Daily Archive: 09/27/2012

Sep 27 2012

No Dancing XIV

Or this one either.

Emenince Front

This is one case in which I prefer the ‘Live’ to the studio version.

Sep 27 2012

Working the Refs

People like watching disasters. That’s why they watch NASCAR.

Or the Mets.

NFL Ends Lockout of Referees

By: David Dayen, Firedog Lake

Thursday September 27, 2012 6:14 am

The NFL will have its regular officials back on the field tonight, as the owners ended their lockout of the referees, reaching a tentative agreement. The referees union must vote to approve the contract, but the NFL was holding up the return to play for the officials by locking them out, so their lifting that allowed the officials to go back to work.



So they saved their defined benefit pension for five years, and get a fairly hefty defined contribution thereafter. In one of the other major sticking points, the league will be able to hire an indeterminate number of officials full-time, and have more officials available than the current staff of 121. This is certainly a better contract than the owners wanted to give; they wanted to end the defined benefit pension immediately.

Referees are well-paid, just like everyone associated with the lucrative business of professional football. But we saw over the last few weeks that they are paid at a level commensurate with their skills. And in a rare set of circumstances, the entire nation got a chance to see in real time the documented value of skilled labor over scab labor. It has relevance for a host of labor fights, and hopefully can be used as an object lesson. More on this from the New York Times.

At noon today, sorting the recycling was my biggest challenge.  Tonight I’m a scab.

It’s the Axe Body Spray.

Sep 27 2012

More Pain for Spain as Unemployment & Hunger Increase

Spain has announced its budget that imposes more austerity that emphasizes spending cuts over revenue:

Government ministries saw their budgets slashed by 8.9 percent for next year, as Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s battle to reduce one of the euro zone’s biggest deficits was made harder by weak tax revenues in a prolonged recession. [..]

“This is a crisis budget aimed at emerging from the crisis … In this budget there is a larger adjustment of spending than revenue,” Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Saenz de Santamaria told a news conference after a marathon six-hour cabinet meeting.

Spain, the euro zone’s fourth largest economy, is at the centre of the crisis. Investors fear that Madrid cannot control its finances and that Rajoy does not have the political will to take all the necessary but unpopular measures.

Madrid is talking to Brussels about the terms of a possible European aid package that would trigger a European Central Bank bond-buying program and ease Madrid’s unsustainable borrowing costs. [..]

The measures continue to heap pressure on the crisis-weary population and are likely to fuel further street protests, which have become increasingly violent as tensions rise and police are given the green light to use force to disperse crowds.

A quarter of all Spanish workers are unemployed and tens of thousands have been evicted from their homes after a burst housing bubble in 2008 and plummeting consumer and business sentiment tipped the country into a four-year economic slump.

Analysis of the budget from Trevor Greetham at The Guardian‘s Live Blog compares Spain to the US and the UK:

I’ve always opposed austerity as the solution to the global debt crisis and the strictures of the common currency make it particularly ill-suited to the euro periphery. Efforts to deflate Spain into competitiveness raise the prospect of many years of wage cuts and property price falls that will necessitate ever larger fiscal transfers from the stronger countries, either directly or via pan-euro institutions like the central bank.

Five years into the worst financial crisis in generations we are starting to see how effective various policies have been. Spain, the UK and the US offer three interesting test cases, each dealing with the after effects of a real estate bust in different ways:

· Spain = austerity with tight money (austerity, no devaluation, no quantitative easing, market interest rates too high)

· UK = austerity but with loose money (austerity, currency devaluation, quantitative easing)

· US = no austerity with loose money (no austerity, stable currency, quantitative easing)

Activity in both the UK and Spain remains well below its pre-crisis level – suggesting the benefits of the UK printing its own currency may not be as great as might be supposed. It appears to be the lack of austerity in the US that is the distinguishing aspect of a successful policy mix.

With overall unemployment at 25% and the rising cost of food through increases in value added taxes (VAT), the many of the Spanish poor and unemployed have resorted to scavenging for food shocking many of their fellow citizens:

MADRID – On a recent evening, a hip-looking young woman was sorting through a stack of crates outside a fruit and vegetable store here in the working-class neighborhood of Vallecas as it shut down for the night.

At first glance, she looked as if she might be a store employee. But no. The young woman was looking through the day’s trash for her next meal. Already, she had found a dozen aging potatoes she deemed edible and loaded them onto a luggage cart parked nearby. [..]

Such survival tactics are becoming increasingly commonplace here, with an unemployment rate over 50 percent among young people and more and more households having adults without jobs. So pervasive is the problem of scavenging that one Spanish city has resorted to installing locks on supermarket trash bins as a public health precaution.

A report this year by a Catholic charity, Caritas, said that it had fed nearly one million hungry Spaniards in 2010, more than twice as many as in 2007. That number rose again in 2011 by 65,000. [..]

