5 @ 5: Soldiers On Food Stamps

by TKOEd • Tuesday, Dec 11, 2012 • no responses - be the first

Some soldiers, and their families are unable to make ends meet. So they end up at food pantries, and on SNAP. “I thought this was America people!” American society allegedly reveres our military “heroes.” Guess not:

Fort Hood soldiers fight to make ends meet

Frank Bruni writes a non-obtuse op-ed for once:

The God Glut

 Right To Work (for less) passes the Michigan House. These people are degenerates:

Michigan Bills Limiting Union Power Pass in Legislature

The Atlantic’s mostly brilliant staff tells you the best books they read this year:

The Best Book I Read This Year

#ICYMI. I wrote about Black Republicans, and their propensity to refer to Black Dems as being on the “plantation.”:

Black Republicans & The “Plantation”

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5 @ 5: Taxes & Prisons

by TKOEd • Friday, Nov 30, 2012 • no responses - be the first

We’re so worried about the Zombie Apocalypse that we’ve seemed to forget the robot uprising that’s coming soon:

People are paying less taxes then they were in 1980, but no one seems to think so:

It costs a lot of money to lock people up. The prison industrial complex has many state budgets in shambles:

Obama’s playing hardball, and it’s sounding good to me so far. I’m very curious about that 400 billion “trim” to entitlements though:

Are dinner parties dying? Say it ain’t so. Maybe I’ll figure out how to bring it back…

 

 

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The Big Story: Taxes

by TKOEd • Friday, Nov 30, 2012 • no responses - be the first

Ms. Thole, like many in Belleville, is also convinced that governments could avoid raising taxes by adopting more frugal habits.

“There’s some days we stay home and we eat peanut butter,” she said.

What would she like governments to cut?

“I really like it when they cut the weeds along the highway,” she said. “I like it when there’s good roads to drive on. The schools, I don’t know, I don’t want to pull back from the schools. I don’t have the answer of where to pull back.

“I want the state parks to stay open. I want, I want, I want. I want Big Bird. I think it’s beautiful. What don’t I want? I don’t know.”

The above is a perfect example of how many people view taxes in America. They believe that government is spending too much. On what? They don’t know, but they’re sure it’s something. A bunch of things even. Just not any of the things that they like or want or need. People who drive think we spend too much on public transit, people who take public transit think we spend too much on roads (we do, but I digress). Frequently, people think too little money is being on spent on them. “Where’s all this money going?” they say to themselves. The answer is, everywhere. Our local, state, and federal governments do much more than most people comprehend, and it costs much more than they think. Would Ms. Thole want more holistic, and sensible crime policy if she knew that corrections is the 2nd largest state expenditure after Medicaid?:

one out of every 15 state dollars is spent on corrections in this country. Not coincidentally, one in 31 American adults are adrift in this bloated corrections matrix, stretching resources razor thin. Now swing the recession sledgehammer, and you have a nationwide crisis requiring states to come up with creative solutions to meet enormous budget deficits.

There’s something we could cut. Because you know, drug addicts should get treatment not go to jail. Especially when treatment is a far cheaper option (PDF):

…the average cost of placing a participant in DTAP, including the costs of residential treatment, vocational training an support services was $32,974—half the average cost of $64,338 if the participant had been sent to serve the average term of imprisonment for participants, 25 months.

Sometimes my mind is boggled by this stuff, just about everyone wants more services, but many don’t expect to pay more for those services. Nowhere else do you find that attitude except when it comes to the government. No one would walk into a spa for a massage, and then expect to a facial as well for the same price, but everyone wants better schools, and lower property taxes.

Then we have the people who think poor folks are ballin’ out:

Mr. Siemens does have a concern about fairness. He believes that lower-income households are not paying enough in taxes.

“By any measure, the wealthy are still paying a disproportionate amount of their income in taxes,” he said. “Is that fair or not fair? I don’t know, but I have an issue with the dramatic reduction of taxes at the low end because I think everybody needs some skin in the game.”

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The share of Americans who think lower-income households pay too little in taxes increased to 24 percent in 2012 from 8 percent in 1992, according to Gallup.

