Tag Archives: public employees

Round Up

Wondering about the level of taxation in Nevada?  The Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council says “We’re Number Three!” (Nationally) for being all sweet and cuddly for businesses disinclined to pay taxes. [NNB] But, we are going to collect sales taxes from Amazon.com for Nevada customers. [NNB] And, all this while Governor Sandoval tells us we don’t need any more taxes since the last batch has been extended. [NNB] So, we don’t have enough taxation to make business owners and corporations howl — and we don’t need any more business taxes — but we’ll happily collect more sales taxes (which obviously have a greater impact on those with lower incomes) on online purchases from the Big A…  The Lesson: It’s Only A Tax Increase If A Special Interest Has To Pay It?

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Washoe County, Nevada is still getting some backwash from the Housing Bubble Debacle.  Short-sales are up, wherein mortgage lenders agree to sell a piece of real estate for less than what is owed.  “In Reno, short sales have been accounting for about a third of all sales in the past couple of years, according to the Greater Reno-Tahoe Real Estate Report. Short sales accounted for 116 units sold in March — 31 percent of all home sales in the area. Foreclosures posted 123 unit sales during the same period, which was 34 percent of inventory sold.”  [RGJ]   Meanwhile, back with those Wonderful People Who Brought On The Housing Bubble With Their Insatiable Appetite For MORE Mortgages —

“In case their (derivatives traders/bankers)  lobbying falls short, the industry — largely dealer banks and commodities firms — has been pushing legislation that would pre-empt the rulemaking process and tie the agencies’ hands. So far, no fewer than 10 such derivatives bills have been introduced in the House; two have passed and several more have cleared committee.

Not satisfied with that, influential lawmakers have been not so subtly warning regulators to go easy on derivatives. This is incredibly intimidating: Congress controls the agencies’ budgets, and the increase in workload mandated by Dodd-Frank leaves them woefully short on funds.

And should a derivatives rule unpalatable to the dealers somehow survive this Beltway obstacle course, the agencies face an explicit threat of a lawsuit. This has had a chilling effect. As Bart Chilton, a CFTC commissioner, told me, regulators fear there is “litigation lurking around every corner and down every hallway.”  [Lowenstein, Bloomberg]

Thus we have bankers, who having been bailed out once, have now decided that there is NO reason for any sentient human being to advocate regulation of their shadow system and their “private placement” activities — which got us into this Mess in the first place.  The only good news is that we may have found the bottom of this market. [Bloomberg]

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The bottom of the housing market may be upon us, but the litigation lingers on.   A judge has denied AIG’s motion in the Bank of America settlement. [Reuters] A federal judge denied Bank of New York Mellon’s motion to dismiss a lawsuit by investors over the bank’s role as a trustee more mortgage backed securities  in the mess made by Countrywide.  [Reuters]

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Maybe the Republicans do have a “health care” plan?

Health care would be “addressed” by disabling the implementation of ObamaCare, which Mitt Romney has repeatedly said he’d do on his first day in office. Even if you believe Romney and other Republicans actually have their own agenda of “health reform,” it’s mostly just a matter of replacing today’s health care deduction for employers with a tax credit for individuals, and then passing one bill allowing interstate insurance sales; the “market” (i.e., the rush of insurers to states with little or no regulation) will take care of the rest, and besides, it’s not the federal government’s job to make sure everyone has health insurance, right? [WashMon]

Yes, and with the rush to those states with little or no restraint on health insurance corporations we can reasonably expect that those corporations will not provide insurance to individuals with pre-existing conditions, not include vaccinations under basic policies, not include wellness screening for prostate, breast, or other cancers, and not include tax breaks for small businesses which provide health care plans for their employees.  It’s the Bush System on Steriods.

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Some cheese with that whine?  Presumptive nominee Mitt Romney’s saying Life’s Unfair!

“This America is fundamentally fair,” he said. “We will stop the unfairness of urban children being denied access to the good schools of their choice; we will stop the unfairness of politicians giving taxpayer money to their friends’ businesses; we will stop the unfairness of requiring union workers to contribute to politicians not of their choosing; we will stop the unfairness of government workers getting better pay and benefits than the taxpayers they serve; and we will stop the unfairness of one generation passing larger and larger debts on to the next.”  [TPM]

Translation:  We will provide vouchers for parents to subsidize private schooling for their children.  We will stop assisting manufacturing companies with research and development.  We will attack trade unions.  We will further slash pay for government employees.  We will give tax breaks to the 1% and impose austerity on the remaining 99%.  There’s a good piece about privatizing education here.   H/T to Nevada State Employee Focus, there’s another excellent article on the attacks on public employees here.

