Posts Tagged ‘Balanced Budget Amendment’

The Man Who Never Returned

November 11, 2015

Old MTA song about a poor fellow (Charlie) who boarded the metro train in Boston with enough money in pocket to pay his fare only to learn that the fare had increased while he was in transit (kinda like the price of gas going up 20% while grocery shopping. Should have bought it before.).  “When he got there the conductor told him, “One more nickel.” Charlie could not get off that train.” The song is also known as “Charlie on the MTA” by Jacqueline Steiner and Bess Lomax Hawes, 1949. The chorus, that is repeated while the story is told, ends with “He may ride forever ‘neath the streets of Boston. He’s the man who never returned.” Analysis finds this to be an unforeseen outcome of pay to ride while on board. Much as pay to stay has unforeseen pitfalls. Jessie Balmert (“ACLU: Don’t charge Ohioans for jail stays” 11-9-15, Gannett) covers a report released by the ACLU on county lock ups charging incarcerated inmates for their stay. Reuters gives a different perspective in “Ohio pay-to-stay prisons saddle poor inmates with debt: ACLU” (11-9-15) by Kim Palmer. Though Balmert’s headline admonition appears to evoke “Spare the rod” sentiments, Palmer’s report has better math. Balmert states “The Licking County jail assesses a $10 initial booking fee and a daily fee of $60, according to the report. The jail where Mahoney stayed in Marion County has one of the highest fees in the state: a $100 booking fee and $50 per day. That amounts to $1,600 for a 30-day sentence.” Even Karl Rove would have to admit that the same stay in the Licking County lock up would cost the inmate another $210. Where’s someone who has committed petty theft for monetary gain supposed to come up with that kind of cash? Unlike Balmert, Palmer actually quotes from the report (maybe even read it): “”Pay-to-stay jail fees are the next generation of unending debts that seek to tether low-income people to the criminal justice system,” the report states. “These fees are insidious: loading formerly incarcerated people with increasing amounts of debt make it nearly impossible for even the most well-meaning person to become a productive member of society.”” According to Palmer, 40 of Ohio’s 75 counties charge for incarceration. If Licking County were in Louisiana, failure to pay the 30 day lock up charge would result in, you guessed it, further incarceration (“Poor old Charlie!”). Some states further incarcerate those failing to pay fees and costs associated with their convictions/incarceration (“Did he ever return?”). In the spirit of “new” journalism, Balmert attempts to present “the other side” with: ““It’s unfortunate that we have people in any economic situation that are committing crimes,” said Robert Cornwell, executive director of the Buckeye State Sheriffs’ Association. “But there is a cost to that.”” China is way ahead of the executive director on that one. With capital punishment cases, the kin of the deceased are presented with the bullet and a bill for the cost of execution. A Kafkaesque speculation would be the eventual fee and charge for the cost of execution levied on the estates and survivors of those subjected to capital punishment here in the U.S. Failure to pay in Louisiana (and elsewhere) would rekindle the cycle all over again. Will the circle be unbroken?


Serving God And Mammon

April 1, 2015

No, this is not about a new restaurant opening in Newark. Analysis shows it is time to take a close look at presidential wannabe John Kasich, the postman’s son. Currently John is on a campaign to market his greatest success – having been part of a congress during the almost accidental and unusual period when the US Government had a balanced budget. A fluke, really, since it is not the norm (though many congresses have been elected and passed resolutions to insure just that). Now John is promoting legislating this as a norm for any situation, contingency, or time through an amendment to the US Constitution (did he take his cues from the gambling conglomerate’s amendment to the Ohio Constitution allowing casinos in Ohio?). Comparing fiscal irresponsibility to inebriation, this amendment would usher in a new Prohibition. Failing to get it passed (or supported) John benefits either way by calling attention to his part in this exceptional period in US history when the budget was balanced, that and his own exceptionalism.

Every so often survey statistics are trotted out showing what percentage of professed religious adherents indulge in regular repeated behavior that is counter to the tenets (teachings/admonitions) of their religion (one could say “faith” but Analysis will cover that too). Couples who regularly exercise artificial birth control while participating fully in the liturgy of an affiliation that bans this, cohabitation (“shacking up”, “living in sin”, whatever) within a canon that only legitimates committed marriage, children out of wedlock, keeping the holidays while not keeping kosher or penance or fasting, etc. The dichotomy is rationalized by considering “faith” as something exceptional to the mundane everyday with its obligations and responsibilities. Faith is tomorrow, the afterlife, better, “for the kids”, etc. The everyday requires knowing how to play the game, personal interests, “that’s how it is”, science, etc. When high school students are first introduced to ancient Greek mythology with its religious pantheon of gods, most are stunned and incredulous that any culture could openly and overtly embrace plurality, let alone also be the cradle of western civilization itself. “There is but one God” and his name is __ (various). Well, you get the picture. In actuality the ethos of our contemporary culture is also one of serving many gods, covertly (unlike the ancients). Don’t get caught, don’t get sullied or dirtied in the process, don’t ever admit to it, or identify it or with it. The resulting consequences are not pretty. The reflection of the ethos is that of a cruel and violent two edged sword.

