Monday Reads

Good Morning!

I’ve almost gotten shy about going out to search for links these days.  Most of the political and economic news is disheartening so I thought I’d try to mix it up today with some good stuff and disheartening stuff.  Hopefully, you can find some things to share with us too.

You may want to start out your day arming yourself with “Five Myths about Planned Parenthood” in case any one in your sphere of influence starts spewing some of the ridiculous memes passed around by the right wing. This was in WAPO over the weekend and was written by Clare Coleman worked for America’s best known provider of family planning and health services.  I liked number five.

Three million patients each year visit Planned Parenthood’s more than 800 health centers in every state, in big cities and small towns. In some areas, Planned Parenthood and the Title X-funded system are the only sexual health providers for hundreds of miles.

We screen people for high blood pressure, anemia and diabetes; we counsel them about smoking cessation and obesity; we connect them to other primary-care providers and social services. The huge response to the attack on family planning and on Planned Parenthood — hundreds of thousands of Americans signing petitions, showing up at rallies, calling Congress – is extraordinary. But it doesn’t surprise me. One in five American women has gone to Planned Parenthood at some point in her life, for respectful, compassionate, quality care. And now those Americans are going to have our back.

I feel like I’ve turned into an IMF groupie by putting up yet another link to them shortly after featuring one of their studies on the dominance of the finance sector, but here I go again.  I do spend time gleaning data from their site so maybe it’s just that I keep bumping into things.  The IMF says we have a Global Job Crisis.

At the end of his magnum opus, The General Theory, Keynes stated the following: “The outstanding faults of the economic society in which we live are its failure to provide for full employment and its arbitrary and inequitable distribution of wealth and incomes”.

Not everyone will agree with the entirety of this statement. But what we have learnt over time is that unemployment and inequality can undermine the very achievements of the market economy, by sowing the seeds of instability. In too many countries, the lack of economic opportunity can lead to unproductive activities, political instability, and even conflict. Just look at how the dangerous cocktail of unemployment and inequality—combined with political tension—is playing out in the Middle East and North Africa.

Because growth beset by social tensions is not conducive to economic and financial stability, the IMF cannot be indifferent to distribution issues. And when I look around today, I am concerned in this regard. For while recovery is here, growth—at least in the advanced economies—is not creating jobs and is not being shared broadly. Many people in many countries are facing a social crisis that is every bit as serious as the financial crisis.

Unemployment is at record levels. The crisis threw 30 million people out of work. And over 200 million people are looking for jobs all across the world today.

The jobs crisis is hitting the young especially hard. And what should have been a brief spell in unemployment is turning into a life sentence, possibly for a whole lost generation.

In too many countries, inequality is at record highs.

As we face these challenges, remember what we have accomplished. Under the umbrella of the G20, policymakers came together to avoid a financial freefall and probably a second Great Depression.

Today, we need a similar full force forward response in ensuring that we get the recovery we need. And that means not only a recovery that is sustainable and balanced among countries, but also one that brings employment and fair distribution.

This is part of a speech given by Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Managing Director, International Monetary Fund. He argues that financial sector reform is central to the problem of getting back on track.  It’s worth reading the entire thing or you can watch the video here.  Occasionally, I remember why I thought it was important to study economics.  This is one of those times.

The so-called “Gang of Six” is still anxious to put social security on the bargaining table. I still can’t figure out why every time some politician wants to talk about the Federal Deficit--in this case Senator Mark Warner–they mistakenly include the stand-alone program.

Including Social Security in the Gang of Six package appears to be a concession by Democrats made in exchange for agreement to raise some revenue by Republicans. But liberals in the Senate and House have made clear they will not stand for any cuts to benefits.

The 2012 budget passed by the House on Friday does not include reforms for Social Security. House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) instead called for a trigger in the budget whereby the president and Congress would have to propose solutions once the Board of Trustees certifies the program is in trouble. Presidet Obama in his 2012 budget and in a speech last week did not lay out plans to reform Social Security.

Warner said the Gang is “very close” to an agreement that includes spending cuts and tax increases such as be eliminating the home mortgage tax deduction.

“We are going to make everybody mad with our approach,” he said.

Warner made clear he is opposed to the House Republican 2012 budget’s reliance on cuts to Medicare—he called it a “massive transfer of responsibility onto our seniors”– but he did not say how the Gang of Six will approach the massive entitlement program.

Please join me as I scream.  How stupid do they think we are?

