80/20 Day: July 15, 1848, Vilfredo Pareto joined the human race

July 15, 2014

Happy 80/20 Day!

Italian economist, engineer and political activist Vilfredo Pareto was born on July 15, 1848, in Paris, where his father had fled due to political difficulties.

Pareto should be more famous, for his explanation of the 80/20 rule, and for his contribution to making better things, the Pareto chart.  Many economic texts ignore his work almost completely.  Quality management texts ignore his life, too — generally mentioning the principles they borrow, but offering no explanation.

Vilifred Pareto, Wikipedia image

Vilfredo Pareto, Wikipedia image

His contributions, as accounted at Wikipedia:

A few economic rules are based on his work:

And now you, dear reader, having just skimmed the surface of the pool of information on Vilfredo Pareto, know more about the man than 99.99% of the rest of the people on the planet.  Welcome to the tip-top 0.01%.

Resources:


What happens when “austerity” budget cutting blows up on the GOP? See Kansas

July 8, 2014

Kansas finds itself in a big, big pickle.

Republican Governor Sam Brownback managed to get the legislature to make massive tax cuts, claiming it would boost jobs in Kansas and stimulate the Kansas economy, thereby  paying for themselves.

Instead the Kansas economy is failing. Massive cuts have gutted Kansas’s once-revered public education system, and deeper cuts will be necessary to keep the state government afloat, unless there is some change in tax policy, or a massive, miraculous influx of business beyond what even the Koch Bros. could arrange.

Gov. Brownback is running for re-election, and finds himself behind in popularity in Kansas — behind even President Barack Obama.

Wow.

Full story at Vox, “Kansas was supposed to be the GOP’s tax-cut paradise, but now can barely pay its bills.”

And of course, there is comedy of the kind that you couldn’t make up:  Brownback blames Obama.

Oy.

Chart from Vox, showing what happened to Kansas's surplus revenues, promised to balloon with the tax cuts Gov. Brownback asked for, and got.

Chart from Vox, showing what happened to Kansas’s surplus revenues, promised to balloon with the tax cuts Gov. Brownback asked for, and got.

Turns out Americans, and especially the citizens of Kansas, want government that works.  They’d like taxes to be low, but low taxes won’t make voters happy when the roads are bad and the kids’ schools are crappy.

Wonkblog's chart showing job creation in Kansas is terrible, also.

Wonkblog’s chart showing job creation in Kansas is lagging, also, contrary to the GOP promises when tax cuts were instituted.

Government’s first job is to govern; just governments are established among men to secure human rights, old Tom Jefferson wrote.  Life, liberty and pursuit of happiness make a snappy line in a patriotic reading on July 4, but when the crowd drives home, they don’t want to be dodging potholes, and they don’t want their kids to complain from the back seat of the car that they don’t know what the Declaration of Independence is or what it says, “and who is Jefferson — I thought it was just a street in Dallas?”  When government fails to do basic jobs, voters may not be happy.

Will false advertising be able to bail Sam Brownback out?  Watch Kansas.

More:


Typewriter of the moment: Bill Moyers

June 6, 2014

From Moyers's Facebook feed:  Happy 80th Birthday, Bill Moyers! Here he is at 16 years old as a cub reporter at the Marshall News Messenger newspaper in Marshall, Texas, the town (pop. 25,000) where he grew up

From Moyers’s Facebook feed: Happy 80th Birthday, Bill Moyers! Here he is at 16 years old as a cub reporter at the Marshall News Messenger newspaper in Marshall, Texas, the town (pop. 25,000) where he grew up

A newsroom Royal. A lot of good writers started out on those.

Moyers went astray after a while, and got a divinity degree and ordination in Dallas, at Southwest Theological Seminary — but Lyndon Johnson had been watching him before at the University of Texas and University of North Texas, and snatched him up as a press aide.

You probably know Moyers from Public Television.  Yesterday was his 80th birthday — he was born June 5, 1934, in Hugo, Oklahoma.

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We are poorer because Farley Mowat is dead

May 9, 2014

Farley Mowat died May 7.  He was 92.

The man was such a champion of the environment that he was, at one time in the 1980s, prevented from traveling to the U.S., because he was listed with Immigration as a potential terrorist.  He may be the only person so listed, simply for urging that we stop killing animals.

