“No Man’s life liberty or property is safe while the legislature is in session”.

- attributed to NY State Judge Gideon Tucker

Friday, August 12, 2011

More Spending Ideas From Two Liberal Women Senators

Liberal Democratic Senators Mary Landrieu (LA) and Patty Murray (WA) wrote an editorial in Wednesday's edition of the Wall Street Journal entitled How to Close the Skills Gap.

It's a study in how liberals see a failure of an existing system as a reason for government to spend billions more elsewhere.

The hapless duo begin with,

"According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the U.S. currently has approximately three million job openings, all waiting to be filled. With so many Americans out of work, what is the delay? Workers want to work, and so many businesses want to hire—but there is a widening "skills gap" that prevents many Americans from filling the jobs of the 21st century economy. If we want to get our economy back on track and get workers back on the job, we will have to address this issue in a better way.

Consider this: According to a report by the National Commission on Adult Literacy, 90 million adults have literacy skills so low that success in postsecondary education and training is becoming more and more challenging. Anthony Carnevale of Georgetown University, using Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data, reports that of the nearly 50 million new jobs the BLS projects to be created by 2018, 30 million will require recognized postsecondary credentials. However, there will be three million too few workers with these credentials. Meanwhile, high-school graduation rates are falling—1.2 million students in America drop out of school every year, and young adults are now less educated than their parents' generation was.

A recent report on this issue from the perspective of CEOs and college presidents found that more than half of the companies surveyed reported a challenge in finding candidates with the right skills. Of the smaller businesses, 67% said finding skilled workers was difficult. A Wells Fargo/Gallup Small Business Index Survey reveals that while half of small-business owners hired new workers in 2010, 42% of these hired "fewer" [employees] than needed." Sixty-two percent of that group said this was because it was "hard to find qualified employees for [the] positions available."  "

Now, to most sensible observers and readers, this information would lead one to conclude that Landrieu and Murray are going to, or should be, advocating fixing US education. You know, some NEA or AFT union-busting, endorsing the privatization of primary and high school education. The sort of thing that would focus teachers and schools on students' education, instead of teachers' administrators' and union officials' compensation and careers. Because the obvious problem isn't a lack of skills among US residents, so much as, according to the above information, a failure of the existing education system to provide said skills.

They continue,

"Adding to the urgency of the situation is the reality that the U.S. competes in a global economy, and businesses today take stock of assets around the globe when they make investment decisions. The sad fact is that we spend considerably less than other developed countries on labor-market policies, including work-force training and job-search programs. At the individual level, the U.S. invested only $908 per labor-market participant—$84 dollars, or 9.2%, less than the average amount spent by other member countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

We believe that the skills gap is a consequence of our failure to seriously invest in the education of America's work force. Without an educated pool of workers from which to hire, small businesses are bearing the financial burden of teaching these skills."

Wow. Color me hopeful here. Could these two liberal Democratic stalwarts actually be about to take on entrenched unionized educators and their union bosses? Let's see.....they proceed to write,

"John Russo, the president of Scientific Analytical Solutions in North Kingston, R.I., recently talked to the AP about the problem his small business faces: "It's very difficult to find the right person, and there's all walks of life trying to find jobs. I honestly think there's a large swath of unemployable. They don't have any skills at all."

The Small Business Administration (SBA) hears the same sentiments from those on the front lines in its field offices across the country. At a recent roundtable organized by the Senate Small Business Entrepreneurship Committee, SBA district directors repeatedly cited the alarming, widening skills gap in the nation as preventing small businesses from expanding.

As we work to create jobs and get our economy back on track, closing this skills gap needs to be a top priority. A critical first step: reauthorizing and reforming the Workforce Investment Act, our nation's foundational federal work-force development policy. We also need to expand innovative approaches that have produced results, such as career pathways programs that provide labor-market information to students and job seekers about in-demand jobs, and the skills and education necessary to get them.

Other important elements of tackling this problem include integrating education and work-based learning, and supporting strategies that allow learners to work while receiving training (also known as "earn and learn" strategies). We should also support public–private partnerships that draw on the expertise of successful members of the business community to help provide assistance and job-preparation advice to our work force.

