Archive | August, 2012

Paul Ryan: The Man Who Wasn’t There | The Nation

24 Aug

Judged by the entirety of his career, Ryan is merely a good-looking version of a typical Obama-era Republican. He calls for budgetary discipline while exploding the deficit. He speaks of lowering taxes but merely shifts the burden to the middle class. Back in the Bush administration, he rarely met a boondoggle he didn’t embrace. On social issues, he may as well be Pat Robertson: Ryan co-sponsored a federal “fetal personhood” amendment, voted to defund Planned Parenthood, and offered legislation to prevent Medicaid from funding abortions even in cases of rape or incest.

via Paul Ryan: The Man Who Wasn’t There | The Nation.

Household Income Down Since Recession

24 Aug

Household income has declined in the three years since the recession. According to a report by Sentier Research, a firm headed by two former Census Bureau executives, from June 2009 to June 2012 the inflation-adjusted median household income fell 4.8 percent to $50,964.

… Median income is now 7.2 percent below its December 2007 level and 8.1 percent below where it stood in January 2000.

via Jaime Cone – Salon.com.

We Need a ‘Conservative’ Party – NYTimes.com

23 Aug

America today desperately needs a serious, thoughtful, credible 21st-century “conservative” opposition to President Obama, and we don’t have that, even though the voices are out there.

You mean a Conserving Consensus kind of candidate, one who believes in Truth and Traditions?

via We Need a ‘Conservative’ Party – NYTimes.com.

CBO: U.S. Is on Track for a Terrible 2013 Recession (Unless Congress Acts) – Derek Thompson – The Atlantic

23 Aug

On January 1, 2013, America’s tax and spending picture changes suddenly and dramatically. Taxes go up by about $400 billion. (The Bush/Obama tax cuts expire, the stimulus tax cuts expire, the payroll tax cuts expire, the business investment tax cuts expire, *and* the health care reform tax increases begin.) Spending goes down by about $100 billion. (The Budget Control Act, which cuts into discretionary spending, coincides with reduced unemployment insurance payments and a sharp drop in Medicare payment rates for physicians.) That’s a painful bite for an economy clinging to growth and 8% unemployment.

We’d lose our grip on both things — growth and 8% unemployment — without further action. Unemployment would go back to 9%. Real GDP would fall by about 3% in the first half of 2013. The double-dip would be very real.

via CBO: U.S. Is on Track for a Terrible 2013 Recession (Unless Congress Acts) – Derek Thompson – The Atlantic.

How Did Coal-Rich India End Up With Power Blackouts? | The Nation

23 Aug

“If you work hard, and put your heart and soul into it, then you are allowed to steal some,” said Shivpal Singh Yadav, a minister for public works for India’s most populous state, Uttar Pradesh (UP). “But don’t be a bandit.” Caught on camera, Yadav’s words were replayed in newscasts across India on August 9, 2012, nine days after a power failure left half of India’s population—one-tenth of the planet’s people—without power. Among the Indian states that suffered the blackout, twice, was Yadav’s home state of UP.

A preliminary government investigation into the cause of the blackouts blamed “indiscipline of state electricity boards and faulty management by the northern grid operator Power Grid Corporation” for the blackouts. Yet two other simpler reasons, theft and climate change, should not be overlooked.

Theft and corruption have played a role in India’s power failures for decades. At every step in the supply chain, money is siphoned off via direct bribes or shortcuts.

So, the US financial industry isn’t the only center of corruption in the civilized world. Small comfort.

via How Did Coal-Rich India End Up With Power Blackouts? | The Nation.

Mission accomplished for Big Oil? – Salon.com

23 Aug

In 2011, after nearly nine years of war and occupation, U.S. troops finally left Iraq. In their place, Big Oil is now present in force and the country’s oil output, crippled for decades, is growing again. Iraq recently reclaimed the number two position in the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), overtaking oil-sanctioned Iran. Now, there’s talk of a new world petroleum glut. So is this finally mission accomplished?

Well, not exactly. In fact, any oil company victory in Iraq is likely to prove as temporary as George W. Bush’s triumph in 2003. The main reason is yet another of those stories the mainstream media didn’t quite find room for: the role of Iraqi civil society. But before telling that story, let’s look at what’s happening to Iraqi oil today, and how we got from the “no blood for oil” global protests of 2003 to the present moment.

via Mission accomplished for Big Oil? – Salon.com.

War in Afghanistan Claims 2,000th American Life – NYTimes.com

22 Aug

2000 UNNECESSARY deaths.

Nearly nine years passed before American forces reached their first 1,000 dead in the war. The second 1,000 came just 27 months later, a testament to the intensity of fighting prompted by President Obama’s decision to send 33,000 additional troops to Afghanistan in 2010, a policy known as the surge.

via War in Afghanistan Claims 2,000th American Life – NYTimes.com.

Monkeys reject unequal pay

21 Aug

Greg Mankiw points us to this revealing video from Frans de Waal. This is an excerpt from a longer TED video, also excellent.

Follow the link and check out the video. It’s wonderful,

via Monkeys reject unequal pay.

Isolated and Under-Exposed: Why the Rich Don’t Give – Neighborhoods – The Atlantic Cities

21 Aug

The study looked at tax returns for people with reported earnings of $50,000 or more from the year 2008 – the most recent year for which data was available. The report found that for people earning between $50,000 and $75,000, an average of 7.6 percent of discretionary income was donated to charity. For those earning $200,000 or more, just 4.2 percent of discretionary income was donated.

Turns out lower giving among the rich likely has much more to do with where they live and who they live near.

As this accompanying article from the journal notes, when the rich are highly concentrated in wealthy enclaves, they’re less likely to give as compared with the rich living in more economically diverse neighborhoods. The report found that in neighborhoods where more than 40 percent of taxpayers reported earning $200,000 or more, the average giving was just 2.8 percent of discretionary income.

In other words, concentration of wealth is also isolation from the less fortunate.

via Isolated and Under-Exposed: Why the Rich Don’t Give – Neighborhoods – The Atlantic Cities.

On the Stump, Romney and Ryan Avoid Real Medicare Debate | The Nation

21 Aug

All Romney/Ryan are doing is trying to hide from the American public just how badly they would shred the social safety net in order to pay for giving themselves giant tax cuts.

Ryan actually included the savings from cuts to wasteful private subsidies in the Medicare Advantage program that the ACA enacted—the same ones he now inveighs against in every speech—in his own budget. The reason he kept them in his budget, even while he votes to repeal the ACA and therefore would lose them, is because it gives him more breathing room. Take away those savings, and Ryan would have to come up with even more cuts to other popular programs.

The Obama campaign is understandably aggravated by their opponents’ cowardly refusal to stand and fight.

I’ll bet that Gary Johnson, Libertarian Party and Jill Stein, Green Party, would have a good and useful debate on Medicare.

via On the Stump, Romney and Ryan Avoid Real Medicare Debate | The Nation.