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Scuba

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Member since: Thu Apr 29, 2010, 02:31 PM
Number of posts: 53,475

Journal Archives

We've spent $109 Billion to rebuild Afghanistan, but it didn't work. Wanna know why?

The 28th Amendment Roadshow - Union South, September 6th

Fighting Bob Fest 2014 - Back to Baraboo

NYT: Proof That Voter Impersonation Almost Never Happens (X-post from GD)

There have been more than 1 billion votes cast in elections over the last 14 years. And just 31 cases of impersonation fraud.


http://takingnote.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/08/06/proof-that-voter-impersonation-almost-never-happens/

An enduring Republican fantasy is that there are armies of fraudulent voters lurking in the baseboards of American life, waiting for the opportunity to crash the polls and undermine the electoral system. It’s never really been clear who these voters are or how their schemes work; perhaps they are illegal immigrants casting votes for amnesty, or poor people seeking handouts. Most Republican politicians know these criminals don’t actually exist, but they have found it useful to take advantage of the party base’s pervasive fear of outsiders, just as when they shot down immigration reform. In this case, they persuaded the base of the need for voter ID laws to ensure “ballot integrity,” knowing the real effect would be to reduce Democratic turnout.

Now a researcher has tried to quantify this supposed threat by documenting every known case of voter fraud since 2000 — specifically, the kind of impersonation that would be stopped by an ID requirement. (Note that this does not include ballot-box stuffing by officials, vote-buying or coercion: the kinds of fraud that would not be affected by an ID law.)

There have been more than 1 billion votes cast in local, state and federal elections over the last 14 years. Out of all of them, the researcher, Justin Levitt, a voting expert at the Loyola University Law School, found 31 cases of impersonation fraud. It’s hardly a surprise that the number is so low; as he writes in the Washington Post today, casting individual fake ballots “is a slow, clunky way to steal an election. Which is why it rarely happens.”

...

But neither the Constitution nor plainly visible reality is likely to halt the Republican crusade to keep certain people from participating in democracy. As the National Commission on Voting Rights documented in a new report, voting discrimination remains “a frequent and ongoing problem,” particularly in the South and Southwest, in part because of new barriers to voting thrown up by state legislators. “It is difficult not to view these voting changes with a jaundiced eye,” the report says, “given the practical impediments they create and the minimal, if any, measurable legitimate benefit they offer.”

NYT: Proof That Voter Impersonation Almost Never Happens

There have been more than 1 billion votes cast in elections over the last 14 years. And just 31 cases of impersonation fraud.


http://takingnote.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/08/06/proof-that-voter-impersonation-almost-never-happens/

An enduring Republican fantasy is that there are armies of fraudulent voters lurking in the baseboards of American life, waiting for the opportunity to crash the polls and undermine the electoral system. It’s never really been clear who these voters are or how their schemes work; perhaps they are illegal immigrants casting votes for amnesty, or poor people seeking handouts. Most Republican politicians know these criminals don’t actually exist, but they have found it useful to take advantage of the party base’s pervasive fear of outsiders, just as when they shot down immigration reform. In this case, they persuaded the base of the need for voter ID laws to ensure “ballot integrity,” knowing the real effect would be to reduce Democratic turnout.

Now a researcher has tried to quantify this supposed threat by documenting every known case of voter fraud since 2000 — specifically, the kind of impersonation that would be stopped by an ID requirement. (Note that this does not include ballot-box stuffing by officials, vote-buying or coercion: the kinds of fraud that would not be affected by an ID law.)

There have been more than 1 billion votes cast in local, state and federal elections over the last 14 years. Out of all of them, the researcher, Justin Levitt, a voting expert at the Loyola University Law School, found 31 cases of impersonation fraud. It’s hardly a surprise that the number is so low; as he writes in the Washington Post today, casting individual fake ballots “is a slow, clunky way to steal an election. Which is why it rarely happens.”

...

But neither the Constitution nor plainly visible reality is likely to halt the Republican crusade to keep certain people from participating in democracy. As the National Commission on Voting Rights documented in a new report, voting discrimination remains “a frequent and ongoing problem,” particularly in the South and Southwest, in part because of new barriers to voting thrown up by state legislators. “It is difficult not to view these voting changes with a jaundiced eye,” the report says, “given the practical impediments they create and the minimal, if any, measurable legitimate benefit they offer.”

NYT: Inverting the Debate Over Corporate Inversions

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/07/upshot/inverting-the-debate-over-corporate-inversions.html?_r=0


You might think we could fix that problem by taxing all companies only on their domestic activities, in effect letting every firm invert. Some Republicans advocate this policy, known as “territorial taxation,” but it would create its own set of problems. I wrote about this back in April: “If Apple develops the iPhone in California, has a subcontractor manufacture it in China out of parts made in Korea and elsewhere, and then sells it in Europe through a unit in Ireland, how do we decide how much of the profit from sales should be booked where?”