Ninety-one year old Pete Seeger will be joined by David Amram, 80, and Peter Yarrow, 73 on the stage to inspire young people to be active in political and social justice movements.  Yarrow had just returned from a series of rallies in Wisconsin.

The three artist-activists say they are fired up by recent protests — from Egypt to Wisconsin — and by the enthusiasm of their youthful kin, who will join them onstage.

“I do have the feeling that the kind of energy we felt in the ’60s is in the air now,” Mr. Yarrow said. “That energy seems to be reigniting itself.”

That concert should be a treat.  It’s nice to see these guys seem to never tire of singing songs of justice. It’s important that a new generation hear these truly American songs.  I was interested in reading that many kids and grandkids of these folk singers are now in the family business and may show up on stage with them now and then.

Okay, this is something that kinda surprised me from the WSJ: “Greenspan Steps Up Call to End Bush-Era Tax Cuts”.  I still haven’t figure out why any one thinks he’s still relevant, but oh, well.  At least, he’s on the right side of this one.

Former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan is stepping up his call for Congress to let the Bush-era tax cuts lapse.
In an appearance Sunday on ABC’s “Meet the Press,” Mr. Greenspan used his strongest words yet to urge lawmakers to let them expire. The risk of a U.S. debt crisis, he said, is just too big. Mr. Greenspan, who retired from the Federal Reserve in 2006, had endorsed the cuts back in 2001 championed by then-President George W. Bush.

“This crisis is so imminent and so difficult that I think we have to allow the so-called Bush tax cuts all to expire. That is a very big number,” he said, referring to how much the U.S. government could save from letting income taxes go back up to levels last seen under former President Bill Clinton.

Mr. Greenspan was talking about re-imposing the taxes for all Americans. The Treasury has estimated that a permanent extension of all the Bush tax cuts would cost $3.6 trillion over the next decade. Allowing taxes to increase on those in the top income brackets would take the cost to the government down to $2.9 trillion, according to White House estimates.

CBS news has done some data gathering on taxes as part of its Tax Day coverage: Wealthy Americans see drop in federal taxes; High-earning Americans pay less in taxes than in previous years; nearly half of U.S. households will pay no income taxes at all.

The Internal Revenue Service tracks the tax returns with the 400 highest adjusted gross incomes each year. The average income on those returns in 2007, the latest year for IRS data, was nearly $345 million. Their average federal income tax rate was 17 percent, down from 26 percent in 1992.

Over the same period, the average federal income tax rate for all taxpayers declined to 9.3 percent from 9.9 percent.

The top income tax rate is 35 percent, so how can people who make so much pay so little in taxes? The nation’s tax laws are packed with breaks for people at every income level. There are breaks for having children, paying a mortgage, going to college, and even for paying other taxes. Plus, the top rate on capital gains is only 15 percent.

There are so many breaks that 45 percent of U.S. households will pay no federal income tax for 2010, according to estimates by the Tax Policy Center, a Washington think tank.

The sheer volume of credits, deductions and exemptions has both Democrats and Republicans calling for tax laws to be overhauled. House Republicans want to eliminate breaks to pay for lower overall rates, reducing the top tax rate from 35 percent to 25 percent. Republicans oppose raising taxes, but they argue that a more efficient tax code would increase economic activity, generating additional tax revenue.

The row of shotguns featured on the first season DVD set of Treme are set to be demolished as blight.

New Orleans is abuzz with the second season of Treme about to start up on HBO.  I have to admit that I have not watched it since I’m still working through my dose of PTS from Katrina and the aftermath. However, for those of you that are fans of the show, you can get it now on DVD and you can get a bit of a taste in what’s in store for you in season two from this story from the TP.  The show evidently ended last season with the city’s evacuation.  That’s something I will NEVER forget.  The show has been great for the city, overall and it’s producers have taken on a lot of causes around here including a fight to save some historic properties featured in the series’ promotions.  Just thought I’d add some insight into what the production brings to the city including its musicians.  Here’s a little drama from Hollywood South.

… production money is being spent daily in New Orleans for locations, for equipment, material, labor and talent. In the first two seasons, for example, about $2 million in music licensing money was paid for the rights to songs by New Orleans artists, alone. Such expenditures — with or without any charity component — are the crux of the real economic relationship between a film company and the community in which it works. It is a straight-up transaction. We come here to shoot a movie. We pay a variety of local vendors, government fees and individuals to do it. And for virtually every other movie shot in Louisiana, that is it — end of story.

