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Department of Why Can't We Do That?

for items in which one is caused to mourn being an american, because others are making us look bad

Cujo359's picture

USPS IG Promotes Post Office Banking

In an op-ed in the Los Angeles Times today, United States Postal Service inspector general David C. Williams advanced the idea of offering banking services like checking accounts and consumer loans at US post offices. Read below the fold...

letsgetitdone's picture

The Village Still Ignores the Most Important Point

In recent posts I reviewed two commentaries by Abby Huntsman on Social Security and other entitlements, also noting points made in other critiques of her narratives. Abby's commentaries are here, and here, and my critiques are here and here. The most important point I emphasized in my two rebuttals is that there are no fiscal solvency or sustainability issues related to Social Security, or other parts of the safety net, but that the issues involve only the willingness of Congress to appropriate entitlement spending, and either the removal of current constraints on Treasury to spend appropriations such as the debt limit, or the willingness of the Executive Branch to use its current legislative authority either to a) generate sufficient seigniorage from platinum coins to spend such appropriations; or b) use a type of debt instrument, such as consols, which aren't counted toward the debt limit.

The day before I posted my second reply to Abby Huntsman, Richard J. Eskow and WeActRadio posted this video clip from Eskow's radio broadcast. In his critique, Richard shows that Abby Huntsman's treatment of Social Security and entitlements is full of misleading information and hews closely to the narrative offered by Alan Simpson, Pete Peterson, and organizations supported by Peterson funding, and he calls for the MSNBC producers of “The Cycle” to issue statements correcting the facts, and to give Abby's co-hosts on The Cycle a chance to reply to her about social security. Read below the fold...

letsgetitdone's picture

An Even Better Way to Get Money Out of Politics

A couple of weeks ago, I posted on a simple solution to the problem of getting money out of politics. I said then:

If the election you're voting in is virtually a two candidate contest, then vote for the candidate, who, in combination with her/his supporters spends the least amount of money. In a virtual multi-candidate contest, do the same thing.
That's the proposal, in its simplest form. Its objective is to reverse the current race to the bottom in buying elections by ensuring that there would be a powerful incentive to start a race to the top to raise and spend as little money as possible in campaigns. That incentive is that if you spend too much you lose, pure and simple.

The other rationale for the rule is that the person who raises and spends the least amount of money for a campaign, will generally be the person who is “less bought” by wealthy people, financial interests, and large corporations. Eventually, if the rule took hold it would no longer be said of the Congress that “the banks own the place.”

Read below the fold...
letsgetitdone's picture

Getting Big Money Out of Politics: A Solution

A lot of Americans have the feeling that those who have and supply big money to candidates, office holders, lobby groups, think tanks, and media have bought politics. That it is they who are determining the agendas that office holders act upon and even the specific decisions they make in passing laws and rendering executive and even judicial decisions. This short post won't debate the extent to which big money has perverted democratic processes in the United States. Instead it will offer a simple, perhaps an oversimple, solution to the problem that will really work. Here it is. Read below the fold...

letsgetitdone's picture

How to Restore the Good Name Of Government

Why is it that Washington village “progressives,” and their associates in other parts of the country who are nevertheless part of the Washington village culture, often ask useful questions, but, almost always deliver, underwhelming answers? Here's an example from Richard Eskow, probably the best writer at Campaign for the American Future. Read below the fold...

letsgetitdone's picture

What that Letter Should Have Said

On Valentine's Day, Senator Bernie Sanders sent a letter to the President, authored by himself and signed by 15 other Senators, all Democrats. The letter was a response to the rumors that the President intends to include his Chained CPI proposal to cut Social Security benefits in the budget he will soon send to Congress. Read below the fold...

letsgetitdone's picture

What Now?

Today, John Boehner bowed to the inevitable logic of the impending political season and placed a “clean” debt ceiling increase bill on the floor of the House. At this writing, the bill passed with 28 Republican and 193 Democratic votes. Now it moves on to the Senate, where it is expected to pass in time to allow the Treasury to keep issuing debt instruments.

So, now we have had agreement on a budget partially rolling back the sequester, and the Republican leadership appears to have decided not to have another debt ceiling crisis. I wrote a post called “What Happens Now?” just after the Government shutdown ended last October. There I analyzed the political situation and made a number of predictions about the short-term future. Here's how I answered the question: “Growth and Jobs or Shutdowns and Debt Ceiling Crises?” Read below the fold...

letsgetitdone's picture

Who Needs a Balanced Trade Policy?

It's easy to recognize that after many years of trade deficits accompanying implementation of trade agreements beginning with NAFTA the US needs to change what it's doing. Many, including Robert Borosage of the Campaign for the American Future (CAF), advocate for balanced trade and they contrast that with the so-called “free trade” policies we have now. The case for balance trade policy is summarized by Borosage this way during his discussion of the policies favored by the New Populism:

Our global trade policies have been defined by and for multinational banks and companies. They have shipped good jobs abroad and driven wages down at home, while racking up unprecedented and unsustainable trade deficits. Those imbalances, as the International Monetary Fund and former Federal Reserve Chair Ben Bernanke have noted, contributed directly to blowing up the global economy.

The new populists demand balanced trade policies. . . .

So, we need “a balanced trade policy” meaning one that reduces trade deficits because it will support lower unemployment by keeping “good jobs” here, drive wages up rather than down, be more sustainable, and won't contribute to a collapse of the global economy. But, is that the only or the best way to get these outcomes? Read below the fold...

rexvisigothis's picture

National sovereignty is dead--get over it. (Also, amend the UN Charter...)


Charlie Pierce, (not for the first time) is consumed with iration.  The cause of his irritation: the threat by Inifinito Gold (love that name...) to sue the Country of Costa Rica for $1 Billion (U.S.).

