­qual­i­fy them for food, hous­ing, med­ical or oth­er gov­ern­ment ben­e­fits.

    These pro­mo­tions are the first step on the lad­der to becom­ing a gen­er­al man­ag­er, poten­tial­ly mak­ing up to $80,000 a year. It’s a shame they’re unable to take a pro­mo­tion for fear of los­ing pub­lic assis­tance. Fol­low­ing local min­i­mum wage increas­es, oth­er employ­ees have refused addi­tion­al hours or request­ed few­er hours to keep their incomes below the cut­off for receiv­ing ben­e­fits.

    Called the “wel­fare cliff” by pol­i­cy wonks, this grow­ing trend is lit­tle more than peo­ple respond­ing to incen­tives. Sim­ply, peo­ple get trapped into work­ing less and keep­ing valu­able ben­e­fits over work­ing more and los­ing them.

    For exam­ple, eli­gi­bil­i­ty for food stamps ends when annu­al income exceeds 130 per­cent of the pover­ty line, or a lit­tle more than $15,000 a year, for an indi­vid­ual. At $8.25 an hour or less, employ­ees can work a full-time sched­ule of 35 hours a week and still qual­i­fy for these ben­e­fits. But when the min­i­mum wage increas­es above this lev­el, as it has recent­ly in many cities and states, employ­ees must reduce their hours to keep their ben­e­fits.

    Sim­i­lar­ly, in most states, Med­ic­aid eli­gi­bil­i­ty ends when annu­al income exceeds 138 per­cent of the pover­ty line. Under­stand­ably, some employ­ees choose to work less and keep the thou­sands of dol­lars’ worth of ben­e­fits instead of work­ing a lit­tle more and los­ing them.

    The impact a loss of gov­ern­ment ben­e­fits has on finan­cial secu­ri­ty for peo­ple liv­ing in pover­ty can be dra­con­ian. It can lock them into pover­ty by mak­ing the chasm between gov­ern­ment depen­dence and inde­pen­dence too broad to cross.

    As a result, peo­ple for­go oppor­tu­ni­ty for safe­ty, which pre­vents them from real­iz­ing the inde­pen­dence and self-reliance that come with per­son­al suc­cess and a job.

    There is a solu­tion that ful­fills society’s oblig­a­tion to help the poor with­out reduc­ing oppor­tu­ni­ty: the earned income tax cred­it (EITC).

    The EITC sup­ple­ments incomes of the work­ing poor through the tax code. Rather than access to myr­i­ad and com­plex gov­ern­ment pro­grams, peo­ple receive a gov­ern­ment check sup­ple­ment­ing their pay­check.

    As their income from work increas­es, their gov­ern­ment sup­ple­ment declines. The decline, though, is nev­er so steep that it results in a decline in total income. You make more when you work more, thus reward­ing work, with­out the per­verse incen­tives and mas­sive gov­ern­ment bureau­cra­cy that char­ac­ter­ize exist­ing social pro­grams.

    The IRS recent­ly esti­mat­ed that near­ly 28 mil­lion Amer­i­cans received more than $66 bil­lion in EITC pay­ments in 2013, lift­ing an esti­mat­ed 6.5 mil­lion peo­ple out of pover­ty, includ­ing 3.3 mil­lion chil­dren. While pro­grams that pro­vide food, hous­ing and med­ical ben­e­fits are cer­tain­ly impor­tant, the EITC is more effec­tive in help­ing peo­ple rise out of pover­ty. These exist­ing pro­grams should be rolled into an expand­ed EITC.

    ...

    “The IRS recent­ly esti­mat­ed that near­ly 28 mil­lion Amer­i­cans received more than $66 bil­lion in EITC pay­ments in 2013, lift­ing an esti­mat­ed 6.5 mil­lion peo­ple out of pover­ty, includ­ing 3.3 mil­lion chil­dren. While pro­grams that pro­vide food, hous­ing and med­ical ben­e­fits are cer­tain­ly impor­tant, the EITC is more effec­tive in help­ing peo­ple rise out of pover­ty. These exist­ing pro­grams should be rolled into an expand­ed EITC.

