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February 18, 2011 04:51 PM UTC

Open Line Friday!

  • 69 Comments
  • by: Colorado Pols

“The point is there’s nothing that’s happening for free. It’s just some people being coerced into working for free and calling it volunteerism.”

–Rush Limbaugh, yesterday

Comments

69 thoughts on “Open Line Friday!

      1. I want to say that those earlier diaries were actually written by an intern and I just put may name on them. Needless to say this is totally the fault of said intern and she has been fired.

        I personally not only think you are doing a superb job collecting taxes, but doing so in a way that all businesses find to be so smooth and easy that they are happy to pay taxes.

        You are all also one of the best looking groups of people I have ever seen. I am surprised that Hollywood has not come calling to hire all of you.

        I think I speak for everyone in Boulder when I say how lucky we are to have you working for us.

        1. It’s hard to not see a coincidence in this. I’m sure you’ll get the last laugh after the audit when they find nothing but compliance. In the meantime, though, the process will be a grand and wonderful waste of your company’s resources. Good luck.

        2. or attempting a Holy Grail:

          “We apologise again for the fault in the tax articles. Those responsible for sacking the people who have just been sacked

          have been sacked.”

          Also can’t help but notice your obsequious groveling lacks sincerity …  

  1. Re:  Harsanyi’s column this morning

    http://www.denverpost.com/opin

    Family budgets have to jibe with reality.  Most (all?) state budgets are forced to deal with reality eventually.  And though the federal govt doesn’t have its hand forced by the same restrictions, things are so bad that at least a handful more congressmen are taking the deficit seriously.

    Somehow though, unions think they should be immune from the real world.  But regardless of whether you agree or disagree – unions are on the wrong side of the message and the political fight.  They have utterly failed PR 101.  

    They are not even attempting to feign good faith.  This is Bush 41 not knowing the price of bread x1000.

    1. But this isn’t just about budgets — or even primarily about budgets. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is drumming up a crisis to change the very nature of the relationship between public workers and the government. He would strip their unions of their bargaining rights on everything except wages. And, as The New York Times has noted, “any pay increase they win would be limited by the consumer price index.” Whether you think the second is good policy or not, it essentially renders collective bargaining meaningless. Why shouldn’t this be seen as a Republican governor and a Republican legislature looking for a way to strike a political blow against allies of the other party — and using budget issues as an excuse?

      …In fact, its budget difficulties were, in large part, created by Walker and his legislative allies. As The Times pointed out this morning (in an editorial entitled “Gov. Walker’s Pretext”), the governor “is refusing to accept his own share of responsibility for the state’s projected $137 million shortfall.” The editorial continued:

         Just last month, he and the Legislature gave away $117 million in tax breaks, mostly for businesses that expand and for private health savings accounts. That was a choice lawmakers made, and had it not been for those decisions and a few others, according to the state’s Legislative Fiscal Bureau, the state would have had a surplus.

      Sure, governors and legislatures have a right to make choices. But Wisconsin doesn’t face an emergency that justifies forcing this bill through at breakneck speed.

      http://voices.washingtonpost.c

      1. Are you freakin’ kidding me??  That’s all it takes to throw Wisconsiners . . . Wisconians . . . a bunch of drunken cheeseheads . . . into a complete tizzy??  You bunch of Aunt Minnies, $137 million won’t even feed the chickens here.  (I think I just lost all the respect you gained with me by winning the Super Bowl.)

        I’ll tell you what — if you can get your Gov. Walker to say “pretty please” (and maybe toss in a keg of PBR), I’ll bet we can get our Republican Governor to take your deficit and slash a bit more from our education budget.

        Problem solved, and everybody’s happy.  De Nada.  (On second thought, let’s splurge — make it Miller.)

    2. If family budgets had to jibe with reality, then American families wouldn’t hold debt in excess of their income.

      So, maybe it’s time to consider new talking points? Maybe? Maybe something that jibes with reality? Maybe?

      1. You’re absolutely right.  Consumers and the govt. spent way beyond their means for too long.  But families and now state govts have reached their breaking points.  Your old numbers are unsustainable these days… unless you’re Obama or a teachers’ union.

        If you look at graphs since the recession, you will see that savings rates are up and credit card use is down overall.  Though it’s a more complicated than that – unemployment has forced many consumers to choose between not paying their mortgage or living off their remaining lines of credit.

        But for you to imply that families today are spending more than ever completely lacks credibility and is unhinged from reality.  Just like these unions.

