Archive for January, 2016

Analysis Award Show

January 28, 2016

(In compliance with full disclosure, Analysis owns no stock) In conjunction with the ongoing season of awards shows, Analysis presents its own. The Clint Eastwood endowed “Empty Chair” Award goes to Fox News’ 1-28-16 GOP debate for their sequel to Clint’s original award winning performance at the Republican National Convention of 4 years ago. The Ronald Reagan “There You Go Again” Prize is bestowed on the leaders of Ohio’s Charter Schools. ““The reality is — the vast majority of kids that come are being underserved because we don’t have the funding that we should so I think that there should be a call for some way to sort of rectify on this funding,” Taylor [David Taylor, leader of Dayton Early College Academy] said.” (Charter School Leaders Say Shutting Down Bad Schools Would Be Effective By Andy Chow, 1-27-16 [Ohio] Statehouse News Bureau) Where have we heard that before? (Hint: replace the word “Charter” with the word “Public”) The Koch Bros’ Americans For Prosperity Entrepreneurship Opportunity Trophy goes to the entire State of Texas for creating jobs and start up businesses with their implementation of legalized open carry. Already the cowboy hat producers have reported an uptick in the sale of black, and white hats. New apps and programs are being generated online for discerning which are the good guys with guns from the bad guys with guns (“Programs. Get your program. Can’t tell the players without a program. Weekly, Daily and Hourly updates are available!”). Spinoffs include recent start-ups that will move you from good to bad and vice versa. This year’s Rahm Emanuel “Timing Is Everything” Award was heavily dominated by local entrants. Even the President’s State of the Union proposals was overshadowed by recent Ted Strickland and Rob Portman position changes. The Award went to our own City of Newark for its success in obtaining a Boots and Pedals Community Policing Grant during an election year; what brilliance to fund police crowd control with this grant at upcoming downtown political rallies – priceless! Coming in a close second was Licking County’s own savvy State Senator, Jay Hottinger, for co-sponsoring the soon to be authorized defunding of Planned Parenthood, at a time when Planned Parenthood bashing was esteemed and politically correct. Now that such bashing has been totally discredited (By Texas, of all places. Texas!) and is no longer PC, “it’s just too late to start over.” (in the inimitable words of Jay’s colleague Barb Sears). Senator Hottinger lost out because of his recent, rather johnnie-come-lately authority on bestiality. Better luck next time Senator. Finally, Analysis presents the most prestigious award – the coveted As Seen On TV “Bait And Switch Promotional”. This years competition was fierce and close. The nominees are: Sarah Palin for blaming Barack Obama for her son Track’s criminal behavior and arrest (always politically incorrect to bash your partner), The entire state GOP of Michigan for blaming the City of Flint potable water supply debacle on pipes rather than the state’s own deliberately initiated switch to polluted river water, And the entire cast of 2016 GOP presidential candidates for attributing America’s inconvenient ills, trials and travails to the workings of ISIS (ISIL,”Daesh”). And the winner is…Michigan’s GOP leadership who have consistently denied, disparaged, and actively undermined and suppressed manmade climate change as well as state-wide environmental regulation and stewardship in favor of prioritized fiscal austerity. Managing to shift media attention away from a known polluted and corrosive water source (the Flint River) by placing the blame on the personal responsibility of homeowners’ plumbing (even those with copper or plastic pipes) is a veritable stroke of marketing genius. Kudos Michigan GOP!

