Saturday, March 30, 2013

An order of men, whose interest is to deceive and oppress the public

There is layer upon layer to the Atlanta public school cheating episode.

But I was struck by one important aspect of the scandal in the NYT's article Ex-Atlanta Schools Chief Charged in Cheating Scandal.

The interests of the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce to help cover up what was really going on:
What made Dr. Hall just about untouchable was her strong ties to local business leaders. Atlanta prides itself in being a progressive Southern city when it comes to education, entrepreneurship and race — and Dr. Hall’s rising test scores were good news on all those fronts. She is an African-American woman who had turned around a mainly poor African-American school district, which would make Atlanta an even more desirable destination for businesses.
And so when Mr. Perdue challenged the test results that underpinned everything — even though he was a conservative Republican businessman — he met strong resistance from the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce.
“There was extensive subtle pressure,” Mr. Perdue said. “They’d say, ‘Do you really think there is anything there? We have to make sure we don’t hurt the city.’ Good friends broke with me over this.”
“I was dumbfounded that the business community would not want the truth,” he said. “These would be the next generation of employees, and companies would be looking at them and wondering why they had graduated and could not do simple skills. Business was insisting on accountability, but they didn’t want real accountability.”
Once the special prosecutors’ report was made public, it did not matter what the business community wanted; the findings were so sensational, there was no turning back.
Business leaders are pushing privatization of our schools because they want their hands on those profits (aka our tax dollars). Its the kind of rent seeking that has been decried by honest Economists since the days of Adam Smith.

The business community is the enemy of quality education--not a group that we should be forming friendly alliances with to "reform education".  We don't need education reform.  We just need to educate our kids.  There is a very big difference.

The proposal of any new law or regulation which comes from [businessmen], ought always to be listened to with great precaution, and ought never to be adopted till after having been long and carefully examined, not only with the most scrupulous, but with the most suspicious attention. It comes from an order of men, whose interest is never exactly the same with that of the public, who have generally an interest to deceive and even to oppress the public, and who accordingly have, upon many occasions, both deceived and oppressed it.
Adam Smith, An Inquiry into the Nature and Cause of the Wealth of Nations, vol. 1, pt. xi, p.10 (at the conclusion of the chapter)(1776)

Friday, March 29, 2013

Sharp minds as your filter on the world. #FF wrap-up

Okay here is a wrap up of my Follow Friday's for the day.

These folks are all worth following so check them out.  Remember, our world is in information overload.  Tapping into a network of human beings with sharp minds, and organizations run by sharp people, as a filter to process and identify important information is the only way we as individuals can stay educated and informed in an era of decline.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Creating a business from bodies of color and the poor

