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Posted at 6:41 AM ET, 12/22/2010

Wonkbook: Stopgap budget passed; America moves West; net neutrality rules move forward; food safety bill moves to Obama

By Ezra Klein

censusgraphic.jpg

Top Stories

Census reapportioning is shifting seats West, reports Alexander Burns: "For Democrats and Republicans alike, the U.S. Census data unveiled Tuesday had an unmistakable and familiar political message: Go West. All five of the country’s fastest-growing states -- Arizona, Idaho, Nevada, Texas and Utah -- are located in the Sun Belt and Rocky Mountain regions, according to the once-in-a-decade population count...At least in the immediate term, Republicans are expected to have the advantage. In 2008, the Republican presidential ticket won three-quarters of the states gaining seats next year, and because of changes in population, Sen. John McCain would have won six more electoral votes from the post-census map...Over the long run, the picture is less clear. In some Western states, population growth has come as a result of Hispanic immigration and the expansion of suburbs — trends that already have made states like Nevada and Colorado more hospitable to Democrats.

Here's a great interactive graphic charting Census changes over time: http://wapo.st/hUAL1V

The Senate has passed a stopgap budget without money for health-care reform or financial regulation's implementation], reports Felicia Sonmez: "Facing a midnight deadline to avoid a government shutdown, Congress passed a bill Tuesday that will fund the federal government through March 4. The bill, which also will freeze federal salaries for two years, narrowly passed the House, 193 to 165, several hours after it easily cleared the Senate on an 79 to 16 vote. President Obama was standing by at the White House to sign the measure. The last-minute scramble was required after the Senate last week withdrew a $1.2 trillion omnibus appropriations bill that included more than $8 billion in earmarks."

The FCC has passed net neutrality rules, reports Cecilia Kang: "The Federal Communications Commission voted Tuesday to approve its first ever Internet access regulation, which ensures unimpeded access to any legal Web content for home Internet users. The FCC's three Democratic members made up a majority of votes in favor of the so-called net neutrality regulation, which was introduced more than a year ago by FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski. The rules have sparked intense debate and lobbying over whether such legislation is needed, and are likely to face a legal challenge. Genachowski has argued that Internet access rules would protect companies just starting out on the Web, as well as consumers who are increasingly relying on the Internet for news, entertainment and communications."

The House has passed food safety legislation on to Obama, reports Lyndsey Layton: "The House passed a measure to overhaul the nation's food safety laws by a vote of 215 to 144 Tuesday afternoon, and President Obama is expected to sign it into law as soon as Wednesday. The vote marked the final hurdle for a bill that cleared an unusual number of obstacles, despite enjoying bipartisan support and backing from a wide array of groups across the political spectrum, from Consumers Union to the Chamber of Commerce. "This is a big victory for consumers that finally brings food-safety laws into the 21st century," said Jean Halloran of Consumers Union."

Got tips, additions, or comments? E-mail me.

Dirty South interlude: Lil Wayne plays "6 Foot 7 Foot" on Saturday Night Live.

Still to come: The recession is growing the ranks of low-income families; new HHS rules will limit health insurance rate hikes; the FCC has passed new "net neutrality" rules; the EPA is doubling down on climate regulations; and Shaq conducts the Boston Pops.

Economy

The recession is increasing the number of low-income families, reports Michael Fletcher: "The share of working families earning less than double the official poverty threshold - $43,512 for a family of four - increased from 28 to 30 percent between 2007 and 2009, according to a report released Tuesday by the Working Families Project, a nonprofit group that advocates on behalf of the working poor. Overall, the report said, the number of people living in low-income working families increased by 1.7 million to 45 million between 2008 and 2009. In November, the jobless rate rose to 9.8 percent, and has hovered near 10 percent for more than a year. 'Clearly, we are going in the wrong direction,' said Brandon Roberts, a co-author of the report, derived from an analysis of Census Bureau data."

The Federal Reserve is extending swap lines to foreign central banks: http://on.wsj.com/hPmwuU

The Business Roundtable's new leader is a former Republican governor, reports Dan Eggen: "The Business Roundtable, which has served as one of the Obama administration's few allies in the business community in the past, signaled a possible change of course Tuesday by naming a well-known Republican as its president. Former Michigan governor John Engler (R), who has headed the National Association of Manufacturers for the past six years, will begin leading the Business Roundtable in January, officials said. He takes over from John Castellani, who was recently named to head another powerful lobbying group, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America. The roundtable, one of Washington's most influential business groups, has spent more than $18 million on lobbying since the start of the Obama administration."

The National Labor Review Board will require employers to let employees know they can form a union: http://on.wsj.com/hif9dY

Republicans are now opposing conservative economic policies, writes Jonathan Chait: "Of all the strange things that Republicans have freaked out over during the last two years--a federal version of Mitt Romney’s health care plan, a continuation of George W. Bush’s bank bailout, a failed attempt to implement John McCain’s climate bill--perhaps the strangest target is Milton Friedman’s monetary policies. Yet here we are... Inflation-phobia does hold a cherished place in the conservative canon. Inflation is a tax on wealth, while unemployment penalizes labor. Naturally, conservatives cherish price stability. What’s new is the sudden ascendance of radical, hard-money beliefs."

