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Dean Baker
Published: Sunday 9 December 2012
When people being portrayed as policy experts tell you that the United States or other countries face a demographic disaster because of declining ratios of workers to retirees they are mostly trying to tell you that they are not very good arithmetic.

The Nonsense About a Demographic Crisis

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One of themes that recurs endlessly in news coverage is that the United States and other countries face a disastrous threat to their living standards as a result of a falling ratio of workers to retirees. This is one that can be easily dismissed with some simple arithmetic.

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ABOUT Dean Baker
Dean Baker is co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, D.C. He previously worked as a senior economist at the Economic Policy Institute and an assistant professor at Bucknell University. He is the author of several books, including Plunder & Blunder: The Rise and Fall of the Bubble Economy, The Conservative Nanny State: How the Wealthy Use the Government to Stay Rich and Get Richer and The United States Since 1980. He was the editor of Getting Prices Right: The Debate Over the Consumer Price Index, which was a winner of a Choice Book Award as one of the outstanding academic books of the year. He appears frequently on TV and radio programs, including CNN, CBS News, PBS NewsHour, and National Public Radio. His blog, Beat the Press, features commentary on economic reporting. He received his B.A. from Swarthmore College and his Ph.D. in economics from the University of Michigan.

If wages had not been so

If wages had not been so viciously stifled over the past 30 years, the need for government services would not continue to be so great!

I have long thought that the

I have long thought that the solution to the social security conundrum is to cease tying it to numbers of workers but to productivity. So, does this mean that corporations should sacrifice a bit more of their profits to the fund? Why not? Seems redistribution of the wealth of the nation has pretty much moving in one direction - up - and I see nothing wrong with moving a bit of it down and/or out to the future retirees, disabled and survivors of workers. Could it be that economists/mathematicians like Mr. Baker would come up with a formula and our politicians could implement it. Ah, but I can dream, can't I?

Editors - where's the

Editors - where's the article's promised 'chart below'?
Fortunately the text summarizes the intended messages of the chart.

I welcome the corrective attitude of this article, but its approach can go only so far. Both the author and those whom he critiques are playing with macro-concepts which seem reasonably well-defined at first glance but far less so in later gaze. What follows are some examples of the difficulties.

Many 'workers' don't or can't really work full time, or are given assignments that socially can't really be very productive. On the other hand, many 'retirees' are doing socially useful work. And just how to measure 'productivity' in materially and socially real terms? Nominal dollar values, whether or not adjusted by across-the-board inflation factors over time, don't quite track functional values. The goods and services and forms of putative wealth that folks value today are not quite those that were valued a generation ago - or will be valued in a generation hence.

The so called policy experts

The so called policy experts are not bad at math, they are trying to hide the fact that they are takers not makers.

The Republican Party

The Republican Party characterizes the old and infirm as "useless eaters". They hold a position indistinguishable from the WWII Nazis.

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Gay Rights

Supreme Court Takes No Action On Same Sex Marriage Cases

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The Supreme Court on Monday was silent on whether it will remain silent on same sex marriage. The justices met in private on Friday to discuss whether or not to review chalenges on the U.S. Defense of Marriage act, an act which denies benefits to same sex couples. 31 of the 50 states have banned same sex  marriage while Washington D.C. and nine other states have legalized it. Even where same sex marriage is legal, howeverr, same sex couples do not receive benefits due to DOMA.

Read it at Reuters

Big Oil

Senators Push Obama to Propose Clean Gasoline Rules

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A group of democratic senators are going to propose new regulations on gasoline today. The plan is to set rules that will cut the sulfur in gasoline this year and finalize the legislation next year. Ed Whitfield, a republican in the house of representatives, introduced a bill this year to stop just this. The EPA however has testified before congress showing that this will actually decrease costs in the long run. 

Read it at Reuters

Sorry Monsanto: Govt Admits GM Bt Cotton Crops Fail 40%

Lisa Garber
Natural Society / News Report
Published: Thursday 29 November 2012
Faced with unbearable debt and health problems, the National Crime Records Bureau predicts that 5,000 farmers will have committed suicide by the end of the year.
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The government of Maharashtra, a state in western India, has acknowledged for the first time that Bt cotton is a failure that will likely reduce yields by 40%, from 3.5 to 2.2 million quintal. The region’s cotton farmers will face about Rs6,000 crore, over 1 billion USD. Accumulated losses are to be even more staggering: Rs 20,000 crore, or about 3.6 billion USD, due to rising cultivation costs.

Searched: Maharashtra

Searched: Maharashtra original government report on GMO 2012. Found:

Does anyone know where I can

Does anyone know where I can access a copy of the original government report, and perhaps the data? Thanks in advance.

Does anyone know where I can

Does anyone know where I can access a copy of the original government report, and perhaps the data? Thanks in advance.

I hope this is the beginning

I hope this is the beginning of the end for Monsatano et al!
For too long they have terrorized farmers and poisoned their customers just to make a buck. Well, billions of bucks actually. Not to mention buying politicians and legislators and courts and who knows what else to further their vile deeds.
And let them get away with it.
But things are changing now, at last! Many people, entire countries are simply not buying it anymore. And that's what we should all do, boot them out and sue the CEO's and directors, put them in jail where they belong! And then distribute the vast proceeds of their crimes among their victims. Justice!



