Monday ReadsPosted: February 28, 2011
Okay, so I’m going to show you two nifty pie charts first at The Business Insider. They basically show how the federal balance is extremely unbalanced because expenses are growing and revenues are not growing at all. Henry Blodgett correctly points out that there’s quite a bit of growth in ‘entitlements’. Let me just point out that all this makes complete sense to me What do you get in an economy that has normalized around a 10 percent unemployment rate or higher if you count the things like disenfranchised workers and the underemployed and couple that with year after year after year after year of excessive tax cuts on the uberrich who happen to be the only ones making money? Well, you get more and more people that are reliant on unemployment and other government ‘entitlements’ and you get a huge revenue gap. This is about the most careless set of policy choices made that I’ve seen since I first read up on the Hoover administration and the start of the Great Depression.
The “expense” pie is growing like gangbusters, driven by the explosive growth of the entitlement programs that no one in government even has the balls to talk about. “Revenue” is barely growing at all.
As we’ll illustrate with more of Mary’s charts next week, the US cannot grow its way out of this problem. It needs to cut spending, specifically entitlement spending. We hereby announce that we’ll give a special gold star to the first “leader” with the guts to say that publicly.
I’ll give a box of gold stars to any one that points out to this blowhard that the way to remove the growing entitlements is to put people back to work. Also, giving tax money to rich people so they can invest in the BRIC economies and buy land where their money is parked in the Bahamas or Grand Caymans is a really, really stupid proposition. We’ve needed a real jobs program for some times. People with jobs pay taxes, buy things that are taxed, and don’t require entitlements. How absolutely stupid do you have to be to not get that? I don’t even need all those economics and finance degrees to figure that one out.
In the Friday Reads I mentioned that Fox News’ Roger Ailes was caught on tape encouraging colleagues to lie to Federal Investigators. Well, it seems that lying has finally caught up with one Republican operative. Maybe people will wake up to the Faux News’ and their dirty tricks now. Here’s what Barry Ritholtz had to say about his scoop on the indictment.
Here’s what I learned recently: Someone I spoke with claimed that Ailes was scheduled to speak at their event in March, but canceled. It appears that Roger’s people, ostensibly using a clause in his contract, said he “cannot appear for legal reasons.”
I asked “What, precisely, does that mean?”
The response: “Roger Ailes will be indicted — probably this week, maybe even Monday.”
Well, it’s Monday. Does Rupert Murdoch know where Roger Ailes is? Some times watching Karma unfold is a delightful thing.
I’m not sure if you’re a big enough masochist to spend time with the Sunday news shows anymore, but I do try to catch Christiane Amanpour and she delivered an interesting program yesterday. She had an exclusive interview with one of Gadhaffi’s sons. It was extremely interesting and I would recommend you go watch that segment. Amanpour actually traveled to Tripoli this weekend. We will now refer to the son as Tripoli Saif al-Islam Gadhafi since he seems about as in touch with reality as Baghdad Bob did back in the day.
There was a “big, big gap between reality and the media reports,” Gadhafi told Amanpour. “The whole south is calm. The west is calm. The middle is calm. Even part of the east.”
In response to President Barack Obama’s call for Moammar Gadhafi to step down and the U.N. Security Council’s unanimous vote to impose an arms embargo on Libya and urge nations to freeze Libyan assets, Gadhafi’s son was defiant.
“Listen, nobody is leaving this country. We live here, we die here,” he insisted. “This is our country. The Libyans are our people. And for myself, I believe I am doing the right thing.”
“The President of the U.S. has called on your father to step down. How do you feel about that?” Amanpour asked.
“It’s not an American business, that’s number one,” said Gadhafi, who was dressed casually as he spoke with Amanpour. “Second, do they think this is a solution? Of course not.”
I don’t know about you, but I’m getting kind of tired of watching these jerks that we supported for some time prove exactly what is meant by the label “brutal dictator”. Could we just once fund and support some one like His Holiness the Dali Lama for a change? It’s no wonder we still get called ugly Americans.
Speaking of Ugly Americans responsible for diplomatic nightmares, Paul Wolfowitz showed up on Fareed Zakaria’s GPS on CNN on Sunday. Could some one please tell the media we don’t need to hear from the people that screwed up Middle East Policy any more? Why do I keep seeing this man’s face despite his obvious failures with Iraq policy and peccadilloes made public during his time at the World Bank? I did want to point you to Zakaria’s interview with Michael Lewis on global financial crisis. The video is here. He has some interesting thing to say about banks in Greece, Ireland, and here. Listen for this part:
LEWIS: …And the –the anger – the anger about the Wall Street bailouts, I think, is the beginning of the Tea Party. I mean the – the injustice of people being rewarded for failure and – and supported by the public purse, that was the source of the original outrage.
ZAKARIA: But it went in a libertarian direction…
LEWIS: It did…It – but – but a qualified libertarian direction, because a true libertarian would be outraged that these Wall Street banks are still being subsidized by the government. And there doesn’t seem to be any move on the right to – to remove those subsidies, not any – any serious one…But – but the politi – our leadership doesn’t have an interest in – a leadership that is intent on still stabilizing the financial system doesn’t have an interest in calling attention to the outrages of the financial system. So I think they – Wall Street got very lucky.