Mowat was unsurpassed as a pure curmudgeon in favor of the wild, wild animals, wilderness, and environmental protection.  He was a story teller above all, understanding completely the powerful role that stories play in moving government policies — which his books frequently did.  His first works, on indigenous peoples in Canada’s far north, wrought significant changes in Canada’s policies towards those now known as First Nations.  When his signature book, Never Cry Wolf, was translated into Russian, Russia prohibited hunting wolves.

Victim of virus arcticus, Farley Mowat, probably in the 1970s; image from Econet.ca

Victim of virus arcticus, Farley Mowat, probably in the 1970s; image from Econet.ca

From the Washington Post obit notice:

“I keep my optimism alive and revitalized by accepting the fact that we are a bad species, and probably haven’t got much time here,” he told The Washington Post in 1994, “and it’s not going to break my heart when Homo sap wanders offstage.”

Then he added, “Wanna get some more coffee?”

Barry Goldwater might say that extremism in pursuit of noble conservation is no vice.  Mowat wouldn’t care what Goldwater thought.

So long, Farley Mowat.

More:


Can America afford to be great anymore? Many say, “no”

May 1, 2014

A friend posted this on Facebook:

“As of today our total national debt is roughly $17 1/2 trillion. Of that number nearly $12 1/2 trillion is publicly owed. Can you even get your mind around it?”

To which I responded:

As a portion of GDP, our national debt was much greater in 1946.

So, the Congress did what it had to do.

Congress borrowed money to educate millions of returning veterans, and to subsidize their homes. The greatest education aid and housing aid programs in history, both in the GI Bill.

Poster honoring the Marshall Plan, to rebuild Europe after World War II -- on borrowed money.

Poster honoring the Marshall Plan, to rebuild Europe after World War II — on borrowed money.

Congress borrowed money to give it away to our allies in World War II, to rebuild their industrial capabilities, on the assumption that an ally with a strong industrial base and good economy is stronger, and can come to our aid if and when we need it.

Congress borrowed money to give it away to our enemies in World War II, to rebuild their industrial capabilities, because a nation with a good economy and health trade tends to stay out of war. Those nations became our allies.

Congress borrowed to build the greatest road system in history, connecting nearly every corner of America — under the pretense that such a road system would allow us to move troops and armaments quickly from coast to coast in event of a defense emergency.

Congress borrowed to finance space exploration, to go to the Moonbecause, you know, it’s hard.

Congress borrowed to build a library in every county in America, and fill it with books — so that if there were ever nuclear war, everybody who survived would be close to the information necessary to rebuild civilization.

Congress borrowed to build the world’s greatest air transportation system, with airports for sport, business and commercial aviation all over the place.

Congress borrowed to build sewer systems and water systems, doubling down on public health service spending, to prevent disease and make health people.

Funny things happened. Our economy boomed. The world economy boomed. Millions of new jobs were created, filled by people who paid whopping taxes. And the debt sorta melted away.
___________

When I hear people complain about our national debt, and how we as Americans must stop spending money, I hear them saying, “We cannot afford to be great anymore. Our time as the world’s leading economy and leading democracy has passed. It will be a lot cheaper for the nation to curl into a national fetal position, and then taxes won’t be so high.”

In 1946 — and in 1948, 1950, 1952, 1956, 1960, 1962, 1964, 1968, and other election years — there were plenty of Americans who said “we can’t afford the Marshall Plan; we can’t afford foreign aid; we can’t afford to build all these roads; we can’t afford to go to the Moon; we can’t afford to pay for college (or other schooling) for all these veterans/students.”

What would America look like, had leaders listened to those people, and then NOT borrowed the money to build America?  What would the world look like?

I don’t think George Washington spent 8 years at war to curl into the fetal position and give up.

Am I wrong?

The future of an America that is afraid to be great, even if we need to borrow money to do it? (Image from Brogan Knight)

The future of an America that is afraid to be great, even if we need to borrow money to do it? (Image from Brogan Knight)


Dialogue in the early years of the Dark Ages

April 28, 2014

Poetry on current issues from Devona Wyant.  Wait; is it historic?

(Soldiers involved in the Desert Rock training exercise watching the mushroom cloud from the Dog detonation, Operation Buster-Jangle;  Coporal Alexander McCaughey, U.S. Army Photographic Signal Corps)

(Soldiers involved in the Desert Rock training exercise watching the mushroom cloud from the Dog detonation, Operation Buster-Jangle; Coporal Alexander McCaughey, U.S. Army Photographic Signal Corps) (Illustration added here)

Dialogue in the early years of the Dark Ages

“Old woman, are you awake? Tell my friend here
about the past like you told me. He don’t believe me.”

