Monday, August 5, 2013

NC Guv. Pat McCrory - Not As Astute As He Thought - Doesn't Know Or Care What's In Vote-Denying-But-Art-Pope-OK'd Bill, Conscience Laundering, and Summers Love? (Buffett's Son's Apologia)

(If throwing a contribution Pottersville2's way won't break your budget in these difficult financial times, I really need it, and would wholeheartedly appreciate it. Anything you can afford will make a huge difference in this blog's lifetime.)

Newsflash! Looks Like Larry Summers Will Be Named New FED Chairman by Obama
What does this deep Love of Summers tell us about the White House and today’s Democratic Party?
Ezra Klein, whose White House sourcing is eminently reliable, has provided the launching pad for most of the Summers trial balloons. Klein and co-writer Evan Soltas stated unequivocally Thursday that “President Obama wants Summers for Fed chair.” That comment, like other Summers leaks issued through their blog, went uncontradicted by the administration, providing further confirmation of their accuracy. . .
It certainly tells us that the president is very forgiving of Summers’ flaws, which include his apparently shocking attitudes toward women, his spectacular failure to foresee the financial crisis, his pivotal role in deregulation, the many millions he’s made from the same Wall Street bankers he’d have to regulate, and his long record as a bully to subordinates, peers and colleagues.
Economically, that last defect may be the most frightening portent of all. Summers is known for hectoring and shouting down anyone who disagrees with him, and if there’s one thing the economy needs right now it’s new and dissenting voices proposing smarter and bolder policy alternatives. Encouraging those voices is precisely what Summers doesn’t do, and that’s a grave warning sign for presidential policy.

From our friend at Lawyers, Guns and Money who is as horrified as I (okay, almost) at what is happening daily in North Carolina under the Koch-ReThugs.

Shorter Pat McCrory: “If Art Pope Says It’s OK, I Don’t Care What’s In The Bill”

July 27, 2013 | Erik Loomis

North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory is quite an intelligent man and a principled politician:

In a lengthy and, at times, awkward and disjointed press conference, Gov. Pat McCrory said today that he would sign House Bill 589 — the controversial bill to alter state voting and elections laws. The bill, which was originally about imposing new voter ID requirements but morphed this week into an omnibus 57 page proposal to restrict voting in numerous ways, was passed by the House late last night and will be presented to the Governor on Monday.
After all, if McCrory was to care what was in the bill, he and his fellow North Carolina Republicans might not get invited back to all these big lobbyist beer parties they’ve become accustomed to.

From NC Policy Watch:

What was perhaps the saddest and most illuminating moment of the press conference, however, came when a reporter asked the Governor about some of the less-thoroughly-publicized portions of the bill. After testily dismissing a question about a provision on lobbyist “bundling” of campaign contributions because the reporter noted that it had been spurred by allegations against the Governor’s former law firm and erroneously saying that North Carolinians can register to vote ”online,” McCrory addressed a question about the bill’s language to do away with the current successful program to pre-register 16 and 17 year olds. Here’s what the Guv said:

“I don’t know enough…I’m sorry, I haven’t seen that part of the bill.”
Got that? Governor McCrory has already decided to sign a bill — one of the most important and dangerous bills to come down the pike in years — and he is not even aware of one of the more controversial provisions — a provision that was debated at length this week multiple times!

C’mon Guv: We know you’re still relatively new to this job, but the least you could do is spend a little time with staff preparing for these press events and maybe even reading the bills you’re defending to the media and the public!

McCrory addressed a question about the bill’s language to do away with the current successful program to pre-register 16 and 17 year olds. Here’s what the Guv said:

Go read the whole article.

As a further educational bloggy sweetspot, I thought my friends might enjoy reading a nice piece of fluff in these hard times from the son of the (what is it now?) fourth richest man in the world. (Second thought - imagine being one of those children.)

He seems to be a good and thoughtful egg. The secret though is that today charity's main beneficence now seems to be for those administering the charities (not that those below don't get a golden trickle). No matter what you may have heard about the goodwill the rich are fervently buying.