Steven Pearlstein celebrates companies that "give back": http://wapo.st/fY99Ju

Unwrapping interlude: This kid will not stand for receiving books for Christmas.

Health Care

New health care rules will limit rate hikes, reports N.C. Aizenman: "The Obama administration announced proposed rules Tuesday aimed at curbing large, unwarranted rate hikes by health insurers by subjecting them to mandatory public scrutiny. Under the proposed regulation, which spells out the details of a key provision in the new federal health-care law, next year any insurer seeking a rate increase of 10 percent or more for an individual or small group plan would be required to file financial information justifying the raise with federal and state officials. (Beginning in 2012, the percentage rate increase that triggers the review will be adjusted for each state to reflect its particular market trends.) State authorities would then analyze the data submitted by the insurer to determine if the increase is 'unreasonable.'"

House and Senate leaders are still trying to pass medical aid to 9/11 relief workers: http://bit.ly/hpOBML

Democratic Senators want the EPA to investigate a carcinogen in water supplies, reports Noaki Schwartz: "U.S. Sens. Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein have called on the Environmental Protection Agency to protect the public from hexavalent chromium following a report that found the carcinogen in the tap water of 31 cities across the country...Boxer, who chairs the Senate environment and public works committee, said she plans to introduce legislation with California colleague Feinstein that would set a deadline for the EPA to establish an enforceable standard for the chemical also known as chromium 6. The committee will also hold a hearing on the issue in February. The letter was sent after the release of a study by the Environmental Working Group that analyzed drinking water in 35 cities across the country."

Domestic Policy

Congressional staffer salaries haven't increased in 20 years: http://politi.co/h3ezJm

Obama vows to push for comprehensive immigration reform in the next Congress, reports Carrie Budoff Brown: "President Barack Obama told Congressional Hispanic Caucus members Tuesday that he’ll renew his push for comprehensive immigration reform in 2011 -- even though such an effort would face even longer odds in a Congress where Republicans control the House. Obama made the pledge after the defeat last weekend of a more narrowly tailored reform measure, which cleared the Democratic House by a slim margin but failed in the Senate on Saturday.' It was to reassure us that he wasn't giving up,' Rep. Charles Gonzalez (D-Texas), chairman of the caucus, told POLITICO. 'What he said was we would still be looking at reforming the immigration laws and it would be comprehensive.'"

A new study suggests better teachers result in much higher wages for students, writes Catherine Rampell: "A teacher one standard deviation above the mean effectiveness annually generates marginal gains of over $400,000 in present value of student future earnings with a class size of 20 and proportionately higher with larger class sizes. Alternatively, replacing the bottom 5-8 percent of teachers with average teachers could move the U.S. near the top of international math and science rankings with a present value of $100 trillion...Unfortunately, we know little about the supply function for teacher quality. Thus, it is not possible to predict what kinds of pay changes would be needed to ensure any given quality of teacher force."

Polymath interlude: Shaq conducts the Boston Pops.

Energy

The EPA is doubling down on climate regulations, reports Robin Bravender: "The Obama administration is expected to roll out a major greenhouse gas policy for power plants and refineries as soon as Wednesday, signaling it won’t back off its push to fight climate change in the face of mounting opposition on Capitol Hill. The Environmental Protection Agency has agreed to a schedule for setting greenhouse gas emission limits, known as 'performance standards,' for the nation’s two biggest carbon-emitting industries, POLITICO has learned. Under the schedule agreed to by EPA, states and environmental groups, the agency will issue a draft greenhouse gas performance standard for power plants by July 2011 and a final rule by May 2012."

Harry Reid has given up on passing an omnibus lands bill, reports Andrew Restuccia: "Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has abandoned plans to pass omnibus lands legislation consisting of more than 110 land and water bills. But Reid is working to pass certain pieces of the bill before the end of the session. Reid spokeswoman Regan Lachapelle blamed the decision on Republicans, who opposed parts of the legislation, the America’s Great Outdoors Act of 2010. She said Reid was working with lawmakers to pass parts of the legislation this year...By packaging the bills together, Reid had hoped to overcome a Republican filibuster."

T. Boone Pickens is abandoning wind energy for natural gas, writes Robert Bryce: "Two years ago, natural gas prices were spiking and Mr. Pickens figured they'd stay high. He placed a $2 billion order for wind turbines with General Electric. Shortly afterward, he began selling the Pickens Plan. The United States, he claimed, is 'the Saudi Arabia of wind,' and wind energy is an essential part of the cure for the curse of imported oil...Alas, market forces ruined the Pickens Plan. Mr. Pickens should have shorted wind. Instead, he went long and now he's stuck holding a slew of turbines he can't use because low natural gas prices have made wind energy uneconomic in the U.S., despite federal subsidies that amount to $6.44 for every 1 million British thermal units (BTUs) produced by wind turbines."

