Archive for February, 2015

State Of The State

February 27, 2015

The governor gave his inaugural (recently re elected) State of the State address from Wilmington Ohio. One of the unneeded and redundant ads from the re election featured a former DHL employee touting how John Kasich turned Wilmington around and got him a job. Speaking from Wilmington only reinforced the central message of success that the address resonated. Darrel Rowland of the Dispatch wrote a provocative piece entitled “What Kasich DIDN’T say in his State of the State address…” (2-25-15). Two items: “The full story on the state’s rainy-day fund. A similar line is in almost every Kasich speech: the state’s budget stabilization fund has gone from 89 cents when he took office to $1.5 billion – and now he wants to increase it to about $1.9 billion. All that’s true as far as it goes, but what’s left unsaid is that the rainy-day fund drained during the depths of Ohio’s recession had rebounded to $247 million by the time Kasich’s first budget was implemented on July 1, 2011. The actual increase in funding provided by the state to Ohio schools. He talked about the combined increase in the current state budget and his proposed two-year plan. “Now we’re going to stick $700 million more into K through 12 education. I checked on this…$1.7 billion investment over these four years, the largest investment in education in the history of the state of Ohio, because we consider education and K through 12 education to be a top priority, and I hope you agree with that.” Actually, the $700 million proposed in this two-year budget is just $459 million once you subtract out the cut to the tangible personal property tax reimbursement. Kasich tries to distinguish between the reimbursement and the actual state operating money for schools, but to districts, it’s all about the size of the state check every month. They don’t care which pot of money is going up or down.” Analysis adds that the governor also left out what any of the new jobs “created” are actually paying. Writing for the AP (STATE OF THE STATE Kasich: Tax cuts, innovation can propel successes 2-25-15) Julie Carr Smyth and Ann Sanner report “Kasich said high taxes discourage risk-taking and the cuts are needed to encourage growth, particularly among small businesses, which he called the nimble “fighter jets” of Ohio’s economy. He proposes another $500 million in cuts and a 23 percent reduction in the state’s income tax as part of the budget proposal moving through the Republican- led Legislature.” In an online piece entitled “Tea Party’s Disastrous Tax Cut Experiment Comes To Ohio” (2-12-15), Alan Pyke reports “Kasich describes his $696 million tax cut as a helping hand to small businesses. But the design of the cut would put the bulk of that benefit into the hands of just a few high-income business entities with a handful of employees while providing just a few hundred dollars each to the vast majority of the people who would benefit, according to an analysis by the Cleveland Plain Dealer. For nine out of every 10 companies that would benefit from the Kasich cut, the total yearly savings would be $364 or even less. For the remaining 10 percent of companies affected, savings could be as high as $8,000 a year, a number that Kasich administration officials acknowledge is far too low to create even a single job per company. Instead of pitching the cut as a direct job creator, the officials are marketing it as an “every little bit helps” move for hardworking entrepreneurs.” A little further on he adds: “Three-quarters of all tax entities organized as “small businesses” employ no one other than the owner. Just 11 percent of all taxpayers who report business income are small business owners with actual employees.” According to Pyke this follows the ALEC playbook already being played out by Scott Walker in Wis. And Sam Brownback in Kans. In a different online piece entitled “This Billionaire Governor Taxed the Rich and Increased the Minimum Wage — Now, His State’s Economy Is One of the Best in the Country” (2-25-15) Carl Gibson reports on Minnesota’s governor Mark Dayton (also in his second term). “Between 2011 and 2015, Gov. Dayton added 172,000 new jobs to Minnesota’s economy — that’s 165,800 more jobs in Dayton’s first term than Pawlenty added in both of his terms combined. Even though Minnesota’s top income tax rate is the 4th-highest in the country, it has the 5th-lowest unemployment rate in the country at 3.6 percent. According to 2012-2013 U.S. census figures, Minnesotans had a median income that was $10,000 larger than the U.S. average, and their median income is still $8,000 more than the U.S. average today. By late 2013, Minnesota’s private sector job growth exceeded pre-recession levels, and the state’s economy was the 5th fastest-growing in the United States. Forbes even ranked Minnesota the 9th-best state for business (Scott Walker’s “Open For Business” Wisconsin came in at a distant #32 on the same list). Despite the fear mongering over businesses fleeing from Dayton’s tax cuts, 6,230 more Minnesotans filed in the top income tax bracket in 2013, just one year after Dayton’s tax increases went through. As of January 2015, Minnesota has a $1 billion budget surplus, and Gov. Dayton has pledged to reinvest more than one third of that money into public schools. And according to Gallup, Minnesota’s economic confidence is higher than any other state.”

An elderly Newark resident once recounted how as a child, during the “great’ depression, her school teacher father regularly took the family to the river for an afternoon of fishing. She always thought of it as a kind of picnic event though, looking back, she realized this was one of the ways her parents could provide food during very hard times. 2-13-15 Dispatch (Ohio Auditor Dave Yost suggests raising hunting, fishing fees) Catherine Candisky writes “Ohio Auditor Dave Yost recommended yesterday that the state charge more for fishing and hunting permits and increase the rates for overnight stays in campgrounds and cabins.” Today (2-26-15) the AP reports of ODNR plans underway to charge people for digging ginseng.