The Charitable-Industrial Complex

By Peter Buffett

Published: July 26, 2013

I HAD spent much of my life writing music for commercials, film and television and knew little about the world of philanthropy as practiced by the very wealthy until what I call the big bang happened in 2006. That year, my father, Warren Buffett, made good on his commitment to give nearly all of his accumulated wealth back to society. In addition to making several large donations, he added generously to the three foundations that my parents had created years earlier, one for each of their children to run.

Early on in our philanthropic journey, my wife and I became aware of something I started to call Philanthropic Colonialism. I noticed that a donor had the urge to “save the day” in some fashion. People (including me) who had very little knowledge of a particular place would think that they could solve a local problem. Whether it involved farming methods, education practices, job training or business development, over and over I would hear people discuss transplanting what worked in one setting directly into another with little regard for culture, geography or societal norms.

Often the results of our decisions had unintended consequences; distributing condoms to stop the spread of AIDS in a brothel area ended up creating a higher price for unprotected sex.

But now I think something even more damaging is going on.

Because of who my father is, I’ve been able to occupy some seats I never expected to sit in. Inside any important philanthropy meeting, you witness heads of state meeting with investment managers and corporate leaders. All are searching for answers with their right hand to problems that others in the room have created with their left. There are plenty of statistics that tell us that inequality is continually rising. At the same time, according to the Urban Institute, the nonprofit sector has been steadily growing. Between 2001 and 2011, the number of nonprofits increased 25 percent. Their growth rate now exceeds that of both the business and government sectors. It’s a massive business, with approximately $316 billion given away in 2012 in the United States alone and more than 9.4 million employed.

Philanthropy has become the “it” vehicle to level the playing field and has generated a growing number of gatherings, workshops and affinity groups.

As more lives and communities are destroyed by the system that creates vast amounts of wealth for the few, the more heroic it sounds to “give back.” It’s what I would call “conscience laundering” — feeling better about accumulating more than any one person could possibly need to live on by sprinkling a little around as an act of charity.

But this just keeps the existing structure of inequality in place. The rich sleep better at night, while others get just enough to keep the pot from boiling over. Nearly every time someone feels better by doing good, on the other side of the world (or street), someone else is further locked into a system that will not allow the true flourishing of his or her nature or the opportunity to live a joyful and fulfilled life.

And with more business-minded folks getting into the act, business principles are trumpeted as an important element to add to the philanthropic sector. I now hear people ask, “what’s the R.O.I.?” when it comes to alleviating human suffering, as if return on investment were the only measure of success.

Microlending and financial literacy (now I’m going to upset people who are wonderful folks and a few dear friends) — what is this really about? People will certainly learn how to integrate into our system of debt and repayment with interest. People will rise above making $2 a day to enter our world of goods and services so they can buy more. But doesn’t all this just feed the beast?

I’m really not calling for an end to capitalism; I’m calling for humanism.

Often I hear people say, “if only they had what we have” (clean water, access to health products and free markets, better education, safer living conditions). Yes, these are all important. But no “charitable” (I hate that word) intervention can solve any of these issues. It can only kick the can down the road.

My wife and I know we don’t have the answers, but we do know how to listen. As we learn, we will continue to support conditions for systemic change.

It’s time for a new operating system. Not a 2.0 or a 3.0, but something built from the ground up. New code.

What we have is a crisis of imagination. Albert Einstein said that you cannot solve a problem with the same mind-set that created it. Foundation dollars should be the best “risk capital” out there.

There are people working hard at showing examples of other ways to live in a functioning society that truly creates greater prosperity for all (and I don’t mean more people getting to have more stuff).

Money should be spent trying out concepts that shatter current structures and systems that have turned much of the world into one vast market. Is progress really Wi-Fi on every street corner? No. It’s when no 13-year-old girl on the planet gets sold for sex. But as long as most folks are patting themselves on the back for charitable acts, we’ve got a perpetual poverty machine.

It’s an old story; we really need a new one.

Peter Buffett is a composer and a chairman of the NoVo Foundation.

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