Relevant and even prescient commentary on news, politics and the economy.

Me Worthies

Me Worthies

by

Ken Melvin

If 40% of Americans think like Trump thinks, is America worth saving? At his rallies, we see C-SPAN shots of mostly overweight middle-aged and somewhat older whites; so we certainly can’t blame his ascendancy on recent immigrants. As Walt’s Pogo said, “We have met the enemy and he is us.” Pretty good bet that Trump is both a narcissist and a sociopath. And his supporters, they too? No doubt some of his supporters care more about the stock market than they do about America or Trump, but what about the rest? What do they care about?

Since when did middle-aged bikers, those who watch reality TV shows like The Apprentice, and those who watch Professional Wrestling, represent the best in America? And, why do biker gang members look just like the armed right-wing, white-supremacist, militia members? And how is it that today’s bikers look just like those from the 70s? — Those brave road marauders who, in bunches of 7, 8, 9, 10, -20 rode alongside our cars and ogled our wives? How is that this lot, too, is mostly overweight middle-aged whites. These are not Baby Boomers. These are the children of the Baby Boomers! Is there something going on in the US gene pool that we don’t know about? This definitely something science and journalism need to look into. If JFK inspired the best and the brightest, who are these that Trump has inspired?

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Capitalism and Class

Capitalism and Class

by

Ken Melvin

Whence this attitude that the working class is expendable and that the middle and upper classes are not?

Donald J. Trump, Mitch McConnell, and Betsy DeVos, being the brave, patriotic souls that they are, demand, for the sake of the nation, that the working class step-up and take the risk of going back to work and sending their working-class kids to school an do so without sufficient protective measures in force and with no legal recourse against the employers and districts.

Whence this attitude that the working class is expendable and that the middle and upper classes are not? Why is that, time and time again, we see the working class taking the brunt of, being wiped out by, economic downturns? Are they really without merit? Of such little or no consequence?

Including all those who work for a salary as being part of the working class, the working class is of the utmost consequence. The country would absolutely come to a standstill without them. The country would come to an absolute standstill without those who work for hourly wages — the unemployed are only those looking for a job, a way to help.

‘Tis those as worthless as the tits on a boar, those who live off of unearned income, those who are incompetent, lazy, corrupt,  .   .   .    who are of no merit. Trump failed in every manner conceivable to provide the leadership the country needed. At least the boar’s tits do no harm. Trump has only made, continues to make, things worse. Do you think for a moment that if Hillary had been president that she wouldn’t have acted quickly and aggressively? That she would not have prepared the nation? That she would have spent so much time watching TV? Stuffing her face? Golfing? Ignoring intelligence? Mitch and Betsy, too, did nothing of merit; instead, both worked hard at doing the nation great harm.

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Philly-Area Charters Collect $30 Million+ in PPP Funding

(Dan here…via Diane Ravitch’s blog…)

Philly-Area Charters Collect $30 Million+ in PPP Funding

by dianeravitch

Charters in the Philadelphia area received more than $30 million in Paycheck Protection Program funds, while public schools in Philadelphia continue to be systematically underfunded. The big winner in the PPP sweepstakes is the for-profit Chester Community Charter School, owned by a major Republican donor and billionaire.
One of the largest loans, between $5 million and $10 million, went to Chester Community Charter School (CCCS), which is operated by a for-profit management company owned by wealthy Republican donor Vahan Gureghian.
The loan was received by Archway Charter School of Chester, Inc., which is the nonprofit name for CCCS under which it files its 990 tax form.
The CCCS charter already received more than $2.5 million from the CARES Act, intended for public schools. So CCCS, which aims for a complete takeover and privatization of its district, is funded both as a “public school” and a small business.

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Economists and Inequality

by Joseph Joyce

Economists and Inequality

Binyamin Applebaum of the New York Times has written a book, The Economists’ Hour: False Prophets, Free Markets and the Fracture of Society, in which he claims that economists are responsible for the increase in income inequality in the U.S. I thought this charge was off the mark and wrote a reply. My piece, “Are Economists Responsible for Income Inequality?“, has been published in the June issue of Society. Here is the abstract:

Economists are held responsible by some for the increase in income inequality that has taken place in recent decades. Milton Friedman in particular has been singled out for advocating the removal of the government from almost all sectors of the economy, which led to an increase in inequality. But this charge is flawed for two reasons. First, Friedman’s views were always contested by other equally well-known and respected economists who advocate government policies to deal with markets where there are distortions, such as health care. Second, policy decisions are undertaken by public officials in response to many factors, including the advancement of personal and ideological agendas as well as the influence of donors and interest groups. The study of the causes and effects of inequality has become a central topic of economic research, and economists have a role to play in developing policies to address it.

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It’s the Economy

It’s the Economy

by

Ken Melvin

Ask any group of people who have successfully started a small business and to a person, they will tell you that there had been at least once when it could have gone either way. Eight out of ten fail in those perilous first two years. No doubt some of the 80% made fatal mistakes, but how many of them did everything right and still failed? Some of the 20% made what could have been fatal mistakes yet came out smelling like a rose. One struggles for five years to get a business going while another one makes $200,000 their first, the other’s fifth, year.

In America today, the outstanding student loan debt is more than $1.6 Trillion; some $200 Billion of which is in arrears. Maybe the student loan was taken out for a career change after losing their job due to globalization, automation, the 2008 crash, … or for a college degree to better their prospects of getting a better paying job, or for Law School and the prospect of a $300k/yr. salary, or for Medical School, … Turns out that after graduation there weren’t enough jobs, or positions; at least enough of any that paid enough.

Maybe they took out a student loan in order to become a research chemist. They make it to grad school only to find out that most chemical research is now being farmed out to Uzbekistan for $40,000/yr.

Graduated college a couple years back, now works as a barista and Uber driver until the job market opens up. Shares in SF.

Turns out that one’s chances for success depend on what year it was that one graduated from college. In a year when the job market is good, the chances of achieving success are quite good. Graduate in a year when there are few jobs and your career may never take off.

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Competency

Competency

by   Ken Melvin

What is the first criteria when a Board of Directors goes looking for a new CEO? When the construction firm goes looking for a project manager?

Of late, too often, US Politics seems to have a new standard for selecting officeholders. We have been, are, watching this horror of a Pandemic being mismanaged by elected incompetents. Incompetents who might have been promoted to yet higher positions if their incompetence hadn’t been exposed by the course of events. This isn’t about The Peter Principle at play. This is about a large group of US Politicians who were elected to high-level Executive positions based on their perceived allegiance to a specific ideology or dogma.

It is to be expected that Political Appointees, chits come due, are most often incompetent. But, here, we are talking about some Mayors and Governors, people elected to Executive Roles; that simply could not step up to the task at hand. Noted: There were, indeed, those who did step up; did so handsomely.

For weeks, we had been witness to some of these Governors’ media paean to: Markets, Capitalism, The Confederacy, Christian Values, Western Heroes, American Independence, … only too soon to be followed by record rates of Covid Infections in their states. Why follow the advice of Science and the Scientists? Why heed the guidelines of the CDC? What does Science know?

Appears that they still don’t understand the math, the doubling, science stuff like that. Easily influenced, these Governors followed the lead of an incompetent President who, too, didn’t understand the Science, nor the math; who couldn’t be bothered to read his briefings.

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