And I have nothing to say.
From today’s New York Times, an op-ed by two academics – a law professor and an economics professor – offers a unique proposal. Their column is titled Paying for Old Age. They propose government-issued annuities which could be as attractive as those issued by insurance companies are not (AIG anyone?).
This new product wouldn’t cost the government a penny. In fact, the Treasury would benefit. It is only an incremental move beyond issuing inflation-adjusted bonds, which the Treasury already does. By allowing the government to tap a new class of investors, the cost of government borrowing over all would probably drop.
POSTED BY ORHAN
I’ve been listening to Part 1 and Part 2 of the Ian Murphy prank call to Scott Walker, where Murphy impersonates billionaire David Koch. Only Walker knows what was in his mind at the time, but a few conclusions about him can be drawn from the exchange.
The word “compromise” is not in Walker’s lexicon: “…if they think I’m caving, they’ve been asleep for the last eight years”, “I’m not negotiating”, “I’ve taken on every major battle in Milwaukee County and won, even in a county where I’m overwhelmingly overpowered politically,…’cause I don’t budge.”
Walker sees his base as consisting of two main groups: 1) wealthy business leaders, and 2) resentful working people, regular people who’ve either been savaged by the system or are just scraping by and are telling themselves, “I don’t have a secure middle class job with benefits and a pension, why should the other guy have those things?” Today there are a lot of folks like this in America, and Walker taps into this feeling. He brings up a story in the New York Times that highlights “a guy who was laid off two years ago…he’s been laid off twice by GM…everybody else in his town has had to sacrifice except for all these public employees and it’s about damn time they do”. Back in the thirties, muckraking journalist Lincoln Steffens captured it perfectly when he quoted a Pennsylvania politician, “We know that public despair is possible and that that is good politics.”
Walker is a conservative true believer with the sense that he is riding the crest of history. He talks about conservatives the way evangelicals talk about themselves: he refers to people as being “one of us” or “not one of us”. He refers to a Democratic senator who made a lot of money in the private sector as “a little more open-minded” but “he’s not a…conservative. He’s just a pragmatist.” Towards the end of the call he likens Ronald Reagan’s firing of the air-traffic controllers to the “first crack in the Berlin Wall and the fall of Communism” and compares it to the current situation in Wisconsin: “this is our moment, this is our time to change the course of history”, “…we’re doing the just and right thing for the right reasons, and it’s all about getting our freedoms back”, “The bottom line is we’re gonna get the world moving here because it’s the right thing to do.”
The notion that Walker’s legislation is an emergency measure required by the current crisis is ludicrous. It’s just a continuation of the agenda he’s
championed his entire career: privatization, deregulation, tax cuts, cuts in social services to poor and working people. And it’s been the plan all along.
Posted in corporate power, economy, From Orhan's Perch, Government, labor, Plutocrats, Politics
Tagged Berlin Wall, David Koch, Ian Murphy, Lincoln Steffens, New York Times, Ronald Reagan, Scott Walker, United States, Wisconsin
After a few bad days, Elvis always helps . . .
A confusing day of mixed signals, following a night of little or no sleep, and the unblogginess persists. Meanwhile, and before I find an oldie, how about something to make us smile:
My back hurts. It does that sometimes, and when it does the ache plays hell with any plan to sit and/or concentrate for more than a few minutes at a time. So I get up and down and press my hands against my lower back (a firmly established medical principle by the way). Any attempt to focus and thus distract does not go well.
Quite a shame since I had so much bloggy brilliance building up inside me. It was all scheduled to burst forth this very day! But my back hurts.
Okay, so FOX News did another one of their silly “oh my goodness! we put the wrong information up! right on the screen! and then talked about it! for a long time! but that’s okay because, now, in the last minute of the show, we’re correcting that. (Not correcting that old graphic of course, just telling you.)”
Misinformation is consequential and FOX knows that. People are in the street fighting for their future and other people are getting angry about it. And FOX says a Gallup poll says the exact opposite of what it actually said.
Gallup asked if respondents favored or opposed taking away collective bargaining rights. The poll showed 61% saying it was wrong to take them away and 33% said okay, take them away.
Here’s what FOX put up (and then used to bolster their own position)
POSTED BY ORHAN
Speaking love to power:
Because we deserve a break today too.
