Member of the reality-based community of progressive (not anonymous) Massachusetts blogs
I feel like I’ve used a similar title recently. ;-P
Anyway, who needs steenkin’ poor people to make a living wage, anyway? Especially when your vote against working people is…totally moot.
Saying that the minimum wage kills jobs, yesterday New Hampshire’s Tea Party-dominated legislature abolished the state’s rules on the issue. As is so often the case, however, it was a meaningless move.The change takes effect Sunday, but it will have no consequence for employers or employees because New Hampshire’s minimum wage was the same as the federal wage, which remains in force. During the fight over the removing the state law from the books, Republicans insisted the wage law not only makes it harder to create jobs, it kills them.
First term GOP state Rep. Carol McGuire, the repeal’s sponsor, says young workers aren’t worth the minimum wage anyway: “It’s very discriminatory, particularly for young people. They’re not worth the minimum.”
Corporations don’t kill jobs. Minimum wage kills jobs. *facepalm*
Just for comparison, NH does have a low unemployment rate of just 5.2%:
But you’ll note that VT also has a very low rate of 5.7% as well, and their minimum wage is higher than ours ($8.15). And to add to that, between workers working in MA, VT, ME etc, fully 19% of NH’s workforce don’t work in NH.
Just sayin’. Not that we don’t welcome the 13% of NH’s citizens paying our income tax, mind you.
There’s reality, and then there’s the redneck leaders of NH’s ginormous volunteer legislature…
[HT to the Mr.]
I really like to use Facebook. That may not shock you, denizens of the blogscape or “Boggers” as Armand Mercier calls us, but suffice to say FB is often scoffed. Scoffed as a frivolous fad, and it may be. For me, however, it acts as a news aggregator. My “friends” on FB are mostly fellow polinerds. So my “wall” is a constant stream of videos, editorials, jokes and rants. My best “friends” can ball all those things together. ;v)
This morning, I found this: New Jersey Must Return $271 Million Spent on Hudson Tunnel, U.S. Insists
On Friday, the Transportation Department flatly rejected the state’s arguments for refusing to repay $271 million that was spent on a project, canceled last year, to build a pair of rail tunnels under the Hudson River. The message to Gov. Chris Christie was blunt: Repay now or we will collect the debt the hard way. Plus interest.
When federal transportation officials demanded that New Jersey repay money already spent on the project, Mr. Christie hired Patton Boggs, a Washington law firm, to challenge that demand. The lawyers, who reportedly have billed the state and New Jersey Transit about $800,000, argued that the state stopped the project because of unforeseen costs that were beyond its control. …
So Gov.Christie has found a conservative principle upon which he can crawl atop and strike a curious pose. Curious, I maintain, because of the unemployed construction workers languishing on “the dole,” skyrocketing fees to DC law firms and reported $50,000/day interest charges on the unpaid debt that is claim by DOT. Damn, Gov. Christie! That adds up to a lot of teachers, cops and firefighters.
If just the $50,000/day was considered, you could envision a line of NJ low salary workers walking out on a plank. Each day, one worker would step off into oblivion. How long that line is, is up to Gov.Christie and his principles.
I say this because locally we are faced with decisions to create our city and school budgets. Please consider, as our elected folks strike curious poses, what the hell the consequences will be.
In light of the uprising in Egypt, one could say that ideas are very dangerous. After all, it’s the idea of a better life, of more control over their political future, the idea of maybe seeing a glimmer of democracy for themselves that is fueling the disruption of that entire nation.
Or you could ask King George, if he were still alive, just how quickly an idea can take hold and burn like fire.
In a fair marketplace for ideas, some rise to the top, and some don’t. In an unfair market for ideas, some are suppressed when others are giving unfair advantage. In our modern age, money gives a lot of unfair advantages to ideas, but the internet is a great leveler and might, just might, save us from ourselves. We can hope.
