I Take Exception — My Rebuttal

NV Controller Ron Knecht’s “2nd Monthly Report” was published last week in the Humboldt Sun.  I took exception with much of what he had to say.  Below are his  report and my rebuttal which was published in the second edition of this week’s Humboldt Sun:

Mr. Knecht’s Report:

Knecht01The second Controller’s Monthly Report is now on the state web site (www.controller.nv.gov). It addresses state revenues, while the first one reviewed state spending. In sum, its findings are …

Nevada state revenues include taxes, federal and other grants and contracts, plus charges for services that have amply served the public interest. Both total tax revenues and charges for services have increased slightly relative to Nevada’s economy and the incomes of Nevada families and businesses since 2008. Total state revenues have increased at roughly the same rate as state spending, and both spending and taxes have grown significantly faster than our economy, proving again that we have a spending problem, not a revenue deficit.

Every cent taken in taxes is an act of destruction of human and social well-being; so, public spending items should not be adopted unless they clearly provide benefits exceeding the damage done by taxes required to support them. The essence of sound fiscal policy is to deploy only the least destructive tax methods and most beneficial spending measures, and to find the taxing/spending balance point that maximizes net social benefits and public wellbeing.

All taxes are “unfair” because they can’t be charged according to the social costs that people cause, nor the benefits they receive. Fairness being illusory, in taxation and other public policy, we should seek to maximize economic growth and the human well-being that growth fosters. “Ability to pay” criteria, which have a superficial ring of fairness, and “redistribution” policies are particularly destructive to the broad public interest in growth. And claims that taxing one person to subsidize another involves “compassion” are false.

The real tax fairness issue is that public spending’s beneficiaries — public employees and contractors, plus those receiving public payments — have an unfair political advantage over taxpayers and the public, an advantage that produces excessive taxing/spending levels.

So, consider the recent fortunes of taxpayers and public employees. In the last six years, Nevada taxpayers’ average incomes declined by nearly 8 percent (from $39,079 in 2008 to $36,039 in 2010) before rebounding slowly back to prior levels ($39,173 in 2014). State employees took 4.6 percent cuts via furloughs for a couple of years, followed by a combination of furloughs and actual pay reductions still totaling roughly 4.6 percent. At present, they still must take furloughs equal to cuts of about 2.3 percent.

So, state employees in general have borne roughly the same burden from our economic troubles as have taxpayers. Considering the total package — pay, benefits and job security — state employees in Nevada essentially get total compensation at market levels. Local government employees, on the other hand, have taken fewer, if any, pay cuts and many have continued to get increases. In Clark and Washoe counties, their total compensation levels are much higher than market levels prevailing in the private sector.

The accumulated and ever-increasing over-reach of government is greatly responsible for the slow economic growth of recent years and the prospects of the same in the future. So, voters, taxpayers, Nevada state employees and the broad public interest are victims of government excess, while local public employees are to some extent beneficiaries.

All these considerations reinforce the conclusions of Controller’s Monthly Report #1 that to leave our children a better future, we must stop the growth relative to the economy and to Nevadans’ incomes of public spending that drives taxes. We must especially avoid mistakes such as adopting versions of the business margins tax defeated 4-1 by voters last November. We must restructure fiscal processes for real budget constraints and effective cost management, emphasize no- and low-cost reforms in K-12 education and end public employee collective bargaining and prevailing wage rules.

My rebuttal to his partisan ideological propaganda:

Vickie14smI have some serious problems with Mr. Knecht’s “Commentary” in the 3/13-16/2015 Humboldt Sun.

”Every cent taken in taxes is an act of destruction of human and social well-being?”  Really?  Mr. Knecht doesn’t believe in ANY public commons?  He doesn’t believe in public roads? Or public water and systems? Or police and fire fighters? Or public schools and universities?  I’m sorry, but all of those do promote “human and social well-being” and they’re all part of OUR public commons created using OUR tax dollars.  So exactly what is Mr. Knecht proposing, selling off all of our “public commons” at fire-sale prices to the “deserving” richest among us, all so THEY can charge us by the mile, by the book or test, by the flush or by the flame? What about the police?  Is he proposing we should submit to a “Robocop” scenario across the state?  Isn’t that why our fore-father’s fled Europe?  To flee the tyranny of the rich who oppressed those beneath them?