“What would you like to hear?
About the old forests that stretched for miles?
The wetlands that filtered and gave shelter?
The hundreds of species now lost?
Would you believe we once played outside
without sun block, without protective clothing?
Maybe you want to hear about what it was like
when you could worship as you believed or
not worship at all, without fear, without hiding,
without losing status, without losing your job.
I remember a time when you didn’t need papers
to travel, when you didn’t have your mail read.
I remember when your neighbors didn’t turn
you in if you said you hated a government policy.
I remember when you could gather to protest,
when you could speak out, write letters to the papers.
I remember when there were three classes, not
just the haves and have nots.
I remember when the very poor could
get help if they were very sick or if they were hungry.
I remember when we were considered a beacon of hope,
when we protected those who were oppressed.
I remember when every one could vote and each
vote was counted and mattered.
I even remember when people didn’t live in fear.”

“Are you putting me on Man? She lies! If all those
things were true, why are the old ones the only ones who know?
why isn’t it in the history books?”

“Young man, wait. I’ll be moving on soon or I may just
disappear as so many have. If you never see me again,
remember this at least.
Those who rule, not only make history, they invent it.”

Devona Wyant

Hey, it’s still National Poetry Month.  How are you celebrating? What poems are you reading?

An old woman who tells stories.  Photo by the Library of Congress.

An old woman who tells stories. Photo by the Library of Congress. (Main Reading Room)


Hey, Congress! Fix the roads!

April 24, 2014

Just a crazy idea, I know: But do you think Congress could pass a bill to help the states fix potholes in federal highways, make the thousands of decrepit bridges, safe, and put a few thousands of people to work?

Economist wrote:

ONLY the drunk, they say, drive in a straight line in Chicago. The sober zigzag to avoid falling into the city’s axle-breaking potholes. This year the craters, caused by continual freezing and thawing, are worse than ever, and the spring thaw has brought three times the usual number of complaints from citizens.

As winter retreats, holes in roads and budgets are being revealed—especially in midwestern states, which were hit hard by the polar vortex. Those states with money have made emergency appropriations for repairs; those without will have to cut summer programmes. This means not mowing the grass in parks or picking up litter. It also means delaying resurfacing of highways or fixing guard rails, and putting off capital spending.

Looking after America’s roads is a persistent headache. Although $91 billion is spent on them every year, that is nowhere near enough to keep the country’s 4.1m miles (6.6m km) of public roadways in good nick. The Federal Highway Administration estimates that $170 billion in capital investment is needed every year. Last year a report from a civil-engineering group said that 32% of America’s major roads were in poor or mediocre condition. Main roads through cities were in worst shape: almost half the miles travelled over urban interstates in 2013 were a bumpy ride. Ray LaHood, a former transport secretary, thinks the roads are probably in the worst shape they have ever been.

Is it too big a stretch to go back to the hopes in 2009, that we might get a jobs bill to fix this stuff?  Yeah, it’s 2014 — and the roads, and the American people, need a jobs bill more than ever.

Photo from The Atlantic

Photo from The Atlantic

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BLM’s statement on Red River management

April 23, 2014

You may have missed the press statement the U.S. Bureau of Land Management issued yesterday, in response to press requests following the release of a letter from Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott.  Here it is.

On the Record

The BLM is categorically not expanding Federal holdings along the Red River.  The 140-acres in question were determined to be public land in 1986 when the U.S. District Court ruled on a case brought by two private landowners, each seeking to adjust boundary lines for their respective properties.  The BLM was not party to any litigation between the landowners.  The 140-acres were at no time held in private ownership.

On Background

During Westward expansion of the country, Texas and Oklahoma disputed their state line, particularly in relationship to where it fell on the Red River.  Once oil and gas was discovered, the dispute was elevated.

In 1923, the Supreme Court made a final determination on the State line and also clarified ownership by private landowners on each side of the river.  Subsequently in 1981 and 1984, Texas and Oklahoma landowners challenged this finding in U.S. District Court as it related to their private property and the changing course of the river.  In both cases, the District Court echoed the Supreme Court determination regarding private boundaries, ruling that the Oklahoma private landowner held property to the center of the river while the Texas landowner’s boundary stopped at the ordinary high water mark.  In 1986, the U.S. District Court established that the 140-acres are public lands.