Thought I’d end with a treat from Pete Seeger to get you through your coffee:


What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


43 Comments on “Monday Reads”

  1. paper doll says:

    Great round up! That Pete Seeger song is my favortie! Thanks!

  2. fiscalliberal says:

    Two good articles in a row. Your realy are fining all cylinders.

  3. fiscalliberal says:

    So why does H. Paulson get a pass? He was CEO at Goldman while all of this mess was developing. His book is essentially an attempt to rewrite history. Pauson should have known about the Derivatives because he was writing them. He should have known about the short term borrowing because he was participating in the action. This does not make sense.

    Levin staff was not finance based, yet will be better understood document by the public.

    • dakinikat says:

      An investment bank is only as good as its reputation. Also there are legal implications with making sidebets on what you’re pushing on your clients. I think he knew what they were doing is problematic. He probably still has gs stock and income and his protecting his interests as well as soothing his conscience.

  4. Pat Johnson says:

    Does anyone actually pay attention to Alan Greenspan anymore? Wasn’t this guy “outed” for having played a role in the economic debacle we are now paying for?

    His presence is about as relevant as Henry Kissinger. Both played significant roles in Republican administrations which led to many of the difficulties this nation has faced.

    No one ever came right out and accused either one of being full of sh*t at a time when it may have made a difference but now they seem to be treated as “elder statesmen” rather then for the lying crocks of b.s. they threw around in their heydays.

  5. fiscalliberal says:

    Further thinking says the went after Lehman because he did not like Dick Fuld. Has anyone writen a book on the fallout of the Lehman bankrupcy?

    • dakinikat says:

      Yes. House of cards by William D. Cohan. That’s the same author as the GS book in last post. I’ve been reading it in dribs and drabs.

  6. okasha says:

    I got to see Pete Seeger and PP&M live back in the day. In fact, Peter Paul and Mary were the first concert I ever went to. Wonderful artists.

  7. bostonboomer says:

    I don’t suppose President Obama will notice the IMF’s warning about a jobs crisis–he’s too busy running for re-election.

    Congress has already made it very clear they couldn’t care less about jobs and unemployment.

    • dakinikat says:

      I’m glad to see some institution take up this fight. I’m absolutely appalled by the lack of concern about joblessness by so many developed nations. They are willing to squander tons of money on wars and skirmishes these days in other countries while completely ignoring their own populace. I think the country we should watch is the UK. They’re doing some of the same things and getting quite a bit of civil unrest. My guess is when they start really seriously talking gutting social security, etc. that there will be blowback. Tip O’Neill and Ronald Reagan had a lot of good will afforded them they earned. Barack Obama and Boehner have none of that.

    • Pat Johnson says:

      Cut him some slack, bb, he has to raise a billion dollars and that cannot be done in one day!

    • Minkoff Minx says:

      Why should he give a shit about the little people, did you see how much he made last year.

      President Obama and Vice President Biden’s Tax Returns and Tax Receipts | The White House

      Today, the President released his 2010 federal income and gift tax returns. He and the First Lady filed their income tax return jointly and reported an adjusted gross income of $1,728,096. The vast majority of the family’s income is the proceeds from the sale of the President’s books. The Obamas paid $453,770 in total federal tax.

      The President and First Lady also reported donating $245,075 – or about 14.2% of their adjusted gross income – to 36 different charities. The largest reported gift to charity was a $131,075 contribution to the Fisher House Foundation. The President is donating the after-tax proceeds from his children’s book to a Fisher House scholarship fund for children of fallen and disabled soldiers. The President and First Lady also released their Illinois income tax return and reported paying $51,568 in state income taxes.

      I don’t think he has any idea what most of the US population is living like. I never thought he did either.

  8. Minkoff Minx says:

    Wow, I can’t believe that Pete Seeger is 91.

    On the Planned Parenthood, I am glad the Washington Post had an article about dispelling those “myths.”

