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Fragile Bird

US Politics: The Accountability Problem

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So did anyone see this poll on whether Northam should resign or not?  47% want him gone and 47% think he should stay.  Other notables:  42% of GOP think he should stay as do 58% of African Americans, and 60% think AG Mark Herring should stay.  Looks increasingly likely Fairfax will be the only casualty of this mess (the poll was conducted before the second allegation came out on Friday), which is just an unbelievable turnaround for Northam in a week.  He's a really lucky guy.

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13 minutes ago, Rippounet said:

snippe

And what's with you and New York anyway? Even if you're correct and public services in NY being overpriced, what is that supposed to demonstrate exactly? Pretty much everything is overpriced in the US, and the answer to that problem is probably not lower taxes and less regulations...

As someone who also lives in the NYC area, it gives one a sense that the money is flagrantly wasted, that billions of taxpayer dollars are spent every year, and yet, we don't see improvement, but the opposite, which suggests to some that the problem isn't a lack of money but other systemic problems related to corruption and bureaucracy.  Indeed, I see this evidenced all around by the fact that brand new construction projects start falling apart within 5 years or less.

Edited by Cas Stark

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On minimum wage:

1. While I do think 15 dollars an hour might not be such a good idea for the whole country, I do think the federal minimum wage does need to be raised.

2. My problem with conservatives over minimum wage laws is they basically rule it out on the grounds that the labor market functions like a purely competitive model that you see in econ 101 textbooks. That is a highly dubious proposition as the labor market is shot through with informational problems.

3. Also beside whether monopsony power exist, whether minimum wage law laws will decrease employment like depends on how one thinks about general equilibrium.

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1 hour ago, Cas Stark said:

Eh, this is why I say that the GOP is passively destructive [doing nothing], while progressives are actively destructive [policies to bring us up to the standard of living from 1820].  My friend's teenager wants to live in a world with no petroleum based products, when told that would eliminate the i-phone: confusion.  

I wonder if that's because the teenager knows that there are ways to get hydrocarbon based products without petroleum and he realizes you're full of shit? Like what do you think goes into an iPhone that is only possible through petroleum based products?

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4 minutes ago, Cas Stark said:

As someone who also lives in the NYC area, it gives one a sense that the money is flagrantly wasted, that billions of taxpayer dollars are spent every year, and yet, we don't see improvement, but the opposite, which suggests to some that the problem isn't a lack of money but other systemic problems related to corruption and bureaucracy.

It is likely more caused by the flagrantly obscenely wealthy corporations and those who own them and their shares, which take and take and take from NYC's infrastructure and give nothing back, including taxes -- amazilla getting THREE BILLION in tax incentives and rebates??????? WTF?????????????  I've listened often to Cuomo and de Blasio blather angrily about why this is a good idea and not single word they utter in explanation makes any sense or even carries meaning.  It's just word salad. Politico word salad.

Right now, every walk in my neighborhood reveals yet another store closed and more vacant store fronts and entire buildings vacant. The owners do not have to pay property taxes on those vacant properties via all sorts of work around exemptions.  Just imagine how things in NYC would change if THAT changed.  Yet no one in city government will even allow the idea to be broached.

Beyond this into the bigger and bigger picture: we've been carrying on wars non-stop for decades now, very very very VERY expensive wars -- and there is where all these corps in many different ways are working out corruption and waste to fill their already bloated coffers.  Yet every year the military budget (though not the pay and benefits of the human beings involved) gets bigger, while nothing ever changes except that more and more funds are siphoned away and / or cut from essential goods, services and infrastructure in every area from highway and bridge repairs, new airports and schools and hospitals (fewer hospitals all the time!), education and medical programs -- to pay for this military pig trough for big biz.

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25 minutes ago, Cas Stark said:

As someone who also lives in the NYC area, it gives one a sense that the money is flagrantly wasted, that billions of taxpayer dollars are spent every year, and yet, we don't see improvement, but the opposite, which suggests to some that the problem isn't a lack of money but other systemic problems related to corruption and bureaucracy.

Yeah, but even if we assume your impression is correct, the conclusion that taxes should be lowered is still a pretty big leap in reasoning.

Poor management in one place (i.e. NY City in this case) doesn't mean that paying taxes for public services is an evil in itself. Of course some governments are far more efficient than others. Weirdly enough, the more efficient ones seem to be where the necessity of having a strong public sector is barely questioned in the first place...

