Just reading a great Paul Krugman column where he notes that when traditional economics theory is ignored, disaster will follow. And as an addendum he notes that once the disaster happened, continuing to ignore traditional economic theory has led to a really lousy recovery. Where traditional theory would call for stimulus and government jobs, the shiny new theories call for austerity. This is the economic theory that George H. W. Bush called “voodoo” economics. I would prefer to call it “comic economics” because it is such a joke.
These comic economics have led Europe into a double-dip recession with little thought of changing direction. So the Europeans dig themselves deeper and deeper into a bad hole led by the likes of David Cameron and Angela Merkl. Yet on the other side of the globe Japan seems to be creating an economic miracle using old fashioned methods.
Another small economic miracle is beginning in California where huge Democratic majorities have thrown off the shackles of tax restraints and the government is out of the hole and the the economy is growing. Yet the national government is still divided and we are now beginning to impose the hard parts of austerity (called Sequester) here. The poor in the US are really getting hit hard and are hurting. Democrats know this is certainly the wrong way to go, but nothing will change until Republicans are voted out. Republicans have made it quite clear that is the only thing that could cause change.
I bring all this up because the economy and jobs are the very basic things that our country is built around. In the case of the US, Republican obstruction should be the major part of the story. But it is barely covered. The reason is simple – Republicans own most of the media and essentially dictate what media will cover. So at a time when when a good, free media should be giving tons of ink to the economy we are getting fabricated stories of Presidential incompetence, thus diverting coverage of the real story.
This week we have had story after story of what might have happened in Benghazi, even though we have heard from most parties and the story is what the Administration said. The story has been corroborated, and then reverified by raw emails. Nearly he same is true in the so called IRS scandal and in the so-called AP scandal. The story in those cases is that of some over zealous lower level bureaucrat forced to lead an organization because Republicans refuse to let Obama’s nominees go forward.
Thus the two real scandals are first that Republicans have decimated the executive branch of the government by refusing to accept Obama’s nominees thus making it extremely tough to run a government. They have also done the same with the judicial branch.
And there lies the second real scandal. Republicans have decimated the government, they have obstructed every administration move to create jobs, they have cut funding for the poorest among us and will do so next year when Obamacare kicks in, and have generally done all they can to subvert the duly elected government of the United States. Sounds like treason doesn’t it?
This was the reason that the press was given total freedom in the bill of rights. The press was supposed to be the fourth estate of government - a nettlesome group ready to point out government failure. Yet today our press stands as little more than a highly paid secretarial pool running away from the real stories and acting as unquestioning stenographers for their bosses. They have abdicated the most precious status in the world of the press. They and their corporate owners have done a great deal of harm to America.
So while the very fabric of the country is being torn apart, our media chases silly rumors of falsified emails trying to create a scandal. They shine their lights in directions away from the real stories that need to be told.
Howard Dean: “Whether you’re trying to create a bike path in your community or take action on national legislation, YouPower gives you access to the online tools and the offline resources of a one million member national progressive organization to help you create change from the bottom up. “
From our inbox: A note from PIRG:
House Speaker Kraig Paulsen – a lawyer to trucking company CRST International – is axing all funding for both passenger rail and freight rail in Iowa. We can’t let that happen.
New passenger rail along I-80 from Chicago through Quad Cities, Iowa City, Des Moines and Council Bluffs would provide travelers in Iowa with a more convenient way to travel – while creating jobs, building our economy, and keeping us competitive regionally.
We need you to help us make sure our legislators refuse to vote in support of any budget that doesn’t include funds for passenger and frieght rail.
This year, even Governor Branstad included a recommendation to fund passenger rail in his budget – funds that would allow us to leverage $86 mill in federal funding.
Click here to send this message to your legislator:
If we let this opportunity to leverage $86 million in federal funds to move forward with new passenger rail across Iowa along I-80 – Iowa will loose out on generations worth of infrastructure development necessary to keep our state economically competitive regionally.
Also, as an agricultural state, we rely on freight rail to get our goods to market. To eliminate the revolving funds for freight rail would create an easily avoidable hardship. Including funds for both the freight rail and multi-modal would allow us to make updates to our tracks and crossing intersections while introducing passenger rail – necessary updates that will allow freight to operate more efficiently, improve safety, and get more bang for our buck.
Please, take a stand to protect this important investment in our future. Don’t vote in support of any budget that does not include funding for multi-modal and freight rail.
Iowa PIRG Advocate
Support Iowa PIRG. Contributions by people just like you make our advocacy possible. Your contribution supports a staff of organizers, attorneys, scientists and other professionals who monitor government and corporate decisions and advocate on the public’s behalf.
IOWA PUBLIC INTEREST RESEARCH GROUP
3209 Ingersoll Ave., Ste. 210-A
Des Moines, IA 50312 | (515) 282-4193
Join our neighbors across the Missouri in asking Warren Buffett to lead on climate change. Enjoy this short video first.
