Meh Culpa

Dear Prez and Dems: Wall Street wants your panties in a twist

I don’t know if anybody besides Wall Street Watchers have noticed that the Stock Market dropped for three days in a row and that “marked its worst single-session percentage drop in more than two months. ”  Well, maybe that’s not precisely true.  President Obama and the Congressional Democrats have probably noticed.   Whether they will quiver and moan or foam at the mouth is anybody’s guess.  Judging from their past behavior and the fear they exhibit upon viewing their own shadows,  they may fold again and beg forgiveness from the All Powerful.

(No, not the Deity.  Wall Street.)

I’d like to address all the Democrats for a moment:

You knew this was coming.  And if you didn’t, you aren’t the brightest bulbs on the porch.  Wall Streeters are attempting blackmail.  They want your panties in a twist, they want to see you shivering in your penny loafers because A) they’ve paid you good money, which implies they own you; B) if they made you–and they think they did–they can break you;  C) they’ve convinced you that the market runs the entire economy.

Do not pay attention to the Little Men Behind The Curtain. Go ahead and resurrect the Glass-Steagall Act, or bring to life something even better.   Yes, Republicans and Blue Dogs will call you  Frankenstein and your baby a monster, but you know better.   Really, you do.  You can’t allow Wall Street to hold you hostage to its evil plan; you can’t let Wall Street keep making the same mistakes that plunged our economy into ruin.  And you most certainly won’t win any more votes from Main Street by doing the Little Men any more favors.

Do yourselves a favor,  do us all a favor:  find the people who played with derivatives and default credit  swaps and what all else, take away their toys for good.  Then prosecute the bastards who broke the law, who defrauded plain ol’ Americans and pounded them into the ground with rubber mallets labeled “Death. by Debt.”  Remember The Guy In Orange?   Remember the folks who own and run World Savings?  Or who used to be Countrywide?  Yup,  them,  their buddies,  and the horses they rode in on.  Take wooden stakes, preferably some with nasty thorns, to the blood suckers.

But don’t let Wall Street scare you.  The Streeters may have more money, but we have more votes.

P.S.  Please do not assume that the economy is the only reason Scott Brown got elected.  There are way too many groups here under the bus for the voters’ wrath to be all about that.

January 23, 2010 Posted by | banks, borrowing, Congress, Democrats, Economy, Obama, politics, recession, Republicans, Treasury, Uncategorized, unemployment | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Re: Universal Health Care. My questions for Senator Sherrod Brown

(AmericaBlog took questions from readers today, which will be transported to Senator Sherrod Brown for review.  With any luck he’ll answer a few good ones.  I hope he doesn’t mind a little familiarity.  I used his first name because I hadn’t heard of him. Well, it’s actually more interesting than his surname. 🙂 )

Greetings, Senator Sherrod.

I would like to know how a person who qualifies for and uses an indigent health care plan can afford to get well. For instance, let us say that a person with a chronic illness might be able to work with the right drug cocktail. Since,according to law, drug companies must provide patient assistance for those poor enough to qualify, imagine that this person has improved using an indigent health care program. He has become more functional so he would like to contribute to society.

Bravo.

Unfortunately, he faces a few hurdles. For one, being out of work for a long time, as often happens with the disabled or chronically ill, doesn’t look so nifty on a CV, and while it’s difficult for a healthy person to find work nowadays what with the unemployment rate being so high, a disabled person will have that strike of a lengthy unemployment against him.

Let’s give him a little luck here. Let’s say this person obtains a fairly good job: his wages begin at entry level, yet once his health insurance kicks in, he must pay the going rate for medications and insurance coverage. Unless he’s taking generic medications, and even then, the cost of his medication is prohibitive.

He then realizes he’s experiencing the ultimate health care Catch-22: if he keeps working for as little money as he makes, he won’t be able to pay the co-pays for doctor visits or buy his medication; without medication, he will become too sick to work; and his health will suffer because he won’t be able to see his physician. He might even develop a life-threatening condition in the meantime.