John Kasich is often likened to former Ohio Governor Jim Rhodes. Rhodes embodied the ethos of his time remarkably well. During this period when you did not pander for votes through references of personal faith (indeed, John Kennedy went to great lengths to distance himself from it), Jim Rhodes embodied the American ethos through buzzwords lauding the common people, their common sense, hard work, loyalty, patriotism, responsibility, etc. At the same time he made every effort to sell, promote and help business amass wealth. Rhodes did not succeed in serving multiple gods without it going noticed, being sullied by it. Blood was on his hands with the killings at Kent State University. Unlike then California Governor Ronald Reagan, who initiated that tactic and policy, Rhodes’ orders resulted in death and maiming. Reagan remained unblemished in his unabashed service of multiple gods, eventually being proclaimed the Teflon president, since nothing would stick. (““That would just scare the living daylights out of some people — that Saint Reagan was for amnesty!”” John Kasich in interview with Andrew Romano, see this blog’s posting, 3-26-15). Indeed, the baptism of John’s success, the 1990’s, also witnessed the birth of evangelical churches preaching the gospel of prosperity, God’s rewarding his virtuous followers in the here and now. With his own born again political success of 2010, John’s public address naturally incorporated continuous testimonials and gave fundamental witness to the priority of serving God. Concomitant with Jim Rhodes, John’s actual policies and initiatives likewise emphasize an avid and vigorous service of mammon (JOBSOHIO, tax cuts for the wealthiest, increasing sales taxes and fees, charging for social programs, etc.). Along with this, a ruthless and continuous PR narrative recounts the tale of the postman’s son over and over again. The exceptionalism of John’s balanced budget promo tour (paid for by significant others) exemplifies perfectly this service of multiple gods while “officially” embracing one true faith.

Within the culture of the ancient Roman Empire, the person of Caesar communed as an equal within the pantheon of gods. To be Caesar was to be a god. “Render unto Caesar…” may be an effective way to blunt and placate the Tea party while shifting the tax burden. That is until it becomes apparent that the one quoting scripture intends to become Caesar himself.

Postscript To Fear And Politics

March 31, 2015

In the previous blog post Analysis found the Balanced Budget Amendment championed by Ohio’s governor to be rather disingenuous. Analysis showed that, given the constituted institution of American Government, with the power of sovereignty including the minting of money so that the government could meet its obligations, the Balanced Budget Amendment would abdicate that sovereignty in favor of the priority and precedence of accumulated wealth. A recent New York Times article on the Trans Pacific Partnership confirms the interest in rule by amassed capital over that of individual government (Trans-Pacific Partnership Seen as Door for Foreign Suits Against U.S. by Jonathan Weismanmarch, March 25, 2015). Little is know about the TPP as exemplified by the leaked portion obtained by the NY Times “The chapter in the draft of the trade deal, dated Jan. 20, 2015, and obtained by The New York Times in collaboration with the group WikiLeaks, is certain to kindle opposition from both the political left and the right. The sensitivity of the issue is reflected in the fact that the cover mandates that the chapter not be declassified until four years after the Trans-Pacific Partnership comes into force or trade negotiations end, should the agreement fail.” “Under the terms of the Pacific trade chapter, foreign investors could demand cash compensation if member nations “expropriate or nationalize a covered investment either directly or indirectly.” Opponents fear “indirect expropriation” will be interpreted broadly, especially by deep-pocketed multinational companies opposing regulatory or legal changes that diminish the value of their investments. Included in the definition of “indirect expropriation” is government action that “interferes with distinct, reasonable investment-backed expectations,” according to the leaked document.” President Obama and those promoting TPP want the treaty “fast tracked” through the US legislature. That is, essentially, voted up or down with no discussion (how could they since the treaty terms themselves, defined within and by the treaty, cannot be revealed until 4 years after passage?). “Under the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a member nation would be forbidden from favoring “goods produced in its territory.” Critics say the text’s definition of an investment is so broad that it could open enormous avenues of legal challenge. An investment includes “every asset that an investor owns or controls, directly or indirectly, that has the characteristic of an investment,” including “regulatory permits; intellectual property rights; financial instruments such as stocks and derivatives”; construction, management, production, concession, revenue-sharing and other similar contracts; and “licenses, authorizations, permits and similar rights conferred pursuant to domestic law.”” In accord with Kasich’s desires for the US government to be beholden to amassed capital, the TPP would allow for corporate interests to sue the US when the corporation’s investment expectations may be threatened by any US government action or policy (federal, state, or local). According to the terms of the TPP, should the suit prevail, payout would be in the national currency of the foreign litigant, not in that which the US Constitution specifies the US Government use to meet its obligations (international corporations have nationality?). As Analysis has shown, the Balanced Budget Amendment is an equally disguised attempt to replace the sovereignty of the rule of government by the American citizenry with that of amassed wealth.