I think the question should

I think the question should be, why the yields are decreasing? In other parts of the world, yields have been increasing. Why in India are they failing? And why is there an inconsistency across India? Why do some areas in India do well and places like Maharashtra do poorly? The national average shows an increase in yields overall, not a monstrous increase, but an increase.

As to farmer suicide, it's a complex issue that can't only be pinned on GM crops failure. Much of it comes from dishonest local seed companies and local loan sharks. In fact, the Indian Government just revoked an Indian company's license to sell Bt seeds due to allegations of hoarding and lying about seed supply which caused the seeds to be sold for higher prices on the black market.

To lay the blame only at the GMO doorstep is simplistic thinking.

@Bernie Mooney Using your

@Bernie Mooney

Using your same logic, perhaps the very, very modest gains using BT cotten are due to other environmental factors. Not taking into consideration culpability of GMO cotton is simplistic thinking. (So we're at a wash here. In other words, neither one of us has said anything meaningful.)

As for farmer suicides, we can surely say that GMO cotten is one aspect, since these suicides were not happening beforehand.

We can also say that people who get cancer would have gotten it anyway, even if they didn't smoke cigarettes. You know, we shouldn't blame only tobacco.

These comments are all true, and they are used copiously be marketers and corporate lawyers. That's why we need to understand the difference between causation and correlation. In the case of tobacco and cancer, the correlation is just too strong to ignore.

So we can always counter with something like "there are so many environmental factors that we can't blame only tobacco" but the correlation is so strong that when we take tobacco out of the equation, cancers drop dramatically.

It seems that you want to

It seems that you want to blame it on Bt cotton. The suicides were happening before the introduction of Bt cotton. And there are various factors that are the cause like I said, loan sharks is one of them.

Again, why are the suicides not nationwide and limited to certain areas? Why are there more suicides by cotton farmers in Maharashtra than Gujarat? And then you have the so-called "monopoly cotton procurement scheme" in Maharashtra. That law makes the state the sole buyer of cotton and they don't necessarily pay farmers market value.

Various reports have said that cultural and medical problems contribute to the mix. Also, caste and class and corrupt governmental institutions. A lot of the problems come from internal sources and those aren't being addressed.

As to your correlation equals causation argument, you're doing it that by saying GM crops are causing it even though suicides were happening before introduction of GM crops. Also, in West Bengal there has been an increase in farmer suicides. They don't grow Bt cotton. They are rice and potato farmers. Those crops aren't GMO. In fact, Bt cotton is the only approved GM crop in India.

The modest gains? Since the introduction of Bt cotton in 2002, India has gone from an importer to an exporter of cotton.

Bernie Mooney wants you to

Bernie Mooney wants you to shut up and eat.

Worried about your job,

Worried about your job, Bernie? You should be, if you're working for whom I suspect you're working for!
Yes, there are other problems as well but the biotech gangsters are clearly in the lead when it comes to screwing up agriculture!
So start looking for another job, Bernie, why don't you try working as a farmhand on an organic farm? You might learn something new and at least you'd be doing an honest day's work for a change! Good luck!

You know, your response is

You know, your response is all too typical of the anti-GMO crowd. It shows a total lack of independent thought or the ability to engage in serious discussion. Why don't you address what I wrote instead of relying on knee jerk assumptions? Its much easier to think I work for BigAgra rather than come up with a cogent response.

Explain this, if you can. I wrote this in another response. If Bt cotton is the culprit in these suicides, why are suicides rising in West Bengal where there is no Bt cotton being grown? It's rice and potatoes, non-GMO.

Do you know there are over 500 strains of GM cotton India? Not all are Monsanto, most are developed in country.

As to working on an organic farm? No thanks. If I were to work on a farm, which I did as a kid, I would work on one that uses modern methods and is less labor intensive. I would want to work on a farm that's main focus is growing food as efficiently as possible, not based on some naturalistic fantasy. I'm not a fan of 1800s feces-based agriculture. I'm a progressive, not a regressive.

Nobody wants to argue with

Nobody wants to argue with you Bernie because it's pointless. You are grasping on to a worldview that is in error.

Essentially the issue isn't whether GMOs are good or bad for you. It's a consumer choice issue. I want the choice to not eat it therefore it should be labelled clearly.

Now I know you're going to want to respond with some nonsense about how I am anti-science or argue how GMOs are no different from organic. blah blah. It's all nonsense.

I don't want any of it and you're just going to have to deal with that. It would be the EXACT same if I imposed on everyone the color of car everyone should have. I want you to have a blue car and you are not allowed to have anything else. You see how I'm taking the choice away? Knowing your typical responses on this forum I'm guessing you don't agree.

AND that's why your opinion is not valid. K?

As Nancy would put it. "Just

As Nancy would put it. "Just say No!" to gmo.

