On New Year’s Day, the Senate and House passed a “fiscal cliff” deal. The terms of the deal contain some good parts. But economic stimulus and job growth issues were largely ignored.
First, the agreement brought positive things. For the first time since 1990, a significant number of Republicans voted to raise taxes. The top income tax rate for the richest l percent of the population climbed from 35% to 39.6%. The estate tax went up marginally, and taxes on capital gains and dividends also increased a bit.
For struggling American workers, unemployment benefits were extended for a year. Five year extensions of tax boosts included the child tax credit, expanded earned income credit, and refundable tuition tax credits. The major social programs, Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, were not touched. Unfortunately the expiration of the payroll tax cut adds two percent to every working family’s taxes.
Tucked inside the last-minute fiscal cliff package were more than a dozen tax loopholes, many of which will benefit Wall Street financial firms and some of the nation’s largest corporations. Here are three of the more egregious of these subsidies. First, corporations can book U.S. profits in overseas, tax-free bank accounts. Second, U.S. multinationals pay no taxes on income earned by companies they own abroad. Third, businesses earning interest on overseas lending can defer U.S. taxes on that income indefinitely.
The fiscal cliff deal made no provision for dealing with other rapidly approaching cliffs: the postponed sequester (automatic cuts in domestic and military spending), the return of the debt ceiling, and the expiration of the continuing resolution to fund the government. This sets up another confrontation between the Obama administration and House Republican deficit scolds. These Republicans want low taxes for the wealthy, cuts in domestic spending, smaller government, and deregulation.
The media casts our biggest problem as excessive spending and the resulting budget deficit. So the debate centers on what to cut and how much to cut, a wrong-headed deficit hysteria. Federal deficits as a percentage of the total economy are dropping, and non-military government spending relative to the size of the U.S. economy remains the smallest of any other rich nation.
Rising government spending and declining revenues are mostly consequences, not causes, of the recession. You can’t fix the debt without fixing the economy. Deficit reduction will slow the economy further rather than fixing it as is evidenced by the austerity programs in Europe.
Our economy leaves working people behind while corporate welfare races ahead. Corporate profits soar while wages and other labor compensation decline. The median wage, adjusted for inflation, continues to fall even though the economy grows.
Just trimming the deficit fails to address the real problems of mass unemployment, stagnating wages, increasing insecurity, and rising inequality. We have a backlog of 12.2 million jobless workers looking for work, with additional millions too discouraged to even look. Job growth averaged 155,000 in November and December of last year, a rate half of what we need for a robust economy.
At a time when interest rates for borrowing are rock bottom, we should fund rebuilding and modernizing our crumbling infrastructure. Insourcing manufacturing, growing overseas trade, adding education programs, using clean energy, and investing in research and development also promote economic development. Reducing inequality can be done in several ways: raising the minimum wage, empowering workers to organize and bargain for a fair share of the productivity and profits they help to generate, limiting perverse CEO compensation schemes, and levying a tiny financial transaction tax.
Job growth and wage growth should be the central focus of economic policy, not deficit reduction. In short, we need stimulus spending, not austerity gutting.
If there is one thing that is for sure in this country, it is that it is difficult to put each and everything into an exact pigeon hole. There is often a bits and pieces of something that maybe doesn’t fit in the hole selected. Maybe a portion of it belongs in another hole. Conversely, some of the holes we put stuff into have had their scope increased to accommodate what material is placed in a given pigeon hole.
In such a vein, on an elevator at corporate HQ one day I heard one young up-and-comer tell another that “I didn’t hit my targets this quarter.” “What’re you going to do?” his friend asked. “Best I can think of is to expand my targets so my results fit in them.” was the response. I almost broke out laughing, but to be honest it was a solution that might be able to fool some folks.
In a slight twist on that line of thinking – in my life I have seen politicians easily find money for war and weapons at the same time they claim they can’t afford a band aid for Tommy’s cut finger at the local elementary. We found what? – $2 Tr for wars and $3 Tr for tax cuts at the same time but we have had to close schools and fire teachers and police and fire fighters. So it seems that the only mouth at trough that gets fed is the one with “PENTAGON” taped to it.
Well, it seems that the obvious solution is to expand what the “PENTAGON” sign covers. Like maybe it would be good if our recruits could speak to each other, maybe ad 2 + 2, maybe be able to extract a lesson from what they read. Maybe K – 12 money ought to be put in under the “PENTAGON” for future soldiers.
