xenologer: (let it be)
I think I might be a libertarian-socialist.

Or:

When did capitalist right-wingers get so trusting, anyway?

Here's libertarian-socialism in a nutshell (at least as I understand it, and if someone can correct me in the comments, PLEASE DO, because I will consider your insight here to be a personal favor).

Libertarians don't want the government controlling their behavior, because having your freedom curtailed by people who are not accountable enough to you SUCKS, and shouldn't happen. Coercion is terrible, and you shouldn't feel coerced by your government. People like myself take this one step further.

I feel that corporations and powerful individuals have too much power to control my life and coerce me, and they're even less accountable to me than the government. At least the government I can vote in or out. Therefore, the answer seems to me that we should be as wary of companies or individuals with power as we are of governments.

There is more stuff here, but it is long. )
xenologer: (cry yourself to sleep)
This is for folk like me who've maintained their sense of dark humor as the US tries to pick itself up during a huge economic downturn. The stimulus bill did pass, and it did so largely on the strength of one party's influence in Congress (both in the House and Senate). A few Republicans crossed the aisle to vote for it in the Senate, but mainly the minority party had no interest in the project because they wanted to concentrate solely and completely on tax cuts, viewing infrastructure projects, state aid, and health care investments to be a waste of time.

Unfortunately, the bill was seriously curtailed before passage as an effort to court Republican support that they declined to give even after having many of their demands met. For a good breakdown of the winners and losers in the final version of the bill, check here. For those folk out there who want to know what the stimulus actually does, I would check that link. It'll give you a good place to start to look up the worth of the individual projects.

The humorous part? Legislators voting against the stimulus and then immediately turning around and bragging to their constituents about all the money coming to their states to help them out.
The final vote on the $787 billion measure broke down exactly as expected.

What's more, it was legislation the minority party wanted nothing to do with. Three Senate Republicans broke ranks, while zero House Republicans backed the plan. That, in and of itself, isn't especially surprising -- there were philosophical differences, coupled with strategic considerations, alongside a desire to embarrass the president.

What is at least a little surprising, though, is seeing some of the same Republicans who rejected the package issue press releases touting the spending measures in their districts. (...)

In Mica's press release about the stimulus package, for example, he not only applauded the spending for his district, he neglected to mention altogether that he opposed the bill. Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska), who also issued a press release claiming "victory" for an Alaskan contracting program in the bill, also failed to mention that he voted against the measure that he's so excited about.
They're not the only Republicans who are suddenly deeply interested in obligating the federal government to help keep their states afloat. Governors--both Republican and Democrat--had been pushing for the stimulus package to get passed. I know that the list in this article isn't comprehensive, because my own governor is not mentioned and--despite his apparent unwillingness to bail out anybody below him--seems positively thrilled to receive money coming down from the federal level.
In the states, meanwhile, many Republican governors are practicing a pragmatic — their Congressional counterparts would say less-principled — conservatism.

Governors, unlike members of Congress, have to balance their budgets each year. And that requires compromise with state legislators, including Democrats, as well as more openness to the occasional state tax increase and to deficit-spending from Washington. (...)

The National Governors Association sent a bipartisan letter of support to Congressional leaders of both parties, signed by its Democratic chairman, Edward G. Rendell of Pennsylvania, and Mr. Douglas, its Republican vice chairman. “The combination of funds for Medicaid, education and other essential services is critical for governors as they work to manage the downturn in their states and improve government for the long term,” it said.

Mr. Crist even campaigned last week with Mr. Obama in Florida for the recovery package.

“Whether it’s teachers or people on road crews helping our infrastructure, those in the health care arena as it might relate to Medicaid, all of these areas are important, all of them can produce jobs,” Mr. Crist said, adding, “Regardless of what your party is, Republican or Democrat, it really doesn’t matter. We have a duty and an obligation to the people who elected us, no matter what our position happens to be, to work together to get through this thing.”
Summary: Republicans in the legislature were under all kinds of pressure to ignore the needs of state and local governments, and even to ignore the requests (demands?) of governors from their own party. So they voted against the stimulus bill, but as a compromise they took good news back home that help was on the way (possibly in the hopes that their constituents won't notice their legislators were willing to let them hang for the sake of pleasing guys like this one, who evidently run the Republican Party now.

That's your update. I just have to laugh at this, because the alternative is to go right the hell out of my mind with indignation.
xenologer: (cry yourself to sleep)
This is for folk like me who've maintained their sense of dark humor as the US tries to pick itself up during a huge economic downturn. The stimulus bill did pass, and it did so largely on the strength of one party's influence in Congress (both in the House and Senate). A few Republicans crossed the aisle to vote for it in the Senate, but mainly the minority party had no interest in the project because they wanted to concentrate solely and completely on tax cuts, viewing infrastructure projects, state aid, and health care investments to be a waste of time.

Unfortunately, the bill was seriously curtailed before passage as an effort to court Republican support that they declined to give even after having many of their demands met. For a good breakdown of the winners and losers in the final version of the bill, check here. For those folk out there who want to know what the stimulus actually does, I would check that link. It'll give you a good place to start to look up the worth of the individual projects.

The humorous part? Legislators voting against the stimulus and then immediately turning around and bragging to their constituents about all the money coming to their states to help them out.
The final vote on the $787 billion measure broke down exactly as expected.