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51 minutes ago, Cas Stark said:

As someone who also lives in the NYC area, it gives one a sense that the money is flagrantly wasted, that billions of taxpayer dollars are spent every year, and yet, we don't see improvement, but the opposite, which suggests to some that the problem isn't a lack of money but other systemic problems related to corruption and bureaucracy.  Indeed, I see this evidenced all around by the fact that brand new construction projects start falling apart within 5 years or less.

While I’m not sure about how to refute “lived conservative experiences”, I’ll just note a few things:
1. Basically the whole conservative pitch, for several decades now has been “let us cut taxes, bust up your unions, weaken minimum wage laws, lower government spending and you’ll see economic growth like you’ve never seen before! It will be just like Reagan did it, when he cut taxes!” I’ve noted several times that “mornin’ in America” had really nothing to do with tax cuts and everything to do with monetary policy during the 1980s, even if Newt Gingrich disagrees. Gasp! And it would seem that all these conservative promises have not come to pass.
2. If all these conservative supply side fantasies were true, then one wonders what the hell happened in Kansas with the Clownback Bust. When that whole ridiculous thing started, my first thought was, yeah it won’t do shit for economic growth. But, it turns out that I may have been way too optimistic about it’s prospects, as there is evidence that in may in fact harmed growth.
3. I know of one paper where the author used war casualties as proxy for state spending during the 18th Century and generally found that higher state spending led to faster economic growth.
4. There is other evidence that one reason the South fell behind the North economically was because of lower public investment by the South, which seemingly reflected the preferences of the old plantation class.
5, The US doesn’t have the best labor participation rate, even when compared to “socialist” countries.
The upshot of all this is there are reasons to have a lot of doubt about broad libertarian type claims, that lower taxes begat lower wasteful spending which in turn begat higher economic growth.

Of course can money be wasted on bullshit, I wouldn't deny that. But broad claims that just cutting spending and cutting taxes will unleash morin' in America need to be scrutinized very carefully.
 

Edited by OldGimletEye

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3 minutes ago, OldGimletEye said:

While I’m not sure about how to refute “lived conservative experiences”, I’ll just note a few things:
1. Basically the whole conservative pitch, for several decades now has been “let us cut taxes, bust up your unions, weaken minimum wage laws, lower government spending and you’ll see economic growth like you’ve never seen before! It will be just like Reagan did it, when he cut taxes!” I’ve noted several times that “mornin’ in America” had really nothing to do with tax cuts and everything to do with monetary policy during the 1980s, even if Newt Gingrich disagrees. Gasp! And it would seem that all these conservative promises have not come to pass.
2. If all these conservative supply side fantasies were true, then one wonders what the hell happened in Kansas with the Clownback Bust. When that whole ridiculous thing started, my first thought was, yeah it won’t do shit for economic growth. But, it turns out that I may have been way too optimistic about it’s prospects, as there is evidence that in may in fact harmed growth.
3. I know of one paper where the author used war casualties as proxy for state spending during the 18th Century and generally found that higher state spending led to faster economic growth.
4. There is other evidence that one reason the South fell behind the North economically was because of lower public investment by the South, which seemingly reflected the preferences of the old plantation class.
5, The US doesn’t have the best labor participation rate, even when compared “socialist” countries.
The upshot of all this is there are reasons to have a lot of doubt about broad libertarian type claims, that lower taxes begat lower wasteful spending which in turn begat higher economic growth.
 

In other words, like FB, this is about sucking up all the value -- value not created by them or their entities -- and never putting anything of value out.

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3 hours ago, Martell Spy said:

Wow, it really looks like AOC pisses conservatives off more than any politician since Obama. I wonder why that is? We did not see this level of vitriol over Sanders, who is also a Democratic-Socialist.

Yes, perplexing isn't it? :P

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39 minutes ago, Zorral said:

It is likely more caused by the flagrantly obscenely wealthy corporations and those who own them and their shares, which take and take and take from NYC's infrastructure and give nothing back, including taxes -- amazilla getting THREE BILLION in tax incentives and rebates??????? WTF?????????????  I've listened often to Cuomo and de Blasio blather angrily about why this is a good idea and not single word they utter in explanation makes any sense or even carries meaning.  It's just word salad. Politico word salad.

Right now, every walk in my neighborhood reveals yet another store closed and more vacant store fronts and entire buildings vacant. The owners do not have to pay property taxes on those vacant properties via all sorts of work around exemptions.  Just imagine how things in NYC would change if THAT changed.  Yet no one in city government will even allow the idea to be broached.

