Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Chile's and Social Security Privatization

When you hear of some folks touting the success of Social Security privatization in Chile, remind them that it didn't work so well. The people in power kept their government version and foisted the private version onto everyone else. Are the Republicans taking their models from Pinochet? Figures.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Stimulus is Working

From Reuters:
CBO said the stimulus increased the number of full-time equivalent jobs by up to 4.8 million
The program is working. Now, will the critics leave off? I rather doubt it.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


Germany is an example of how a heavily regulated economy is weather this economic storm quite well.

Monday, August 23, 2010

No one likes the nice guy

A WSU study finds that being helpful doesn't alway help.
Parks and Stone found that unselfish colleagues come to be resented because they "raise the bar" for what is expected of everyone. As a result, workers feel the new standard will make everyone else look bad.

Could this help explain what conservatives don't like about liberals? They set the bar just too damn high.

Bush Tax Cuts - Time to Go

Do we want to be effective or just line the pockets of the powerful?
But it’s hard to think of a less cost-effective way to help the economy than giving money to people who already have plenty, and aren’t likely to spend a windfall.

No, this has nothing to do with sound economic policy. Instead, as I said, it’s about a dysfunctional and corrupt political culture, in which Congress won’t take action to revive the economy, pleads poverty when it comes to protecting the jobs of schoolteachers and firefighters, but declares cost no object when it comes to sparing the already wealthy even the slightest financial inconvenience.

Billionaires against Obama

The TEA partiers and other Obama haters wouldn't be effective at all if it weren't for the really big money that is behind them.
The Kochs are longtime libertarians who believe in drastically lower personal and corporate taxes, minimal social services for the needy, and much less oversight of industry-especially environmental regulation. These views dovetail with the brothers' corporate interests. In a study released this spring, the University of Massachusetts at Amherst's Political Economy Research Institute named Koch Industries one of the top ten air polluters in the United States. And Greenpeace issued a report identifying the company as a "kingpin of climate science denial." The report showed that, from 2005 to 2008, the Kochs vastly outdid ExxonMobil in giving money to organizations fighting legislation related to climate change, underwriting a huge network of foundations, think tanks, and political front groups. Indeed, the brothers have funded opposition campaigns against so many Obama Administration policies-from health-care reform to the economic-stimulus program-that, in political circles, their ideological network is known as the Kochtopus.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

On the Elections

The recent primary results show that we Democrats have a tough task ahead of us before November. Our candidates will be out-spent and out-shouted as we go into the general election. Our main and most effective weapon will be our own voices. We need to not be bashful about raising those voices. And we have a powerful message to share. We must remind everyone that the policies of the opposition are proven failures. During the Bush years lowering taxes on the rich did NOT produce jobs. Decreasing regulations brought about this Republican Recession that now dogs our citizens. All the ideas that Republicans are using to influence voters have been tried and all of us are paying the price for them to this very day.

As reported by many news organizations in April and May of this year, current tax rates are the lowest they have been in 60 years. The idea that higher taxes are going to strangle businesses is simply not true. Any business that is so on-the-edge that a bit more in taxes is going to kill it already has a failing business model. People in the top income bracket are getting a freer ride now than they have in decades. During that time, the real earnings of middle-income have been in decline. Contrary to the Republican line, the real engine of economic growth is middle-income spending not high-income spending.

State government spending primarily represents our human obligation to one another. We must work together to provide a good education to our children, to provide the infrastructure businesses need to flourish, and to be a backstop to our most vulnerable citizens. When Republicans talk about cutting state spending, they are actually talking about shirking our moral obligations.

At the Federal level we are in an unfortunate situation in which the financial system has become paralyzed (thanks to excesses produced by ill-considered deregulation). When private sector activity dries up, the economy collapses unless some other economic activity comes in to take over. This is what happened in the Great Depression and it is what is happening now. It was the massive spending of World War II that finally ended that era. Thankfully we have avoided the worst effects of the Great Depression. And it will require the discipline of continued spending to bring us out of the Republican Recession. No one wants to waste money so we can have a discussion of what constitutes appropriate spending. If we are wise, we can direct spending to infrastructure and initiatives that prepare us for future robust growth. That growth will erase the debt we are incurring. When businesses spend to grow, it’s called investing. The same should apply to government spending now. But spend we must until the ravages of deregulation have been healed.

