Brown, 4 others in GOP break ranks to advance jobs bill – The Boston Globe
Feb 23rd, 2010 by Sam

Brown, 4 others in GOP break ranks to advance jobs bill – The Boston Globe

What the bill does: 

The measure would extend the Social Security tax break to eligible employers through December and give an extra $1,000 per employee credit if the worker stays on the job for at least a year. The measure also includes an extension of popular highway programs. 

How it compares to other bills:

 The jobs bill is a scaled-back version of a $174 billion package the House approved in December. It is also significantly smaller than a Senate measure that had been floated by a bipartisan team of lawmakers.

 Well, that’s a hopeful start…  But, apparently he had permission to vote this way…  

Senator John Cornyn, Republican of Texas and chairman of the national Republican Senatorial Committee, said Brown did not upset the GOP leadership with his vote.

“This was a procedural vote. There was no sort of insistence by leadership that this was a place where we plant our flag or make our stand,’’ Cornyn said. 


Feb 20: Does walking away from a mortgage = ‘restructuring debt’?
Feb 19th, 2010 by Sam

On my mind….

  • Is it wrong for a corporation to ‘restructure’ (default) their debt?  They do it all the time.  If not, why can’t people walk away from their mortgages?
  • How Christian Were the Founders? – Texas, textbooks, religion, power, separation of church and state
  • Abstinence education – recent research sez that it works – the more abstinence is emphasized, the less likely kids are to report they had sex within two years of the education.  You suppose some kids aren’t reporting accurately?  You think some kids accurately report more than others?
  • Right-wing Tea Partiers – fact-based?  not so much.  getting bigger?  yep.  problem or distraction?  you tell me…


Jeff Dorchen and his segment, Not to be rude, but…


California Death Spiral
Feb 18th, 2010 by Sam

Krugman says:

California’s case shows that to do nothing to reform healthcare would be a disaster…  what would work?  End discrimination on the basis of medical history, keep healthy people in the risk pool by mandating they buy coverage, offer subsidies to lower-income American so they can afford coverage.


…some claim that health costs would fall dramatically if only insurance companies were allowed to sell policies across state lines. But California is already a huge market, with much more insurance competition than in other states; unfortunately, insurers compete mainly by trying to excel in the art of denying coverage to those who need it most. And competition hasn’t averted a death spiral. So why would creating a national market make things better?

More broadly, conservatives would have you believe that health insurance suffers from too much government interference. In fact, the real point of the push to allow interstate sales is that it would set off a race to the bottom, effectively eliminating state regulation. But California’s individual insurance market is already notable for its lack of regulation, certainly as compared with states like New York — yet the market is collapsing anyway.

Finally, there have been calls for minimalist health reform that would ban discrimination on the basis of pre-existing conditions and stop there. It’s a popular idea, but as every health economist knows, it’s also nonsense. For a ban on medical discrimination would lead to higher premiums for the healthy, and would, therefore, cause more and bigger death spirals.

Do we need affirmative action for guys?
Feb 16th, 2010 by Sam

“…in The Atlantic, Don Peck reports that last November nearly a fifth of all men between 25 and 54 did not have jobs, the highest figure since the labor bureau began counting in 1948. We are either at or about to reach a historical marker: for the first time there will be more women in the work force than men.”  David Brooks, New York Times, February 15, 2010

Unhappy, angsty guys… Funny… I bet a lot of them are conservatives, so following their logic, my response should be “Not MY problem!!!”

Except, it is. And will be. Angsty guys cause problems. The only positive… China has more of them and there aren’t enough women around, so their problem is worse.

No Help in Sight, More Homeowners Walk Away
Feb 3rd, 2010 by Sam

If corporations have the same rights that people do, do people have the same rights that corporations do? Anybody know?  Can people walk away from their debts the way corporations do?

“I took a loan on an asset that I didn’t see was overvalued,” he said. “As much as I would like my bank to pay for that mistake, why should it?”

That is an attitude Wall Street would like to encourage. David Rosenberg, the chief economist of the investment firm Gluskin Sheff, wrote recently that borrowers were not victims. They “signed contracts, and as adults should also be held accountable,” he wrote.

Of course, this is not necessarily how Wall Street itself behaves, as demonstrated by the case of Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village. An investment group led by the real estate giant Tishman Speyer recently defaulted on $4.4 billion in debt that it had used to buy the two apartment developments in Manhattan, handing the properties back to the lenders.

Moreover, during the boom, it was the banks that helped drive prices to unrealistic levels by lowering credit standards and unleashing a wave of speculative housing demand.

