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Domestic Violence Awareness

10:43 am in Domestic Violence by dakine01

Well, here we are in October once again. There are two big “awareness” campaigns in October, Breast Cancer Awareness and Domestic Violence Awareness. I have written of both in previous years (here and here) but as I did in ’09, I am going to concentrate this year on Domestic Violence Awareness. As personal as Breast Cancer Awareness is to me because of my sister, the ‘pink ribbon’ stories are fairly ubiquitous this time of year while it seems the purple ribbon of Domestic Violence Awareness is rarely seen.

I’m not sure why Domestic Violence bothers me so much. It, along with child abuse (especially sexual abuse) and rape, are the crimes that upset me more than just about anything. It may be because in each crime, the victim is often not believed or is blamed for some how “letting” these things happen. We as a society are supposed to believe that crimes do not happen where the perpetrator and the victim are within the same family or are neighbors.

I have in the past few years been slowly getting to know a bunch of cousins from my mother’s side of the family where I have been told of one who was killed by her husband in 1975. I actually have memories of meeting this cousin at her grandmother’s funeral when I was 13 and I think she was 16. After her death, her parent’s adopted her son and daughter and raised them. But far too frequently, this type of violence is only spoken of in soft tones after the fact.

Connecticut and Maryland each had revisions to their Domestic Violence laws take effect yesterday (October 1, 2012). Florida and NY State have each also strengthened their Domestic Violence laws this year while in New Jersey, the courts have strengthened in ways but weakened in other ways.

On a federal level, The Violence Against Women Act has not been renewed. The House and Senate have each passed versions but not the same. It appears the House is balking at Senate provisions that extended coverage under the act to:

…women who are undocumented immigrants, Native Americans, LGBT, or students on campuses.

If you or someone you know is a victim of Domestic Violence:

National Coalition Against Domestic Violence

NCADV Domestic Violence Fact Sheet (pdf)

National Criminal Justice Referral System, Domestic Violence

Office for Justice Programs, Office for Victims of Crimes (Domestic and Family Violence)

National Domestic Violence Hotline 1-800-799-SAFE (7233)

Cross posted from Just A Small Town Country Boy by Richard Taylor

Re-arranging the Deck Chairs Is Not a Net Positive

2:14 pm in Economy, Government, Jobs, Media by dakine01

Author’s Note: Please take a few minutes and Join the Firedoglake Membership Program today. FDL provides the tools that help me and others extend our reach with our rants so we need to support FDL when we can.

So here we are. It is the middle of December 2011. The US (and global) economies still suck. The Federal Reserve continues to wring its hands and do pretty much nothing about maximizing employment (which means they are not doing their jobs).

These past few weeks, I’ve seen a number of articles in various news sites about various states offering “tax incentives” to businesses trying to get them to stay where they are or to move to another state. One of the first was when I saw reports in early October that the governor of the state in which I reside claimed that the Chicago Mercantile Exchange could be moving to Florida. Then at the end of November, I noticed that Cincinnati and Ohio had “lost” Chiquita Brands to North Carolina:

Chiquita Brands International Inc. decided to leave Cincinnati for many reasons, but the biggest one is undeniable: Money.

Lured by the promise of big savings, better air service to Europe and Latin America and a more diverse workforce, Chiquita announced Tuesday that it plans to leave Cincinnati, site of its home office of 24 years, for Charlotte, N.C.

North Carolina offered a package of grants and tax incentives potentially worth $22.7 million over 11 years, enticing the relocation of the world’s largest banana seller.

The counter offer from the state of Ohio and Cincinnati to keep the company downtown amounted to $6 million to $6.5 million, Chiquita chairman and CEO Fernando Aguirre told The Enquirer late Tuesday.

A couple of days later, I see where Ohio, having offered a fraction of what North Carolina had offered for Chiquita had turned around and offered Sears hundreds of millions to move from Chicago to Columbus. At the end of the article on the Sears offer, I found this telling little nugget of information:

The largest incentive package in Cincinnati – a 2003 deal worth up to $52 million to keep Convergys Corp. downtown – was hotly debated for months before being approved. The deal kept Convergys downtown, but the company hasn’t grown here, and instead has cut its city workforce from 1,500 to 1,000.