How do you propose to help people such as this man afford their health care? I’m sure you’re aware of insurance companies’ tactics. If they have to take a customer with a pre-existing condition or a serious illness that arises while the customer is covered, those companies will make sure he pays a much higher rate than anyone else.  If it comes to pass that this man cannot be denied health insurance because of his chronic illness, who will make sure his premiums are truly affordable? (I don’t buy into the competition scheme because I think insurance companies could pull an Enron or develop secret cartels like OPEC. ) Who will decide what is “affordable”–even with a public option? Will demographics, such as cost of living, be taken into account? Will a person’s debt be factored into the mix? Will a person living in San Francisco pay the same rate as someone in, say, Mississippi?

And *why not* single payer? I mean, we already have single payer: Medicare. It’s easier and it works.  Or we could have a combination: single payer with an option to go with private insurance like people do in the UK. (By the way, most Brits *like* their health care system.)

Frankly, I do not trust the insurance companies to initiate or complete true reform. I think we’re witnessing the same song and dance they’ve fed us like pablum us since Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman (http://cthealth.server101.com/why_doesn%27t.htm). We did the same thing with the auto industry–trusted the Big Three to change and allowed them to dictate terms–and look where they are now. We need to stop bending over backwards for these companies. They don’t deserve it.

I realize that our nation’s leaders are chary of single payer in part because so many people in the insurance industry would lose their jobs and that wouldn’t help the economy. But why not retrain them and/or give them jobs doing mostly the same thing in the public sector? Why is Congress so short on answers and ideas? Why not look at the countries with the best health care and try those on for size? We’re number 37 in health care, for goodness sake! Behind third world countries! We’re behind Colombia! Can you believe it?!

As I see it, our nation’s leaders would rather pay for wars, help the Wall Street gangsters (who then made out like bandits), and protect their own campaign dollars. What does that say about us as a nation that we put up with such morally reprehensible derangement? What does it say about the Legislative and Executive branches of our government that politics is almost always more important than our own people?

Thank you for reading, Senator. If you’ve gotten this far you’ve got quite an attention span. 🙂

September 21, 2009 Posted by | automakers, bailout(s), banks, Congress, corruption, Economy, Executive branch, political parties in the US, politics, recession, Senate, unemployment | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

California Propositions 1A and 1B: Why I’m voting NO

A few weeks ago I went through the California OFFICIAL VOTER INFORMATION GUIDE and decided how I was going to vote, but I’m doing it again before I mail off my ballot and thought I’d take y’all for a ride with me–pun definitely not intended, although I can’t say the same for the Governator.

1A and 1B are yoked together.  If either one should go down, the remaining measure fails even if it passes by a huge margin. Nifty, huh?

It gets better.  Just wait.

Proposition 1A is a Constitutional amendment that changes the way the budget process works, but the taxes will not take effect until 2012, leaving the next governor to deal with Arnie’s mess. 1A sets aside 12.5%,  of the General Fund for a “rainy day” fund (Budget Stabilization Fund) that already exists.  1A increases the amount set aside by 7.5%.

The hook:

If 1A and 1B pass, then schools (K- junior college) will receive $9.3 billion.  Nonetheless, Arnie has proposed cutting  $3.6 billion to $4 billion for Education next year, which I believe is in addition to what was cut this year,  that would leave schools with a best-case scenario  increase of  $5.3 billion.

What funds Arnie gives with one hand, he takes away with another.

The Governor gets new powers. If 1A passes, the Gov could reduce up to 7% of spending and purchases of big ticket items.  Not only that, he could reduce cost-of-living increases in any program as well as some state workers’ paychecks.  It’s not clear to me whether the Gov can raid a program the voters already have left off-limits, but that’s a distinct possibility.  Think about this, too:  it could  be Education, or something else you cherish.  And the legislature couldn’t do a damned thing about it. That’s part of the package.

Hmmm, new powers…  Hey, didn’t the last president get those?