Chris Hedges The Shame of America’s Gulag:
 In 1913 Eastern State Penitentiary, in Philadelphia, discontinued its isolation cages. Prisoners within the U.S. prison system would not be held in isolation again in large numbers until the turmoil of the 1960s and the rise of the anti-war and civil rights movements along with the emergence of radical groups such as the Black Panthers. Trenton State Prison established a management control unit, or isolation unit, in 1975 for political prisoners, mostly black radicals such as Lutalo whom the state wanted to segregate from the wider prison population. Those held in the isolation unit were rarely there because they had violated prison rules; they were there because of their revolutionary beliefs—beliefs the prison authorities feared might resonate with other prisoners. In 1983 the federal prison in Marion, Ill., instituted a permanent lockdown, creating, in essence, a prisonwide “control unit.” By 1994 the Federal Bureau of Prisons, using the Marion model, built its maximum-security prison in Florence, Colo. 
The use of prolonged isolation and sensory deprivation exploded. “Special housing units” were formed for the mentally ill. “Security threat group management units” were formed for those accused of gang activity. “Communications management units” were formed to isolate Muslims labeled as terrorists. Voluntary and involuntary protective custody units were formed. Administrative segregation punishment units were formed to isolate prisoners said to be psychologically troubled. All were established in open violation of the United Nations Convention Against Torture, the U.N.’s International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. Kerness calls it “the war at home.” And she says it is only the latest variation of the long assault on the poor, especially people of color.
“There are no former Jim Crow systems,” Kerness said. “The transition from slavery toBlack Codes to convict leasing to the Jim Crow laws to the wars on poverty, veterans, youth and political activism in the 1960s has been a seamless evolution of political and social incapacitation of poor people of color. The sophisticated fascism of the practices of stop and frisk, charging people in inner cities with ‘wandering,’ driving and walking while black, ZIP code racism—these and many other de facto practices all serve to keep our prisons full. In a system where 60 percent of those who are imprisoned are people of color, where students of color face harsher punishments in school than their white peers, where 58 percent of African [American] youth … are sent to adult prisons, where women of color are 69 percent more likely to be imprisoned and where offenders of color receive longer sentences, the concept of colorblindness doesn’t exist. The racism around me is palpable.” 
“The 1960s, when the last of the Jim Crow laws were reversed, this whole new set of practices accepted by law enforcement was designed to continue to feed the money-generating prison system, which has neo-slavery at its core,” she said. “Until we deeply recognize that the system’s bottom line is social control and creating a business from bodies of color and the poor, nothing can change.” She noted that more than half of those in the prison system have never physically harmed another person but that “just about all of these people have been harmed themselves.” And not only does the criminal justice sweep up the poor and people of color, but slavery within the prison system is permitted by the 13th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which reads: “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States. …” 
This, Kerness said, “is at the core how the labor of slaves was transformed into what people in prison call neo-slavery.” Neo-slavery is an integral part of the prison industrial complex, in which hundreds of thousands of the nation’s prisoners, primarily people of color, are forced to work at involuntary labor for a dollar or less an hour. “If you call the New Jersey Bureau of Tourism you are most likely talking to a prisoner at the Edna Mahan Correctional Institution for Women who is earning 23 cents an hour who has no ability to negotiate working hours or working conditions,” she said.
 “People have said to me that the criminal justice system doesn’t work,” Kerness said. “I’ve come to believe exactly the opposite—that it works perfectly, just as slavery did, as a matter of economic and political policy. How is it that a 15-year-old in Newark who the country labels worthless to the economy, who has no hope of getting a job or affording college, can suddenly generate 20,000 to 30,000 dollars a year once trapped in the criminal justice system? The expansion of prisons, parole, probation, the court and police systems has resulted in an enormous bureaucracy which has been a boon to everyone from architects to food vendors—all with one thing in common, a paycheck earned by keeping human beings in cages. The criminalization of poverty is a lucrative business, and we have replaced the social safety net with a dragnet.”
Prisons are at once hugely expensive—the country has spent some $300 billion on them since 1980—and, as Kerness pointed out, hugely profitable. Prisons function in the same way the military-industrial complex functions. The money is public and the profits are private. “Privatization in the prison industrial complex includes companies, which run prisons for profit while at the same time gleaning profits from forced labor,” she said. “In the state of New Jersey, food and medical services are provided by corporations, which have a profit motive. One recent explosion of private industry is the partnering ofCorrections Corporation of America with the federal government to detain close to 1 million undocumented people. Using public monies to enrich private citizens is the history of capitalism at its most exploitive.”

 Also check out The shock doctrine in Texas prisons

Monday, March 18, 2013

Just in time for the anniversary of the Iraq War...

Hillary Clinton changes the subject.

"I like the gays [now]" is just a much better subject to speak on this week than the less comfortable "I'm partly to blame for the needless war in Iraq"

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Georgia's John Barrow on a list of Democrats to primary.

Not to be unexpected but Georgia's own John Barrow shows up on a list of Democrats who should be primaried.

Voting against raising the minimum wage is not only bad economic policy but is fundamentally against the values that Democrats I know hold and expect from elected Democrats.

