Mercury Rising 鳯女

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Archive for the ‘greed’ Category

Keystone no longer economically viable?

Posted by Charles II on November 13, 2014

I wouldn’t let up on the pressure to stop the pipeline and others which carry bitumen, but…Tim Mullaney, CNBC:

As Congress rushes to approve the long-delayed Keystone XL pipeline, it is questionable whether or not the project will make as much of a difference as proponents expect. Since June, crude oil has declined by 28 percent, pushing the price that oil from new wells in Canada may command below what the expected cost will be to produce it.

The so-called “heavy oil” extracted from sand in Alberta, which the proposed pipeline would carry to Nebraska, en route to refineries on the Gulf Coast, will cost between $85 and $110 to produce, depending on which drilling technology is used, according to a report in July by the Canadian Energy Research Institute, a nonprofit whose work is often cited by Keystone proponents. West Texas Intermediate crude oil traded today at $76.67.

The all-of-the-above strategy has brought so much carbon online–and helped to bring solar and wind to commercialization– that heavy oil is no longer cost competitive. It would be really fitting if Keystone were approved and TransCanada folded due to low oil prices. But we need to keep pushing to help that outcome.

Posted in greed, Oil | 1 Comment »

Beating up on the disabled

Posted by Charles II on June 4, 2013

Neil DeMause of FAIR has a good piece about the revival of disabilityfrauditis among the apparatchiks of our quasi-democracy. This meme had its origins 20 years ago in darkest Arkansas:

In 1994, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette (2/13/94) reported that some local residents were receiving tens of thousands of dollars a year in “crazy checks” for their mentally disabled kids. The story later spread to the front pages of the Washington Post (2/4/94) and Boston Globe (5/12/94). Eventually, ABC’s PrimeTime Live (10/13/94; Extra!, 3–4/95) declared children’s SSI to be “a government program gone haywire,” charging that children were “faking disabilities” after being coached by their parents.

Forbes Media Critic, in an article titled “A Media Crusade Gone Haywire” (9/95), soon revealed that four major studies of the SSI program—by the General Accounting Office, the Department of Health and Human Services, a congressional Disability Policy Panel, and the Social Security Administration—had all agreed that “there is no evidence of widespread fraud or abuse of the program.”

Well, this stupid meme is back, and who is pushing it but the usual suspects (deMause, continuing):

New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof (12/9/12) reported that poor families in Appalachian Kentucky were pulling their kids out of literacy classes. The reason: They feared that if their kids learned to read, it would disqualify them from receiving monthly $698 disability checks from the federal government’s Supplemental Security Income program.

It was all enough to earn Kristof a public chiding from Times public editor Margaret Sullivan (NYTimes.com, 1/29/13) for making “assertions [that] were based on too little direct evidence” and using “statistical information that is, at the very least, open to interpretation.”

Yet Kristof’s column turned out to be just the opening salvo of a series of high-profile news reports exposing America’s alleged plague of skyrocketing disability benefits.

In a March series, NPR’s Planet Money [a repeat offender for peddling BS] revisited the world of SSI, this time for adults—and seemed to have learned few of the lessons of the Kristof mess. Calling the program “a hidden, increasingly expensive safety net” and “a de facto welfare program for people without a lot of education or job skills” (NPR.org, 3/13), NPR’s Chana Joffe-Walt painted a picture of soaring disability rolls and nebulous diagnoses, where a “disability industrial complex” is pushing people willy-nilly onto the dole whether they need it or not (All Things Considered, 3/25/13).

the NPR series set off a flurry of copycat articles in the mainstream press that bemoaned disability as home of the new welfare cheats.

In the Washington Post (4/8/13), op-ed columnist Charles Lane decried SSI as a “drain [on] the Treasury” that discourages people from working. At Time.com (4/9/13), Joe Klein called Social Security Disability “an end-run around the [welfare] system” and a “scam” that “has no work requirement.” The next day, the Wall Street Journal (4/10/13) wrote that workers who’d “piled into the Social Security Administration’s disability program [threaten] to cost the economy tens of billions a year in lost wages and diminished tax revenues.”

And, of course, it’s all based on baloney: made-up statistics like the claim that 8% of children are on disability, conflation of SSI and SSDI, and so on. The recession and its aftermath have made more people poor enough–not to mention desperate enough– to become eligible for SSI benefits. In other words, there is no crisis, just a desperate longing of rich people for more and more and more and more.

These are really awful people who are trying to take bread from the mouths of the very most helpless. They deserve to be shunned. The world should sit shiva for people like Kristof and Klein and O’Reilly and Lane who are morally dead.