The BLM is currently in the initial stages of developing options for management of public lands in an area that includes the Red River.  This is a transparent process with several opportunities for public input.

This issue has moved mostly underground, on radical right-wing on-line media, and Facebook and Twitter.

FYI.


Great benefits to America from having MORE immigrants – 5 key points from the Dallas Fed

April 19, 2014

Did you know?

Interesting fact sheet from the Dallas Branch of the Federal Reserve Bank system.

All material below this point is directly quoted from the .pdf fact sheet; it is here in text format to aid in indexing, and quoting.

Immigration Get the Facts header

An Economic Overview

As U.S. immigration reform moves forward in 2013, a variety of facts and figures continue to be presented around immigrants and their current and potential contributions to the U.S. economy. This fact sheet—the first in our series on immigrants and the economy—provides key data points on why immigrants are vital to the U.S. economy and why comprehensive immigration reform is necessary for future U.S. competitiveness.

Five Reasons
Why the U.S. Economy Needs Immigrants
FACTS

1.  Immigrants are more likely to be entrepreneurial and to start new businesses, which, in turn, create jobs for U.S.-born workers.

  • Immigrants started 28 percent of all new U.S. businesses in 2011, employing 1 in 10 U.S. workers. 1
  • Immigrants represent 18 percent of small business owners in the U.S.—exceeding their share of the overall population (13 percent)—and are more likely than those born in the U.S. to start a small business. Immigrant-owned small businesses employed an estimated 4.7 million people and generated an estimated $776 billion in receipts in 2007. More small business owners are from Mexico than any other country.2
  • Over the past two decades, immigrants made up 30 percent of the growth in small business creation.3
  • Immigrants founded 18 percent of 2010 Fortune 500 companies, creating jobs for 3.6 million people. When including immigrants and their children, the number of Fortune 500 companies with immigrant roots jumps to 40 percent, employing more than 10 million people.4

2.  Both high-skilled and low-skilled immigrant labor creates additional jobs across the U.S. economy.  Immigration FRSB Population box

  • With immigration reform, newly authorized immigrant workers would produce enough new consumer spending to support 750,000 to 900,000 jobs.5
  • Every additional foreign-born student who graduates in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) and remains in the U.S. creates an estimated 2.62 American jobs.
  • Every low-skilled, non-agricultural, temporary worker who comes to the U.S. to fill a job that may otherwise be left open creates an average of 4.64 U.S. jobs. 6  These low-skilled jobs are the necessary backbone to support higher-skilled positions.
  • Passage of the DREAM Act would add $329 billion to the U.S. economy and create 1.4 million new jobs by 2030.7

3.  Immigrants boost tax revenue, enlarge the taxpayer base and help to keep down the price of goods.  Immigration FRSB DYK box1

  • On average, immigrants, including the undocumented, pay nearly $1,800 more in taxes than they receive in benefits.8
  • Households headed by undocumented immigrants paid $11.2 billion in state and local taxes in 2010. That included $1.2 billion in personal income taxes, $1.6 billion in property taxes and $8.4 billion in sales taxes.9
  • Immigrants lower the price of products used by highly educated consumers by 0.4 percent of GDP and for less-educated consumers by 0.3 percent.10

4.  As baby boomers retire, immigrants will increasingly be critical for continued economic growth and for ensuring a steady flow of new workers.  Immigration FRSB DYK box2

  • Without immigrants, the U.S. will not have enough new workers to support retirees. Seventy years ago, there were 150 workers for every 20 seniors; 10 years ago, there were 100 workers per 20 seniors.  By 2050, there will be only 56 workers for every 20 seniors. The U.S. needs new taxpayers to help fund Social Security and Medicare and new workers to fill retirees’ positions and provide health care services.11
  • Current levels of immigration will temper the aging of the U.S. population over the next two decades, slowing the increase in the old-age dependency ratio by more than one-quarter.12
  • Nearly 65 percent of Latino immigrants in California who stayed more than 30 years are homeowners, making them a critical pool to buy homes as baby boomers downsize.13

5.  The majority of immigrants in the U.S. today are from Latin America, representing a huge potential economic opportunity due to the region’s burgeoning economic standing.

