Showing posts from June 22, 2014

Why Europe's austerity experiment is doomed to fail

[Just one eye-popping graph. Click here to view the original article. *RON*]

Outgoing EU commissioner takes one last hit over austerity agenda

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[Debate on austerity versus growth raised in the EU by - of all nations - Germany (though not from Merkel, of course!). Outgoing economics affairs commissioner Olli Rehn defends the position of his austerity-minded commission as criticism mounts. *RON*]
AFP, Gulf News, June 22, 2014
Luxembourg: To Olli Rehn, the EU’s low-key but hardline economics affairs commissioner, another push against austerity could not have come as much of a surprise.

Rehn, who steps down at the end of the month, has spent five years as the EU’s designated figurehead for all things austerity, hailed in several northern states as an enforcer of sound public finances, but loathed in the crisis-hit south as a driver of mass unemployment and recession.

But just before arriving in Luxembourg this week for his 60th and last Eurogroup meeting as commissioner, the austerity line backed by Rehn and imposed by Berlin faced fresh criticism.

Catching many off guard, German economy minist…

The Damage Done

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[Self-explanatory. *RON*]
By Paul Krugman, The Conscience of a Liberal, New York Times, 22 June 2014
A note to myself, mainly. Look at the Spring 2008 World Economic Outlook of the IMF, which projected real GDP (pdf) for advanced countries, and compare it with the actual path:

That’s a huge shortfall. Yet the IMF believes that the output gap is only a couple of percentage points. If so, either there was a huge coincidence — a sudden, unanticipated drop off in potential growth that just happened to coincide with the financial crisis — or the crisis, and the poor macroeconomic management that followed, have done incredible damage.

More Generous Unemployment Benefits Lead To Lower Suicide Rates

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[See the abstract for the original study here. *RON*]

By Alan Pyke, Think Progress, 22 June 2014
Six months after Congress gave up on providing long-term unemployment benefits to job seekers who have exhausted their state-level unemployment insurance systems, new research shows that less generous unemployment support systems are connected to higher suicide rates.

States that offer higher levels of replacement income for residents who are looking for work but unable to find a job experience significantly lower suicide rates than less generous states, according to a study by two London School of Economics researchers and a University of California San Francisco epidemiologist. Suicide rates have long been known to correlate with economic conditions and the unemployment rate, but the new research finds that higher unemployment insurance payments dull the connection between economic factors and suicide.

Duke Energy & Koch Brothers Kill Clean Energy in North Carolina

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[NC Rep. Mike Hager is a former employee of Duke Energy, the largest supplier of electricity in the United States, which contaminated groundwater at 33 of its coal ash storage lagoons at 14 sites across North Carolina, and forced the public to pay for the cleanup. They were found to have never performed the simplest tests that would have prevented massive pollution. House Bill 298 would fully repeal North Carolina’s renewable portfolio standard (RPS)—a state law requiring utilities to generate more electricity from clean sources over time. As described below, this activity also has the Koch Brothers thumbprints all over it. *RON*]

Connor Gibson, Nation of Change, 16 March 2014

As anticipated, former Duke Energy engineer and North Carolina Representative Mike Hager has introduced a version of the American Legislative Exchange Council’s “Electricity Freedom Act” into the state’s General Assembly.

House Bill 298 would fully repeal North Carolina’s r…

The Koching of America — and of PBS

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By Richard EskowCurbing Wall St. Project, Alternet, 10 June 2014

[The majority of funding for public broadcasting does not come from the $25 and $50 donations that you and I make, it comes from major corporations. And this has its effects. PBS' withdrawal of funding for a documentary on the Koch Brothers shows how public broadcasting has fallen under corporate influence. *RON*]

A few months back the filmmakers Carl Deal and Tia Lessin got some bad news. The PBS funding that they had counted on to complete their documentary on campaign financing was being withdrawn. This setback came not long after PBS took the unusual step of warning David Koch (of right-wing billionaire donors “the Koch Brothers” fame) that he had been negatively portrayed in another of the networks documentaries, and giving them a chance to respond.

Lessin and Deal had good reason to believe that their setback was closely related to that incident. The name of their film?…

The Rise of Militarized NGOs

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[Today's conflicts are fought by soldiers masquerading as civilians. GONGOS - Government Organized Non-Governmental Organizations. Another way for totalitarians to pretend they are still part of democracies. *RON*]
Moises Naim, The Atlantic, 19 June 2014
Who invaded Crimea? Civil society. Who has occupied government offices and police headquarters in eastern Ukraine, bringing massive instability to that region? Civil society. Who is fighting the governments of Bashar al-Assad in Syria and Nouri al-Malaki in Iraq? Civil society. And who are the colectivosconfronting Venezuelan students who protest against the government? Civil-society activists, of course.

These are the official responses, at any rate, by those who have something to gain from distorting reality. The responses range from blatant lies to subtle untruths, but they are all dishonest. By now, it has been well-documented that Crimea was invaded by a military force that included a l…