So off of the abstract and onto specifics: the Lowell Sun wrote a piece on the simple, rather boring and wonky paper that we (Move Lowell Forward) submitted to the City Council - our second, for the record - this one on local jobs. (You can read it here [PDF]). There has been some fuss from some corners regarding this paper, which I found pretty hilarious because that fuss created a need for coverage by local media outlets where none would have existed, which I do not think was the intent of the complainers.
In the article, Rita calls me out by name, which is predictable, since she has disliked me ever since I started this blog and publicly disagreed with her. The last straw for her, I think, was that I thought at the time (2005) that no city councilor other than Milinazzo should have been reelected (at the time no one was doing anything about Cox, but Milinazzo persistently showed up for many local groups’ meetings, even during a non-election season, which I felt was a good thing). I know this because she said it to me. Yes, the internet has archives and you can go back and examine them. Welcome to the modern world.
However, Rita has little to complain about regarding not getting endorsed by Move Lowell Forward - the first qualification for getting endorsed by any organization is to return the organization’s questionnaire. She never has (not mine for the blog, and certainly not Move Lowell Forward’s). Had she returned her questionnaire, it would have been evaluated along with her voting history on many key issues and would have acquired an objective numerical score by our endorsement committee. It was quite possible that she would have ended up endorsed by MLF in that case, as we were strict about those rules.
Anyway, the Sun piece has interesting quotes and differences of opinion from various councilors on the ideas that our paper presents, which is great! We hoped that our boring little policy piece might spark some ideas or debate, and it obviously has. Of course, we just thought it would be a little discussion on an obscure subcommittee about tax rates, local businesses and how to entice them, how we deal with TIFs, etc, but we’re happy to see that it has some mental wheels turning, even if it’s a quick examination and dismissal of the ideas in the paper. What we did was to look at what the candidates (both successful and not) said in our questionnaires in 2009, so really, a lot of the paper is about ideas others had.
What I find interesting about this whole exercise, is that it illustrates the very differences between governing philosophies that MLF as a group, and I as a blogger, have always been after in the first place.
The councilors near the top of the article being quoted are looking at the ideas in the paper, and remarking upon them (both for and against). Councilor Mercier, on the the other hand, calls me out personally by name and attacks my commenters. (Never mind that she’s wrong, that “three bloggers” do not “assume 40 different names” just to attack her. When I catch someone doing this - which I can do because we record IP addresses on the back end - any time someone “astroturfs,” it’s to attack me or someone I am supporting.)
This is the politics of the personal versus the policy. MLF, and this blog, have long been about trying to get us on track for real and serious policy debates. And when I see someone like C. Mercier saying or doing something that is counter-productive, or even, outright misleading, I call them on it. And they hate that, and attack me. Honestly, I don’t care one way or the other about Rita Mercier the person. I care about Rita Mercier, the elected politician who is making policy and public statements that have serious consequences. It’s never been personal (all right, I do enjoy waxing sarcastic once in a while to relieve my feelings, but that’s not why I blog). But to people like Mercier, it’s always personal. There is no separation between getting the job done and their intimate feelings about the person delivering the message. I know which way I prefer the people I elect to govern.
I did also want to briefly refute another point the “fussers” are making regarding one’s access to presenting ideas to the Council or on the Council floor, in light of MLF’s paper presentation being compared to the decision not to hear Sean Burke in front of full Council.
What was not evident in some of the coverage of Burke (or should I say, biased Sun editorials) is that Burke did get his time to speak, in front of the relevant subcommittee, and thoroughly aired what he wanted to say there (not to mention he himself wanted to provide the service for a fee). His ideas were presented to Lynch prior to that as well, and thoroughly digested for their merits or lack thereof.
The reason Burke was refused a second airing in front of the full Council later on is that he was already heard, and his ideas presented in the appropriate forum. And my understanding is that his ideas were rejected for reality-based reasons.
