And it’s not like anything’s happened in 2010-2011 that should make you more pessimistic about the pace with which China will close the living standards gap with the US than you were back in 2007.
NOAA: Global Warming Summer To Continue With Floods, Heat, Drought | The NOAA Climate Prediction Center forecasts that the extreme weather influenced by the billions of tons of greenhouse pollution in our atmosphere will continue through the second half of July:
(HT Lou Grinzo)
Romney Acknowledges Debt Ceiling ‘Emergency,’ But Would Require Radical Balanced Budget Amendment To Raise It
ThinkProgress filed this report from a campaign event in Portsmouth, New Hampshire
Former Massachusetts gov. Mitt Romney (R) acknowledged on Friday that not raising the debt limit would be an “emergency,” but when asked what it would take for him to agree to raise it, he cited a crank economic policy that has been called “the worst idea in Washington,” even by a former Republican adviser.
Romney’s “line in the sand,” he said, was an agreement from President Obama to cut and cap federal spending and pursue a Balanced Budget Amendment:
QUESTIONER: If you were president of the country today, what would you do about the deficit?
ROMNEY: Three things, because we have this emergency coming up with the debt ceiling–
QUESTIONER: [...] Do you think we should raise the debt limit, and if yes, why do you call it a limit?
ROMNEY: The answer for the country is for the president to agree to cut federal spending, to cap federal spending,and to put in place a balanced budget amendment. And that is the answer for the country. [...] It is within, in my view, the president’s power to say to the leadership in the House and the Senate, “I will cut spending, I will cap spending, I wil pursue a balanced budget amendment.” And if the president will do those things, this whole issue will disappear.
Insisting on the BBA would all but assure the “emergency” Romney warns about, as the plan clearly could not pass Congress. House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) admitted as much Friday, implying that the House GOP’s pursuit of the BBA was an act of political theater.
And not raising the debt limit would, indeed, be an emergency for the American economy. Social Security checks could be delayed, government services would be interrupted, and the current economic slump would get worse.
As ThinkProgress’ Pat Garofalo has noted, though, the Balanced Budget Amendment would also have negative implications for the American economy — both in the short-term and the long-term. Not only would it require sharp spending cuts immediately, it could hamper the government’s efforts to stem economic crises down the road.
Romney’s 2012 pitch is that he has more economic credibility than President Obama, and is thus better suited to lead America to economic recovery. But instead of proposing credible alternatives, Romney insists on signing unreasonable pledges and embracing ideas that would only serve to make both current and future economic troubles hurt even more.
Happy Birthday, Henry David Thoreau: “What would human life be without forests, those natural cities?”
Henry David Thoreau, one of the country’s first environmentalists, was born 194 years ago — July 12, 1817.
His writings remain crucial reading today. Even now his words cast an important light on our relationship with the planet. In this week’s space we celebrate Thoreau’s birthday by reflecting on his work and explaining how organizations are carrying on his legacy.
Thoreau was born in in Concord, Massachusetts, and he was one of America’s first and most important environmentalists. He is remembered best today for his book Walden, which describes his most famous exploit—leaving civilization to live in solitude on the banks of nearby Walden Pond. Thoreau was a gifted writer as well as a naturalist, abolitionist, philosopher, conservationist, and visionary environmentalist who could see the consequences of unrestrained and irresponsible consumption of resources.
Wastefulness was anathema to Thoreau. “Thank God men cannot fly,” he wrote, “and waste the sky as well as the earth.” Environmental stewardship was a cornerstone of his philosophy. He was constantly aware of what he used, what was a waste, and what was a necessity. Most of all, he opposed excess: “A man is rich in proportion to the number of things which he can afford to let alone.”
As I said last week, I think the question of whether or not public employees are overpaid is a little bit nonsensical. That said, the question of whether or not some particular compensation scheme is more or less generous than it ought to be makes perfect sense. For example, this AEI working paper (PDF) dedicated to the proposition that federal employees are “overpaid” seems to me to actually offer evidence that the federal pay scale is too stingy.
The authors describe the federal government’s official methodology:
The process is complex, but the Pay Agent essentially seeks to assign a general schedule (GS) level to a variety of private sector jobs within a broad set of occupational categories. Salaries for these jobs are then compared to salaries for federal positions at the same GS level. Private sector jobs assigned to a given GS level are typically seen to be more highly paid than their federal counterparts.
They characterize the Pay Agent’s method as concluding that federal workers are “underpaid.” But they criticize this method:
[T]he Pay Agent’s approach fails to account for different skill levels that private and public workers may possess in seemingly similar jobs. More specifically, there is evidence that the federal government hires workers at higher positions than they could hold in the private sector and then promotes them more quickly as well. This means, for example, that a senior accountant in government might qualify only as a junior accountant in the private sector. This senior accountant would be “underpaid” compared to private sector employees only because he is under-qualified by private sector standards. A study of BLS occupational data by Famulari (2002) finds that, “Federal workers have significantly fewer years of education and experience than private sector workers in the same level of responsibility in an occupation.” Famulari finds that these differences play out through federal hiring and promotion practices.
This is part of their case that federal workers are “overpaid.” But this entire discourse is unduly moralized. Let’s look at what AEI is saying is happening. The federal government needs to fill some jobs. But it offers salaries that are less than the salaries that a person doing a similar job could get in the private sector. Naturally, this means that the federal government ends up attracting less-experienced applicants. Hiring is then done from this less-experienced pool. And since the people who are hired are doing jobs they’d be underqualified for in the private sector, they are making more money than they would be in the private sector.
Which is all just to say that like all workers, federal workers are neither underpaid nor overpaid. The compensation and the nature of the work determine the applicant pool and on average everyone is getting paid some amount of money that someone is willing to pay him in exchange for work that he’s willing to do. But according to AEI, federal workers are underqualified and inexperienced because the pay scale is stingy relative to the private sector pay scale. Prima facie it looks like an argument that moving forward we ought to offer higher salaries going forward in order to recruit and retain more experienced personnel.
Now perhaps that conclusion is wrong, but this is the right kind of question to be asking. Are we spending too much money on hiring overqualified applicants or is stinginess leaving us with a thin applicant pool? For federal workers, the AEI analysis seems to suggest the latter.
– by Michael Conathan
All eyes in Washington are focused up these days. They’re peering cautiously at that ever-encroaching debt ceiling and the economic ruin pundits and politicians are forecasting if we allow ourselves to bump into it. Meanwhile, spending-phobia has gripped the less headline-grabbing, more mundane aspects of congressional operations as well. So we’re going to spend a bit of time today in one of Capitol Hill’s metaphorical windowless rooms crunching numbers to find out what Congress is doing to fund (or not fund) fisheries management.