Running Government Like A Business

I am sick at the privatization of our public schools – and under a Democratic president, no less. Jane Hamsher:

A couple of weeks ago, Dave Dayen wrote about a special tax credit that has been allowing hedge funds to make enormous profits from building charter schools.  Which, of course, takes money out of public offers and puts it in the pockets of Wall Street profiteers.  Juan Gonzalez has been covering this at the New York Daily news, and as he told Amy Goodman, “The result is, you can put in ten million dollars and in seven years double your money.”

Paul Rosenberg wrote a very good post about the practical and philosophical reasons that underpin the conservative desire to dismantle public education:

  1. The attack on public education itself is a prime example of the attack on social democratic ideas and institutions…this serves to discredit public education, take money away from the public education system, and take money and jobs away from public employees and their unions.
  2. The siphoning off of certain students into separate learning environments is part of the conservative agenda for inscribing hierarchical differences in society.
  3. The creation of lucrative money-making opportunities funnels public money to more wealthy members of society.
  4. The creation of private governance structures further strengthens the power of unaccountable conservative elites, weakening democratic control.
  5. The private governance structures in turn empower crony networks that can also serve as organizing foundations for further consolidation of conservative power.

The government has set up a series of financial incentives that are loaded in the direction of dismantling public education (as well as the teachers’ unions). The ability of public schools to provide quality education will decrease with additional teacher layoffs, even as hedge funds are financing campaigns for the expansion of charter schools, which they are making a killing from.

The destruction of the public education system has been a long-term ambition of the Heritage Foundation.   They are, predictably, opposing the money for teachers’ salaries.

Obama Is From Mars, Wall Street Is From Venus

“They’ve created a narrative where irrational actions by a few people plus the nature of government intervention forced them to do things inconsistent with their free-market philosophy and regular way of handling their business,” offers a Democratic financier. “So, yes, they took the TARP money, but only because they had to. None of them are sitting there saying to themselves, ‘You know, I was responsible for this crisis. Therefore, I’m really grateful to the government that it stepped in.’ This is not the narrative they have in their heads.”

Interesting, gossipy piece in New York magazine about the relationship between Obama and Wall Street:

For Obama, Wall Street’s cluelessness is a source of intense frustration—“He’s like, ‘What the f*ck, you guys?’ ” says a White House official—and its ire toward him one of the cruelest paradoxes of his presidency. Rather than bowing to bailout rage or indulging the yearning for what Geithner calls “Old Testament justice,” Obama believes, justifiably, that he has taken a moderate approach to dealing with the financial system. On arriving in office, he chose to shore up the banks, not nationalize them. The regulations he has advocated aren’t punitive or radical. Despite the occasional burst of opprobrium, his stance has been one he summed up pithily at a meeting with the heads of the largest banks: “My administration is the only thing between you and the pitchforks.”

Yet now Obama stands accused by Wall Street of leading the pitchfork brigade, even as the soldiers in that battalion assail him for being in Wall Street’s pocket. Having labored to strike a delicate balance, he has managed to incur the wrath of both hoi polloi and the lords of finance. The political perils of this dynamic are obvious enough. And though the passage of regulatory reform may help assuage the anger of the masses, his relationship with Wall Street will be harder to mend—if mendable it proves to be.

[…] Though history will rightly note the role of the web in the fund-raising machine that Obama built during his campaign, in the early days Wall Street was more important, providing not just millions of dollars but start-up credibility. By Election Day, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, three of the top seven institutions in terms of bundled donations to Obama were New York megabanks: Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, and JPMorgan Chase, with UBS AG and Morgan Stanley a little further down in the top twenty.

In the course of collecting checks from the bankers, Obama began consulting several of them as informal advisers, notably Jamie Dimon, the CEO of JPMorgan Chase, and Robert Wolf, the CEO of UBS Group Americas. Over the September weekend when Lehman Brothers’ fate was decided in a marathon meeting at the New York Fed—run by Geithner, who was its president, Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson, and Fed chairman Ben Bernanke—it was Wolf who kept Obama informed, ducking out of the sessions to call the candidate on his cell phone.

I don’t want to quote too much from the very long piece (because you really should read all of it) but it’s informative and kind of fascinating, because it’s chock full o’unnamed sources stabbing each other in the throat.

Paul Krugman has already said he was misquoted.

Reasons to Despair

When Paul Krugman has a headline like that, it doesn’t exactly cheer me up:

Here’s where we are: growing GDP, but mass unemployment still the law of the land, with only tiny progress so far. What can be done?

Well, we could have more fiscal stimulus — but Congress is balking even at the idea of extending aid for the ever-growing ranks of the long-term unemployed. Fiscal responsibility, you see — hey, and let’s make sure estate taxes stay low!

[…]It’s depressing: shibboleths and conventional wisdom are blocking all routes out of this slump. And I worry that policy makers will just sit there, for years and years, all the while congratulating themselves on the soundness of their policies.

Come on, Paul, just say it: Obama’s doing a piss-poor job on the economy. He picked those policy makers, he’s choosing to implement their policies. The buck stops at the Oval Office.

News You Can Use

Just talked to my old boss, who wants me to interview for a job at one of his clients in a few weeks.

He also passed along a tip I didn’t know. When you have your resume in a database like Monster or Careerbuilder, go in and change some minor detail every week or so. He said a lot of businesses only search among those resumes added in the last seven days, and every time you change something, it labels your resume as new.

I did not know that!

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