        Next time, when discussing present day behavior, don’t put in graphical form really old information that just proves what everyone already expects.

        1. He isn’t going after firemen and policemen. This anti-union argument would hold water if the Governor hadn’t exempted those unions from this bill.

          Those exempted unions are protesting with the other unions, in a show of unity.

        2. Housing debt based on an over-inflated housing market is part of most American’s personal debt–whether the piggybank that houses became during the bubble was being drawn down in 2007 or in 2010 or last week–such is still causing debt/deficit in personal households today).

          http://agentgenius.com/real-es

          As home prices continue to slowly slide, rates of homeowners with mortgages that are underwater has risen 23.2% from just a quarter ago to settle at 27% according to search site Zillow.com.

          The same report discovered that more than a third of all homes were sold in December at a loss.

        3. How about this?



          The graph goes through 2009 (4th quarter 2010 still hasn’t been added to the analyses.

          From the same source:

          10. Debt levels are still high. Total household debt equaled 117.6 percent of after-tax income in the third quarter of 2010. This is down from a record high of 130.2 percent in the third quarter of 2007, but still higher than at any point before 2005.

          So, Mr. 20th century Main genius, why don’t you put up DATA that supports your arguments? Or are you too wedded to your ideological talking points that you are unwilling to consider evidence?

          In my graph above, you might notice when household debt started rising (do you recall who held the Presidency in the 1980s?). Then household debt held pretty constant through the 90s only do rapidly increase again during the first decade of this century. (Do you recall who held the Presidency through 2008?)

          Don’t go blaming reckless spending habits on unions or the current president UNLESS you actually have some evidence that supports your claims.

          1. I can’t put up cool graphs like you. I don’t know how.  So I’ll have to use yours.

            I’m trying to follow your reasoning.  If I am reading these graphs right, and I’m sure scores will correct me if I’m not, it looks like:

            * Household debt surpassed the savings rate

              in the mid ’90’s.  (Your first graph)

            * Personal debt (as a % of disposable

              income) went from roughly 65% to 79%

              during ’80-88. (second graph)

            * Personal debt went from roughly 80% to

              92% during ’92-00. (second graph again)

            I’m not sure of the point you’re making with the graphs.  As for the presidents, they each come with a lot of context.  As the rest of us know, presidents get a lot more credit and blame than they usually deserve when it comes to the economy (Carter notwithstanding).  

            And then your quote says that total household debt dropped 10% between 2007-2010.  Not massive, but historically significant.  Do I owe you money for this one?

            Meanwhile, I will continue to point out the obvious:  that unions are making irresponsible demands and making unpolitic moves to boot.  

            And though I don’t find myself publicly criticizing Obama that often, he admitted that his own budget only cuts $1.1T from the deficit by 2022. It’s unserious.

            1. Your first claim was:

              Family budgets have to jibe with reality.

              And what I have shown is that your claim is not based on the evidence for how American families budget. In other words, your very first claim is wrong. The rest of what you wrote thus makes no sense (nothing you wrote follows logically from your first claim). Until you can come up with a description of the real world that matches the, umm, real world, your arguments are wholly flawed and your desired, predetermined, ideologically-based conclusions do not follow.

              Get it?

              As for interpreting the graphs, you got this wrong too. Note that in the first graph, the left and right axes are not the same, thus where the two lines cross is not significant. What is significant is that household debt surpassed 100% of GDP around early 2002 and has been above 100% since then.

              What can be seen in the second graph is that even through 2009, household debt exceeds income. This means Americans do NOT balance their household budgets. (Read that again, it’s a key point.) Americans have spent, and continue to spend (on credit), more than they make.

              THIS is reality.

              As for presidents, YOU are the one who brought Obama into this argument. I was challenging your understanding of reality (the real reality, not your ideological cartoon version) by pointing out that Americans learned how to live beyond their incomes under a series of presidents that preceded Obama.

              So, do you have any more talking points that you need fact checked? Try teh google. It took me less than one minute to track down this info.

              (For example, you might note that several corporations are hinting at huge profits for 2010 – so why would you claim that unions are making irresponsible demands by asking that some of these incredible profits be shared with workers? Use teh google before you attempt to respond to this, OK? You can also use teh google to learn some basic html so that you can post images, links, videos, etc. But first learn how to interpret graphs, OK?)

              1. The fact that families have > $0.01 in debt more than they do in income, isn’t in itself, a departure from reality.  Your (2nd) graph clearly shows a major change in behavior, i.e. debt to income.  In other words, people are reacting appropriately, if not perfectly, to current economic conditions.  