Building a bigger and more highly skilled work force will help our small businesses step up to global competition. There's no excuse to delay getting to work on the problem any longer."

Sadly, no, they don't. In fact, they veer sharply away from discussing current schooling, opting, instead, to advocate creating more post-education federal programs on which to spend billions more. With no basis, in effect employing a non sequitor. A (public education) is flawed, so let's create B (more federal training programs for adults), rather than bother discussing A, because A is a liberal pet campaign funding honeypot.

Here's a newsflash- people like me were actually able to find white-collar employment and advancement solely on the basis of our primary, secondary, college and, in some cases, graduate educations. For which either public taxes, our parents, or we paid.

Why do we need successive layers of new training and education programs to try to correct the flaws of the existing systems?

Let's just rip the current, failed US public schooling systems apart and let towns and districts contract with private firms to provide teachers and administrators to work at public-owned facilities.
However, let's avoid Landrieu's and Murray's baseless suggestions to create yet another adult training program in order to avoid addressing yet another liberal failure- US public schooling.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

GOP Wins Wisconsin State Senate Recalls 4-2 & Retains Control

Wisconsin Republicans won 4 of 6 recall elections, retaining control of the Senate. Meanwhile, more recalls are likely, only this time for the Democrats who illegally fled the state to deny the state Senate a quorum during passage of the teachers' union-affecting bill which triggered such outrage.

By the way, if you weren't already convinced of the Huffington Post's overwhelming liberal bias, consider these two stories from Reuters and Huffington.

The latter's headline? "Wisconsin Recall Election Results: Democrats Win Two Seats, Fall Short Of Taking Over Senate," then led with this copy,

"Democrats won two Wisconsin state Senate seats in Tuesday's dramatic recall elections, but they fell short of the three needed to take the majority away from Republicans."

Clearly, Huffington's editors place Democratic fortunes before the actual outcome of the elections.
Reuter's headline was "Wisconsin Republicans stave off recall challenge," with the lead copy reading,

"Republicans narrowly retained their majority in the Wisconsin state Senate on Tuesday, staving off a strong recall election challenge from Democrats and union members angered by a new law curbing the power of organized labor.

Two Democratic challengers ousted incumbent Republican lawmakers in special elections. But Republicans successfully defended four other seats up for grabs, denying Democrats the three victories they needed to seize control of the Senate."

Even ABC's website had a fairly succinct, factual, non-dramatic headline, "Wisconsin Recall: GOP Retains Senate Control."

Meanwhile, this overtly conservative site provided some details on the two GOP losses,

"With four retentions and two losses (one being the Republican in the Democratic district, and the other being the guy with the alleged adultery problem), I think that we can safely bring forth the unofficial Democratic Base Theme Song (Loser by Beck)."

Governor Scott Walker made nice with some empty blah blah about 'the people want us to work together,' but, in reality, the GOP have won renewed voter approval of their actions.

This can't be good news for public sector union chiefs who were hoping for Wisconsin to be the first turnaround in this epic battle for state budgets and the fiscal health of American government at both state and federal levels.

Given how much the unions staked on this recall effort, the Wisconsin GOP win can't be understated for its importance nationwide.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Like a Broken Record.....

Let's see...S&P downgraded US debt to AA+ last Friday. The most recent GDP numbers were dismal. Unemployment remains stubbornly high while net new jobs are pathetically low. Europe's own debt crisis is now so bad that the ECB is pledging to buy Italy's and Spain's sovereign debt, if necessary.

In the midst of this global economic and financial sluggishness, what do Wonderboy and his minions do?

Why, call for more spending, of course!

One of the Democrat's more liberal Representatives was on a cable news network calling for more stimulus spending. Wonderboy himself spent a good part of his Monday afternoon speech regarding the downgrade pleading for higher spending and taxes.

These people must be living on a different planet. The entire developed economic world is grappling with excessive public debt, pension and healthcare spending while their GDP growth rates have slowed.

There's insufficient private wealth being generated by business activity to pay for more government spending.

