Jun 16 2014

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”.

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Dean Baker: Charities that make the rich richer

Either end obscene pay at charitable organizations or revoke their tax-exempt status

We usually think of charities as institutions that direct money down from those on top to those who are most in need. But in our vibrant 21st century economy, charities often funnel money in the opposite direction, with the rest of us subsidizing the incomes of the very rich. That is the implication of several recent news stories. [..]

A study by the Institute for Policy Studies found that student debt and low-paid faculty increased more rapidly at the universities with the 25 highest-paid presidents than the national average. At the very least, this suggests high presidential pay is not associated with scoring well in terms of relieving the burdens of those most in need in higher education – student debtors and adjuncts.

There is undoubtedly much more that could be said about high-paid university administrators or heads of other nonprofits, who don’t seem to be earning their keep. But this is not just a story of university boards possibly using bad judgment in designing compensation packages for top management. The pay for these millionaires comes directly out of the pockets of the rest of us in the same way as the food stamps or disability payments that get conservatives so excited.

Robert Reich: The Three Biggest Right-Wing Lies About Poverty

Rather than confront poverty by extending jobless benefits to the long-term unemployed, endorsing a higher minimum wage, or supporting jobs programs, conservative Republicans are taking a different tack.

They’re peddling three big lies about poverty.  [..]

What they really lack is opportunity. It begins with lousy schools.

America is one of only three advanced countries that spends less on the education of poorer children than richer ones, according to a study by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

Among the 34 O.E.C.D. nations, only in the United States, Israel and Turkey do schools serving poor neighborhoods have fewer teachers and crowd students into larger classrooms than do schools serving more privileged students. In most countries, it’s just the reverse: Poor neighborhoods get more teachers per student.

And unlike most OECD countries, America doesn’t put better teachers in poorly performing schools,

Tom Hayden: Behind the Madness in Iraq

The U.S. had no business invading Iraq. We toppled a dictatorship on a false 9/11 rationale, which plunged Iraq into a sectarian civil war inside a war with the United States. We left behind a vengeance-driven Shiite regime aligned with Iran. Now the sectarian war in Syria is enlarging into a regional one. The primary blame for this disaster is on the Bush administration, but also on all those who succumbed to a Superpower Syndrome, which said we could redesign the Middle East. There is no reason whatsoever to justify further loss of American lives or tax dollars on a conflict that we do not understand and that started before the United States was born.

John Nichols: Bernie Sanders Is Beating the Austerity Hawks

Bernie Sanders does not believe that government always gets things right.

But the independent senator from Vermont does believe that where government has the capacity to act on behalf of those in need, it should do so.

In a capital where an awful lot of folks still buy into Ronald Reagan’s “government is the problem” calculus, Sanders knows that government can be the solution. Indeed, he recognizes that for those most neglected by an economy that almost always takes care of CEOs and celebrities but often fails clerks and construction workers, government is able to provide answers that the private sector cannot or will not produce. [..]

Sanders cannot always get the Senate to consider the alternative. But as the chairman of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, he has the authority and the bully pulpit to focus the nation’s attention not just on the neglect of military veterans-an issue that has long been his focus-but on the solutions government can provide for them.

Paul Honkenos: The West doesn’t need nuclear for energy independence

The future for Europe and the US lies in renewables

Some of the most confounding problems of our day – global warming and the West’s energy dependence on Russia and the Middle East – appear to President Barack Obama and some of Europe’s leaders to have an obvious answer: more nuclear power. A May 2014 EU Commission study on Europe’s energy security after the Ukraine crisis insists it’s going to be a big part of the solution. Nuclear is also a central component of Obama’s “all of the above” energy strategy. After all, nuclear power plants are supposedly inexpensive to run, emit no CO2 and could lessen dependence on oil and gas imports from volatile regions of the world. A no-brainer, right?

Not by a long shot. Nuclear power is a nasty red herring that advocates will pay for dearly, should it figure into their response to the current challenges on the table.

In the past, critics of nuclear power went to great lengths to point out nuclear energy’s inherent danger. Consider the meltdowns at Three Mile Island in 1979, Chernobyl in 1986 and Fukushima in 2011, they said, on top of the untold number of smaller mishaps that never make the headlines. And then there’s the unsolvable dilemma of radioactive nuclear waste, which nobody wants anywhere near their backyards.