                Households can’t erase their excessive debt overnight.  But they appear to be moving in the right direction.  

                As you fail/ignore to notice the obvious, you get defensive about Obama putting up what is virtually a straight line to attack the federal debt.

                As for the first graph, you can’t get to 100% without passing 99% – which is where it was (per the graph) when Bush came into office.

                Let me help you:  criticize Bush for how big the spread grew after he entered in office if you must.  But you’re only going to get points from idiots by arguing that Bush somehow is at fault for household debt surpassing 100% GDP.

                The bottom line:  Families are addressing their debt, the federal govt, is not, and the lead paint chewing is finally starting to take its toll on you.

                1. because you’re not ready to swim in the adult pool.

                  130% more debt than income means that a family that brings in $40,000 per year racks up $52,000 in expenses. Per year. On average. That’s an average of $12,000 in debt (I have no idea where you came up with $0.01 and I don’t think I want to know.)

                  That was reality for average American households in 2007.

                  In 2010 (3rd quarter) that average household demonstrated a “major change in behavior” (your words) by spending a mere $47,040 for every $40,000 in income (117.6% debt to income ratio).

                  So, while behavior is certainly turning in the right direction, the evidence says that Americans continue to spend more than they make. And this $7,040 in debt was added on top of the $12,000 debt from 2007, putting them nearly $20,000 in debt with a $40,000 income (assuming they had no debts from 2008, or 2006, or …).

                  In other words, American households do NOT balance their budgets. They live beyond their means using credit. What has changed is they have slowed down (a bit) how fast they are accumulating debt.

                  This is the reality of the typical American household. And has been for nearly the entire last decade.

                  I’m not attempting to defend Obama, or any other president. Get it through your head

                  I’m criticizing you, 20th Maine, and only you because you said something in complete contradiction of the available facts

                  Family budgets have to jibe with reality.

                  in your very first post on this thread and you seem to be pathologically unable to admit that this claim is in error.

                  Instead you have called me names, screamed that my data was “old,” moved goalposts, and kept repeating your idiotological talking points.

                  Some where amidst all the gibberish above, you might have said something that could be documented as true in the real world, not just in your ideological cartoon world. But your luck at stumbling across such a truth was not because of any skill at logical argument on your part.

                  Your initial premise has been shown to be false. Admit this and then it might be possible to have a discussion.

                  1. living in your gated community, parent’s basement, or padded cell.  Maybe you or your parents work for an investment bank.  

                    You are nitpicking and arguing semantics.  But you are not going to convince anyone that US families in general have not had to adjust their budgets downward over the last few years.

                    Families can’t wipe out all their debt immediately but the fact they’re doing so at the fastest clip since ’52 is a good sign.  This demonstrates a positive relationship between the economy (reality) and consumer saving and spending habits.

                    My initial point, per Harsanyi’s column, (one which you conveniently ignored with your laser focus on the definition of ‘reality’) is that union demands to be immune from economic downturns is untethered from the real world.

                    Sorry for calling you ‘genius’ and ‘Brownie’ in the same thread.  It must be confusing.  

                    And so there are no conspiracy theories, I’ve got to bail.  I’m not avoiding anyone.  So- you get the last word.

                    1. http://www.jsonline.com/blogs/

                      Madison – Gov. Scott Walker on Friday rejected an offer from the head of the largest state workers union in which workers would give concession on benefits, but keep their collective bargaining rights.

                      “Doesn’t work,” Walker told Journal Sentinel reporters in his office Friday afternoon…

                      Earlier Friday, Marty Beil, head of the Wisconsin State Employees Union, said his group would be willing to give in to Walker’s demand for concessions on their benefits if the governor gave in on his bid to repeal nearly all bargaining rights for public worker unions.

                    2. 1. Gov. Scott Walker is clearly trying to use a self inflicted budget shortfall to destroy the unions (that did not support him).

                      2. Many teachers unions have pushed for salary increases while everyone else has had to take reduced pay or been laid off.

                    3. The compromise has been offered and rejected by the governor who is trying to fulfill the long-time GOPer dream of destroying the right of workers to organize collectively for better representation.  

                    4. given what they say about ignorance.

                      If you consider coming to a common understanding of what facts are to be “nitpicking” and “semantics” I must appear to be a genius to you.

                      Do you understand what those graphs are saying, 20th Maine? It is absolutely incorrect to claim that those graphs indicate that Americans are wiping out debt “at the fastest clip since ’52” (your words).