Tax Increases* keep on keeping on through 2012, except for the Vehicle License Fee–that Arnie promised to reduced to get into office–which continue through 2013.  If I’m not mistaken, Californians pay more in personal income taxes than any other state in the nation, while seven of our cities are listed in the top ten on the Cost of Living index for the first quarter of 2005.   Ranked sixth highest in the nation in 2008, we paid 10.3% in state income taxes while the rest of the country averaged 9.7%.

Nobody really knows how this measure will pan out. (Ahh, uncertainty.  As if we don’t have enough already.)  The Legislative Analyst makes a good faith effort to figure the whole thing out, but has admitted to not having a clue.

Future revenues predicted by revenues obtained by the state in the past decade (!!). This is priceless.  Right now, we have unemployment hitting the roof so no one can spend much money and revenues from property related taxes have dropped like rocks because of record mortgage defaults that are expected by leading economists to increase, yet they’re going to predict revenue based on what happened ten years ago?  In 2000-2001 the state had a surplus revenue of $4.2 billion. But this year’s revenues sucked big time.  How much sense does that make?

Check it out:
(From: Sacramento Real Estate Statistics)

Oy.

OK, so.  As I mentioned before, voting against 1A invalidates 1B by default.  Which is as good a reason to vote against 1B as any.  But the reality is even more irksome than I remembered.  K-12 and junior college funding–you know, that net increase after the cuts–won’t happen until 2011, leaving schools with those $3.6 to $4 billion cuts for two years.

WTF?

Have y’all seen the Pro 1A and 1B commercials? One of the actors, The Teacher of Some Year or Other, talks about the layoff of 50,000 teachers thus  far and then acts as if the passage of these measures will change everything. Maybe, just maybe, the poor sods will get their jobs back?  I’d like to know how that works, and whence the money will come, since we don’t know how the junior college money will (eventually) be allocated.  Proposition 1B just doesn’t say.   Moreover, the Governor and the Legislature get to decide how the money’s distributed between the two systems because Proposition 1B doesn’t talk about that either.

I’d like to know what about Proposition 98 minimum guarantees to Education funding the Governor and Legislature did not understand?  As a general rule, Education funding is the first thing to get screwed in our great state.  Nobody seems to know how all this will work out if 1A/1B passes.  It has been argued that the Siamese Twin Propositions put a cap on Education spending,  although Proposition 98 already does that in low revenue years.

“Voters need to know that we don’t have to lock flawed and dangerous formulas into the constitution in order to repay our schools. Proposition 1A will turn the Proposition 98 minimum funding guarantee for our schools into a cap instead of a floor, and Proposition 1B could mean that schools won’t even get all the money they are owed if more cuts happen in the coming year,” said Marty Hittelman, President of the California Federation of Teachers.

And what’s the business about schools being owed money? Oh, the legislature in its dubious wisdom “suspended” Proposition 98 starting in 2007.  Proposition 98 says that money taken away from Education must be repaid. The California Teachers’ Federation argues that if Arnie’s cuts go through and the Proposition 1A / 1B pass, the state will owe its Education fund $12 billion. Will the state repay the money?  I doubt it.  We have pretty bad credit right about now.  Lowest in the nation, and that’s a fact.

No one really knows how the Constitution will be interpreted in the face of 1B because no one is quite certain how Proposition 98 will effect maintenance payments, let alone which method to use.

Ha.

I say that if no one knows, it’s probably a bad idea to vote for the darn thing.

My fave part of all time: The Governator’s having so much fun with his budget cuts that he may be jeopardizing the stimulus money California desperately needs.

Niiiiiiiice job, dude.**


* I am of the opinion that once tax rates go up, they don’t like to go back down.  I know that notion violates the 3rd principle of Newtonian physics, but that’s what I think.

** I am so being facetious.

For more info, also see Calitics  “The Deficit Is Too Large For A Cuts-Only Solution”

May 15, 2009 Posted by | bailout(s), borrowing, Bush administration, California, Depression, Economy, Education, layoffs, stimulus package, unemployment | , , , , , , | Leave a comment