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Thu Sep 17, 2009 at 10:04 AM PDT

Blogging for Dollars?

by steven pressman

I am relatively new at this, but I am amazed at some of the blogs and some of the bloggers who are posting here.

On Monday I posted an entry on children and poverty—pointing out the rise in child poverty over the past decade and the severe negative consequences of this for the entire county. One response claimed that this was not really a problem-- the poor were not that bad off because large percentages of them owned homes, color TVs, computers, etc.

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One of my favorite days of the year is always when the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) release their list of the most corrupt members of Congress. Today was that day.

Seeing the report today cheered me up on a dreary dismal day, when I have a lot of work to do. The list and full report is available at their website
http://www.crewsmostcorrupt.org/...

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Mon Sep 14, 2009 at 07:46 AM PDT

Child Poverty in the US

by steven pressman

Last week the Census Bureau released the 2008 figures for poverty in the US. As I noted in my diary on Thursday after the release of this data, the results were not very good. Child poverty in the US increased by around 1 percentage point and now stands at 19%. This was truly one of the most disturbing of all the figures in the report.  

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Earlier today, the Census Bureau released its estimates of poverty, income, inequality and health care coverage for the year 2008. As expected, given the economic and financial collapse at the end of 2008, there was a sharp rise in poverty along with a decline in median incomes.

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Yesterday I wrote about how the government calculates poverty rates in the US. Today I want to talk about some of the criticisms of these computations. Tomorrow I will talk about the release of the 2008 poverty figures by the government.  

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Since the government will release figures on both poverty rates and median incomes on Thursday, now seems like a good time to summarize how the government goes about calculating poverty.

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Whenever I used to listen to former Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson talk about our economic troubles he reminded me of another Paulson-- the comedian Pat Paulson.  An earlier version of Stephen Colbert, Pat Paulson ran for President in the 1970s and 1980s campaigning with the memorable slogan: "I increased my standards, now up yours".

Indeed, Hank Paulson did up his standards. At the end of the Bush administration he no longer preached that markets should solve the problems they created. Nor was he willing to let financial institutions, such as Lehman Brothers, go bankrupt.

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It is hard to find much good news in the unemployment report released this morning.

The national unemployment rose to 9.7%; for males it exceeded 10%. The Bureau of Labor Statistics revised upward their estimates for job losses in June and July, and even the bright spot in the report, the lower than expected figures for job losses in August, was a recession-level number and (like the June and July figures) likely to be revised upward.  

I want to focus on some of the political and economic consequences of this.

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This piece from Fixed News earlier today is pretty amazing and shocking.

www.foxnews.com/search-results/m/26068762/dissing-doctors.htm

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Tue Aug 25, 2009 at 06:17 AM PDT

In Defense of Ben

by steven pressman

There has been a lot of chatter about whether or not Ben Bernanke should have been reappointed to another 4 year term as head of the Federal Reserve. Alas, much of this chatter does not seem to be entirely fair to Ben.

A couple of things seem important and worth pointing out here.

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It was the final game of the 1970 NBA finals—winner take all. NY Knick Center Willis Reed missed game 6, and the Knicks lost badly. No one expected that he would play in game 7. He was not on the court warming up before the game.

Just before the opening tipoff, Willis hobbled onto the court to begin the game. The fans roared. His opponents (the LA Lakers) were demoralized. His teammates were exultant.

Willis scored a few points early in the game, but it was his presence that made the difference. To this day, it is regarded as one of the great moments in sports— it turned a likely loss into a big victory for NY.  

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A consensus seems to be developing that the US economy is slowly improving, with economic growth right around the corner. President Obama exudes optimism. So does Wall Street. Even Paul Krugman, Dr. Gloom and Doom, sees a growing economy later this year.

While things are not as bad now as they were earlier this year, too many people have become subject to the "Been Down So Long It Looks Like Up To Me" syndrome (to borrow a title from wonderful Richard Farina novel).    

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