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

“No Tattoos, Go Home” Dreamer

Two illegal immigrants Erika Andiola and Cesar Vargas engage Republican Representative Steve King on staying in the US. Watch tough guy Rand Paul scamper away after Erika announces she is a “Dreamer.”

She appears to challenge Steve King to get rid of her and offers he business card. In answer to her challenge, Steve King announces this is not what he does. Of course he doesn’t, he leaves that up to others to get rid of people after he points the finger.

Back to the two Dreamers: Cesar volunteered to enlist and defend the US. Erika talks about earning her degree at ASU, about her mother being beaten by her father and coming to the US years ago to protect her. The only things Steve King can say is apply for asylum in Mexico, did you come from a lawless country, I am sorry you lived in a lawless country, and you are importing lawlessness to the US. what he doses

In the background all you can hear from the moronic supporters of Steve King is “Go Home.” At the very end, you hear “No Tatoos, Go Home.”

Looks like two good citizens to me and a great economic addition to the US. Of course by 2050 when Hispanics are ~50% of the population, there may not be room for the Kings and Rands of the world in the US anymore.

It appears Rand Paul had another interview. After one bite of his burger, he left to go to his interview leaving Steve King to hold the bag with the “Dreamer?”

“‘The Kentucky Republican (Rand Paul) on Tuesday evening said that just minutes before that video began, a reporter asked him for an interview while he was eating. ‘And I said, I need to take a couple more bites and we’ll do an interview,” Paul said on Fox News. ‘And then I was told we had to leave and I had to do the interview, so actually, I stood 10 feet from the people who were doing sort of a kamikaze interview, and I stood 10 feet from them and did another interview.’

‘I’ve always done an interview on immigration,” he added later. ‘I’m very open to discussing that I think there should be some kind of immigration reform,” he said, before pivoting to criticize President Barack Obama for taking executive action on immigration reform.'”

Yea right wuss!

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Illinois’ next governor may make Romney look like a saint

Does the name Bruce Rauner ring a bell? No, me neither. It turns out he’s the Republican nominee for governor in Illinois, which under normal circumstances would mean he’s a nobody. But he’s been leading incumbent Democrat Pat Quinn in polls all summer, and could actually end up as the state’s next governor.

This is a problem, because he is even more out of touch with the middle class than Mitt Romney (Rauner is a private equity near-billionaire) whose idea of transparency is to release the first two pages of his 1040 tax return for 2010-12, and nothing else. Romney at least released his full tax return for each of two years. As Think Progress points out, Rauner is also a big fan of the Cayman Islands as a tax haven, just like Romney. In fact, Rauner is invested in at least five funds there. Also like Romney, Rauner takes full advantage of the “carried interest” tax break that lets him treat his fees, which should be ordinary income taxed at 35%, as capital gains, subject only to a 15% tax rate.

Rauner’s agenda is insistent on the need to spur job growth, but somehow misses the fact that Illinois’ unemployment rate has fallen from 9.2% (seasonally adjusted) in June 2013 to 7.5% in May 2013 (the figure Rauner used) and even more since the agenda was published, to 7.1% in June, the third-largest drop in the country year-over-year. Still a full point worse than the June national unemployment rate, but a lot better than it was.

One place where Rauner is worse than Romney is the minimum wage. Romney, rather surprisingly, supports an increase in the minimum wage, though he did not specify a number. Rauner, in both December and January, called for Illinois to lower its minimum from $8.25 to $7.25, the national rate. After getting a tremendous amount of blowback, he now claims to support an increase.

His agenda says the state “should implement a phased-in minimum wage increase, coupled with workers’ compensation and lawsuit reforms to bring down employer costs.” No mention of what the rate would be, or the period over which it would be phased it. He references an op-ed he wrote in the January 9th Chicago Tribune (now only available through the Nexis subscription service), where he clearly buys into the “job-killer” meme and drops a reference to the futility of a “$20 per hour” minimum wage, for good measure. Somehow I don’t think he really supports an increase.