While we are at it – how about throwing some health care for kids in there? For the future soldiers you know. Maybe we could sneak in a little food aid in there too? You know, kids can’t fight if they die before they are 18. You know when the target gets expanded it can be amazing what fits. Shoot, we could probably even fit in a lot of highway an infrastructure rebuilding that the country needs so desperately. Just put it under “PENTAGON.”
Raping The Post Office
Well, it looks like the republicans are about ready to raise another big scalp in their quest to dismantle the government. Probably one of the most efficient government offices ever, an office that withstood redcoats, Indians, two World Wars and the internet are about to lose out to Republicans. The reason? No it is not the internet as NPR keeps reporting, nor is it inefficiency. No it is simply impossible rules placed on them by Republican run congresses in the 2000s. The rules can’t be changed because of the totally hosed filibuster rules and the recently gerrymandered House of Representatives.
And the bottom line is to bust the unions. Congratulations, Republicans, you are saving your concept of America by destroying America. But remember one thing, rural Americans love their town post offices and when those doors start shutting, votes will be leaving your party.
Even Karl Hates King
Gee, can’t hate spewing tea partier even get a break from his own buddies. Steve King must have felt like the luckiest little boy in Western Iowa last week when Tom Harkin announced he was stepping down. Then reality hit. First a poll saying that as of now he would lose to his own shadow if the senate race were run today. Then King Karl Rove announced he would actually attempt to stop tea partiers (he didn’t mention King by name) from running for the Senate. Well, here’s betting The King of Western Iowa will stay in his hidey hole for 2014. Can’t a guy get any love???
Loebsack Town Hall
If you are as outraged at the current safety concerns in this country with the nearly unrestricted use of guns, I believe you will want to be on the Loebsack telephone town hall Wednesday night. Instructions for getting connected are here:
Contact The FCC For Nationwide WI-FI.
Trish Nelson posted this very important story on the possibility of the FCC pushing for a national WI-FI network. The United States is far behind much of the rest of the industrialized world in internet capabilities. This is a sorely needed upgrade. Please contact the FCC as suggested here:
Once more we turn the pages over to Larry Hodgden of Tipton to discuss the strange proposals by Gov. Branstad on education legislation
Our Governor, not to be outdone by his Republican friends in D.C., has created his own “fiscal cliff” for the school districts in Iowa by refusing to set the allowable growth in school budgets until he gets his education reform package passed.
For over forty years our school aid formula has, by law, required the Iowa legislature to pass an allowable growth formula a full year before superintendents, teachers and school boards negotiate their pay structure which then allows school districts time to have their budgets completed and certified, as required by law, no later than April 15.
Already one year behind schedule and with work not even begun on education reform which could take weeks, if not months, teachers have no idea what to request and school administration has no idea what to offer in salary negotiations. If this doesn’t complicate things enough, the Governor is proposing to completely change the school aid formula, a proposal he has yet to explain and will take even longer to get passed.
In spite of the evidence that Iowa will end the fiscal year with a one billion dollar surplus, the Governor is wasting his time, and ours, by focusing on a property tax reduction which will largely benefit his wealthy corporate friends in Des Moines and elsewhere. He and the legislature should be concentrating their efforts on funding education for the approaching school year.
The Democratic Senate, with our State Senator Bob Dvorsky’s leadership, has already proposed a 4% allowable growth for schools which hardly makes up for two years of zero and two per cent increases, but would be good step toward increasing starting teacher pay, something the Governor wants. The Republican House which blocked a setting of allowable growth last year as required by law should get on board the Senate plan and end this “sad State of affairs”.
I thought that the whole about face to kill unions in Michigan was an example of a legislature on the border of mass insanity. But now Michigan has come up with an even crazier idea – the state senate there has passed a bill that would allow doctors to refuse medical care for moral or ethical reasons. Really. Think about that for a second.
Imagine going to a doctor who is quite right wing. He sees your name and remembers a letter to the editor you wrote that he disagreed with vehemently. Let’s say he is the only doctor around for 50 miles. Look down around southern Iowa and you can see this scenario is not that far out of line. Seems the doctor has decided that it is better for you to suffer because you are somehow unworthy. Hippocrates must be rolling in his grave.
State Wide Transport To UI Hospital Cut.
The University of Iowa Hospitals is one of the finest hospitals in the country. One of their missions is to serve ALL the people of Iowa, regardless of ability to pay. We support that as taxpayers. From my understanding, we have supported this for 80+ years. For those people who are destitute, rides were provided by the Hospital for people around the state. One reason that this makes sense is that UI Hospitals often have some one-of-a-kind treatments. So rather than have an interim step of a wasted trip to a smaller hospital, some destitute patients were brought straight to Iowa City.