What's more, it was legislation the minority party wanted nothing to do with. Three Senate Republicans broke ranks, while zero House Republicans backed the plan. That, in and of itself, isn't especially surprising -- there were philosophical differences, coupled with strategic considerations, alongside a desire to embarrass the president.

What is at least a little surprising, though, is seeing some of the same Republicans who rejected the package issue press releases touting the spending measures in their districts. (...)

In Mica's press release about the stimulus package, for example, he not only applauded the spending for his district, he neglected to mention altogether that he opposed the bill. Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska), who also issued a press release claiming "victory" for an Alaskan contracting program in the bill, also failed to mention that he voted against the measure that he's so excited about.
They're not the only Republicans who are suddenly deeply interested in obligating the federal government to help keep their states afloat. Governors--both Republican and Democrat--had been pushing for the stimulus package to get passed. I know that the list in this article isn't comprehensive, because my own governor is not mentioned and--despite his apparent unwillingness to bail out anybody below him--seems positively thrilled to receive money coming down from the federal level.
In the states, meanwhile, many Republican governors are practicing a pragmatic — their Congressional counterparts would say less-principled — conservatism.

Governors, unlike members of Congress, have to balance their budgets each year. And that requires compromise with state legislators, including Democrats, as well as more openness to the occasional state tax increase and to deficit-spending from Washington. (...)

The National Governors Association sent a bipartisan letter of support to Congressional leaders of both parties, signed by its Democratic chairman, Edward G. Rendell of Pennsylvania, and Mr. Douglas, its Republican vice chairman. “The combination of funds for Medicaid, education and other essential services is critical for governors as they work to manage the downturn in their states and improve government for the long term,” it said.

Mr. Crist even campaigned last week with Mr. Obama in Florida for the recovery package.

“Whether it’s teachers or people on road crews helping our infrastructure, those in the health care arena as it might relate to Medicaid, all of these areas are important, all of them can produce jobs,” Mr. Crist said, adding, “Regardless of what your party is, Republican or Democrat, it really doesn’t matter. We have a duty and an obligation to the people who elected us, no matter what our position happens to be, to work together to get through this thing.”
Summary: Republicans in the legislature were under all kinds of pressure to ignore the needs of state and local governments, and even to ignore the requests (demands?) of governors from their own party. So they voted against the stimulus bill, but as a compromise they took good news back home that help was on the way (possibly in the hopes that their constituents won't notice their legislators were willing to let them hang for the sake of pleasing guys like this one, who evidently run the Republican Party now.

That's your update. I just have to laugh at this, because the alternative is to go right the hell out of my mind with indignation.
xenologer: (cry yourself to sleep)
This is for folk like me who've maintained their sense of dark humor as the US tries to pick itself up during a huge economic downturn. The stimulus bill did pass, and it did so largely on the strength of one party's influence in Congress (both in the House and Senate). A few Republicans crossed the aisle to vote for it in the Senate, but mainly the minority party had no interest in the project because they wanted to concentrate solely and completely on tax cuts, viewing infrastructure projects, state aid, and health care investments to be a waste of time.

Unfortunately, the bill was seriously curtailed before passage as an effort to court Republican support that they declined to give even after having many of their demands met. For a good breakdown of the winners and losers in the final version of the bill, check here. For those folk out there who want to know what the stimulus actually does, I would check that link. It'll give you a good place to start to look up the worth of the individual projects.

The humorous part? Legislators voting against the stimulus and then immediately turning around and bragging to their constituents about all the money coming to their states to help them out.
The final vote on the $787 billion measure broke down exactly as expected.

What's more, it was legislation the minority party wanted nothing to do with. Three Senate Republicans broke ranks, while zero House Republicans backed the plan. That, in and of itself, isn't especially surprising -- there were philosophical differences, coupled with strategic considerations, alongside a desire to embarrass the president.

What is at least a little surprising, though, is seeing some of the same Republicans who rejected the package issue press releases touting the spending measures in their districts. (...)

In Mica's press release about the stimulus package, for example, he not only applauded the spending for his district, he neglected to mention altogether that he opposed the bill. Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska), who also issued a press release claiming "victory" for an Alaskan contracting program in the bill, also failed to mention that he voted against the measure that he's so excited about.
They're not the only Republicans who are suddenly deeply interested in obligating the federal government to help keep their states afloat. Governors--both Republican and Democrat--had been pushing for the stimulus package to get passed. I know that the list in this article isn't comprehensive, because my own governor is not mentioned and--despite his apparent unwillingness to bail out anybody below him--seems positively thrilled to receive money coming down from the federal level.
In the states, meanwhile, many Republican governors are practicing a pragmatic — their Congressional counterparts would say less-principled — conservatism.

Governors, unlike members of Congress, have to balance their budgets each year. And that requires compromise with state legislators, including Democrats, as well as more openness to the occasional state tax increase and to deficit-spending from Washington. (...)

The National Governors Association sent a bipartisan letter of support to Congressional leaders of both parties, signed by its Democratic chairman, Edward G. Rendell of Pennsylvania, and Mr. Douglas, its Republican vice chairman. “The combination of funds for Medicaid, education and other essential services is critical for governors as they work to manage the downturn in their states and improve government for the long term,” it said.

Mr. Crist even campaigned last week with Mr. Obama in Florida for the recovery package.