                      Let me type slowly:

                      As long as the debt to income ratios exceed 100% that means that American households are continuing to accumulate debt. On average, Americans are continuing to buy, with credit, more than they make. What has changed since 2007 is that Americans are racking up debt at a modestly slower rate. But they are still racking up more debt on top of their previous debt levels.

                      You have no point, initial or otherwise, because your premise is absolutely false. Incorrect. Wrong.

                      Get it?

                      On average, Americans and their spending habits are what appear to be untethered from the real world. In addition to the fact that your ideology has little link to logic or facts. Your refusal to acknowledge this one little fact about household debt speaks volumes about how tenaciously you are clinging to your ideology.

                      My apologies for overestimating your ability to interpret simple graphs and recognize factual, evidence-based claims about the world.

                      You do make a very strong argument for why we should strengthen our public education programs. When adults can’t read simple graphs, they are not equipped to make educated decisions about policy.

                    5. Just kidding.  Where did 20th Maine go?  Sure, you schooled him good but I thought he (?) was tougher than that.    

                    6. They can declare bankruptcy.  Boom; most if not all debt is gone.

                      They can let the bank foreclose on their house, and that wipes out a bunch of debt.

                      If I were a betting woman, and I am (though when I lose, I don’t pay), I would bet that the downturn in the debt curve has less to do with people developing better spending and savings habits than it has to do with people shedding debts through bankruptcy and foreclosure.

            2. It’s easy, you do it like this. Just find your favorite picture online, and open it up by itself (so you get the source file directly). Usually you’d do this by right-clicking directly on the image and choosing something like “View image” depending on your browser. Then you’ll see the URL of the image that says something like

              http://my.ignorance.is/a_point_against_you.jpg

              Now take that address and stick it in the following template and put it anywhere in your comment text:

              <img src=”http://my.ignorance.is/a_point_against_you.jpg”>

              and voila!

              1. I clicked on your link, sxp, and there wasn’t a cool graph. Crap!

                One word of warning, if you are new to posting images, please make sure to take a good look at the image in the preview BEFORE you hit post. If the image is huge, you can reduce its size to fit a standard column width by adding

                <img src= “http://my.ignorance.is/a_point_against_you.jpg” width= “50%”>

                Play around with the % value until you get a pleasing size.

    3. … but busting the unions has been a wet dream of the GOP for a generation. This move stinks, just like blaming ALL of the automakers’ woes on their unions, stank.

    4. GOP Executive and GOP Legislature take a budget surplus and in a blink turn it into a budget shortfall (by giving unnecessary tax cuts). Then turn around and make the working class responsible for filling that gap. Now where have we heard this before?

      All Gov. Walker and his GOP cronies in the Legislature are doing is following the example Bush laid out. The big difference is the media, and therefore the country, is paying attention this time.

    5. The government can raise more revenue by increasing fees or taxes.

      The family can go in to debt – many state governments can’t.

      Neither the family nor the government have control over health care expenses.

      Yes, the parallels go on and on – it’s just that your reality doesn’t jibe with actual reality.  In this reality, Gov. Walker has recklessly allocated money to be spent, and is using that as an excuse to deprive workers of the right to organize in order to give them a voice in little things like workplace safety or school best practices.  Oh, and forcing them to take a pay cut that most people put at about 12% – for a staff that according to their non-partisan budget council is already under-paid by about 6% vs. an equivalent private sector worker.

  2. I live in a community with many volunteers. But, when some functions appropriate for govt are being done by volunteers you have to know that taxes need to rise and more govt employees need to be hired.

    But, EVERYONE should volunteer in their community. At least 10 hours a month, 40 would be more reasonable.

  3. It’s not clear how this story will turn out, but right now Patrick Rodgers is living a pay-back fantasy probably shared by millions of struggling U.S. homeowners.

    Frustrated by a dispute with Wells Fargo Home Mortgage and by his inability to get answers to questions, the West Philadelphia homeowner took the mortgage company to court last fall.

    When Wells Fargo still didn’t respond, Rodgers got a $1,000 default judgment against it for failing to answer his formal questions, as required by a federal law called the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act.

    And when the mortgage company didn’t pay – does something sound familiar? – Rodgers turned to Philadelphia’s sheriff.

    The result: At least for the moment, the contents of Wells Fargo Home Mortgage, 1341 N. Delaware Ave., are scheduled for sheriff’s sale on March 4 to satisfy the judgment and pay about $200 for court and sheriff’s costs.

    http://articles.philly.com/201

    On occasion, that whole “law thing” actually comes back to bite you in the ass…

  4. and are now setting the remaining pieces of the ship on fire as they sink into the depths….