  • Immigrants are a vital link with their home countries and offer new prospects for the U.S. to capitalize on Latin America’s economic expansion, which saw 3 percent growth in 2012—double the 1.5 percent growth in the United States. In addition, 11 of the 20 U.S. free-trade agreements in force are with Latin American countries. Immigrant-owned small businesses have a unique opportunity to connect to the global marketplace.
  • Over 7 percent of immigrant firms export their goods and services, whereas just over 4 percent of non-immigrant firms export.14
  • Mexico boasts the second largest economy in Latin America and grew at a rate of 4.0 percent in 2012, with a projected 3.5 percent growth in 2013.15  With 29 percent of all immigrants and 58 percent of undocumented immigrants coming from Mexico,16 this demographic represents a human gateway to one of Latin America’s fastest-growing economies.

This fact sheet is a product of the AS/COA Hispanic Integration and Immigration Initiative, which advances the integration of immigrants and promotes positive dialogue around the economic contributions of immigrants and Latinos overall across the United States. It was produced by Jason Marczak, AS/COA Director of Policy, in collaboration with Leani García. For more information, visit AS/COA Online at:  http://www.as-coa.org.  For media inquiries or to speak with an expert on this topic, please contact Adriana LaRotta in our communications office at:   alarotta@as-coa.org

Population:  The 40 million immigrants in the U.S. today—of which 29 percent are from Mexico— represent 13 percent of the U.S. population.

In addition, the 53 million Latinos in the U.S. account for about 17 percent of the population and 10 percent of voters in the 2012 election.

However, the demographics of new immigrants have changed in recent years, with Asians having overtaken Latinos as the largest group of new immigrants.

Did you know?
Google, Procter & Gamble, Kraft, Colgate Palmolive, Pfizer, and eBay are among companies with immigrant founders.

Did you know?
Hispanic immigrants help revitalize communities across the U.S., including Ottumwa, Iowa, a 30,000-person city southeast of Des Moines, which, according to The Wall Street Journal, saw its taxable property value double in the last 10 years after making a concerted push to bring in new immigrants who opened up shops to replace shuttered storefronts.

Endnotes

1.  Robert H. Fairlie, “Open for Business: How Immigrants are Driving Small Business Creation in the United States,” Partnership for a New American Economy, August 2011. http://www.renewoureconomy.org/sites/all/themes/pnae/openforbusiness.pdf

2.  Fiscal Policy Institute, “Immigrant Small Business Owners: A Significant and Growing Part of the Economy,” June 2012. http://fiscalpolicy.org/immigrant-small-business-owners-FPI-20120614.pdf

3.  Ibid.

4.  Partnership for a New American Economy, “The ‘New American’ Fortune 500,” June 2011.  http://www.renewoureconomy.org/sites/all/themes/pnae/img/new-american-fortune-500-june-2011.pdf

5.  Raúl Hinojosa-Ojeda, “Raising the Floor for American Workers: The Economic Benefits of Comprehensive Immigration Reform,” Center for American Progress, January 2010.

6.  Madeline Zavodny, “Immigration and American Jobs,” American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research and the Partnership for a New American Economy, December 2011. http://www.renewoureconomy.org/sites/all/themes/pnae/img/NAE_Im-AmerJobs.pdf

7.  Juan Carlos Guzmán and Raúl C. Jara, “The Economic Benefits of Passing the Dream Act,” Center for American Progress and Partnership for a New American Economy, October 2012.  http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/immigration/report/2012/09/30/39567/the-economic-benefits-of-passing-the-dream-act/

8.  James P. Smith & Barry Edmonston, eds., The New Americans: Economic, Demographic, and Fiscal Effects of Immigration (Washington, DC: National Research Council, National Academy of Sciences Press, 1997), 220, 353.

9.  Immigration Policy Center, “Unauthorized Immigrants Pay Taxes, Too,” April 2011.  http://www.immigrationpolicy.org/just-facts/unauthorized-immigrants-pay-taxes-too

10.  Patricia Cortes, “The Effect of Low-Skilled Immigration on US Prices: Evidence from CPI Data,” 381-422.

11.  Immigration Policy Center, “The Future of a Generation: How New Americans Will Help Suppport Retiring Baby Boomers,” February 2012. http://www.immigrationpolicy.org/just-facts/future-generation-how-new-americans-will-help-support-retiring-baby-boomers

12.  Ibid.

13.  Dowell Myers, Immigrants and Boomers: Forging a New Social Contract for America (New York: Russell Sage Foundation, 2007).

14.  Robert H. Fairlie, “Immigrant Entrepreneurs and Small Business Owners, and their Access to Financial Capital,” Small Business Administration, May 2012.