We must remind voters that regulation wasn’t dreamed up out of thin air to harm business. Every regulation was enacted to mitigate a problem. Remove the regulation and you are allowing that problem to return. Perhaps regulation can be more streamlined or more effective. But the need for it is certain.

The Republican attacks even extend to Social Security. Yet they can offer no alternative that is better. Whatever they do offer is only worse and, given their track record, much worse.

As Democrats, we have a fight on our hands. But it is a good fight. It is a fight worth fighting. We have a message worth sending. We have a moral obligation to raise our voices and speak out. The facts of history are on our side. Let us not be found wanting in our energy or effort at this critical time.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Eating Local

It seems that eating local isn't necessarily the best thing.
The best way to make the most of these truly precious resources of land,
favorable climates and human labor is to grow lettuce, oranges, wheat,
peppers, bananas, whatever, in the places where they grow best and with
the most efficient technologies - and then pay the relatively tiny
energy cost to get them to market, as we do with every other commodity
in the economy. Sometimes that means growing vegetables in your
backyard. Sometimes that means buying vegetables grown in California or
Costa Rica.

Eating locally grown produce is a fine thing in many ways. But it is not
an end in itself, nor is it a virtue in itself. The relative pittance of
our energy budget that we spend on modern farming is one of the wisest
energy investments we can make, when we honestly look at what it returns
to our land, our economy, our environment and our well-being.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Social Security Defense

Paul Krugman explodes the myth that Social Security will be in trouble or will be a problem for the federal budget. The boomer fix is in. Middle and lower income folks have been paying higher FICA taxes for a few years building up a surplus. That surplus is held in treasury bonds. As those bonds get cashed to pay for the boomer benefits taxes collected from high income folks will provide the needed cash. All those folks raising alarms about it are simply trading in manure.

Update: It would be interesting to press those who wish to do away with Social Security on what exactly do they propose as an alternative. Not one of them will be better, most of them worse.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Peak of the Laffer Curve

The Laffer Curve has been so abused to justify ruinous tax cuts. Here is a modest proposal to actually use it. Raise taxes to the point where genuine adverse effects become apparent. Then back off. At that point we shall have a well-funded government able to properly regulate the markets to everyone's genuine benefit.

The Devil We Know

In true human fashion it seems we tend to readily accept death and disease from carbon-based energy production rather that rationally understand the real risks of radiation. We swim in a sea of natural low-level radiation all about us but blanch when someone talks about simply adding a few more insignificant drops to that sea.

Want Certainty? Cap Carbon.

If the uncertainty in coming regulations is holding back investment, doesn't it seem rational to stop hindering those regulations and get them in place so certainty, investment, and profits can be restored? Employment is recovering in the banking and health care industries because regulation has been settled. Shouldn't we do the same for industry?

Cancer and Fructose

In addition to being a fattening agent, in now has been confirmed that cancers really like fructose such as the ubiquitous high fructose corn syrup.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Iraq war wasn't worth the cost

Many of us had that figured out/ back when it all began.

Ovulating women and sexier clothing

It's not the men they are trying to impress. They just want to outdo
the other women
. For me this explains why many women seemingly obsess
about how they appear to other women.

Judge Walker's and Prop 8

The overturn of Prop 8 has been precisely written to withstand a Supreme Court challenge. I find it really interesting that the defense was so weak that there are simply no grounds on which an effective appeal can be mounted.

Artificial life forms evolve basic intelligence

It's really basic intelligence. Essentially there is a natural selection for entities that can remember. But, cool nonetheless.

Quality of life

Another reason to jettison that extra weight. Not only does obesity
decrease life expectancy it also decreases the quality of that life.