Archive for the ‘economic policy’ Tag

Does Hillary Have A Rocky Road Ahead To The 2016 Democratic Nomination?   Leave a comment

After reading various news items and articles of interest – and after scouring through my own thoughts on the topic here – I’m of two distinctly different minds when it comes to the potential road that former Sec. of State Hillary Clinton has in front of her in regards to the 2016 presidential election (and the Democratic nomination).

On the one hand, we still don’t know whether she intends to run…and this is vital; if – for whatever reason (or reasons) – HRC decides not to run, then you’ve likely got one of the most wide-open and scrambolic Democratic primary campaigns in recent memory. The reason: at the moment, HRC is the presumptive nominee for the Dems’, which has not only tamped down potential insurgencies but also – to some extent – tamped down any latent enthusiasm Democratic base voters might have for 2016. I mean, just look at the fact that, for the all of talk of potential challengers to HRC, no one – and i mean, no one – has dared throw their name in the ring (and given the potential challengers – Elizabeth Warren, Martin O’Malley, Brian Schweitzer, Andrew Cuomo, etc. – and the reason is that no one, at least in my humble opinion, wants to get in and risk alienating Democratic voters by challenging someone who – like the current occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania – would make history by being elected President.

On the other hand…should Hillary run for president, she’s going to have to address two concerns vital to those of us on the Left: (1)her 2002 vote to authorize the use of military force in Iraq and (2)her seeming closeness to Wall Street. On the first point, there is the potential for trouble fir HRC in that she voted for the AUMF (a/k/a the Iraq War Resolution) when a sizeable chunk of the Democratic base opposed it and continues to oppose military action in Iraq. In this case, she runs the risk IMO of sounding too much like the neocons who’ve been thoroughly discredited over the past decade, thus opening herself up to attacks from both liberal and conservative critics of hers’. On the second point, I’ve made my views clear on this: if Hillary wants to energize the populist wing of the Democratic party, she honestly needs to throw – and throw in a public way – Wall Street under the bus. Would it cost her support from Wall St.? To some degree, yes..but it would also help begin to make a clear distinction between the two parties in regards to economic & business policy, which in recent years has shrunk to almost nothing. It would also help energize labor unions, who despite their shrinking numbers still make up a sizeable chunk of the Democratic base.

So, to the answer above…does Hillary have a rock road to the 2016 Democratic nomination? Right now, I don’t think that answer can be given…but as with anything in American politics, nothing is certain.

Controversial N.C. Budget Director Resigns   Leave a comment

There is a God after all

WASHINGTON — Conservative financier Art Pope, the North Carolina’s deputy budget directorpartly responsible for engineering the state’s strong rightward shift, is stepping down from his post in Gov. Pat McCrory’s (R) administration.

McCrory praised Pope, the former chief executive of the discount-store empire Variety Wholesalers, at a Wednesday press conference.

“Art Pope has been an invaluable public servant for the people of North Carolina,” McCrory said in a statement. “His knowledge and leadership helped produce historic tax reform while producing two balanced budgets that put North Carolina back on the road to prosperity. He has dedicated much of his life to the betterment of North Carolina and it has been a privilege to have him at my side.”(Huffington Post)

…now if we can just get rid of the whole wretched bloody lot of them…

Posted August 6, 2014 by Matthew in Uncategorized

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CNBC Host Destroys Rick Santelli On-Air Following Another Santelli Rant   Leave a comment

About…damn…time!

You remember Rick Santelli? He’s the sonuvabitch who basically got the Tea Party rolling after a particularly odious rant on the floor of the Mercantile Exchange in Chicago back in 2009…well, Monday he had another one of those odious rants, only this time CNBC anchor Steve Liesman called Santelli out on the air following Santelli’s rant, telling Santelli that “no piece of advice Santelli’s ever given on-air has ever worked”.

My question here is this: when Wall Street starts up on Tuesday, who do you think is going to have been shown their walking papers at CNBC – Santelli or Liesman? In the real world, it would likely be Santelli..unfortunately, as long as that odious runt’s been around, what d’ya think the odds are of that happening?

Posted July 14, 2014 by Matthew in Uncategorized

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The Dignity Of Labor – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.   Leave a comment

…we would do well to remember King’s words today as we continue to fight for economic justice in this world…

H/T to Best of the Left

DOD To Undertake Arizona Solar Energy Project   Leave a comment

Given America’s energy needs at present, this is good news…

The U.S. Army announced plans on Monday to begin construction on the Department of Defense’s largest solar array on a military installation. Groundbreaking for the 20-megawatt project will take place on April 25, with commercial operations slated to begin late this year. It will provide about a quarter of the annual electricity use for Fort Huachuca in southeast Arizona.

“The project establishes a new path for an innovative partnering opportunity among the U.S. Army, other federal agencies, private industry and the utility provider,” said Richard Kidd, deputy assistant secretary of the Army for energy and sustainability. “I applaud the significant efforts and teamwork to bring this project to fruition — and set the example for other large scale renewable energy opportunities.”