15.  The World Bank, “Mexico Overview,” 2013. http://www.worldbank.org/en/country/mexico/overview

16.  Pew Hispanic Center, “A Nation of Immigrants: A Portrait of the 40 Million, Including 11 Million Unauthorized,” January 2013. http://www.pewhispanic.org/files/2013/01/statistical_portrait_final_jan_29.pdf

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Insta-Millard: Nevada’s Constitution doesn’t favor Cliven Bundy

April 15, 2014

It’s a relic of the Civil War and Congress’s intention to strengthen the Union when Nevada became a state in 1864, but there it is, in Section 2 of the Nevada Constitution, making a mockery of Cliven Bundy’s claim to owe allegiance to Nevada and its Constitution, but not to the U.S.:

Sec: 2.  Purpose of government; paramount allegiance to United States.  All political power is inherent in the people[.] Government is instituted for the protection, security and benefit of the people; and they have the right to alter or reform the same whenever the public good may require it. But the Paramount Allegiance of every citizen is due to the Federal Government in the exercise of all its Constitutional powers as the same have been or may be defined by the Supreme Court of the United States; and no power exists in the people of this or any other State of the Federal Union to dissolve their connection therewith or perform any act tending to impair[,] subvert, or resist the Supreme Authority of the government of the United States. The Constitution of the United States confers full power on the Federal Government to maintain and Perpetuate its existance [existence], and whensoever any portion of the States, or people thereof attempt to secede from the Federal Union, or forcibly resist the Execution of its laws, the Federal Government may, by warrant of the Constitution, employ armed force in compelling obedience to its Authority.

Sheesh!

Here’s the essay quiz, students:  The standoff between the Bureau of Land Management cowboys — each of whom swore an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution of the U.S., in contrast to Mr. Bundy who claims to owe no allegiance to the U.S. — and the armed mob who threatened to kill those same employees of our U.S. government:  Did Nevadans  (or Idahoans) violate any part of Section 2 of the Nevada Constitution?  Which clauses?

I used to say “the Sagebrush Rebellion is over; sagebrush won.”  Even the sagebrush are losing this one.

From The Atlantic:  Eric Parker, who lives in central Idaho, aims his weapon from a bridge as protesters gather by the Bureau of Land Management's base camp in Bunkerville, Nevada. (Jim Urquhart/Reuters)

From The Atlantic: Eric Parker, who lives in central Idaho, aims his weapon from a bridge as protesters gather by the Bureau of Land Management’s base camp in Bunkerville, Nevada. (Jim Urquhart/Reuters)  (See also Article III, Section 3 of the U.S. Constitution, with regard to Mr. Parker’s actions here.)

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Insta-Millard: Bundy Ranch issue history

April 14, 2014

It’s an oversimplification, but not an oversimplification that leads to inaccuracy.

I say “oversimplification” because President Reagan did not impose grazing fees for the first time, but instead set rates at the time.  U.S. grazing fees grew out of the 1934 Taylor Grazing Act, which included among other noble purposes the saving of unoccupied public lands from erosion, to prevent them from contributing to a national Dust Bowl.  The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) manages about 245 million acres of land in the U.S., highly concentrated in 13 western states (about 86% of Nevada is public lands of one sort or another).  Of those lands, about 155 million acres are open to grazing.  BLM is part of the U.S. Department of Interior.  Reagan’s Executive Order came when the law authorizing grazing fees had expired, and Congress was at an impasse in passing a new one, partly over a Reagan Administration proposal to raise grazing fees to market value, a multiple of fees then (and now) in effect.

Sagebrush Rebellion catches Tea Party Stupid disease, it seems to me.  If the virus hasn’t been cured since 1993, what are the odds Mr. Bundy will sit still for a cure now?

More to come?

More:

Mad City Quanta, a Nebraska on-line comic, on grazing fees issues in 2012.

Mad City Quanta, a Nebraska on-line comic, on grazing fees issues in 2012. To update it, substitute “Bundy” for “Fischer” on the tie of the steer on the left.


“Years of Living Dangerously” – April 13 premiere of climate change information series

April 11, 2014

Will it work this time?  Can it recharge the effort Al Gore started?

Monte Best of Plainview, Texas, explains to Don Cheadle how the Texas drought caused the Cargill Company to close its meat packing plant in the city.

Monte Best of Plainview, Texas, explains to Don Cheadle how the Texas drought caused the Cargill Company to close its meat packing plant in the city. “Act of God,” many local people say.