This is the same access, in fact, MLF is asking for, and for far less of the Council’s or Subcommittee’s time - “here’s some ideas [for the economic subcommittee if that’s the right place], read or don’t read, and use or don’t use them, as you will.” We really didn’t think there was anything controversial about it, but of course, this is Lowell, and there is always someone willing to inject controversy where none exists.
We weren’t expecting a full debate at a CC meeting, but the procedure for correspondence to the the Council is it must be “accepted” as such by the full Council, then “sent” to a subcommittee for review. We were exactly following procedure as outlined in the rules and laws. It might well be that the Council decides it needs to go to a different subcommittee, or do something else entirely with it (circular file, maybe). It’s totally up to the Council. We just threw it out there; it is a completely volunteer effort, and there is no agenda other than our stated goals in our mission statement.
The fact that not one of us has any personal stake in the acceptance of those ideas should be pretty obvious to anyone who reads it - except, of course, that we are all Lowell residents (with a healthy mix of “grow-ins” and Lowell-born by the way) and that all of us stand to gain if the city does better.
I find it very amusing how sinister some people have made this all out to be. It’s pretty clear who is being overwrought about this, so hey, I’ll just take heart from all our unexpected free publicity that will help our ideas will go out there and compete in the world of ideas, sinking or swimming on their merits or lack thereof.
No quid pro quo about it.
Or rather, it’s full of sh*t. Probably another edition of Jim “Logic? What’s that?” Campanini drivel. It has his signature pull-it-out-of-my…well. You know.
In it, he blames Obama, Patrick, and the Democrats for the reslumping economy we are, it appears, going through now. Of course, Campanini (ahem, I mean “the editor who wrote this”) has a real, electoral reason for doing this - he wants Republicans to win, so he’s gotta paint this as a problem with the leadership of the Democrats. To do so, he has to ignore general consensus of real economists (the reality-based ones who don’t work for the Heritage Foundation). Particularly with Mass job increases at 20 year highs, he has to make you think that despite this progress, it’s not progress.
All the real economists (the ones that win Nobel Prizes) have rejected trickle down (hey even Bush Sr. called it “voodoo” after all), affirmed Keynesian economics, and basically have said for a couple YEARS now that the big problem with the economy is that we didn’t stimulate it enough - and 1/3 of that stimulus bill we did get was, actually, useless tax cuts, to boot. (I find it odd how this is never mentioned in the context of conservative rants about the stimulus package. Maybe because it would help prove they are full of crap?)
These smart economists are now saying that what we’re seeing has an awful lot in common with the slowdown and retrenching of the unemployment rate in the 1930s after FDR and Congress got all deficit-hawky. And they are right, there’s a ton in common. And this deficit worry is the prevailing idiocy here and around the world. End result? Since we haven’t yet dug ourselves out of the hole we were in, we’re sliding back in now that we put the brakes on powering our way up.
It’s sort of like worrying about how to fix the patient’s broken arm while he’s still on the surgeon’s table having a heart attack. Simple triage dictates you deal with the worst problems first, then move on once you’ve stabilized the patient. This is pretty conventional wisdom for those who don’t still believe in the tooth fairy and Reaganomics.
And I love, just adore the whole concept of ignoring why we’re in this mess of a economic pothole in the first place - the tender ministrations of one George W. “I went to business school!” Bush. Who. Cut. Taxes.
Here’s the other piece of logic stupidity this editorial commits - it fails to take into account that the ONLY reason Obama has not fixed the economy more substantially (besides just how bloody deep it was to begin with) is the Republicans (and the few conservaDems) watered down any attempt to actually do the real things that needed doing - like going all in on stimulus rather that doing what most economists tell us is dipping one’s toe in.
If anyone’s to blame for the failures of this economy, it’s Bush, first, and second, Republicans in the Senate who prevented Obama from enacting a decent agenda that had a shot at actually working. But I can tell you, far smarter people than Jim Campanini say that the only reason we’re treading water instead of drowning to our deaths is because of the stimulus that was put into place. Without it, we’d be far, far worse off.
