‘School districts across the country are taking drastic
steps to cope with collapsing budgets: firing
personnel, increasing class sizes, cutting kindergarten
and summer-school programs and, in some cases, moving
to a four-day school week. The Associated Press, in a
demoralizing report, recently noted: “As the school
budget crisis deepens, administrators across the nation
have started to view school libraries as luxuries that
can be axed rather than places where kids learn to love
reading and do research.”
‘What a country. We’ll do whatever it takes to make
sure the bankers keep living the high life and swilling
that Champagne while at the same time we’re taking
books out of the hands of schoolchildren trying to get
an education. ‘
Columnist Bob Herbert
New York Times
July 13, 2010
‘Erskine Bowles the co-chair of President Obama’s
Deficit Commission, and a director of the Wall Street
investment bank Morgan Stanley, claimed that the
current economic crisis (which is projected to add more
than $4 trillion to the national debt) was “largely
unforeseen.” This is not true. Competent economists saw
the crisis as an inevitable outcome of the housing
bubble. It is remarkable that the deficit commission
seems to be relying exclusively on economists who could
not see this $8 trillion bubble, the collapse of which
wrecked the economy.
‘The commission also does not appear to be considering
any measures that would challenge powerful interest
groups like the pharmaceutical industry, the insurance
industry, highly-paid medical specialists, or the Wall
Street banks. Rather than incur the wrath of these
powerful interest groups to rein in medical expenses or
reduce the rents earned by Wall Street bankers, the
commission seems intent on taking back Social Security
and Medicare benefits for ordinary workers. The
reporters covering the commission should be reporting
on the failure of the commission to follow its mandate
in this respect.’
July 11, 2010 – The share of borrowers who default on their student loans is bigger than the federal government’s short-term data suggest, with thousands more facing damaged credit histories and millions more tax dollars being lost in the long run.
According to unpublished data obtained by The Chronicle, one in every five government loans that entered repayment in 1995 has gone into default. The default rate is higher for loans made to students from two-year colleges, and higher still, reaching 40 percent, for those who attended for-profit institutions.
The numbers represent thousands of students like Lourdes Samedy, of Boston, who ended up defaulting on about $7,000 in student loans after completing a nine-month-long medical-assistant program at Corinthian Colleges Inc. Everest College, and now cannot get a job.
Why won’t Congress reauthorize unemployment benefits for people who’ve been out of work for longer than six months? For the past several weeks, Republicans in the Senate, with an assist from Nebraska Democrat Ben Nelson, filibustered bills to reauthorize the benefits due to concerns about adding the cost of the aid to the deficit.
Beneath the deficit concerns, however, there’s something else: the suspicion that the long-term unemployed are a bunch of lazy drug addicts. It’s not an opinion openly shared by most members of Congress, but a handful of senators and representatives from both parties have said this year that they suspect extended unemployment benefits actually discourage people from looking for work.
It started in March with Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.), who said unemployment insurance “doesn’t create new jobs. In fact, if anything, continuing to pay people unemployment compensation is a disincentive for them to seek new work.”
In May, Sen. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.) said extended benefits undermine the economic recovery because they “basically keep an economy that encourages people to, rather than go out and look for work, to stay on unemployment.”
And Rep. Jason Altmire (D-Pa.), after pushing party leaders to trim a domestic aid bill, said that in light of four months of job growth, “At some point you have to take a step back and look at the relative value of unemployment benefits versus people looking for jobs.”
Altmire said business owners in his district (he declined to say which ones) complained of hiring trouble because potential workers would rather stay on the dole.
An international economic organization criticized the U.S. Congress on Wednesday for allowing extended unemployment benefits to lapse at the end of May, a move that thus far has denied more than 2 million Americans a critical lifeline during the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression.
In its report on the global employment outlook, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development noted that a “particularly worrisome feature” of America’s deep recession is the high number of workers who have been unemployed for more than six months.
Nearly half of the unemployed fall into this category, while more than 1 in 4 has been unemployed for longer than a year, the Paris-based OECD noted.
In the view of the OECD, “this group raises particular concerns for public policy,” as the long-term unemployed “are at an elevated risk of falling into poverty” and “risk becoming permanently marginalized in the labor market.”
