Friday, May 25, 2012

Catnip 5/25/12 - Trickle-Up and Jumping-Off


"The consequences of jumping from this bridge are fatal and tragic" say the signs, so, don't do it. There is talk of adding a net below at the cost of $45 million to discourage such actions; over 1,400 people have jumped from the bridge that they know of.

News for your getaway day:

Trickle up economics. Corporations and CEOs are doing better than ever. "In the fourth quarter, profits at American businesses were up an astounding 29.2 percent, the fastest growth in more than 60 years. Collectively, American corporations logged profits at an annual rate of $1.678 trillion... The median pay for top executives at 200 major companies was $9.6 million last year. That was a 12 percent increase over 2009, according to a study conducted for The New York Times by Equilar, a compensation consulting firm based in Redwood City, Calif."

Paul Krugman has some words about the behavior of our wealthy overlords: "Those are, however, questions that the wheeler-dealers don’t want asked — and not, I think, just because they want to defend their tax breaks and other privileges. It’s also an ego thing. Vast wealth isn’t enough; they want deference, too, and they’re doing their best to buy it. It has been amazing to read about erstwhile Democrats on Wall Street going all in for Mitt Romney, not because they believe that he has good policy ideas, but because they’re taking President Obama’s very mild criticism of financial excesses as a personal insult." Greed is good, and the children of the Ronald Reagan/Gordon Gekko era are now in a position to call the shots.

White voters without a college degree still believe in trickle-down, and that's a huge problem for the Democrats. "Asked which candidate would do more to advance their families’ economic interests, middle-class white voters who say they are struggling to maintain their financial positions chose Romney over Obama by a large margin — 58 percent to 32 percent." Obama lost this group 58-40 in '08, and similiar margins occured in '04 and '00. So that's why Republicans don't want people to be able to afford college...

The Romney plan for college? Cut student aid, get big banks back into the loan game, encourage deregulation and for-profit colleges, and loosen diploma qualifications. In other words, make education too expensive for the poor and middle class, privatize, so those campaign contributors collect the profits and funnel them back to the Republicans, and then hand students a moutain of debt to the bank and an educational experience that won't serve them in the private sector.

It's all about Wisconsin. The NYT takes an extensive look on how the state became the flashpoint of the political world this year. Scott Walker has a lead in the recall race as the GOP has pulled out all stops to save his seat, outspending the Democrats 3-1 on the airwaves. Union leaders, who have had to settle for Tom Barrett (they supported Falk for the most part), are angry that DC Democrats haven't done more to help. "Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn't speak out..."

Americans are becoming immune to "bombshell" stories about political candidates, although it should be pointed out that they do influence the picture of the overall person and how they might govern. I managed to avoid the whole Warren/Cherokee thing myself, and I'm glad.

Jonathan Chait hits the bulls-eye on Paul Ryan and the Republican agenda. You've seen the aftermath of "disaster capitalism" in the states after 2010, you will see it on the national level if the Rs win everything in 2012. "The connecting thread of my last two print stories for the magazine — the first on the GOP’s almost panicked now-or-never focus on 2012, and the second on the rise of Paul Ryan — is that the Republicans, led by Ryan, have made a strategic decision that the economic crisis offers them an expiring window of opportunity to pass the agenda of their dreams. Should they win the election, it is vital that they use their majority immediately and to maximal effect."

Driving this weekend? Gas prices are continuing to drop. "The national average price for a gallon of regular gasoline on Thursday was $3.67, nearly 30 cents below the high for the year reached in early April. A year ago, the average prices stood at $3.85 a gallon." So, President Obama gets the credit for that, right? Right?

Off to an early day - drive safe everyone.