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The Post Prefers Spreading Innumeracy to Fighting Illiteracy

Having paid for pre-K (and two years of nursery school before that) out of my own pocket to the tune of around $15 grand a year (in 2008 dollars), I understand not only its necessity, but why we must subsidize it for those who can’t afford it—a class I regard as including myself.  


Low Turnout in 2013 NYC Elections - Who Didn't Vote?

The recent column in City & State by Steven Cohen http://www.cityandstateny.com/bill-de-blasio-and-his-mandate/ that pointed to the record low turnout in last year’s New York City Mayoral election prompted much discussion on line about the reasons for lack of voter participation.

Going Back Into Recession?

As I write about the regional economy and commercial real estate market of different metro areas around the country, I am struck by a little-noted trend. In most parts of the country, while the widely quoted survey of business establishments showed that employment was higher in October 2013 than it had been in October 2012, the household-based data, also from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, shows a decrease. I’ll give one example. In metro Atlanta, the establishment survey shows the number of wage and salary jobs increased by 62,200 (2.6%) from October 2012 to October 2013. But household-based data shows employment fell by 12,200 (0.5%) during the same period, and the labor force fell by 36,835 (1.3%). I’m seeing the same thing all over the country. The establishment survey is considered more accurate, but it is often late to show a sharp turn in the economy, and is subject to large revisions when those sharp turns occur. And it does not include the self-employed, a growing share of the workforce.

In most metro areas the household-based data for October showed employment is falling when compared with a year earlier, but the labor force is falling even faster, which is why unemployment is edging down. At the national level, the sharp turn to the negative for in October was camouflaged by ongoing employment and labor force growth in some places, including California, New York, Texas, Florida, Michigan, Wisconsin, Indiana, the Dakotas, Utah. Those gains balanced the job losses elsewhere. Recently released national data for December, however, shows a bigger decline. I suspect most of the country is losing jobs again, a trend likely to make its way here eventually. The U.S. economy, and in some ways the global economy, is depending on selling Americans more than their employers pay them. This false economy was unsustainable and has been kept of life support, barely, for five years.

One Way to Cut Executive Pay

According to MSNBC  "GM has revealed that its new CEO Mary Barra stands to earn as much as $4.4 million in her first year on the job. That’s if she collects on the full $2.8 million that’s set aside as part of a short-term incentive plan. (She also could collect a potential $1 million in a new stock offering.) But Barra’s base salary is $1.6 million — a full $100,000 less than outgoing CEO Dan Akerson earned in 2012."

If shifting to female leadership reduces executive pay and frees up money for dividends to shareholders, I say go for it. The pace of decrease ought to be greater than $100,000 per change at the top, however, and not just apply to the CEO. If there is some equally capable person willing to do your job for less money, you are overpaid. Such as been the attitude for everyone but those at the top for 30 years. But it works both ways. And as for the rest of us getting a better deal, whatever works.

Public Pensions: Old Dog New Trick

After some prompting I consulted someone in their early 20s and learned how to insert charts right into a post on Wordpress. Since the posts I wrote in December, based on long term Census Bureau data on public employee pensions in New York and New Jersey over 50 years, are still what most people are reading on “Saying the Unsaid in New York” one month later, I have edited them to embed the charts.

They are, in sequence, a post of the use of a fraudulent rate of return and asset value combination to cover up the selling out of the common future, which includes the entire database, a discussion of teacher pensions in New York and New Jersey, a discussion of the big general pension plans that cover most public employees in New York and New Jersey, and a discussion of police and fire pension plans. The latter three posts now have charts in the text, rather than just in the spreadsheet attachment. If that's helpful, you can read the posts now if you have not already.

The Shoreham Nuclear Plant and the LIRR

When Newsday reported that the East Side Access project for the Long Island Railroad, already years late and nearly double the original budget, would take yet another year and cost even more money to complete, what did that make me think of? Unfortunately, and I hope it’s not the same thing, I thought of the construction of the Shoreham Nuclear power plant in the 1970s and 1980s, milked by Long Island’s grifter culture to the detriment of non-grifter residents of Nassau and Suffolk Counties and the entire state.