    Trade your starting goalie (who’s in a slump) for another goalie in a slump? WTF?


    Colorado acquires Elliott from Senators

    The Colorado Avalanche Hockey Club announced today that the team has acquired goaltender Brian Elliott from the Ottawa Senators in exchange for goaltender Craig Anderson.

    Elliott, 25, has appeared in a team-high 43 games for the Senators this season, posting a 13-19-8 record with a 3.19 goals-against average and three shutouts. The Newmarket, Ontario native helped the Senators reach the Stanley Cup playoffs a year ago, compiling a 29-18-4 record with a .909 save percentage and five shutouts in 55 appearances.

    “Brian is an experienced NHL goaltender,” said Avalanche General Manager/Executive Vice President Greg Sherman. “We look forward to having him join our team.”

    http://www.nhl.com/ice/news.ht

  5. Anyway, you may think Walker’s proposal is a good idea or a bad idea. But that’s what it does. And it’s telling that he’s exempting the unions that supported him and is trying to obscure his plan’s specifics behind misleading language about what unions can still bargain for and misleading rhetoric about the state’s budget.

    http://voices.washingtonpost.c…  

  6. Young Hispanics in Texas Poised to Pick Up Aging Tab

    Whites who dominated Texas’s population for generations are growing older and more dependent on the earning power and taxes of younger Hispanics, now poised to take over as the state’s largest demographic group.

    Of the 25,145,561 people counted in Texas in the 2010 Census, 37.6 percent were Hispanic and 45.3 percent were non- Hispanic whites. Yet Hispanics disproportionately fill the ranks of younger Texans. Hispanics comprise 48.3 percent of Texans under the age of 18, up from 40.5 percent in 2000. The percentage of non-Hispanic whites in the same age group fell to 33.8 percent from 42.6 percent in 2000, according to census data released yesterday.

    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/

        1. and unemployed people. Or under employed.

          But we also should be trying to retain talented students. Instead as it is, we lose them to TX or New Mexico or another neighboring state that funds their schools and allows domestic students to establish residency and pay instate.

  7. I wonder if they cited the Constitutional provision allowing NASCAR sponsorship?

    Among the other actions the House took was to reject a controversial plan to end the Pentagon’s sponsorship of a NASCAR team. Another measure, banning federal aid to Planned Parenthood, was passed.

    Read more: http://nation.foxnews.com/obam

  8. Hard to believe, but the pro-Walker Rally is not a spontaneous parade of patriots.  I know it’s hard to believe that Republicans would allow such cynical manipulation of their public, but apparently, gentle readers, it is so.  

    So who are the greedheads–employees who want the benefits that they already negotiated with their employer, and the right to negotiate such in the future, or the funders behind the Tea Party parade that descended on Madison today?  

    That would be the Koch brothers, who, according to (a blog on) Forbes of all sources:

    Why are the Koch Brothers so interested in Wisconsin? They are a major business player in the state.

    This from Think Progress:

    “Koch owns a coal company subsidiary with facilities in Green Bay, Manitowoc, Ashland and Sheboygan; six timber plants throughout the state; and a large network of pipelines in Wisconsin. While Koch controls much of the infrastructure in the state, they have laid off workers to boost profits. At a time when Koch Industries owners David and Charles Koch awarded themselves an extra $11 billion of income from the company, Koch slashed jobs at their Green Bay plant:

    “Officials at Georgia-Pacific said the company is laying off 158 workers at its Day Street plant because out-of-date equipment at the facility is being replaced with newer, more-efficient equipment. The company said much of the new, papermaking equipment will be automated. […] Malach tells FOX 11 that the layoffs are not because of a drop in demand. In fact, Malach said demand is high for the bath tissue and napkins manufactured at the plant.”

    You really have to wonder how long it will take for Tea Party devotees to realize just how badly they are being used.

    http://blogs.forbes.com/rickun…  

  9. I hate that the GOP budget guts Planned Parenthood funding.  But I always knew that the radical GOP disliked things like women’s health care.  But what is this other than just a big FU to Americans?

    defunding the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s ability to create a database of injuries

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/

    Doesn’t that help all of us consumers–being able to track problem products????  I mean I guess it’s good for the Chinese lead paint industry and all, but how can anyone come to any conclusion other than Speaker Boehner is running a brothel?  

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