EIA projections suggest catastrophic climate change is coming, writes Brad Johnson: "This pathway would almost certainly commit the world to catastrophic climate change, including rapid sea level rise, extreme famine, desertification, and ecological collapse on land and sea... The impact of existing global warming on oceans, extreme weather, agriculture, polar ice, and ecosystems is at or exceeding the highest range of past projections...As climate scientists Kevin Anderson and Alice Bows write in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, 'the impacts associated with 2°C have been revised upwards, sufficiently so that 2°C now more appropriately represents the threshold between ‘dangerous’ and ‘extremely dangerous’ climate change.'"

Closing credits: Wonkbook is compiled and produced with help from Dylan Matthews, Mike Shepard, and Michelle Williams.

By Ezra Klein  | December 22, 2010; 6:41 AM ET
Categories:  Wonkbook  
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Next: Mitch McConnell says the darndest things

Comments

Wind turbines would have gotten a boost from almost any of the energy reform plans that have been considered, cap/trade, carbon tax, RES, whatever. And up until the oil spill, there was a plan with strong bipartisan support. A bit funny that if things don't turn around, BP may end up turning a tidy profit on the oil spill (even after the $20B) thanks to the political outcomes it bought for them.

Posted by: eggnogfool | December 22, 2010 8:27 AM | Report abuse

"The National Labor Review Board will require employers to let employees know they can form a union: http://on.wsj.com/hif9dY"

That's awesome. You know, because labor unions have been soooo effective in creating and protecting jobs. Can't wait to see what industries/companies Big Labor targets for destruction next....

Posted by: dbw1 | December 22, 2010 9:19 AM | Report abuse

"The National Labor Review Board will require employers to let employees know they can form a union: http://on.wsj.com/hif9dY"

That's awesome. You know, because labor unions have been soooo effective in creating and protecting jobs. Can't wait to see what industries/companies Big Labor targets for destruction next....

Posted by: dbw1 | December 22, 2010 9:20 AM | Report abuse

I know how to fix that EIA report on catastrophic climate change.

Just wait until 2013 and fire everyone in the EIA and replace them with a bunch of anti-science Republicans and--Voila!--everything is suddenly OK.

Mark my word, that's what will happen.

Republicans seem to have no problem re-staffing agencies with loyalists, stacking courts, etc.. Sure wish that idiot Obama had thought to do that with the agency that regulates gulf oil drilling (I am sure every progressive was aghast at learning he did no such thing).

Posted by: lauren2010 | December 22, 2010 9:21 AM | Report abuse

Ford seems to be doing just fine as the world's most profitable auto company despite having Union employees.

Indeed, how many businesses have ever been destroyed by a union? Yes, maybe a few odd cases, but I'm not sure even about that. Unions play a valid role in keeping big business from abusing employees.

No, businesses fail almost always because their owners or execs make bad business decisions and produce products or services that consumers don't want to buy, or because politicians make stupid policy decisions that create recessions or depressions that affect ALL BUSINESSES.

I aint arguing there aint union abuses. Of course there are.

But once again, we have a person (dbw1) who believes inn ideological absolutes (unions bad, businesses good) instead of realizing there are a multitude of shades of gray and that unions, just like businesses, have a valid and positive role in a properly functioning society.

Posted by: lauren2010 | December 22, 2010 9:36 AM | Report abuse

actually Ezra the new regulations won't limit rate hikes. They'll just allow Democrats talking points to continue. Maybe if Secretary Sebelius put this much force and vigor into attacking the costs that are actually driving healthcare's cost increases maybe she'd be of some value.

So why is this necessary when an MLR is STRONG on the consumer side and in place starting in 2011? Is it just so the administration can chastise on a regular and consistent basis an industry with 3% profit margins while ignoring the true drivers of cost? So basically Secretary Sebelius is going to stand over states to make sure they're harassing insurers over their admin costs and if you get in their way they'll send you off like happenend to Connecticut's insurance commissioner who was harassed out of a job because he wasn't being hard enough some thought.


Oh and by the way for those that think this isn't a talking point 43 of the 50 states already have laws on the books regulating the review of premium increases.

I figured you'd be preferential to the WAPO article Ezra for good reason but I like this opinion piece better. Gets more to the heart of the reasoning behind this.


http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703581204576033591200257356.html?KEYWORDS=health

Posted by: visionbrkr | December 22, 2010 9:39 AM | Report abuse

No, businesses fail almost always because their owners or execs make bad business decisions and produce products or services that consumers don't want to buy, or because politicians make stupid policy decisions that create recessions or depressions that affect ALL BUSINESSES.


Posted by: lauren2010 | December 22, 2010 9:36 AM | Report abuse

lauren,

you forgot the cost to a business owner that regulation (and over-regulation) causes. If you have never owned a business then you would have no idea what I'm talking about. Think labor laws, OSHA, COBRA, HR regs etc. just to name a few (not to mention taxes). that's the lion's share of why businesses fail but your reasons are valid too. Most small businesses have to work a large portion of the month to pay for everything besides themselves and a very small amount comes to them. I'd love to see how many small businesses have owners that don't take any salary just to keep the business afloat as they try to grow it. I'm sure there are stats somewhere but to those that think its all flowers and bon-bons they're sadly mistaken.

Posted by: visionbrkr | December 22, 2010 9:46 AM | Report abuse

"That's awesome. You know, because labor unions have been soooo effective in creating and protecting jobs."