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Speaking from friends in interesting places: The Soap Opera that’s become the Nevada Republican Party continues apace, and to read the gruesome details click over to The Nevada Progressive.

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More dispatches from the War On Women in the Sin City Siren.   Meanwhile anti-abortion activists are urging a “personhood bill” for the state of Oklahoma, the New Hampshire Senate has 6 abortion bills on its agenda, and a move to defund Planned Parenthood in Ohio is on temporary hold, but could reappear at any time.   More restrictive bills are in process in Tennessee, Louisiana, and Iowa.

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Political items worth the click and read:  “The Koch Brothers Exposed,” Rolling Stone.   “Mitt Romney’s Attack Dog,” (Larry McCarthy negative ad guru), New Yorker 2/2012. “Don’t Let Business Lobbyists Kill The Post Office,” Rolling Stone.   “Campaign Tips from Cicero,” Foreign Affairs.

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Filed under Economy, financial regulation, Health Care, Heath Insurance, housing, Politics, Sandoval, Taxation, Union busting, unions, Women's Issues, Womens' Rights

Coffee and the Blogs

Over the Moon for Gingrich?  One sentient ‘Modest Proposal’ Nevada style perspective here.   Back on earth, just don’t breathe the air — the largest toxic release generator is still mining away.

People who might be wondering which political party has historically been the best defender of American capitalism should read: “Meet the party of American Capitalism,” a post complete replete with charts and graphs.

Kenneth Quinnell explains how the right wing attack on public employees is based on falsehoods.

Yes, they are still fighting it out in Wisconsin, more now that Catepillar (The Job Creator) has slashed employee paychecks and locked out workers.

Congressional Republicans are planning to attach approval of the XL Pipeline to the upcoming infrastructure bill.  In case you missed it — see why a Do Nothing Congress really isn’t acceptable.

Remember when?  In 2009 Newt Gingrich said the Individual Mandate (health care insurance) was a great idea. And here we go again, Grover  Norquist wants GOP to impeach President Obama if he doesn’t allow an extension of the Bush Tax cuts.

The numbers are in, and this article tells us how many American ditched their banks in the wake of fee raising and other shenanigans.  And, yes, the CEOs are still creating ways to avoid limits on their compensation if companies go bankrupt.

How many jobs have been “lost” because of those icky government regulations (some of which haven’t even gone into effect) here’s the answer, but the CEOs won’t like it.

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Filed under 2012 election, Economy, labor

A Fable of Testing in the Land of Bahl

Once upon a time in the land of Bahl a coterie of influential PooBobs decided that all the Bahl Players would be rewarded on a strictly meritocratic basis using elaborately constructed standardized testing to insure that only the best Bahl Players would be on the best teams.  Kabillions of dollars flowed into the campaign to tell all the citizens of Bahl that the testing of the Bahl Players would yield excellent results.  Soon the citizens of Bahl began to believe the PooBobs, and to question their coaches.  Surely, a coach whose players had the highest standardized test scores should see the best results in the win-loss columns.

So, a decree went throughout the land that the Manufacturers of Standardized Bahl Tests would provide the means by which to measure the Bahl Players.  Players would be tested on the rules of the Bahl Game, on accurate passing, on accurate shooting, on the capacity to block shots, steals, assists, and on the continuity of dribbling.  The citizens of Bahl anxiously awaited the results.

However, when it came the season to actually play the Bahl Games the results didn’t seem to align with the copious promises for success.   Some teams, already including some highly skilled Players, weren’t seen as making adequate progress — and their coaches were questioned.  Why, people asked, with all the success you had last season, can you not make even more progress this season?

Other teams found that the meritocratic system appeared to diminish the Players rather than enhance their contributions.   Only a precious few Players scored high on all the phases of the tests — rules, passing, shooting, blocking, stealing, assisting, and dribbling. More  Bahl Teams found themselves putting Players on the Court who while they achieved relatively  high overall scores on the Manufactured Standardized Tests didn’t blend well as a Team.

One team, whose Players scored well enough in Blocking to assure the management that progress was just around the corner, was so lacking in offensive capability that their winning percentage declined as other Bahl Teams discovered it was all but unnecessary to guard them.  Another squad, highly skilled — as measured by the Manufactured Standardized Testing — was exceptionally proficient in shooting.  However, their games degenerated into mediocrity as other teams noticed that by utilizing a slow-down half court defense the scorers (who couldn’t defend worth a stale pickle on a concession stand hot dog) would be unable to play to their strength.

