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Archive for the ‘Economy’ Category

LORD GOVERNOR PERRY

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THE ELEPHANT IS SOMEBODY’S ROOM

Frank Rich in describing O’Donnell the candidate for Biden’s old Senate seat in Delaware gave the best description of the Republican Party I have come across in some time:

She gives populist cover to the billionaires and corporate interests that have been steadily annexing the Tea Party movement and busily plotting to cash in their chips if the G.O.P. prevails.

I was reading about Texas Governor Perry today and his particular brand of graft really struck me.

The Dallas Morning News came out with a story this weekend that Texas Gov. Rick Perry used the state’s Emerging Technology Fund to funnel some $16 million to firms that were backed by major donors to his campaign.

Created in 2005, Perry pushed for the fund, which is meant to encourage the development of new technology and attract researchers to the state. The grants — which have totaled $173 million since the fund’s creation — are overseen by the governor’s office and must be approved by the governor himself.

The lieutenant governor and speaker of the state house must also sign off, the News reports, but they wait for governor’s go-ahead before doing so.

On Perry’s own blog site you will be linked to gems like this:

Gov. Rick Perry today announced the state is investing $2.9 million through the Texas Emerging Technology Fund (TETF) in three Houston area companies for the development and commercialization of their innovative biomedical technologies.

Ricky is so proud of this fund.

If you recall, back in March of last year we learned that:

From the center of a Houston hardware store, Gov. Rick Perry ignited a debate about Texas job cuts, business taxes and President Barack Obama’s so-called economic stimulus program Thursday by rejecting the federal government’s offer of $555 million in aid to the unemployed.

And this from today:

If you care about America, if you care about taking this country back, you find you a tea party. Get involved,” Perry shouted to thousands who gathered in Tyler in East Texas to see him with conservative talk show host Glenn Beck in April.

But as Perry campaigns for a third full term, he may have to look for a tea party himself. While members of the movement say Perry is preferable to Democrat Bill White, many are focusing their energy on down-ballot races, not the top-of-the-ticket contest.

After all, Perry’s record after 10 years as governor shows that he wields government power comfortably. And after 25 years in public life, he’s hardly an outsider.

He advocated seizing land from private owners to make way for the now-defunct Trans-Texas Corridor toll road and he ordered school age girls in Texas to be vaccinated against the HPV virus — an order that the Legislature overrode. He accepted stimulus money from Washington to balance the state budget. State agencies under his control seized more than 400 children from a polygamist compound in West Texas where men were suspected of marrying underage girls; eventually, many were returned to their parents. He endorsed moderate Rudolph Giuliani for president in early 2008, then John McCain.  http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/APStories/stories/D9IKVTQ80.html

Except for saving underage girls from a fate worse than death (no snark intended), I have no love for Governor Perry. If you recall he is the idiot who feels that pursuant to some treaties between the Republic of Texas and the USA in the 1840’s, secession is more than just a possibility in his mind.

And did you notice on his site that he likes to kind of call his state a republic?

I was intrigued by this now-defunct trans Texas Corridor, however.

So The Gov said to Texicans,

Give me fund

Texas said “Gov

You must be putting us on”

Perry said “No”

Texas said “What”

“You can do what you want to do

But we all gotta run”

So Texas said where do you want this bribin’ done

Perry said

“Right on Highway 61”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cx1TaurjL1E

I followed up the link provided by  TPM and found this in the Dallas News:

Significant Perry donors are affiliated. Among them:

•$2.75 million to Terrabon Inc., a Houston company. Its backers have included Phil Adams, a college friend of Perry’s who has given his campaign at least $314,000.

•$1.75 million to Gradalis Inc., a Carrollton firm. Among its investors has been Dr. James R. Leininger, who has contributed more than $264,000 to Perry’s campaigns.

•$1.5 million to ThromboVision Inc., a Houston company. One of its investors was Charles W. Tate, who has donated more than $424,000 to Perry.