“Whether it’s teachers or people on road crews helping our infrastructure, those in the health care arena as it might relate to Medicaid, all of these areas are important, all of them can produce jobs,” Mr. Crist said, adding, “Regardless of what your party is, Republican or Democrat, it really doesn’t matter. We have a duty and an obligation to the people who elected us, no matter what our position happens to be, to work together to get through this thing.”
Summary: Republicans in the legislature were under all kinds of pressure to ignore the needs of state and local governments, and even to ignore the requests (demands?) of governors from their own party. So they voted against the stimulus bill, but as a compromise they took good news back home that help was on the way (possibly in the hopes that their constituents won't notice their legislators were willing to let them hang for the sake of pleasing guys like this one, who evidently run the Republican Party now.

That's your update. I just have to laugh at this, because the alternative is to go right the hell out of my mind with indignation.
xenologer: (mutants)
This entry is not just about women or children. So if you, like McCain, don't care how many women's deaths the government causes, just scroll past all this stuff about women's "health" that makes no nevermind to you.

John McCain understands that before Roe v. Wade, unsafe abortions killed women. He said that. "I understand."

He still thinks Roe v. Wade was a mistake. Even understanding and admitting that without Roe v. Wade women die, McCain asserts that it was a mistake that should be repealed for the good of us all. Well. The good of people who matter; shouldn't take too much deliberation to figure out whether you're one of them (hint: you've already been born).



I think that any real "women for McCain" out there should see this video. As well as this one, in which John McCain scoffs at the value Obama places on the "health of the mother."



Ladies, do you get it yet? He thinks that if you're facing the "terrible decision" of whether to get an abortion, that you need someone who'll show compassion and courage. Compassion for your fetus (but disdain for you), and the courage to fight for policy that kills women. He doesn't just disregard women's autonomy. He's disregarding their lives.

I can't vote to put that in office. Neither should the women who, according to NPR and Planned Parenthood had no idea as late as February that McCain was as virulently anti-choice as he is.

They assumed that the "maverick" would break with his party to look out for them.

They assumed wrong. (Check his record yourself if you think this site is lying.)

John McCain. Wrong on education.

Wrong on Iraq.

Wrong on racial equality.

Wrong on health care.

Wrong on the economy.

Wrong on torture. (Despite his earlier principled stance on the issue.)

Wrong on Veterans' issues.

Can he do anything right? I mean, I realize he's a verifiable hardass. Much respect for that from this daughter of an active-duty military family. But the President's job is about more than being a hardass. Has McCain shown any readiness for the rest of those tasks? Or is he just playing the POW card and hoping voters will stop asking too many questions?

The real question is not why he's doing it. He's losing and he's dishonorable enough that he'll do anything to get himself into the White House. The real question is how his supporters can manage to wave these things away.

All I can think of is that it must be philosophy over fact all over again. It doesn't matter whom we hurt, as long as we're doing "the right thing." The "right thing," incidentally, has little or nothing to do with the outcome. As long as we're not Godless socialist elitist European-wannabes from fake America, we're in the right. You read that correctly. We're in the right, no matter who suffers.
xenologer: (hope)
Proof that anti-choicers care more about children before they're born than afterward.
Last time we had protesters here in Issaquah, I didn’t really mind having them across the street. They didn’t approach our patients or yell hateful epithets like so many protesters do outside other clinics. They smiled and waved. Their signs were not ugly or hateful. Mostly, they chatted on cell phones, read or napped.

In all, I figure more than 1,000 hours were wasted -- roughly half–a-dozen people, there for eight hours a day, for 27 days. I can think of quite a few other ways that those hours could have been better spent.

· raising money to help low-income, single parents
· providing childcare for those who can’t afford it
· snuggling babies born addicted to drugs
· spending time with kids that don’t have a loving, caring adult in their lives
· foster parenting
· adopting a child with special needs
· lobbying for health insurance for everybody
· taking a group of kids outside to learn about the environment and get exercise
· being a reading buddy at a local elementary school
· mentoring at-risk kids

And that’s just off the top of my head.

It takes real commitment and diligence to sit on the sidewalk for 27 days, rain or shine. Think of all we could accomplish if their efforts went toward something we can all agree on -- healthy kids, families, women, and teens.

This really stuck in my head, because it connects to something that has bothered me for a long time.

How many people demanding that unwanted babies be put up for adoption have actually adopted kids? Or are they so caught up in their "children are like flowers, you can't have too many" mindset that they're popping out puppies of their own instead of taking the needy ones from the shelter? How many vocal anti-choicers do you know who have a half-dozen of their own kids, even if it means leaving orphaned or abandoned ones in the system? The next time they tell you they love kids remember this: they love their own. Everybody else's kids are everybody else's problem.

Here's my advice to those people, if they really want to practice what they preach (literally).

If you think that every child has a right to life, start demonstrating that you have some compassion for them after they're born. Start voting in ways that support motherhood and affirm the value of children. I suggest getting involved with MomsRising.org, an activist group dedicated to seeing that problems mothers and their kids face are solved.

Issues they care about:

· Ensuring paid maternity leave for women in America (just like evil socialist moms are given in Europe) so that women can support their kids instead of losing their jobs. In fact, why not paternity leave as well? Don't fathers have family responsibilities as well?

