Sunday, October 30, 2011

Tax The Poor

For Further Reading:
Tax The Poor

The Creation Conundrum

At one turn, the Republicans are extolling small business as the engine of job creation. (Remember hearing this oft-repeated line during the 2008 and 2010 elections?) Small here obviously implies these "job creators" are not part of the top 1 percent. These are everyday people, playing by the rules, working hard, and trying to build a business of their own.

At the next turn, the Republicans are claiming we can't tax the top 1 percent because they are job creators. The richest amongst us are rich due to deserved rewards for their risk, innovation, and efficient allocation of capital. These are very special people with keen insights and understanding (that layperson can't process) and therefore deserve their rewards.

Hmmm, if that's the case - if all (big or small) are job creators - where are all the jobs? If small business owners and the rich are all job creators, why are so many people unemployed?

Do the Republicans have a platform? Any kind of belief system anymore? Or have they become the party of intellectual somersaults, continually rolling into whatever position best riles the rabble?

Saturday, October 29, 2011

So...How's That Infrastructure Doing?

1.7 Million Without Electricity

The Moral Police

The Journal-Sentinel asserts a "disease" is spreading throughout the Milwaukee Police Dept. "A tolerance for outrageous behavior by some of its officers."

They cite 93 instances of disciplinary actions against officers.

93 instances out of a 2,000 member police department. That's under 5 percent.

5 percent of the staff of most organizations has had a run-in with the law.

I'm not condoning drunken driving, domestic violence, or any other crime committed by a member of the police department. But, in any large organization, like the Milwaukee Police Department, 5 percent of the staff, or more, is going to have a criminal record. 3 percent of the entire U.S. population is under correctional supervision. 15 percent of the American population has a criminal record.

By all means, lets hold those committing illegal deeds accountable. But the sensationalism and the sky-is-falling immediateness portrayed in the article distract from what could be an insightful look at the old-boys' network, of favors and looking the other way, at large organizations. We all, hopefully, want justice served, no matter the circumstances.

Yet, to purport that criminal activity by those in charge of upholding the law is out-of-control and/or something new...I smell a cheap tabloid hook to sell a few papers. To hold this up as some sort of shocking revelation or ground-breaking investigative reporting is stretching the truth.

Casino Capitalism

Scott Walker's budget solution for Wisconsin is to gamble more public dollars at the Wall Street casino.

"Walker said he wants legislators to create a $100 million "fund of funds," an investment vehicle in which a manager hired by the state would put taxpayers' money into a variety of existing venture capital funds."

I like the caveat of the plan whereby investments must be in Wisconsin. But, wouldn't it be quicker, and more efficient, to just directly distribute these funds to targeted Wisconsin companies? Why pay Wall Street fees and commissions? Why hire a manager to do part of the job we elected our legislators to do?

Investment Versus Debt

$4.8 trillion of this (if we include the total $1 trillion, pre-Reagan, debt as the Democrats' debt), for argument's sake,  can be considered the Democrats.

That leaves $9.2 trillion the responsibility of the Republicans.

Over sixty-five percent of our debt is the responsibility of the tax-cut, deregulation, government-stinks, unions-are-thugs cabal.

We have one party - the Democrats - investing in the country, thereby incurring debt:

  • the infrastructure: roads, bridges, trains, wind turbines, broadband
  • the people: earned income tax credits, retraining incentives, unemployment insurance, Medicare, public works, green jobs
And, another party - the Republicans - digging in their heels on deregulation, public sector ineptitude, corporate tax cuts, and privatization; the policies explaining the majority of their debt-incurrence.

At least with the Democrats' policies we have something to show for what we've spent; an actual investment.

With the Republicans, all we seem to get is more debt and a continually-morphing economic platform impervious to empirical evidence and increasingly self-assured, even in the face of apparent failure.

History Lesson

Veil of Ignorance

A telling line from a recent Paul Krugman column (about our inadequate response to the second worst economic downturn in our history), "This doctrine was sold both with claims that there was no alternative — that both bailouts and spending cuts were necessary to satisfy financial markets — and with claims that fiscal austerity would actually create jobs.".

When did our representative democracy, our daily objectives, our standard for achievement and progress, equate to satisfying financial markets?

Job Killers

Sunday, October 23, 2011


The credit system, which has its focal point in the allegedly national banks and the big money-lenders and usurers that surround them, is one enormous centralization and gives this class of parasites a fabulous power not only to decimate the industrial capitalists periodically but also to interfere in actual production in the most dangerous manner—and this crew know nothing of production and have nothing at all to do with it.  ~  Karl Marx, Capital, vol. 3, chap. 33

Sunday Reading

Bankers' Salaries vs. Everyone Else's

Pick Your Poison

For those right-wingers endlessly blathering on about big government and runaway spending, Paul Krugman explains, "If you want smaller government, either you’re talking about cuts in the big five [Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, defense, and interest on the debt], or you have no idea what you’re talking about."

