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!

Happy Holidays

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3AGrudzi%C4%85dz_Polyptych_04.jpg

Master of the Trebon Altarpiece [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Once again conservative media is outraged over people who say “Happy Holidays, and once again I am disturbed by the vitriolic reaction against what is, to my mind, a magnanimous, generous, all encompassing gesture.  Wishing someone Happy Holidays seems rather Jesus-like to me.  I’m not sure if that makes it Christian, though.  An awful lot of Christians today seem to have a real chip on their shoulder, and don’t behave at all like the Jesus whose story is told in the gospels.

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Reasonable Gun Laws Do Not Threaten 2nd Amendment Rights

NRA-graphic

Emotional testimony v. Cold hard facts!

I believe in the importance of the Constitution with it’s Bill of Rights to the proper functioning of our democracy. I also believe Second Amendment. Without a new amendment directly annulling it being being ratified, the government cannot take away the guns of law abiding citizens.

On the other hand, I do not believe that reasonable legislation intended to keep criminals from getting and using guns to commit crimes or to keep innocent civilians, particularly children, from being killed by guns necessarily infringes on 2nd Amendment rights.

Most of all, I believe facts are facts, and that looking beyond the biased, skewed rhetoric of entrenched sides to the actual facts, we may stand a much better chance of coming up with good policy on the matter. That is clearly illustrated in the graphic at the top of this post that appeared on a friend’s Facebook page today.  There was an emotional assertion made as a hearing that is contradictory to the facts.  The emotional assertion was repeated a lot in the media.  I didn’t hear it challenged until at least the next day. Continue reading

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.
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The Absurdity of Drug Testing Welfare Recipients w/o Cause

This image has been making the rounds of social media and popped up on the walls of some of my friends today.  These services don’t have -1 or dislike buttons, but I dislike. I dislike it very much!

The post argues workers in regular jobs are tested, so welfare recipients should be, too. Well I don’t think random drug testing should be required for those who are fortunate enough to be employed, either. I had been taught that a basic, fundamental precept of our legal system has been that we are a country in which everyone is entitled to the presumption of innocence and protection from unnecessary search and seizure.  Our rights as free, independent citizens were to be infringed on only in the most dire, necessary circumstances. In my opinion, random drug testing should be permitted only for workers in jobs where public safety is dependent on their sobriety.  I’m not convinced that other employers have a right to test at all unless there is demonstrable reason to do so, either in terms of the nature of the position or in terms of job performance. If an employee does an impeccable job at work and is always there when he should be, what does it matter that he has lost every weekend for the past year due to drug induced blackouts. I do not believe a big brother state, let alone a big brother employer.

Let’s also remember who we’re proposing to test.
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Why I Worry About Turnout

On the CBS Evening News, Bob Schieffer just made the point that no matter what the polls say, everything ultimately depends on voter turnout, and that Republicans have been better with turning out their supporters in recent elections.  This really worries me.  I am not registered with a party but I am, philosophically, a liberal.  I believe put those policies are best for America and so I nearly always vote Democratic.  But I must confess that in this election my interests are also personal.

I worry Republican advances in Congress will jeopardize aspects of the new health care law.  Provisions of the law are still coming into effect, so many people don’t realize how beneficial it is. Rollbacks will have minimal impact on me as a resident of Massachusetts, but I spent last year in another state and I can assure you, this system is better. I’m still cleaning up some of the financial mess from an inadequate insurance plan last year.

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SAR Academic Freedom Media Review, March 24 – 30, 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.

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Civil society demands inquest into student’s death, more academic freedom
University World News, 3/30

Academics, journalists vow to work for freedom
Pravit Rojanaphruk, The Nation, Thailand, 3/29

Mixing politics and science doesn’t help students learn
R. Matthew Poteat, Newsleader, 3/29

Indian Police Round Up Tibetan Exiles Before Hu Visit
Voice of America, 3/28

Saudi Arabia: Stop Arbitrary Arrests, Travel Bans on Opposition
Human Rights Watch, 3/28

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