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We Are Living In The Conservative Recovery, And It’s Pretty Terrible

In talking about the economy, the Republican presidential candidates are quick to blame government spending for our current woes. “On my first day in office, I will send five bills to Congress and issue five executive orders that will get government out of the way and restore America to the path of robust economic growth that we need to create jobs,” said former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney when he unveiled his jobs plan in September. Likewise, in his plan, Texas Governor Rick Perry touts spending cuts as part of the road toward renewed economic growth: “The cut, balance, and grow plan paves the way for the job creation, balanced budgets, and fiscal responsibility that we need to get America working again.”

The problem, as Neil Irwin reports for The Washington Post, is that sharp cuts to government have been terrible for the recovery. Thanks to lower revenue, limited federal aid, and budget-cutting state legislators, the public sector has cut 455,000 jobs since the beginning of 2010, sending the proportion of government jobs to 16.7 percent, the lowest level in three years. These cuts have been a huge drag on the recovery -– to wit, October saw private-sector job growth of 104,000, which was offset by the loss of 24,000 public-sector jobs, for a net increase of 80,000 jobs. This dynamic has been true of every month since the recovery officially began.

Far from unleashing the power of the private sector, cuts to government have prolonged the economic pain, as demand is removed from the economy without an adequate replacement. Despite this, conservatives continue to press for further and greater cuts to government spending –- the Pentagon notwithstanding. What conservatives refuse to acknowledge is that we are living through the recovery they say they want, and it’s been disastrous.

By: Jamelle Bouie, The American Prospect, November 7, 2011

November 9, 2011 Posted by | Budget, Economic Recovery, GOP | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Since Corporations Are “People”, They Should Have A Pledge Of Allegiance

Despite what the Supreme Court and Mitt Romney say, corporations aren’t people. (I’ll believe they are when Georgia and Texas start executing them.)

The Court thinks corporations have First Amendment rights to spend as much as they want on politics, and Romney (and most of his fellow Regressives) think they need lower taxes and fewer regulations in order to be competitive.

These positions are absurd on their face. By flooding our democracy with their shareholders’ money, big corporations are violating their shareholders’ First Amendment rights because shareholders aren’t consulted. They’re simultaneously suppressing the First Amendment rights of the rest of us because, given how much money they’re throwing around, we don’t have enough money to be heard.

And they’re indirectly giving non-Americans (that is, all their foreign owners, investors, and executives) a say in how Americans are governed. Pardon me for being old-fashioned but I didn’t think foreign money was supposed to be funneled into American elections.

Romney’s belief big corporations need more money and lower costs in order to create jobs is equally baffling. Big corporations are now sitting on $2 trillion of cash and enjoying near-record profits. The ratio of profits to wages is higher than it’s been since before the Great Depression. And a larger and larger portion of those profits are going to top executives. (CEO pay was 40 times the typical worker in the 1980s; it’s now upwards of 300 times.)

But, hey, if the Supreme Court and regressive Republicans insist big corporations are people and want to treat them as American citizens, then why not demand big corporations take a pledge of allegiance to the United States?

And if they don’t take the pledge, we should boycott them. (Occupiers — are you listening?)

Here’s what a Corporate Pledge of Allegiance might look like:

The Corporate Pledge of Allegiance to the United States

The [fill in blank] company pledges allegiance to the United States of America. To that end:

We pledge to create more jobs in the United States than we create outside the United States, either directly or in our foreign subsidiaries and subcontractors.

If we have to lay off American workers, we will give them severance payments equal to their weekly wage times the number of weeks they’ve work for us.

We further pledge that no more than 20 percent of our total labor costs will be outsourced abroad.

We pledge to keep a lid on executive pay so no executive is paid more than 50 times the median pay of American workers. We define “pay” to include salary, bonuses, health benefits, pension benefits, deferred salary, stock options, and every other form of compensation.

We pledge to pay at least 30 percent of money earned in the United States in taxes to the United States. We won’t shift our money to offshore tax havens and won’t use accounting gimmicks to fake how much we earn.

We pledge not to use our money to influence elections.