The Franchise

The Green Bay Packers have the best owners in football.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Fewer Jobs, Less Pay

No job growth and shitty pay at current positions. Definitely a recipe for an angry electorate. 

According to Republicans, President Obama was a failure because he merely halted the drastic economic downturn. (Even though Republicans don't give him credit, we've actually had months of positive job growth under Obama.) 

Republicans rushed into office in 2010 with promises of jobs, jobs, jobs. Their supply-side potion [snake-oil] was going to save the day. Yet, they've offered no jobs plan nor produced any job growth. 

The Obstructionists

Republicans - along with Ben Nelson, Mark Pryor and Joe Lieberman - have blocked a second attempt at a jobs bill.

Paul Ryan: Douchebag

Paul Ryan tells student to work three jobs rather than take Pell Grants.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

What We've Become

Let's see...Republicans have: cheered executions, cheered letting the uninsured die, booed a gay soldier, and, now, have cheered blaming the unemployed for our/their current economic woes.

How can anyone in their right mind be as morally bankrupt as to support and vote for such a platform?

What kind of world are we living in? We are now cheering for the death, rather then the redemption, of our fellow men/women.



We can now add child labor to the list of atrocities Republicans will applaud.

The (Horrible) Reality of Walmart

Now, it appears, South Milwaukee has succumb to the siren song of Walmart.

For Further Reading:

Always the low-road strategy
Cudahy: Out of ideas
Purchasing power
Walmart subsidy report for Wisconsin

Monday, October 17, 2011

The Boiling Point

Republican cynicism and misdirection during a recession garnered Republican election victories and, thus, they have pushed their sweeping agenda involving voter ID, conceal and carry, and ending collective bargaining...along with more corporate tax cuts, of course. (All the while, mind you, Republicans are simultaneously accusing the Democrats of changing the country for the worse, being anti-American, and of having their own sweeping agenda. Because they tried to get all citizens health care? Because they want to invest in the nation's infrastructure?)

Public workers and concerned citizens all over the country rallied and made their voices heard regarding this outrageous power-grab. Some might even consider Madison, Wisconsin the initial spark of this, now national, activism. Primarily agitated to life in Wisconsin due to the budgetary shenanigans and anti-labor policies of Scott Walker. 

From this movement Occupy Wall Street is born. A decades-overdue opposition to neoliberal, laissez faire, deregulated, unbridled capitalism, haunting us since the Reagan administration. These policies explain much of our inequality and the primary reason people have started The Occupation.

Finally, something to thank Scott Walker for.


Midweek Reading

As Unions Weaken So Does Middle Class
Blue States To The Rescue. Again.
China Labor Costs Push Jobs Back To U.S.
CEO Pay Soaring
Death Of Forests, Loss Of Key Climate Protector
Did Fannie Cause The Disaster?
Gas Tax Short Of Covering Roads
Misrepresentations, Regulations, Jobs
No Economic Recovery Without Smart Growth
Rewarding CEOs Who Fail
Spend, Spend, Spend
Tax Subsidies For Film Doesn't Pay Off 
5 Facts About The Wealthiest One Percent
To Boost Incomes, Uncle Same Should Lend A Hand
U.S. Manufacturing: The Engine That Could

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Milwaukee RiverWalk

The American Planning Association named the Milwaukee RiverWalk one of America's Great Public Spaces for 2011.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Midweek Reading

Are Wisconsin Public Employees Over-Compensated?
Child Poverty Rose Dramatically In Wisconsin Last Year
Does Right-To-Work Create Jobs?
Jim DeMint's Race To The Bottom
Milwaukee Income Drops 22% As Jobs Threats Continue
Smart Growth Law Would Be Gutted By Proposed Legislation
Tax Cuts Break The Bank
What's Wrong With Right-To-Work?
Wisconsin Has Lean Public Sector
Wisconsin Public Servants Already Face A Compensation Penalty

Prosperity, Poverty & Unemployment

In an article celebrating the Milwaukee area's good job growth, the most concealing quote has to be, "It's possible to have prosperity and poverty right next to each other. We're kind of accumulating, in the human resources sense, tons of people who just don't have employable skills. I don't know what you do to flip that around."

Another great obfuscation of our increasingly unequal society, alongside the talking-point of structural unemployment

We have poverty alongside prosperity because the prosperous have taken control of government and steered all the economic gains back into their own pockets. There are plenty of jobs [infrastructure, public works] which could employ the supposedly unemployable if only we had the political will.