Fear And Politics

March 26, 2015

Reporting on the 2015 Fairfield County State of the County Address Carl Burnett of the Lancaster Eagle Gazette gives a glimpse of reaction to the recent Buckeye Lake Damn issue (Commissioner: Fear fuels Buckeye Lake discussion, 3-25-15). The caption under the online lead off photo (by Burnett) reads “Fear is driving political discourse locally and leadership is needed to drive decision-making from the fear-mongers, Fairfield County Commissioner Steve Davis said.” In the body of the report Burnett writes “”Fear is in control today,” Davis said.” A little further on “”What would be nice is if leaders would lead now and begin to take control of the situation instead of allowing fear to control the conduct of the residents and business owners of the region,” Davis said. “If leaders are going to regain control of this situation, they have to educate people on what is real, imagined and what people should be concerned about and what you should not be concerned about.”” Do tell.

There has been a run on armor piercing bullets recently, ostensibly precipitated by rumor that an executive directive would restrict their sale. Hoarding is a mandatory prerequisite of gun ownership. Or perhaps gun owners are justifiably worried that some Ram pick up truck might stage a home invasion and rape their refrigerator. Then again, maybe their refrigerator might turn on them.

“”If leaders are going to regain control of this situation, they have to educate people on what is real, imagined and what people should be concerned about and what you should not be concerned about.””

“Davis made reference to warnings about an “8-foot wall of water from a 6-foot lake,” and noted Gov. John Kasich mentioned a 10-foot wall of water.” The undeclared presidential aspirant has himself been making the rounds of early primary states touting the benefits of a balanced budget amendment. Analysis will leave this to the reader’s discernment as to whether this is about money or branding and marketing (or maybe both!). An online exposé of John the governator by Andrew Romano for Yahoo News opens a window on a possible answer (Could John Kasich be the GOP’s secret weapon in 2016? At least John Kasich thinks so, 3-23-15). “By the time he left Congress, he’d already lined up a pair of prominent gigs: one at Lehman Brothers and another at Fox News.” A little further on “I [John Kasich] said, ‘I really want to learn the business, and I want to be a banker.’” Currently, under the US Constitution, the US Government IS the bank. That is, it is constitutionally authorized to create the money to meet its obligations, unlike many of the countries within the EU who have opted for a common currency (the Euro), thus pledging allegiance to a central bank and its terms. Some countries, like Poland or England, belong to the EU but have retained their own currency. That is, like the US they can create their own money to meet their obligations. Yes, it is true that their money , like our own, can become more or less valuable within the world currency exchange. With the countries on the Euro, their internal economies are bound by the common currency (the Euro). This is likewise true internally for countries having their own currency (like Russia, Poland, England, Israel or Iran).Countries on the Euro must abide by the Central bank’s terms with regard their budgets. Countries with their own currencies, created to meet their government’s obligations, don’t and chug along just fine. With global capitalism this can present certain un-pleasantries and inconveniences, such as with the marketing of a brand like Mercedes which wants its product to sell at the exact same price anywhere on the planet. The balanced budget amendment creates an allegiance to something other than the citizens which comprise the “democracy” part of our representative democracy form of government. Essentially it creates a monarchy of sorts (in this case, the sovereignty of capital accumulation). That is, it pledges allegiance to something other than what currently is the US Constitution’s authority to mint money (to meet the government’s obligation). With the Buckeye Lake Damn repair, it is a matter of the state government issuing bonds (which is what the governator proposes). The federal government does the same, promising to meet its obligations (and buy back mature savings bonds, treasury notes, etc.). With a balanced budget amendment, it is only if the king (the accumulation of wealth) agrees the money is there, that the damn will get fixed. Austerity is a fear that there will not be enough when the future arrives. The creators of the US Constitution addressed this fear by rejecting monarchy and instituting the government of the people (democracy) as the autonomous bank (with the citizens as the banker), something not lost on anyone desiring to be the banker.

“”If leaders are going to regain control of this situation, they have to educate people on what is real, imagined and what people should be concerned about and what you should not be concerned about.””