On the policy side of that question check out CEPR who has a good assortment of reports and blog posts on why a minimum wage increase is good policy.

On the values/moral side of this question just go to church tomorrow morning or check out some of this guys greatest hits.

Friday, March 15, 2013

The Evils of Socialized Medicine... would be seen as an improvement in the US

Aaron Carroll over at The Incidental Economist takes a look at the data on the British National Health Care system and notices the story the media is missing (Burying the lede when talking about the NHS):
So the UK enjoys a great health service but not great health, a puzzle that the conference participants never fully tackled. One who tried was Liam Donaldson, the former chief medical officer. “I think it strains credibility to say we have a world class service,” he said in response to Osborn’s presentation. “I don’t think it is.”
When I first read that, I thought that the NHS must be making tradeoffs. The system is dirt cheap. They’re kicking butt in access. It’s not surprising that quality might suffer. But then I got to thinking. They’re “second worst” now in terms of amenable mortality? Who’s the worst?
NHS story
This kind of stuff drives me a little crazy. I have no idea if anyone in the US will cover this story. If they do, however, I bet it will be along the lines of the title. Sure, the UK does well in terms of access, but their outcomes are terrible. Do you want that to happen here? 
What will be missed is the fact that the outcomes are, perhaps, terrible, but they are worse here. So “would I want that to happen here”? If you mean that we could spend less than half of what we do on health care, see access improve massively, and see our outcomes go from worst to second worst? I could live with that.
For the record, using 2010 data, the UK would have moved up a spot. The US would still be last.
The US health care system is in shambles.  It is probably the most inefficient health system in the industrialized world.  But the challenge is there are massive amounts of excess profits being made at your expense.   Its called rent seeking and the majority of professionals within the the US health care system are guilty of it in some form or fashion.

Who has been spending the most money lobbying politicians to capture as much profit through bending the rules to their wishes?  Why the health care industry!  Pharma/Healthcare/HMO, the total lobby dollars spent between 1998 and 2012 was $5.3 billion

For those who like to fixate on the deficit health care costs is the culprit and a major role in why costs are so high is that there is so much excess profits going to 1%'ers within the health care industry.

The solution to long term fiscal issues the US faces are solely about health care costs.

The Center for Economic and Policy Research has a really cool Health Care Budget Deficit Calculator so you can see what would happen to our long term fiscal outlook if our health care costs were in line with other industrialized nations who have found ways to provide higher quality care much cheaper cost.

Sadly the media is covering Health Care "reform" plans such as Paul Ryan's as ways to save money when in fact that are ineficitent ways to increase the cost of Government provided health care via forcing people into less efficient private health care providers; not to mention throwing large numbers of those currently able to tap in to medicaid out in the cold..  Remember my point above about rent seeking?  Yeah, the Ayn Rand acolyte Paul Ryan is a huge champion of wasting tax payer dollars with the single goal of handing it to private sector businessmen for profits.  Dean Baker and David Rosnick talk about this in a paper they wrote last year (Representative Ryan’s Trillion Medicare Waste Tax)
“The Ryan plan does nothing to control private-sector waste in health care costs,” said David Rosnick, an author of the report.  “As a result of the waste in the private system, beneficiaries will end up paying substantially more for Medicare, in effect paying a hefty new tax on their health care.” 
The report, “Representative Ryan’s $30 Trillion Medicare Waste Tax,” documents the potential effects of replacing Medicare with a system of vouchers or premium supports and raising the age of eligibility from 65 to 67 as suggested in the Ryan plan
Keep in mind the conservative efforts to defund ObamaCare and not pass expansion of Mediciad in Republican controlled states is quite litterally a death warrent on Americans.