Tax incentives are a quick, short-term strategy to boost job numbers, but they don’t always work in the long-term, said Wendy Patton, a former Ohio Department of Development official.

Just last week (December 7), the NY Times had an article on Fortune 500 companies being able to avoid paying any state taxes for years at a time, no matter how profitable they might be:

As states have struggled to balance their budgets by cutting services, laying off workers and raising taxes, a study to be released on Wednesday suggests that many profitable Fortune 500 companies have not been paying as much in state corporate income taxes as the average levied on American companies, with some big firms paying none at all in recent years.

A few companies, including DuPont, reported paying no state corporate income taxes from 2008 to 2010 even as they reported profits, according to the study, which was conducted by Citizens for Tax Justice and the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, nonprofit research organizations in Washington that advocate a more progressive tax code. (A spokeswoman for DuPont said that she had not seen the study, but that “DuPont complies with all tax laws and regulations” wherever it operates.)

…snip…

To gauge how much Fortune 500 companies are paying in corporate income taxes, the study looked at the 265 of them that are both profitable and disclose their state tax payments. It found that 68 reported paying no state corporate taxes in at least one year between 2008 and 2010. All together, the study found that the companies reported $1.33 trillion in domestic profits from 2008 to 2010, but paid states only about half of what they would have if they had paid at the average corporate income tax rate of all states — reducing their state taxes by some $42.7 billion.

Today, the NY Times had a related article on the battle between states for corporate business:

As the unemployment crisis grinds on, states are trying to both lure and retain businesses by offering tax breaks, grants, cheap loans — just about anything (short of candy and foot massages) they can think of. But how many jobs do these expensive incentives actually create?

And are the jobs any good?

Economic development programs cost states and cities billions of dollars a year, but many programs require little if any job creation, fewer than half call for wage standards, and fewer than a quarter require the companies to provide health care for their workers, according to a study of program requirements scheduled to be released Wednesday by Good Jobs First, a nonprofit research organization that tracks corporate subsidies. Some merely require companies to invest in plants or new equipment, which could actually enable them to reduce their head counts.

In doing some quick checks of der Google for this post, I noticed that Indiana had also made a play for the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. Fortunately for the good folks of Indiana, Ohio, and Florida, the Illinois legislature has bowed to the corporate blackmail:

While a tax-break package aimed at keeping Sears Holdings Corp. and Chicago’s financial exchanges from exiting the state cleared the General Assembly on Tuesday, Illinois’ business tax policies will continue to be a hot-button issue in the coming year.

Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle said they expect the parade of companies seeking special relief to continue, creating pressure to further examine how the state taxes business.

At this point in our national economic crisis the image that keeps coming to mind with all of these tax incentives for companies to stay or go is so much re-arranging of the deck chairs. These jobs are not net new jobs for the nation and wind up costing jobs IMNSVHO because of the lost jobs and services in both the losing state and gaining state. The losing state winds up offering larger incentives to try to save jobs and for the folks in the losing state who have lost their jobs, here’s the struggle to make ends meet with unemployment so more bankruptcies and foreclosures. For the gaining states, there are all the costs associated in providing the sweetheart deals to the corporations to get them to move means non-reimbursed expenditures for infra-structure and more wear and tear on existing systems. If the state manages to “save” the jobs by bowing to the blackmail, it is that much less revenue coming in that cannot be recovered. Lose-lose-lose for all but a few folks in corporate management (Bonuses!)

And because I can:

Cross posted from Just A Small Town Country Boy by Richard Taylor

Unemployed Are Not the Reason Unemployment Funds Are Broke

11:03 am in Economy, Financial Crisis, Government, Jobs, Media, Unemployment by dakine01

OK. I guess technically the title is not true. If folks hadn’t been laid off and collected Unemployment Compensation, the funds would just be sitting in the various state coffers, unused. But the unemployed are not the reason the economy tanked; the unemployed are not the ones sending jobs overseas; the unemployed are not the ultimate root cause of the problem.