Posted in abuse of power, greed, mediawhores, poverty | Comments Off on Beating up on the disabled

Posted, cringing

Posted by Charles II on November 23, 2011

As a Christian, stories like this trouble me deeply. Claire Gordon, Daily Finance:

A $10 bill is a joyful sight for a server. But when one waiter went to retrieve such a note out from under a diner’s plate recently, he reportedly noticed something curious. The tip it provided wasn’t monetary, but took the form of advice. “SOME THINGS ARE BETTER THAN MONEY,” it said on the back, “like your eternal salvation, that was brought and paid for by Jesus going to the cross.”

The idea that Christians are poor tippers apparently has been whispered in service circles for a long time. Many waiters try not work Sunday brunch, so as to avoid notoriously stingy churchgoers, claims Justin Wise, the director of a Lutheran ministry in Des Moines, Iowa.

“Christians don’t tip very well,” he wrote for The Lutheran magazine in January 2009. “As a matter of fact, we’re pretty cheap. What makes this worse is that we paint ‘cheap’ with a religious-sounding veneer and call it ‘being a good steward.’ Nothing like hiding behind the Bible to camouflage your stinginess.”

[Now, in fact, a careful study has shown that Christians are not less likely to tip less for good service. But] while it is statistically false to say that Christians are bad tippers, it is true that Christians are more likely to stiff their servers than people of other religious (or non-religious) bents.

The waiter who got the counterfeit-Christian bill makes $2.65 an hour plus tips. Now, in upscale restaurants during busy times, waitstaff make really good money, the kind that Tom Emmer imagines they make. But the reality is that:

In May 2008, median hourly wages (including tips) of waiters and waitresses were $8.01. The middle 50 percent earned between $7.32 and $10.35. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $6.73, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $14.26 an hour. For most waiters and waitresses, higher earnings are primarily the result of receiving more in tips rather than higher hourly wages. Tips usually average between 10 percent and 20 percent of guests’ checks; waiters and waitresses working in busy or expensive restaurants earn the most.

If you work 60 hours a week, you can expect to take home about $25,000 a year. If you’re simply not able to handle that much work–and most of us can’t after we hit 40 or 50–then you’re probably making $16,000 per year. Not even enough to raise a family in dignity.

That makes waitstaff in most restaurants the least of these. And for those, Jesus said this:

“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

“The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’

“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’

“They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’

“He will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ (Matt. 25)

And that is why there will be so few self-styled “Christians” and so many self-styled “atheists” in heaven.

If you haven’t done something tangible to help someone feel thanksgiving on this holiday, take a moment. There are homeless people who lack clothing. There are families with not enough to eat. There are unemployed folks, including many veterans who need to know that they are not forgotten. And if you’re eating out and don’t have enough money to have a good dinner and pay a tip, well, eat a little less and tip a little more.

Posted in Christianity, greed, hypocrites, poverty | 3 Comments »

Oh, The Irony

Posted by Phoenix Woman on December 13, 2010

The mandate portion of the Baucus-WellPoint “health care reform” law was struck down as unconstitutional by a Federal judge.

Whether or not the Roberts court will allow this attack on the commerce clause to stand is one issue. But another issue is this: Ditching the mandate wouldn’t necessarily kill actual health care reform, as Jon Walker points out:

This problem, of course, could have completely been avoided. You don’t need an individual mandate penalty forcing Americans to buy insurance from a private company to create a near universal health care system. There are dozens of ways to design a health care system without using the government to force people to give money to private companies.

An easy way around the constitutional issue would have been to include a public option and make the whole system more like Medicare. Instead of an individual mandate, you could “tax” individuals and provide them with insurance through the public option. You could then grant everyone who had private insurance a waiver from the tax. Even if the state doesn’t have the right to compel an individual to buy a private product, its constitutional right to tax individuals in exchange for government services is not in doubt.

Walker also notes that there is still time to use reconciliation to add in a public option. Might be something to remind your Senators of. It’s not as if AHIP’s going to keep their word now, is it?

Posted in 2010, gravy train, greed, health care | Comments Off on Oh, The Irony

Warren for sheriff!

Posted by Charles II on August 23, 2010

From CNBC of all places, the rap video, Elizabeth Warren for Sheriff of Wall Street:

Posted in greed, Just for fun, Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

Lance Mannion Speaks

Posted by Phoenix Woman on August 9, 2010

You listen.

Yes, that goes for you. And you. And you, too.

Especially if you’re a Randian.

Posted in 'starving the beast', (Rich) Taxpayers League, capitalism as cancer, evil, greed | 1 Comment »

Trouble For The Catfood Commisssion?

Posted by Phoenix Woman on July 10, 2010

Has the plan to destroy Social Security and Medicare in the name of making Pete Peterson happy deficit reduction been derailed? Possibly — though I’m not holding my breath or letting my guard down.