Richard Kirsch wrote a good post a few days ago over at the Next New Deal about the thousands of Americans Paul Ryan and his Republican friends are proposing be killed Paul Ryan’s Budget Would Kill Health Insurance Programs – and Thousands of Americans:
I have trouble with putting policy glosses on proposals that would deny health care coverage to millions of people and make care much more expensive to millions more. Because when more people lack health coverage, more people die. And when health costs prevent people from getting the care they need, they get more seriously ill.
How many people are we talking about? Estimates of the number of people who will die because they are uninsured vary, from about 500 to 1,000 for every one million who lack coverage. Repealing Obamacare would block promised coverage for 32 million people, so that would mean somewhere from 16,000 to 32,000 each year who will die prematurely. Of course, since some Republican governors and legislatures are not implementing the expansion of Medicaid coverage in their states, some of those deaths are already on their hands.
Which leads us to the Ryan plan for slashing Medicaid. He replaces a program that now entitles low-income people to health coverage with a block grant to states to spend however they want on health care for the poor. The federal government would save money by decreasing what it pays to state governments and states would get to do the dirty work of cutting people’s health care. That will mean fewer people on the program, higher out-of-pocket costs, or a reduction in coverage of medically necessary care. And more people dying who would have lived if they had kept their previous health coverage.
In cutting Medicaid, Ryan is fulfilling the biggest concern that Republican governors say they have when they consider expanding Medicaid under Obamacare. A typical remark came from Arizona Governor Jan Brewer: “As I weighed this decision, I was troubled by the possibility that a future President and Congress may take steps to reduce federal matching rates, leaving states with a greater and greater share of health costs over time.”
Everyone is familiar by now with Ryan’s proposal to replace Medicare with vouchers to buy private insurance. The Ryan voucher plan is not about controlling health care costs; instead, it is intended to shift costs from the federal government to the seniors and the disabled who are covered by Medicare. When people can’t afford the care they need – and the CBO reported that the first Ryan voucher plan would have doubled the already high cost of health care to seniors – they will get sicker.
The parts of Obamacare that Ryan doesn’t repeal underscore his cynicism. Ryan would keep the $716 billion in Medicare spending reductions over a decade, which he railed against when he was running for vice president. In his debate with Joe Biden, Ryan called the Medicare changes a “piggybank” for Obamacare, which would cause hospitals and nursing homes to close and lead to seniors losing benefits. None of this is true, as Biden pointed out. So now Ryan is using that $716 billion in savings to help him reach his goal of balancing the federal budget instead of what those savings were intended for: increasing Medicare benefits under Obamacare and expanding coverage to millions of Americans.
Remarkably, Ryan also keeps the other tax increases in Obamacare, some $1 trillion raised mostly from upper income taxpayers and various medical providers and insurers. Ryan is using money raised to provide life-saving health coverage to millions of people, taxes he and other Republicans railed against, to meet his fantasy target of balancing the budget in 10 years.
I’ve grown tired of providing a veneer of respectability to people in power – people with good health insurance, coverage that provides them with access to the best medical care, and pays most of their bills – who deny their constituents a basic human right. Governors and state legislatures who won’t expand Medicaid even though the federal government will pay virtually all of the cost. Members of Congress whose health coverage is largely paid for by their constituents who still make political hay by demagoging against Obamacare.
Fortunately for those whose lives are at risk, the Ryan budget is dead on arrival. But the debate about how to make the promise of Obamacare real is only just the beginning. States will continue to debate whether to expand Medicaid. And when Obamacare’s major provisions kick-in next January, there will be a new round of debates about whether families can afford the new coverage and whether employers and government should do more or less to assure that people get covered. What will not end is the real consequences in each of those decisions for people’s lives. 
Its sad that conservatives have taken to trying to de-fund and destroy the health reform ideas that conservatives came up, rallied behind, and tried to implement for a number of years.  It wasn't until that radically sane neoliberal conservative Barrack Obama got his hands on their plan and actually got it passed that they decided killing Americans  was far more important than any intellectual integrity they might have for their old pet projects (RIP RomneyCare).