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Rent Comes First

January 27, 2016

During his recent State of the Union address the President outlined various retirement account proposals for his last budget. Again, this morning NPR was quoting him as urging Americans to save more. Relying on just Social Security will find them entering poverty on retirement. Analysis finds all this well and good, prudent within the Judeo Christian ethic of personal responsibility. But is it in accord with contemporary America, actual existing America? Not quite 4 years ago, then Presidential candidate Mitt Romney was caught on an audio recording dismissing 40 some percent of Americans who relied on some form of government assistance, thereby guaranteeing his opponent their vote. It is no coincidence that Romney’s statistics mirrored those of the number of people in America who have no financial net worth – their debts equal or are greater than their assets. Within this 40+% are the 20+% of Americans who are officially defined as in poverty. These 40+% live from one source of income to the next. Catastrophic medical events, losing a job, etc. results in crisis and deterioration of any sense of personal financial responsibility, the kind the President is encouraging. Analysis finds it disingenuous to advocate for more savings when 40+% of the population is not in a position to “afford” it. Though economist claim we are in recovery, and Conservatives are racing to shut off the government assistance programs because unemployment is at the magical 5% neighborhood, wages have been quite stagnant, and for most of the 40+%, quite inadequate. Reuters confirms all this with a 1-26-16 report by Lisa Lambert entitled “Obama makes new push to expand retirement savings”. “The proposal would also allow smaller employers to create pooled 401(k) plans. The U.S. workplace is undergoing a transformation, especially with the rise of the “on-demand” economy, which will lead workers to change jobs more frequently and face new challenges in saving for retirement, [Labor Secretary Tom] Perez said. Up-and-coming companies that provide goods and services on demand through phone apps mostly rely on freelancers who are not tied to jobs and traditional employer-sponsored retirement accounts.” This is notable on two counts. During the last month the stock market, to which 401(k) plans are tied, dropped significantly costing individual plans in excess of $8,000 (relying on Social Security will result in poverty?). Additionally, with the changing U S economy (“freelancers who are not tied to jobs and traditional employer-sponsored retirement accounts.”), plans and proposals centered on “employer” provided whatever (healthcare or retirement, etc.) are somewhat misguided. Analysis begins to sense that an individual mandate for an individual working class emerges as default. Eric Pianin for the online Fiscal Times (1-26-16) writes “Why half a million people will lose their food stamps this year” “At least 500,000 people will lose their food stamp benefits this year as many states revert to a strict three-month limitation on benefits, according to a report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. At the extreme, as many as one million of the country’s poorest people will lose food assistance, which averages $150 to $170 per person per month. Those affected are people aged 18 to 49 who aren’t disabled or raising minor children. Most of them live a subsistence existence, scraping by with the help of government and charitable organizations and low-paying jobs, although college students are also eligible.” Notable to consider is: “According to the CBPP analysis, the three-month time limit will be back in force in more than 40 states — including 23 states that haven’t imposed this requirement since the start of the recession. “Even SNAP recipients whose state operates few or no employment programs and fails to offer them a spot in a work or training program—which is the case in most states—have their benefits cut off after three months, irrespective of whether they are searching diligently for a job,” the report states.” Analysis continues to reflect on the President’s urging that Americans save so as not to retire in poverty. Reporting for CityLab Henry Grabar headlines “More Americans Are Going Hungry in the Suburbs”. Analysis finds no one to be immune, though all are racing to retirement (actual or only Powerball fantasized). The suburbs Grabar covers is “Rockland County, New York, a bedroom community near the nation’s largest city and one of the top 40 counties in the United States in household income. Still, Rockland, like many suburban counties, has gotten poorer. The percentage of individuals living in poverty here has grown by 5 percent since the millennium. Ramapo, a sprawling Rockland town along the New Jersey border with 126,000 residents, is one of more than a dozen New York City suburbs that had a greater proportion of residents living in poverty in 2010 than in 2000. More than 5,000 Ramapo residents depend on People to People to put food on their table every month.” Most notable and that resonates with actual existing Licking County (at least the one Tim Bubb described in his Newark Advocate Year In Review column of 1-10-16) is : ““You have all the problems of urban hunger, and then you have the physical distance and access problems that are generally less of a problem in compact urban areas,” explained Joel Berg, the director of the New York City Coalition Against Hunger and a Rockland native. Berg’s mother, late in her life, qualified for food assistance, but physically wasn’t able to reach the providers. Transportation is the primary challenge of getting food—and anything else—to the poor in the suburbs. “No one walks in Rockland County,” Serratore said [Diane Serratore, executive director of People To People]. In any case, the distances are too far. More than 4,000 patrons of People to People, for example, come from Haverstraw, a faded industrial town on the Hudson, nine miles north of the pantry. “Rent comes first,” explained Charleen Borchers, a Rockland resident who works at McDonald’s. “Car insurance comes second. Then, at the bottom of the list, is food.””