Well this ends December 31. I got this from a friend and had it accidently corroborated by a chance conversation at lunch yesterday. The Hospital will still treat these patients, but the patients have to figure out how to get to Iowa City. In some cases they can go to a regional hospital, but will have to figure out how to get there also. If the regional hospital can’t treat them, a very good possibility, the patient will then be made to find a way to get to Iowa City for treatment. One option may be a bus, but getting to the terminal may be a challenge. Another option is a private service that charges $1.50 or more/mile for transport. Either way, indigent patients could not afford these costs.
I have always said people don’t care unless it directly affects them. In this case as often happens, the poor lose again. It is sad to see stuff like this especially in Iowa. The US was once a caring country and Iowa one of the most caring. I believe someplace in the Bible it says that we are judged by how we treat the least among us. And these days it seems that choice is to let them die.
Vote With Your Dollars
Remember this Christmas season that the Walton family has more money that the bottom 40% of Americans. As you spend your dollars at Walmart or Sam’s Club you put another nickel into the pockets of a family that is doing everything it can to destroy the middle class in America. If you need proof of that, simply go to google and put in something like Walmart Employee practices. You will get thousands of hits on how bad they are.
And if you have been paying attention you know that Walmart employees are paid so little that many qualify for Medicaid and food stamps. So please, before you spend your money at Walmart, please go down the street and see if you can’t find the same item even if you must pay a little more.
Branstad Locks The Public Out Of Budget Hearings
Gov. Branstad has locked the public out…again.
This time from the Governor’s Public Budget Hearing – that just ended. Though the room holds 60 people, he instructed state troopers to only allow ten in at a time. And, he made sure the big business lobby – like the Iowa Assoc. of Business and Industry – got in the door first.
He doesn’t really leave much doubt about who he works for, does he?
Maybe he’s heard word that Iowans know that his budget priorities are way off.
Please sign the petition to put people first.
My Christmas Wish Part 1
My wish is simple – that all the groups that the Republicans have been able to keep divided will realize that it is in each of their best interests to come together to fight the common enemy – the Republicans – rather than continuing to fight each other
Rep. Tom Latham was presented with a golden opportunity today to put partisan politics aside for the good of the middle class families he represents and to help avoid pushing our economy off the ‘fiscal cliff’. Reportedly, the Democratic leadership in the U.S. House filed a ‘discharge petition’ that would force a vote on legislation passed earlier this year in the U.S. Senate – and that GOP House leadership has ignored — to allow the Bush tax cuts to expire for those making more than $250,000 a year while preserving them for 98% of Americans and 97% of small businesses. The petition requires at least 218 signatures to bring the bill forward, making bipartisan support essential.
In response, Progress Iowa called on Rep. Latham to immediately sign the petition and send a message that when it comes what’s best for Iowa, he is not beholden to selfish special interests or his/her irresponsible party bosses — a message that it is not worth holding middle class families tax relief hostage a minute longer to protect tax breaks for the richest 2%.
“While the recent election results clearly have not sunk in yet for Congressman Latham, he would be wise to examine recent polling,” said Matt Sinovic, executive director of Progress Iowa. “Latham may not realize it yet, but he and his party will be held responsible in if Congress fails to act and allows taxes to go up on every Iowa family at the beginning of next year. A typical middle-class family of four would see its taxes rise by $2,200; that means less money to buy groceries or fill a prescription. That means a tougher choice between paying the rent and paying tuition. Fortunately for Latham, he can help avoid all this by joining this responsible effort to prioritize middle class families over millionaires. Time is running out. Latham can show he is a true independent voice for Iowa by signing the petition and sending the middle class tax bill that his constituents and Iowa small businesses want to the President’s desk now.”
Editor’s note: While we’re on the subject of Tom Latham, remember when he publicly ridiculed bike lanes? Apparently assuming that bicyclists don’t also own and drive cars, he said that every biker is “one less person paying into the transportation trust fund.”
It’s time for fiscal accountability in all parts of government, but particularly with military spending.
In FY 2000 the Pentagon budget was $295 billion, the national debt was $5.62 trillion, and unemployment was 4 percent. In FY 2012, the Pentagon budget was $645 billion, and a deficit of $1.1 trillion contributed to a year-ending national debt of $16 trillion. Unemployment was 7.8 percent.