    In Alaska, the PLUBs are keeping healthcare from the poor…
    ThinkProgress » ‘Pro-Life’ Alaska GOP Kills Health Bill To Insure Thousands Of Low-Income Women And Children

    On Wednesday, the Alaska Senate shot down a health bill that would expand a program that provides medical services to the low-income children and pregnant women. The 14-year-old program, Denali Kid Care, is specifically “designed to ensure that children and teens of both working and non-working families can have the health insurance they need.” The bill seeks to “restore the original income eligibility threshold established more than a decade ago, raising it from the current 175 percent to 200 percent of the federal poverty line” — a move that bill sponsor State Sen. Bettye Davis (D) said would cover nearly 1,300 more children and about 250 pregnant women. But the bill — which passed the Senate last year 15 to 4 — failed this year. The obstacle? A woman’s right to choose.

    The Alaska Supreme Court holds that the state must fund medically necessary abortions if it funds medically necessary services for others with financial needs. The mere possibility that a woman could have even a “medically necessary” abortion under this health insurance program was enough for Republicans to stall the bill in a 10 to 10 vote

  9. madaha says:

    here’s something that might make y’all laugh:

    http://gawker.com/#!5792583/dilbert-creator-pretends-to-be-his-own-biggest-fan-on-message-boards

    I wonder where one goes to get their “genius certification”? lol

  10. Boo Radly says:

    Dak – thanks for your knowledge and dedication to educate and find out why we are where we are at this point. It must be exhausting, much needed and appreciated – to follow all the rat droppings as there are so many involved and, little need to cover it up. It’s such a tangled web though.

    Regarding the Gulf gusher – AP headline –
    Scientists: Gulf health nearly at pre-spill level………. stands for not applicable to the situation. If you read it, they really don’t know, prior history tells a different story all together. Nice title though. We are just beginning to see the dead and dying from this. It will take decades to recover and that is without more gushers.

    MM – that looks to be an interesting subject. May I offer the disease is self-defense…..if there is anything “society” has been overwhelmed with it is sarcasm and lying…. you don’t want to be “rude” and point it out to an elite or professional doing it. The disease should be called Bu$h fatigue – we are in the tenth year of eye popping, gut twisting flagrant – words have no meaning – actions even less.

    The elites and professionals who have not lost their core values, still recognize human life for all – are absolutely stellar.

    We should all thank Chicago – BO states he got his religion and core values there. He also stated he has dealt with an historical recession, beat it back, made it possible for people to stay in their homes due to mortgage action he has taken, even made it possible to get health care with no worries anymore for medical bills, no one can be turned down with pre-existing conditions, he states he passed Lily Ledbetter law, got rid of DADT, created two million jobs, unicorns for all, blah, blah, blah.

    Why would any normal sane person get into high dungeons over these statements?

  11. Owen says:

    ” Wealthy Americans see drop in federal taxes…”
    Wow, isn’t that special? The rich geet no taxes but I’m audited for my wife’s inheritance from her grandparents? WTF?

    • Minkoff Minx says:

      It is amazing how the rich get away with so much. And don’t forget all those unpaid taxes that were paid off without penalty or interest…and people like us, who have paid all the back taxes owed in full but still have those penalty and interest that the IRS will not waive will not see one penny of our refund this year. In fact we haven’t had a refund since 2003. It is sickening.

  12. Minkoff Minx says:

    They have gotten some results from the robot over in Japan:

    Radiation inside Nos. 1, 3 reactor buildings up to 57 millisieverts | Kyodo News

    The radiation level inside the Nos. 1 and 3 reactor buildings at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant was up to about 57 millisieverts per hour as of Sunday, the government’s nuclear safety agency said Monday, acknowledging that it is a level that puts time constraints on any restoration work that must be done there.

    The Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency also said that it has found the No. 4 reactor building flooded with water 5 meters high, besides some 60,000 tons of contaminated water already found to be filling up the Nos. 1 to 3 reactor turbine buildings and nearby areas.

    Click the link to see pictures of the little robot in action.

  13. Minkoff Minx says:

    And one more: Anti-abortion movement tramples on US women again | Katha Pollitt | Comment is free | guardian.co.uk

    It’s getting awfully crowded underneath that bus. You know, the metaphorical one that women keep getting thrown under, along with their rights, their health and their money. Women lost much of their insurance cover for abortion during the fight over the healthcare reform bill last fall, but at least they got some good things out of it: cover for millions of uninsured women, preventive care including breast and cervical cancer screenings and a bar on refusing cover for such pre-existing conditions as having been a rape or domestic violence victim. Overall – and assuming the law is not overturned or sabotaged by the Republicans – women will be better off in terms of affordable healthcare, including reproductive healthcare, than if the bill had been scuttled over the Stupak-Pitts amendment.

