An Implication of the Greek Elections

Greece is nearly bankrupt, it has defaulted on one round of national debt since the global Panic of 2008, it has received two bailouts from the rest of the European Union and from the IMF in partnership with various EU institutions (one of which included that default), and it’s demanding another round of…debt relief…against which the current troika of the IMF, the European Central Bank, and the European Commission are refusing to certify that Greece is ready and able to handle another loan. This current crisis reached its fullness last fall, and the then Greek government collapsed, necessitating Sunday’s snap elections.

Even the AP Is Catching On

They fact-checked President Barack Obama’s State of the Union speech, and they found these things.

OBAMA: At this moment—with a growing economy, shrinking deficits, bustling industry and booming energy production—we have risen from recession freer to write our own future than any other nation on Earth.

THE FACTS: Job growth has been…fueled in part by lower-paying jobs…which have replaced many higher-paying positions…. Part-time jobs also remain elevated: there are still 1.7 million fewer workers with full-time jobs than when the recession began in December 2007.

An Intolerance from Anti-Discrimination

Atlanta Fire Department Chief Kelvin Cochran has been fired from the Department altogether by Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed. Cochran’s reprehensible crime? He wrote a book, Who Told You That You Were Naked?, about morality from the Bible’s perspective. He also wrote about his views of homosexuality as informed by the Bible.

Reed suspended Cochran for a month over that book, and then on the day Cochran was to return to duty, Reed fired him. Reed said he did it because

I profoundly disagree with and am deeply disturbed by the sentiments expressed in the paperback regarding the LGBT community. I will not tolerate discrimination of any kind within my administration.

Keystone and Vetoes

All the pundits are looking to the Senate for an override of President Barack Obama’s pending veto of the pending Keystone XL Pipeline legislation. The Senate, it seems, has 63 votes for passage (which implies a cloture vote won’t be a problem), but the focus is on the Senate’s lack of four more votes to produce a “veto-proof” bill.

All the pundits are skipping over two key factors.

The Congress and the President

President Barack Obama is ready, willing—even eager—to work with the 114th Congress, instead of routinely bypassing it, The Wall Street Journal quoted “senior administration officials” as saying at the start of this new year.

Both Houses of this new Congress have introduced bipartisanly supported bills that would authorize construction of the Keystone XL pipeline. And Obama has said he’ll veto that legislation, never minding that 70% of Americans—Obama’s employers, as well as the employers of the new Congress—want the pipeline built.

I’m driven to the conclusion that Obama’s claimed willingness to work with Republicans is just more Obamatalk, and that “cooperate with” still means “be reasonable: do it my way.”

At Last, Shovel Ready Jobs

And President Barack Obama only had to break the law (and the Constitution) to find them.

The US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) agency is looking to hire 1,000 new employees to process applications pertaining to President Barack Obama’s new executive action on immigration, the New York Times is reporting.

Never mind that existing immigration law makes his Executive “Action” mandating protection from deportation of illegal entrants into the US illegal. Never mind that his Constitutional mandate, and his oath of office to take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed, make his Executive “Action” illegal.

Good Medicine for Bad Bankers

That’s the title of an Alan Blinder op-ed in The Wall Street Journal. It’s subtitled One way to keep bankers from behaving badly is to hit them in their pocketbooks with penalties that affect bonuses.

Blinder cited remarks by New York Federal Reserve Bank President William Dudley:

Mr Dudley highlighted the “ongoing occurrences of serious professional misbehavior, ethical lapses and compliance failures” at giant financial institutions. And he warned the audience, which included a number of the world’s leading bankers, that unless the epidemic of bad behavior stops, “the inevitable conclusion will be reached that your firms are too big and complex to manage,” in which case “your firms need to be dramatically downsized and simplified.”

Technology, Oil, and Government

Falling oil prices are a good thing. Except when they’re not. Or….

The irony in the falling prices is that the success of US producers using hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling technologies is partly responsible, along with slowing demand by struggling Asian and European markets. Now that success could come back to bite the so-called fracking industry and other drillers in America.

[Wyoming Governor Matt, R] Mead acknowledged that in the short term, lower gas prices will benefit businesses and residents in his sparsely populated state, where distances between towns are often calculated in hours instead of minutes.

Good for Amazon

‘Way last July, amazon asked the FAA for expanded outdoor testing permits (Amazon Petition for Exemption – Docket No. FAA-2014-0474) so the company could engage in serious testing of its planned drone-based delivery system. To date, the FAA has chosen not to respond. Amazon has renewed its request and advised the agency that continued unresponsiveness will force amazon to take its development out of the country [emphasis added].

More Thoughts on Minimum Wage

And actual data. Econbrowser pointed out a quasi-controlled study by PhD candidate Michael Wither and Professor Jeffrey Clemens that compared populations of workers in states that had minimum wage laws with higher minimum requirements than Federally passed wage requirements at the time the Federal legislation was enacted with populations of workers in states that did not. They also compared populations of workers starting out with wages higher than the new mandates with populations of workers with wages lower than the new mandates (workers with wages less than $7.50/hr and workers with wages between $7.50 and $10.00 at the time of a then-newly Federally mandated minimum wage of $7.25) over the three years following the Federal mandate.