Not only that, but Rauner proposes turning the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, the state’s investment promotion agency, into what he calls a “public-private partnership.” He doesn’t say it, but this means there will be less public oversight into the agency’s affairs. As Good Jobs First has shown, such privatized agencies have exhibited high levels of abuse in recent years.

Rauner is a living, breathing example of how we have one tax system for the 1%, and another one for the rest of us. His flip-flop on the minimum wage is as phony as the concern he professes for the middle class. Yet there’s a very good chance he will be the next governor of Illinois.

Cross-posted from Middle Class Political Economist.

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More drought?

Is there more drought in store for California and the Southwest?  The Kelvin Wave that preceded an El Nino has dissapated and the  El Nino not not expected to develop.

That’s because the largest surge of heat ever recorded moving west to east in the Pacific Ocean, often referred to as a Kelvin Wave, which was supposed to start an El Niño and bring tropical-like rains to the West Coast and southwest, just dissipated, after it was absorbed by abnormally warm ocean waters.

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“Are Jobs Obsolete?”

Sandwichman has a history of writing on the topic of “Lump of Labor” at Econospeak. “Are Jobs Obsolete” is another in a long series working less due to technological achievement minimizing the need for Labor in Manufacturing and/or Services processes. Speaking as a “throughput analyst” who has done brownfield and Lean” analysis, the need for Labor will lessen even more going into the future.

Citing Rushkoff’s 2011 CNN.com article “Are Jobs Obsolete?”, CEO co-Founder Larry Page also brings up the topic of the need of potentially working less. This is nothing new given Sandwichman’s plethora of posts over the years of fewer hours required in the work week.

While Rushkoff hesitates in saying the obvious, I am not afraid to sign up to it: “but since when is unemployment really a problem? I understand we all want paychecks — or at least money. We want food, shelter, clothing, and all the things that money buys us. But do we all really want jobs?

We’re living in an economy where productivity is no longer the goal, employment is. That is because, on a very fundamental level, we have pretty much everything we need. America is productive enough that it could probably shelter, feed, educate, and even provide health care for its entire population with just a fraction of us actually working.

According to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, there is enough food produced to provide everyone in the world with 2,720 kilocalories per person per day. And that’s even after America disposes of thousands of tons of crop and dairy just to keep market prices high. Meanwhile, American banks overloaded with foreclosed properties are demolishing vacant dwellings Video to get the empty houses off their books.”

So why is food, clothing, housing even a problem given our present ability to manufacture with greater efficiency and throughput the needs of this nation and globally for that matter with a fraction of the Labor which was needed even as late as the sixties (Drucker/Ingersoll Engineers)? We are held to some artificial standard which demands 40+ hours of week of every person, able bodied or not, to the age of 67 before enjoying the ability to retire at a lesser percentage of the wages earned while laboring called Social Security and hopefully a 401k. The increase in wages for Labor has not kept up with the increase in productivity and neither have the hours worked been offset by productivity gains thereby allowing more Labor into the work force. Instead, productivity gains have been heavily skewed to Capital and a few while Labor has been set aside dormant and used as a control factor to any increase in Labor wages.

In a WSJ interview, Douglas Rushkoff talks with Dennis Berman: “Does America Really Need More Jobs? Hat Tip to Sandwichman at Econospeak. Worth a listen.

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Senator Elizabeth Warren Gets Indignant with Banker(s)

In 1998, the gov made it impossible to discharge federal student loans through bankruptcy except upon death, disability, or public service. The gov did provide certain measures to change payments then such as forbearance, economic forbearance (no interest for 3 years), and payment change. In 2005 private student loan originators lobbied to have the same privilege as federal loans of no discharge through bankruptcy. The difference for private student loans was their are no alternative measures. Either you pay or???

Watch and listen to Senator Warren deconstruct a banker.

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How We Reduce Poverty, and How “The Market” Doesn’t

Matt Bruenig gives us a great breakdown of what poverty would look like if we relied on the market to solve it (as we did almost exclusively for thousands of years before the emergence of enlightened modern welfare states over the last two centuries).

The poverty rate among the elderly would be > 45%. (Old folks with long memories: sound familiar?)

Thanks to Social Security, Medicare, etc., it’s 9%.