““We’re on the move. We’re rising. We’re creating jobs. People are more hopeful,” Kasich said toward the end of the 75minute talk. “And you know what’s really great? No one’s being left out. No one.” (Carr Smyth and Sanner)

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More Refusal Of Work

February 13, 2015

Recently a passage in a work, copyrighted 2003, jumped out and dated the book’s contribution, making it questionable. The work drew on economic realities found in the decade just prior to its publication, reasonable enough if you consider how many just published “authoritative” books cover events post 911. The 2003 work promoted the advantages of savings, and how a certain equilibrium can be achieved where the interest generated from the savings may displace, offset or supplement a worker’s earnings – freeing up that individual as well as providing the opportunity of this employment availability. Analysis found all this to be quite quaint, to say the least. Unfortunately, it immediately dated the book, much as a Peter Max poster would a movie setting. No one decorates with Peter Max anymore. No one collects interest on savings (some institutions even charge for this “service”!). Yet the late capitalist dream of money making money is closer than ever to this ideal of a perpetual motion machine (today’s news is of the DOW achieving 18,000 status). What happened to savings and interest, etc.? With a recession, money essentially goes on strike, demanding it be worth more, make more, before it will return to its (new) normal function. Unlike the many countries of the EU, which agree to abide by the policies and dictates of an independent central bank (or risk reverting back to separate countries with separate currencies), the US is authorized to meet its debt through a constitutionally sanctioned mint (so much more than a peppermint pattie!). Like the story of Goldilocks and the three bears, the Federal Reserve manages that process so it is just right, not too much, not too little. Americans are repeatedly told the Federal Reserve, the country’s central money manager, cuts interest rates to stimulate job growth. The interest on little money (the savings of “the small people”) disappeared (forever?). Small price to pay for the good of the country, huh? The Fed maintains rates near zero. The jobs didn’t materialize. Big money, not needing to pay interest on money borrowed from small people’s savings, used the readily available low interest Fed money to pay off its own big debts, to pay penalties for criminal acts that led to the financial meltdown of 2008, to make speculative and/or overseas investments, mergers, etc., much in the manner one would consolidate credit card debt or refinance a mortgage with easily available cheap money. Big money essentially created more money (for itself) but not the intended jobs. Whereas the author of the unnamed 2003 economic work speaks of savings, and savings’ interest, as a means to responsible living – able to respond to the needs of the saver such as security, free time, family, or personal development – as well as for a social benefit (the expansion of the availability of employment opportunity). The disappearance of interest on savings resulted in those who opted for the 2003 prescription being forced to work, at jobs they may never have intended to consider, let alone commit to for such a low wage. A refusal of work is associated with, results from, the violence of forced labor, imposed work. It may not be the violence of an AK 47 or cattle prod but the elimination of interest paid on small sums of money (savings) effectively performs the same function. It forces human beings to work, work that they otherwise may have refused (for whatever singular reason). Yes, the recession resulted in money going on strike, insisting it receive more before it returns to the function it was meant to perform. Money can go on strike anywhere, even in right to work states.

Refusal Of Work

February 10, 2015

Downton Abbey is not the only production out of Great Britain on TV these days. There is also a show called “Doc Martin” set in a poor coastal backwater named Portwenn. Unlike Downton, where the fascination revolves around the existence and reproduction of the grand estate with its hierarchy of class, Doc Martin is about the everyday interaction of, well, everyday people. The series centers on the extreme, strong willed Dr. Martin Ellingham who is both a source of amusement as well as security for the commoners of Portwenn. These resident individuals are filled with foibles, failures, eccentricities and, of course, maladies. The Doc is likewise, except he is a man of science with an unflinching faith in its accompanying economics of efficiency. The application of this economy through the use of reason enforced by a strong will guarantees a life of health, wealth, and happiness. Wrong. Though the Doc chastises the town’s people for their folly and ineptitude, his own myopic willfulness wreaks grief and strife within his very desire.