· Affordable childcare, so that families don't get caught in the "can't afford childcare because I don't have a job, can't get a job because I can't get childcare" cycle.

· Healthcare for kids is a priority for moms, so why shouldn't they do something about it? According to MomsRising, "Having a child is now the single best predictor that a woman will go bankrupt. In fact, this year, more children will live through their parents’ bankruptcy than their parents’ divorce. The causes for so much financial distress among parents are complex, but one fact stands out: Fully half of these families filed for bankruptcy in the wake of a medical problem." And no, "the market" doesn't fix that.

Are "family values" a big deal to you?

Really?

Prove it.
xenologer: (prophet)
Abortion

If you want to read pro-choice women compared to white slaveowners, check out Advance Liberty, Overturn Roe. Bonus points if you can spot Reynolds' complete misunderstanding of Federalism.

If you're interested in a Wiccan perspective on abortion, check out Starhawk's article "Abortion and the Goddess."

Experts on Election Issues

Concerned about health care? Obama's health plan may help more uninsured: report.

Concerned about the economy? The unaffiliated economists surveyed by The Economist prefer Obama's policies to McCain's.

Double Standards

Here is an interesting entry about how Palin benefits from being a semi-coherent uneducated white candidate whereas I think we know how well-received a semi-coherent uneducated black candidate would be.

Who's worse? William Ayers or G. Gordon Liddy? Is Liddy a dodgy enough figure that we should be discussing McCain's close connection to him? Or Palin's marriage to a man who was a member of a party whose founder once said, "The fires of hell are frozen glaciers compared to my hatred for the American government...and I won't be buried under their damn flag... I'm an Alaskan, not an American. I've got no use for America or her damned institutions."

Obama is unpleasantly "uppity," compared to O'Reilly who considers himself proof of the existence of God.

Misc.

The World Health Organization can bite me.
xenologer: (Allison peeking)
A discussion started about the recent bailout vote in the comments to this entry. The House didn't pass it, but the Senate did. This obviously increases pressure on the House, since the Senate passed it by a huge majority.

But here's the problem for me. I'm not terribly confident of my opinions on economic issues, but so far I'm leaning toward the fact that a bailout was necessary (partly because of this blog entry I was linked), but should have contained some kind of assistance for people whose homes were going into foreclosure because their mortgage lenders were nitwits. The idea (if I have this right) is that if we can keep those individuals from defaulting on their mortgages, the mortgage lenders won't go under, which solves the crisis from the bottom up instead of the top down.

My reservation here is that if "trickle down" economics doesn't work to get money to the bottom, I would need to know more before I confidently assert that the mortgage assistance would work to get money to the top. Though I suppose, on the other hand, those people are "on the top" because they're good at getting money to themselves and will do much of the work seeing that they get it.

So, at first blush, it looks like a great idea to put the money in at the bottom. It helps the middle-class folk who're getting nailed as a result of someone else's business practices, and avoids the nastiness of rewarding bad business practices. Is there some reason (aside from a political interest in helping legislators’ rich buddies) why this is not being done? Because I haven’t heard it, and I want to know what the arguments are before I leap headlong into advocating for one thing or another.

I'm kinda lost here. Help?
xenologer: (Allison peeking)
A discussion started about the recent bailout vote in the comments to this entry. The House didn't pass it, but the Senate did. This obviously increases pressure on the House, since the Senate passed it by a huge majority.

But here's the problem for me. I'm not terribly confident of my opinions on economic issues, but so far I'm leaning toward the fact that a bailout was necessary (partly because of this blog entry I was linked), but should have contained some kind of assistance for people whose homes were going into foreclosure because their mortgage lenders were nitwits. The idea (if I have this right) is that if we can keep those individuals from defaulting on their mortgages, the mortgage lenders won't go under, which solves the crisis from the bottom up instead of the top down.

My reservation here is that if "trickle down" economics doesn't work to get money to the bottom, I would need to know more before I confidently assert that the mortgage assistance would work to get money to the top. Though I suppose, on the other hand, those people are "on the top" because they're good at getting money to themselves and will do much of the work seeing that they get it.

So, at first blush, it looks like a great idea to put the money in at the bottom. It helps the middle-class folk who're getting nailed as a result of someone else's business practices, and avoids the nastiness of rewarding bad business practices. Is there some reason (aside from a political interest in helping legislators’ rich buddies) why this is not being done? Because I haven’t heard it, and I want to know what the arguments are before I leap headlong into advocating for one thing or another.

I'm kinda lost here. Help?
xenologer: (Allison peeking)
A discussion started about the recent bailout vote in the comments to this entry. The House didn't pass it, but the Senate did. This obviously increases pressure on the House, since the Senate passed it by a huge majority.

But here's the problem for me. I'm not terribly confident of my opinions on economic issues, but so far I'm leaning toward the fact that a bailout was necessary (partly because of this blog entry I was linked), but should have contained some kind of assistance for people whose homes were going into foreclosure because their mortgage lenders were nitwits. The idea (if I have this right) is that if we can keep those individuals from defaulting on their mortgages, the mortgage lenders won't go under, which solves the crisis from the bottom up instead of the top down.

My reservation here is that if "trickle down" economics doesn't work to get money to the bottom, I would need to know more before I confidently assert that the mortgage assistance would work to get money to the top. Though I suppose, on the other hand, those people are "on the top" because they're good at getting money to themselves and will do much of the work seeing that they get it.