According to a 1985 report by 60 Minutes as cited by the Associated Press (I remember watching it and was able to Google it up), “unions controlled by organized crime helped stretch out construction time to 15 years and add to the $4 billion cost overruns of Long Island's Shoreham nuclear power plant.” Among the tactics – theft of materials and equipment, and destroying completed work so it would have to be done again. A whistleblower “said he witnessed sabotage and saw workers perform the same task four or five times, just to stretch out work.” He later left the job after he was nearly killed twice. The utility, the Long Island Lighting Company, didn’t care because it had been guaranteed “cost-plus” rate increases by the State of New York at the time the plant was approved, and because the money was all borrowed. It’s nearly 30 years later, and Nassau and Suffolk County residents and businesses are still paying for that particular crime.

Enough Already: S.T.F.U.

Observing the political machinations of Republicans has become a tedious chore lately. After Barack Obama’s initial election as the 44th US president -and the first person of a mixed racial background to hold the position- it appears as though Republicans have gone bonkers. How else can one describe their collective behavior since Obama’s 2009 inauguration? 

Dispatches from the Garbage State

AMIRI BARAKA: "Who knew the World Trade Center was gonna get bombed 

Generation Greed and Student Loans

Yet another alleged scam is in the news. One that is, frankly, no surprise. Nor is it a surprise that the alleged ringleaders were from Long Island, where a grifter culture seems to have taken root that is draining both Nassau and Suffolk Counties and New York City alike. So what is the likely outcome of this investigation? My guess is that most of the older perpetrators will get away with it. And as a result, in an over-reaction, future generations of legitimately disabled New York City police officers and firefighters will have difficulty getting the benefits they actually deserve. To make up for the financial damage that older generations have caused. Consistent with 1,000 other examples all across our society.

Rather than write about something that is already in the news, lets move on to a possibly related subject. Every wonder why the terms of student loans are so draconian with regard to adjustment in bankruptcy? Why young borrowers who get in over their heads and face setbacks are essentially sentenced to a life of indentured servitude without parole? You guessed it. The system is beating on them in reaction to another generation that set out to beat the system. Generation Greed.

The 2012 Census of Governments: Some Work, Some Knowledge

Starting soon the U.S. Census Bureau will begin posting the results of the 2012 Census of Governments. That effort occurs every five years. And as I have the previous three times it was undertaken, I intend to download and compile this information for state and local governments in New York City, the rest of New York State, and related areas. Because I believe it is important that this information be made available in a way that makes fair and relevant comparisons between places possible.

No one else seems to work very much with this data. And to me, that is a problem. Shouldn’t the compilation and publication of this information be institutionalized somehow? Shouldn’t someone else in this city have the knowledge I have gained in 20-plus years of working with this dataset? Therefore I once again offer, to those with the interest and ability, the opportunity to work with me in compiling this information over the next year. If you are interested, I’m not hard to find with a little effort. Or people could just compile the data themselves after studying the background information and spreadsheets I produced five years ago, which I have posted here.

Gatemouth Grab-Bag [2013 General Election Analysis - Part Four]

Out  of what little remains of my lingering sense of obligation to both of my readers, I promised myself I’d finish up my observations concerning the November election results before the year ended, but I didn’t promise it would be particularly interesting (though I would have to note that I share the blame for this with the voters).

Orthodox Pundit Roundup Continues [2013 General Election Analysis Part Three]

As I previously noted, in attempting to do my year-end round of stories on the local election returns, I was stymied by the fact that Orthodox Pundit had already beaten me to some of the best stories and has already said a lot of

A great man, an even greater hypocrisy (part 2)

This is the second part of Rock Hackshaw's three-part column reflecting on the passing of Nelson Mandela.

If you haven’t read part one of this three-parter then I suggest you do so. These columns are being written in response to what I see as the media hypocrisy surrounding Nelson Mandela’s death: there is a context and there are specific themes.