Oh, hell, for fun, because I haven’t done this in a while, let’s pick apart the arguments in the editorial one at at time…
Both Obama and Patrick have tried to tax and spend their way out of the recession rather than rein in fiscal policies and promote business investment.
In a recession, (says all the smart people in the world), if unemployment is high and there are no buyers, businesses will not invest in anything. Why in the hell would they?? They won’t create widgets (or houses, or sell services) if people are not buying them. Businesses are not stupid. They know that a widget sitting on a shelve is lost revenue. Apparently, this editor thinks that businesses are dumb and will build widgets if they get tax cuts - regardless of whether or not they have buyers!
However, if more people are employed (those much-maligned teachers and fire fighters and public employees whose essential jobs were saved, to name a few), they buy things. They buy services. They, in effect, create, what’s that word…demand. But this writer here thinks the Demand Faerie brings that to businesses in the night, I guess…
Democrats who once hailed the Obama administration’s $787 billion economic stimulus plan are now making excuses for its failure to create jobs. They say the package wasn’t big enough. What gall.
Who has gall? This writer ignores the fact that fully one third of the stimulus was in tax cuts as a sop to the GOP to get them to stop filibustering it. Otherwise, it would have been 1/3 more effective than it was. It was, at the time, being lamented as too small - our economy is just too big for a few hundreds of billions to drag us out of a Bush-dug recession.
Reviving the economy should have been Obama’s No. 1 priority.
I agree. And it was. The Republicans however, prefer a shitty economy so they could run on it, and blocked all the effective stuff that would have been otherwise directed towards the economy. Note, however, that the stimulus bill was basically one of the first things Obama ever worked on - a fact conveniently not noted here.
Instead, he directed Democrats to push through a costly health-care law that, when it kicks in in 2014, will add more financial burdens on business and workers.
Again, that was after the stimulus-that-was-small-and-1/3-tax-cuts was passed, and it was evident that none more would be had with the Republican filibuster threat. Also, health care is a huge, just ginormous portion of our GDP - more than all the socialized countries who’ve taken health care off the books of their private sector. Addressing it was a necessary long-term help to our economy, though obviously not a short term solution. Our businesses are drowning in health care costs that are just insane.
The bulk of the money has gone to protect government jobs — union teachers, police, firefighters, etc. — while ignoring the private sector, which creates jobs.
Yeah, cuz we don’t need those stinkin’ police, firefighters, and teachers…or their spending money to stimulate the economy, either. And of course, the editor here ignores the 20-year-high rate of private sector job increases in MA in the last few months. Funny how that happens. How much better does he think the private sector job growth can get, without breaking all records??
With more one-time stimulus money on the way, Patrick will be spreading the wealth to municipal governments to protect even more union jobs. It’s an election year, after all. A responsible leader, however, would tuck that money away in the state’s rainy-day fund, leaving it for the challenges of fiscal 2012.
Shorter Jim Campanini: unions suck. I hate them! Damn the weekends they gave us, and damn them for serving the Commonwealth with crazy policing, firefighting, and teaching all over the place. They should paid $20K a year, or not at all!
And, in the middle of the worst recession in ages, we should be SAVING! Saving for a rainy day! The hell with the reason we have a rainy day fund in the first place!
God, can you get any sillier than pretty much this entire editorial?
Of course, if you’re Campanini (*ahem* this editorial writer), facts and the words of real smart economists don’t really influence your view of the universe. You have your narrative all picked out and then torturously try to twist everything fit it. Reality doesn’t really factor in to it.
Whereas I’d rather actually solve the real problems of our time. But hey, that’s just me.
The country might be in a bit of trouble, but the trends in MA have so far survived. Massachusetts added 19,200 private sector jobs in July, losing some (primarily federal census workers) to create a net gain of 13,200 jobs. This held the unemployment rate steady, but the jobs creation in MA this year is the best growth in 20 years. This graph in johnk’s BMG post really just sums it up - not only are we growing jobs, but we’re increasing the total workforce number, so far. (Numbers in graph are in the thousands - johnk’s source according to him via email.) If you click on that link, you’ll see a pretty even distribution of job growth in the private sector categories across the board.
