August 6, 2013.
Saturday August 3rd I finally saw the first monarch in my backyard. That is very late in the summer. I wonder how these butterflies are doing in Wisconsin. I guess not so good this year. Last year I didn't see many monarchs either.
Republican Darrell Issa accuses the IRS of obstruction.
August 3, 2013.
In today's paper I read that GOP lawmaker Darrell Issa accuses the IRS of obstruction of congressional investigations.
In the same article it says, that so far congressional investigations have shown that IRS supervisors, including lawyers in the chief counsel's office , oversaw the processing of tea party applications.
But that there is no evidence that anyone outside the IRS directed the targeting or that agents were politically motivated.
Is Mr. Issa getting a bit desperate?
Wisconsin a model for country, Scott Walker says Comparing himself to FDR, governor promotes aggressive approach to public sector
WORLD ECONOMIC OUTLOOK - OECD
June 4, 2013
Counter-cyclical economic policy. (Keynes)
June 1, 2013
This graph is a stylized representation of a business cycle. It shows the long-term trend-line in an economy and the short-term fluctuations or cycles.
If the government is raising taxes and cutting spending during a downturn the policy in question is called a pro-cyclical policy. The government is making things worse and the recession will deepen.
This austerity policy is actually happening in Europe right now for years, and because of that the overall unemployment rate in Europe has risen to a record height of 12%.
During a downturn and especially in a recession the demand for consumer goods and investment goods is already low. That is because consumers don’t spend enough money on things like televisions, cars, food, theater (consumers), and /or companies do not invest enough in buildings, machines, office furniture, trucks etc.
The consumers do not spend enough because real wages are lower and because of growing unemployment, while companies are investing less because sales are down.
If the government raises taxes and cuts government spending, consumer spending and investments will go down even more.
To diminish the impact of a recession the government has to pursue a countercyclical policy, which means, for instance, increase and stimulate spending through fiscal policy.
An economic or financial policy is called countercyclical if it works against the cyclical tendencies in the economy. Countercyclical policies cool down the economy when it is in an upswing, and stimulate the economy when it is in a downturn.
In most developed countries the deficit already “automatically” rises because more unemployed people means that the government has to spend more on unemployment benefits, welfare, medicaid and food stamps, while tax revenue will go down, because workers and companies earn less income.
In itself that is a good thing because if these ‘automatic stabilizers” wouldn’t be there, spending would go down even more and the downturn would be even worse.
During an economic recovery we see the opposite. Unemployment benefit payments go down automatically, as well as spending on food stamps and Medicaid. And that is a good thing.
The government has to cut spending during a boom and increase spending when the economy is in a recession or depression.
Food stamp policy in Wisconsin.
May 30, 2013
In Wisconsin a new bill passed in the Assembly this month, requiring people who use food stamps to spend two thirds of their food stamp budget on healthy foods.
The initiator of the bill, Republican Dean Kaufert "has heard stories from retail clerks and others" who told him that a lot of people with food stamp cards buy large amounts of junk food. He does admit though, that he cannot produce any figures that show how big the problem really is, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
The bill is very popular he says and it is an issue about which everyone has a story to tell.
Nowadays the people who are forced to live on food stamps don't have to stand in line with coupons anymore. Today they can use a debit card. The advantage is that they don't get harassed by "honest hardworking taxpayers", who call them lazy bums that should get a job.
But with the help of the electronic data it is also easy to check of course how much he or she spends on so-called junk food.
In the Netherlands food stamps do not exist. The Dutch who are on welfare get money. It is not much, but nobody is telling them what they can buy for it and what not. If they want to eat potato chips all day long, they can do that. It is their own business, and rightly so.
But here we have Republicans and even Democrats who talk about freedom for all except for the poor. I think that they have been eating too much junk food themselves.
In the US welfare no longer exists. The program was abolished under President Bill Clinton.
The Republicans had the majority in both chambers of congress. Now it is time to end the food stamp program according to the Republicans. They do not want to "create dependency".
The war on welfare began when Ronald Reagan started talking about the so-called "welfare queen" a woman in Chicago who abused welfare and owned a Cadillac.
He suggested that this "welfare queen" was a really existing peroon. That was a lie. It was a fictional character made up by the Reagan administration.
In fact, three minor cases were known, at that time, of women in Chicago who abused "welfare".
A very large group of Americans still believe that black women are by far the majority of people who live on welfare, even though the welfare program does not exist anymore, and the majority of the people who use food stamps consists of whites. Among them are lots of working people and elderly citizens.
Newt Gingrich called Obama "the food stamp president", during the Republican primaries. He "forgot" to say that the use of food stamps increased because a lot of people lost their job. The Republican Party had left the country an economy in free fall after they were voted out in 2008. We are still cleaning up the rubble. Except the Republicans of course. They cannot get enough of the mess they helped create.