So, at first blush, it looks like a great idea to put the money in at the bottom. It helps the middle-class folk who're getting nailed as a result of someone else's business practices, and avoids the nastiness of rewarding bad business practices. Is there some reason (aside from a political interest in helping legislators’ rich buddies) why this is not being done? Because I haven’t heard it, and I want to know what the arguments are before I leap headlong into advocating for one thing or another.

I'm kinda lost here. Help?
xenologer: (Speak)
Economists protest Paulson's bailout proposal. You can check behind the link to see who they are and where they work.

Meanwhile, please sign CREDO Action Network's petition, or the one from Avaaz.org here, which will go to Representatives Pelosi, Boehner, Hoyer, Frank, and Bachus, along with Senators Reid, McConnell, Dodd, and Shelby.

As economists, we want to express to Congress our great concern for the plan proposed by Treasury Secretary Paulson to deal with the financial crisis. We are well aware of the difficulty of the current financial situation and we agree with the need for bold action to ensure that the financial system continues to function. We see three fatal pitfalls in the currently proposed plan:

1) Its fairness. The plan is a subsidy to investors at taxpayers’ expense. Investors who took risks to earn profits must also bear the losses. Not every business failure carries systemic risk. The government can ensure a well-functioning financial industry, able to make new loans to creditworthy borrowers, without bailing out particular investors and institutions whose choices proved unwise.

2) Its ambiguity. Neither the mission of the new agency nor its oversight are clear. If taxpayers are to buy illiquid and opaque assets from troubled sellers, the terms, occasions, and methods of such purchases must be crystal clear ahead of time and carefully monitored afterwards.

3) Its long-term effects. If the plan is enacted, its effects will be with us for a generation. For all their recent troubles, America's dynamic and innovative private capital markets have brought the nation unparalleled prosperity. Fundamentally weakening those markets in order to calm short-run disruptions is desperately short-sighted.

For these reasons we ask Congress not to rush, to hold appropriate hearings, and to carefully consider the right course of action, and to wisely determine the future of the financial industry and the U.S. economy for years to come.

Thanks to Dana Hunter over at En Tequila Es Verdad for the link to the Avaaz petition. Here it is again.
xenologer: (Speak)
Economists protest Paulson's bailout proposal. You can check behind the link to see who they are and where they work.

Meanwhile, please sign CREDO Action Network's petition, or the one from Avaaz.org here, which will go to Representatives Pelosi, Boehner, Hoyer, Frank, and Bachus, along with Senators Reid, McConnell, Dodd, and Shelby.

As economists, we want to express to Congress our great concern for the plan proposed by Treasury Secretary Paulson to deal with the financial crisis. We are well aware of the difficulty of the current financial situation and we agree with the need for bold action to ensure that the financial system continues to function. We see three fatal pitfalls in the currently proposed plan:

1) Its fairness. The plan is a subsidy to investors at taxpayers’ expense. Investors who took risks to earn profits must also bear the losses. Not every business failure carries systemic risk. The government can ensure a well-functioning financial industry, able to make new loans to creditworthy borrowers, without bailing out particular investors and institutions whose choices proved unwise.

2) Its ambiguity. Neither the mission of the new agency nor its oversight are clear. If taxpayers are to buy illiquid and opaque assets from troubled sellers, the terms, occasions, and methods of such purchases must be crystal clear ahead of time and carefully monitored afterwards.

3) Its long-term effects. If the plan is enacted, its effects will be with us for a generation. For all their recent troubles, America's dynamic and innovative private capital markets have brought the nation unparalleled prosperity. Fundamentally weakening those markets in order to calm short-run disruptions is desperately short-sighted.

For these reasons we ask Congress not to rush, to hold appropriate hearings, and to carefully consider the right course of action, and to wisely determine the future of the financial industry and the U.S. economy for years to come.

Thanks to Dana Hunter over at En Tequila Es Verdad for the link to the Avaaz petition. Here it is again.
xenologer: (Speak)
Economists protest Paulson's bailout proposal. You can check behind the link to see who they are and where they work.

Meanwhile, please sign CREDO Action Network's petition, or the one from Avaaz.org here, which will go to Representatives Pelosi, Boehner, Hoyer, Frank, and Bachus, along with Senators Reid, McConnell, Dodd, and Shelby.

As economists, we want to express to Congress our great concern for the plan proposed by Treasury Secretary Paulson to deal with the financial crisis. We are well aware of the difficulty of the current financial situation and we agree with the need for bold action to ensure that the financial system continues to function. We see three fatal pitfalls in the currently proposed plan:

1) Its fairness. The plan is a subsidy to investors at taxpayers’ expense. Investors who took risks to earn profits must also bear the losses. Not every business failure carries systemic risk. The government can ensure a well-functioning financial industry, able to make new loans to creditworthy borrowers, without bailing out particular investors and institutions whose choices proved unwise.

2) Its ambiguity. Neither the mission of the new agency nor its oversight are clear. If taxpayers are to buy illiquid and opaque assets from troubled sellers, the terms, occasions, and methods of such purchases must be crystal clear ahead of time and carefully monitored afterwards.

3) Its long-term effects. If the plan is enacted, its effects will be with us for a generation. For all their recent troubles, America's dynamic and innovative private capital markets have brought the nation unparalleled prosperity. Fundamentally weakening those markets in order to calm short-run disruptions is desperately short-sighted.