In the spirit of Downton Abbey, John, the son of a postal worker, eschewed taking up residence in the Bexley Governor’s Mansion as anticipated by the citizens of Ohio after his initial election. He rather willed to retain his everyday residence in Westerville. This effectively cost the State of Ohio double as the official mansion cannot just be boarded up like a foreclosure, but must continue to be maintained in toto, security and all. The residence in Westerville must be retrofitted, upgraded and continuously updated, maintained with additional security necessities. John defers, saying it wouldn’t feel right to manage the official household in Bexley. In the inimitable methodology of the now defunct Lehman Brothers (from which John made his livelihood) the Governator intends to use someone else’s money to exercise his will and have his way. In an excellent article for Gannett papers (Kasich: Find jobs for Ohio’s poor or lose funding, 2-8-15) Jessie Balmert and Chrissie Thompson report that “Kasich’s budget proposal unveiled Monday would combine $310 million from two existing federal programs to help young adults between ages 16 and 24 acquire jobs that will lift them out of poverty and reliance on social services. By mid-2016, the initiative would expand to Ohioans of any age. The changes would affect millions of Ohioans. Nearly 15 percent of the state’s population received food stamps in November alone, according to the most recent Ohio Department of Job and Family Services figures.” “That could be a challenge for counties that currently direct those funds to separate agencies. Those agencies would be responsible for a set of performance metrics to retain funding from the two federal programs, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, or TANF, and the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, or WIOA. “We will set metrics that will measure coordinated efforts. And if counties do not do this, and if they do not meet the metrics … we are going to take every dime of TANF money out of that county and give it to a county that wants to do it, or we will privatize those services, or we will take it at the state level,” Kasich said. “Because we are going to fix this system comprehensively. If you think local government officials were mad at me before, just wait till they get this news.”” For the sake of economic efficiency, John the Governator wants jobs currently going unfilled in Ohio to be imposed on those currently receiving public assistance for whatever reason. County’s not getting enough public assistance recipients into these jobs will lose, well, this very same public assistance funding. Balmert and Thompson write “Potts [Joel Potts, executive director of the Ohio Job and Family Services Directors’ Association] said he hopes the metrics include more nuance than simply finding someone a job that pays $13.30 an hour with benefits — what he estimates an Ohioan would need to leave the Medicaid rolls. Ohio doesn’t have enough of those jobs, he said. “I really wish the problem the state faced was having enough jobs that pay a living wage with benefits and connecting our clients with them. … If we’re going to put pressure on something, put pressure on the entire system. And if we’re going to measure something, measure the number of jobs that are being created that pay a living wage with benefits,” Potts said.” Raising the minimum wage in Ohio would appear to be a ready-made incentive to get folks off the dole and unto payrolls. This, however, is not in keeping with John the Governator’s born again of Lehman Brothers fundamentalist belief. Downton Abbey must be maintained, and reproduced. It becomes clear from the director’s words, along with the Governator’s economic science, that the “Jobs Creation”, upon which counties will be penalized for failing to achieve, are the low paying ones (since even by Karl Rove’s calculations, the math is not there). Fundamentally, John the Governator is telling the people of Ohio to take up the cross of low paying work, and receive state assistance, or receive even less of what little assistance is currently provided. Like the doctor of Portwenn, he belittles anyone not recognizing the economic science of his headstrong path to health, wealth and happiness. Where else could it possibly lie? The created TV character, Doc Martin, has a phobia to blood. The persona’s choice to continue work as a physician is indicative of his strong will to bear this awkward impediment. John, the postal worker’s son, has a phobia to being identified as the lord of the manor with its living in a mansion. To stay true to his self-defined person, he refuses to comply, necessitating the state accommodate his exceptional refusal. When it comes to low paying jobs, the people of Ohio are not as privileged to stay true to their own person and refuse, let alone be considered as persons in the first place (with individual foibles, failures, eccentricities and maladies). John, the postal worker’s son, is entitled to refuse the task of being Jeffrey Mansion’s Governor but the subjects of the manor have no entitlement to a refusal of work. Entitlement comes only to…

Not To Be Found With The Newark News Authority

February 5, 2015

OK. Maybe Analysis got it wrong. Maybe there is a trend here that, well, we’re all a bit timid to articulate and acknowledge. In the last post, Analysis suggested a name change for The Gannett Company’s Newark Advocate based on a certain preference they hold. Maybe the new Newark News Authority is actually bringing us the news without burdening us to read it, in a kind of “Reader’s Digest” format. You know, cut down with only the essentials so it fits in with folk’s busy life style. Here’s one that will never appear in The Newark News Authority, er, Advocate:

Ted Hart for NBC4 reports “Kasich Proposes Eliminating Independent Home Health Care Providers” (2-4-15). “Ohio Gov. John Kasich wants to phase out independent home health care workers in favor of health care agencies. Kasich says eliminating the 13,000 independent workers statewide would improve oversight and accountability.” This seems to be in line with JobsOhio making sure the liquor is sold correctly (with proper oversight and accountability), and Grow Licking County making sure that the marketing of Licking County is done exclusively with singular oversight and accountability. In addition, Ted Hart reports “Home health care nurse Lindy Shuler says she has worked both as an independent and for agencies. She says she receives $41 per hour as an independent but doing the same work through an agency she is paid just $20.” (and probably without any health benefits or retirement, etc. Precarious labor at its finest) As John the Governator and Ohio’s legislative leaders like to point out, it is all about small businesses and (low paying) jobs.

Not to be found with The Newark News Authority, but worth knowing about if you are a small independent business person. And you thought the proposed Ohio Constitutional Amendment to put marijuana cultivation and marketing in the sole control of only 10 entities was blatant special interest payback. Hah!