Set aside for a moment the fiscal cliff that’s abuzz in the media– the disastrous financial effects of the Bush tax cuts, the potential impact of the sequester, the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. Look closely at our military spending. It has more than doubled in 12 years and has contributed to our national debt and to increased unemployment. Just as important, the money has been spent wastefully, with $102 billion in waste identified in just FY 2011. And, according to the Pentagon itself, in the last decade the Pentagon awarded $1.1 trillion in contracts to contractors who have engaged in fraud.
This is not a foreign policy problem, it is an accountability problem. As we approach the so-called fiscal cliff, we should insist that the military budget take its full share of cuts. Military spending is 57 percent of all discretionary spending. Let it absorb at least 57 percent of the total spending cuts. We should insist that our senators vote to require that the Pentagon pass an audit, for the first time in history, to hold our military accountable for spending.
Veterans for Peace, Chapter 161
Linda S. Fisher
Mary L. Martin
Thomas M. Kelly
The following video shows where over half of your tax dollars go. I believe it also shows that our priorities are drastically askew.
I am not sure what the latest stats are on how out of whack our military spending is. Recently we spent more than the rest of the world combined. We also recently used to spend six times what China spent.
Like many others, I can only imagine what good that money would do in this world if put to peaceful purposes
Many years ago I saved back part of a post from the website dailykos. Most of you are familiar with dailykos. There are some incredibly smart folks there. Unfortunately I did not keep the link to this particular post just the snippet. That doesn’t lessen the point that is made. The total post was discussing Hurricane Wilma and its economic effects on Florida in 2005. Here is the excerpt:
“The reality of Reaganomics and its successors is that they have been a policy, first of burning through savings, then burning through credit, and successively carrying less and less insurance on the whole economy. That is effectively what a liberal government is – a vast insurance company, which converts the national advantage of infinite time arbitrage and recapture transparency into the ability to spread risk. The government is the buyer, seller, borrower, lender and insurer of last resort. The analogy is similar to the kernel in UN*X – sooner or later, you must talk to a single tasking process that makes decisions about how to balance competing demands for resources.”
As noted in the post a liberal government acts basically as a vast insurance company. Much like the wise family puts money away for things that they know will be coming in their life instead of spending it all today for a good time.
Liberals ran the government of the US for the middle of the 20th century, after conservative policies led to one of the greatest depressions of all time. During the time that liberals ran the government, many insurance type programs were set up to address problems that were too large for individual families and were too risky for so-called market solutions.
What kinds of problems have been addressed? Well, most notably the problems that beset people who live past their working years and have no income. Most folks leading up to the Great Depression (often referred to as the Republican Depression) could not save enough for a retirement. When their bodies wore out, that was the end of their income. They couldn’t provide for themselves, nor were their families able to help them. Thus Social Security was born, acting as an insurance of the whole against the ravages of old age.
Other insurance type programs followed – unemployment insurance, Medicare for older folks who would no longer be able to get health insurance in the market place. Things like farm crop insurance to help farmers through times of extreme weather, flood insurance, bank deposit insurance, and FEMA to help bring in resources local governments don’t have access to in times of disaster.
So like mature people should, liberal government has set up savings and insurance programs to address things that we know will happen, we just don’t know when. The most recent example of liberals setting up an insurance type program is for national health because market solutions were not even coming close to addressing the problem. So, while the actual program was flawed in the making of the legislation, it is still a good start in an attempt to prepare for what we know will happen to every citizen in a logical and timely manner.
I am proud to be a liberal. We have also approached other problems within society with the same steady, logical approach, from discrimination to environment.
George W. Bush and his economic policy of emptying the treasury through radical policies are still fresh in everyone’s memory. Policies such as tax refunds that could have been used to bring down the debt, huge tax cuts for the rich, two unfunded wars, an unfunded mandate on Medicare to pay top dollar for drugs.
The trickle down, so-called market based solutions have put all but the very rich at peril in this country. Instead of paying off our debts (mostly run up by Nixon, Reagan and Bush) George W. decided to run up even huger debts. And he also decided to try like hell to empty the reserves in all the various insurance accounts through various means. We have already discussed how Medicare has been savaged. Understand why we have a “crisis?”
The very rich are the only ones with the resources to pull themselves out any of the many disasters life can throw at us. Can you absorb the cost of a flooded out house or years of drought or the cost of medical care beyond the insurance limit? Liberals have tried to put into practice insurance funds of the whole for those purposes.