For these reasons we ask Congress not to rush, to hold appropriate hearings, and to carefully consider the right course of action, and to wisely determine the future of the financial industry and the U.S. economy for years to come.

Thanks to Dana Hunter over at En Tequila Es Verdad for the link to the Avaaz petition. Here it is again.
xenologer: (end of the world)
Louisiana Republican Backs Poor Sterilization

The idea is to pay poor women $1000 dollars to go in and get spayed. Now, you know me. I love the idea of lots of people getting spayed and neutered, because if we care enough for the pet population to adopt instead of letting them breed like crazy, I feel like this should apply to humans as well. If it didn't come with serious hormonal consequences, I'd have had the surgery long ago. But here's the problem: LaBruzzo thinks he can eliminate generational poverty by simply keeping them from eventually outnumbering rich people (and passing on their defective poor-people genes into our otherwise-wholesome American gene pool). Seriously. That's what he wants.
LaBruzzo acknowledges that some prefer tackling poverty through education reforms and family planning programs, but he says he's looked into this, and found these traditional approaches to be ineffective. It's led him to think the whole pay-for-poor-women's-sterilization tack might be a good idea.

Point the first: Why are we sterilizing the women? [insert detailed explanation of women as vessels of culture to be protected or destroyed accordingly] Vasectomies are cheaper and less invasive, so you can do more of them. When you want to use tax dollars for this, shouldn't efficiency factor in?

Point the second: We should sterilize rich people instead. That way the people who're in the best position to support children have to adopt all these kids that have no parents. Because really, it kinda sucks that the people most likely to insist that women give up unwanted babies for adoption are pretty likely to be having so many kids of their own that they don't actually take in any of these kids they wanted to be available for adoption.

So yeah. Give all the rich men vasectomies. Give the ones who go along with it another tax cut to console them for the ones Obama is going to allow to expire. If wealthy folk want to sterilize one group for economic reasons, I wonder if they've ever considered putting their own organs on the metaphorical chopping block.
xenologer: (hope)
Various stuff I'm reading.

A Conservative for Obama: My party has slipped its moorings. It’s time for a true pragmatist to lead the country.
But today it is so-called conservatives who are cemented to political programs when they clearly don’t work. The Bush tax cuts—a solution for which there was no real problem and which he refused to end even when the nation went to war—led to huge deficit spending and a $3 trillion growth in the federal debt. Facing this, John McCain pumps his “conservative” credentials by proposing even bigger tax cuts. Meanwhile, a movement that once fought for limited government has presided over the greatest growth of government in our history. That is not conservatism; it is profligacy using conservatism as a mask.

“Every great cause,” Eric Hoffer wrote, “begins as a movement, becomes a business, and eventually degenerates into a racket.” As a cause, conservatism may be dead. But as a stance, as a way of making judgments in a complex and difficult world, I believe it is very much alive in the instincts and predispositions of a liberal named Barack Obama.

Even Fox News Says McCain is Lying
KELLY: No, no! Let's stay on point, I'm not giving him any credit. I'm saying what the independent analysts say. They say that claim is false. And if that's false, why would John McCain do that, Tucker? Why wouldn't he just level with the voters and say, look, he's going to raise taxes on the wealthy or whatever you consider somebody to be making over $250,000, it's going to have a trickle down effect. That may not be good for the middle class. But why say he's going to raise taxes on the middle class when he's not?

Debates May Not Be Decisive After All
Once you get out of the convention period, voter preferences tend to have become a lot more stubborn, and even terrific or terrible debate performances don't tend to alter them all that much.

McCain and the Fannie and Freddie Lobbyists
Companies as huge as Fannie and Freddie are inevitably going to have former employees involved in both parties and inevitably going to give money to both parties. No one in politics is ever going to be entirely unconnected to them. But for McCain to point to these few superficial ties to the mortgage crisis in the Obama campaign in light of his own campaign's far deeper connections to the very people McCain now blames for the crisis is staggering chutzpah.

McCain Loses His Head
Under the pressure of the financial crisis, one presidential candidate is behaving like a flustered rookie playing in a league too high. It is not Barack Obama.

[snip]

Conservatives who insist that electing McCain is crucial usually start, and increasingly end, by saying he would make excellent judicial selections. But the more one sees of his impulsive, intensely personal reactions to people and events, the less confidence one has that he would select judges by calm reflection and clear principles, having neither patience nor aptitude for either.

Can Binge Drinking Save Social Security?
A 2004 study by Frank Sloan and Jan Ostermann at Duke University found that heavy drinkers contribute slightly more to Social Security, through their higher average lifetime earnings, than nondrinkers do. What’s more, since alcohol abusers tend to die sooner than moderate or nondrinkers, they draw less money, over time, from the Social Security trust fund.

Their conclusion: the elimination of heavy drinking (three or more drinks a day) from each successive group of American 25-year-olds would cost the Social Security trust fund $3 billion over the cohort’s lifetime.
xenologer: (Default)
Yes, the stock market is falling to pieces. Many of you on my LJ probably already knew that, and if you didn't, well you do now. And yes, we need to do this whole government buyout thing. But we need to do it right.