Beyond this into the bigger and bigger picture: we've been carrying on wars non-stop for decades now, very very very VERY expensive wars -- and there is where all these corps in many different ways are working out corruption and waste to fill their already bloated coffers.  Yet every year the military budget (though not the pay and benefits of the human beings involved) gets bigger, while nothing ever changes except that more and more funds are siphoned away and / or cut from essential goods, services and infrastructure in every area from highway and bridge repairs, new airports and schools and hospitals (fewer hospitals all the time!), education and medical programs -- to pay for this military pig trough for big biz.

I'm sure you enjoyed that rant, but it is irrelevant to the issue of where do the tens of billions spent by NYC every single year go? Why are the streets and the rest of the infrastructure falling apart?  Why can't the schools improve?  Why do the prices go up, but services go down and nothing is fixed?  I mean, 'corporations' are not in charge of NYC subways, or schools, or streets, or garbage removal, or parks.....

 

 

 

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17 minutes ago, OldGimletEye said:

snipped..... But broad claims that just cutting spending and cutting taxes will unleash morin' in America need to be scrutinized very carefully.
 

I never said anything like that, though. 

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Just now, Cas Stark said:

I never said anything like that, though. 

Well maybe you didn't, but that has been basically been the claims of conservatives and their libertarian allies over the last 4 decades or so.

I think we all remember conservatives running around and shouting from rooftops about the "The Bush Boom" or "Gettin' Bullish on Bush" and the "Brownback Boom". 

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34 minutes ago, Rippounet said:

Yeah, but even if we assume your impression is correct, the conclusion that taxes should be lowered is still a pretty big leap in reasoning.

Poor management in one place (i.e. NY City in this case) doesn't mean that paying taxes for public services is an evil in itself. Of course some governments are far more efficient than others. Weirdly enough, the more efficient ones seem to be where the necessity of having a strong public sector is barely questioned in the first place...

I don't think anyone thinks this, but I will speak for myself only.  Before taxes and service fees are raised, I'd like to see improvements in efficiency, that doesn't seem too much to ask or expect, especially when looking at the budgets of city/state/federal government in the U.S. in areas like NYC and other urban areas, where truly massive amounts are spent, and yet, very little return, very few successes, and just by the look, as with the subway, it's clearly not going into the infrastructure itself.  Just since I have lived in the area the consumer costs have doubled or more for subway/Path and the bridges/tunnels, to take a single example, and yet there has been no inflation and cost of living has not doubled, LOL. So, where is that money going?  There are also, sticking with just the subway fewer services, e.g more automation, fewer workers, fewer workers has other negatives such as increasing the likelihood of crimes occurring.  So, I ask myself "where is the money going" "why does the subway look worse now that it did 15 years ago"?  And to me, the answer isn't that we need to pay more, we need to find out what in the hell is happening to the money.  

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35 minutes ago, Cas Stark said:

I'm sure you enjoyed that rant, but it is irrelevant to the issue of where do the tens of billions spent by NYC every single year go? Why are the streets and the rest of the infrastructure falling apart?  Why can't the schools improve?  Why do the prices go up, but services go down and nothing is fixed?  I mean, 'corporations' are not in charge of NYC subways, or schools, or streets, or garbage removal, or parks.....

 

 

 

Excuse me?  It was made clear that all this value goes in one corrupt, manipulation after another into the bank accounts of the corporations and so on who supposedly provide services and products but only siphon up the value for themselves.

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8 minutes ago, Zorral said:

Excuse me?  It was made clear that all this value goes in one corrupt, manipulation after another into the bank accounts of the corporations and so on who supposedly provide services and products but only siphon up the value for themselves.

The NYC budget is $90 billion, the city employs almost 300,00 people full time.  Yet the problem is corporations? Might as well end this discussion here.

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6 minutes ago, Cas Stark said:

The NYC budget is $90 billion, the city employs almost 300,00 people full time.  Yet the problem is corporations? Might as well end this discussion here.

Ya because you won't look at the matters that are the underlying causes.  How much of OUR MONEY do you think goes to the companies that are supposed to be servicing the subways?  Where does that money go -- as you say yourself, not into the subways.  Blame the subways and paying for them for the fact the monies allocated to them disappear in the same ways and to same sorts of people where the monies allocated for services in the kleptocracies such Nigeria and Brazil -- and then blame taxes and the subways, is either willfully blind or willful determination to keep the truth from being recognized.  Richard Prince made billions of out the middle eastern war allocations to the Pentagon.  Yet, we didn't win those wars did we? But nobody's talking about getting rid of those budgets, or cutting them, or getting rid of the military at all, are they?  Well, maybe the human forces that just make it all inconvenient and messy with the tax payers who hate seeing their loved ones being killed for no reason.

