Are the Financial Reforms Designed to Prevent Another Banking Crisis in Jeopardy?

I will never understand why people say Republicans are good for the economy.  Historically it seems to me that the kind of laissez-faire deregulation they tend to advocate produces short term economic benefit for a few, with no real gains in productivity for the nation as a whole.  The gains are illusory, and when things collapse, the results are devastating.  I worry about what Republicans will try with such an overwhelming majority in Congress.  I hope the President and Congressional Democrats remain strong.

Below is the beginning of an excellent piece from Moyers & Company that adds to my doubts.  It’s worth reading.

Republicans and Wall Street Say To Hell With Protecting the Public!

January 17, 2015 by Bill Moyers

This post first appeared on BillMoyers.com.

Since December, Congress has twice passed measures to weaken regulations in the Dodd-Frank financial law that are intended to reduce the risk of another financial meltdown.

In the last election cycle, Wall Street banks and financial interests spent over $1.2 billion on lobbying and campaign contributions, according to Americans for Financial Reform. Their spending strategy appears to be working. Just this week, the House passed further legislation that would delay by two years some key provisions of Dodd-Frank. “[Banks] want to be able to do things their way, and that’s very dangerous.” MIT economist Simon Johnson tells Bill.

“‘Here we go again’ — I think that’s exactly the motto, or the bumper sticker for this Congress. It’s crazy, it’s unconscionable, but that is the reality.”

Lawmakers are pinning these provisions to Dodd-Frank onto bigger must-past bills like spending measures that the president doesn’t dare veto.

Bill Moyers: The safeguards that Congress is tearing down, even as we speak, were put in place after the financial disaster of 2008 to prevent another one like it from happening. Why do you think the Republicans are trying to sabotage them?

Read his Simon Johnson’s response and the rest of the interview at the Moyers & Company site, where you’ll also find much more coverage of the issue.

 

Teen Birth Rate Here and There

from "Trends in Teen Pregnancy and Childbearing." Adolescent Health Topics. The Office of Adolescent Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 12 Dec. 2014.

from “Trends in Teen Pregnancy and Childbearing.” Adolescent Health Topics/Reproductive Health. The Office of Adolescent Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 12 Dec. 2014.

On Friday WBUR reported from Boston

The birth rate among teens in Massachusetts is at its lowest recorded level in the state’s history, a report out Friday says.

The birth rate of teens ages 15-19 fell 14 percent last year, from 14 births per 1,000 women in 2012 to 12 births per 1,000 women in 2013, the Massachusetts Department of Health reported.

“This is terrific news for all Massachusetts families, and a dramatic indication that our decisions to invest in our young people — through education, support and resources — can have a real and lasting impact on their lives and in their communities,” Gov. Deval Patrick said in a statement.

Indeed, according to the Department of Health and Human Services,  the statistics on teenage birth rates were also terrific news for Massachusetts and for most of New England, New York, New Jersey, and Minnesota in 2011 when all those states already had rates below 20 births per 1000 women between the ages of 15 and 19.  They were the only ones, and they really stand out on the map. Continue reading

Restore Basic Consumer Protections to Student Loans!

An email I received today from MoveOn puts the case for the Student Borrowers’ Bill of Rights very well.  This is a very important piece of legislation.

Did you know that, like murder and treason, there is no statute of limitations on the collections of student loan debt?

Did you know that student loans do not enjoy bankruptcy protections just like any other type of debt in America, including gambling debts?

Did you know that defaulted borrowers face the potential of having their professional licenses suspended, as well as having their wages, Social Security benefits, tax returns and other benefits garnished, without a court order?

It’s well past time we right these wrongs and that’s why Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-FL) has introduced the Student Borrowers’ Bill of Rights (H.R. 3892).

Please sign the petition and share it widely!

Too True To Be Funny

Did you see this headline?  “Dental assistant fired for being ‘irresistible’ to boss

When I first heard it, I thought it must be from The Onion or some other satirical news outlet, because it just seemed to ridiculous. I didn’t actually hear the report until the evening on ABC News when I learned the incident had not only occurred, but the Iowa Supreme Court had upheld the right of the dentist to do so. Ryan Foley, reporting from Iowa city in an Associated Press article wrote:

December 24, 2012 (WPVI) — A dentist acted legally when he fired an assistant that he found attractive simply because he and his wife viewed the woman as a threat to their marriage, the all-male Iowa Supreme Court ruled Friday.

The court ruled 7-0 that bosses can fire employees they see as an “irresistible attraction,” even if the employees have not engaged in flirtatious behavior or otherwise done anything wrong. Such firings may be unfair, but they are not unlawful discrimination under the Iowa Civil Rights Act because they are motivated by feelings and emotions, not gender, Justice Edward Mansfield wrote.

An attorney for Fort Dodge dentist James Knight said the decision, the first of its kind in Iowa, is a victory for family values because Knight fired Melissa Nelson in the interest of saving his marriage, not because she was a woman.

I don’t even know where to begin questioning the absurdity of the ruling.
Continue reading

Tell Congress Not To Double Interest on Student Loans

Prepare yourself: on July 1, as many as 8 million college students will see their interest rates on federally subsidized student loans double, from 3.4% to 6.8%. According to the U.S. Public Interest Research Group, that increase amounts to the average Stafford loan borrower’s paying $2,800 more over a standard 10-year repayment term for loans made after June 30.