In all, 60,200 jobs have been added in MA since December. And Massachusetts in the second quarter has grown at twice the rate as the nation.
It’s not all great news. While we’re doing much better here, nationwide, a mere 71,000 private-sector jobs were added nationwide in July. Mass’s share of those jobs (if the national number is the total # of jobs, not net) is an astounding 27%. Even if the 71,000 jobs is the net number, MA would account for 18%. But it’s hard to know how sustainable our decent level of growth is while the rest of the nation slows. So cautious optimism is called for.
Still, these are really impressive numbers, and as johnk says, “It’s getting more and more difficult to take other candidates seriously when they repeat how Massachusetts is losing jobs.”
Meehan appears to be in hot water, with both public support, and the Attorney General of Massachusetts.
…more than 500 union tradesmen formed a moving rally from the Tsongas Arena to the steps of City Hall Wednesday, accusing UMass Lowell Chancellor Marty Meehan of bypassing the competitive bidding laws in its plan to lease a new dorm.
State Attorney General Martha Coakley says the contract with Brasi Development Corp. violates the law.
How anyone could undertake a major project like building a dorm, in a public university using public money, and not expect to go through the correct bidding process is beyond me. Does Meehan really believe he’s above such rules? Who could have possibly advised him this was a correct course of action?
As to the Lowell Superior Court judge who overturned Coakley’s ruling on this…the word “Lowell” is in the guy’s title…it makes one wonder…anyone know who the judge was in this case, and if there’s any untoward connection there? Did that ruling seem to skirt outside the law, or did that judge really have a good reason for overturning Coakley? Inquiring minds.
This needs to get outside of Lowell jurisdiction, where no appearance of conflict of interest exists, and kudos on Coakley for going for the appeal.
While the drama unfolds off the Horn of Africa where Somali pirates are holding the captain of an American-based ship hostage, I can’t help but think of the captains of industry that are holding us hostage.
Imagine someone came into your office, and announced, “We’re shutting down this office unless you do one or more of the following: take a 20% pay cut, eliminate our the company’s obligations to match any contributions to your 401K, lose the benefits of paid vacation and sick days, and let us reneg on our negotiated contracts with you.”
Even in this pretty serious downturn, wouldn’t you say that’s asking more than the fair share from the workers, who have, on top of this threat, been recently decimated with round after round of deep layoffs?
And yet, this is how the NY Times Company is holding its workers at the Boston Globe hostage. That phrase is not just rhetoric, it really is like a loaded gun held to the head of every Globe worker, and by extension, every worker, in this country. This sets the worst kind of precedent imaginable for every other struggling newspaper in this country, and eventually, for every worker who could be caught between their own desperation to keep at least some semblance of of dignity and ability to survive, and having to pay for the consequences of the idiot owners of their company who made very poor business decisions. This is not a communist manifesto (let’s nip that stupid talking point in the bud) but the god’s honest truth. Workers are under attack in this country, and there is class warfare being waged - by the rich and wealthy. And they are winning.
You want to know what I think? I think we’re seeing the results of same sort of accounting bullshit that we saw from Enron, only legal. How much do you want to bet that the Globe is completely profitable, even today, if you do not put the debt from its own acquiring by the NYT Co on its books? I would like to know if the NYT Co, which claims its flagship NYTimes paper is profitable, is taking their liabilities for that debt off the books of the main company onto a subsidiary that ostensibly owns the Globe, making that other paper look like a golden child of profits while the Globe has to make enough to meet the debt payments and only then have its income considered profits?
This is complete bullshit, and nothing shows that we need to break up these dangerous media conglomerates more than what is happening to the rank and file of the Boston Globe. I say that we need to step in and forcibly take the Globe from the NY Times, and leave the Times Co with the debt that they moronically decided to take on.
