Friday, March 4, 2011

head-slap of the day

From Yahoo News,

"A [Texas House] bill would make hiring an "unauthorized alien" a crime punishable by up to two years in prison and a $10,000 fine, unless that is, they are hired to do household chores.

Yes, under the House Bill 2012 introduced by a tea party favorite state Rep. Debbie Riddle -- who's been saying for some time that she'd like to see Texas institute an Arizona-style immigration law -- hiring an undocumented maid, caretaker, lawnworker or any type of houseworker would be allowed. Why? As Texas state Rep. Aaron Pena, also a Republican, told CNN, without the exemption, 'a large segment of the Texas population' would wind up in prison if the bill became law."

teacher pay argument hypocrisy

Thank you Mr. Stewart.

why teacher unions are bad

In my opinion this one chart pulled together by the Chicago Tribune shows the main weakness of teacher unions. At some point part of their collective bargaining agreements became too involved with protecting teacher's jobs with no way to sack those who should not be in the classroom. At that point it stopped becoming about the students and they lost part of their moral high-ground. It left an opening for their political opponents. They have to correct the weakness. A majority of the nation is still on their side.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

chart of the day: corporate tax revenue

From Center on Budget and Policy Priorities,

"Corporate tax revenues are now at historical lows as a share of the economy (see graph), at a time when the nation faces deficits and debt that are expected to grow to unsustainable levels. Although the top statutory corporate tax rate is high, the average tax rate — that is, the share of profits that companies actually pay in taxes — is substantially lower because of the tax code’s many preferences (deductions, credits and other write-offs that corporations can take to reduce their taxes). Moreover, when measured as a share of the economy, U.S. corporate tax receipts are actually low compared to other developed countries. All parts of the budget and the tax code, including corporate taxes, should contribute to deficit reduction. Well-designed corporate tax reform can improve economic efficiency and help on the deficit-reduction front at the same time."

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

eric cantor: economist in sheep's clothing

From our conservative friends at On the Spot a note from our majority leader,

"It's important to recognize the link between cutting spending and growing the economy. Like the gardener pruning the tree, we do not cut for the sake of cutting, but out of necessity. It's the only way to restore economic health and free up the private capital necessary for new growth. Put simply, less government spending equals more private sector jobs.

Economic growth is generated when businesses weigh their risks against their potential reward (returns after taxes) and make a decision that an investment is worthwhile. That investment can take the form of a capital investment or an investment in additional labor (jobs). Especially in this increasingly interconnected world, businesses will logically move their investments to wherever they can achieve the greatest returns without assuming too much additional risk."

I see. So I own a business, say Google, and when I decided to hire more than 6000 people this year, I did so because taxes are low not because I need more staff to handle an already growing business. Glad I've been educated. It is all so simple when you eliminate actual best practices.

I'm sure his statement will find support with economists,

"Economist Mark Zandi of Moody's Analytics said Sunday that if all $61 billion in proposed cuts for the rest of this year were enacted, the economy's growth could be reduced by half a percentage point. Many forecasters expect the economy to grow at around 3.5% this year.

By the end of the year, Zandi said, those spending cuts could cost the economy between 400,000 and 500,000 jobs."

But, hey, that is just one guy's opinion. I'm sure there are others out there that are more "conservative."

"But economist Douglas Holtz-Eakin said that cuts would have a much smaller impact on growth: 2 to 3-tenths of a percentage point. 'It's a rounding error,' said Holtz-Eakin, who was a top economist in the George W. Bush White House and also served as director of the Congressional Budget Office.

Instead, said Holtz-Eakin, who was also on State of the Union, the budget cuts could ultimately have a positive impact by reducing the fear of increases in interest rates and taxes that deficits can cause.

The proposed spending cuts are 'tiny,' relative to the $15 trillion U.S. economy, said Holtz-Eakin. 'The notion that somehow doing the right thing in this amount is going to harm us is just misplaced.'"

Thank goodness. But wait...didn't they both say that the cuts would slow the economy? I think they did...

teachers’ union urges tenure changes

Good news for teachers, governments, students and our future.

“Responding to criticism that tenure gives even poor teachers a job for life, Randi Weingarten, the president of the American Federation of Teachers, announced a plan Thursday to overhaul how teachers are evaluated and dismissed. It would give tenured teachers who are rated unsatisfactory by their principals a maximum of one school year to improve. If they did not, they could be fired within 100 days.”

Teaching tenure started as a way to protect college professors from political attacks. It has since then morphed into a program that prevents bad teachers from being let go. I love the idea of tenure, but it should be something to reward excellent teachers for decades of service not months of service.

what would jesus cut?

Jim Wallis ask the question,

"House Republicans announced a plan yesterday to cut $43 billion in domestic spending and international aid, while increasing spending for military and defense by another $8 billion. This proposal comes just months after billions of dollars were added to the deficit with an extension of tax cuts to the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans. House Republicans focused in on only 12 percent of federal spending, and targeted things like education, the environment, food safety, law enforcement, infrastructure, and transportation -- programs that benefit or protect most Americans...

It used to be very popular for Christians to ask, "What Would Jesus Do?" They even wore bracelets with the initials "WWJD." The bracelets acted as reminders that as Christians, our actions should always reflect the values and example we see in the life of Jesus. Already, in a first wave of response to the proposed cuts, thousands of Christians told their members of Congress that they need to ask themselves, "What Would Jesus Cut?" They believe, and so do I, that the moral test of any society is how it treats its poorest and most vulnerable citizens. And that is exactly what the Bible says, over and over again"