The project is being installed under a purchase power agreement in which the solar installer, in this case Tucson Electric Power, pays for installation, operation, and maintenance and then pays down costs and generates revenue through sales of electricity. The project is an example of public-private industry collaboration in which no taxpayer dollars will be spent. The installation, design, engineering and construction of the project will be overseen by E.ON, a multinational investor-owned energy supplier.(Think Progress)

From an economic standpoint, this kind of plan makes sense: it is a private-public partnership with no taxpayer funds at stake…in addition, from a national security standpoint, it makes sense in that no fossil fuels will have to either be used to build said project or be used to supply energy needs for Ft. Huachuca; even if power supplies elsewhere were disrupted, the base would continue to have a reasonable power supply system. As one analyst put it:

“The military’s clean energy installation initiatives are gathering momentum, enhancing base energy security,” Phyllis Cuttino, who directs Pew’s project on national security, energy, and climate, said when the study was released in January. “These improvements are possible even as the Pentagon’s budget is shrinking because the armed services are harnessing private-sector expertise and resources. This is a win-win-win proposition: The military gets better energy infrastructure, taxpayer dollars are saved, and the clean energy industry is finding new market opportunities.”(Think Progress)

…a win-win-win proposition indeed…

Walmart To Begin Adding More Hours In Effort To Address Staffing Concerns   Leave a comment

Will miracles never cease?

Walmart will begin adding worker hours this year as part of an effort to address complaints about empty shelves at the company’s understaffed stores. The retail giant’s top executives said that fixing the chain’s stocking problems could be worth $3 billion per year, a tacit acknowledgment that Walmart’s notorious efforts to wring productivity out of skeleton crews have hurt its bottom line.

Executives announced “plans to add labor hours as part of an effort to bolster ‘in-store execution’” at the company’s annual Year Beginning Meeting in March, Bloomberg reports. The news service did not offer specifics on how the plan will work, but Walmart has historically preferred scheduling workers for part-time hours to avoid paying them benefits required for full-time hours. Walmart workers around the country have gone on strike repeatedly in recent years, often listing the need for more staff hours among their reasons for protesting.

Regardless of how the company goes about staffing up, the decision to foreground in-store personnel issues at a major annual meeting confirms that Walmart is reconsidering the relationship between its workforce and its profits. Despite opening more than 600 new stores over the past five years, Walmart now employs 20,000 fewer people than it did in 2008. That aggressive decrease in staff eventually left stores unable to do the most basic thing for any retail company: putting merchandise on the shelves.(Think Progress)

As someone who used to work in the retail business, I can say with a little bit of certainty that the easiest way to upset customers is by not having product on one’s shelves and the easiest way to have that happen is to not have enough people working the floor to stock one’s various products. While this is an endemic (or near-endemic) problem across the grocery and retail business, Walmart’s the worst of the bunch; one of the reasons I stopped shopping at Walmart’s old Morganton store was precisely because of this reason.

To be fair, though, this is but one of Walmart’s problems…

Adding staff hours might well calm those kinds of complaints from industry analysts and shareholders, but they are unlikely to put an end to Walmart’s bad press around broader labor issues. Worker unrest has led to dozens of strikes in the last few years, with Walmart employees citing poor treatment from scheduling managers and low wages among their reasons for walking out. In 2013, the National Labor Relations Board found the company guilty of illegal retaliationagainst workers who expressed interest in forming a union, and the company’s internal guide instructing managers to monitor workers’ private conversations and quell union chatter leaked earlier this year.

If Walmart wants to put an end to its labor unrest, giving workers more hours could be a good start. But the larger issue is wages. OUR Walmart, the group that has helped organized workers in recent years, wants the company to commit to paying its associates a minimum salary of $25,000 per year. Workers today make an average of $8.81 per hour, just three-quarters of the average wage at other retail giants and far below the $21.96 average hourly rate that fellow big-box retailer Costco offers.(Think Progress)

It’s not rocket science here, folks: if businesses want to lower the growing swell of labor unrest, there’s a simple solution and that is simply to raise the wages of their workers; by most equitable reports, a raise up to the proposed federal minimum wage of $10.10 would result in no appreciable increase in company costs or in appreciable decreases in shareholder value for the company.

Federal Deficit Falls At Fastest Rate Since World War II   Leave a comment

Next time deficit scolds tell you we need to keep cutting and cutting federal expenditures – never mind their effect on the economy – remind them that the federal budget is already heading in that direction

The federal budget deficit fell faster last year than in any year since the end of World War II, according to a Treasury Department report on Thursday. It declined from $1.1 trillion in 2012 to $680 billion in 2013.

That represents the smallest deficit since 2008 in nominal terms. It’s now 4.1 percent of GDP, dropping from a high of more than 10 percent during the depths of the recession. It’s less than half of what it was in 2009, when the recession ended.(Think Progress)

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(Image credit: New York Times)

2 factors are driving the above deficit decreases: higher tax revenues and austerity measures passed over the past few years, resulting in the sharpest decline in federal deficits since World War II…which is all good & well except for the simple fact that had austerity not become the watchword of the day amongst the chattering classes of Washington:

…without the deep spending cuts, the health of the economy would look much better. There would have been 2.4 million additional jobs since 2010. The deficit would have improved even faster without last year’s automatic sequestration cuts, which are still continuing for many programs.(Think Progress)

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