•$4.5 million to Convergen Lifesciences Inc. of Austin. The company was founded by David G. Nance, a former Perry appointee who has given the governor $80,000.

•$2 million to Seno Medical Instruments Inc. of San Antonio. Its investors have included Southwest Business Corp. and its subsidiaries, whose chairman, Charles Amato, gave Perry more than $32,000.

•$975,000 to Carbon Nanotechnologies Inc. of Houston. At the time of the award, one investor was William A. McMinn, who has contributed $152,000 to Perry.

http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/news/politics/state/stories/100310dntexetfmain.2981294.html

The tea parties are idiots for following repubs. All Perry will ever do, all he has ever done, is funnel monies to the corporations who support him and deny their own economic interests.

EIPILOGUE

Corporate America finished the second quarter with “near-historic” profits, largely by cutting costs, laying off employees and streamlining operations, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Profits for companies in the S&P 500 soared 38 percent from the same period last year, hitting $189 billion, the WSJ says, the sixth-highest quarterly total ever. S&P analysts expect the trend to have continued in the third quarter.

Since 2008, corporate profits increased 10 percent — but revenue was down 6 percent, the WSJ says. To achieve the impressive quarterly results, companies have had, as the WSJ puts it, to “streamline” their operations. This means firing workers, outsourcing labor and shuttering unprofitable (or less profitable) divisions.

The robust state of corporate profits presents a paradox: companies won’t spend their money until the economy improves, but the economy won’t improve until they spend their money. An increase in hiring, for example, would help drive a recovery. The New York Times reports this “chicken-and-egg” phenomenon, noting that near-zero interest rates have encouraged companies to borrow money and simply hoard it because, as the NYT puts it, “they can.” Combined, companies have $1.6 trillion in cash, the paper notes. In the first quarter of this year, their cash reserves represented the highest percentage of assets since 1964.

“They are still holding on to more cash in the same way that Noah built the ark,” Gluskin Sheff chief economist David Rosenberg told the NYT.

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OUTSOURCING

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THE FLAG OF PENNSYLVANIA

Aaaaaaaaaaaah, the smell of coal dust in the morning. This chapter on public corruption was supposed to begin with a discussion of the Pennsylvania Juvenile Court scandal.

But I really cannot really begin the discussion unless I get into the issue concerning privatization of our penal institutions. Rummy and his neocon compadres call this new scheme ‘outsourcing’.

So I am stuck discussing the philosophy of outsourcing and why the concept SUCKS!!!

Capitalism is an economic system in which the means of production and distribution and industry are privately owned and operated for a private profit; decisions regarding supply, demand, price, distribution, and investments are made by private actors in the market rather than by central planning by the government; profit is distributed to owners who invest in businesses, and wages are paid to workers employed by businesses.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capitalism

I do not have the space or the inclination to get into some long discussion of what capitalism is or is not. To me it is a concept that is easily condensed into this nice wiki paragraph.

Now Rummy, along with most of the other billionaires and their top employees, would tell you that ANYTHING state run sucks. Therefore the first rule he laid down as Secretary of Defense under George W. Bush was that outsourcing was the goal of the Administration.  And since the DOD receives and pays out more money than any government in the world, Rummy’s philosophy became pretty important.

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has enthusiastically embraced outsourcing. In a speech that drew little notice because it came on Sept. 10, he announced creation of a Senior Executive Council that “will scour the Department for functions that could be performed better and more cheaply through commercial outsourcing.” (SAA, 9/14/01)

We outsourced all sorts of DOD programs including our army. A significant number of our ‘troops in Iraq and Afghanistan are not MEMBERS OF OUR ARMED FORCES. http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/natsec/R40764.pdf

Just from a philosophical point of view, outsourcing does not make any sense or cents.

The magic of capitalism is that the means of production, demand, price, distribution and investments by private actors is that it MAKES MONEY. Government planning just interferes with the entire process. So say the fascist corporate oligarchs.