    And right there is prob­a­bly what we should expect from any sort of “wel­fare reform” from the GOP-con­trolled fed­er­al gov­ern­ment: gut all the safe­ty-net pro­grams like like food stamps or Med­ic­aid and replace them with an expand­ed EITC pro­gram.

    Now, it’s impor­tant to keep in mind that the EITC has bipar­ti­san sup­port. Both Democ­rats and Repub­li­cans gen­er­al­ly back the pro­gram. The main dif­fer­ence is that the Democ­rats view the EITC as a com­pan­ion to tra­di­tion­al safe­ty-net pro­grams where­as Repub­li­cans view the EITC as a vehi­cle for dis­man­tling exist­ing wel­fare pro­grams. And since the House Ways and Means Com­mit­tee recent­ly pro­pose replac­ing it with a pay­roll-roll tax exemp­tion, it’s not like we can take any sort of ‘EITC instead of wel­fare’ GOP pro­pos­als very seri­ous­ly.

    But here’s a big catch with Andrew Puzder’s pro­posed scheme: The EITC does noth­ing for the unem­ployed. Or keep peo­ple out of deep pover­ty (half the pover­ty line). Or get health­care (where costs can vary wild­ly depend­ing on your health issues). Or pro­vide help on month­ly basis (the EITC is an annu­al check). Or serve as an auto­mat­ic eco­nom­ic sta­bi­liz­er dur­ing a reces­sion. In oth­er words, the big catch is all the lit­tle catch­es:

    Cen­ter on Bud­get and Pol­i­cy Pri­or­i­ties

    Com­men­tary: The EITC Works Very Well – But It’s Not a Safe­ty Net by Itself

    March 26, 2014
    by Sharon Par­rott

    House Bud­get Com­mit­tee Chair­man Paul Ryan’s recent report on safe­ty net pro­grams right­ly praised the Earned Income Tax Cred­it (EITC) for reduc­ing pover­ty and pro­mot­ing work. But, Ryan’s report crit­i­cizes much of the rest of the safe­ty net. And, over the past sev­er­al years, Chair­man Ryan’s bud­get plans have tar­get­ed low-income pro­grams such as SNAP (for­mer­ly food stamps) and Med­ic­aid for extreme­ly deep cuts. While it’s heart­en­ing to hear Chair­man Ryan trum­pet the EITC’s suc­cess, pol­i­cy­mak­ers need to under­stand that the EITC alone can’t do what’s need­ed to ame­lio­rate pover­ty and hard­ship.

    The EITC serves a spe­cif­ic role in our safe­ty net: eas­ing the tax­es and sup­ple­ment­ing the wages of low-income work­ing fam­i­lies. It pro­motes work by pro­vid­ing the most help to fam­i­lies with sig­nif­i­cant earn­ings. A sin­gle par­ent with two chil­dren, for exam­ple, must earn between $13,650 and $17,850 in 2014 to qual­i­fy for the max­i­mum cred­it. Those earn­ings are mod­est, to be sure, but most peo­ple in this earn­ings range work most of the year and work at least 30 hours per week when they have a job. In short, they have sig­nif­i­cant attach­ment to the labor force.

    Here’s what the EITC (and its sib­ling the Child Tax Cred­it or CTC, which helps off­set the cost of rais­ing chil­dren) are not designed to do — and can­not do with­out oth­er safe­ty net pro­grams:

    * Help peo­ple who are out of work or can’t work. The EITC and CTC are designed to help fam­i­lies with at least mod­est earn­ings. But, some peo­ple don’t have jobs, par­tic­u­lar­ly in a weak econ­o­my, or have long peri­ods of unem­ploy­ment dur­ing a year. Oth­ers can’t work due to ill­ness or dis­abil­i­ty or the need to care for an ill or dis­abled child. Still oth­ers can’t work because they have young chil­dren and can’t earn enough to afford child care.