By the by if you are looking to learn more about the nuts and bolts of the Affordable Care Act and the history behind its origins you should check out Inside National Health Reform (California/Milbank Books on Health and the Public) which sits, well used, and quite close to my desk, in the study upstairs.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Reducing poverty and providing good health care---on the evils of Government.

Public programs lifted 40 million people out of poverty in 2011, including almost 9 million children.

Is this one of the evils of Government that Republicans keep speaking of?

Arloc Sherman with the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities has more (Why Deficit Reduction Must Protect Effective Low-Income Programs):
In addition, Medicaid provided access to affordable health care to more than 60 million people in 2009; thanks to Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), children are much less likely to be uninsured than adults.
Some leading researchers in the field have conducted a comprehensive review of the available research and data on how safety net programs affect poverty.  They found that the safety net lowers the poverty rate by about 14 percentage points (even after accounting for any potential negative effects on work incentives, which the research finds to be small).  In other words, one of every seven Americans would be poor without the safety net.  That translates into more than 40 million people.
Policymakers can make some money-saving changes in programs for low- and moderate-income individuals or families without unduly burdening those populations.  But the achievable savings through greater efficiencies in means-tested programs are modest.  In particular, the largest means-tested program — Medicaid — already provides health care coverage at a substantially lower cost per beneficiary than private coverage.
Hmmm... decreasing poverty and more efficient cost-effective health care than the private sector?  Truly evil...

No wonder big businesses in the health care sector hate Government spending--Government is providing a better product and rent seeking businessmen are terrified their customers will find out and demand some of the cost effective health care themselves.

Monday, March 4, 2013

James Galbraith on Inequality and other inequality reads...

James Galbraith on Inequality and Instability: What's Ahead for the World Economy

Some more inequality reads:
Under the name of reason: Looting by its proper name
Under the name of reason: Wage-Slavery, Republican Liberty, and Reining in Corporate Power
Boston Review — Emmanuel Saez and David Grusky: Taxing Away Inequality
The tilted playing field « Econ4 
The student debt trap and inequality in America « Econ4
How the rich can create jobs: pay taxes! « Econ4
Economist's View: 'Republicans Must Bridge the Income Gap'
Why Next to No Political Reaction to the Second Gilded Age? - Economist's View
'Inequality: Power vs. Human Capital' - Economist's View
Why the ideas of Karl Marx are more relevant than ever in the 21st century | Bhaskar Sunkara
Marx 1844: Profit of Capital
Richard Wolff Discusses the Failure of Capitalism with Bill Moyers « naked capitalism 

Looting by its proper name

Teamster Nation just posted this excellent video on wealth inequality in the US:

Teamster Nation: For workers, the recovery is more like a stick-up 
If this shocking video about wealth inequality in America doesn't outrage you, then consider this: corporate profits rose 20 times faster than worker incomes since 2008.

ThinkProgress tells us:
Corporate profits hit record highs in the second half of 2012, but that prosperity hasn’t led to the creation of jobs, since America’s biggest firms are sitting on stocks of cash instead of investing them back into the economy…. 
From 2009 to 2011, 88 percent of national income growth went to corporate profits while just one percent went to workers’ wages, and hourly earnings for workers actually fell over that time. And while they aren’t investing in job growth, corporations are also paying taxes at a rate that hit a 40-year low in 2011.
And if that doesn't enrage you, think about the sequester. It will hurt ordinary people and leave the plutocrats unscathed.

Here's just one example: The Social Security Administration estimates sequestration will mean 10-minute waits when calling the 800-number, 30-minute waits at the Social Security field offices to see a representative, waits of two weeks longer for a decision on an initial disability claim and a month longer wait for a disability hearing decision. And don't expect to see Bill Gates sitting next to you.
Wealth inequality is one of those issues that is really hard for people to get their heads around.  People really don't have a good sense of how much out right theft and graft is within our current political system.

Whats worse is the economics profession has pretty much taken a page out of P.T. Barnum's playbook to sell the general public on the idea that their profession is a science; rather than a highly politicized ideological enterprise, where the solutions and priorities are highly determined by the personal priorities and opinions of those doing the asking.