Dbw1,

Arguably, the Wagner Act was a partial cause of the 1937 recession, when higher wages from unionization drives combined with falling prices from tighter monetary policy.

"In the memo Mr. Solomon sent to NLRB regional directors, he said hallmark violations include firing employees or threatening job losses and plant closings. Employers also wrongfully promise and grant benefits to workers to incentivize them not to unionize, he said."

LOL. It's a violation to tell workers what will happen if they unionize and demand excessive compensation.

Unions give you stories like this - workers voting 5 to 1 to be unemployed and close the plant rather than remain employed:

http://iphone.indystar.com/posts/40285

Heck, if they didn't like the wage cuts they could have just waited for spots to open at GM plants - is $15.50/hr really worse than unemployment?

"Had they approved the concession offer, Indianapolis workers could have stayed temporarily on Norman Industries' payroll, then flowed to GM as jobs opened in certain plants."

It's also wrong to *give workers benefits* so that they don't unionize? If the workers are okay with it, why on Earth is that a bad thing?

Posted by: justin84 | December 22, 2010 9:59 AM | Report abuse

Vision

You are a condescending ass. Which is why I always react to you. And then I have to endure your complaints of mistreatment.

We were talking about unions, not every other issue affecting business.

A business owner that does not properly account for all issues affecting his business is a bad business person and will likely go under.

That's not the fault of unions or even the issues he failed to account for.

Most small businesses don't have unions by the way.

Posted by: lauren2010 | December 22, 2010 10:13 AM | Report abuse

maybe i'm reading too much into this but is there credence to be given to the fact that liberal states like in the Northeast are losing population (and in turn losing congressional representatives) because people can't afford to live in those overburdened areas with higher rates of taxation than say states like Florida with no income tax etc. Sure there are anomolies like LA (maybe due to Katrina?) but for the most part it follows that pattern.

Anything to this theory?

Posted by: visionbrkr | December 22, 2010 10:18 AM | Report abuse

lauren,

I will continue to be civil to you even though you show your true colors towards me AGAIN. Ya i get you were talking about unions but I saw you make a point that showed (honestly) very little knowledge on the subject and you stated that

"No, businesses fail almost always because their owners or execs make bad business decisions and produce products or services that consumers don't want to buy"

and i TRIED to point out to you something you were missing and then you decided to call me a condascending "***" (not sure how that got past the sensors).


And I think everyone understands that small businesses don't have unions but then that wasn't the point i was making was I. You were trying to say why businesses fail and I was saying (in a very polite manner mind you) that you may have forgotten one type of reason because of maybe a lack of experience in the subject.

Posted by: visionbrkr | December 22, 2010 10:27 AM | Report abuse

"Obama vows to push for comprehensive immigration reform in the next Congress, reports Carrie Budoff Brown: "President Barack Obama told Congressional Hispanic Caucus members Tuesday that he’ll renew his push for comprehensive immigration reform in 2011 -- even though such an effort would face even longer odds in a Congress where Republicans control the House"

As a pandering strategy it makes good sense, since the obvious census numbers indicate greater political power will be shifting to Hispanic voters in states gaining seats, and it's consistent with attempts by the Administration to allow illegal aliens to vote in ever larger numbers.

Posted by: 54465446 | December 22, 2010 10:31 AM | Report abuse

"Ford seems to be doing just fine as the world's most profitable auto company despite having Union employees."

For years, Ford has been firing workers and has been closing plants and doing its best to cut union compensation. Ford's UAW workforce is down 50% since 2003. It's market share rose for the first time in SEVENTEEN years.

http://www.workforce.com/section/news/article/fords-uaw-workforce-down-47000-after-latest-buyout-offer_printer.php

http://www.bnet.com/blog/auto-business/ford-market-share-gain-is-a-first-since-1993-seems-like-1-million-bc/1753

While Ford has certaintly been putting out better product these days, it has benefitted from backlash against the GM/Chrysler bailouts and in particular Toyota's quality issues (amplified by scary sensationalism over unintended accelerations).

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/38231384/ns/business-autos/

At the end of the day, Ford's done a decent job managing decline over the last three years or so.

Remember, without the bailouts Ford would be the only surviving major American auto company. Chrysler would have been gone decades ago.

If unions haven't killed that many manufacturing businesses, its only because these businesses have been successful shipping the jobs to Mexico, China and other countries which care about production rather than uneducated workers getting $30/hr plus great bennies.

"Unions play a valid role in keeping big business from abusing employees."

No they don't, they just abuse employers and reduce overall employment. If employees are being abused, they can just leave. It's a free country.

I have no problem with unions existing - again it's a free country - but I don't think employers should have to deal with them if they don't want to.

Posted by: justin84 | December 22, 2010 10:36 AM | Report abuse

"No, businesses fail almost always because their owners or execs make bad business decisions"

Conversely, then, business success is almost always the result of great management decisions, which justifies paying great managers hundreds of times more than regular workers, right? Maybe the best CEOs are actually underpaid...

Posted by: justin84 | December 22, 2010 10:41 AM | Report abuse

"Instead, he went long and now he's stuck holding a slew of turbines he can't use because low natural gas prices have made wind energy uneconomic in the U.S., despite federal subsidies that amount to $6.44 for every 1 million British thermal units (BTUs) produced by wind turbines.""