    With­out pro­grams such as SNAP, Sup­ple­men­tal Secu­ri­ty Income (SSI), and Med­ic­aid, peo­ple in these fam­i­lies, includ­ing mil­lions of chil­dren, couldn’t put food on the table, keep a roof over their head, and get need­ed health care. Help­ing them isn’t only the right thing to do — it’s also an invest­ment in chil­dren. Research shows that basic assis­tance to chil­dren not only reduces short-term hard­ship but also improves their aca­d­e­m­ic per­for­mance and long-term prospects. And, Med­ic­aid cov­er­age enables chil­dren to receive pre­ven­tive care as well as treat­ment for every­thing from ear infec­tions to can­cer.

    * Keep peo­ple out of “deep pover­ty.” Because the EITC and CTC aren’t tar­get­ed to the very poor­est fam­i­lies, they don’t do much to keep peo­ple out of deep pover­ty, or above half the pover­ty line. Over­all, the EITC and CTC plus oth­er pro­grams tar­get­ed on low-income indi­vid­u­als — such as SNAP, SSI, and Tem­po­rary Assis­tance for Needy Fam­i­lies — kept an esti­mat­ed 15 to 20 mil­lion peo­ple above halfthe pover­ty line (about $11,000 for a fam­i­ly of three) in 2010. (That esti­mate is based on the fed­er­al Sup­ple­men­tal Pover­ty Mea­sure, which most ana­lysts favor. The upper end of the range reflects esti­mates based on Urban Insti­tute data that cor­rect for the under­re­port­ing of gov­ern­ment ben­e­fits.) Rough­ly 70 to 80 per­cent of these peo­ple would have remained in deep pover­ty if the EITC and CTC were the only forms of income-test­ed assis­tance for very poor fam­i­lies (see Fig­ure 1).

    ...

    * Help fam­i­lies get health care. The aver­age EITC ben­e­fit for fam­i­lies with chil­dren was $2,254 in 2011 — not enough to buy health insur­ance for a fam­i­ly or pay health care bills when some­one gets sick or needs expen­sive med­ica­tions. The pro­grams designed to help low-income peo­ple get decent health care are Med­ic­aid, the Children’s Health Insur­ance Pro­gram, and sub­si­dies to buy pri­vate cov­er­age through health reform’s new mar­ket­places, not the EITC.

    * Help fam­i­lies on a month­ly basis. Recip­i­ents get their EITC and CTC for the year in one lump sum when they file their income tax return. That works fine for many work­ing fam­i­lies, help­ing them save for larg­er expens­es and bud­get for the com­ing year, but poor­er fam­i­lies and fam­i­lies whose incomes drop sharply due to a mid-year job loss need help dur­ing the year. And, for fam­i­lies that need sig­nif­i­cant help with large month­ly expens­es — such as putting gro­ceries on the table and pay­ing high rent or child care costs — month­ly assis­tance pro­grams are often a bet­ter fit. If a new moth­er needs help pay­ing for child care to go back to work, for exam­ple, a tax cred­it that she needs earn­ings to qual­i­fy for and doesn’t arrive until she files her tax return the fol­low­ing win­ter or spring isn’t going to help her get back to work.

    * Serve as an auto­mat­ic sta­bi­liz­er for the econ­o­my in reces­sions. Pro­grams like unem­ploy­ment insur­ance, SNAP, and Med­ic­aid auto­mat­i­cal­ly expand dur­ing reces­sions when more peo­ple lose their jobs and need help. Since the EITC only goes to peo­ple who work, in con­trast, it doesn’t help those who are out of work through­out the year. And, for peo­ple who still have earn­ings but whose earn­ings shrink dur­ing a down­turn, the EITC ris­es for some, but falls for oth­ers. A recent study found that the EITC is only weak­ly counter-cycli­cal — that is, it expands only a small amount over­all when unem­ploy­ment ris­es.[1] For sin­gle-par­ent fam­i­lies, the largest group of EITC recip­i­ents, the study found “no evi­dence that the EITC sta­bi­lizes income” over­all as unem­ploy­ment ris­es. By con­trast, oth­er pro­grams such as unem­ploy­ment insur­ance and SNAP are far more respon­sive to increas­es in unem­ploy­ment, accord­ing to the study.