The Caritas report also found that 22 percent of Spanish households were living in poverty and that about 600,000 had no income whatsoever. All these numbers are expected to continue to get worse in the coming months.

About a third of those seeking help, the Caritas report said, had never used a food pantry or a soup kitchen before the economic crisis hit. For many of them, the need to ask for help is deeply embarrassing. In some cases, families go to food pantries in neighboring towns so their friends and acquaintances will not see them.

Expect to see more demonstrations like these as hunger increases:

 

Sep 27 2012

Punting the Pundits

“Punting the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Punting the Pundits”.

Follow us on Twitter @StarsHollowGzt

Dean Baker: Tax Policy Not the Root of U.S. Economic Problem

There has been much public discussion of who exactly pays taxes and who gets government benefits ever since Mitt Romney’s now-famous fundraising speech was made public. Almost all of this discussion has focused narrowly on what the government actually takes from people in tax revenue and what it pays out in Social Security, unemployment insurance, and other benefits. This is unfortunate, because tax and transfer policy is the less important way in which the government helps or harms people.

The set of rules the government puts in place that structure the economy redistributes far more income than its tax and transfer policy. Starting with an obvious example, the government has destroyed millions of manufacturing jobs through a trade policy that puts U.S. manufacturing workers in direct competition with low-paid workers in the developing world. This policy has also had the effect of driving down wages in other sectors as the displaced manufacturing workers are forced to compete for jobs in retail or elsewhere in the service sector.

Robert Kuttner: Pain in Spain

The European authorities seem determined to drive the continent into a repeat of the Great Depression.

The European Central Bank keeps playing a cute game designed more to impress the Germans than the financial markets or to provide real relief. Mario Draghi, ECB president, offers to buy unlimited amounts of the bonds of states that are being pummeled by speculators, but then undercuts his own offer by conditioning it on punishing austerity.

In Spain, in the days after Draghi’s latest pronouncement, the rate on government bonds briefly fell, but is now rising again as markets realize that Draghi’s conditions make it impossible for any elected government to accept the offer. Meanwhile, unemployment is rising to record levels and Spain’s depression keeps feeding on itself.

Robert Reich: Repackaging Mitt

“My heart aches for the people I’ve seen,” Mitt Romney says, on the second day of his Ohio bus tour. He’s now telling stories of economic hardship among the people he’s met.

Up until now, Romney’s stories on the campaign trail have been about business successes — people who started businesses in garages and grew their companies into global giants, entrepreneurs who succeeded because of grit and determination, millionaires who began poor. Horatio Alger updated.

Curiously absent from these narratives have been the stories of ordinary Americans caught in an economy over which they have no control. That is, most of us. [..]

What we’re seeing in Ohio isn’t a new Mitt Romney. It’s a newly-packaged Mitt Romney. The real Mitt Romney is the one we saw on the videotape last week. And no amount of re-taping can disguise the package’s true contents.

Amy Goodman: Romney Has a Jobs Plan … for China

Freeport, Ill., is the site of one of the famous Lincoln-Douglas debates. On Aug. 27, 1858, Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas debated there in their campaign for Illinois’ seat in the U.S. Senate. Lincoln lost that race, but the Freeport debate set the stage for his eventual defeat of Douglas in the presidential election of 1860, and thus the Civil War. Today, as the African-American president of the United States prepares to debate the candidate from the party of Lincoln, workers in Freeport are staging a protest, hoping to put their plight into the center of the national debate this election season.

A group of workers from Sensata Technologies have set up their tents in a protest encampment across the road from the plant where many of them have spent their adult lives working. Sensata makes high-tech sensors for automobiles, including the sensors that help automatic transmissions run safely. Sensata Technologies recently bought the plant from Honeywell, and promptly told the more than 170 workers there that their jobs and all the plant’s equipment would be shipped to China.

John Nichols: Romney on Teachers and Their Unions: Silence Them!

Mitt Romney has absolutely no problem with billionaires buying elections. In fact, had it not been for billionaires’ buying elections, he would not be the Republican nominee for president.

But Romney has a big, big problem with working people’s participating in the political process. Especially teachers.

America’s primary proponent of big money in politics now says that he wants to silence K-12 teachers who pool their resources in order to defend public education for kids whose parents might not be wealthy enough to pay the $39,000 a year it costs to send them to the elite Cranbrook Schools attended by young Willard Mitt.

“We simply can’t have a setting where the teachers unions are able to contribute tens of millions of dollars to the campaigns of politicians and then those politicians, when elected, stand across from them at the bargaining table, supposedly to represent the interest of the kids. I think it’s a mistake,” the Republican nominee for president of 53 percent of the United States said during an appearance Tuesday with NBC’s Education Nation. “I think we’ve got to get the money out of the teachers unions going into campaigns. It’s the wrong way for us to go.”

That’s rich.

