GOP Hates Earmarks - Except the Ones Its Members Sponsor
David Lightman, McClatchy Newspapers: "Republicans are expected to deliver a daylong rant Wednesday against Democratic spending legislation, yet the bill is loaded with thousands of pet projects that Republican lawmakers inserted. Rep. Ralph Hall, R-Texas, included $142,500 for emergency repairs to the Sam Rayburn Library and Museum in Austin, Texas. Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev., joined state colleagues to include $1.425 million for Nevada 'statewide bus facilities.' The top two Republicans on Congress' money committees also inserted local projects."
I really hate it when people criticize something, then turn right around and exploit it for their own gratification.
Dean Baker | Housing Price Decline Accelerates
Dean Baker, The Center for Economic and Policy Research: "The data in the December Case-Shiller 20-City index indicate that the rate of housing price decline is continuing to accelerate. The data show that house prices in the 20 cities fell at a rate of 2.0 percent in the month of December and were falling at a 21.3 percent annual rate in the last quarter of 2008."
I think a big part of the problem is that banks define equity based on what a house is "worth" instead on how much the homeowner has already paid the bank. Regardless of what the market does, the bank shouldn't be able to simply pocket your money and refuse to loan any of it back. That vanishing money is a large part of what's scaring home buyers off the market, and rightly so. If homeowners could borrow some percentage against what they had paid to the bank, that would give them more incentive to stick with a mortgage, and would also reward people made a good downpayment. The rate could even be set for a higher percentage for home repairs/remodeling, and a lower percentage for other things. Homeowners should also be able to retrieve some percentage for a downpayment on a different house if they decide to sell the old one. Paying large sums of money for housing should be a fairly solid investment, not pouring money down a rathole. The system we have now isn't working.
Delphi Wins Approval to End Retiree Benefits
David McLaughlin, The Wall Street Journal: "Delphi Corp., the largest parts supplier to General Motors Corp., won court approval to terminate health benefits for thousands of retired salaried employees after arguing the move is critical to keeping its slow-going bankruptcy reorganization afloat."
There are two huge problems with this. 1) It is bait-and-switch, which is illegal. Those retirees worked for that company in good faith that they would be paid in full. Health care in their elder years continues to be payment for work already done, which cannot honorably be suspended. 2) Health costs are a leading cause of personal bankruptcy. How many old people are going to be driven bankrupt because of this? How many will be unable to afford the care they need?
Here is text and video about speeches on economic reform. They advocate the idea of common good as something worthy of consideration. I think that we need a balance between public and private benefits. If there's not enough concern for private benefits, hard work is not rewarded enough to encourage it; people get discouraged and lazy. If there's not enough concern for public benefits, individuals engorge themselves by harming others and the environment. Both are disastrous, as history has demonstrated.
I really hope the country learns something from this ongoing disaster.