Republicans have spent that money like it was their little brother’s piggy bank. They give it to their buddies and spend frivolously on momentary pleasures. As one friend told me “They are like the frat boy his first time away from home. They blow their own money, run through Dad’s credit cards, and borrow money from every friend with no intention to repay. When things get really bad it’s time to burn down the frat house.”
Think really hard about the policies the two parties have pursued since the depression. Democrats have pursued policies to take as much uncertainty out of life as possible, thus leaving citizens free to pursue their interest. Republicans have pursued policies that have flowed treasury monies to their friends and tried to end policies that will take uncertainty out of life. Thus the very rich are much better off and quite free, while the bottom 98% suffer much more uncertainty and see their wages stagnate while prices rise.
Me? I am sticking with the party of true fiscal integrity which helps lead to true personal freedom.
Iowans deserve a state budget that helps create new jobs
This year, the state budget must help Iowa workers and businesses recovering from the national recession. That means doing all we can to encourage new jobs.
The plan we’re working on in the Senate balances the state budget without raising taxes. It includes:
· A commercial property tax cut that is especially helpful to Iowa’s small businesses and communities.
· New workforce training opportunities to help Iowans fill skilled job openings.
· Strengthening our commitment to student achievement through increased support for local schools.
· A pro-family, pro-work tax cut that also boosts local economies.
These ideas will help create jobs, expand educational opportunity and make Iowa a more attractive place to do business. Do you have ideas for growing the Iowa economy? Please send them my way!
Supporting our local schools
This week in the Senate, we approved a 4 percent increase in basic state support for local schools for the 2013-2014 school year. These funds are used for textbooks, heating bills, technology and other necessities required for students and teachers to be successful.
For years, the Legislature has set state support for local schools well in advance. The practice helps school districts plan wisely, and, to echo Governor Branstad, helps make budgeting more predictable, stable and sustainable.
Iowa’s state budget has recovered from the national recession to the point that we have a billion dollars in the bank. After several tough years, it is time to ensure our local schools recover as well.
The 4 percent increase approved by the Senate equals the 40-year average increase (see chart at http://tinyurl.com/iowaschoolsfunding).
More support for local schools is the first of several initiatives the Senate is working on to improve educational opportunity for Iowa students. As we consider various ways to increase student achievement, we’ve got to make sure state government is a reliable, predictable partner.
Below are estimates from the Iowa Department of Education for what school districts in our area will receive if the legislation becomes law.
State 2014 total
Lone Tree $2,636,868
Morning Sun $1,324,250
New London $3,443,893
West Burlington Ind $3,000,611
West Liberty $8,169,881
Cutting taxes for working families
If new legislation becomes law, more than 260,000 Iowa households could see an increase in their state tax return, including the families of 37 percent of Iowa’s children.
The Senate Ways & Means Committee has approved Senate Study Bill 3116 to increase Iowa’s Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) from 7 percent of the federal EITC to 13 percent.
Last year, the Iowa Legislature twice approved a similar tax cut for Iowa’s working families, once by unanimous votes in the Iowa Senate and the Iowa House. Governor Branstad, however, vetoed the legislation twice.
Iowa is one of only six states that taxes families earning less than poverty-level wages. That’s one reason the United Way of Iowa has made increasing the state Earned Income Tax Credit a high priority. Research shows that EITC is one of the best anti-poverty programs in the nation.
This $25 million tax cut will also help Iowa’s small businesses. When you cut taxes for struggling, working families, those dollars are spent locally on such necessities as food, gas, car repairs and medical bills.
At a time when special interests are pushing for hundreds of millions of dollars in new corporate tax cuts, we should put working families first.
Boosting the EITC supports work, places value on raising children and puts money into local economies.
Raising the Iowa Earned Income Tax Credit should be the first priority for tax reform in Iowa.
Iowa’s universities help build our economic future
State government is a partner with our public universities in promoting excellence in teaching, research and services to Iowans. Part of that job means keeping a watchful eye to ensure our public universities are accountable and good stewards of taxpayer dollars.
Unfortunately, over the last three decades, there has been a steady decline in state funding for higher education. Today, the state provides less than 36 percent of general education funding. Tuition has risen to the point where students pick up 58 percent of the cost. To keep college affordable, we need to reverse this trend.
This week, Iowa’s university presidents asked for a $20 million increase in funding, an amount that would still put university funding below 2010 levels. Community college funding is also in the doldrums, according to a report by the Iowa Fiscal Partnership (http://tinyurl.com/6pe6q9m).
We should increase support of our public universities. They are a key to Iowa’s future economic growth. A privately-funded research study found that the University of Iowa alone brings in more than $6 billion annually to the Iowa economy and is one of the state’s largest employers.