...

There is a third option, which I also wrote about in April: abolishing the corporate income tax and increasing the tax burden on shareholders. The economists Alan Viard and Eric Toder have a plan to do this; they would offset repeal of the corporate tax by taxing dividends and capital gains at the same rate as ordinary income, and by taxing those gains every year, not just when the stock is sold.

The big disadvantage of the Viard-Toder plan is that it would lose revenue. Their added taxes would collect only about half as much revenue as would be lost by abolishing the corporate income tax. But that problem could be fixed by raising income tax rates on the same groups that would benefit from abolition of the corporate income tax. Mostly, that’s two groups: rich people, who own most of the personal financial assets in the United States; and nonprofit institutions like universities and pension funds, which would get a windfall from corporate tax repeal in the form of higher returns on their investments.

The Viard-Toder plan has a number of advantages; for example, it would end the tax incentives that encourage corporations to finance themselves with debt instead of equity. Another big plus is that it would make inversion pointless. As long as a firm has American shareholders, the American government would collect tax on income from that firm. The government wouldn’t have to figure out how much of Procter & Gamble’s profit comes from selling detergent in France, and it wouldn’t have to care where companies like Walgreen are incorporated.



Interesting stuff. Hope some tax policy wonks will weigh in.

How Gaylord Nelson Almost Stopped the Vietnam War

“History may have taken a different turn if the Senate had done what was right rather than what was expedient ..."


http://www.progressive.org/news/2014/08/187807/how-gaylord-nelson-almost-stopped-vietnam-war


What really happened in the Gulf of Tonkin in August 1964 remains murky 50 years later, despite a number of books and inquiries into a naval skirmish off the coast of North Vietnam. But it became Lyndon Johnson’s justification for widening the war, and Congress quickly gave him the authority he wanted. An amendment to the Gulf of Tokin resolution, drafted by Wisconsin Sen. Gaylord Nelson but never introduced, might have changed history.

...

The resolution (LBJ) sent to Congress was simple. “That the Congress approves and supports the determination of the President, as Commander in Chief, to take all necessary measures to repel any armed attack against the forces of the United States and to prevent further aggression.” A second section said the peace and security of Southeast Asia were vital to the U.S. national interest.

...

Nelson said he intended to vote for the resolution. “I do not think, however, that Congress should leave the impression that it consents to a radical change in our mission or objective in South Vietnam,” Nelson said. The mission, he said, was to help establish “a viable, independent regime, which can manage its own affairs, so that ultimately we can withdraw from South Vietnam.” Fulbright agreed, and said the resolution was “quite consistent with our existing mission and what has been our understanding of what we have been doing in South Vietnam for the last ten years.”

...

Johnson believed he had all the authorization he needed for escalation, in the form of the Tonkin Gulf resolution. “He carried that thing around in his pocket,” Nelson said. “I was at a meeting with him at the White House when he pulled it out and said, ‘You guys authorized this.’” LBJ called it the “504 to 2” resolution. Sen. Mike Mansfield, later recalling Nelson’s questions on the resolution, said: “History may have taken a different turn if the Senate had done what was right rather than what was expedient, and had followed the advice of (Nelson).”

Bernie Sanders in The Progressive: Democracy or Oligarchy?

http://www.progressive.org/news/2014/08/187809/democracy-or-oligarchy


Democracy or Oligarchy?
by Bernie Sanders

We are at a pivotal moment in American history. The major issue of our time is whether the United States of America retains its democratic foundation or whether we devolve into an oligarchic form of society where a handful of billionaires have almost absolute control over the political and economic life of the nation.

Tragically, we are headed on a perilous path toward the latter. When large corporations and a few wealthy families can spend unlimited sums of money to buy and sell politicians, it is now clear to most Americans that the foundation of American democracy is under severe attack.

...

In the 2012 Presidential election, billionaires like the Koch brothers and Sheldon Adelson contributed hundreds of millions of dollars to Republican candidates. The situation is so absurd that thirty-two major super PAC donors contributed more than all of the millions of Americans who wrote individual campaign checks of less than $200. More than 60 percent of all super PAC funds came from just 159 donors, who each gave more than $1 million, according to the U.S. Public Interest Research Group and Demos.

...

The issue of campaign finance reform and the role of the Supreme Court may sound like a lawyers’ debate over abstract constitutional issues. The truth is, however, that there is no single issue more important to the needs of ordinary Americans than the issue of campaign finance. If we cannot control the power of the billionaire class to buy elections, there is no question that more and more people will be elected to office who see their role as protecting the needs of the rich and the powerful as opposed to protecting the middle class, the elderly, the children, the sick, the poor, and working families.