There were even problems within the teams.  Should a coach play only those Bahl Players who had the highest overall scores?  Should a Player who had a high score on the Manufactured Standardized Test section on shooting, but lower scores on blocking and rules be put on the Court?  What of the Player who scored well above the proficiency level on blocking shots, but well below the level of proficiency on dribbling, should he or she be included on the Bahl Team?

Should a Bahl Player with an 89% proficiency level in free throws, but only a 10% proficiency rate in Rules, be given playing time in preference to a Player with a 50% proficiency rate in free throws and a 50% proficiency rate in Rules?   And so the controversies continued.

Not only were the controversies created internally, but there were also controversies beyond the practice Courts.  Who was the best coach?  Was the best coach the one whose Players tended to score well in all the phases of the Manufactured Standardized Test?  Or, was the best coach the one whose Players actually won games?  Why was it that some of the best coaches, as measured by the performance of the Bahl Players on the Manufactured Standardized Test, weren’t achieving the expected level of success in the Win-Loss columns?

Why did some coaches persist in putting Bahl Players on the Court who scored only marginal results on the Manufactured Standardized Test, but who appeared to contribute an unmeasurable, and hence unscientific, “spark off the bench?”  Was a coach to be measured by the Win-Loss Column, the results of the Manufactured Standardized Tests, or the employ-ability of his or her Bahl players?

What were the citizens of Bahl to make of the coach whose Players consistently displayed leadership, ingenuity, creativity, and artistry such that they were always employable but who didn’t always achieve proficiency levels on the Manufactured Standardized Tests? Who weren’t always winners as measured by the Win-Loss column?

The questions remained unanswered as the citizens of Bahl listened to the campaigners for the Manufactured Standardized Tests.  The campaigners told them that proficiency could be scientifically measured, and the measurements would correlate to the efficacy of the coaching.  Surely global success was around the next corner.

Thus, coaches began to coach-to-the-test.  Only Bahl Players who demonstrated overall proficiency were included on the playing rosters.  Coaches proudly pointed to the proficiency scores of their Bahl Players, and some Teams advertised their test scores.  Managers put greater pressure on coaches whose Bahl Players were considered insufficiently proficient on the Manufactured Standardized Tests.  More and more  practice time was devoted to preparing for the Manufactured Standardized Tests than was given to preparing for the upcoming Games.

But the fans were not pleased.  Teams scientifically assembled based on the proficiency scores on the Manufactured Standardized Tests weren’t “winning.” Their Bahl Players were very good at taking the Manufactured Standardized Tests, but their performance on the Court was assuredly less than entertaining.

It was soon discovered that some Bahl Players, who were very skilled at taking the Manufactured Standardized Tests, weren’t all that good at actually Playing Bahl.  Indeed, it was perceived that when adverse situations developed on the Courts requiring creativity, ingenuity, and good old fashioned Intestinal Fortitude, some of the teams flopped faster than an Italian Serie A striker in the penalty area.

However, the Kabillions of Dollars continued to flow into the campaign to make Bahl Playing a scientifically measurable human activity, one in which the individual Bahl Players could be evaluated in percentiles, and in which the coaches could be graded based upon the overall achievement of their Players on the Manufactured Standardized Tests.   Owners, managers, and coaches continued to tinker with ways to make their systems conform to the demands of the test taking while still trying to teach the Bahl Game.

But the fans continued to be less than thrilled by the results.  “Be patient,” said the Campaigners for Manufactured Standardized Tests,” All will be well when all the Players score above the proficiency level on all the segments of the examinations. And, all will be perfect when all the Players on all the Teams have improving test scores.”

The fans persisted in looking at the score board, which told them what they already knew — their belovéd teams were composed of Bahl Players who were better at taking the tests than performing on the Courts.  Coaches who enjoyed the Bahl Game were leaving the field — saying that to teach the measurable portions of the Bahl Game was to place undue emphasis on the content of the contest, and not the contest itself.   Fans became anxious.  The improving scores on the examinations weren’t equating to the promised improvement in the Bahl Game.  “Never fear,” said the campaigners for Manufactured Standardized Tests,” There will be a day when all the Bahl Players will be satisfactorily proficient, and then you will see our success.”

And, the campaigners for Manufactured Standardized Tests continued to spend Kabillions to send that very message to the fans, over and over, again, and again.

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Filed under education, No Child Left Behind