It’s worse for those students who take out the most money. Those who borrow the maximum $23,000 in subsidized student loans will see their debt load upped by $5,000 over a 10-year repayment plan and $11,000 over a 20-year repayment plan.  – Kayla Webley, TIME Magazine.

Fortunately this doesn’t affect those of us already carrying such loans and in repayment, though I never stop waiting for that shoe to drop.  I still remember far too well the interest on my supplemental loans being raised to 8% when Republicans controlled Congress under the Reagan administration.  It’s part of the reason my burden is so high now.  Fortunately I no longer have that kind of loan, thanks to consolidation.

The issue with the rate is, of course, budgetary.  Well, budgetary and political, as the article goes on to explain.

Continue reading

CAIR Asks South Dakota Governor to Veto Anti-Sharia Bill

No Bigotry in Our LawsCAIR Asks South Dakota Governor to Veto Anti-Sharia Bill.

Have you heard about this bill?  Well it’s pissing me off and South Dakota isn’t the only state with one in process!  I urge you to click on the link above and read what the Council on  American-Islamic Relations has to say about it.  I’m not angry about it because  it once again demonstrates the appalling lack of understanding and intolerable amount of prejudice must be endured by Muslims in the United States. That deeply saddens me more than it pisses me off.  As an educator, I will do my best to fight against this kind of ignorance.    Americans are innately curious and open-minded, there is simply so much misinformation that has  so massively skewed perceptions.

I am annoyed, ok a little pissed off, that not only South Dakota, but approximately two dozen other state legislatures are wasting time on such frivolous bills when there are so many other pressing issues facing the states and our nation as a whole.  What’s all this talk I keep hearing about budget crunches,  fiscal austerity, and cutbacks?  Both Virginia and West Virginia have debated this kind of a law, as well.  These people, our elected representatives, don’t even understand our system of government, it seems. They pass frivolous, unnecessary legislation to prevent things that are already impossible, instead of dealing with real issues.

Continue reading

SAR Academic Freedom Media Review – January 7-13, 2012

The Scholars at Risk media review seeks to raise awareness about academic freedom issues in the news. Subscription information and archived media reviews are available here. The views and opinions expressed in these articles are not necessarily those of Scholars at Risk.

——————————————————-

Texas Can Regulate Secular Matters at Religious Colleges, Opinion Says
Katherine Mangan, The Chronicle of Higher Education, 1/13

US teachers offered support for climate change lessons
Suzanne Goldenberg, The Guardian, 1/13

Free Speech and (Offensive) Art
Daniel Grant, Inside Higher Ed, 1/13

Stormy waters ahead as ‘disruptive forces’ sweep the old guard
Sarah Cunnane, Times Higher Education, 1/12

Independence, transparency key to research work of ESRI
Frances Ruane, The Irish Times, 1/12

Continue reading

Athletics and Budget Cuts

Visit the site

I saw an interesting report about the costs of college sports on the PBS program Need to Know tonight. According to the report, the football coach at the University of Alabama earns 6 million a year, more than twice the salary of the nation’s highest paid college president. The Men’s Basketball Coach at the University of Connecticut is the highest paid employee in the state. These are both public universities, by the way.

That, alone, is shocking. It is often argued that the sports teams bring in revenue in ticket sales and merchandise licensing, but people buy plenty of merchandise from colleges that don’t play in the big tournaments. It’s also argued the sports teams bring in exposure, but Harvard and Yale don’t field NCAA teams and they seem to have little trouble attracting students. Ultimately, if a potential student has a choice between a really prestigious school that places graduates in great jobs and and a college well known for athletics, I dare say, most would pick the college that offers the better job prospects.

Watch the full episode. See more Need To Know.

Continue reading

Academic Freedom Media Review, February 19-25, 2011

The Scholars at Risk media review seeks to raise awareness about academic freedom issues in the news. Subscription information and archived media reviews are available here. The views and opinions expressed in these articles are not necessarily those of Scholars at Risk.

YEMEN: Student protests gather strength after deaths
Ahmed Mohamoud Elmi, University World News, 2/25

Anti-Union Bill Passes Wisconsin Assembly
The Chronicle of Higher Education, 2/25

Saudi Intellectuals Demand Reforms
The New York Times, 2/24

Continue reading

Egypt Decides! Let’s Stand Back for a While

Saturday, 12 February 2011, Day 1 Freedom - Victory Tahrir Square, Photo by Darla Hueske, Creative Commons license, Some rights reserved

These are exciting times! The citizens revolution in Tunisia started a tidal wave of pro-democracy protests across the Arab world, and the resignation of Hosni Mubarak form the Presidency in Egypt proves there is no stopping it.

Fortunately, this wave has not caused the death and destruction tidal waves usually do, because it is the people themselves who are the wave, and it is the elite who are being swept away, not in a bloody coup, but through real people power. Final costs have yet to be assessed. People were jailed and others killed, but violence and destruction to property have been minimal. The police were brutal and ruthless and far too many were killed, but protests continued and the police disappeared quickly. After that, the one significant effort of Mubarak loyalist to crack heads, backfired terribly.

Most Americans are excited by this wave of democracy and have an innate tendency to support it. Others got very nervous when the wave hit Egypt. What happens if the Muslim brotherhood takes over? There are even voices who get far to much airplay in the media and too much ink in the press who say that people in the region are incapable of self governance and need strong arm leadership. The most looney voice has to be Glenn Beck who fears Mubarak’s fall will open the door to a Islamist Caliphate that will spread until it meets and joins forces with a Chinese-led “red” wave on a quest for world domination.
Continue reading