    The budget deal just concluded was no such compromise. The headlines are all about how the Democrats refused to cave to Republican demands to remove funding from Planned Parenthood and saved the day for women’s reproductive health – at least until September, when the GOP and its media spokespeople will crank up their misogynistic fog machine all over again.

    It’s hard to see how they’d go further: Arizona’s Jon Kyl claimed on the floor of the house that “90% of what Planned Parenthood does is abortions”. It’s actually about 3%, and his office later said his statement was “not intended to be factual”. Rush Limbaugh claimed that “Planned Parenthood is a money-laundering operation for the Democrat party”. Glenn Beck said that only “hookers” use Planned Parenthood. In fact, one out of every five women has visited a PP clinic, including this writer.

    Widespread mockery of these weird remarks might lead you to think they backfired. Not necessarily. Look at the fine print: to keep Planned Parenthood’s federal funding, Democrats agreed to bar Washington DC from using its own revenues to pay for abortion care for women on Medicaid. And in a tiny footnote, the final budget cuts Title X by $17m. You have to hand it to the Republicans: even when they lose, they win.

    • After 2008, I’ll read Rebecca Traister and Amanda Marcotte, but I can’t read Katha anymore.

      • In Feb 2010… after whining “where is candidate Obama,” Katha still reasoned her vote for Obama over Hillary thus:

        I’m still glad I supported Obama over Hillary Clinton. If Hillary had won the election, every single day would be a festival of misogyny.

      • Minkoff Minx says:

        Honestly, things are getting so bad for women in the US that no matter who says it, at least it is being said. More attention needs to be put on the proposed legislation and GOP Title X funding cut.

      • TheRock says:

        And not having to see a ‘festival of mysogyny’ in the press is better than competent leadership?!?

        Asshat.

        Hillary 2012

      • I’ll listen to a lot, but not Pollitt, who completely discredited herself with that column I linked to. She and others who think like her–that Hillary wouldn’t have been any different than Obama leadership-wise… so hooray for no daily misogyny–are the reason we’re under the bus. Hillary wasn’t elected, but every day is still a festival of misogyny, hence the war on women.

      • Minkoff Minx says:

        I get what you are saying Wonk, and I agree that Katha was and is an asshat…but I still think that whoever it may be saying it…it is at least getting said. If that makes any sense.

      • I understand, Minx, but I think Katha is missing the point still, so her saying this stuff is actually kind of harmful. For instance, she’s saying the bill is helpful for women minus the Stupakistan fiasco. I don’t agree. Even without Stupak, it’s a bailout to the for profit health insurance industry. On balance, that hurts ordinary men and women.

        • Minkoff Minx says:

          Your right Wonk…you are right. I guess I did not digest that part of the article. I saw where she was dissing Stupak. Didn’t comprehend the support of the health care reform bill…it happens sometimes. Thanks for pointing it out to me. 😉

      • Branjor says:

        I’m still glad I supported Obama over Hillary Clinton. If Hillary had won the election, every single day would be a festival of misogyny.

        As if every single day wasn’t a festival of misogyny anyway.

  14. Minkoff Minx says:

    US tornadoes force shutdown of two nuclear reactors in Virginia | World news | The Guardian

    A US nuclear power company has disclosed that one of the tornadoes that hit the US at the weekend, killing at least 45 people and causing widespread damage, forced the shutdown of two of its reactors.

    The series of tornadoes that began in Oklahoma late last week barrelled across the country, with North Carolina, where 22 people died, the worst-hit state.

    The US nuclear safety regulator said on Mondayit was monitoring the Surry nuclear power plant in Virginia. Dominion Virginia Power said the two reactors shut down automatically when a tornado cut off power to the plant. A backup diesel generator kicked in to cool the fuel. The regulator said no radiation was released and staff were working to restore electricity to the plant.

  15. TheRock says:

    Great roundup Dak. AP was quick this morning to release a report on the stock market. It seems that oil prices have nothing to do with basic supply and demand economics.

    http://www.cnbc.com/id/42450234

    The Saudis and OPEC see this and have cut production.

    http://finance.yahoo.com/news/OPEC-No-shortage-of-crude-oil-apf-2528595156.html?x=0&.v=1

    How can we have any type of meaningful recovery with a weakening dollar and high prices at the pump?

    Hillary 2012

  16. foxyladi14 says:

    no shortage of oil 😮 then why is it so high 👿