. It is also typical that, when the poor Americans, including many honest hardworking taxpayers, most need government support, namely when the country is in an economic crisis, the Republicans want to cut Medicaid and food stamps.
In 2005 the cost of the food stamp program was nearly 30 billion. In 2012 it was about 75 billion. The increase was mainly caused by the high unemployment of the "Great Recession".
In comparison, the mortgage interest tax deduction will cost about 100 billion a year, and works mainly in favor of the wealthy Americans.
Maybe we should look for a law forcing wealthy Americans to live in smaller, cheaper houses After all it is the honest hardworking taxpayers who have to pay for this waste, while these wealthy people do not even need the money.
While I already had started writing this piece I found this article in the New York Times: Food Stamp Program Faces Deeper Cuts Under House Farm Bill
So what about that one trillion deficit?
May 15, 2013
If the current laws that govern federal taxes and spending do not change, the budget deficit will shrink this year to $642 billion, CBO estimates, the smallest shortfall since 2008. Relative to the size of the economy, the deficit this year—at 4.0 percent of gross domestic product (GDP)—will be less than half as large as the shortfall in 2009, which was 10.1 percent of GDP.
Link: CBO historical budget data - May 2013
Life in prison for stealing a $ 2.50 pair of socks
April 18, 2013.
Found this story in Rolling Stone. Proof that in the USA everything is possible.
Cruel and Unusual Punishment: The Shame of Three Strikes Laws - Rolling Stone
WISCONSIN’S EMPLOYMENT GROWTH RANKINGS UNDER DOYLE
April 17, 2013
Governor Walker said not that long ago that he already did
better in his first term than Doyle did in his second term. He did not mention
the great recession that started at the end of 2007.
In the year 2008, a meltdown of the financial sector took place that led to a free fall of the U.S economy.
Did he really want to blame Doyle for the enormous job losses in that period? That would be ridiculous. This was a national crisis, not a local (Wisconsin) one, and it started when the Republicans were in power in Washington. Yes, Walkers’ party.
On the other hand, this also means that we cannot blame Walker for the job growth in January 2012 because that was caused by a national economic recovery that was gaining steam.
Maybe we can give the governor some praise for his efforts if Wisconsin performs as good as or better, on average, than the other states
If we compare Doyles last year
in office with Walkers first year we might get a better picture of the truth.
According to the Milwaukee journal Doyle added 30,000 private sector jobs
during his last year in office! Let us extrapolate that growth in a
conservative way and assume that Doyle would have added another 30,000 private
sector jobs, if he had been governor in 2011. Then we would have had 40,000
private sector jobs more in 2011! Actually Walker should be grateful to Doyle,
because in his first year, before his own policy started to kick in, there was
still some jobs gain caused by governor Doyle. It was
Doyle who turned things around for the good in his last year, but then Walker
messed up again.
Jobs in Wisconsin.
April 7, 2013
(right-click to enlarge image or zoom in(IE)
January 12, 2013
"Flash mob" musicians play "here comes the sun" in an unemployment office in Spain.
And most job searchers highly appreciate this moral support.
Jobs:Wisconsin performed better in November
December 22, 2012.
Wisconsin created 10,600 jobs in November and did also better in November compared to most other states. This according to the monthly Current Employment Survey. These are the numbers that Governor Walker doesn't want to take into account, because according to him, they are too inaccurate.
When we look at the job growth over the last year (monthly current employment survey), the picture is still pretty bad. Wisconsin is ranked 40th.
(for larger picture right-click picture and choose view picture)
Guns don't kill people, but people with guns do.
December 20, 2012
The facts are the best argument for gun control. An interesting column about guns and homicides.
See : On Guns, America Stands Out
Voter suppression in Wisconsin (again and again)
December 10, 2012
How it works: the party that is in control of the state legislature at the moment that it is the time for redistricting again (every 10 years) can change the maps of the US House districts, the State Assembly districts and the State Senate districts.
The redistricting plan is a partisan project. It is often used to help the governing party to suppress the vote. In this year the Republican districting plan has taken away the voting power of many democratic voters.
If a district A has a big democratic voter bloc, you try to move a lot of those voters, by redrawing the district borders, to a district that already has a democratic majority (District B) to secure a Republican majority in district A. (District B was already going to the Democrats anyway!). This tactic is called Gerrymandering.
In Wisconsin the new redistricting plan has led to a map that gives the Republicans a big advantage in the elections in the next 10 years. It explains how it is possible that Obama won Wisconsin handily, while the Republican Party won a majority in the State Senate and the State Assembly.
You can find an interesting analysis of what happened in today's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
Voter suppression in Wisconsin (again).
Photo Megan McCormick