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Bridging climate science, citizens, and policy

News Items From The Weekend 2/6/09

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A number of items caught my eye in local newspapers over the weekend.  Starting with Friday’s paper:
Pentagon expanding funding to woo world public opinion.  $4.7 billion will be spent on spreading propaganda this year alone.  That’s as much as it spent on body armor for America’s troops in Iraq and Afghanistan from 2004 to 2006.  Interesting to note where the priorities are.

Deal on stimulus elusive.  In this L.A. Times article, the debate is identified as becoming increasingly partisan.  Darn right it’s becoming more partisan – it’s all Republicans know how to do.  They think delaying recovery and reinvestment in America (not Iraq) will somehow lead to winning elections in 2010.  Good luck with that.

A note here.  Most Cons’ objection to the bill centers around, “There’s not enough tax cuts!”  The Cons implemented every tax cut they could during the Bush years.  Guess how many jobs it created?  The fewest since the Great Depression.  Nearly all of them have since been lost as the Cons’ failed economic policies took full effect.  What do the Cons want in this bill?  More tax cuts to the rich, which won’t create one middle-class job.

Politics collide over road tolls in transporation bill.  When do the Cons like a tax?  When it’s called anything else.  They want tolls on highways that the public have already paid for.  The Cons didn’t fund their maintainence for years as part of their Drown-Government approach.  Tolls aren’t the answer.  How about mass-transit instead?

Lennon or Lenin, it stinks.  Right-wing editorialist David Harsanyi does his part to confuse the details of loans and recovery monies.  He asks:

Why did we just allow the president to dictate the pay of private citizens working in the private sector?

After writing that beggars can’t be choosers, he then asks:

However, in Obama’s trillion-dollar “stimulus plan” rushing through Congress, nearly every sector of the economy will, at one point, have allegedly benefited from taxpayer bounty. Does this mean that all industries can be subjected to similar central control?

There is a big difference between the TARP money financial institutions received and the recovery funds currently being negotiated in Congress.  The former went directly from the federal government to individual corporations who were screaming they were about to fail.  Instead of using the money as the TARP legislation spelled out, those corporations instead used the money to buy other banks and give out $13 billion in executive bonuses – for doing a good job, they said.  President Obama rightfully called them out on the practice.  If they want money from the taxpayers, there will be conditions set on it, just like the conditions customers agree to when asking banks for money.  There is really very little difference.

The recovery money will be provided to generate programs and projects, which will create middle-class jobs.  In contrast, none of the money from the TARP program went to creating middle-class jobs.  The other big difference is individual corporations aren’t begging the federal government for corporate welfare.  The government is instituting the programs under which money will be distributed.  The difference is quite clear to those who take a moment to look for it.

And though we didn’t hear Vladimir Ilyich, we are hearing the creeping sound of centralized Western European top-down economics — a system, where even with all the glorious over-regulations, there is a deep recession.

Ah, the token swipe at other industrialized nations’ economic policies.  Of course, Harsanyi doesn’t mention that the U.S. initiated this recession.  It started here and is getting worse here than in parts of Western Europe.  That simple fact is one of the biggest reasons why Western European countries’ economies have also slid into recession.  The demand from the world’s largest economy has come to an abrupt and very significant halt.  That has to have an effect in today’s interconnected world economies.  To warn U.S. policy makers away from Western European economic policies makes no sense.  They didn’t create the problem.  American Cons did.

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