Michigan started things back in March but has since been followed by Missouri and now Florida. (Other states may have done so as well, these three are the ones I know for sure have done this.) Florida’s new law actually goes beyond Michigan and Missouri, as bad as their laws are. Where MI and MO cut the maximum period for collecting state level unemployment compensation from 26 weeks to 20 weeks, Florida ties the benefits to the overall state unemployment rate. Via the Tampa Tribune article linked above:

TALLAHASSEE — Out-of-work Floridians would receive fewer state benefits while businesses pay less tax under a controversial proposal approved Friday by a divided Legislature.

The deal, which Gov. Rick Scott is expected to sign into law, immediately cuts unemployment benefits by 11.5 percent.

Jobless Floridians would continue to receive a maximum payment of $275 per week, among the lowest of any state in the country. But they would be paid for no more than 23 weeks, instead of 26.

…snip…

The bill also creates a sliding scale that cuts and adds weeks of benefits based on the unemployment rate. Unemployment compensation would drop to as low as 12 weeks if the average unemployment rate drops to 5 percent or lower. A week would be added for every 0.5 percent the jobless rate climbs.

I can guarantee you that the newly unemployed person is not going to give two shits to know that the overall state unemployment rate is X percent so the number of weeks of benefits are limited accordingly. All that newly unemployed person is going to see is s/he is out of work and the state supplied safety net is full of gaping holes. Annie Lowrey at Slate on Friday offered this analysis:

In March, Michigan became the first state to take an axe to its standard unemployment benefits, even though the state boasts one of the worst labor markets in the nation. The Republican government cut the number of state-sponsored, initial weeks from 26 to 20, effective in January. It said the state simply could not afford them: It owes the federal government $3.9 billion, borrowed to pay past unemployment benefits, and just cannot go further into the red. (Michigan and 48 other states have mandatory balanced-budget rules.)

For all the other states cutting back, the issue is inaction, rather than fiscal pressure. Some states needed to make a certain simple legislative fix to ensure that the federal government kept on kicking in its share of weeks of benefits—weeks of benefits already budgeted and paid for in Washington. A number of states failed to do so. So, on April 16, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Wisconsin all lost 20 weeks of federal benefits, effective immediately. Missouri did on April 2 as well.
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More Jobs Yet Falling Further Behind

11:45 am in Economy, Financial Crisis, Jobs, Unemployment by dakine01

I am afraid I may be starting to think like an economist. Now why would I be afraid I’m becoming an economist? Because I was surprised when the March Jobs Report came out from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and showed 216K new jobs for March, an increase of 15K even over the ADP report from Wednesday. From Reuters:

(Reuters) – U.S. employment recorded a second straight month of solid gains in March and the jobless rate fell to a two-year low of 8.8 percent, underscoring a decisive shift in the labor market that should help to underpin the economic recovery.

Nonfarm payrolls rose 216,000 last month, the largest increase since May, the Labor Department said on Friday. The gain built on the 194,000 new positions added in February.

David Dayen at Firedoglake News did his standard excellent job of dissecting this report. And as he does, he manages to puncture the coming cheereladers, even before they get started:

And where did these new jobs come from? About 1/2 of the total came in the service sector. 29,000 hires came from temp work. Professional and technical services increased by about 35,000, and manufacturing and mining increased slightly. Health care was also a continued strong sector.

The public sector continues to be a drag on growth. It edged downward again, as $10 billion in budget cuts for the year, enacted in two stopgap spending bills, took effect. Since the peak in September 2008 (notice the time frame), public sector jobs have decreased by 416,000. And with expected cuts coming at the state and federal level, more layoffs are on the way.

I would like to reinforce a couple of his points here. Out of 216K new jobs, nearly half are in the services sector. 29K are in temp work. It is the expected cuts in public sector jobs at all levels that had me anticipating a far lower number of new jobs for March. The complete BLS News Release is here.

Of course, it didn’t take long for a White House response to the BLS report. From Reuters:

White House economist Austan Goolsbee said on Friday the March jobs reports showed signs of an improving U.S. economy but that surely there will be bumps in the road ahead.