Congress is on the brink of making a one-sided deal to give George W. Bush a blank check to bail out his pals - offering nearly (or perhaps more than) a trillion taxpayer dollars to Wall Street to cover its bad debts. That works out to somewhere between $2000 and $5000 from every American family. So what do the taxpayers get in return?

Nothing. No new regulation or oversight to help avoid this kind of crisis in the future. No public interest givebacks to help people whose homes are in the hands of the banks. Perhaps most shockingly of all, the taxpayers get absolutely no share in the profits if and when these finance giants bounce back, even though we are now assuming a great deal of the risk.

This is worse than a bad deal - this isn't a deal at all. This is a blank check to some of the richest companies in the world.

I just signed a petition calling on key members of Congress to impose a few sensible conditions to this bailout in order to protect the American people -- I hope you will too.

Please have a look and take action.

Here's what their petition says,

We strongly urge you not to issue a blank check to the Wall Street giants who have steered our country into financial dire straits. We must address this crisis quickly and prudently. Do not give these companies a dime of taxpayer money unless they agree to the following conditions:

--1. If the taxpayers are shouldering the risk, the taxpayers should reap any eventual benefits. We accomplish this by giving the government an equity stake in every company we bail out proportionate to the amount we give them.
--2. If we're paying (more than) our fair share, the CEOs and executives should have to, too. All of the fat cats who got us into this mess should relinquish their stock options and salaries until they start showing us, their investors, that they can once again be profitable. Future salaries should be linked to profitability.
--3. No more campaign contributions from Wall Street executives and PACs. Taxpayer dollars should be used to get our nation out of a crisis. They cannot be used to fund giant, powerful lobby operations that will be used to strong arm Congress into making bad policy.
--4. Better regulations start right now. Wall Street can't expect to take thousands of dollars out of your paycheck without agreeing to increased transparency and more stringent oversight - the kind that might have helped avoid this mess to begin with.
--5. Bankruptcy judges get broader leeway to help homeowners. Why should we lose our homes so the CEOs can keep theirs?

A blank check without these conditions would be nothing more than a reward for bad business practices. If the bailout does not include these conditions, you must oppose it.

Please go ahead and sign the petition. I know a lot of you don't think the internet petitions are worth a damn (because you've told me as much), but that's an excuse and we both know it. You stand to lose a lot more if you give up a good opportunity to say something, particularly when your alternative is to scan past this entry and do nothing. You don't know until you try, but if you don't try you're really no use. So if you don't sign this petition, I'll respect that if you do something else to help. Right now I haven't seen other ways to get involved, but if you find them I'll gladly post them up here and get the word out.

Maybe you could call or email Chris Dodd, who is proposing a responsible version of the bailout, to express support for his diligence. As Paul Krugman said, "Treasury should now be required to explain why this isn't a much, much better way to do this rescue." Dodd has the right idea from the looks of it, and having this petition behind him can't hurt.

Here's the link again.
xenologer: (Default)
Yes, the stock market is falling to pieces. Many of you on my LJ probably already knew that, and if you didn't, well you do now. And yes, we need to do this whole government buyout thing. But we need to do it right.

Congress is on the brink of making a one-sided deal to give George W. Bush a blank check to bail out his pals - offering nearly (or perhaps more than) a trillion taxpayer dollars to Wall Street to cover its bad debts. That works out to somewhere between $2000 and $5000 from every American family. So what do the taxpayers get in return?

Nothing. No new regulation or oversight to help avoid this kind of crisis in the future. No public interest givebacks to help people whose homes are in the hands of the banks. Perhaps most shockingly of all, the taxpayers get absolutely no share in the profits if and when these finance giants bounce back, even though we are now assuming a great deal of the risk.

This is worse than a bad deal - this isn't a deal at all. This is a blank check to some of the richest companies in the world.

I just signed a petition calling on key members of Congress to impose a few sensible conditions to this bailout in order to protect the American people -- I hope you will too.

Please have a look and take action.

Here's what their petition says,

We strongly urge you not to issue a blank check to the Wall Street giants who have steered our country into financial dire straits. We must address this crisis quickly and prudently. Do not give these companies a dime of taxpayer money unless they agree to the following conditions:

--1. If the taxpayers are shouldering the risk, the taxpayers should reap any eventual benefits. We accomplish this by giving the government an equity stake in every company we bail out proportionate to the amount we give them.
--2. If we're paying (more than) our fair share, the CEOs and executives should have to, too. All of the fat cats who got us into this mess should relinquish their stock options and salaries until they start showing us, their investors, that they can once again be profitable. Future salaries should be linked to profitability.
--3. No more campaign contributions from Wall Street executives and PACs. Taxpayer dollars should be used to get our nation out of a crisis. They cannot be used to fund giant, powerful lobby operations that will be used to strong arm Congress into making bad policy.
--4. Better regulations start right now. Wall Street can't expect to take thousands of dollars out of your paycheck without agreeing to increased transparency and more stringent oversight - the kind that might have helped avoid this mess to begin with.
--5. Bankruptcy judges get broader leeway to help homeowners. Why should we lose our homes so the CEOs can keep theirs?

A blank check without these conditions would be nothing more than a reward for bad business practices. If the bailout does not include these conditions, you must oppose it.