Infinito is aggrieved to the point of litigation by Costa Rican objections to consuming the cyanide byproducts of its open pit mining operation. Read below the fold...

We can do better than Obamacare, so let's give it a shot

I'm working on some Medicare for All graphics that with your indulgence I would like to post here to solicit critiques. None of them have specific calls to action for now because I don't know where to direct people that they won't get bogged down, so I'll add those later as they become appropriate. (And I welcome any suggestions about whom to hook up with.) For now, I just want to get a sense of what works visually and textually for people who aren't me.

I'm doing this now because I think the ongoing Obamacare drama presents an opportunity to raise the visibility of single-payer and to draw new adherents to it from a variety of positions. Everybody everywhere likes them some Medicare, except the people whose profits are diminished by it. Nobody likes insurance companies, except the people whose profits depend on them. This is one of those rare moments when just about everybody is talking about health care and 90% of the people who are talking about it are saying "lord god this is fucked up."

Probably everybody who hangs out at Lambert's joint is of the opinion that we were robbed of a splendid opportunity to push for single-payer in 2009-2010. Now there's another opportunity and we'll be robbing ourselves if we don't take advantage of it.

The background photo in this flyer is off Flickr using a creative commons license. For font aficionados, the font all the way through is ITC New Baskerville Standard. I want to make graphics that are suitable both for posting online and printing as handouts/pinups. Let me know what you think.

Read below the fold...

The 1 weird thing you need to know about Janet Yellen

I think the defenestration of the odious Larry Summers is super, and I hope Larry's hitherto impermeable ego took a deep puncture wound from the shards and splinters, though I doubt very much that it did. And Janet Yellen, both as a glass ceiling-shattering woman and a consensus builder, is clearly a superior choice* to a corrupt, chauvanist gasbag who cashed in at DE Shaw and blew a squillionaire-sized hole in Harvard's endowment, after which he fired the (black (female)) whistleblower who called him on it, Iris Mack, Ph.D.

Nevertheless, schadenfreude is a poor basis for determining policy, as is -- and one would think after campaign 2008, we'd understand this -- hagiography. Dr. Lynn Parramore provides a fine example of Yellen hagiography here. First, I'll summarize the article's talking points; then, I'll do a closer reading and point out one issue, pertaining to women, that one would have thought a focused editorial process would have protected Parramore from failing to raise. Happily, however, this same issue provides a litmus test both for the seriousness of Yellen's advocates on politics, and the seriousness of Yellen herself on policy. 6 Things You Need to Know About the Woman Who May Soon Be the Most Powerful Economist on Earth:**

1. Yellen has an impressive resume.
2. She has an independent streak.
3. Her forecasting ability is renowned.
4. She cares about unemployment.
5. She has the right management skills.
6. Yellen is the most qualified.

OK, let's color code those talking points. I'll use blue for careerist talking points (credentials, resume, job performance, and so forth), yellow for personality talking points (example: "In addition to the progressive values I believe Obama holds in his heart, I also believe he is an honest, decent person who wants to do the right thing"), and green for policy talking points (example: "[I]t'd be nice if someone in the Fed at least acknowledged that 'giving people free money' is what needs to happen."):

1. Yellen has an impressive resume .
2. She has an independent streak .
3. Her forecasting ability is renowned .
4. She cares about unemployment .
5. She has the right management skills .
6. Yellen is the most qualified .

See any policy there? Read below the fold...

Jay's picture

Disenfranchisement without evidence or due process

“All we want to do is combat voter fraud. Why can’t we ask for people to prove that they are who they say they are?” That’s the talking point we always hear to justify legislation to disenfranchise millions of Americans. And it’s an effective talking point in the political sphere, despite its inherently disingenuous nature.

I’d like to propose a counterargument: Why can’t we ask you to prove voting fraud? Why can’t you prove they’re guilty of what you say they are? Read below the fold...

‘Right Brain Rising?’

A Whole New Mind: Why Right Brainers will Rule the Future by David H. Pink (Riverhead Books, NY, copyright: 2005, 2006)

Excerpts from Introduction and Chapter 1 - “Right Brain Rising”:

The last few decades have belonged to a certain kind of person with a certain kind of mind -- computer programmers who could crank code, lawyers who could craft contracts, MBAs who could crunch numbers. But the keys to the kingdom are changing hands.

Read below the fold...

Jill Stein vs. 'Too Lateness of America's Fate-ness'


Paraphrasing Jill Stein from a workshop in NYC 3-23-13:

There are 40 people on one side of a road. There is one person on the other side of the road.

A bread truck pulls up and the driver gives the one person -- standing there alone (perhaps impatiently tapping a Gucci-loafered foot and checking his Rolex) -- 40 LOAVES OF BREAD. Then the driver gives the group of 40 people, in varying states of dress and hunger, ONE LOAF OF BREAD to share among themselves. He drives off.

Read below the fold...
amghru's picture

How the ‘For Profit’ Health Care System Ignores the Hippocratic Oath.


[I'm leaving this sticky because I wish more people would write up their experiences like this! --lambert]

A majority of medical schools recite the Modern Hippocratic Oath either at entrance to, or graduation from medical school. Although this oath is in no way binding, those of us who use physician’s services trust them to adhere to the principals that they once professed to embrace.

I could analyze each part of the Oath, but I would like to focus on this paragraph:

“I will remember that I do not treat a fever chart, a cancerous growth, but a sick human being, whose illness may affect the person's family and economic stability. My responsibility includes these related problems, if I am to care adequately for the sick.”

This paragraph has no basis in the real world of the “For Profit” medical system in the U.S. Here is a quick story to illustrate. Read below the fold...


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