Dec 26: A country’s social health is tied to economic equality
Dec 19th, 2009 by Sam

Segment 1

The Importance of Economic Equality:

What if there was a way to raise a population’s life expectancy and reduce its rates of crime, suicide, teenage pregnancy and mental illness, among other social problems? British epidemiologists Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett believe they have found one. In The Spirit Level: Why Greater Equality Makes Societies Stronger, published in the U.S. on Dec. 22, they present data suggesting that almost every indicator of social health in wealthy societies is related to its level of economic equality. (See the data here). Comparing statistics between developed economies and within the U.S., Wilkinson and Pickett argue GDP and overall wealth matter little to wealthy societies. Rather, it is the gap between the rich and poor that is telling. They spoke to TIME about what they believe are revolutionary findings.

Segment 2

Tom Clark; Director, Center for Naturalism

Explains what Naturalists celebrate during the holiday season, where they find meaning in life, and how they answer questions of ultimate concern.

Poll Reveals Trauma of Joblessness in U.S.
Dec 15th, 2009 by Sam

If you haven’t lived it you can’t imagine….

Poll Reveals Trauma of Joblessness in U.S.

More than half of the nation’s unemployed workers have borrowed money from friends or relatives since losing their jobs. An equal number have cut back on doctor visits or medical treatments because they are out of work.

Having been through this, I can say that social isolation is one of the most difficult things… You can’t afford anything, so you can’t initiate anything with anyone, and it can feel humiliating to have others pay for you.

During the last recession I finally got a job (which I had to pay 1 month’s pay of the annual salary to get) that took me near Peoria IL. There were fathers trying to get work mowing lawns, but there just weren’t enough people who could afford to pay someone to mow a law. Two of the women I worked with came in with black eyes. And those were just the bruises we saw… It’s brutal out there.

Dec 12: Climate change consensus & the skeptics – what’s the problem??
Dec 12th, 2009 by Sam

December 12, 2009

Climate change

Outside the United States, the world is pretty much on board with the notion that the climate is changing in profound ways and that human activity is partially the cause. Within the United States however, there is a stubborn minority who believe it is all hype, or a natural occurrence, or a conspiracy by scientists, politicians, environmentalists and other overt and covert liberals. They reject the notion that there is a scientific consensus, they believe the insurance companies’ risk assessments with which they price their products are simply jumping on the bandwagon, and so forth. We look at the scientific consensus and what the skeptics have to say about them, and also pose few questions from a Green IQ test we stumbled upon.

We’re joined by Brenda Ekwurzel, Federal Climate Scientist, Union of Concerned Scientists.

The unlucky

We get an update on how things are going at the Somerville Homeless Coalition from Mark Alston-Follansbee, Executive Director.  Personal experiences, funding, what works, who helps.


Coakley answers Samantha’s question
Dec 3rd, 2009 by Sam

Bill Densmore, is a career journalist, publisher, entrepreneur and director of the the Media Giraffe Project, New England News Forum, and a collaborator on Journalism That Matters.   He collected 18 questions from MA citizens which were hand-delivered to Coakley’s political director and press spokesperson at a North Adams rally on Nov. 23 at the Cup & Saucer cafe.

The questions and her answers can be found here

Below is Samantha’s question and Coakley’s response:

14. WORLD COMPETITION — What does America need to do to ready ourselves for increasing economic competition from China, India and Brazil; what, specifically, is the responsibility of the senator from Massachusetts, and what, specifically is beyond the scope of those senatorial responsibilities. Give examples of each.


As we enter the 21st century, it is essential that we both build on our existing strengths and adapt our economy to the many challenges and opportunities that lie ahead, such as the emerging green economy. As Senator, my primary responsibility will be to ensure that Massachusetts can fully capitalize on these opportunities, notably by securing the Commonwealth federal funding that fosters green technologies, life sciences research and advanced technology manufacturing centers. I will also work with other Senators, Congressmen and the White House to develop national solutions that reduce our trade imbalance, provide incentives to business to pursue new energy technologies and provide affordable health coverage that will keep our workforce healthy and our industries globally competitive.

Ready for higher interest rates? Lock in that 30 year mortgage now!
Nov 25th, 2009 by Sam

Wave of Debt Payments Facing U.S. Government

“WASHINGTON — The United States government is financing its more than trillion-dollar-a-year borrowing with i.o.u.’s on terms that seem too good to be true.

“But that happy situation, aided by ultralow interest rates, may not last much longer.”

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