Will The Real Conservative Please Stand Up

January 22, 2016

Though Tom Zawistowski might beg to differ, Ohio’s Governor and current Republican presidential wannabe, John Kasich, has always represented himself as a conservative. The current imbroglio within the party of William Buckley and John Birch Society co-founder Fred Koch leads Analysis to ponder conservatism, especially in view of Ohio’s Governor participating in on stage spectacles with the likes of Ted Cruz, Donald Trump and Carly Fiorina. At a less widely covered spectacle in Columbia SC with ditto participants sans Trump and Cruz (Republican Candidates, Minus Donald Trump and Ted Cruz, Play Nice at Poverty Forum By Ashley Parker, 1-9-16 NY Times) Kasich is quoted as saying “Do you realize that there are people who are on government assistance who can’t take a pay raise because they will lose more than what they gain?” Zawistowski et al. found Kasich’s embrace of Medicaid through the Affordable Care Act to signal his disregard for “conservative principals” (whatever that may be – the subject of this inquiry). In his presidential candidacy Kasich continuously references his years as U S House Representative and his conservative credentials through various successes for the GOP. This was, of course, just after the Presidency of George H. Bush, who was described as a compassionate conservative. Mindful of Kasich’s fellow Republican Barb Sears’ sponsorship and shepherding to passage of House Bill 394 (covered by previous blog postings), Analysis questions how Kasich’s quote at the Kemp Forum on Expanding Opportunity ought to be read. As Catherine Candisky writes (in the previous post), Sears’ ardor for reform could be considered as exceptional, matched only by North Carolina’s legislature. Then again, HB 394 may be the tip of an arrow marking the trajectory of such reform across the country (thanks to the state by state strategy of ALEC and the Koch bro’s AFP). The NY Times editorial of 1-21-16, Kentucky’s Bizarre Attack on Health Reform, describes just such an act of conservative reformation ardor, the dismantling of “Obamacare” and its accompanying Medicaid by recently elected Governor Matt Bevin. It must be noted that, like the Governor of KY’s neighboring state of Ohio, Bevin also wraps himself in the mantle of conservatism. Salon’s deputy politics editor, Sophia Tesfaye, analyzes Paul Krugman’s NY Times blog posting in a piece entitled Paul Krugman bursts David Brooks’ fantasyland version of conservatism: “Actually existing conservatism is a radical doctrine” (10-14-15). In it she writes: “Paul Krugman, not one to spike the football, offered a slightly shady “OK, I guess,” to Brooks’ willfully naive definition of conservatism as standing for “intellectual humility” and a “belief in steady, incremental change,”” “Conservatism is “a preference for reform rather than revolution, a respect for hierarchy, precedence, balance and order, and a tone of voice that is prudent, measured and responsible,” Brooks wrote. But “that kind of conservatism left the Republican Party a very long time ago,” Krugman reminds him:… Krugman had to remind his colleague that “by David’s definition Barack Obama is pretty conservative,” citing Obamacare as an example of incremental rather than radical change.” Tesfaye concludes by stating: “My point is that if what you want is traditional conservatism, the only people with real influence with anything like that mindset are Democrats. Actually existing conservatism is a radical doctrine.” This really broadens the political spectrum of left and right with Democrats described as conservatives and conservatives like Ted Cruz as…? Analysis wrote all that to write this: Kasich’s SC Kemp Forum quote could also be interpreted in conjunction with his fellow Ohio Republican and conservative colleague, Barb Sears. What HB 394 is doing is trying to eliminate (cut in half) unemployment compensation “to ensure Ohio provides the best economic opportunities for both employers and employees.” (Sears. Ohio House Of Representatives website guest column 11-19-15). Assuming “Actually existing conservatism is a radical doctrine”, Kasich could likewise answer his rhetorical “Do you realize that there are people who are on government assistance who can’t take a pay raise because they will lose more than what they gain?” along with Sears and Bevin. By cutting government assistance the only gain would be through a pay raise thereby ensuring “Ohio provides the best economic opportunities for both employers and employees.”

Ohio House Bill 394

January 17, 2016

Writing for the Columbus Dispatch on 1-11-16, Catherine Candisky reported on Representative Barbara Sears’ Ohio House Bill 394 (Unemployment benefits changes would ‘dismantle’ anti-poverty program, advocates say). This stealth bill is plodding along the legislative track on its way to being signed into law by presidential wannabe John Kasich. “At a news conference on Monday in Columbus, Advocates for Ohio’s Future, a coalition of nearly 500 health- and human-services groups, said Sears’ bill goes further than any other state to limit benefits to the unemployed.” Currently the proposed bill is in committee, the house insurance committee (previous stomping ground of Newark’s Jay Hottinger who now is in the Senate). This combination of practically non existent press coverage, “grass roots” (conservative base) sponsorship, and radical sweeping change (from those ostensibly opposed to change) may have Ohioans waking up one morning not recognizing the state they live in. AP headlines like yesterday’s “Kansas’ uncertain state finances weighs on some lawmakers”(by Jim Suhr and John Hanna 1-16-16) and a plethora recently from the incredible tragedy in Flint Michigan (state fiscal austerity ahead of public health considerations) indicate determining that problems have been eliminated or don’t exist by legislative fiat simply doesn’t work. The outcomes can be severe. Candisky quotes Sears as saying “it’s just too late to start over.” (is it?), though she is entertaining amendments for those deemed exceptional. “The bill, she said, seeks to shore up Ohio’s unemployment-compensation fund by severely limiting benefits to workers who lose a job. According to an analysis by the independent Legislative Service Commission, H.B. 394 would reduce taxes paid by employers into Ohio’s unemployment compensation fund by $313 million on average each year through 2025. During that same time, benefits to workers would be reduced by an average of $475 million annually.” “In addition, the bill would: Reduce benefits to 12 weeks in times of low unemployment, tying Ohio with North Carolina for lowest in the country. Eliminate added benefits for workers with dependents. Mandate that employees work during at least three quarters in the year to qualify for benefits, a requirement in no other state. Disqualify from benefits any worker who violates their employer handbook, a requirement in no other state. Reduce benefits for senior workers based on the amount of Social Security they receive.” Last Sunday (1-10-16) The Newark Advocate ran Licking County Commissioner Tim Bubb’s “A look back and ahead for Licking County”. In true “year in review “ fashion, the accomplishments and successes of the Licking County Chamber of Commerce administered public/private partnership, Grow Licking County, were touted. Following SCOTUS Citizen United ruling precedent (that corporations are persons), the commissioner, and Grow Licking County board member, cited corporate entity after corporate entity responsible for the greatness of Licking County Ohio in the past and upcoming year. Not a single living human being was named in the entire column! Analysis finds no change in the county’s poverty within that period, nor any mention of it by Commissioner Bubb. At the end of her article Candisky reports “Sears said the trend toward part-time workers suggests Ohio’s tax climate is not competitive or attractive to businesses.” Do tell.