Posted in corporate power, culture, From Orhan's Perch, Government, Media
Tagged conformity, consumerism, corporations, free speech, Shopping, Television, The Love Police
Mr.Limbaugh says of Michelle Obama“I’m trying to say that our first lady does not project the image of women that you might see on the cover of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue or of a woman Alex Rodriguez might date every six months or what have you,” Limbaugh said Monday.
In other news, here’s a sneak peek at the next cover of Playgirl.
I'm too sexy for my clothes
Click CC at bottom – it’s better with captions.
Any reader of this blog knows I am entirely secular and practice no religion. My brother Joe, however, does; he is the current President of Pax Romana, and as such writes the occasional letter to the membership. From today’s letter:
“In these difficult times how important it is, therefore, for Catholic intellectual and professional leaders to listen to the wisdom of the Social Magisterium of the Church. The pope and the bishops of the world continue to proclaim that Catholic doctrine still supports unions, just as initially taught by Pope Leo XIII in his classic encyclical Rerum Novarum, and that today in this new era of globalization unions may be even more important.”
Those words reminded me that struggles for the dignity of work and the worker reach deep into our past. Right now, we’re witnessing a renewed battle, another attempt at some good old fashioned union busting. Sadly, too many Americans who today share that appetite won’t acknowledge that those very people they rail against are the ones who gave them a five day work week (instead of seven), an eight hour workday (instead of 12), a vacation and a safe work environment.
The great American tradition of shooting ourselves in the foot goes on.
Posted in corporate power, Current Events, economy, Family and Friends, Government, History, Plutocrats, Politics, religion
Tagged CAtholic Magisterium, labor unions, organized labor, Pax Romana, Pope Leo XIII, Rerum Novarum
If these new governors in WI, OH and FL (among others) succeed in breaking public worker unions, look for private business to feel emboldened and go after their own unions.
Posted in Civics, corporate power, Current Events, elections, Government, labor, Plutocrats, Politics, Random thoughts
Tagged economy, government budgets, labor unions, Politics, public unions
POSTED BY ORHAN
On the topic of Wisconsin’s Budget Repair Bill – this came from ginandtacos by way of Democratic Underground, HuffPo, and Rortybomb. Ginandtacos, whose analysis is excellent, read the entire 144-page bill and found this:
“16.896 Sale or contractual operation of state-owned heating, cooling, and power plants….the department may sell any state-owned heating, cooling, and power plant or may contract with a private entity for the operation of any such plant, with or without solicitation of bids, for any amount that the department determines to be in the best interest of the state… no approval or certification of the public service commission is necessary for a public utility to purchase, or contract for the operation of, such a plant, and any such purchase is considered to be in the public interest and to comply with the criteria for certification of a project…”
Sounds like the state will be able to sell off or contract out the operation of its energy plants with zero accountability and zero public debate. As to who’ll end up benefiting the most from this, right now the bets are on Koch Industries.
Posted in corporate power, Current Events, economy, From Orhan's Perch, Government, Plutocrats, Politics
Tagged crony capitalism, kleptocracy, Koch brothers, Koch Industries, Politics, Public utility, Rortybomb, Scott Walker, Wisconsin
POSTED BY ORHAN
The most controversial parts of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s Budget Repair Bill are in the section “State and Local Government and School District Labor Relations” that covers limits to collective bargaining by public employees. Some of the important points:
- Many public employees will lose all rights to collectively negotiate better contracts.
- For public unions that can still negotiate better contracts, the best they’ll be able to do is fight to keep wages even with inflation – it will be illegal to address any other grievance.
- Public union members who participate in an organized action to stop or slow work (e.g., strike) can be fired – the unions’ main bargaining chip will be swept off the table.
- Even if a public union manages to negotiate a favorable contract, it can’t last more than a year.
- Public unions will be forced to hold yearly elections just to maintain their own existence.
Now if that isn’t union-busting, I don’t know what is.
Look what the Germans did . . . this amazing factory sits right in downtown Dresden. I especially like the connection with the City streetcar system. This is a city that was leveled by Allied bombs in WWII, and rebuilt by the United States under the Marshall Plan. Wonder if that financed their wonderful public transit system?
It was once a rallying cry. But we lost that one, along with the jobs. I remember when WalMart ran a big ad campaigns showcasing “Made in the USA” labels on thier merchandise – I think they meant the labels. That campagin crashed when it was revealed to be a lie. Not that anyone beleived them anyway.