Here’s the trailer:

The avid promotional explanation:

Published on Mar 14, 2014

Don’t miss the documentary series premiere of Years of Living Dangerously, Sunday, April 13th at 10PM ET/PT.

Subscribe to the Years of Living Dangerously channel for more clips:
http://s.sho.com/YearsYouTube

Official site: http://www.sho.com/yearsoflivingdange…
The Years Project: http://yearsoflivingdangerously.com/
Follow: https://twitter.com/YEARSofLIVING
Like: https://www.facebook.com/YearsOfLiving
Watch on Showtime Anytime: http://s.sho.com/1hoirn4
Don’t Have Showtime? Order Now: http://s.sho.com/P0DCVU

It’s the biggest story of our time. Hollywood’s brightest stars and today’s most respected journalists explore the issues of climate change and bring you intimate accounts of triumph and tragedy. YEARS OF LIVING DANGEROUSLY takes you directly to the heart of the matter in this awe-inspiring and cinematic documentary series event from Executive Producers James Cameron, Jerry Weintraub and Arnold Schwarzenegger.

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Joseph Keppler’s cartoon on why we need the 17th Amendment

April 4, 2014

This is the cartoon:

“The Bosses of the Senate,” by J. Ottmann Lith. Co. after Joseph Keppler Puck Lithograph, colored, 1889-01-23 From the collection of the U.S. Senate

One of my old high school classmates, Shaun McCausland, ran for the U.S. Senate in Utah in 2012, on the Constitution Party ticket.  Nice kid, I felt an obligation to pay attention to what he was trying to do, even with his running against my old boss, Orrin Hatch.

I was surprised to find in his campaign materials he e-mailed me, a call for the repeal of the 17th Amendment.

What?  That’s the amendment that gives us direct election of U.S. senators, instead of letting the state legislatures select them.   Why repeal?

Shaun sent along an explanation, from Constitution Party materials, as I recall, claiming that the 17th Amendment was a “power grab” by industry and other oligarchist groups, to take power from the states.  It was a move towards corruption, the material explained.

Seriously?  People think that today?

History takes a different view.

Prior to the 17th Amendment, state legislatures selected the U.S. senators.  Big corporate interests — the monopolists — figured this out in spades, and proceeded to buy state legislatures, thereby getting the right to name their friends to the U.S. Senate, in the perfect picture of a corrupt bargain (the charge originally aimed at the supposed deal between John Quincy Adams and Daniel Webster, in which it was alleged Webster got the House of Representatives to name Adams president, and Webster was in turn appointed Secretary of State, the president-in-waiting post of that day).

Look at the cartoon.  You’ll see the fat “bosses” sitting around the back of the senate chamber labeled, “Copper Trust,” “Steel Trust,” “Oil Trust,” and so on.

Consider Montana, Utah and Arizona.  In each of those states, huge copper mines were among the leading businesses.  The domes of the Arizona and Utah capitol buildings are capped with copper, in honor of the leading role the ore and mineral played in early state history.

Who got elected to the state legislatures in those states?  Copper company-approved and -supported candidates won.

So, who was elected to the U.S. Senate, by the state legislatures?  Copper company-approved senators.

In 1913, when Arizona joined the union, one could make a case that copper controlled at least 6 senators out of 96.

And so it was for other trusts, in other states — or a mixture of trusts in some states. Think of the trusts of the time — the copper trust, the steel trust, the steel beam trust, the nail trust, the coal trust, and many others.

The rich guys ruled.

While this system technically violated no laws in those campaign-contribution-limit-free days, it clearly affected legislation.  The Progressive Movement arose as a grassroots movement, from farmers and laborers, from downtrodden immigrants, from the prairies, mines and mills.  When enough people got involved, they could out vote the trusts in a few things — but it still took more than a quarter century to change the election process for the U.S. Senate, to keep the corruption out.

Politics of the 1900 to 1920 were complex, and can be oversimplified easily.  Running that risk, let us note that by the time Woodrow Wilson took over the White House, reformers were maneuvering to fix problems in lots of areas, sometimes with great overreaches like the 18th Amendment and Prohibition, but also with long-needed reforms, and reforms headed in the right direction but not strongly or fast enough, like the creation of the Federal Reserve.

The 17th Amendment was intended to get corruption out of the U.S. Senate, especially the senator selection process.  Instead of leaving the selection in the hands of corporation-captive state legislatures, the 17th Amendment expanded democracy, making the selection of U.S. senators a choice of the people of the state, at the ballot box.

