Economy

The University of California: overbuilt, underfunded, and a reckless investor

Submitted: Jan 06, 2009
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

1-6-09
Modesto Bee
Lowering UC's standards has several costs...Doug Ose. Ose, of Granite Bay, is a developer who served three terms in Congress.
http://www.modbee.com/opinion/community/v-print/story/553747.html
Editor's note: This article was submitted in response to The Bee's editorial "Changes in UC admissions should improve process" (Jan. 2, Page A-1).
Recently the University of California Board of Regents considered a proposal to lower admission standards for incoming freshman. At the heart of the proposal is the elimination of the SAT subject tests and the establishment of a "holistic" admissions process called Entitled to Review.
The concern is that eliminating subject tests removes a long- established path to admissions that has a proven record in predicting a student's readiness for success in college. Changing to this new policy invites legal mischief. UCLA has been using "holistic" admissions practices and now faces scrutiny for potential violations of Proposition 209, which outlawed college admissions based on race or ethnicity. Fortunately, a significant public outcry from students and others forced the regents to postpone making any decision until early 2009.

 Read More »
| »

Selfishness, greed, hypocrisy and political corruption destroy the Delta

Submitted: Jan 02, 2009
By: 
Bill Hatch

12-22-08
Merced Sun-Star editorial

 

...How can we judge if California is taking more water from the delta and its watershed than they can handle?
Consider the evidence: Smelt are at the brink of extinction. Other species, such as salmon, are in serious peril. Federal courts are using the hammer of the Endangered Species Act to deliver a blunt message about the entire ecosystem.
Dry years, when cities and farms suck more from the delta than they do during more rainy times, are especially tough for these species. During wet years, 87 percent of the water entering the delta makes it out to the San Francisco Bay. During dry years, the figure drops to 51 percent.
If California is to have any hope of restoring the delta and avoiding clashes with federal judges, it must develop a water plan that reduces its dependence on this estuary and strives for greater reliability.
What would this plan look like?
To begin with, it must be grounded in reality. Water contracts based on dated premises must be renegotiated, and efficiency should be the law of the land.
Each region of the state -- including Sacramento and the San Joaquin Valley -- must find ways to reduce what it takes from the delta and its watershed. And environmental groups must recognize that not every species will be restored to its population predating the Gold Rush...

 Read More »
| »

The port-smog story mistold

Submitted: Dec 14, 2008
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

The Contra Costa Times, covering a story of Port of Oakland air pollution, supposedly of interest to its readers, missed the crucial political fact of the year on this issue: that Gov. Schwarzenegger, vetoed the bill that would have provided the most money for air clean up, by putting a surcharge on all full containers passing through the port. The additional fact that Gov. Sarah Palin, Barfly-AK, had something to do with persuading him to veto the bill, was also missed.

The Contra Costa Times was, until recently, owned by Knight-Ridder, which sold it to the McClatchy Co, which sold it to Denver-based MediaNews Group. Moody's has just again downgraded MediaNews's credit rating and pointed to significant challenges in the chain's near future.

Meanwhile, according to Project Finance Magazine, on Dec. 9, five multi-leteral export credit agencies pledged $5.25 billion for widening and improving the Panama Canal, another blow to westcoast ports. Shipping by sea remains the cheapest means of transport.

Another aspect of the problem of ports, pollution, and the money to improve air quality around the ports, is that the planned "inland ports," warehousing and truck depots in the San Joaquin Valley reached by rail from the ports, have lost one big pot of expected public funding as a result of Schwarzenegger's veto.

 Read More »
| »

Blago the Terrible and other stories

Submitted: Dec 13, 2008
By: 
Bill Hatch

Blago the Terrible and other stories

“I got this thing, and it’s (bleeping) golden. … You just don’t give it away for nothing,” (Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich) said, according to a criminal complaint filed by U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald.

“Then he (Obama) just laid out an economic analysis (for his 2004 US Senate campaign). It becomes about money, because he knew that if people knew his story they would view him as a better candidate than anybody else he thought might be in the field. And so he said, ‘Therefore, if you raise five million dollars, I have a fifty-per-cent chance of winning. If you raise seven million dollars, I have a seventy-per-cent chance of winning. If you raise ten million dollars, I guarantee victory.” (New Yorker, July 21, 2008)

Blagojevich is correct: the bleeping Senate-seat appointment is worth quite a bit more than any of the recorded or suspected offers for it. Even shaving Obama's $10 million down to $9 million, Jesse Jackson Jr.'s alleged offer of $1 million for the last two years of Obama's Senate term is a clear savings to plutocrat investors in politicians of $2 million in the middle of a bad recession. Later, the incumbent advantage might be worth as much as $3 or $4 million more. It just makes sense.

 Read More »
| »

Things that are upside down

Submitted: Dec 01, 2008
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

Where are all the doomsayers of 2006? Those people, who said the speculative real estate boom could not last, were a kind of answer.

Their argument necessarily called for a governmental solution, a need for immediate, perhaps even drastic regulation of a bubble gone wild and spreading, via securitized debt, throughout the world. By 2007, the doomsayers were even saying that this could result in a global credit freeze. These days, they content themselves with documenting the damage.