Posted in Civics, corporate power, Current Events, economy, Government, History, Plutocrats, Politics
Tagged ILGWU, labor unions, Made in the USA, wages, WalMart
Capital. Resources. Labor. Remove any one of those, and you do not have an economy.
“If any man tells you he loves America, yet hates labor, he is a liar.”
– Abraham Lincoln
h/t The Back Channel Blog
Posted in Civics, corporate power, Current Events, economy, History, Plutocrats, Politics
Tagged Abraham Lincoln, capitalism, history, labor, labor strike, labor unions, Wisconsin
Before Governor Good Hair, Texas had this fella. But they lost him when he moved on to do to us what he did to Texas.
Maybe if I just didn’t read the paper or maybe if Ed didn’t send me these links, I could spare myself the agony of the ugly. But he did and elvis help me I read it. So . . . let me share the joy.
Texas knows how to do things. How else to explain:
- Their students rank 47th in the nation in literacy
- Their students rank 49th in verbal SAT scores
- And their students rank 46th in math scores
- They have the highest birth rate in the country
- They rank third in teen pregnancies and
- They rank absolutely first in repeat teen pregnancies.
- They spend more federal money than any other state for abstinence programs. Because it’s really working for them.
At least they have Governor Good Hair.
Posted in abortion, Civics, culture, Government, Makes me angry, Politics, religion
Tagged Abstinence-Only, Birth rate, Education rankings, Gov. Ric Perry, Sex education, Teenage pregnancy, Texas
Some weeks ago I posted that Egypt may be changing our world.
I have my headphones on and am listening to a report from ITN on PBS, my preferred method of watching the news without actually watching. Libya and Bahrain appear to be in genuine revolt. In Bahrain, amidst violence from the government, they’re crying ‘where are the Americans; where are the Brits?” In Libya, the reporter says they don’t care what the US or Brits want or think. Just hearing these things is a bit jarring.
And then there’s no way of knowing the effect of the US veto in the UN today condemning the ongoing Israeli settlements. The issue is neither the UN’s attempt at condemnation nor the US veto. The issue is will it have any effect on what’s hapepning in the Arab world and if so, what?
By the way, a million showed up today in Cairo – a million – to ‘keep hope alive’. They’re not done by any means. More clashes could come.
Egypt may be changing our world.
Posted in Current Events, Egypt
Tagged Arab world, Bahrain, Cairo, democracy, Egypt, ITN, Libya, PBS, revolution, The News HOur
POSTED BY ORHAN
Over at Make Wealth History there’s a post on Japan as the world’s first post-growth economy. In the eyes of economists, Japan is an economic disaster. GDP has been essentially flat since the early nineties. China’s economy outstripped Japan’s for the first time last year. “And yet”, says Jeremy:
“…the lights are still on, everything still works. Literacy is high, and crime is low. Life expectancy is better than almost anywhere on earth – 82 years to the US’ 78. The trains run to the second. Unemployment is only 5%, and levels of inequality are enviable. Real per capita income growth matches America’s at 0.7% over the past decade. It’s hardly a basket case. In fact, it is living proof that growth isn’t necessary to deliver a high standard of living.”
Even though some economists are horrified at the lack of growth, others are thinking twice. If the goal of a state is to nurture and sustain its people, Japan may not be doing so badly after all. And it may turn into a model for other countries that are hitting the wall in terms of economic growth.
A NOTE AFTER THE FACT: My post below fails to note that this Wisconsin fight isn’t capital vs. labor. It’s different in that the private sector isn’t involved. But the sentiment doesn’t change – there’s been an assault on labor (you and me!) for decades.
I see Wisconsin* State Democratic legislators have taken to the road to prevent a quorum vote on a budget cutting bill because if they stayed in the State they could be legally compelled to attend a session. So they’ve removed themselves from the jurisdiction, It’s all over the news; here is a good place to keep up on it – from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
Those ladies and gents in Madison are following in the footsteps of giants. In the footsteps of Texans, that is.
May, 2003. Memories . . .
