Daily Archives: 09/27/2010

GOP & Leukemia Team Up Against Healthcare Reform

(Community Matters)

WASHINGTON—Citing a mutually shared vision of health care in America, congressional Republicans and the deadly bone-marrow cancer Leukemia announced a joint effort Wednesday to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the historic new bill that extends health benefits to 32 million Americans nationwide.

“Republicans have no greater ally in this fight than leukemia,” said Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC), who was flanked by Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH), and the abnormal increase in white blood cells. “Denying insurance to Americans with preexisting conditions and ensuring that low-income Americans stand no chance of receiving quality health care are just a few of the core beliefs that the GOP and leukemia share.”

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Activism by Social Media?

(Community Matters) In the New Yorker (Small Change: Why The Revolution Will Not Be Tweeted),  Malcolm Gladwell contends

[Online activism] is simply a form of organizing which favors the weak-tie connections that give us access to information over the strong-tie connections that help us persevere in the face of danger. It shifts our energies from organizations that promote strategic and disciplined activity and toward those which promote resilience and adaptability. It makes it easier for activists to express themselves, and harder for that expression to have any impact. The instruments of social media are well suited to making the existing social order more efficient. They are not a natural enemy of the status quo. If you are of the opinion that all the world needs is a little buffing around the edges, this should not trouble you. But if you think that there are still lunch counters out there that need integrating it ought to give you pause.

I’ve thought about this quite a bit lately – especially as relates to bloggers. It’s fairly easy to criticize and pontificate from the sidelines – and it’s really easy to ignore those blogging by simply not reading their posts.  Granted, when the bloggers motivate and mobilize action, then they become powerful.  Gladwell touches on the sustainability of this action, however.

And, of course, social media is without a doubt an important media form for reporting

I took the quote directly off Andrew Sullivan’s blog.

The Blackberry PlayBook

(Community Matters) Assuming they learn about touch screens from the Torch mistakes, this could be good

Expiring Tax Cuts for Wealthiest Americans

(Community Matters) One would think today’s political debate is about confiscating property or reimposing the draconian 50% marginal tax rates from the 1980s, or the 70% rate from the 1970s, or the 90% rates from the 1950s and 60s (all historical rates shown below the jump).  In fact, we’re talking about allowing a temporary (& ill conceived especially given that we simultaneously declared but didn’t pay for two wars) tax decrease on the wealthiest 1% of all Americans expire.

We’re talking about raising the marginal rate from 34% to 39% – a return to the historically very low marginal rates of the Clinton era. And, the wealthiest Americans with stock portfolios, business expenses, ROTH accounts, private ranches, oil & gas interests, etc, will still benefit from very generous IRS deductions, many which lower their effective tax rates to less than that of their administrative assistants.

As a reminder, the slight marginal rise in tax rates ushered in one of America’s most prosperous economic booms, during which the increase in value of property (whether real or personal – equity and real estate) more than made up for the slight tax increase on wealthier Americans.

A friend wrote me last week to alert me to the fact that his charitable giving would decrease if rates increased.  And, this may be temporarily true – though I suspect when the value of the equities in his foundation’s stock portfolio increase in response to investors’ optimism, he’ll be giving more rather than less.  Yet, even if the latter didn’t happen, all private philanthropy combined wouldn’t make up for draconian cuts in social services and education spending called for in the GOPs Pledge to America – in 2008 private philanthropy totaled $308 billion (over 1/3 going to religious institutions), while 2009 gov’t spending on education was more than $966 billion, on welfare more than $600 billion and was greater than $1 trillion on healthcare.

The slight increase in marginal rates for the wealthiest Americans will help right budget deficits and confidence in the US economy – increasing the value of assets and more than offsetting the increase in personal tax expense.

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Structural Unemployment

(Community Matters) Paul Krugman brings the equivalent of the AAS’s PolitiFact (fact check) to bear on the narrative being built around unemployment – today’s column on current mass unemployment. In fact, I was just in a conversation about this issue last week, my colleague citing several instances of which they were aware.

But, Krugman asserts that arguments of a structural shift in employment are unfounded and that researchers are unable to locate those mythical companies with lots of jobs and no qualified candidates.

Increasingly around dinner tables we’re hearing the executive class bemoaning Paul Krugman’s populism.  His professorship at Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public & Int’l Affairs, degrees from Yale & MIT, his Nobel Prize in Economics, and  his int’l reputation  in the academy (ranked 13th most influential from around the world) for research on intn’l economics & Japan’s liquidity trap, doesn’t faze us from dismissing his proposed solutions as scholarly naivety (probably as much because these proposed solutions don’t support our own perceived financial interests).

He’s exactly what we need today – a reputable, eminent economic advisor beholden to no political party or economic interests with a populist bend. I hope the shift in the Obama Administration’s economic team will bring more Keynesian theorists to influence – at least for the interim, then it’ll be time to shift influences.

like navigating between technical & fundamentalist analysis, there’s better and worse times for each

Cherrywood Coffeehouse

(Community Matters) Seriously all you people who voted it the best cheeseburger in Austin?  May I introduce you to a proper cheeseburger? The place is cool, nice vibe, super duper & very diverse clientele, and their cheeseburger is completely underwhelming. (the tacos looked outstanding I will say; regrettably didn’t try)

Sunday nights are reprieves from diet

Facebook Credits

(Community Matters) Could it become the international currency of choice?