Saturday, February 13, 2010

Krugman: Clueless, Arts funding, Job losses

From Mark Valen

Obama Reduces Arts Funding

"On February 1, 2010, President Obama released his proposed budget
for fiscal year 2011, which includes funding cuts to both the
National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the National Endowment for
the Humanities (NEH). The funding to each institution will be cut by
more than $6 million, dropping their current budgets of $167.5
million to $161.3 million. (....) It should be emphasized that while
President Obama is cutting funding for the arts, he is simultaneously
making significant increases in military spending, in fact, the
Pentagon's own statistics show Obama is now spending more on the
military than did former President Bush."


From: Michael W. Hathaway

It's hard for me to believe the terrible wrongness of Obama's political
calculations, quite putting aside the moral ones. This is either immoral

Oh. My. God. Obama Clueless

by Paul Krugman
NY Times Blogs: February 10, 2009

I'm with Simon Johnson here: how is it possible, at this late date, for
Obama to be this clueless?

The lead story on Bloomberg right now contains excerpts from an interview
with Business Week which tells us:
President Barack Obama said he doesn't "begrudge" the $17 million bonus
awarded to JPMorgan Chase & Co. Chief Executive Officer Jamie Dimon or the
$9 million issued to Goldman Sachs Group Inc. CEO Lloyd Blankfein, noting
that some athletes take home more pay.

The president, speaking in an interview, said in response to a question that
while $17 million is "an extraordinary amount of money" for Main Street,
"there are some baseball players who are making more than that and don't get
to the World Series either, so I'm shocked by that as well."

"I know both those guys; they are very savvy businessmen," Obama said in the
interview yesterday in the Oval Office with Bloomberg BusinessWeek, which
will appear on newsstands Friday. "I, like most of the American people,
don't begrudge people success or wealth. That is part of the free- market

Obama sought to combat perceptions that his administration is anti-business
and trumpeted the influence corporate leaders have had on his economic
policies. He plans to reiterate that message when he speaks to the Business
Roundtable, which represents the heads of many of the biggest U.S.
companies, on Feb. 24 in Washington.

Oh. My. God.

First of all, to my knowledge, irresponsible behavior by baseball players
hasn't brought the world economy to the brink of collapse and cost millions
of innocent Americans their jobs and/or houses.

And more specifically, not only has the financial industry has been bailed
out with taxpayer commitments; it continues to rely on a taxpayer backstop
for its stability. Don't take it from me, take it from the rating agencies:

The planned overhaul of US financial rules prompted Standard & Poor's to
warn on Tuesday it might downgrade the credit ratings of Citigroup and Bank
of America on concerns that the shake-up would make it less likely that the
banks would be bailed out by US taxpayers if they ran into trouble again.

The point is that these bank executives are not free agents who are earning
big bucks in fair competition; they run companies that are essentially wards
of the state. There's good reason to feel outraged at the growing appearance
that we're running a system of lemon socialism, in which losses are public
but gains are private. And at the very least, you would think that Obama
would understand the importance of acknowledging public anger over what's

But no. If the Bloomberg story is to be believed, Obama thinks his key to
electoral success is to trumpet "the influence corporate leaders have had on
his economic policies."

We're doomed.

© 2010 New York Times

Paul Krugman is professor of Economics and International Affairs at
Princeton University and a regular columnist for The New York Times. Krugman
was the 2008 recipient of the Nobel Prize in Economics. He is the author of
numerous books, including The Conscience of A Liberal, and his most recent,
The Return of Depression Economics.


Job losses a social state of emergency

By Ajamu Dillahunt
ISS: February 6, 2010

Communities across the United States are experiencing the most difficult
economic times since the Great Depression. Our region in particular is
suffering under the weight of joblessness, foreclosures and escalating
incarceration rates.

Changes in the political landscape that led to President Obama's victory in
2008 have not translated into changes in the quality of life for many
residents of our region.

As reported by the Institute for Southern Studies in their recent report, 8
out the 13 Southern states have unemployment rates over 10%, rank number 8
of the 10 states with the lowest median income and occupy position number 11
of the 15 states with the highest rates of incarceration.

The popular wisdom in the African American community says that when white
America gets a cold, the black community gets pneumonia. Clearly what is a
rough recession for the rest of the country is a Depression for African
Americans. Black unemployment was 16.2% in December of last year in
comparison to the white rate of 9%, a drop from November.

According to United for a Fair Economy, blacks earn 62 cents for every
dollar of white income. Blacks have 10 cents of net worth for every dollar
of white net wealth. Blacks are 3 times as likely to live in poverty as
whites. Black unemployment in North Carolina is a frightening 14%, 5 points
higher than that for whites. This last statistic is the basis for a "social
state of emergency."

What we need to bring an end to the suffering is a public jobs program that
pays living wages, provides training and offers sustainable employment.
Billions of dollars have been spent to bring relief to the banking industry
but not nearly enough has been done for the working families in our urban
and rural communities.

We want a jobs program that provides funds for states, municipalities,
non-profits and small businesses to immediately hire the long termed
unemployed to do work that rebuilds our communities.

Weatherization, repair and rehabilitation of schools and other public
facilities, daycare and other human services functions are examples of what
the newly employed workers can do while helping local economies with the
income and spending that has long been absent because of extreme
joblessness. Tax incentives to small business that hire will not generate
enough jobs at the rate they are needed.

Those lawmakers in Washington like the Congressional Black Caucus who have
advocated a targeted approach to job creation have identified the best way
to help those in greatest need. Communities with the highest rates of
unemployment and greatest number of unemployed low income persons should
receive a rapid infusion of federal dollars that will come from redirecting
funds that were set aside to assist the financial institutions and
increasing taxes on the wealthy.

We are asking that our Congressional delegation, along with our state and
local officials join us in supporting legislation like the Put America to
Work Act, HR 4268 that will create 1 million jobs. There are other
initiatives like the Community Jobs Emergency Employment Program being
advanced by groups like the Center for Community Change which calls for 2
million jobs over a two-year period.

And we call on our friends to support the efforts of coalitions like Jobs
for America Now that call for an extension of unemployment insurance
benefits and COBRA benefits, in addition to a robust jobs program. We are
willing to work with state government in crafting projects that will utilize
the funds from a public jobs program without displacing current employees.

Regrettably, the initial federal government efforts were aimed at Wall
Street. More recently the target for support has been the so-called "Main
Street." We would add to that a call for aid for "Martin Luther King Blvd"
and "South Street."

Communities that were struggling before the recession have to be a priority
if the entire state and nation is going to recover.

Ajamu Dillahunt is a long-time labor and community activist in the South,
outreach director at the N.C. Justice Center and co-chair of the board of
the Institute for Southern Studies. The following speech was given at a
press conference for HKonJ, an annual march in Raleigh, N.C. promoting a
state-wide progressive agenda. The march this year will take place on
February 13.

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