Wall Street did not get very lucky. Wall Street basically has a friend in the White House and tons of people in the Treasury Department. The Tea Party was distracted by the Health Care Bill. The kleptocracy is still at it. Listen to the interview, it’s an earful! Many of us think that were going to get a repeat of the global financial crisis some time soon. Lewis and I aren’t alone on that thought.
One of the things that’s really making me mad about the current conversation on budget cuts and higher education is the public’s ignorance on just exactly how many states have disabled tenure these days. Tenure has long been a pet peeve of right wing ideologues who feel that every one should be terminated like they are in the private sector. Basically, the private sector thrives on political firings and uses payroll cuts as the first line of defense when the bottom line is failing because of their bad, short-sighted, and overly-political decisions.
Here’s a list of states decimating tenure as we speak from articles in The Chronicle of Higher Education. You know, I’m really sorry that people have to work for private corporations and that their lives are subject to the whims of really mean people, but it’s really no excuse to take it out on those of us that have tried to carve a better way to exist. Take my word for it. Get yourself a union and they won’t be able to take advantage of you with out taking on a a million other people who have your back! Those of us in the public sector are willing to forego short term salary highs for long term job security. It’s evident that a new crop of governors want every one as miserable as employees in the private sector now. If they intend to do this to us, then I want those seven to eight digits salaries I’d be paid for the 3-5 year short brutal career on Wall Street as a PhD in Financial Economics. I even added a few old links to show you that this is nothing new. Believe me, tenure isn’t what most people outside of academic think it is …
From Louisiana (this week):
The University of Louisiana system’s Board of Supervisors on Friday voted to approve new rules that will allow its institutions to more quickly dismiss faculty members, even those with tenure, whose programs have been closed.
At a time when the state’s financial climate makes it difficult for campuses to determine their budgets from year to year, that kind of flexibility is key, system officials said. But professors at the board meeting, including representatives of each of the system’s eight campuses, told the supervisors that such a move would erode the protection tenure provides and could ultimately make the system’s institutions unattractive to job seekers and lead current faculty members to leave.
The University of Nebraska at Lincoln is seeking to eliminate the jobs of 15 tenured faculty members as part of its latest round of budget cuts.
The proposed dismissals, which Chancellor Harvey Perlman announced this month, would save Nebraska about $2.7-million. They are part of a plan to reduce the university’s budget by $26-million, or 12 percent, in the wake of substantial state budget cuts. The new cuts come on the heels of layoffs, proposed in March, that would affect 55 faculty
An independent arbitrator on Friday ordered Florida State University to rescind layoff notices to several tenured faculty members and slammed how administrators there had decided which jobs would be cut.
In a major victory for the state’s faculty union, Stanley H. Sergent, a Sarasota-based lawyer picked by the university and the union to arbitrate the dispute, held that the university had failed to clearly justify its choices to eliminate certain positions, and had violated a provision of its faculty contract calling for it to try to protect the jobs of those faculty members who had continuously worked there the longest.
In his 83-page decision, Mr. Sergent wrote that the only reason the university had declared certain departments “suspended” was “to allow the effective layoff of all faculty and the selective recall of certain faculty,” apparently for the sake of creating a subterfuge to avoid having to comply with a contractual requirement that it lay off tenured faculty members last. Mr. Sergent characterized the reasoning used by a dean in eliminating one faculty member’s job as “arbitrary, capricious, and unreasonable.”
The arbitrator’s decision applies only to 12 tenured faculty members who belong to the campus chapter of the United Faculty of Florida, and does not cover nine other tenured faculty members who do not belong to the union and also received notices of pending layoffs last year.
Community colleges in Washington State could soon be able to lay off tenured faculty members much faster than normal, according to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.
At its regularly scheduled meeting next month, the State Board of Community and Technical Colleges will decide whether to declare a financial emergency — a move allowed by a state law passed in 1981 to deal with budget crunches. Such an emergency would speed up the process for laying off tenured faculty members in that they would get only 60 days’ notice of layoffs and the grounds on which they could appeal the decision would be limited, the Post-Intelligencer reported.
I would also like to take this space to mention that I no longer have access to Social Security and that my state pension and the matches that I get from the State basically are what the private sector donates to social security on the behalf of private sector workers. Many states have pension plans that replace Social Security. Therefore, I’m personally not getting any thing ‘special’ from taxpayers. Also, when the defined benefit plan showed up short this year, they decreased the contributions to my optional retirement plan and the others who selected that option to make up the shortfall in the defined benefit pool. Wall Street stole my appreciation and then the state took more from me to pay for their problems in other folks’ annuities. Other state employees–like me–paid for that shortfall. It came from our compensation. I’ve just about had it up to here with reading a bunch of grumbly idiots on other blogs that have no idea how state employee pensions are managed and funded. If you want to go after high paying state employees that are worthless, try taking it out on the university football coaches and the damned governor’s staff for a change. It’s not us little guys!
Anyway, it’s Monday morning and I’m a curmudgeon today. Think I’ll spend the day with the TV off and I’ll stay here on Sky Dancing with the sane people! Now, where’s my coffee?
What’s on your reading and blogging list?