This is why Robert Bryce is a penniless writer and Pickens is a billionaire. Every wind turbine that Pickens personally erected was contracted out before the first shovel went in the ground. While the "plan" may not come to fruition, Pickens has personally made money on the deal. You see many utility operators now have legislative requirements to buy x amount of alternative energy. Pickens jumped into the situation and only built wind turbines in these areas, and only AFTER he had the contracts locked up for many years.

So while the people of these respective states lose by paying about 75% more for electricity generated in this way, Pickens is actually making money.

Silly economic writers!

Posted by: 54465446 | December 22, 2010 10:41 AM | Report abuse

Vision

You are a condescending ass. Which is why I always react to you. And then I have to endure your complaints of mistreatment.

We were talking about unions, not every other issue affecting business.

A business owner that does not properly account for all issues affecting his business is a bad business person and will likely go under.

That's not the fault of unions or even the issues he failed to account for.

Most small businesses don't have unions by the way.

Posted by: lauren2010 | December 22, 2010 10:46 AM | Report abuse

This is an endless argument with no possibility of resolution, but the standard business school reason that most small businesses fail is undercapitalization.

Don't kill me if you don't agree, because I'm just passing it on.

Posted by: 54465446 | December 22, 2010 10:46 AM | Report abuse

Vision

See I was right

You like to condescend to people then drag them off to tangents and when we react to your incivility (in civil conversations you don't declare the other person is unqualified to know anything) you get upset and pretend you are the victim

I would appreciate you NEVER responding to me or talking about me again

You are a knee jerk contrarian who will argue about anything. It is pointless to waste energy on knucklehead knowitalls like you.

Posted by: lauren2010 | December 22, 2010 10:54 AM | Report abuse

I was told by a friend that something called "Wise Health Insurance" is offering health insurance plans starting just $1 a day. That is some thing we all can agree.

Posted by: williamstaerk | December 22, 2010 11:01 AM | Report abuse

54465446,

thanks for the clarification. I didn't equate a value to it but to those business owners just hanging on they're going to be dropped with increased regulation (not that in many cases its not warranted) but again off-topic and i was warned by Lauren so i'm done now.


lauren,

"and we react to your incivility".

really where was in not civil? You're the one that cursed at me and I'm being incivil?


So how about responnding to justin's point that many CEO's are underpaid? Why do your arguments of fact only go one way?

Posted by: visionbrkr | December 22, 2010 11:02 AM | Report abuse

vision and lauren:

How about calling a truce?

The last thing any of us would want is to turn this board into a Greg Sargent-like "I know you are but what am I" thing.

C'mon, we've got better stuff going on here than that!

Posted by: 54465446 | December 22, 2010 11:07 AM | Report abuse

vision and lauren:

How about calling a truce?


Posted by: 54465446 | December 22, 2010 11:07 AM | Report abuse

I'm fine with that. We often times agree to disagree but would rather it not get to a point where it gets to name calling. There's no need for that as you say.

Posted by: visionbrkr | December 22, 2010 11:20 AM | Report abuse

I tried being nice.

What do I get for it?

Some snide and condescending comment that only vision is qualified to understand high-level business concepts.

vision doesn't even understand that his reply to me had little to do with my earlier reply concerning unions. If he understands it he wont admit it.

I've seen many people here eat his intellectual lunch, and confront him with cold hard facts to prove he is wrong, but NEVER have I seen him admit he was wrong about something. NEVER. Instead, he will tease out some loose thread and tangent off to some other issue to hide his incorrectness.

He is also clearly naive if he thinks ONLY a small business owner can understand the high-level political issues involving unions, especially when small businesses rarely, if ever, are impacted by unions.

And if he isn't talking about unions, and presumes to lecture me about small business, then why respond to my comment about unions?

And then justin chimes in with some other irreelevant complaint that execs aren't rewarded enough. Are you serious? Justin, if you seriously believe execs are under-rewarded then you are blissfully unaware of reality.

Why the heck aren't you more concerned with millions of jobless who stand in lines looking for jobs and who struggle paying utilities and buying food that is getting more and more expensive though energy prices have dropped since the early aughts? Execs have NEVER been paid more than in recent years.

I can't believe the sheer cold heartedness in so many Americans today. It's truly disgusting.

Posted by: lauren2010 | December 22, 2010 12:34 PM | Report abuse

lauren wrote:

"I can't believe the sheer cold heartedness in so many Americans today. It's truly disgusting."

A thought, do you think that there is any cause and effect relationship between your statement and the generalized decline in the centrality of religion in American life today? I'm not saying that there is, but I'm wondering about your opinion.

Posted by: 54465446 | December 22, 2010 1:05 PM | Report abuse

lauren,

really when did you try being nice?

I'll gladly admit that my scope is narrow in my understanding but i was trying to put my point of view on it and you called me a condascending ass. Is that being nice?

There are 500 CEO's in the Fortune 500 every year. There are MILLIONS of small business owners. Sorry if I spoke about them and wasted your time on them. I tried to bury the hatchet with you and you chose again to bury it in me. Sounds like you have some anger issues you need to work out. I'll leave you to that.

