Archive for June 26th, 2014

by lizard

There are so many things that just leave me shaking my head. In Missoula, our community continues to try and wrap their heads around how to address aggressive panhandling. If you follow this issue, and you are confused by this article, I’m sure you’re not alone.

After Judge Jenks told City Council last month that fines are not a deterrent for the core problem makers, and that jail is more of a deterrent, the title of today’s article—Jail ‘luxury’ a problem in clearing aggressive panhandlers, Missoula officials say—seems to imply the exact opposite. From the article:

Jail can be a great getaway.

There, you can get a meal, a shave and some rest, and watch television.

“That’s a luxury of life if you’re living on the street,” said Missoula City Councilman Jon Wilkins.

And that’s one problem for people who want to clear downtown of aggressive panhandlers.

Another problem?

Many of those troublemakers have addictions and mental health issues, but the Missoula County Detention Facility isn’t set up to treat them, and the city of Missoula doesn’t have a place that can address those conditions, either.

What this article doesn’t say is that mental health providers are experiencing a legislative-imposed funding crisis from turning away federal medicaid money. Here is an article from 2013 describing how mental health providers were banking on the medicaid expansion component of the ACA:

The recent mass killings in Tucson, Aurora and Newtown have sparked public conversations about the deficiencies in state-run mental health systems across the United States. But few states are poised to spend their own money to reverse as much as a decade of budget cutbacks in those areas.

Instead, many of them are counting on an infusion of federal mental-health dollars. Because Medicaid includes mental-health benefits, those states that opt into the Medicaid expansion included in President Obama’s Affordable Care Act will be able to make mental health coverage available to thousands of their citizens who do not now have it.

Obviously expanding medicaid wouldn’t magically solve all the problems we see downtown, but not having those federal dollars significantly contributes to the lack of resources our community has to expand solution-oriented options.

Instead of funding solutions, the Obama administration and the Federal Reserve have been pumping over a trillion dollars into the black hole of Wall Street. After nearly 6 years of this “Quantitative Easing” what do we have to show for it? 95% of the economic recovery has gone to the 1%, and our GDP dropped an alarming 2.9% in the first quarter of this year. From Forbes:

The latest data shows the U.S. economy contracted significantly more than previously estimated in the first quarter of this year.

On Wednesday, the Bureau of Economic Analysis released its third and final estimate of real gross domestic product for the first three months of 2014. The release showed output in the U.S. declining at an annual rate of 2.9%. This is relative to fourth quarter 2013, when real GDP grew 2.6%.

This is the class war no one wants to talk about. Well, some people do, like Paul Craig Roberts. Here’s an excerpt from his latest diatribe:

Look at the labels on your clothes, your shoes, your eating and cooking utensils, your computers, whatever. US professional jobs such as software engineering have been moved offshore. An economy with an offshored economy is not an economy. All of this happened in full view, while well-paid free market shills declared that Americans were benefiting from giving America’s middle class jobs to China and India.

I have been exposing these lies for a decade or two, which is why I am no longer invited to speak at American universities or to American economic associations. Economists love the money that they receive for lying. A truth teller is the last thing that they want in their midst.

An official decline of -2.9 percent in the first quarter implies a second quarter GDP decline. Two declines in a row is the definition of recession.

Imagine the consequences of a recession. It means that years of unprecedented Quantitative Easing failed to revive the economy. It means that years of Keynesian fiscal deficits failed to revive the economy. Neither fiscal nor monetary policy worked.

What then can revive the economy?

Nothing except to force the return of the economy that the anti-American corporations moved offshore.

This corporate attack on American citizens couldn’t have been carried out without the collusion of neoliberal Democrats. We are now so far to the right that an establishment Republican actually reached out to African American voters to thwart a tea-party insurgency in Mississippi. In that race, the Tea Party candidate was Chris McDaniel, a guy who proudly proclaimed “I will do nothing for you” to potential voters, then waffled when asked if he would have voted for Katrina disaster money.

Insane. And enough people supported this guy that he was actually expected to win? Well, as Dan Brooks points out, voters can be pretty damn stupid, like the 351 people who voted for Valerie Stamey:

I don’t mean to alarm you, but last week in Ravalli County, 351 people voted to reelect treasurer Valerie Stamey.

The primary happened while she was on paid leave, pending the results of an investigation that has spent several months and $70,000 trying to figure out what happened while she was in office, and 351 people voted to hire her again. That doesn’t include the people who wanted to cast their ballots for Stamey but, when they pulled the lever, only poured soft-serve onto the floor of Dairy Queen until they were asked to leave.

As America transforms into an idiocracy, even the 1% is worried, as evidenced by recent comments from the CEO of Goldman Sachs, Lloyd Blankfein:

Lloyd Blankfein, CEO of investment bank Goldman Sachs, called income inequality “very destabilizing” during an appearance on CBS “This Morning” on Thursday.

Arguing that the growing division between the top and bottom of income earners drives political divisions that makes it difficult to legislate and “deal with problems” and therefore “drive growth,” he said, “It’s a very big issue and something that has to be dealt with.”

Blankfein himself can be counted among the 1 percent who have been grabbing most of the country’s income growth, as he is the world’s best paid banker with a $2 million annual salary and tens of millions more in bonuses, adding up to a net worth of $450 million.

And that’s coming from someone who is truly well off, unlike Hillary Clinton, who apparently doesn’t understand what being “dead broke” means.

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