In case you missed my interview on WUML this morning with Bob Forrant about his new book, you can listen or download it here. Thanks to Bob for coming in and giving an interesting overview of the economic history of the rise and fall of industrialization in the Connecticut River Valley!
Sorry if the audio is an issue at any point, I did my best to fix the levels.
This dkos diary by TocqueDeville, besides sounding the alarm that half of America’s credit lines will be cut (which is terrible timing considering that the American consumer is already not spending), also says one of the things that has been at the back of my mind a long time (emphasis mine):
How did we allow ourselves to be brought to our knees by parasites who produce nothing, and a monetary/banking policy that has sucked all of the money away from the real producers?
Corruption. Plain and simple.
Most people go their entire lives without even questioning where money comes from. It’s just always been. But currency is supposed to be a symbol, a tool. Not a shackle. We, as a society, have grown so accustomed to never asking questions about where the money comes from, that we don’t see the most obvious thing in the world - we have become slaves to bankers who make more money off the money itself, than the goods or services the money is supposed to represent.
Money is supposed to represent real wealth - so you don’t have to carry around your chickens. It should never be the sole source of wealth. Anyone who is making money solely off of money is a parasite.
What kind of system penalizes the producers of real wealth, things that have real value, and rewards the parasites? A system designed by parasites.
This is the greatest opportunity in almost a century to fix this absurd monetary system, and rebuild our country. But it won’t happen because the parasites also control our political system. So the people are being taxed to death to pay for the parasites ponzi scheme.
This is the meat of the nut of the whole entire problem. The reason the economy is failing and the credit crisis exists is because people making money off of money (mortgage-backed securities et al.) screwed all of us true producers of real wealth (the workers and the companies that produce things). They not only screwed us of our own money, but they overreached and overextended their investments and screwed us with the very real failure of their money, and now we are bailing out these parasites, because we have no choice, our whole system is going down because of it, and we all would lose if that happened. This crisis has shown us what this system truly is - of parasites, for parasites, so help me God.
The deck is stacked against the producer and the real wealth generator in this system, and it appears there’s nothing we can do about it. The robber barons will continue to make money with our money, our wealth, stealing it from us as surly as if they held up a bank. Which is, essentially, what they have been doing all these years under our noses.
And then, on top of all this, they pass themselves off as patriotic and American heroes. They pat themselves on the back, these giants of industry, and think they deserve the accidents of their birth or their luck in getting to robber baron status. Then as they begin to be buried by the detritus and dung that is a result of their greed, they come to Washington, with their hands out, to ask us, the producers they stole the money from in the first place, for more money to bail them out. It’s criminal.
Wow, I would totally go pick lettuce in Yuma for $50/hour. That’s more than either my husband or I get per hour in our jobs! That’s like around $100K per year! Hard labor for $50/hr sounds good to me. I do it all weekend in the backyard anyway, for free! For $100K per year I could hire someone else to do the landscaping.
Edit: This is the context, the quote which leads to this Amazing Exploding McCain:
John McCain: “I don’t think I need to tell you that there are jobs that Americans will not do. I don’t think I have to tell you that there are … the backbone of our economy…
Audience members: “Pay them the right wages.”
John McCain: “You know I’ve heard that statement before. Now, my friends, I’ll offer anybody here fifty dollars an hour if you’ll go pick lettuce in Yuma this season and pick for the whole season. So, ok, sign up! Ok, when you sign up, you sign up, and you’ll be there for the whole season, the whole season, ok, not just one day. Because you can’t do it, my friend.”
This would be Angry McCain we’re seeing in this video, I think…note the petulance. This is the last thing you want to do when speaking to an audience you are trying to get the votes of, and yet he can’t help himself.
Makes you wonder just how volatile he would be as President when things didn’t go his way. War with Russia, anyone?
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