E. J. Dionne, Jr.: Replace This Greed

When even Scott Walker and Paul Ryan kind-of, sort-of side with labor against management, who knows what else is possible? Maybe they’ll endorse tax increases and say nice things about teachers unions.

For friends of labor, the revolt against the National Football League’s replacement refs is the most remarkable event since the organization of Henry Ford’s car company into the United Auto Workers union. And, really, could there be a better object lesson in the arrogance of the very rich and the value of the labor performed by line workers whose contributions usually go unnoticed and unappreciated? No wonder the NFL finally seems eager for a deal.

The contempt that pampered owners feel for the referees was nicely captured last month by Ray Anderson, the NFL’s executive vice president of football operations. “You’ve never paid for an NFL ticket to watch somebody officiate a game,” Anderson said.

Sep 27 2012

Ignorance Won’t Fly. Stop the Lies. No War With Iran. Period.

Recently, President Obama gave a speech at the U.N with a recurring theme I found disturbing. The whole bluster involved with the U.S “making sure there is not a nuclear Iran ever” as if repeating the straight up ignorance of the neoconservatives on Iran, is not dangerous and ignorant like anyone making excuses for it. It is.

Serious signs of this kind of ignorance are unfortunately coming from the President’s  Secretary of Defense; Leon Panetta who says “all options are on the table” with Iran. That’s really not OK. It’s actually insane. All Options were on the table when Bill Clinton bombed Iraq(which was used as an excuse for the 2003 invasion) as well so that is anything but an innocuous statement.

Make no mistake, the real danger here is a country and now two administrations addicted to war while we linger here without jobs.  I don’t find the case convincing at all that they are building a nuclear weapon in the NIE, but even if they are it doesn’t matter. There are a number of reasons; some which involve a basic education on the Middle East and Islam our President and too many Democrats didn’t take the time to learn.  

Sep 27 2012

On This Day In History September 27

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

September 27 is the 270th day of the year (271st in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 95 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1922, Jean-François Champollion deciphered the hieroglyphs of the Rosetta Stone with the help of groundwork laid by his predecessors: Athanasius Kircher, Silvestre de Sacy, Johan David Akerblad, Thomas Young, and William John Bankes. Champollion translated parts of the Rosetta Stone, showing that the Egyptian writing system was a combination of phonetic and ideographic signs.

Thomas Young was one of the first to attempt decipherment of the Egyptian hieroglyphs, basing his own work on the investigations of Swedish diplomat Akerblad, who built up a demotic  alphabet of 29 letters (15 turned out to be correct) and translated all personal names and other words in the Demotic part of the Rosetta Stone  in 1802. Akerblad however, wrongly believed that demotic was entirely phonetic or alphabetic. Young thought the same, and by 1814 he had completely translated the enchorial (which Champollion labeled Demotic as it is called today) text of the Rosetta Stone (he had a list with 86 demotic words). Young then studied the hieroglyphic alphabet and made some progress but failed to recognise that demotic and hieroglyphic texts were paraphrases and not simple translations. In 1823 he published an Account of the Recent Discoveries in Hieroglyphic Literature and Egyptian Antiquities. Some of Young’s conclusions appeared in the famous article Egypt he wrote for the 1818 edition of the Encyclopædia Britannica.

When Champollion, in 1822, published his translation of the hieroglyphs and the key to the grammatical system, Young and all others praised this work. Young had indicated in a letter to Gurney that he wished to see Champollion acknowledge that he had made use of Young’s earlier work in assisting his eventual deciphering of hieroglyphics. Champollion was unwilling to share the credit even though initially he had not recognized that hieroglyphics were phonetic. Young corrected him on this, and Champollion attempted to have an early article withdrawn once he realized his mistake. Strongly motivated by the political tensions of that time, the British supported Young and the French Champollion. Champollion completely translated the hieroglyphic grammar based in part upon the earlier work of others including Young. However, Champollion maintained that he alone had deciphered the hieroglyphs. After 1826, he did offer Young access to demotic manuscripts in the Louvre, when he was a curator. Baron Georges Cuvier (1825) credited Champollion’s work as an important aid in dating the Dendera Zodiac.

Sep 27 2012

My Little Town 20120926: School Lunch

Those of you that read this regular series know that I am from Hackett, Arkansas, just a mile or so from the Oklahoma border, and just about 10 miles south of the Arkansas River.  It was a rural sort of place that did not particularly appreciate education, and just zoom onto my previous posts to understand a bit about it.

Back when I was going to grade school, lunch was always a welcome break from the humdrum of class, where most of the students did not care at all to learn and teachers who for a large part were not qualified to teach.  Lunch allowed you to talk with your friends and, if you got finished soon enough, take the rest of the period for recess.

In addition to lunch there were morning and afternoon milk breaks.  My friend Rex and I usually were the ones to carry the milk to the different classes because we were good students and could make up anything that we missed (and it is unlikely that we missed anything, because most of the teachers just read out of the book).