CUPERTINO (Reuters) – Apple Inc shareholders rejected demands that the company disclose a succession plan for ailing chief Steve Jobs but approved a proposal giving them a bigger say in appointing directors.
A former Serbian police officer is jailed for 27 years for his role in the 1999 murder of more than 700 ethnic Albanians in Kosovo.
Matt Miller’s cover story in The Deal magazine, which analyzes the legal issues underlying proposals to allow states to go bankrupt (“The world wonders: Can states go bankrupt?” Feb. 21), is really a superb piece of work. The underlying issue, despite the sound bites you hear on political platforms and on cable shouting matches, is neither legally straightforward nor necessarily easy to implement. Miller has diligently talked to some of the leading bankruptcy scholars — who, in fact, disagree on the effectiveness or even constitutionality of states filing for bankruptcy. And indeed, the question involves fundamental issues such as states’ rights — Miller points out the irony of Newt Gingrich and Jeb Bush proposing a step that would seriously erode states’ rights — the difference between municipalities and states and the role of federal judges in state matters.
Miller’s piece is particularly enlightening given the attempts across the country, triggered in Wisconsin but spreading to Ohio, Tennessee and Indiana, to kill collective bargaining by public-employee unions. It’s interesting to read some of the original coverage of Gingrich’s proposal that would allow states to file for bankruptcy: The impetus was always the sense that federal bankruptcy judges would break public employee union contracts in order to reduce wages and benefits. Gingrich articulates that yearning to deal with the unions and keep taxes low in this passage from a speech quoted in a Pensions and Investments story on Jan. 10:
I … hope the House Republicans are going to move a bill in the first month or so of their tenure to create a venue for state bankruptcy, so that states like California and New York and Illinois that think they’re going to come to Washington for money can be told, you know, you need to sit down with all your government employee unions and look at their health plans and their pension plans and, frankly, if they don’t want to change, our recommendation is you go into bankruptcy court and let the bankruptcy judge change it, and I would make the federal bankruptcy law prohibit tax increases as part of the solution, so no bankruptcy judge could impose a tax increase on the people of the states.
A law that would lash together forced cuts in public-employee wages and benefits and mandate no tax hikes seems feverish, and, based on Miller’s reporting, a little incoherent. But it does explain the historical oddity of Republicans pursuing this considerable expansion of federal reach and its confluence with state attempts to ban collective bargaining: It’s really about dealing with public-employee unions. As Miller points out, there are some very serious people who see great benefit in a state bankruptcy law. But there are others, like Gingrich, who clearly would like to exploit the step for its tactical possibilities, rarely a good way to develop public policy.
Robert Teitelman is editor in chief of The Deal.
For more from Robert Teitelman, check out The Deal Economy.
It is axiomatic that an employed person in the labor force receives compensation and dispenses his earnings for his family’s consumption, housing, transportation, medical, education, entertainment, savings and other necessities and luxuries of life. The sum of these expenditures and savings create the cash flow for banks, corporations, markets, investment companies and all of the economic structure of society, however, the building block is employment. If employment falters, the rest will crumble down rapidly. That is where we are at since the current recession that started in 2007.
During the Great Depression of the 1930s, President Roosevelt (FDR) created employment to counter the depression. Eventually it worked and we got out of it.
To address the issue at its core, the Congress of the United States passed the Employment Act of 1946, providing responsibility for the government to maximize employment. However, the Employment Act got stuck with semantics. Maximizing employment was viewed as maximization at given conditions of the economy. Therefore, at bad times maximizing employment could be high unemployment (6% or higher). To rectify this semantic bottleneck, the Humphrey-Hawkins Bill of 1978 was passed.
Given the current economic bottleneck, the main job we have at this point is to add to employment, creating jobs not only for the unemployed but also the underemployed and discouraged workers. That, in fact, is the law in both The Employment Act of 1946 and The Humphrey-Hawkins Full Employment Act was passed, the latter having been signed into law by President Jimmy Carter on October 27, 1978 and codified as 15 USC § 3101.
The current Great Recession which started in 2007 is continuing. It did not end in July of 2009, as claimed by the National Bureau of Economic Research’s (NBER) dating committee. The Obama approach thus far is an indirect, roundabout method of coping with high unemployment. It provided assistance to banks and corporations who were expected in turn to stimulate the economy and employment. Obviously the approach is either not working or is too slow for comfort. There is a need o revise the approach and create jobs directly for the unemployed without the middle man. And maintaining full employment of the labor force (94+%) must be the core target of our macroeconomic fiscal and monetary policy, in other words, employment must be considered the basic and most significant unit of economic policy for the short and the long term.
To reiterate, if the private sector is not providing needed jobs then the federal government should be doing so, as the employer of last resort, much as it did in the Great Depression under FDR. President Obama’s stimulus program and bailouts have not worked to reduce unemployment substantially, nor has the Fed’s stimulative monetary policy including QE2. Many of our other problems of income and wealth inequality, home foreclosures, personal bankruptcies, etc. could be substantially alleviated by significant reductions in unemployment.
Nake M. Kamrany is a faculty member in economics and USC and Michael Intriligator is a faculty member at UCLA.
A word from Amy Langdon:
“What do you do?”
While it seems like an easy enough question, those four words haunt me on a daily basis. And my answer changes just as often.
Sometimes I say, “I just finished grad school.” (It’s been three months but who’s counting?)
If I’m feeling confident, it’s “I’m a journalist.” (A stretch…)
When at a bar, I lie — “I work for the State Department, but I can’t tell you anything else unless you have Top Secret Security Clearance.” (Hey, it works.)
Whatever comes out of my mouth, my mind is saying, “I don’t do anything.” At least not anything relating to my new graduate degree or the hundred thousand dollars of debt that I’ll shortly have to start paying back. What do I do?
The only consolation I have during this post-graduate state of limbo (other than beer) is the fact that I am not alone. I found this out during my final quarter of graduate study at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism.
My partner Nicholas and I were given 10 weeks to film and edit a short documentary. The topic could be anything we wanted. And being members of a generation of twenty-somethings obsessed with both ourselves and sharing our every emotion, we chose a subject matter that was constantly on our mind and about to become deeply personal — the growing population of overeducated and underemployed young people in this country. In short, us at the end of the 10 weeks.
A word from Nicholas Padiak:
During and after my undergraduate years, I worked in numerous restaurants. I was always struck by the number of highly educated people in the service industry. At many restaurants, the question to the wait staff wasn’t if they went to college; it was where they went and what they studied.
There is an entire generation of young people whose parents told them to just go to school and get a degree. This was the path to getting a job. Just get your degree — it doesn’t matter what you study. The degree was the important thing. Well, a huge group of that generation is now educated — with the debt to show for it — and unable to find work.
There aren’t really statistics to back this up. Sure, you could look at unemployment levels, but that’s not what we’re talking about. We’re talking about underemployment. People who can talk to you at length about literature, history, philosophy, theater and sociology while they serve you burgers.
We wanted to explore this generation and raise some questions. We wanted our film to generate discussion. What is the worth of a bachelor’s degree in today’s society? Is this overeducated and underemployed generation bitter? Angry? Apathetic? Lazy? Who are we when our tax return says “Waiter” but our soul says “Poet” or “Writer” or “Artist”?
The film looks at four individuals in various states of unemployment or underemployment and through these young people, we glimpse the reality of the situation. While some people are frustrated, others are hopeful. While some accept their situation, others make the best of it or try to break out of it. As for Amy and me, we’re still deciding which side we’re on.
But what do we do? We’re bloggers for the Huffington Post. What do you do?