“All taxes are unfair because they can’t be charged according to the social costs that people cause, nor the benefits they receive?”  What does that even mean?  That we should bestow OUR public commons to corporate parasites that pay NO taxes just because they might be the bearer of jobs?  Isn’t it “corporations” that consume our infrastructure and pollute our lands and waters at the greatest rates, causing destruction of human and social well-being?  Isn’t it the corporations that choose NOT to pay a living wage NOR to provide health benefits to their workers, leading to the destruction of human and social well-being?  Isn’t it those same workers who now, no longer have an “ability to pay,” again, leading to the destruction of human and social well-being?  Is that really what Mr. Knecht’s “fair way to run our country” would look like?

Then there’s his rant about public employees.  Every cent of Mr. Knecht’s paycheck is paid with public tax dollars. That makes Mr. Knecht a PUBLIC employee. What makes him believe he’s so infinitely better than police, firefighters, teachers, or even a clerk at a local DMV?

He may talk fondly about our kids/grandkids, but that’s just a ruse, a distraction. He does make his intentions clear: to do everything he can to stifle/gut K-12 education programs that might make our children competitive and productive in an ever changing economy.

I disagree with Mr. Knecht and with that for which he stands. Instead of looking for ways to improve our “human and social well-being,” he’s apparently looking for ways to destroy it.  I fear that our “investment” in his paycheck will yield only negative dividends for the everyday Nevadan before all is said and done.

The Jobs Report In 5 Charts

A Remarkably Positive Jobs Report, With A Reminder That There’s More To Do

— by

 

jobs2014-11
CREDIT: DPCC

The November jobs report was released today, and it brought a lot of good news. The U.S. economy added 321,000 jobs in November, well exceeding analysts’ expectations of 230,000. The unemployment rate remained at 5.8 percent. But the report also offers a reminder of the struggles that many working Americans continue to feel in the sluggish recovery.

The monthly jobs report doesn’t provide a comprehensive view of how our economy is doing, but it does offer an important glimpse into some of the macro employment and wage trends that reflect whether the economy is growing, and who is sharing in that growth. Here are five charts that show what to be happy about, and why we need to continue to work so that everyone has a chance for economic opportunity and prosperity.

This article was published by ThinkProgress” online.  Read the full article here ….

The President Just Announced This —

Our immigration system has been broken for decades. And every day we wait to act, millions of undocumented immigrants are living in the shadows: Those who want to pay taxes and play by the same rules as everyone else have no way to live right by the law. That is why President Obama is using his executive authority to address as much of the problem as he can, and why he’ll continue to work with Congress to pass comprehensive reform.

ImmigrationPlan

Related Articles: 

11 Things The Senate Should Remember While Voting On The Minimum Wage

— by CAP Action War Room

After returning from a two-week recess, the Senate is planning to vote on raising the minimum wage to $10.10 this Wednesday. The bill, called the “Minimum Wage Fairness Act,” needs 60 votes to advance thanks to the de facto GOP filibuster threat. And while in the past we have used this space to outline many of the different benefits of raising the minimum wage to $10.10, in anticipation of this important vote we wanted to go over some of the most important reasons one more time. Here they are:

