Monday, July 19, 2010

Good Morning, Everyone. My God, third week of JULY already. I noticed that the weather people are predicting high temps for the remaining two months of summer. I was amused last night when one of the our meteorologists commented on the fact that the climate change deniers who were crowing during the extended cold and snow of last winter are now falling back on the notion that heat waves come along every now and then. At least they did mention the climate change proponents' position--that side expects extreme cold and snow spells and extreme heat waves to come along more frequently. No one mentioned that the denial camp talks about the weather while the change camp talks about climate and the two are not the same.

I have seen a number of news stories about Treasury Secretary Tim Geitner and his opposition to Elizabeth Warren as head of the new consumer protection agency (the one the new financial regulation reform law mandates). HuffingtonPost had this article that makes a good case for a hidden reason for Geitner's opposition. Basically, Geitner (and his good buddy from Goldman Sachs, Larry Sommers) wants to allow the big banks to hide their bad loans and other shady deals, soak their small customers with fees and bad financial products, stop making new loans to anyone, and collect an increasing interest rate spread on Treasury bonds. After several years of this the banks will be in fine shape--but the economy as a whole will be in the toilet for a decade or more.

You can file this story in the "I have heard this crap before and I am still not convinced" folder. I regret that the shill is a Republican congressman from Indiana. No, he does not represent my district so I didn't vote for or against him. (I don't want to vote for the Democrat who represents my district and I won't vote for the Republican who is challenging him--but that is a story for another time.) I love the constant references to past times when tax cuts for the wealthy allegedly created economic growth but I have a number of problems with the whole argument. First, what portion of the economic growth was actually due to the tax cuts and what part was due to other unmentioned factors? No one ever says. Second, they always say that the tax cuts actually created higher tax revenues which actually ''pay" for the cuts. But, again, where is the proof. If a large part of the economic growth, which fueled the larger tax revenues, did not come from the tax cuts then we might have had the higher revenues without the cuts for the wealthy. In that case, the lower 80% of wage earners, who got little or no benefit from the cuts, paid for it which amounts to a 'transfer' of wealth from poor and middle class to the wealthy. I guess Republicans can stomach transfers like that so long as it goes from lower to higher. Third, if the purpose of tax cuts is to stimulate consumer spending, it makes more sense to give the cuts to the lower income groups since they are the consumers who have to spend. Since the Republicans are in favor of extending the Bush tax cuts, which did not help anyone in my social/economic circle, I have to conclude that stimulating consumer spending is not a serious goal for them because they are not interested in stimulating the consumers who have no choice but to spend. Instead, it is merely another means of transferring wealth from lower to higher income groups.

I can't resist commenting on this story from the Chattanooga Free Press. It seems to me that common sense and intelligence have left the business world. An Hispanic job applicant shows a valid driver's license and a valid social security card and the company then demands he show a green card??? Then they rescind the job offer when he explains that he can't show the green card because he is a U.S. citizen and doesn't have one??? The pairing of this story with the judgement against another company in that same industry for failing to get adequate documentation seems to indicate that the lack of caution of the one company led to the 'excess' of caution of the other. That is sheer crap. The person in charge of hiring simply did not know his/her job and was looking for an excuse to refuse to hire an otherwise qualified applicant who happened to be Hispanic. This is why I am very, very, very skeptical of how Arizona's immigration law will be implemented, if it passes the court challenges.

You can put this New York Times article in the 'I have been saying this for a long time now' or in the 'It takes an expert to tell you this??' files. When this recession started and the unemployment stats started their meteoric rise we greeted the expansion of job training programs with one question--'job training...for what?' and got no good answer. Some of the stories we saw concerned people signing up for training programs and using government-guaranteed loans to finance it. Some saw their prospects dimming before they were halfway through because the programs were swamped with more desperate people hoping that the training would lead them back to a good job.

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