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 

St├ęphane 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?

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