Keppler’s cartoon, originally published in Punch Magazine, tells the story in one panel.  It shows the U.S. Senate — very astute historians may be able to pick out and identify particular senators — with the chief door labeled “Monopolists’ Entrance.”  Coming through the door, and lining the back of the Senate, are the “Bosses of the Senate,” moneybags with legs, or in one case an oil barrel with legs, and with the name of the trust written across the front of their nattily-dressed girths.

The senators turn to their bosses, awaiting instruction.

Inscribed on the wall at the back of the chamber is a twisted rendition of Lincoln’s stirring description of the government intended by the Constitution:  “This is the Senate of the Monopolists by the Monopolists and for the Monopolists!”

There is a door to the galleries of the Senate, labeled “The Peoples’ Entrance.”  It is barred, bolted and nailed shut, keeping out the American people.

Keppler’s cartoon was published January 23, 1889.  Earlier reform attempts failed, in 1828, 1829 and 1855. Progressives including William Jennings Bryan, George Frisbie Hoar and Elihu Root pushed for reform in the 1890s.  By 1910, some 31 states had passed resolutions asking for reform; some of them initiated direct primary elections, though that didn’t generally affect the selections by the legislatures.  Partly to avoid a states-led convention to amend the Constitution, which could easily run rogue, critics feared, Congress took up the issue.  Congress passed the amendment, submitting it to the states on May 13, 1912.  By April 18, 1913, three-fourths of the states had ratified the proposal, and it was declared the 17th Amendment.  Ironically, by that time Bryan had assumed the office of Secretary of State, and it fell to him to proclaim the amendment adopted on May 31, 2013.

The fat cats lost.

Please remember that.

More:

 

Another cartoon, by Spencer, for the Omaha (Nebraska) World, poking fun at the time required to get the 17th Amendment; from the U.S. National Archives, collected by Robert C. Byrd, Senate Majority Leader:

Cartoon portraying the time needed to pass the 17th Amendment allowing the direct election of U.S. senators  By Spencer, for the Omaha World Herald, 1912  Reproduced from Robert C. Byrd, The Senate, 1789­1989

Cartoon portraying the time needed to pass the 17th Amendment allowing the direct election of U.S. senators By Spencer, for the Omaha World Herald, 1912 Reproduced from Robert C. Byrd, The Senate, 1789­1989


Yogi Berra and ObamaCare

April 2, 2014

Cartoon from Tom Toles at the Washington Post, April 2, 2014:

“ObamaCare: Nobody goes there. It’s too crowded.” Tom Toles in the Washington Post, April 2, 2014.

Why you need to know a little history to get good jokes:

Yogi Berra is famous for his sayings, some of which sound foolish at first, but which generally pack a lot of wisdom or sharp observation.

Berra grew up in St. Louis, which has many famous restaurants.  On some occasion, someone suggested the group should go eat at Ruggeri’s, and Yogi’s reply became famous:

On why he no longer went to Ruggeri’s, a St. Louis restaurant: “Nobody goes there anymore. It’s too crowded.”


Still have questions on Obamacare? Here’s the answer site (and a poll)

March 22, 2014

Here.  NPR is our most trusted news organization, and it has answers to specific questions and a collection of great stories on the entire law.

Is that a coincidence, or did they plan it that way?

Your Questions About The Affordable Care Act

By Danny DeBelius, Christopher Groskopf, Jessica Pupovac, Matt Stiles, Christopher Swope and Julie Rovner

NPR’s guide to the dozens of common questions about the new health care law known as Obamacare. Did we miss something? Send us your questions, and read our latest news stories on the issue.

Questions on the Affordable Care Act? Answers all over. Click the picture to go to the New York Daily News FAQ on the law, and how it affects you.

Questions on the Affordable Care Act? Answers all over. Click the picture to go to the New York Daily News FAQ on the law, and how it affects you.

Wait a minute, you say: “I want answers to questions, not just news stories.”

Yeah, they know:

Find Answers To Common Questions

What are the basics of the law?

Am I eligible?

How do I enroll?

How do the exchanges work?

Get the picture?  Click over there and start learning.

Then, when you’ve changed yoru health care plan (if you change it), come back here and answer this poll.  It should go without saying that you can answer the poll now if you’re not going to change.  Please answer only once.

The Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub Poll – Affordable Care Act


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