Great meeting last night, I thought. We’ve suddenly had a turnover thing where about one-half of our regulars are new to the group. We now have Margaret, Mike, a new Gary, Joan, and others. It was also good to see Joe, our Reader profiler, again.
We covered a lot of ground. Does anyone have anything else they’d like to add in comments?
For me, I’d like to follow-up on one point I made: That the crumbling consensus on what the common good is has allowed the public interest to be carved up by special interests and ideological extremists. Here are links to just two days worth of outrageous assaults on the very idea of a shared, common good. Really, all of these I found in the course of my regular reading on-line on Thursday and today.
- Senate Republicans announced that they will filibuster (refuse to allow a vote on) ANY nominee to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the new federal agency that is supposed to protect the public from predatory financial products, unless Democrats agree to gut the agency’s powers. They also want to slash the agency’s funding and opposed its very creation.
- Wall Street lobbyists lie about a new regulation that would make mortgage lenders assume a tiny bit of the risk of subprime mortgages they originate (rather than sell 100% of the note to securitizers, because, hey, that worked out so well).
- 54% of Americans report that they have had trouble accessing health care services because of cost concerns in the past two years. In the U.K., 13% have had this problem; in Canada, 26%.
- States are slashing unemployment and other safety net benefits, which are most needed in times like these.
- In Wisconsin, GOP Governor Walker slipped a provision into the budget that would screw over the state’s craft beer makers, probably because MillerCoors lobbied him to.
- Texas’ House has passed a bill to phase out the state’s Medicaid program and privatize Medicare in the state. Fun fact: On-quarter of Texans have no health insurance, the highest rate in the nation.
- Speaking of fun facts, here are 10 of them about Texas Governor Rick Perry, who just said he’s “90%” sure to enter the GOP presidential race. The famous one is him saying that Texas might have to secede from the Union if federal tyranny gets much worse, which, IMO, is how you run for president of the Confederacy, not of the united States. But, all 10 fun facts speak to his view of the common good.
- Since 1990, the tax rate paid by millionaires has fallen by one-third. On average, they now pay only 22% of their income in federal taxes.
- Evidence is mounting that oil and grain prices are now driven by speculators, not market forces.
- The U.S. Senate is spending a record one-third of its time this session doing literally nothing.
- And finally, liberal conceptions of the public good can get screwed up, too. See this hilarious critique of San Fransico’s efforts to ban circumcision!
You’re lucky I didn’t do a week’s worth.