Yves Smith in her excellent book ECONned: How Unenlightened Self Interest Undermined Democracy and Corrupted Capitalism closed out the opening chapter of her book with an important insight:
"Free Markets" ideology, with  its libertarian idealism, has in fact produced Mussolini-style corpratism. And until we learn to call the resulting looting by its proper name, it is certain to continue.
Over the past four decades a fraud has been perpetuated on the public and we have to start waking up to it if we are ever going to regain real economic prosperity, prosperity which is equitably earned and shared by all who strive for success and economic productivity.

US Government Spending is not "out of control"

Dean Baker provided a helpful chart from CBO data this morning which shows that spending as a share of potential GDP is near a 30-year low.

Baker notes that Government spending is currently lower than at any point in the Reagan-Bush I administrations. Republicans Are Not Telling the Truth When They Say that Government Spending Is Out of Control.

The plight of the 1% in America

After-tax incomes for the top 1% of households more than doubled from 1979 to 2009.  That is an increase of  155%.  So of course the Associated Press is writing stories on the plight of being wealthy in America. 

Igor Volsky has the goods over at Think Progress (Associated Press Laments Tragic Plight Of The Very Wealthy).

We need a higher quality of journalist---the unemployment rate in January was 14.4% and we have people writing on the plight of paying taxes! Dear god do we need a higher quality of journalist in this country.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Need stuff to read on your random Sunday?

So I've been reading a bunch of great stuff lately and want to make sure you check it all out as well.

So here are some good weekend reads for you.

Something I wish everyone would read this weekend is a fantastic blog post over at Institute for New Economic Thinking written by Marshall Auerback: How the Economic Quacks Promoting Austerity Will Increase the Deficit:
Conservatives talk indignantly about government profligacy to justify their deficit obsession. But our large deficits (which peaked some three years ago) can almost always be expected to result from recessions because of what economists call “automatic stabilizers.” These are safeguards that have been in place since the Great Depression – things like unemployment insurance, welfare, food stamps and the like. These programs were introduced precisely to avoid the kind of human misery a great many of our citizens experienced during that earlier catastrophe. These income transfers are also the reasons -- not the bailouts to our banks -- why the economy has escaped the kind of freefall experienced in the early 1930s.
A major consequence of this policy choice, which is supported by the vast majority of Americans, is that budget deficits in the US are largely automatic and non-discretionary. So recessions create budget deficits, much as private sector booms reduce deficits.
True, we are not booming by any stretch today. But even against this sluggish backdrop, over the last three years, the deficit has experienced a 30 percent drop as a percentage of GDP. That suggests the patient is slowly recovering, but not fast enough. The current rate of job creation is not only insufficient to replace the jobs lost since the crisis, but can’t even keep up with labor force growth. At the recent pace of job creation, we only fall further behind. Withdrawing the medicine prematurely risks creating a relapse in the economy.
And there is much more to do. We need to use this period of historically low interest rates to borrow so as to improve our productive capacity as an economy going forward. As anybody who wanders around major American cities can see, the country has fallen into disrepair. Just ride in any New York City taxi cab and see how well your back survives the journey. But before we can rebuild our pothole-ridden roads, repair our decaying grids, or deal with energy or climate change, we must challenge and reject all of the nonsense about long-term budget deficits, national bankruptcy or insolvency, and even “fiscal responsibility” that we are hearing from Congress and the chattering classes.
The real fiscal responsibility lies in understanding how we invest in the future with jobs, education and decent roads and bridges. Letting our country fall apart, on the other hand, is the height of irresponsibility.
Read the whole thing--its short,clear, and concise--and then share it with friends and family.