The problem with outsourcing is that ALL THE MONEY COMES FROM THE GOVERNMENT. So the object of any particular outsourcing is:

To make more money off of the government.

Some of these outsourcing programs are cost + so that when the company incurs more costs in fulfilling the government purpose, it gets more money from the government.

If you are manufacturing tires and your costs go up, you have to add those costs to the price of your tires. But when some other tire company figures out how to cut its costs in its manufacturing process, your tire company is going to lose customers.

But when you are the company doing business with the government, especially on a cost + basis, your one customer aint goin nowhere.

And when your company receives a no-bid contract through the DOD, you are competing with no one for the affections of your one customer.

This does not compute!!!

And yet it does. If there is nothing that the repubs hate more than communism, it is happy workers.

Outsourcing ensures basic tenets of the repub party:

  1. Management must make at least 450 times the lowest worker’s pay. This is written in the Bible somewhere.
  2. It is even better if management can outsource to China or SE Asia or the Caribbean and therefore make at least 9000 times the average worker’s pay.
  3. The governmental managerial class earns only three or four times as much money as the average worker in his or her department; there is something un American about this—and it is also anti-Christian.
  4. When the public employee is entitled to a pension– that is an entitlement and there is something really wrong with entitlements; when a member of management in the private sphere is discharged with a golden parachute—all is right with the world because a golden parachute is ‘earned’. And this fact is also written in the Bible.
  5. When public employees have the right to equal opportunity, all hell will break loose. And tenure is an abomination to the Lord.
  6. When management must rule according to rules: it’s not fair.
  7. If you cannot hire your niece, what is the point of it all?
  8. The middle class must be destroyed; paying workers fair wages is not cost effective.
  9. My wife’s brother is a good as anybody, isn’t he? At least she thinks so!!!
  10. Who made all the money to begin with?
  11. We must grow up and realize that production is of the most important value of all!!!
  12. Where are my government contracts?
  13. I did not make it where I am today…living on a worker’s wage.
  14. Especially when I can make my wage based upon employees who make 50 cents an hour.
  15. Where are my Twinkies? Where is my latte?
  16. Rights, where are my rights to what I have stolen fair and square?

Well, these are the types of values that I ascribe to the managerial class.

From each according to his abilities….

But that is my bias!!!!

Let us look at a few examples of how this ‘system’ works.

Once upon a time, in coal country, a guy by the name of Greg Zappala had a brilliant idea as to how to make some money from outsourcing.

He had what some people call ‘contacts’.

Zappala was the son of a Chief Justice of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. And Greg’s brother was the D.A. for Allegheny County Pennsylvania.

Well Greg got his buddy, Luzerne County Senior Judge Michael Conahan, to declare a certain Juvenile Detention Center unfit for habitation.

Then Greg Zappala, purchased the facility from the County.

Then Zappala, with low interest loans from the state, refurbished the center and sold it back to the county for fifty or sixty million dollars.

Then Zappala LEASED THE CENTER BACK FROM THE COUNTY.

And Zappala owns other Juvenile Centers.

Then he talked Conahan and  Judge Mark A. Ciavarella to start sentencing juveniles to the center.

Records show that in 2004 — Pennsylvania Child Care’s first full year of operation — Luzerne County spent $2.9 million to incarcerate juveniles at various detention centers and boot camps throughout the state, including Mr. Zappala’s centers.

That’s more than double the amount the county spent in 2002, the year before Pennsylvania Child Care opened. A breakdown of the amount spent by Luzerne County at each center where its juveniles were incarcerated was not immediately available.

Statewide, spending on juvenile detention increased 15 percent during the same time period, according to the state Department of Public Welfare, which reimburses counties for half of their costs for juvenile incarceration. http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/09046/949273-85.stm#ixzz10qaxKfQK

So Zappala ended up with more than just one privately run juvie center and was ripping off the state as well as the county—and I can imagine that some federal funds came his way also.