Posted by: visionbrkr | December 22, 2010 1:31 PM | Report abuse

Let me understand. You are saying religion is declining in America?

60+% of Americans believe in Creationism and do not believe in Evolution.

Canada is apparently experiencing diminished religion influences, but I find them to be less cold hearted, less racist, and so on.

Haley Barbour did his recent BS for one reason: to signal his affiliation with like-minded bigots to win their votes in 2012. Many GOP presidential candidates do that.

No, I think our media has (for its own profit) embraced those willing to say or do anything for power or profit, and it gives them voice, and that in turn reaps electoral rewards because ill-informed or fearful or racist people will respond. People who are informed and NOT racist and NOT fearful are a minority and that is being reflected in the polls.

This is the reason quitters like Palin or failed men like Gingrich (an adulterer at the time he voted to impeach Clinton and a man wrong about anything he ever uttered) are kept in the media forefront, or why O'Donnell is still in the news, or why most Americans believe Saddam was involved in 911, or that the swiftboaters are allowed to broadcast their hatred and lies at will on camera, or that tax reductions always produce increased revenues, or that the stimulus did not create ANY jobs, or that all climate scientists are lying and the planet is actually cooling, or that the GOP wants to protect medicare, or that unions destroyed the auto companies instead of dumb politicians who ruined the economy, or that Obama is a kenyan socialist and an Islamic to boot, or that execs are under-rewarded, or that the START treaty will empower Iran and NK to defeat the USA, or that 70% of Americans are opposed to health care reform, or that fannie and freddie caused the housing bubble and recession though most other countries had the same problems and didn't have a fannie/freddie, or that if we raise high end taxes that millionaires and billionaires will leave the USA and take their jobs with them, or why money-grubbers like Beck and Limbaugh can be believed and worshipped by so many.

It takes courage and effort to be informed, and non-racist, and non-fearful. It takes heart to look past initial reactions to things you see and encounter every day on the news and in life and to evaluate and think and apply integrity to what you see and believe. It takes stamina to push thru what causes you short-term emotional reactions and to suspect that not all you are told or learn may be quite as they say. Not many people can do all this, and it is often easier to just fit in with your hunting buddies or your water cooler friends or right-wing boyfriend or husband and go along with whatever they say.

Posted by: lauren2010 | December 22, 2010 1:38 PM | Report abuse

"And then justin chimes in with some other irreelevant complaint that execs aren't rewarded enough. Are you serious? Justin, if you seriously believe execs are under-rewarded then you are blissfully unaware of reality."

Lauren,

It wasn't a complaint, it was an observation related to your claim.

If business failures are almost always the result of bad management as you say, then it follows that business success are almost always the result of great management.

Therefore, given the tremendous amount of value created by successful companies, great managers should be paid extremely well.

As an example, if Steve Jobs hadn't come back to Apple and saved it from poor management, Apple's shareholders would today be $300 billion poorer. It stands to reason that even $1 billion/yr would have been a bargain salary to pay Jobs given the amount of value he has created. Sure, there were lots of people involved in Apple's success, but that wouldn't have mattered if having the wrong guy at the top would have destroyed the whole enterprise.

I suppose it could be possible that great management is irrelevant, and companies would be best off not having leadership (given the risk of bad management), but between you and me I'd short the first company that tried.

The general point I was trying to get across is that the success or failure of companies depends on many factors, not simply management. I would actually agree with you that many CEOs are overpaid given the performance of their respective companies (that is to say, overpaid given what I would pay them if I owned all the shares).

"Why the heck aren't you more concerned with millions of jobless who stand in lines looking for jobs and who struggle paying utilities and buying food that is getting more and more expensive though energy prices have dropped since the early aughts?"

Welfare is already getting $1.126 trillion, and liberals keep assuring me that government is efficient.

Assuming that 1/3 of the country is on dependent on government, that's $11,292.51 per person, or $45,170.06 for a family of four, and it costs the other 2/3rds of the country $5,792.03 a person, or $23,168.12 for a family of four. This calculation ignores the elderly and programs for their support.

I wouldn't say that the people in tough situations are living high on the hog though (especially since I view government as inefficient), merely that more than sufficient funds have already been allocated. In fact, I believe we are long past the point where government support encourages and entrenches dependency.

http://www.usgovernmentspending.com/numbers#usgs30210

Posted by: justin84 | December 22, 2010 1:43 PM | Report abuse

vision

A few days ago I started a post to you along the lines of "Not try to start a fight..."

And then we had a few nice exchanges.

And then first thing today you resort to old behavior and go and get condescending to me with your claim that no one who hasn't owned a small business can't pretend to debate the issue with you kind of thing.

Take your condescension and false victimhood elsewhere.

Posted by: lauren2010 | December 22, 2010 1:45 PM | Report abuse

54465446,

I give up. I tried.

Posted by: visionbrkr | December 22, 2010 1:56 PM | Report abuse

justin

Your style or attitude in your initial comment, presumed you think you knew something about me (that you don't).

For example, your first comment (and the new one) implied I don't think execs should be paid well.