Yet the most important job of our universities is providing a quality, affordable education to Iowans. Despite a 25 percent drop in state support since 2009, universities held undergraduate, resident tuition increases to an average of only 4.6 percent per year. In fact, Iowa’s public universities have some of the lowest tuition rates among their peers.
Affordable higher education means greater lifetime earnings, better career opportunities, higher quality of life and lower unemployment. But our universities also make Iowa more economically competitive, help build our tax base and encourage job creation.
What do you think about passenger rail between Chicago and Omaha?
The Federal Railroad Administration and Iowa Department of Transportation are conducting a planning study for a Chicago to Omaha Regional Passenger Rail System.
An online open house on February 13 will be the first opportunity for the public to participate in the study, which is intended to determine a preferred Chicago to Omaha route, evaluate levels of service and ridership, and analyze environmental impacts.
Comments can be submitted at the online open house. Meeting materials and a comment form can also be downloaded at www.iowadot.gov/chicagotoomaha/ and mailed to Tamara Nicholson, Office of Rail Transportation, Iowa Department of Transportation, 800 Lincoln Way, Ames, Iowa 50010.
Des Moines, IA 50319
2609 Clearview Drive
Burlington, IA 52601
One of the things we need to do from time to time is to step back and try to get a fix on what direction we are headed. Often we allow others to come in and take control without realizing what has happened. It happens in our private lives and it certainly happens in the public domain.
So over the past 30 years beginning with Ronald Reagan, we have watched our government be dismantled as pieces are sold off or leased to the highest bidder. We also see government services be passed out to private businesses never realizing that if the private company does not perform up to expectations or keep prices in line they will probably not be able to bring the service back in house.
We have seen this happen to everything from garbage pick up to public utilities and now to schools. Whether the privatized business performs or not, governmental bodies for the most part are not willing to put up with the fuss that would ensue were they to try to bring the service back in house.
I bring this up because last evening I had a conversation with one of our local librarians. They are taking an annual survey to see how they can better serve the community. I asked if this was to stave off privatizing libraries. Another person who was listening in said, “What do you mean “privatized” libraries?” I explained that, yes indeed, cities and towns around the country are closing their libraries and letting private companies operate them.
Forced to make tough choices due to the incredibly bad fiscal management of the past decade, cities and towns are looking for ways to at least ostensibly cut budgets. So in many cases some of the less necessary services are the first to go. In many towns libraries are the hub for the elderly and the local school kids and for other groups. They often add that ambiance that makes a town more attractive to new citizens and a reason that old citizens do not move. Yet when faced with budget crises ambiance is at the bottom of the totem pole when looking at reasons to save a service.
I explained this to my friend and mentioned that library privatization is a below-the-radar movement that is really gaining ground. Replacing the taxes are fees and subscriptions and of course a charge to the town itself. And instead of a library that works to be a true service to the town you get a business hustling for a buck. As such the selections are often narrowed (you could say censored) and costs to the user goes up dramatically.
The city of Ventura, California is in the process of considering going down this road at this moment. The Ventura County Star has a great article on what to expect. Here is an excerpt:
“As a private company, LSSI (Library Systems and Services Inc.) can choose to censor library materials. It can do with citizens’ loan records anything not specifically prohibited by a city’s contract.
Most importantly, LSSI is in the library business (an astonishing turn of phrase) to make a profit. It does this by reducing the quality and quantity of library services while charging high costs to host cities, banking the difference to dole out to its shareholders and spread virus-like to other unsuspecting towns.”
The reason this is important in Iowa is because a Republican legislature in Iowa was avoided the other night in Senate District 18. Had the Republican won, the Senate would be split with Republicans effectively in charge with the tie-breaking vote being held by Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds.
Last legislative session, one of the Republicans’ major objectives was to pass a bill reducing commercial property taxes. Inside that bill were some poison pills that would dry up revenues for cities and towns throughout Iowa.
With revenues cut way back, most towns would be hard pressed providing police and fire protection, let alone a library, swimming pool or even cemetary maintenance. I asked our city manager what would happen if that bill passed. He said we would probably lose the library in about 5 years and probably lose the pool at about the same time. In ten years we would probably be looking at police cutbacks.
All this is being done quietly, very quietly. And you know why. This is yet another *perk* of the ALEC legislative agenda.
Next target: municipal water systems!
Note: Michael Moore’s newest book as an example of what you would probably NOT find in a privatized library of the future.