Today’s NY Times had a few articles on some of those “bumps in the road” Mr Goolsbee mentions. First up is this one on people struggling to get ahead because of the low wage jobs:

Hard as it can be to land a job these days, getting one may not be nearly enough for basic economic security.

The Labor Department will release its monthly snapshot of the job market on Friday, and economists expect it to show that the nation’s employers added about 190,000 jobs in March. With an unemployment rate that has been stubbornly stuck near 9 percent, those workers could be considered lucky.

But many of the jobs being added in retail, hospitality and home health care, to name a few categories, are unlikely to pay enough for workers to cover the cost of fundamentals like housing, utilities, food, health care, transportation and, in the case of working parents, child care.

These would be the jobs in the service sector. From the BLS News Release linked above:

In March, employment in the service-providing sector continued to expand, led
by a gain of 78,000 in professional and business services. Most of the gain
occurred in temporary help services (+29,000) and in professional and technical
services (+35,000).
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Elections Have Consequences, Right?

10:06 am in Government by dakine01

-> Vote Here Vote Aquí ->

Vote Here Vote Aquí ; by myJon, on Flickr

How many times these last few weeks have we heard some politician or pundit say, “Elections have consequences“? Hundreds of times, right? At a minimum. Looking back through that Google search for that phrase, it has been especially prevalent these last few weeks to justify the actions of Scott Walker in Wisconsin in his union busting activities. Even when it has been pointed out that at no time did Scott Walker ever campaign on union busting.

Now I’m not going to go into all the ways the Republicans have worked against this idea from January 2009 through current times. Or how they tended to ignore the idea back when President Clinton was first elected then re-elected. Nor shall I go on about how all the Democrats seem to have themselves forgotten that the elections have consequences as they continually appease the Republican minority in the Senate especially, leaving the House to take the brunt of the voter displeasure during the 2010 mid-terms.

But I guess the Republicans get to pick and choose what parts of elections have the consequences. Here in Florida during the last election, voters passed two anti-gerrymandering state constitutional amendments that would require state level legislative districts and federal congressional districts to be drawn as compactly as possible. Amendment 5 (for state level legislative districts) stated:

Legislative districts or districting plans may not be drawn to favor or disfavor an incumbent or political party. Districts shall not be drawn to deny racial or language minorities the equal opportunity to participate in the political process and elect representatives of their choice. Districts must be contiguous. Unless otherwise required, districts must be compact, as equal in population as feasible, and where feasible must make use of existing city, county and geographical boundaries.

Amendment 6 for Federal Congressional districts was similar:

Congressional districts or districting plans may not be drawn to favor or disfavor an incumbent or political party. Districts shall not be drawn to deny racial or language minorities the equal opportunity to participate in the political process and elect representatives of their choice. Districts must be contiguous. Unless otherwise required, districts must be compact, as equal in population as feasible, and where feasible must make use of existing city, county and geographical boundaries.

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More Republican “Respect” for the Workers

12:28 pm in Economy, Jobs, Unemployment by dakine01

photo: twicepix via Flickr

On Wednesday (February 16), I wrote a post with the (admittedly rhetorical) title “Is Cutting Jobs Programs to Create Jobs Like Cutting Taxes to Increase Revenues?

Today, I’d like to offer up a few more examples of how the new governors of Florida, Ohio, and Wisconsin are treating workers within their states as they “create” jobs.

To begin with, we have yesterday’s report of Initial Unemployment Claims for last week. After falling to a two-and-a-half year low the week before, yesterday’s report showed an increase once again in the initial claims:

There were 410,000 initial jobless claims filed in the week ended Feb. 12, according to the Labor Department. That was up 25,000 from the week before, and slightly more than the 408,000 claims economists surveyed by Briefing.com had expected.

Continuing claims — which include people filing for the second week of benefits or more — rose by 1,000 to 3,911,000 in the week ended Feb. 5, the most recent week available.

Of course, the economists interviewed looked on the sunny side of life because the trend “is still pointing downward.” I’m sure that is bringing a warm feeling to the nearly 15 million unemployed and the 25 to 30 million un and underemployed. Why at the rate things are trending downwards, we might once again reach full employment in, oh, maybe in the year 2525?  . . . Read the rest of this entry →