Please go ahead and sign the petition. I know a lot of you don't think the internet petitions are worth a damn (because you've told me as much), but that's an excuse and we both know it. You stand to lose a lot more if you give up a good opportunity to say something, particularly when your alternative is to scan past this entry and do nothing. You don't know until you try, but if you don't try you're really no use. So if you don't sign this petition, I'll respect that if you do something else to help. Right now I haven't seen other ways to get involved, but if you find them I'll gladly post them up here and get the word out.

Maybe you could call or email Chris Dodd, who is proposing a responsible version of the bailout, to express support for his diligence. As Paul Krugman said, "Treasury should now be required to explain why this isn't a much, much better way to do this rescue." Dodd has the right idea from the looks of it, and having this petition behind him can't hurt.

Here's the link again.
xenologer: (Default)
Yes, the stock market is falling to pieces. Many of you on my LJ probably already knew that, and if you didn't, well you do now. And yes, we need to do this whole government buyout thing. But we need to do it right.

Congress is on the brink of making a one-sided deal to give George W. Bush a blank check to bail out his pals - offering nearly (or perhaps more than) a trillion taxpayer dollars to Wall Street to cover its bad debts. That works out to somewhere between $2000 and $5000 from every American family. So what do the taxpayers get in return?

Nothing. No new regulation or oversight to help avoid this kind of crisis in the future. No public interest givebacks to help people whose homes are in the hands of the banks. Perhaps most shockingly of all, the taxpayers get absolutely no share in the profits if and when these finance giants bounce back, even though we are now assuming a great deal of the risk.

This is worse than a bad deal - this isn't a deal at all. This is a blank check to some of the richest companies in the world.

I just signed a petition calling on key members of Congress to impose a few sensible conditions to this bailout in order to protect the American people -- I hope you will too.

Please have a look and take action.

Here's what their petition says,

We strongly urge you not to issue a blank check to the Wall Street giants who have steered our country into financial dire straits. We must address this crisis quickly and prudently. Do not give these companies a dime of taxpayer money unless they agree to the following conditions:

--1. If the taxpayers are shouldering the risk, the taxpayers should reap any eventual benefits. We accomplish this by giving the government an equity stake in every company we bail out proportionate to the amount we give them.
--2. If we're paying (more than) our fair share, the CEOs and executives should have to, too. All of the fat cats who got us into this mess should relinquish their stock options and salaries until they start showing us, their investors, that they can once again be profitable. Future salaries should be linked to profitability.
--3. No more campaign contributions from Wall Street executives and PACs. Taxpayer dollars should be used to get our nation out of a crisis. They cannot be used to fund giant, powerful lobby operations that will be used to strong arm Congress into making bad policy.
--4. Better regulations start right now. Wall Street can't expect to take thousands of dollars out of your paycheck without agreeing to increased transparency and more stringent oversight - the kind that might have helped avoid this mess to begin with.
--5. Bankruptcy judges get broader leeway to help homeowners. Why should we lose our homes so the CEOs can keep theirs?

A blank check without these conditions would be nothing more than a reward for bad business practices. If the bailout does not include these conditions, you must oppose it.

Please go ahead and sign the petition. I know a lot of you don't think the internet petitions are worth a damn (because you've told me as much), but that's an excuse and we both know it. You stand to lose a lot more if you give up a good opportunity to say something, particularly when your alternative is to scan past this entry and do nothing. You don't know until you try, but if you don't try you're really no use. So if you don't sign this petition, I'll respect that if you do something else to help. Right now I haven't seen other ways to get involved, but if you find them I'll gladly post them up here and get the word out.

Maybe you could call or email Chris Dodd, who is proposing a responsible version of the bailout, to express support for his diligence. As Paul Krugman said, "Treasury should now be required to explain why this isn't a much, much better way to do this rescue." Dodd has the right idea from the looks of it, and having this petition behind him can't hurt.

Here's the link again.
xenologer: (mutants)
Run-down of stuff I'm reading today!

Unemployment is hitting women particularly hard. (h/t WashingtonMonthly)

Obama smacks McCain on the economy.

Remember that voter disenfranchisement mess in Michigan I was talking about before? The one where McCain's campaign was allegedly working with the Michigan GOP to keep people whose homes are in foreclosure from voting? Obama's campaign is filing a suit. (h/t WashingtonMonthly)

One of McCain's former biggest fans is sick of all the lying. (h/t WashingtonMonthly)

Military suicide is likely to reach the highest it's been since the Vietnam War. (h/t Gidster)

Even Karl Rove thinks McCain's gone "too far" into the realm of dishonesty and general wackiness. Ouch, dude. That's like Cruella De Vil calling you "a bit too callous." (h/t MoveOn.org)

The Economic Policy Institute has decided that Obama's health plan will outperform McCain's in both coverage and efficiency.

And the Washington post has a handy graph of who'll gain what from McCain and Obama's tax proposals. Seriously! You can look at the chart and it says, "You are here." McCain would help me out with twenty bucks. That's about a week's worth of coffee at Starbuck's. Obama's plan would get me $567 more dollars a year, which combined with a health care plan that will actually work (see the last question on this run-down of the candidates' answers to ScienceDebate '08) will go a long way toward actually improving my quality of life.

Planned Parenthood makes campaign issues out of sex education and sexual assault, almost like they matter or something! (h/t Curvature)

And, last but not least, the American Family Association is flipping out that the EU might declare official opposition to laws that make homosexuality a crime.

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