Government didn't listen; it continued to enable the bubble. Today, the lame duck Bush administration is desperately trying to restore credibility to securitized credit debt at unbelievable, unimaginable but inadequate public expense, as wave upon wave of defaults, we are told, are yet to come -- more residential mortgage defaults, commercial mortgage defaults, credit card defaults. The ever-cheery mainstream press is beginning to scrape the bottom of the barrel to find credentialled prophets willing to predict even a mid-term reversal of economic bad news.

Obama promised Change! but we doubt he'd like to take any credit for the real changes happening.

 Read More »
| »

Three on the economy

Submitted: Nov 20, 2008
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

Three of the most interesting articles we've read on the economy this week have come from divergent sources: Paul Craig Roberts, former assistant US Treasurer and Wall Street Journal editor, and a theorist of supply-side economics; Mike Davis, on the editorial board of New Left Review and author of City of Quartz and Planet of Slums among other books; Dean Baker, editor at the Center for Economic and Policy Research, who has been warning the nation since 2002 about the danger of the speculative housing bubble. All three  appear regularly on websites offering the best political economic journalism in the country.

Through the years of the Bush administration, we have read their prophetic analyses, which have helped us understand what is going on locally as well as nationally and internationally. At this point, when the nation is about as far away from "the end of history" as it can get and the government is rummaging around in the archives for a tattered copy of The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money (1936), by John Maynard Keynes, looking for some ideas that worked in the Great Depression, Roberts, Davis and Baker offer useful insights and policy directions that might actually reduce some present and future suffering.

Badlands Journal editorial board

 Read More »
| »

A common story

Submitted: Nov 16, 2008
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board


A woman who works in a processing plant developed persistent pain in her knee. She kept working as long as she could but finally had to go to management and explain that she did not want to quit but that she had too much pain to do the work she was doing. A manager brought her into his office and told her to sign a form before going to the company doctor. She told the manager that she would need to take the form home and have a family member whose English was better read it. The manager told her to sign it then and there or be fired. The woman, already irritated by the constant pain she had endured for several weeks, did not think this was fair. She explained that she would bring the form back in the morning but that she needed to have a family member read it and explain it to her. The angry manager verbally abused her and  fired her in the office and she left the plant.

However, she still had an appointment with the company doctor and so she went to it. The doctor agreed that she seemed to have pain in her knee, took an x-ray, had a few tests done, gave her some pain pills, and made another appointment for her. At the next appointment, the company doctor asked if she was any better and she said she wasn’t. He explained to her that she had pain in her knee and gave her some more pills.

The woman, who neither drinks, smokes or takes drugs, did not like the effects of the pills and quit using them.

 Read More »
| »

A common story

Submitted: Nov 16, 2008
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board


A woman who works in a processing plant developed persistent pain in her knee. She kept working as long as she could but finally had to go to management and explain that she did not want to quit but that she had too much pain to do the work she was doing. A manager brought her into his office and told her to sign a form before going to the company doctor. She told the manager that she would need to take the form home and have a family member whose English was better read it. The manager told her to sign it then and there or be fired. The woman, already irritated by the constant pain she had endured for several weeks, did not think this was fair. She explained that she would bring the form back in the morning but that she needed to have a family member read it and explain it to her. The angry manager verbally abused her and  fired her in the office and she left the plant.

However, she still had an appointment with the company doctor and so she went to it. The doctor agreed that she seemed to have pain in her knee, took an x-ray, had a few tests done, gave her some pain pills, and made another appointment for her. At the next appointment, the company doctor asked if she was any better and she said she wasn’t. He explained to her that she had pain in her knee and gave her some more pills.

The woman, who neither drinks, smokes or takes drugs, did not like the effects of the pills and quit using them.

 Read More »
| »

Now let us hope and get down to work

Submitted: Nov 08, 2008
By: 
Bill Hatch

Here in Merced, the Obama campaign was as invisible to the general public as the on-going immigration raids. Obama-Biden lawn signs were greatly outnumbered by For Sale and For Rent signs in this national foreclosure-rate capital. Our local Democratic Party is dominated by a Blue Dog congressman and his plutocrat paymasters and has no community
credibility. We did however notice frequent email invitations to local phone-bank events, where people here would call to help get the vote out in the battleground states.

In any event, Obama wasn’t paying much attention to Merced. California is a very blue state, it performed as expected, and Obama was taking care of business where he needed to be to win his campaign.

Yet his campaign achieved something unimaginable: it elected an African-American to the presidency of the United States of America. Its coalition of youth, people of color, progressives, the anti-war movement, low-income Americans and others, won  the election. It was able to take advantage of the economic disaster. It found another political center, in fact it had to find and empower that new center to win.

 Read More »
| »

Anatomy of a foreclosure

Submitted: Oct 27, 2008
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

In the late 1990s, an entrepreneurial mechanic with a wife and one child bought a house for $65,000 with a down payment of $1,500 and took a fixed-rate FHA mortgage. His wife, a beautician, got a job as a clerk at a discount store. In the midst of the speculative real estate boom in Merced six years later, with three children now and a warehouse job, he took out an equity loan for $126,000, did some remodeling on the exterior (new stucco, paint, new lawn turf, foam sculpture), bought furniture, a big-screen TV and a nearly new Cadillac Escalade. It is estimated that about $35,000 went for the home improvements and goods. Where did the other $91,000 go? It didn’t go into the property. Why wasn’t the equity loan monitored for home improvements? 

 Read More »
| »


To manage site Login