Category Archives: Economy

John Boehner Is Afraid to Stand Up to Tea Party

John Boehner - Caricature

John Boehner – Caricature (Photo credit: DonkeyHotey)

John Boehner can end the shutdown any time he wants. He could have a bill on President Obama’s desk in the course of an afternoon, but he won’t step up.

That’s because he’s afraid of challenging the most extreme voices in his caucus.

We need to make sure that those aren’t the only voices the Speaker is hearing.

Tell Speaker Boehner to get the government up and running today.

If Speaker Boehner brought a clean bill to fund the federal government to the floor – without any of the nonsense about defunding Obamacare – it would pass in a bipartisan vote.

Every day that goes by, more Republicans are starting to say exactly the same thing: It’s time for John Boehner to do his job and listen to the American people.

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Filed under Economy, Health, National, Politics, Sick Sad World

States Charging Inmates for Jail Facilities

Toilet paper Español: Papel higiénico

Toilet paper Español: Papel higiénico (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Citing a 2010 Brennan Center reportTime published a story on how cash-strapped municipalities are charging jail inmates for items such as pants, blankets and each sheet of toilet paper. Echoing the Brennan Center’s findings, the magazine noted that such efforts are often futile.

“Legal experts point out that prison fees don’t yield much revenue because the majority of prisoners in the U.S. are poor,” the story said. Discussing the subject on Washington Post TV, Lauren-Brooke Eisen pointed out that these policies can lead to the re-incarceration of ex-offenders who have done nothing wrong other than fail to pay their jail fees.

“You’re talking about a population that just doesn’t have the funds creating a debtor’s prison,” Eisen said. “Most of the counties that have done this have spent more money trying to collect these fees than they have actually received.”

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Filed under Crime and Punishment, Economy

Tell Congress: Shutting Down the Government Is Not an Option

Shut Down Government

Shut Down Government (Photo credit: KAZVorpal)

There’s been a lot of talk about whether Congress will pass a budget by the end of this month or let the government shut down.

Here’s what a shutdown would mean:

Nearly all federal programs and the people they work for would suffer. We’re talking delayed military pay and veterans’ benefits. Shutting down Head Start centers, and Meals on Wheels programs. Delayed applications for new Social Security enrollments, and loans for students and small businesses.

One thing is clear: Shutting down the government will hurt the American people.

When some members of Congress talk about a government shutdown, they frame it as a practical bargaining chip.

A government shutdown will shutter crucial services the American people depend on and wreak havoc with our economy.

President Obama has put forth a smart plan for the budget, and he’s said he’s willing to hear new ideas from people on both sides of the aisle. The budget Congress passes needs to continue to grow the economy from the middle out.

Our elected officials shouldn’t use the economy, the budget, or the threat of taking away health care from millions of Americans to score political points. Add your name now, and tell Congress to avoid a government shutdown and pass a smart budget: http://my.barackobama.com/Pass-a-Budget

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Filed under Economy, National, Politics

The Stress of Being Poor Makes You Functionally Stupider

Poverty

Poverty (Photo credit: Teo’s photo)

A study conducted by several American and British universities has shown that financial problems negatively impact decision-making and can cause a reduction in intelligence equal to losing thirteen IQ points.

From USA Today:

“Simply put, being poor taps out one’s mental reserves,” says University of Minnesota psychologist Kathleen Vohs, in a commentary on what she calls the ‘eye-opening’ study. “These findings suggest that decisions requiring many trade-offs, which are common in poverty, render subsequent decisions prone to favoring impulsive, intuitive, and often regrettable options.”

Shafir acknowledges the study results contrast with ‘pick yourself up by your own bootstraps’ thinking about escaping poverty. “We only have so much bandwidth to make decisions and if yours is taken up daily with child care and getting to work on time when your boss yelled at you yesterday, you won’t make good decisions,” he says.

Basically, being broke causes impaired decision-making which leads to being more broke.

To be clear, this study doesn’t tout the mental superiority of the rich, but highlights the mental stressors impacting those with fewer resources.

The Daily Mail clarifies:

“Our results suggest that when you’re poor, money is not the only thing in short supply. Cognitive capacity is also stretched thin,” said Harvard economist Sendhil Mullainathan.

“That’s not to say that poor people are less intelligent than others. What we show is that the same person experiencing poverty suffers a cognitive deficit as opposed to when they’re not experiencing poverty.

“It’s also wrong to suggest that someone’s cognitive capacity has gotten smaller because they’re poor. In fact, what happens is that your effective capacity gets smaller, because you have all these other things on your mind, you have less mind to give to everything else.” He said individuals with financial worries are like a computer that has slowed down because it is carrying out more than one function.

But researchers discovered when low-income individuals had their money worries removed, their intelligence returned to the same levels as higher earners.

“It’s not that the computer is slow, it’s that it’s doing something else, so it seems slow to you. I think that’s the heart of what we’re trying to say,” he added.

Via Death and Taxes.

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Filed under Economy, Strange But True

Southern Hospitality: If You’re Homeless, Get Out or Go to Jail

English: Looking down Main Street from the Sou...

English: Looking down Main Street from the South Carolina Statehouse steps, downtown Columbia, South Carolina, USA (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This month, the City Council of Columbia, South Carolina unanimously approved a plan that will evict its increasing homeless population. The move is seen as an effort to make the city more appealing in the wake of the branding “the new Southern hot spot.”

The law offers the homeless three options: accept help at a shelter, leave Columbia, or go to jail. The city’s 240-bed shelter is open only from November to March.

“You’ve got to get to the root of the problem: why we’re homeless,” said Jaja Akair, a homeless man who spoke during a City Council session that stretched past 3 a.m. “You can’t just knock us to the side like we’re a piece of meat or a piece of paper.” Turning to executives in the audience, Akair said: “Try giving us a shot. I guarantee you some of us would run your business better than you do.”

Homelessness in Richland County is up 43% in two years, due in part to the absence of affordable housing options.

“People are afraid to get out of their cars when they see a homeless person,” said Richard Balser, who owns a store downtown. “They haven’t been a problem. They just scare people.”

Lori Brown, who owns a fabric store on Main Street, wonders if the city had misplaced its efforts. “People complain more about parking,” Brown said.\

Via The New York Times.

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Filed under Crime and Punishment, Economy, Law, Sick Sad World

Why the Vodka Boycott Won’t Actually Help Russia’s Gays

Stolichnaya vodka

Stolichnaya vodka (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

America’s “only advice columnist,” Dan Savage, has called for a boycott of Russian vodka to protest attacks on gays by anti-gay legislation backed by President Vladimir Putin. Over at The New York Times, Mark Lawrence Schrad has written about why the boycott might backfire.

First, boycotting vodka does nothing for Russia’s LGBT population. It’s totally symbolic . Symbolic boycotts are important, but so is knowing the effects of your actions.

Second, a boycott allows Pres. Putin to portray America as a specter intent on violating Russian sovereignty and morals. Polls show that two-thirds of Russians consider homosexuality unacceptable. This conservative context, Schrad argues, allows Pres. Putin to portray himself as the defender of traditional Orthodox Christian values fighting off a threat from the liberal West.

Third, the Kremlin’s reliance on vodka is largely over, making efforts to enforce the boycott ineffective. (For example, Stolichnaya, which is distilled in Latvia and owned by the SPI Group in Luxembourg, has been the primary target. In fact, the owners of SPI fled Russia years ago.)

Have you participated in the boycott of Russian vodka?

Via NYT.

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Filed under Activism, Civil Rights, Economy, Entertainment, If You Were Gay, Sick Sad World, World