“With action in the Texas House brought to a standstill, roughly 50 state Democratic representatives said they would remain in neighboring Oklahoma “as long as it takes” to block a Republican-drawn redistricting plan that could cost them five seats in Congress. “There’s 51 of us here today, and a quorum of the Texas House of Representatives will not meet without us,” said state Rep. Jim Dunnam.
The 2003 Texas stampede to Oklahoma inspired Mr. Thomas Delay himself to exert a little unlawful pressure on State authorities to travel over those state lines. Which was bad. Bad, bad, bad, even though those miscreant lawmakers (who’d found themselves a nice motel with a good pool table as I recall) had surely annoyed Mr. Delay, he probably wishes he hadn’t done it. Because that was one of the things for which Mr. Delay was investigated and indicted. Ah, hubris.)
Good times. Who says politics is dull?
* ALSO: It would be interesting if this centuries old capital/labor battle were to be fought on the home ground of the last century’s greatest progressive, Robert LaFollette. These guys forget that the ‘right to collective bargaining’ was established after much blood had been spilled, and the parties realized that talking was better than shooting.
(The tension of course never went entirely away and there has always been a faction that would destroy ‘labor’ – actually they want the laborers, they just don’t want uppity folk looking over their shoulders to see if safety is being observed or if wages are fair.)
Still laboring on my deadline work, but I coudlnt’ let this go by.
Did he really say that?
Mr. Karl Rove, great American, has stepped forward to warn his party that the birther movement is going to hurt them. Okay. He’s a political strategist and he knows this stuff and he is right.
But look what he finishes with:
” . . . Rove wants GOP presidential hopefuls to speak out. “If they’d step forward and say, ‘Look, we’ve got better things to talk about, than to fall into this trap that the White House has laid for us,’ this issue will start to go away.”
Posted in Civics, Congress critters, Current Events, Did I hear that right?, Government, Politics
Tagged Barack Obama, birther movement, Birthers, elections, Karl Rove, Obama citizenship, Politics
Once again I am facing double deadlines in my ‘volunteer’ jobs, so blogging is light. Retired persons ought to have gained the skills to avoid such situations. I apparently didn’t. Or I forgot.
This brief post by guest blogger Orhan is the first of what I hope will be many. He still toils in the frigid canyons of New York but maybe dreams of the Sunshine State. I really must ask him. – Moe
POSTED BY ORHAN
Rush tells us that if the Tea Party fails and Obamacare is not repealed in 2012, “WE GO EGYPT ON OBAMA”.
. . . this guy would be the GOP nominee for President. Mitch Daniels, governor of Indiana and one-time head of the Office of Management and Budget, both of which, whatever his politics, suggest he has a clue about how the world works.
I’ve liked him for some time, but my opinion of him soared today when I saw some CPAC video in which he named names – talk radio names, FOX News names – in talking about obstacles to getting things done.
Predictably, Mr. Limbaugh of Palm Beach, the most thin skinned of the on air bullies, came right at him today. If Daniels doesn’t back down as others have with depressing regularity, he’ll burnish his credentials even more and prove he has political courage.
But I don’t think he’ll be the candidate. He is tipping his toe in the water, but I hope he pulls it back and waits till
2012, 2016 when a Republican has a chance and I’d just as soon they nominate an adult.
Looks like the creeping let’s-just-kill-the-damn-liberals and other people-we-don’t-like movement is gaining more steam. (h/t The Fifth Column)
South Dakota Moves to Legalize Killing Abortion Providers
Of course, good moral citizens have been gunning down abortion providers for some time. Now some fine congress critters in South Dakota would just like to make it nice and legal.
It is not crazy to expect this sort of thing will spread. Were anyone to propose such a thing 30 years ago, there would have been a collective gasp of shock and horror across the country. Today, it will barely cause a ripple. Cultures change and we are changing.
Eliminationism – in language and actions – has become more visible over the last few years. Much more on the subject can be found here in the first installment of an astonishing bit of work – a ten-part series by David Neiwert on eliminationist tendencies and language throughout history with emphasis on today.
Definition from the Wikipedia link above: Eliminationism is the belief that one’s political opponents are a cancer on the body politic that must be excised — either by separation from the public at large, through censorship or by outright extermination — in order to protect the purity of the nation.
Posted in abortion, Arts and Entertainment, Civics, culture, History, Politics
Tagged abortion, cultural conservatism, David Neiwert, Eliminationism, Politics, South Dakota