Please Join State Senator Jim Ferlo and Sponsoring Organizations
MEDICARE BIRTHDAY PARTY
FRIDAY, JULY 30th 12 Noon – 1:00
County Court House Fountain Plaza
Grant St., between Forbes and Fifth Aves, Pittsburgh
Free and Open to the Public
Join us As We Celebrate the 45th Anniversary of the Historic
Passage of Medicare
Help us tell our members of Congress to Expand and Protect Our Medicare and Medicaid!
Support State and National Single Payer Health Care
For All – Not Private Insurance!
Save Our Social Security!
President Obama has convened the 18 member National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, also known as the Deficit Commission.
Is the Commission empowered to look at cost savings to tax-payers if corporations and Wall Street paid their fair share to the federal Treasury? – NO!
Will the Commission look at wasteful military spending by sending billions to Halliburton and corrupt foreign governments? NO!
Maybe the Commission will look at ways to save billions from the profiteering in the health care system by private insurance companies or pharmaceutical corporations at the expense of consumers and small business rate payers? NO!
Maybe the Commission will require non-profit UPMC to sell their $750,000 sign atop the USX building, reign in million dollar salaries or re-open Braddock Hospital? NO WAY!
The federal Commission, with funded staff from Wall Street billionaire Pete Peterson (a long time proponent of abolishing or privatizing the Social Security), is stacked with folks committed to reducing benefits under Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. They say cut-back and we say Fight-Back! Even more disgusting and un-democratic is that the 12/1/10 release date of the Commission’s report will be presented and acted upon by the Congress after the Fall General Elections in a lame duck session!! For millions of Americans, especially older women, the Social Security check is their only means of support.
JOIN US AT THE COUNTY COURT HOUSE AND HELP US SPEAK WITH ONE VOICE-
Hands off our Social Security and health care benefits!
Sponsors (list in formation): Western PA Coalition for Single-Payer Healthcare; PA Alliance for Retired Americans ; Steelworkers Organization of Active Retirees—SOAR; Independent State Store Union (ISSU); Just Harvest; Western PA Democracy for America; Pax Christi Greensburg; PA United for Singlepayer Healthcare (PUSH); Steel Valley Printers; National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC) Branch 84; PA 4th CD Chapter of Progressive Democrats of America
For transportation from Beaver County contact Tina Shannon 724 843 0545.
America’s auto workers and observers around the world have watched with admiration as the courageous young auto workers at Honda’s Chinese factories have in the past weeks risen up in protest against the low-wage system imposed by Honda and many employers, foreign and domestic, in China .
China is a source of immense corporate profits, but too many of China ’s frontline workers remain locked in a labor regime of low wages, speed-up and long hours. Honda forces its many “interns” and contract workers to accept sub-minimum wages, below the already low wages paid regular workers, in violation of Chinese labor law. Aware of their rights as workers and citizens, more and more Chinese workers are now demanding a fair share of the wealth being they produce, decent working conditions and humane hours and the right to voice in the workplace.
Leo W. Gerard: Stewart, you talk about power in a book you’ve written with economist Dr. Richard A. Levins. You called the manual, “Getting America Back to Work.” What’s the relationship between power and getting people back to work?
Stewart J. Acuff: A big part of the problem we have with this economy or the biggest problem is that most of the money has gone to the Financial Elite — and the power as well. To get America back to work we have to reinvest in our country and our workers. That necessarily means that the Financial Elite get less of the wealth generated by the economy and workers will get more. If you intend to take wealth from the richest people in the history of the world, you have to have enough power to do so.
Gerard: You say in the introduction that there are two kinds of power: “The first is lots of organized money. That is the kind of power the Financial Elite have used to bring the rest of us to our knees. The other source and form of power is lots of people: organized, mobilized, united, and taking action.” Do you really think that organized people can succeed in a wrangle with the financial elites?
Acuff: Absolutely! The economic history of the twentieth century is crystal clear. When unions were strong, working people had the lion’s share of income and the economy worked well. When unions were weakened, we have seen the Financial Elite take over and run the economy into the ground.