What a “skin in the game” is going to make poor people do, I don’t know. But clearly those poor people have it good so to make things more “fair”, they should pay more. Because, “some skin” will make you do stuff (*wink*) or something. Meanwhile, Mr. Siemens’ state doesn’t have a progressive tax rate. Which means that the poor are more than paying their fair share in state taxes:

…Illinois, like most states, takes a larger share of income from those who make less. Illinois households earning less than $25,000 a year on average paid 14.3 percent of income in state and local taxes in 2010, while those earning more than $200,000 paid 9.4 percent

We have a couple of people in this article who represent a powerful sentiment across large swaths of America: The idea that rich people work harder than less well off folks, and that’s why they’re rich. Now hard work is 9/10 a prerequisite for wealth, but I’d say it’s a prerequisite for poverty as well. Growing up, I knew many, many people who lived below the federal poverty line (which @ 23 grand for a family of 4 is extremely low). None of them were headed by people who didn’t work. The working poor exist, and education seems like the key to higher wages, and ability to lift oneself out of poverty. Meanwhile California is spending almost a year of room & board at Harvard on incarcerating people for the same length of time. All the while cutting back on their own awesome public colleges & universities. This is perverse. This is a America. Where we lock up drug users, and states like S.C. increase prison spending by %500 only to see recidivism rates increase.But I guess things will get better by admiring the rich, and making poor people pay more.

 

 

 

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A Late 5 @ 5: D.L. Hughley Is A Misogynist

by TKOEd • Friday, Nov 2, 2012 • no responses - be the first

The title says it all. I’ve got a longer post on Mr. Hughley’s comments:

Foreign Policy says that many coastal cities are doomed. I think drastic measures will be taken, at least in the U.S., before we get to total disaster, but who knows:

So much for Wal-Mart having the lowest prices:

…80 percent of the stuff in Target and Wal-Mart is identical.” The prices are often identical, too. The most recent comparison by Bloomberg Businessweek found only a 46-cent difference between the two retailers per $100 of purchases. (You’ll save that 46 cents at Target, although Wal-Mart usually wins independent price comparisons.)

Rick Scott is an asshole. Is this quote sarcasm, or is he just that dense?:

“Early voting will end Saturday night,” Scott told reporters in response to the request. “But I want everybody to get out to vote.” 

Pay close attention this line:

Citing heavy turnout, Dems and League of Women Voters asked Governor Scott to restore voting this Sunday

Notice how it doesn’t mention Republicans asking for more time so that people can vote. Notice how the post also says that GOPers are the ones who cut early voting hours. Asshats I tell ya.

#ICYMI, I had a quote a former Veep economist, and a few thoughts of my own on today’s jobs report:

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A Few Words On Today’s Jobs Report

by TKOEd • Friday, Nov 2, 2012 • no responses - be the first

Mostly from brilliant former Veep economist Jared Bernstein, bold mine:

Well, the big jobs report is out showing payrolls grew by a more-than-expected 171,000 last month and the unemployment rate ticked  up slightly, as expected, to 7.9%.  Job growth for the prior two months was revised up by 84,000, and the average monthly pace of job growth over the past four months–a useful way of smoothing out monthly noise in the data–is 173,000, a sharp acceleration over the second quarter’s pace of 67,000 per month (see figure).

The uptick in unemployment was expected after September’s 0.3 percentage point drop, but a few things are worth noting.  First, the 0.1 point increase is statistically indistinguishable from no change at all–the unemployment rate has to rise or fall about 0.2 points to be significant.  At 7.9%, the jobless rate is down significantly–by one full point–from its rate one year ago.  Second, one reason for the slight uptick was more people coming into the labor market seeking work.  We’ll need to see how this development evolves in coming months, but we may be seeing early signs of an improving job market pulling more job seekers in from the sidelines.

All told, given the acceleration in payroll growth, the upward revisions to prior months payroll gains, the trend decline in unemployment, and the pick-up in labor force participation, today’s report is generally pointing to job market that’s showing signs of improvement.

 So basically what we have here is that a decent amount of people are feeling good enough about the economy that they’ve started looking for jobs again. Furthermore, as Berstein notes, the last quarter saw a 3-fold improvement in jobs added over the previous quarter. Obviously, that’s a huge increase. We’re on the right path, and we need to stay on it. Romney, and Ryan have nothing to offer, but reheated Republican rhetoric on taxes. A teevee dinner, if you will, of trick-me now economics. Pardon, that’s trickle-down. I’m sure you’ll pardon the my confusion. 20% across the board tax reductions, Medicare as a voucher system, and promises of 12 million new  jobs? All with no specifics? Sounds like a sketchy deal all right.
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