The two fundamental points to keep in mind regarding the deficit

1. Tax Cuts and Wars Will Continue to Fuel Debt Through the Decade

2.  The long term deficit problems are 100% about health care costs. If the US gets  its costs in line with the rest of the industrialized world it won't be looking at deficits but surplus',  The reality is that the only "crisis" is one for the bloated paychecks of the 1% working in the health care sector who would be making far less if Government didn't work so hard to inflate their paychecks. On this point you MUST check out the Center for Economic and Policy Research Health Care Budget Deficit Calculator 

Now on to other fronts--as we are all burnt out on the sequester!

Dean Baker gives some in-depth comments on immigration reform: Thoughts on Immigration Policy.  In the post Dean makes a really important point--we don't want an immigration policy that is structured to give professionals cheap help.  

First and foremost--wages are already a problem for the 99%. But beyond that, and in classic Dean Baker acerbic-synopsis style, he notes: "I would be very happy with a world where no one could afford to hire nannies for their kids."

Boston Review has a fantastic interview of  the economist Emmanuel Saez by David Grusky: Taxing Away Inequality

For today's "who didn't see that coming" post I'll send you over to Think Progress who has the run down on data showing that teen pregnancy is highest in States who lack proper Sex Education. Teen pregnancy is now at record lows:
The decline in teen pregnancy is “almost exclusively” a result of more contraceptive use, according to Guttmacher. Birth control use is up to 47 percent of sexually active teens, while teens’ use of both condoms and hormonal contraception rose from 16 percent to 23 percent in recent years.
But nationally, one in four teens have received abstinence-only education, with no instruction on birth control.
File this story under: we are failing our young adults and stealing futures with our emphasis on moral expectations of human beings as determined by what was written on scroll and stone during the bronze age.  Its unfortunate and an abdication of our duty to use good science when providing good guidance for our young people.

What’s So Bold about $9.00 an Hour? Benchmarking the Minimum Wage | Dissent Magazine

The Georgia GOP realizes demographically its about to reach a tipping point where it can't win in Georgia any more so its trying to change the rules.  The National Memo » Amid Tightening Senate Polls, Georgia Republicans Seek Repeal Of 17th Amendment 

No, American Banks AREN’T Smaller than their Foreign Rivals | Zero Hedge 

From around the globe:
Hundreds of protesters halt demolition of Berlin Wall, scuffle with police (PHOTOS) — RT News 

Stéphane Hessel, writer and inspiration behind Occupy movement, dies at 95 | World news  

For the Georgia readers:

The uber-awesome Taifa Butler (who you should follow on twitter  ) with GBPI (@GaBudget) has a great post--Agency Leaders Lament: If We Had More We Could Do More.  Austerity is having a very real impact on our economy, and our quality of life in the form of longer wait times, fewer services, and more headaches when dealing with State and Local Governments.

Reduced state spending for agencies like the departments of Revenue, Insurance, Natural Resources and Secretary of State isn’t usually front page news. But the story of those agencies is one of deep cuts that slow customer service, overwhelm state staff and hinder the state’s ability to fulfill its core mission. And it affects all of us. 
During last week’s general government budget hearings for the 2014 fiscal year, one agency leader after another took to the microphone to lament the challenges their  agency faces to meet the governor’s mandate to find an additional 3 percent in their department’s budget to cut. The stories were the same. To accommodate the additional cuts, in many cases agencies were eliminating additional staff positions which ultimately adds to wait times, increases the workload of existing state personnel or puts public safety at risk. These state regulatory agencies have borne the deepest cuts since the Great Recession, some more than 30 percent.

Republicans love to complain about Government and its inability to get the job done--then go under-fund it so they can point and say, "see...Government doesn't work."  And behind the scene they are working to transfer all taxes onto the poor and working class and give a free ride to the 1% via an end to the state income tax---because sales taxes are so stable in a recession yo!

Here is GBPI's legislative wrap-up for the week: Weekly Update March 1, 2013

AFL-CIO has coverage of yesterday's Labor Lobby Day here in Georgia  Georgia Working Families Mobilize to Stop Anti-Worker Bills

I was there, were you?