Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Factoid of the day

The top 5% of households in America account for 74% of financial wealth (total net worth minus the value of one's home). So, why are we so worried about civil service salaries again?

Fwd: Dirty Rotten Scoundrels Part Deux

Just read this legislation: it is an astonishing giveaway. It allows no bid contracts to sell public property at whatever price the agency feels proper without any approval and such sale to be automatically deemed in the public interest. Where the hell are we going!!??


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via Balloon Juice by E.D. Kain on 2/21/11

Ed at Gin and Tacos gets into the less-discussed weeds of Scott Walker’s budget [pdf].

Apparently, governor Walker likes his union-busting to come with a side of crony-capitalism:

16.896 Sale or contractual operation of state−owned heating, cooling, and power plants. (1) Notwithstanding ss. 13.48 (14) (am) and 16.705 (1), the department may sell any state−owned heating, cooling, and power plant or may contract with a private entity for the operation of any such plant, with or without solicitation of bids, for any amount that the department determines to be in the best interest of the state. Notwithstanding ss. 196.49 and 196.80, no approval or certification of the public service commission is necessary for a public utility to purchase, or contract for the operation of, such a plant, and any such purchase is considered to be in the public interest and to comply with the criteria for certification of a project under s. 196.49 (3) (b).

Ed writes:

If this isn’t the best summary of the goals of modern conservatism, I don’t know what is. It’s like a highlight reel of all of the tomahawk dunks of neo-Gilded Age corporatism: privatization, no-bid contracts, deregulation, and naked cronyism. Extra bonus points for the explicit effort to legally redefine the term “public interest” as “whatever the energy industry lobbyists we appoint to these unelected bureaucratic positions say it is.”

In case it isn’t clear where the naked cronyism comes in, remember which large, politically active private interest loves buying up power plants and already has considerable interests in Wisconsin. Then consider their demonstrated eagerness to help Mr. Walker get elected and bus in carpetbaggers to have a sad little pro-Mubarak style “rally” in his honor. There are dots to be connected here, but doing so might not be in the public interest.

I wonder if Walker was hoping all these protests would deflect scrutiny from the rest of the budget?



Things you can do from here:


Good times

The U.S. has the lowest income tax rate since 1950, private unions have been all but obliterated, Citizens United allows unlimited corporate mischief in political campaigns, the regulatory environment is about to be undone, the richest Americans are not coincidentally enjoying a new Gilded Age, and the Koch brothers have bamboozled millions of ordinary Americans into carrying their water with their astroturf tea party groups like Americans For Prosperity. 

Which makes me think this statement in a letter from the Koch brothers asking their gazillionaire friends to attend a retreat designed to keep the good time rollin' sounds somewhat hyperbolic (my emphasis):

"If not us, who? If not now, when?" said the letter, which invited other conservatives to a retreat in January in Rancho Mirage, Calif. "It is up to us to combat what is now the greatest assault on American freedom and prosperity in our lifetimes."