• Reply to: It Ain't Over Till It's Over: Wall Street Gears Up for Austerity Battles of 2013   1 year 10 months ago

    Long before "austerity" measures, OUR country and OUR government (not 'THE' government) needs to work on ways to be effective and useful, and to define what that means: Why do we HAVE government, What IS government, Why do we have civilization, what IS civilization, and what are the roles of establishing what and who we are as a nation/world. The rest is just logistics once you have a solid foundation of what needs to be done. The problem is that marketing types and opportunists love to stir up the bees nest so they can capture bees for themselves and let those that aren't captured freeze to death without a hive.

  • Reply to: What Will Scott Walker Lift from the ALEC Agenda in 2013?   1 year 10 months ago

    I fear the almost daily mention of skills-based educational initiatives, training of students for skills "needed," by area industry, is just another name for provisions that will siphon more funds from public education for made to order workers for industry. More costs being borne by taxpayers for the sole benefit of industry. Another description of a voucher scheme meant to break more traditional concepts of public education, wrapped up in a different word-framing.

    As MSM is parroting every new "concept," being spoon-fed them, sources, even like WPR, repeat these memes without analysis as "news," thereby offering free publicity and misdirection for entities promoting the eventual privatization of everything in the public domain. Sad commentary for sure.

  • Reply to: The Latest Effort to Fix Election Results: Rig the Electoral College   1 year 10 months ago

    If there are more than 2 candidates, the statewide popular vote winner in Nebraska could get a minority of the electoral votes: Say district 1 votes red, with green second; districts 2 and 3 vote blue, with green second; green gets most votes overall. Then you have 2 green electoral votes, 1 red, and 2 blue.

    More to the point, even with just 2 candidates Nebraska can—and has—awarded electoral votes to the minority party. In a close election, the swing of an electoral vote or two could decide the presidency.

    “Electoral-votes-by-district” could make the electoral vote more closely match the popular vote *if* congressional districts were drawn to give each party a share of representatives closely matching its popular vote share. According to Griff Palmer and Michael Cooper in the New York Times, that’s true in the 25 states where courts, commissions, or divided governments drew the lines. But the 20 states Republicans gerrymandered, and the 5 states Democrats did, each awarded the dominant party some 70% of the seats, with just over 50% of the popular vote.

    The most exciting idea, to make the U.S. electoral vote conform to the will of the people, is the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact: several states each enact law stating that if states comprising 270 or more electoral votes do the same, the state will award all its electors to the national popular vote winner. This effectively abolishes the electoral college without a constitutional amendment (which could never pass; small states wouldn’t go for it)—and it’s legal.

    The idea that small states have more weight in the electoral college doesn’t hold true for the individual voter: Whether you’re in Wyoming or California, your individual vote does not matter: Wyoming *will* go Republican; California *will* go Democrat: you may as well stay home. It’s only the voter in Florida, or Ohio, or Wisconsin, or another knife-edge state, where voters need bother going to the polls to decide the issue. In 2000, the presidency was decided by 537 voters in Florida. The rest of the voters, in the rest of the states, had nugatory input. That’s a perversion of representative government.

    One problem with national popular vote is the potential for ballot-box-stuffing in one locale to swing the entire nation. If Chicago submits 50 million votes for its candidate (with 2.7 million population), that candidate will win. Weighting votes by state population might be better. So if Alaska or Deleware or Rhode Island has a weather emergency on election day, and only a few voters turn out, the state still gets its full weight in deciding the president.

    More discussion at

  • Reply to: That Bad Ceiling Feeling: Unlike the Fiscal Cliff the Debt Ceiling Is the Real Deal   1 year 10 months ago

    We need a wealth tax, as France has: 0.25% of wealth above some high threshold. Applied to both individuals and corporations, including banks. The money supply has tripled since the start of the 2008 crisis—all that money is in the hoards of banks, corporations, and wealthy with no propensity to spend. Spending *is* the economy. Taxing income is not enough. Taxing spending burdens the poor, gives the rich a pass, and disincents economic activity. Tax where the money is: tax wealth.

  • Reply to: What Will Scott Walker Lift from the ALEC Agenda in 2013?   1 year 10 months ago

    We need a public-interest anti-ALEC group to draft model bills for the 99%.

    We need public-interest lobbying teams on each issue the moneyed interests lobby on.

    One very successful public-interest lobbying group is the Citizens’ Utility Board. With a tiny budget, it wins large savings for residential customers, off of the excessive rate increases utilities want. The CUB is a handful of hardworking, knowledgeable people, ferreting out the facts to counter the deceptions and obfuscations of the big utilities.

    Part of the reason the CUBs are so successful is that decision-making is not by politicians but by an impartial, knowledgeable commission, in utility rate cases. Transferring decision-making on mining, agriculture, banking, medical services price regulation, insurance, and so on to such commissions should be a priority for public-interest lobbying.

    We can’t stop lobbying by moneyed interests. We shouldn’t even if we could: even the wealthy have the right to express their views. What we must do is play them at the lobbying game. We can beat them—truth has a well-known liberal bias. We must play.