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Posts Tagged ‘Governance’

Krugman’s Bottom Line: To Create Jobs in America, Create Jobs in America… Don’t Wait for Businesses to Do It Because You Gave Them a Tax Break

April 11, 2021 Leave a comment

Earlier this week NYTimes op ed writer and Nobel economist Paul Krugman offered a positive assessment of Joe Biden’s approach to job creation and yet another disparaging assessment of trickle down economics. Dr. Krugman’s  bottom line on job creation is summarized in his last two penultimate paragraphs:

The corporate tax plan, then, looks like a really good idea. In part that’s because President Biden, unlike his predecessor, has hired people who know what they’re talking about. And it also marks a welcome break with the ideology that says that the only way we can help American workers is indirect action: cutting taxes on corporations and the wealthy in the hope that they’ll somehow deliver a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

What the Biden team seems to have concluded, instead, is that the way to create jobs is to create jobs, mainly through public investment, rather than by chasing unicorns and leprechauns.To the (partial) extent that direct job creation must be paid for with new taxes, the new taxes should be imposed on those who can afford to pay.

This seems to be a very simple equation: create government jobs and pay for them with taxes raised on those who can afford it most. Why, you might ask, has this not been done of late? Because everyone who ran for President from Michael Dukakis onward based their platform on the same assertion… the Reagan credo: GOVERNMENT is the Problem. And what has four decades of giving corporations tax breaks given us? A yawning gap between the rich and poor, a class of individuals (like the former President) who inherited great wealth and used it to secure endless power, and a set of awesome jobs like those described in the Lego Movie.

In GA, Democracy Wins Either Way! Corporate Support for Voting Rights Helps Democracy… Corporate Support for Voting Rights Could Increase Public Funds if GOP Keeps its Promise and Raise Corporate Taxes… Which Would ALSO Help Democracy.

April 7, 2021 Leave a comment

A recent NYTimes article on the quandary corporate leaders face in Georgia downplayed the impact of the Delta and Coca Cola CEOs on democracy in general…. and in doing so downplayed the pickle the GOP finds itself in for supporting legislation that is clearly undemocratic and rooted in lies. 

As the title of this post indicates, the ultimate winner in the fight over voting rights is democracy. The laws the GOP passed to make it difficult to vote were so clearly anti-democratic that businesses could not abide their passage or the impact they might have on their workforce. In response to pressure from civil rights and religious leaders in their home state of Georgia, the CEOs of Delta Airlines and Coca Cola who are headquartered in Atlanta issued public statements expressing general support for voting rights. When a bloc of black business leaders joined a bloc of moral and civic leaders in Georgia and across the country, both Delta and coca Cola denounced the passage of Georgia’s law and the local Atlanta businesses were joined by over 100 national corporations AND Major League Baseball in denouncing Georgia’s law. 

The GOP pushback was swift and predictable: they objected to businesses interposing their new “woke” ethos into politics and threatened to retaliate in some form. But how that would work is unclear. Would they, for example, support higher taxes for businesses the Democrats are seeking to address infrastructure upgrades? If not, what would they do with the revenues from those taxes? Would they impose regulations on those corporations to help address climate change? Would they support legislation to help workers unionize in “right to work” states? would they work to repeal Citizens United so that corporations are no longer viewed as individuals? Given the track record of the GOP when it comes to supporting legislation businesses want it is difficult to imagine exactly what they will be able to do in terms of “punishment” without siding with the Democrats who tend to seek higher taxes, more regulations, and more wages, benefits, and improved working conditions. 

The only clear victor in this battle is democracy, because the brouhaha over voting rights is making it clear that laws designed to restrict voting are laws that undercut democracy and the recent efforts by the Democrats to modestly increase the taxes on businesses are designed to meet needs virtually every American supports but require funding to complete. Shifting the revenues from shareholders to the general public to help cover the costs of needed repairs would reinforce the role a democratic government can and should play. 

Note to Yearbook Advisors, HS Principals, and Superintendents: Editing Yearbook Photos is Perilous!