BERKSHIRE HATHAWAY INC.
3555 Farnam Street
Omaha, NE 68131
Healthiest Iowa Initiative to Hold “Clock is Ticking” Rally in Waterloo on Wednesday
Community members, local leaders will call on State Rep. Walt Rogers to support Medicaid expansion because “The Clock is Ticking” for Iowans who need health care security
DES MOINES — Members of the Healthiest Iowa Initiative will rally in support of Medicaid expansion on Wednesday evening in Waterloo, to send State Representative Walt Rogers and all legislators a message: the clock is ticking for Iowans who need Medicaid for their health care security — now is the time to support accepting expansion.
Rogers is a member of the conference committee considering whether Iowa should expand Medicaid, which would cover 60,000 more Iowans and cost the state up to $163 million less per year than the Governor’s plan. The current health care plan for Iowans living in poverty is IowaCare, which is scheduled to expire beginning this fall.
“The clock is ticking for Iowans who live on the edge of poverty — they’re at risk of losing their health care,” said Matt Sinovic, executive director of Progress Iowa. “Representative Rogers and the legislators playing political games instead of doing their job need to hear from their constituents. We encourage all Iowans to contact their elected officials and tell them to expand Medicaid before the clock runs out.”
WHEN: Wednesday, May 15th, 6:30 PM
WHERE: Outside the Waterloo Public Library; 415 Commercial St, Waterloo, Iowa
WHAT: “Clock is Ticking” Rally calling on State Rep. Walt Rogers to Expand Medicaid
WHO: State Representative Anesa Kajtazovic; Chris Schwartz, Organizer, Americans for Democratic Action Iowa; Members of the Healthiest Iowa Initiative
Medicaid expansion would cover an additional 150,000 Iowans at limited cost to the taxpayers, in comparison to Governor Branstad’s Healthy Iowa Plan, which will cover 60,000 fewer Iowans and cost the state an estimated $163 million more every year. Uninsured young adults, veterans, the working poor, and the mentally ill would all benefit from full Medicaid expansion. In addition, expansion would create more than 2,000 jobs, according to a report released by the Iowa Hospital Association.
Throughout the legislative session, the Healthiest Iowa Initiative has worked to educate Iowans and call them to action in support of Medicaid expansion. The 28 organizations participating in the Healthiest Iowa Initiative include:
AFSCME Iowa Council 61
Americans for Democratic Action
Brain Injury Alliance of Iowa
Coalition for a Better Iowa
Disability Rights Iowa
Hawkeye Labor Council, AFL-CIO
Iowa Alliance for Retired Americans
Iowa Citizen Action Network
Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement
Iowa Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO
Iowa Human Needs Advocates
Iowa Main Street Alliance
Iowa Mental Health Planning Council
Iowa Olmstead Consumer Task Force
Iowa State Education Association
Iowa Statewide Independent Living Council
NAMI Greater Des Moines
National Association of Social Workers, Iowa Chapter
National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Upper Midwest Chapter
Planned Parenthood Voters of Iowa
Progressive Action for the Common Good
SEIU Local 199
South Central Iowa Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO
Working Families Win.
In addition to learning about Medicaid expansion at Medicaid Madness events, Iowans are encouraged to sign the following petition at www.healthiestiowa.com:
Iowa has the opportunity to approve a Medicaid expansion as part of Obamacare. We call on Governor Branstad to take this opportunity to help thousands of Iowans rather than pursue a plan that costs more, covers fewer and has no guarantee of federal funding. There are no real reasons – only political rhetoric – for failing to support Medicaid expansion in Iowa.
After you call Rep. Heaton at (515) 281-7327, visit http://healthiestiowa.com to send him an email. Tell him to support full Medicaid expansion!
Frac sand mining is already a reality in Iowa [see Sand Land: Fracking Industry Mining Iowa's Iconic Sand Bluffs in New Form of Mountaintop Removal]. Iowans have plenty of reasons to be concerned. “The Allamakee County Board issued an 18-month moratorium in February 2013. Despite this legislative move, concerned residents living in the county see the writing on the wall.” Hopefully, Iowa can learn from our neighbors in Minnesota and Wisconsin before it is too late for us.
This is a trailer of the film that is available in dvd for only twenty bucks at thepriceofsand.com.
The Price of Sand
a documentary about silica mines, small towns and money
“The Price of Sand” is a documentary about the frac sand mining boom in Minnesota and Wisconsin. Due to a rapid increase in demand, pure silica sand has become a valuable commodity, and mines are opening here at a rapid rate.
The silica used in hydraulic fracturing (aka : “fracking”), has other uses– glass manufacturing and toothpaste, for instance — and a few established mines have been in operation here for decades. But now, new companies have arrived, and land with accessible silica deposits is selling for high prices.