Companies that make the pledge are free to use it in their ads over the Christmas shopping season.

By: Robert Reich, Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley, Robert Reich Blog, November 8, 2011

November 9, 2011 Posted by | Democracy | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

In Penn State’s Scandal, Where Was The Leadership?

Legendary Penn State football coach Joe Paterno said, “I did what I was supposed to.” In fact, nobody at Penn State did what basic human decency requires — and as a result, according to prosecutors, an alleged sexual predator who could have been stopped years ago was allowed to continue molesting young boys.

The arrest Saturday of Jerry Sandusky, the school’s former defensive coordinator, on felony child sex abuse charges, involving at least eight victims, has sent university officials scrambling to justify a pattern of self-serving inattention and inaction.

 

University Vice President Gary Schultz and Athletic Director Tim Curley also face charges — for failing to report what they knew about Sandusky and for allegedly perjuring themselves before a grand jury. Both proclaim their innocence. After an emergency meeting of the university Board of Trustees, it was announced Sunday that the two officials would be stepping away from their jobs.

Penn State President Graham Spanier has said that Schultz and Curley have his “unconditional support.” If he believes the way they acted was right, or even remotely acceptable, then he needs to go, too — as does Paterno, who can only destroy his legacy by hanging on and trying to excuse the inexcusable.

Assuming that even half of what Pennsylvania Attorney General Linda Kelly alleges is true, Sandusky is a patient and calculating pedophile who used his insider status with the glamorous Penn State football program to lure boys as young as 10. Sandusky allegedly met his victims through the Second Mile, a charity he founded that provides programs for troubled — and vulnerable — youth.

The investigation that led to the charges was launched in 2009 after the mother of a boy — a Second Mile participant — reported allegations of sexual assault to officials at a high school where Sandusky, now 67, volunteered. But Penn State officials knew at least 11 years earlier that there were disturbing questions about physical contact between Sandusky and young boys.

In 1998, Sandusky was famous in the college football world as the defensive wizard who gave Penn State the nickname “Linebacker U,” and he was often mentioned as Paterno’s likely successor.

That year, the university police department conducted what a grand jury report calls a “lengthy investigation” of allegations that Sandusky had hugged, rubbed against and inappropriately touched two 11-year-old boys while they were naked with him in the showers of a Penn State locker room.

Detectives listened in as the mother of one of the boys called Sandusky to confront him. According to the grand jury report, Sandusky told her: “I understand. I was wrong. I wish I could get forgiveness. I know I won’t get it from you. I wish I were dead.”

The local district attorney declined to prosecute, and the investigation was closed. Paterno was Sandusky’s immediate boss, and Curley was Paterno’s. Perhaps all who were involved did, in the narrowest sense, what they were “supposed to.” But imagine how much better it would have been if someone had done the right thing and taken that 1998 incident seriously — better for the victims, but also better for the university’s reputation and ultimately better for Sandusky himself.

It gets much worse: In 2002, after Sandusky had retired — although he still had an office and enjoyed the run of the Penn State athletic facilities — a football team “graduate assistant” saw Sandusky raping a young boy in the showers, according to the grand jury report.

The assistant — widely identified in news reports as Mike McQueary, a former Penn State quarterback who is now the team’s wide receivers coach and top recruiter — told Paterno what he had seen. Paterno told Curley. The assistant was eventually summoned to a meeting with Curley and Schultz at which he says he described the rape in graphic detail.

The two officials claim they were only told about behavior that was “not that serious.” They took it seriously enough, however, to decree that Sandusky could no longer bring Second Mile children into the football building.

But they “never attempted to learn the identity of the child in the shower,” according to the grand jury. “No one from the university did so.”

Unbelievable.

According to the grand jury, the assistant, Paterno, Curley, Schultz and Spanier all knew about the incident. Each covered his own behind. None lifted a finger to find out who the alleged victim was or what had become of him.

Tell us again: How did you do everything you were supposed to do?

By: Eugene Robinson, Opinion Writer, The Washington Post, November 7, 2011

November 9, 2011 Posted by | Sex Abuse | , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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