  1. Increasing the minimum wage to $10.10 and indexing it to inflation would raise the wages of 28 million workers by $35 billion. Raising the minimum wage would provide Americans who work hard a better opportunity to get ahead while giving the economy a needed shot in the arm.
  2. In 2013, CEOs made 774 times the pay of minimum wage workers.While the top CEOs made an average of $11.7 million in 2013, full-time workers making the minimum wage took home only $15,080 a year.
  3. Nearly two-thirds of all minimum wage workers are women. Raising the minimum wage to $10.10 would benefit 15 million women.
  4. One million veterans would benefit from a minimum wage increase.After risking their lives to protect our country, 1 in 10 veterans working in America today are paid wages low enough that they would receive a raise if the minimum wage is raised to $10.10.
  5. Raising the minimum wage will cut government spending on food stamps. Millions of workers earning the minimum wage make so little that they qualify for food stamps (SNAP benefits). This, in effect, amounts to taxpayers subsidizing corporations paying low-wages. Raising wages for low-income workers would actually cut government spending on SNAP by $4.6 billion a year, or $46 billion over the next 10 years, as workers earn enough on their own to no longer rely on the program.
  6. Minimum wage workers are older than you think. Nearly 90 percent of minimum wage workers are 20 years or older. The average minimum wage worker is 35 years old. A higher minimum wage doesn’t just mean more spending money for a teenager, it means greater economic security for the millions of Americans who rely on it as their primary income.
  7. Businesses see the value in increasing the minimum wage. Nearly 60 percent of small business owners recognize that raising the minimum wage would benefit businesses and support raising it. In fact, 82 percent of those surveyed don’t pay any of their workers the federal minimum wage of $7.25.
  8. It won’t hurt job creation. States have raised the minimum wage 91 times since 1987 during periods of high unemployment, and in more than half of those instances the unemployment rate actually fell. Over 600 economists signed a letter agreeing that a minimum wage increase doesn’t hurt job creation.
  9. In polls, nearly three-quarters of Americans support a minimum wage increase to $10.10. Pew Research found that 73 percent of Americans back a minimum wage increase.
  10. Millions of children will be more secure. If we raise the minimum wage to $10.10, 21 million children will have at least one parent whose pay will go up.
  11. A $10.10 minimum wage means a $16.1 billion boost for people of colorRaising the minimum wage is a matter of racial justice: people of color are far more likely to work minimum wage jobs and those who do are far more likely to be in poverty. A $10.10 minimum wage would lift three and a half million people of color out of poverty and add $16.1 billion to their incomes.

BOTTOM LINE: Over the next few days, as Senators take to the chamber floor to debate and then vote on this legislation that would help the economy and millions of American workers, they should make sure they keep in mind these vital facts on why the minimum wage should be raised to $10.10. A vote against increasing the minimum wage is quite simply a vote against working Americans.


This material [the article above] was created by the Center for American Progress Action Fund. It was created for the Progress Report, the daily e-mail publication of the Center for American Progress Action Fund. Click here to subscribe.

The Economic Costs of Inaction on Immigration Reform

Last June, the Senate passed a bipartisan immigration reform bill that would grow our economy and shrink the deficit. But without action from the House to move forward in the last year, our country is losing out on these economic gains.

The Ryan Budget Is a Broken Record of Failed Trickle-Down Economics

By Anna Chu and Harry Stein

For the past three years, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) has been trotting out the same conservative, top-down policies that have failed the nation’s middle- and working-class families, seniors, and the economy. The House Republican budget is built around the tenet that nearly everyone else must sacrifice in order to continue to give billions of dollars in tax breaks to millionaires, big corporations, and Big Oil. At every turn, the House Republican budget reveals its vision of an economy and government that only works for the wealthiest individuals and special corporate interests at the cost of everyone else.

Now for the fourth consecutive year, the House Republican budget proposes dismantling traditional Medicare and slashing investments that drive our economy, all while cutting taxes for the rich and protecting taxpayer subsidies for big businesses and oil companies. The American people have seen this before, and we know how it ends—with millionaires, big corporations, and Big Oil as the only ones who are better off. Everyone else gets left behind, and our economy only gets weaker. Read more.

Makers and Takers

Originally posted on Rcooley123's Blog:

There seems to be a vast difference of opinion in this country as to who are the makers and who the takers. People like Paul Ryan, Mitt Romney and other members of the 1%, their apologists or both have for decades portrayed themselves as delivering to American society the wherewithal that has created the greatest economy the world has ever known. Through their superior knowledge, hard work and inner strength, they have risen above the rest of us in terms of economic wealth and political power. The only thing holding them back from even greater accomplishments is the fact that so many of their fellow citizens expect a free ride and a free lunch at their expense.