In addition to a bonanza for a few lucky landowners, the new mines promise jobs and economic stimulus for the small towns and rural areas nearby.
Two years ago, an oil company bought a tract of land in near my mother’s house, in rural Goodhue County, Minnesota. The prospect of an open pit mine led to the formation of an opposition group, a series of public meetings, and a temporary county moratorium on frac sand mining.
I’m a filmmaker, so I visited people who live near existing mines and interviewed them. They told me stories–intense truck traffic, plummeting property values, toxic silica dust–a catalog of complaints that surprised me with its variety and intensity. I made clips from the interviews and posted them on YouTube.
YouTube shorts can provoke discussion (56,000 views so far), but the story of this mining boom is more complex. Good people are on both sides of the issue, and sometimes the facts aren’t obvious. “The Price of Sand” is a 1-hour documentary film that grew out of my short YouTube video project–more extensive, with new stories–a more comprehensive look at what’s happening.
The goal of this project: find the real price of frac sand. Not just in dollars, but in friendships, communities and the future of our region.
Jim Tittle • St. Paul, MN • director
We didn’t read Doak’s piece because of cancelling the Des Moines Register after they endorsed Mitt for President and their chief political reporter mistook a paid political pundit for a news source. But this is a great letter to the editor that a friend of ours found and posted on Facebook.
Richard Doak had an excellent column on the demise of Iowa’s rural communities [“Where Are We Headed?”, April 28]. However, he neglected a very important factor: the proliferation of hog factories.
We purchased our acreage some 35 years ago. Since then, seven farmsteads within 1 1/2 miles have been abandoned, most with groves and buildings bulldozed and fences pulled. These families supported our schools, churches and main street businesses.
Five hog factories have replaced them, with more likely to come, as they tend to cluster. The resulting odors and emissions are health hazards to neighbors, and property values are affected. In too many cases, waste is over-applied, spread up to creek banks and across waterways.
There are currently over 6,000 hog confinements in Iowa. Iowa law opened the flood gates in 1995, and nothing has been done since to slow or regulate the industry. Efforts are continuously made to weaken existing regulations. The industry essentially controls our Legislature. Our air, water and rural communities will continue to be the big losers, and as rural communities diminish, so does their political voice.
— D.G. Partridge, Wall Lake
In a world that seems to give us little but scary news any more the story of the young women being rescued from captivity in Cleveland was indeed great news. Three young women that had disappeared as much as a decade ago returned to their families. Certainly this is only the beginning of a new story and no doubt there will be some trauma to their readmission to society. But this can’t possibly be anything near like what they and their families have been through. We wish them our best and we truly wish that every disappearance story ended with the victim still alive. It is hell for their families for sure.
Squeeze those kids every day and be sure to let them know they are loved. And try your best to always know where they are.
Health Spending Slows Dramatically
Little noted in the main stream media is that the pace of health care spending has slowed dramatically over the past couple years. This could mean that the disastrous calculations for programs such as Medicare are way off. Such calculations were based on double digit growth forever. We are currently flatlining on medical spending growth and it looks like a trend. Read it here and be sure to read the links in the article.
Elizabeth Warren: Student Loans At Banker’s Rates
Well look here – here is a United State Senator who is willing to have our country bet on its future rather than trying to starve our future. Elizabeth Warren’s first bill will give loans to students at the extremely low rates that the Fed loans money to banks at. This sounds almost like the same concept that drove the first GI bill. We have large group of young people who lives are being screwed with. We have major major needs in this country. We need those youngsters to get educated and not be put into debt for the rest of their lives. Then we need to take on the projects that will finally push the US back into the world leadership in so many areas where we have given it up through terrible management during the Bush years. This is a good start.
Grassley Offers 77 Amendments To Immigration Bill
Can he personally stop the flood that has already happened by clogging the hole up with paper? Chuck, did anyone tell you that the reason many of these folks are here is because the captains of industry were hiring them at low wages to bust unions? I am betting none of your amendments deal with this problem. These are the guys that line your pocket with “campaign contributions” and it has always been illegal. You are becoming a caricature, Chuck. A caricature of the totally out of touch rich politician who has no idea what goes on in his state.
The Dow’s At What?
An online advertisement really made me chuckle last week. As the Dow is breaking yet another barrier, a little online ad informs me that the rich people are selling all their stock because the economy is in the worst shape ever. Huh?
And while no one was looking, our deficits are decreasing dramatically. Unfortunately the insane austerity policy will probably stop that trend. We need to get Republicans out of the way so we can let the adults run things for at least a couple years before the next election. Too bad the house districts are so gerrymandered that Republicans can lose the conglomerate total vote for the house and still get an overwhelming majority.