Well, for the record, I do think execs should be paid well. I also think they are. In fact, I think some are overpaid. And I think it is within the rights of a Democratic society to change that if due process is followed and for the right reasons.

Execs should be paid well because most of them do hard work and keep their businesses running. Also, I want them paid well so they can pay their taxes, which IMO should be a little higher (a few points) than someone making minimum wage. You and I can disagree on this last point, but don't presume to imply anywhere that just because I favor a different tax policy than you, that means I don't want execs paid well.

And yes, there are many variables affecting whether a business succeeds or is profitable. I should think that reasonably intelligent people would know the words "almost always" (yes, I said that) indicates that I believe there are other variables involved than the specific one alleged.

Also, there are private businesses and public businesses. Public business execs have many more laws and responsibilities to consider than the owners of private business owners. I know one private owner who refused to go public because he does not want the extra attention and demands due to public business laws and regulations. If an exec does not like public scrutiny of his income or duties, then he should instead start a private business or be hired by one.

Most business execs and owners are honest people and have helped make the USA great place to do business. But so have employees, and unions have their place and have had as much a positive effect on our country as execs and business owners have. And yes, abuses occur by some execs and owners as well as unions. But in my view, the greatest abuses today are by big business execs who have managed to subvert their will over gvmt.

Posted by: lauren2010 | December 22, 2010 2:07 PM | Report abuse

condescension without apology (or at least admission) is not trying

Posted by: lauren2010 | December 22, 2010 2:09 PM | Report abuse

lauren,

i didn't claim a small business owner like myself had any market cornered on knowledge. I know i don't. I've admitted as much and will continue to do so.

I'm not going to continue this argument.

Merry christmas and happy new year to you and yours or whatever holiday you celebrate.

Posted by: visionbrkr | December 22, 2010 2:13 PM | Report abuse

lauren:

I'm not saying that religion per se is declining, but that it doesn't have the centrality or influence in American life it once did.

As examples I would cite the follwing

1) pre-marital sex is now a given

2) living together in lieu of marriage is at least considered a normal option for couples

3)out-of-wedlock birth rates have soared

4)religious influence on economic activity, once very strong (blue laws, dry counties etc) has fallen off a cliff

I could go and on, but the case I am making is that many, prehaps the majority, view religion as a membership thing, rather than as a doctrine for everyday living.

Even if you don't agree, does that make sense on some level?

Posted by: 54465446 | December 22, 2010 2:17 PM | Report abuse

vision: "If you have never owned a business then you would have no idea what I'm talking about."

So there is the offending statement.

Let's ask ourselves two questions:

1) Am I wrong to think it is condescending?

2) Is it accurate?

Well, the answers to both are clearly "no".

That is to say, yes, it is condescending and yes, it is clearly inaccurate.

I'm tired of this. I've had my say.

goodbye

Posted by: lauren2010 | December 22, 2010 2:23 PM | Report abuse

lauren,


so exactly how would I know if you've ever owned a small business since I've never met you?? Sorry but i'm not telepathic. And since I placed that word "IF" in there (since I did not and don't know) then that does not (IMO) make it condascending.

Remember you are the one that weeks ago claimed to be ultra wealthy and at the same time soon after claimed to have a parent on medicaid. A lot of inaccuracies in your statements that others outside of me have noted on here that I've ignored. So AGAIN my apologies if you misunderstood my intent of my original post that you've since blown way out of proportion and now won't accept my apology and holiday wishes.

Posted by: visionbrkr | December 22, 2010 2:33 PM | Report abuse

My mother died before I became successful. Although medicaid saved and extended her life for about six years, she eventually succumbed with relapse.

So because I may have confused you because I didn't publish my full family history, you instead take that as "inaccuracies"?

Pathetic.

And no, I am not ultra wealthy. Those are your words. But I am wealthy enough.

And by all means, if I say something inaccurate, please correct me and provide the proof. I don't presume to believe I know everything or am never wrong. Just yesterday I apologized to 555 for something.

But look at this new statement of yours: "A lot of inaccuracies in your statements that others outside of me have noted..."

Pah! Worthless babble.

Again, you presume to be the judge of ALL that is correct. Note the emphasis on the word "ALL". I may make incorrect statements from time to time (very few IMO), but I never say things like "No one knows this better than me" or "You are wrong often because others here have said so". In case you didn't know, that is inaccurate logic. But note I didn't say you ALWAYS have inaccurate logic.

There is not a SINGLE person here, including Ezra, including you, who aren't challenged on the accuracy of their statements.

So, do you apply the same standard to yourself? If other people claim you are incorrect about something, does that by itself prove the case?

Of course not. So don't pretend that because you can find a bunch of people ideologically opposed to me that that means I am often wrong, or especially intentionally wrong as you implied above just before you apologized.

And an apology is worthless when accompanied by other implications, such as intentional inaccuracies.

Just leave me alone and we will be good friends. OK? Stop implying I am dishonest and that my knowledge pales in your holy presence. Frankly, the fact you can't focus on the main tact of what I was discussing speaks otherwise. The fact you think challenges by other people of my facts proves I am wrong also speaks otherwise.