As kind of a thank you to Conahan, Zappala basically ‘kicked back’ some 2.7 million bucks in just four years for the judge’s help.

There are a number of suits against the state and the county for the torts committed by the Judges as well as the centers.

I will get into the damage to the children in the next couple days.

Suffice it to say that government outsourcing does not always work.

Children, thousands of them, have been injured and will suffer from those injuries for decades to come.

The county and the state will lose millions upon millions of dollars in their own civil courts.

Do you know that the judges had entered into a plea agreement as early as March of last year? They were to be incarcerated for 8 years and pay a $250,000 fine.

But the judges’ judge was pissed and would not allow this agreement without full confessions from the felons as well as full apologies.

Both judges had been walking around on a $1,000,000.00 bond since the plea agreement fell through last year.

And why were not all the assets of both judges confiscated by the State of Pennsylvania immediately under RICO? And RICO applied because it was part and parcel of the 48 count indictment against these animals.

At any rate, in July of this year, the judges decided to enter into a new plea agreement BUT SENTENCING AS NOT YET OCCURRED. They are walking around free as unjailed birds.

Although, I am pleased to announce, a new indictment was handed down a few days ago calling for the confiscation of all Judge Ciavarella’s assets as well as Judge Conahan’s assets. Thank the lord for small favors. http://www.torttalk.com/2010/09/ciavarella-re-indicted-in-luzerne.html

http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=judge+conahan+luzerne+county&sourceid=navclient-ff&rlz=1B3GGLL_enUS381US381&ie=UTF-8&aq=1&oq=Judge+Conahan

I maintain that this example of corrupt judges is just a symptom of a systematic illness known as ‘outsourcing’.

And it is also symptomatic of a Republican view of the universe.

Outsourcing is not capitalism.

Outsourcing is just another means for corporations to feed at the public trough. Outsourcing allows corporations to provide lower wages and benefits for employees who would survive much better as government employees. Outsourcing is a great means of providing huge benefits for the few as opposed to the many.

Outsourcing is a misuse of public funds.

The Short Term Memory Loss of Americans

Roughly two years ago the American people were in utter shock and dismay. 401Ks were cut in half, the value of homes fell overnight, and hundreds of thousands of workers were handed pink slips. We were told exotic financial products that consisted of high risk home loans given to anyone with a pulse were bundled as “securities” and that those bundles were then speculated on as to whether or not they would prove to be good investments. Basically loans were used as poker chips made out of potato chips that got wet and were valued at nothing, who wants to eat a wet potato chip?

After the initial shock of the collapse of the housing market, everyone wanted to know “Who did this?” Blame can be handed out all around, the banks who gave out the loans, the investment companies not governed by financial laws giving out mortgages that had outrageous interest rates with a promise that one could refinance, people who bought the homes not questioning how magically they could be approved for a loan when 10 years prior with the same finances no bank would have even given them the time of day. The American dream was in full swing, home ownership was on the rise. We were told an “ownership” society would make America great. But who owned what? Thus the myth of deregulation was exposed. It’s pretend benefits being that a free market is a just market and will correct itself. Those touting the benefits of such a market were taking great credit in the vast amounts of wealth being seemingly spread to the middle class, in the form of a home. People stopped saving, if they needed money they could borrow against their home and the cycle began.

Middle class living was built on credit, not jobs, not steady gains in wages by any means as the cost of health care rose and employers handed the burden to their employees. Any raises obtained were quickly obliterated by those rising costs to the point where workers brought home less with each passing year for less and less benefits. Yet they always had their home.

Just about everyone knows someone who is or has faced a foreclosure in the last couple of years, the devastation cannot be multiplied in dollars and cents. The economy has only rebounded for the same traders who raided the war chests of our grandchildren and yet the rates of poverty for those who will have to pay it back are at new highs. So where did the jobs go? In an increasing globalized economy, the jobs went to the lowest bidder.