Here are Matt’s numbers in graphical form for easy digestion:

Screen shot 2014-08-01 at 8.46.54 AM

Read the whole thing.

Cross-posted at Asymptosis.

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Policy Prefs: I’m Right at the Peak of the Common Man’s Bell Curve. Where Are You?

The idea of democracy is to give the people what they want, right?

Ezra Klein points us to a great study by Ray LaRaja and Brian Schnaffer examining policy preferences by political donors (5% of the population) vs. non-donors (95%).

Here’s my rendition of the results:

Screen shot 2014-07-29 at 10.48.43 AM

Whose preferences would you say are embodied in our current government?

Non-donors as a group are pretty coherent, and seem to give a good representation of what Americans want.

Donors, perceived as an entity, not so much — the group is downright schizophrenic, in particular due to that anomalous bulge at the right. And that 5% or .5% determines what we get — not the 95%. (Money? Pernicious? Feh.)

Now: ask yourself where the self-professed liberals and conservatives that you know land on the left-hand graph.

Just sayin’.

Cross-posted at Asymptosis.

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Bottom Line: Joni Ernst Is a Constitutional Law Scholar

You know we have talked about this at the state legislature before, nullification. But, bottom line is, as U.S. Senator why should we be passing laws that the states are considering nullifying? Bottom line: our legislators at the federal level should not be passing those laws. We’re right…we’ve gone 200-plus years of federal legislators going against the Tenth Amendment’s states’ rights. We are way overstepping bounds as federal legislators. So, bottom line, no we should not be passing laws as federal legislators—as senators or congressman—that the states would even consider nullifying. Bottom line.

Christine O’Donnell*, er, current Iowa Republican Senate candidate Joni Ernst, Sept. 13, 2013. H/T Paul Waldman, linking to a Daily Beast article by Ben Jacobs.

Personally, I think she’s right.  Vermont, Massachusetts and Rhode Island should have total veto power over the portion of the Farm Bill that gives subsidies to wheat, corn and soy bean farmers. And I know that James Madison would agree.

Bottom line: Ernst, unlike O’Donnell, is a witch.

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*Corrected link to “Christine O’Donnell Finally Discovers Constitution’s ‘Religious Freedom’ Part,” Gawker, Oct. 19, 2010. 7/29 at 11:06 a.m.

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Conservative-Legal-Movement Law Is Really Just a Kaleidoscope

After taking a nearly-month-long hiatus from blogging here about legal issues, and blogging only very lightly about other things, I posted this controversial post last Friday and participated in a lengthy comments thread.  The final comment of mine, in reference to some of the preceding comments of others and of mine, reads:

A final point on this subject: Whatever the predominant ethnicity of the brutal “states’ rights” culture of much of the South, an important indication that its core is not ethnicity but instead the defense of the “right” of states to allow slavery, or to allow whatever brutality they want to allow, is that (as I said above) Appalachia itself, which has a very large Scots-Irish population, actually had (I believe) very few plantations.  West Virginia, after all, was not a Confederate state, and northern Kentucky had large contingents of soldiers who joined the Union army.

I don’t think this is an ethnicity legacy. I think it’s a plantation-culture political and cultural legacy—one that is at the very essence of the Conservative Legal Movement, whether its adherents are from the South or instead from, say, New Jerseyupstate New York and Northwestern Indiana, or northern California.  The attribution of the current, funhouse-bizarre states’-rights legal movement to the alleged “structure” of the Constitution is a pre-Civil War, and therefore pre-Reconstruction Amendments, construct.  It should be recognized for the machination of constitutional law that it is.

So much of Conservative Movement constitutional and statutory-interpretation law is really just a kaleidoscope—false statements of factsleight-of-hand redefinitions of standard-English words and of earlier-defined legal standards, comedy-routine-caliber the-knee-bone-is-connected-to-the-thigh-bone-which-is-connected-to-the-hip-bone (whether or not it actually is) Dictionary games, malleable-as-needed Court-created legal doctrines, and a deeply institutionalized look-the-other-way-at-everything-but-Conservative-Movement-claims ethos.

What a cesspool.

A carefully crafted one, in fact.

Enough said.  For the moment.

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