About those jobs

A couple of totally non-partisan economic analyses (including Goldman Sachs) of late have concluded that Republicans’ deficit cutting plans will actually be huge job-cutting plans.  And this is from the party that supposedly ran on a “jobs” agenda.  How are Republicans getting away with not having a media firestorm over this?  Is it because Democrats are letting them get away with it.  Damn, they should be hammering this hard.  From the Post:

A Republican plan to sharply cut federal spending this year would destroy 700,000 jobs through 2012, according to an independent economic analysis set for release Monday.

The report, by Moody’s Analytics chief economist Mark Zandi, offers fresh ammunition to Democrats seeking block the Republican plan, which would terminate dozens of programs and slash federal appropriations by $61 billion over the next seven months.

Zandi, an architect of the 2009 stimulus package who has advised both political parties, predicts that the GOP package would reduce economic growth by 0.5 percentage points this year, and by 0.2 percentage points in 2012, resulting in 700,000 fewer jobs by the end of next year.

In response to Ben Benanke’s essential agreement with this, Kevin Drum goes off:

Maybe it will cost a point of GDP, maybe it will cost half a point of GDP. But considering that the economy is still sluggish and unemployment is extremely high, why are we considering budget cuts that will have any negative effect on jobs and growth? Especially cuts in the only part of the budget that isn’t a long-term problem?

That’s the big news from Bernanke’s testimony: not that he thinks other estimates of job losses are too high, but the fact that he agrees the Republican budget plan will cost jobs and slow growth. That’s coming from a Republican Fed chair! How much more evidence do we need that our current budget cutting mania is insane?

I don’t know who’s more to blame, Obama, Democrats in Congress, or the media, but any way you look at it, this is just nuts.   The Democrats needs to change the debate on this and they need to do it now.  Maybe the attention focused on a possible government shut-down will enable them to do that.  If Obama has any sense– and he does– the showdown over the government shutdown needs to be about jobs, jobs, jobs.

Joke of the day

As seen in the Facebook status updates of two friends:

A unionized public employee, a member of the Tea Party and a CEO(or David Koch, if you prefer) are sitting at a table. In the middle of the table there is a plate with a dozen cookies on it. The CEO reaches across and takes 11 cookies, looks at the Tea Partier and says,”Look out for that union guy, he wants a piece of your cookie”.

That about captures it.

Fracking (no, not a BSG post)

One of the themes in the media class I’m teaching this semester is that it is just important to think about what the news is not telling you and why.  The mainstream news media has a huge role in determining wha’t’s news for the rest of us.  If the Times, ABC, Post, CBS, CNN, etc., don’t think its news, it’s not, regardless of how important it actually is.  One of the examples I’ve frequently returned to on this account is the horrible pollution created by hydraulic fracturing– fracking– to extract natural gas.  HBO ran a great documentary on it, Gasland, this summer.  How nice, to see an extensive article on the issue– better late than never– this Sunday:

With hydrofracking, a well can produce over a million gallons of wastewater that is often laced with highly corrosive salts, carcinogens like benzene and radioactive elements like radium, all of which can occur naturally thousands of feet underground. Other carcinogenic materials can be added to the wastewater by the chemicals used in the hydrofracking itself.

While the existence of the toxic wastes has been reported, thousands of internal documents obtained by The New York Times from the Environmental Protection Agency, state regulators and drillers show that the dangers to the environment and health are greater than previously understood.

The documents reveal that the wastewater, which is sometimes hauled to sewage plants not designed to treat it and then discharged into rivers that supply drinking water, contains radioactivity at levels higher than previously known, and far higher than the level that federal regulators say is safe for these treatment plants to handle

Other documents and interviews show that many E.P.A. scientists are alarmed, warning that the drilling waste is a threat to drinking water in Pennsylvania. Their concern is based partly on a 2009 study, never made public, written by an E.P.A. consultant who concluded that some sewage treatment plants were incapable of removing certain drilling waste contaminants and were probably violating the law.

The Times also found never-reported studies by the E.P.A.and a confidential study by the drilling industry that all concluded that radioactivity in drilling waste cannot be fully diluted in rivers and other waterways.

But the E.P.A. has not intervened. In fact, federal and state regulators are allowing most sewage treatment plants that accept drilling waste not to test for radioactivity. And most drinking-water intake plants downstream from those sewage treatment plants in Pennsylvania, with the blessing of regulators, have not tested for radioactivity since before 2006, even though the drilling boom began in 2008.

Of course, if even the Obama administration EPA is caving in to the industry, people are still going to be able to light their drinking water on fire for some time (seriously, watch the clip)

UPDATE: I don’t know what’s gotten into them, but the Times comes through with another story today on the problems in trying to recycle the drilling wastewater.

Business community to save Wake schools?

Despite the raving lunatics who have taken over our school system– and they may certainly do some short-term damage–I’ve remained fairly optimistic about the future because there’s some serious political heavyweights with a big-time investment in the status quo.  First, the Realtors, who are going to see a whole bunch of property value dissolve if Wake County’s commitment to no schools being bad schools erode under the “neighborhood schools” plan of the Republican majority.  Secondly, the local business community has very-much thrived, in part, due to the great reputation of the school system.  They certainly don’t want to sit by while a bunch of ideologues radically changes a system that’s worked so well for them.  Well, it’s taken some time, but they are finally stepping up to the plate, as detailed in this Times story on schools here:

Perhaps most devastating of all, Stephen Colbert devoted one of his very faux newscasts to eviscerating the board, describing the abandonment of the socioeconomic policy as “disintegration.” “What’s the use of living in a gated community,” Mr. Colbert asked, “if my kids go to school and get poor all over them?”

For people who worried about Wake County’s image, this was a disaster. “The business community asked us a hundred times, ‘What’s going on here?’ ” said Tim Simmons, a vice president of the Wake Education Partnership, the educational arm of local business groups. “ ‘Isn’t there something that could bring order to this debate?’ ”

Since last summer the Chamber of Commerce had been working on a plan that would do just that. In September the chamber hired Michael Alves, a nationally known consultant who has been developing school integration plans since 1981.

Also, interesting to note that while the national Chamber has become a tool of the Republican party, local chambers can still be moderate forces for good.  The plan is certainly interesting:

Two weeks ago, civic leaders here unveiled their proposal for a third generation of integration: integration by achievement. Under this plan, no school would have an overwhelming number of failing students. Instead a school might have a 70-30 mix — 70 percent of students who have scored proficient on state tests and 30 percent who are below grade level…

Advocates of the plan believe that schools balanced by achievement won’t look too different from schools balanced by socioeconomics. That’s because there is a strong statistical correlation between wealth and test scores; generally the wealthier a child’s family, the higher the child’s test scores.

Sounds smart and reasonable.  Unfortunately, those are adjectives rarely used about our school board majority.  Alas, I fear that most of them are simply committed to keeping rich white kids in unadulterated schools of their own.  We’ll see.  And, long term, even if the majority doesn’t play along, the business community has the cash to see to it that the ideologues don’t get re-elected.


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