That's part of what S&P's downgrade was about- future fiscal budgets which strained credulity.

Apparently liberal Democrats really can only sing one tune- tax and spend. No matter what the context.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Geithner's Unsurprising Decision To Stay At Treasury

Is anyone really surprised that tax-cheat and Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner has chosen to remain at Treasury for the rest of Wonderboy's term?

Friday's S&P downgrade of US credit from AAA to AA+ is probably not the note on which Geithner wants to end his Treasury career. To leave now would provide an air of, well, resignation. An admission of defeat.

Then there's the little matter of his replacement.

Sure, pundits were favoring Jamie Dimon to be Geithner's replacement. But, with Wonderboy's recent bumbling of the debt limit talks, and falling poll numbers with just a year and change to go before the 2012 election, does Dimon want to trade a fairly safe career as Chase CEO for as long as he wants for what could well be a one-year, highly-politicized tour at Treasury? Wouldn't the same be true for anyone in the financial community who is unsullied by the recent crisis, but smart enough to read the Tea (Party) leaves?

Face it, whoever follows Geithner, who was never more than a financial plumber by experience, will only be even more of a hack than he was. It's damage control time at Treasury with what will be, after confirmation of Geithner's replacement, just about 12 months to go before the election. And his/her prospects for a longer career than one year are highly in doubt.

So that left the administration with the possibility of an Undersecretary filling in for Geithner as it desperately tried to find someone respectable, or at least adequate, and potentially didn't succeed.

Can you imagine the US going without a Treasury Secretary for several months right after the nation's first credit downgrade?

My guess is that it was made clear to Geithner that his life after Treasury would be as nightmarish as Wonderboy and his allies could make it, should he unwisely desert the ship of state in its hour of need.

Monday, August 8, 2011

The S&P Credit Downgrade As A Check On Wonderboy's Spending Spree

As I wrote here on my companion business blog late last month, a lot of the flap about Friday's after-hours credit downgrade of the US government by S&P from AAA to AA+ is actually a non-event.

Media coverage would have you believe otherwise. But let's consider several aspects of the downgrade.

Wonderboy's people are calling it a politically-motivated mistake by S&P. They mention and arithmetic error in a pre-release draft in the amount of several trillion dollars. That's nonsense. The US has been increasing its deficits for decades, but never so quickly as in the past 2 1/2 years.

As Kaminsky, and others, have attested, the true risk of US debt has already been 'baked into' rates. In that sense, this is a non-event.

Of course, the Democratic retort is to blame the messenger. Ceaselessly citing the bogus ratings by S&P, and other agencies, of mortgage-backed bonds, Barney Frank, Wonderboy, Treasury and every other Democrat in Washington with an ego has now decided that ratings agencies are not to be trusted in the first place.

Actually, as Doug Dachille has pointed out in the past on CNBC, at least for municipal, state and many other ratings, that's true. It's just that now is an awfully suspect time for the federal government to declare it.

However, in terms of the black eye suffered by Wonderboy's administration by allowing itself to be put in the position of being unable to fulfill S&P's quite public $4T spending cut requirements, it's a real event. It provides the ammunition that the GOP needs to fend off further spending. The continuing sluggish US economy provides the bookend of not justifying large-scale, significant tax increases.

So, as I wrote in that linked post,

"Well, American voters need only look in the mirror for whom to blame. They consciously elected and re-elected generally inept spendthrifts since 1932, then wonder why the country has amassed so much net external debt.

It's time for Americans to wake up to the consequences of their poor political choices for the last eight decades.

And when the rating downgrade happens, the resulting increased funding costs will help put a stop to excessive spending and bad tax policies, only from outside, uncontrollable forces, rather than internal, political ones."
For all we know, on a relative basis, global demand may now be lower, at every rate, for US Treasuries. The new constraint on boundless US debt growth is, if it exists, now uncontrollable and external.
To me, that's a good thing. Eight decades of inept fiscal policy in Washington has led us to this point. I'm quite content with markets spanking the federal government and putting limits on what the federal officials whom US voters have mistakenly allowed to spend us into the poorhouse can now spend and borrow.