The fact that we have a degree of economic inequality in this country that allows many to go homeless, hungry and without adequate health care means nothing to many of the wealthy in…

View original 1,627 more words

Dangerously Addictive American Dream

Why we are biologically ill-suited to the riches of modern America
— Peter Whybrow (originally posted at Post Carbon Institute)

[Excerpt] “It’s called the American Dream,” George Carlin lamented shortly before his death, “because you have to be asleep to believe it.” Too bad for the rest of us that George and his signature satire haven’t been around for the wake-up call of the current market meltdown. After all, George Carlin knew something about the dangers of addiction from first hand experience. He understood earlier than most that the debt fueled consumptive frenzy that has gripped the American psyche for the past two decades was a nightmare in the making—a seductive, twisted and commercially conjured version of the American Dream that now threatens our environmental, individual and civic health.

The United States is the quintessential trading nation and for the past quarter century we have worshiped the “free” market as an ideology rather than for what it is—a natural product of human social evolution and a set of economic tools with which to construct a just and equitable society. Under the spell of this ideology and the false promise of instant riches the America’s immigrant values of thrift, prudence and community concern—traditionally the foundation of the Dream—have been hijacked by an all-consuming self-interest. The astonishing appetite of the American consumer now determines some seventy percent of all economic activity in the US. And yet in this land of opportunity and material comfort—where we enjoy the 12-inch dinner plate, the 32-ounce soda, and the 64-inch TV screen—more and more citizens feel time starved, overworked and burdened by debt. Epidemic rates of obesity, anxiety, depression and family dysfunction are accepted as the norm.

Read full article

Photo creditseanbarnard/flickr

An Ugly Truth Made Pretty

A Cartoonist’s Depiction Of Wealth Inequality

WealthDistribution

Whoa, that’s lopsided!

FACT CHECK TIME. Here’s what our fact checkers found:

This graphic is based on research by The Levy Institute, which uses data from the Federal Reserve Board’s Survey of Consumer Finances. Those figures have also appeared in research by the Economic Policy Institute.

I’d be remiss to ignore that the illustration contains a small mistake: That gigantisized money stack on the far left is actually five bundles shorter than it should be. (Sigh…)

Original by Randy Coffey, found on Visual.lyDownload a high-quality PDF of this infographic from RandyCoffeyIllustration.com.

What I signed today

Earlier today, I signed an Executive Order to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 for federal contract workers.

It’s the right thing to do. But what’s more, companies have found that when their employees earn more, they’re more motivated, they work harder, and they stick around longer. You should expect the same of your federal government.

The bottom line is this: We are a nation that believes in rewarding honest work with honest wages. And America deserves a raise.

If you agree, let me know you’re standing with me — and take a look at what else we’re going to do in 2014.

The order I signed today will help folks across the country. But it’s not enough.

Right now, there’s a bill in Congress that would raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour for all Americans. It would lift wages for more than 28 million current workers, and would move millions of Americans out of poverty. That means businesses would have customers with more money to spend.

Raising the minimum wage would grow the economy for everyone.

You don’t need to believe me: Believe the 600 economists — including seven Nobel Prize winners — who wrote both houses of Congress last month to remind them that the bill before them will have little or no negative effect on jobs.

When I stood before both chambers of Congress and said that I intended for 2014 to be a year of action, that wasn’t just a nice line in a speech. It was an acknowledgment that we’ve got to restore opportunity for everyone in America — the idea that no matter who you are, or how you started out, you can get ahead here if you’re responsible and willing to work for it. That’s what this “year of action” is all about.

And since that speech, I have taken actions on my own to make it easier for folks to save for retirement, help working Americans get the skills that good jobs demand, and assist millions of Americans who have been looking for work for several months. I’ve announced a major new commitment toward connecting our schools to 21st-century technology.

That action continues today, and in the months to come.

Take a look at what we’ve done already and what’s to come.

Thank you,

President Barack Obama