    The bot­tom line? The EITC is a crit­i­cal­ly impor­tant and high­ly effec­tive part of the safe­ty net, but it can’t — and wasn’t meant to — stand alone as our answer to pover­ty.

    ...

    * Serve as an auto­mat­ic sta­bi­liz­er for the econ­o­my in reces­sions. Pro­grams like unem­ploy­ment insur­ance, SNAP, and Med­ic­aid auto­mat­i­cal­ly expand dur­ing reces­sions when more peo­ple lose their jobs and need help. Since the EITC only goes to peo­ple who work, in con­trast, it doesn’t help those who are out of work through­out the year. And, for peo­ple who still have earn­ings but whose earn­ings shrink dur­ing a down­turn, the EITC ris­es for some, but falls for oth­ers. A recent study found that the EITC is only weak­ly counter-cycli­cal — that is, it expands only a small amount over­all when unem­ploy­ment rises.[1] For sin­gle-par­ent fam­i­lies, the largest group of EITC recip­i­ents, the study found “no evi­dence that the EITC sta­bi­lizes income” over­all as unem­ploy­ment ris­es. By con­trast, oth­er pro­grams such as unem­ploy­ment insur­ance and SNAP are far more respon­sive to increas­es in unem­ploy­ment, accord­ing to the study.”

    Yep, a shift to an EITC-only safe­ty-net is basi­cal­ly replac­ing a safe­ty-net with a vouch­er (like the GOP’s Medicare phase-out pro­pos­als). A vouch­er that does­n’t go to the unem­ployed and does­n’t expand dur­ing reces­sions. And if you have a major ill­ness, you bet­ter hope your expand­ing EITC check will cov­er the health­care bills once Med­ic­aid is “rolled into” an expand­ing EITC.

    And here’s the oth­er catch: Puzder wants to replace low-wage employ­ees with robots. Recall his fond feel­ings about robots:

    ...
    In the same inter­view, Puzder didn’t seem to show much empa­thy for work­ers. He laid out all the rea­sons a com­pa­ny might pre­fer to use machines rather than humans for its labor force: “They’re always polite, they always upsell, they nev­er take a vaca­tion, they nev­er show up late, there’s nev­er a slip-and-fall, or an age, sex, or race dis­crim­i­na­tion case.”
    ...

    Yep, the next Labor Sec­re­tary’s solu­tion to the grow­ing issue of advanced automa­tion does­n’t involve expand­ing the safe­ty-net. No, instead it’s a plan to force vir­tu­al­ly all adults in need of assis­tance to com­pete with robots and each oth­er in the labor mar­ket that increas­ing­ly does­n’t val­ue their labor — pre­sum­ably com­pet­ing by get­ting paid less than a robot and also less than the oth­er guy com­pet­ing with the robot — in order to qual­i­fy for an “expand­ed EITC” that won’t even cov­er the exist­ing safe­ty-net.

    And if you’re not cur­rent­ly in the ‘work­ing poor’ cat­e­go­ry and are smug­ly assum­ing that all these schemes will nev­er impact you because your job isn’t eas­i­ly auto­mat­ed, keep in mind that flood­ing the labor mar­ket with peo­ple are basi­cal­ly forced to work for near­ly free in order to get their EITC pit­tance prob­a­bly isn’t going to do great things for peo­ple in those non-automat­able occu­pa­tions. Sure, you might have more expe­ri­ence and exper­tise at this point than the unem­ployed peo­ple look­ing for work, but, again, your des­per­ate out of work neigh­bors will be forced to work for almost noth­ing. Or die in a ditch. And don’t for­get Trump’s sug­ges­tion that we elim­i­nate the fed­er­al min­i­mum wage. In oth­er words, you know that des­per­ate super-cheap and exploitable for­eign labor that Amer­i­ca’s man­u­fac­tur­ing work­force has been com­pet­ing with for years along with the robots? Yeah, that des­per­ate super-cheap and exploitable work­force is going to be your poor Amer­i­can friends and neigh­bors. More so.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | December 9, 2016, 4:42 pm

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