Where I disagree with Bernie is in his proposed "Democracy Is for People Amendment". His proposed Amendment would "reassert the role of Congress to set reasonable limits on campaign spending". I have no faith in Congress, and would not want to rely on them to set reasonable limits. Besides, Constitution Amendments are not "baby steps". Any such Amendment should fix the problem, not merely empower Congress to do so.

Robert Reich: The Ivy Leagues are a ludicrous waste of resources

http://www.salon.com/2014/08/05/robert_reich_the_ivy_leagues_are_a_total_waste_of_resources_partner/?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=socialflow

What someone is paid has little or no relationship to what their work is worth to society. Does anyone seriously believe hedge-fund mogul Steven A. Cohen is worth the $2.3 billion he raked in last year, despite being slapped with a $1.8 billion fine after his firm pleaded guilty to insider trading? On the other hand, what’s the worth to society of social workers who put in long and difficult hours dealing with patients suffering from mental illness or substance abuse? Probably higher than their average pay of $18.14 an hour, which translates into less than $38,000 a year.

...

Or consider kindergarten teachers, who make an average of $53,590 a year. Before you conclude that’s generous, consider that a good kindergarten teacher is worth his or her weight in gold, almost. One study found that children with outstanding kindergarten teachers are more likely to go to college and less likely to become single parents than a random set of children similar to them in every way other than being assigned a superb teacher.

...

Most financiers, corporate lawyers, lobbyists, and management consultants are competing with other financiers, lawyers, lobbyists, and management consultants in zero-sum games that take money out of one set of pockets and put it into another. They’re paid gigantic amounts because winning these games can generate far bigger sums, while losing them can be extremely costly. It’s said that by moving money to where it can make more money, these games make the economy more efficient. In fact, the games amount to a mammoth waste of societal resources. They demand ever more cunning innovations but they create no social value. High-frequency traders who win by a thousandth of a second can reap a fortune, but society as a whole is no better off.

...

Meanwhile, the games consume the energies of loads of talented people who might otherwise be making real contributions to society — if not by tending to human needs or enriching our culture then by curing diseases or devising new technological breakthroughs, or helping solve some of our most intractable social problems. Graduates of Ivy League universities are more likely to enter finance and consulting than any other career. For example, in 2010 (the most recent date for which we have data) close to 36 percent of Princeton graduates went into finance (down from the pre-financial crisis high of 46 percent in 2006). Add in management consulting, and it was close to 60 percent. The hefty endowments of such elite institutions are swollen with tax-subsidized donations from wealthy alumni, many of whom are seeking to guarantee their own kids’ admissions so they too can become enormously rich financiers and management consultants. But I can think of a better way for taxpayers to subsidize occupations with more social merit: Forgive the student debts of graduates who choose social work, child care, elder care, nursing, and teaching.

The 1% May Be Richer Than You Think, Research Shows

http://mobile.bloomberg.com/news/2014-08-06/the-1-may-be-richer-than-you-think-research-shows.html

The 1 percent is literally rich beyond measure, depriving nations of billions in tax revenue and obscuring shifts in global inequality.
Research conducted separately by European Central Bank economist Philip Vermeulen and London School of Economics’ Gabriel Zucman show the wealth of the super-affluent -- hidden by tax shelters and nonresponse to questionnaires -- is undercounted. Correcting for similar lapses in income data almost erases progress made from 1988 to 2008 in narrowing the gap between the world’s rich and poor, World Bank research found. “We always suspected there was some low-balling of the top 1 percent,” said Joseph Stiglitz, a Nobel-prize winning economist and author of “The Price of Inequality. “There’s a growing sense that our system is rigged and unfair.”

...

The richest of America’s rich -- the top 0.1 percent with at least $20 million in net wealth -- held 23.5 percent of all U.S. wealth in 2012 after adding in estimates of how much was hidden in offshore tax havens, said Zucman, a visiting scholar at the University of California at Berkeley. That compares with his previous estimate of 21.5 percent.

...

Jeffrey Hollender, who is among the wealthiest 1 percent in the U.S., isn’t surprised the world’s richest have even more than currently estimated. “The more money that you have, the easier it becomes to hide that and avoid taxes,” said Hollender, 59, co-founder of cleaning and personal-care products company Seventh Generation Inc. He is a member of Responsible Wealth, a Boston-based network that advocates for economic fairness.

The measurement of assets for Europe’s super rich could be even faultier, according to Zucman. About 10 percent of their wealth is in offshore accounts compared with 4 percent in the U.S., he estimates in a May paper. Very rich people also have wealth in foundations and holding companies that make calculations difficult, he said. It is possible that some European countries, “like the U.K. in particular,” are “almost -- or even more -- unequal than the U.S.,” Zucman said, a contrast with current data that show they are more wealth-equal.
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