Posted by: lauren2010 | December 22, 2010 3:36 PM | Report abuse

555

I don't understand where you are going with this.

Religion has had very significant impacts on modern day life.

It helped defeat prop 8 in CA for example, and was a prime reason DADT had to be suffered these years.

It helped spur support for the Iraq War and provided cover for the torture justification. Did you see that Gainseville preacher wanting to burn the Qurans and extolling evil about Muslims. Ask American Muslims whether they feel pressure from American Christians today and whether they are happy about how religion affects their lives. Ask any hispanic whether Christian opposition is affecting their lives.

Religious people are also sinners, always have been. Religious people and religious leaders have illicit affairs or drink booze or smoke dope too. Abortion and STD's are frequent among religious people. More of those clinics in the bible belt than anywhere else.

Bush got into office with lots of help from religious people. Lots of religious people worked against Kerry on the election because of abortion. Several new supreme court justices are there because of religious influences, and the changes they wreak have been and will be significant. Citizens United is a result of heavy religious influence electing Bush and keeping Kerry out of office.

After Katrina, Bush had religious links on the FEMA website where you could donate money for emergencies. Lots of that money went to churches and not to victims.

Listen, I am not opposed to Christmas or Nativity scenes or the words "under God". I think lots of people on the left and right are kooks for their constant religious battles. But I do think there is undue religion in gvmt and we need to stay on alert to keep things balanced. It's impossible to elect anyone as President who would claim he is an atheist or non-Christian.

So what's your point?

Posted by: lauren2010 | December 22, 2010 4:28 PM | Report abuse

"For example, your first comment (and the new one) implied I don't think execs should be paid well."

I suppose so, but again if you attribute (nearly) all of a company's fortunes to management decision making, then companies that are doing well should be willing to pay huge sums to great managers, and we shouldn't worry about high executive pay. I thought that was a conclusion you might be uncomfortable with, and which would make you change "almost all" to "some".

"And I think it is within the rights of a Democratic society to change that if due process is followed and for the right reasons."

I'm in favor of "say on pay" . I think the owners of the company should be allowed to pay people whatever they wish. If shareholders wanted to pay Steve Jobs $2 billion/yr, I wouldn't care at all, and I certainly don't think it's the government's place to get involved.

"Execs should be paid well because most of them do hard work and keep their businesses running. Also, I want them paid well so they can pay their taxes, which IMO should be a little higher (a few points) than someone making minimum wage."

I think execs should be paid what the owners of companies want them to be paid. I'd be entirely fine with the average executive making only $100,000. It's not the amount, it's the government interfering with voluntary exchange. I certainly don't want the executives to earn a lot so that they can pay more taxes - for that matter, I'd be thrilled if the guy trying to get by on minimum wage was allowed to keep his whole paycheck.

"I should think that reasonably intelligent people would know the words "almost always" (yes, I said that) indicates that I believe there are other variables involved than the specific one alleged."

"Almost always" is still a bit strong. If a car salesman told you that the model you were buying "almost always" makes it to 100,000 miles without a serious problem, how would you feel if you looked it up later and found out 1 in 10 needed new engines right after the warranty went, but the other 9 were fine?

"But in my view, the greatest abuses today are by big business execs who have managed to subvert their will over gvmt."

I don't like corporatism either, but I view it as an inevitable result of big government. Corporatism couldn't exist under a limited government. Government wouldn't have the funds nor the power to act on behalf of corporations.

Posted by: justin84 | December 22, 2010 5:43 PM | Report abuse

Justin

Gvmt almost always never interferes with exec pay.

I don't see a problem here and don't know why you are so worried about exec pay at a time when exec pay is at historical highs and everyone else is suffering.

Under limited gvmt, corporatism wouldn't need gvmt to quickly become predatory. I believe in capitalism but not laissez faire capitalism. I also don't believe in big gvmt. Rather I believe in the goldilocks style of gvmt where everything is just right.

Is gvmt too big now? Yes. We need to cut the DOD and homeland defense dept and reduce fraud in Medicaid and SS and probably other tweaks. But we have a big economy and need to beware making gvmt too small too. More important though is removing undue corporate influence.

Posted by: lauren2010 | December 22, 2010 10:48 PM | Report abuse

Justin

Gvmt almost always never interferes with exec pay.

I don't see a problem here and don't know why you are so worried about exec pay at a time when exec pay is at historical highs and everyone else is suffering.

Under limited gvmt, corporatism wouldn't need gvmt to quickly become predatory. I believe in capitalism but not laissez faire capitalism. I also don't believe in big gvmt. Rather I believe in the goldilocks style of gvmt where everything is just right.

Is gvmt too big now? Yes. We need to cut the DOD and homeland defense dept and reduce fraud in Medicaid and SS and probably other tweaks. But we have a big economy and need to beware making gvmt too small too. More important though is removing undue corporate influence.

Posted by: lauren2010 | December 22, 2010 10:51 PM | Report abuse


Starting this year your child (or children) cannot be denied coverage simply because they have a pre-existing health condition. If you don't have insurance for you and your children search "Wise Health Insurance" online they are the best.

Posted by: daleleblanc | December 23, 2010 2:13 AM | Report abuse

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