. . Did the government

. . Did the government atleast send a copy of the report to Monsanto????
All their fighting to bl0ck labeling?.?.? The general population is smarter than they and our politicians are.....

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Robert Reich
NationofChange / Op-Ed
Published: Thursday 29 November 2012
Earlier this week the Council of Economic Advisers published a report detailing the awful consequences of going over the so-called “fiscal cliff.”

Bungee-Jumping Over the Fiscal Cliff

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What’s the best way to pressure Republicans into agreeing to extend the Bush tax cuts for the middle class while ending them for the wealthy?

The President evidently believes it’s to scare average Americans about how much additional taxes they’ll pay if the Bush tax cuts expire on schedule at the end of the year. He plans to barnstorm around the country, sounding the alarm.

This article was originally posted on Robert Reich's blog.

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ABOUT Robert Reich


ROBERT B. REICH, one of the nation’s leading experts on work and the economy, is Chancellor’s Professor of Public Policy at the Goldman School of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley. He has served in three national administrations, most recently as secretary of labor under President Bill Clinton. Time Magazine has named him one of the ten most effective cabinet secretaries of the last century. He has written thirteen books, including his latest best-seller, “Aftershock: The Next Economy and America’s Future;” “The Work of Nations,” which has been translated into 22 languages; and his newest, an e-book, “Beyond Outrage.” His syndicated columns, television appearances, and public radio commentaries reach millions of people each week. He is also a founding editor of the American Prospect magazine, and Chairman of the citizen’s group Common Cause. His widely-read blog can be found at Robert Reich's new film, "Inequality for All" is available on DVD
and blu-ray, and on Netflix in February.

Why do all media insist on

Why do all media insist on even allowing the thought that this fiscal mess resulted from excessive spending? It is a damned lie. This deficit and all the problems that accompany it are the result of persistent Republican pressure to make taxes go in only one direction, down.

They have duped the ignorant, ill-informed, biased and overly-simplistic into supporting the idea that government is an enemy and that it must be shrunk into a manageable size. That is one of the stupidest ideas I have ever heard and the fact that all Republicans in Congress signed on to it via the Norquist Pledge is criminal.

Let's tell it like it is. This is the Republican Fiscal Mess.

Well, massive ongoing tax

Well, massive ongoing tax cuts plus incredible military spending. Remember, we've been engaged in war more often than not for the past century! Since Reagan, several trillion dollars have been redistributed upward. Corporate tax cuts continue to be used to cover the costs of building factories and offices in foreign countries, shipping out our jobs. Once again, we hear the middle class calling for "entitlement reform." Well, think about it. The entire General Assistance (welfare) program was shut down years ago. Then, AFDC was "reformed" right out of existence. Everything from disability aid to food stamps, schools to weather warning services, have been cut to the bone. All of this money was simply funneled into the bank accounts of the rich, not into "balancing the budget" or meeting the needs of our crumbling nation. The media and politicians appear oblivious to to how much "cutting" has already been done to entitlements. They can't seem to grasp that the entitlement to basic poverty relief was wiped out. Anything cut from Social Security or Medicare would simply go into the bank accounts of the rich.

Watch out for Obama

Watch out for Obama backstepping on Medicare and Social Security before Christmas. Contact Senator Bernie Sanders and your own senators and congressman to stop cuts to these important necessities.

the democrats want the cliff

the democrats want the cliff [ask sen murray] tax hike plus big defense cuts pure democrat nirvana

"Even as the wealthy go over

"Even as the wealthy go over the cliff," the Professor states. They WON'T be going over any cliff. Maybe one less vacation home. McCain has eight...he thinks.
Seven would be a horrible sacrifice!

To be a true leader you need

To be a true leader you need to use your power skillfully: you have to cut off your anger, your craving and your ignorance. You have to let go!
I wonder how many of our leaders are capable of practicing these virtues, they are so wrapped up in their agendas that they can't see the bigger picture. The middle will never be served well with leaders who cannot put their own agendas aside.

The professor's tactic makes

The professor's tactic makes sense, while the administration's approach is yet another proof of its near-complete lack of skill at negotiation and gamesmanship. The president has sounded a bit tougher lately, but he's still too willing to put things on the table that the people who elected him consider sacred. He needs to see the film "Lincoln" and take to heart the lesson it offers, that is that a president can be a good, likeable person, and when it's needed, also a tough guy. I'd say he must be both.

It's my understanding that

It's my understanding that the Senate has already passed an extension of the tax cuts for those making less than a quarter million. All the House has to do is pass it, without amendments to include the wealthy.

Boris Badenov's picture

I say throw the Republicans

I say throw the Republicans off the Fiscal Cliff!
Without a rope.

The Republican Party shot

The Republican Party shot themselves in the foot with the last election amd now they're lining up to shoot the other foot . . . We need a third party more than ever - so atleast we will still have a two party system...
. . What's that old saying about a sinking ship ??? Not the one about the captain going down with the ship the other one ??? DESERTING??????
Imagine no more Republican Party - - no more blocked legislation - - no more of Bush's my way or the highway.........yup WMD's only spelled G.O.P. - - Ghastly Obnoxious Policies

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