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5 hours ago, Ormond said:

I knew there was something wrong with that figure. The Vox article does NOT say "average class size" dropped from 20 to 12. It says there are now 12 students for every teacher employed, which is NOT the same thing. Here are a couple of paragraphs from an NEA report about 2014 statistics pointing this out:

http://www.nea.org/home/rankings-and-estimates-2014-2015.html

 

<snipped for length>

Aha! Thanks for that explanation!

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15 minutes ago, Zorral said:

Ya because you won't look at the matters that are the underlying causes.  How much of OUR MONEY do you think goes to the companies that are supposed to be servicing the subways?  Where does that money go -- as you say yourself, not into the subways.  Blame the subways and paying for them for the fact the monies allocated to them disappear in the same ways and to same sorts of people where the monies allocated for services in the kleptocracies such Nigeria and Brazil -- and then blame taxes and the subways, is either willfully blind or willful determination to keep the truth from being recognized.  Richard Prince made billions of out the middle eastern war allocations to the Pentagon.  Yet, we didn't win those wars did we? But nobody's talking about getting rid of those budgets, or cutting them, or getting rid of the military at all, are they?  Well, maybe the human forces that just make it all inconvenient and messy with the tax payers who hate seeing their loved ones being killed for no reason.

I have no trouble believing the city of NY is rife with corruption, incompetence and double dealing, but again, the answer isn't to spend more money. That's my issue. There is very rarely any call from progressives to review existing government entities from top to bottom and to demand that they produce the desired results, to demand efficiency, to even identify what the problems are, if it's corruption or misallocation or whatever, what is almost always demanded is simply more money, and then, if you reject this demand, you are told you are dumb, evil, greedy, hate the children, or whatever.  When I was last in Amsterdam I felt like I could "see" the money that was spent there, it was clean, buses were new, trains were nice, everything felt safe,  public employees were helpful.  I don't see that in NYC, I see the opposite.  War has nothing to do with the NYC budget, seriously, if someone cannot run a city on $90 billion a year and make it look good, the problem is not the Defense Department budget.

Edited by Cas Stark

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30 minutes ago, Cas Stark said:

I have no trouble believing the city of NY is rife with corruption, incompetence and double dealing, but again, the answer isn't to spend more money. That's my issue. There is very rarely any call from progressives to review existing government entities from top to bottom and to demand that they produce the desired results, to demand efficiency, to even identify what the problems are, if it's corruption or misallocation or whatever, what is almost always demanded is simply more money, and then, if you reject this demand, you are told you are dumb, evil, greedy, hate the children, or whatever.  When I was last in Amsterdam I felt like I could "see" the money that was spent there, it was clean, buses were new, trains were nice, everything felt safe,  public employees were helpful.  I don't see that in NYC, I see the opposite.  War has nothing to do with the NYC budget, seriously, if someone cannot run a city on $90 billion a year and make it look good, the problem is not the Defense Department budget.

With respect, this is a fairly classic conservative error.

Conservatives repeatedly and loudly denounce wasteful government spending, citing such things as $100 hammers and $300 toilet seats - yet almost never acknowledge that markup comes from the contracts and companies *selling* those items.  They engage in such practices because they can get away with it.  Yet, to conservatives, these criminal contractors and companies are heroic, models of efficiency.  It almost never occurs to conservatives that the true efficiency of private industry - ESPECIALLY if unconstrained - is to make money for themselves by any means whatsoever, *NOT* the public good.  Yet, conservatives insist on privatizing one public function after another, and then express genuine confusion as to why inefficiency and costs both grow.

As to the minimum wage - in my younger years, I spent a long time in a minimum wage job, and have an assortment of quasi relatives who've been in such jobs themselves.  In my case, it was pizza delivery; the paycheck was almost secondary compared to the tips and mileage allotment.  (But it was the full minimum).  During my tenure, the minimum wage increased a number of times, by $1 increments, usually a couple years apart.  Each and every time, conservatives howled that this would result in skyrocketing prices, automation, and mass layoffs throughout the relevant industries.  This did not happen.  The prices of the pizzas did go up - by about 20-30 cents (on pizzas that sold for $17-20).  Almost none of the customers even noticed that.  Nor did the hikes result in layoffs at any of the places me or my quasi relatives worked at - because the work *STILL* needed to be done.  Layoffs were almost always because of idiots showing up drunk or suspected but not proven theft or protracted slow spells. 

 

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