Emptywheel reports that if Bob Corker means what he says — a dicey proposition, to be sure — then the Catfood Commission’s plan to destroy what’s left of the New Deal and Great Society is dead as a doornail:

Corker called on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (Nev.), the Democratic leaders in their respective chambers, to make a similar pledge.

“I think for Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi to say the same thing — that they’re not going to try to use the lame-duck session as a place to do things that otherwise would not pass,” he said. “That type of thinking, that concern about … cap-and-trade and other types of policies just feeds into this whole unpredictability issue, the issue of what’s going to happen in Washington. We need to move away from that uncertainty.”

As Emptywheel points out, that’s exactly when the White House was planning to execute the Catfood Commission’s plan to execute Social Security:

White House officials are working closely with the president’s new fiscal commission in the hope that the bipartisan commissions final report will provide Republican cover for the deal. The commission, due to report by December 1, needs fourteen out of its eighteen members to make an official recommendation. One hope of the deficit hawks is that a super-majority report could steamroll a lame duck session of Congress to act quickly, pending a more Republican Congress in January.

This by itself wouldn’t be particularly good news, but there is also this news that Earl Pomeroy — not exactly a liberal himself — is taking dead aim at the Catfoodies with his own hearing, scheduled for July 15, on how best to protect Social Security.

Posted in (Rich) Taxpayers League, 2010, deficit, greed, Pete Peterson, Social Security | Comments Off on Trouble For The Catfood Commisssion?

Floridians: Congressman Kendrick Meek Has A Message For You

Posted by Phoenix Woman on May 3, 2010

And here it is:

Marco Rubio stands by his support for expanding offshore drilling in the Gulf. “My message won’t change,” he said in Clearwater last week when asked about the oil spill. And while Charlie Crist now says he opposes new oil drilling, it wasn’t that long ago he was open to drilling closer to the coast. On the other hand, I remain a firm proponent of ending our reliance on foreign oil and harnessing clean energy, but who knows what the long-term impact of this spill will be for our state. We also get the news now that an oil drilling rig overturned 80 miles off the coast of New Orleans. We can’t afford to take more and more of these types of chances by expanding drilling in the Gulf and bringing it closer and closer to the coast that is so important for Floridians and their livelihoods. The cost to Florida families could be permanent and the more we expand drilling, the more likely we are to see more of these types of accidents.

He suggests you sign his petition to Rubio and Crist, asking them to join him in calling for a permanent moratorium on new offshore drilling. (I also suggest that all readers, Floridians and others, sign another petition asking President Obama to do the same.)

Posted in big money, energy, environment, gravy train, greed, Oil | 4 Comments »

Busted!

Posted by Phoenix Woman on April 25, 2010

In which Goldman Sachs puts it foot in it WRT the “cherry-picked” e-mails:

My absolute first thought when I saw the “cherry-picking” complaint was of Richard Nixon and the Watergate Tapes. I am not a lawyer and as always, just might be an idiot but it sure looks to me that Sen Levin and staff found what can be very close to the “smoking gun.”

Pass the popcorn. This oughta be good.

Posted in big money, capitalism as cancer, gravy train, greed | Comments Off on Busted!

Time For Them To Give A Little Back For A Change

Posted by Phoenix Woman on July 17, 2009

3-27-08tax2-f23-27-08tax2-f1As do most Americans who have been polled recently on this subject, Robert Reich endorses the tax-the-rich portion of the House health care bill, and here’s why:

According to the most recent data (for 2007), the best-off 1 percent of American households take home about 20 percent of total income — the highest percentage since 1928. Yes, I know: Critics will charge that these are the very people who invest, innovate, and hire, and thereby keep the economy going. So raising their taxes will burden the economy and thereby hurt everyone, including those who are supposed to be helped.

But there’s no reason to suppose that taking a tiny sliver of the incomes of the top 1 percent will reduce all that much of their ardor to invest, innovate, and hire in the future. Yet if this tiny sliver means affordable healthcare for a far larger number of Americans, who will be able to get regular checkups and thereby stay healthy and productive, the positive effect on the American economy is likely to be far greater.

Reich is correct in saying that the amounts mentioned in the House health care bill are a tiny sliver of the incomes of the top one-percenters. The top one-percenters have had more than the lion’s share of the proceeds of America’s economic growth over the past three-plus decades. This is borne out by graphs from the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, which are shown at the top of this post.

C’mon, one-percenters. You’ve had over 99% of the bennies while most of us got bupkis — or actually fell behind. Cough up a chunk of it, or risk losing it all.

Posted in (Rich) Taxpayers League, gravy train, greed, health care | 3 Comments »

 
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