March 22, 2021 1 comment

In the “good old days”, Yearbook editors could oversee their publications without worry. Students told young men they had to wear a tie if they wanted to have their picture in the yearbook and the young women had to be attired in dresses and skirts that conformed to the dress codes. The yearbook messages that appeared next to the pictures were carefully edited to make certain that references to teachers and political events of the day were omitted.

As dress codes loosened in the 1970s and 1980s collared shirts were still required for the young men and young women moved away from the kinds of apparel they would wear to, say, a school dance or church social into more casual clothing. The editing of commentary loosened a bit as the behavior codes loosened as best exemplified by the addition of “smoking areas” to schools and the lyrics to songs that were played on the radio became more explicit. References to drugs, drinking, and sex, though, were routinely cut.

Over time, though, Yearbooks became more and more controlled by the students and Yearbooks themselves became vestiges of a bygone era when girls wore bobby sox and boys were not allowed to wear jeans. To remain relevant and honor the differences and uniqueness of each student, Yearbook pictures often integrated the special interests of students and, alas, their political leanings. And after a series of court cases that gained national attention, the commentary students write is definitely R-rated.

In 2004, a colleague and close personal friend of mine, Nate Greenberg, got swept up in a controversy over a yearbook picture that illustrates the reason that many school administrators despair of setting standards for yearbooks. As Superintendent of Schools in Londonderry NH, Nate was alerted by his HS Principal that a parent intended to sue the school district if the Yearbook did not publish their son’s picture as he submitted it. The picture depicts a smiling well-groomed young man with a shotgun on his shoulder.  His parents said this picture depicted his son’s hobbies, hunting and skeet shooting, and that his son wanted to show this in his yearbook picture the same way student-musicians and student-athletes and other student hobbyists were depicted doing activities they loved. The yearbook advisor, HS Principal, and Nate looked at this differently. As Nate was quoted in the article, allowing the picture of an armed student in the yearbook might send a signal that the school endorsed the use of guns— not a message he wanted to send five years after Columbine. The district ultimately prevailed, but the controversy dragged out for months and was headlined in local newspapers, picked up by the NRA, and Fox news. In the end, the defense was that the administration was supporting the student editors, who were the ones unsettled by the picture and the State Supreme Court upheld that decision.

This incident came to mind when I read Michael Levenson’s NYTimes article about a student whose Trump T-shirt was edited out of a yearbook in NJ. In this case, though, the yearbook advisor, the high school administration, and the Superintendent were not on the same page and, as a result, the yearbook advisor won a $325,000 settlement for having her name besmirched and for the harassment that ensued. Both the Yearbook advisor and Superintendent have retired and, in all probability, neither of them did so recalling the many positive experiences they had throughout their career.

The incident also illustrates how toxic things became between 2004 and 2017. My friend Nate had to respond to a few phone calls from regional reporters but the incident was quickly forgotten once the suit was settled. Contrast that to the experience of the besmirched yearbook advisor:

On June 12, 2017, the student whose logo had been removed appeared on one of Mr. Trump’s favorite programs, “Fox & Friends,” and said, “The people or person who did this should be held responsible because it is a violation of mine and other people’s First Amendment rights.”

That same day, Ms. Parsons said, she was summoned to a meeting with Ms. Dyer and was suspended. Days later, Mr. Trump drew more attention to the issue, decrying “yearbook censorship” at the high school in a Facebook post….

…Ms. Parsons, who said in court papers that she had voted for Mr. Trump in 2016, said she was soon inundated with hate mail and harassing phone messages that called her a Nazi, a communist, anti-American and a “treasonous traitor liberal.”

She said she had been afraid to use her name when ordering takeout food and feared that drivers might try to hit her when she went for bike rides.

When she returned to school in September 2017, she said, she was “disrespected and ridiculed” by students and others who blamed her for removing the Trump references from the yearbook.

She sued the district in May 2019 and retired in February 2020.

Maybe the “good old days” had some merit to them. Maybe yearbook pictures should reflect the unity that high schools aspire to instead of the uniqueness that separates us from each other.