Conglomerations run the world and are able to exist outside of laws governing the people who inhabit certain borders. I fear it is too late to take the reins of power back. Sure I’m mad as hell and there are a lot of people to be angry with. What is necessary to fix it will take decades as the system itself is broken. This is not Capitalism as Smith dreamed up, this is Corporatism where the biggest, strongest, most lucrative survive. It is financial Darwinism and no one has a viable option to really get us out. We need a new system. Unfortunately the American people have forgotten a lot, not only the history of the country but the history of a few short years. They are too busy listening to glitzy ads degrading the character of a candidate instead of demanding the necessary changes so that we can give a better society to the grandchildren who will be paying this debt. Not only are Americans forgetful and demented, we are selfish and any attempts to re-institute those into power who wrought havoc on this nation is truly insanity. Trust me, you will not get a different result.

Forward into the Past !

I am sure there are a few people here, well at least one or two,  that remember all those predictions that were made in the 1950s and 1960s about how our lives would be improved by technology, computers and automation. How all this new and advanced technology would free us from the drudgery of everyday life, make our jobs less tedious and give us more free time to pursue more intellectual endeavors such as science and philosophy and arts.  They would appear in various magazines such as Popular Science,  Scientific American and even Readers Digest.

I remember watching programs and TV that showed how this might happen. Disney I think was one. All futuristic and Utopian.  And wrong of course.

Oh sure we got the advances and in spades I would say but the other stuff…not so much.

We advanced technology wise but our attitudes and beliefs have not really advanced so much.
We came from the middle ages with serfdoms and feudal kingdoms and class structure.  We got rid of the kingdoms and kings and queens for the most part but still hang on to the serfdoms. Society it seems is simply not ready for Utopia or the future predictions that have been made. Not only are our current feudal aristocrats unwilling to let go of this system, but more than a few serfs as well.

We may call it different names but we are still clinging to our feudal past with a death’s grip.

Don’t Cry For Me Argentina

I found this particular piece on the rich or rather the Nouveau Riche to be rather interesting. The author did a follow up here.  The first one is a letter or email from some upper class family that makes in excess of 250 grand a year and how they don’t feel rich and should not have to pay the taxes that they do. (more…)

Where are the Jobs ? – Reprise

We keep hearing about how we need more jobs and that congress and the president are not doing enough to help create them.  And of course there are those pundits who for lack of anything else to do as well as a lack of empathy and knowledge of anything outside their narrow view of the world are saying that not only is the recession over but it ended last summer in June. Well that’s news to me and a number of unemployed people I am sure. (more…)

Could There Be Some Fall Out From O’Donnell’s Nomination?

This week I was with my quilting friends at our quilt bee. We get together every two weeks to chat and work on quilting together. The usual gossip turned to politics which in itself is unusual. The last round of primaries wins had caught their attention. Most of these ladies are life long loyal republicans but this election cycle’s round of candidates had them bewildered and wondering if they should remain a republican. There was questions thrown out on the economy, jobs, international corporations, education and other issues. Not once was abortion, race, gays, 51 Park Ave, birth certificate of the President, and stem cells was mentioned. Watching clips of O’Donnell talk about masturbation had them upset. It just might have been one too many psychotic far right political candidate being paraded around on main street media for them.

I found this article through a link from reading The Nation Blog that I emailed to my quilting friends. It has some wonderful charts that show the economy over the past few decades. Maddow on her show Friday night used one of the charts from this piece on the elderly income. I would like to share this read from Economic Policy Institute with you.

http://www.epi.org/publications/entry/a_lost_decade_poverty_and_income_trends/

As far as my friends votes go, I really don’t know how they will finally vote but it is beginning to sink in the far right crazies are taking over the republican party.

Crossed Posted at http://tpmaholics.blogspot.com/

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