It should also be noted that there is a general lack of interest in poverty. It's rarely mentioned. It's rarely talked about. They are the unspoken class in American society. We're much too concerned with quarterly returns, tax breaks for the job "creators," and keeping up with the Joneses. 1 in 6 Americans lives in poverty. Yet, we're more concerned about making sure the richest among us don't see their taxes rise 3 percent.

The idea that there aren't skilled workers to do the needed jobs is really just a diversion of responsibility by the job "creators". People can't get by on the wages being offered. We keep hearing how businesses just can't find workers to do the job. It's the fault of government, universities, the technical schools. But all of this myth-making misses the rudimentary economic principle of supply and demand. If there is work that needs to be done, yet workers are hard to find, business either goes to where the workers are, or they pay a wage high enough to attract the workers they need.

This also exemplifies the double-standard many anti-tax, pro-business people hold. They are job creators. They shouldn't have to pay taxes or have social responsibilities. But when they are unwilling to pay the market wage, the government must come to the rescue and train workers, provide subsidies, or help them out in some fashion. And, we shouldn't forget (as Elizabeth Warren recently reminded) about the roads, the court system, police protection, and other public services that allow their businesses to operate - services that we all pay for.

In another [two articles mentioning poverty! - I guess that will be all we hear about it for the rest of the year] recent article (which displayed the usual passerby/woe-is-me/only-time-will-tell attitude toward poverty), Tom Hefty, ex-Blue Cross executive, blamed Milwaukee politicians (i.e. Democrats) for "economic decline and rising poverty rates" in Milwaukee. Backhandedly blaming Democratic policies for all economic calamity. Yet, seemingly oblivious to the fact that poverty is increasing 5 times faster in the suburbs than in the city. 

Policy is failing workers, the poor, the middle class, 99% of us, whether we're in the suburbs or the city. The reality is: tax cuts are no panacea, and, good government does more for the majority of citizens than "free" markets and privatization. Poverty and unemployment are a failure of executives included.

For Further Reading:
Assessing Structural Unemployment 
Debunking The Theory of Structural Unemployment
Deconstructing Structural Unemployment 
It's About Job Shortage, Not Skills Mismatch 
Jobs Revisions Bust Structural Unemployment Myths
The Myth of Structural Unemployment
Structural Unemployment & "Skills" Mismatch
Structural Unemployment Myths 
Structural Unemployment 
Structure of Excuses 
Who's Unemployed?

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Going Postal

By now we've all heard about the "crisis" at the U.S. Postal Service. But, in what seems more Republican smoke and mirrors, this "crisis" is another manufactured distraction.

As explained at Firedoglake:

"The USPS economic crisis is the result of a provision of the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act of 2006 that requires the Postal Service to pre-fund the health care benefits of future retirees—a burden no other government agency or private company bears.

The legislation requires the USPS to fund a 75-year liability over a 10-year period, and that requirement costs the USPS more than $5.5 billion per year. Guffey also pointed out that “the federal government is holding billions of dollars in postal overpayments to its pension accounts.

All of the USPS losses over the past four years come from this mandate. You cannot find another organization in the world, AFAIK, that pre-funds 75 years of benefits over a 10-year period. And it’s not just the overpayments, it’s the opportunity costs of having to hold that much reserve capital that cannot be used when times are tough, or to invest in more attractive services. This results from a 2006 law that was one of the last time bombs of the Denny Hastert-Bill Frist Congress. That needs to change.

Today, rallies are being held from 4-5:30pm local time to support the postal service. The locations are available here. Just about every Congressional district in the country will see a rally.

Over time, the postal service could need some additional innovation, as mail volume reduces. I suggested they take on simple banking, and there are other ideas available. In the short-term, the pre-funding mechanism is the entire problem. Hopefully the rallies will stick to this very simple message."

For Further Reading:
Postal Workers Rally Against Manufactured Crisis

Goldman Sachs Rules The World

Is Our Children Learning?*

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities latest research highlights the drastic effect of the Scott Walker budget on education funding for Wisconsin. We have seen the 4th largest dollar decline in spending per student. We have the 3rd largest percent decline in spending per student. And, the largest decline in inflation-adjusted dollars spent per student (FY11 to FY12).


Weekend Reading

Do Regulations Kill Jobs? Not So Much.
I'd Rather Be An Unlucky Ducky
Is Junk Food Really Cheaper?
Rick Perry Has A Heart
The Lake Left Me. It's Gone.
The U.S. Content Of Made In China
Whatever Happened To The American Left
Why Supply-Side Economics Won't Solve Current Malaise