Politicians seem to have little trouble understanding how the basic Law of Demand works when it comes to things they want to discourage, like cigarettes — or when it comes to things they want to encourage, like education.
The Law of Demand says that price increases will generally produce lower sales, so the politicians raise the price of cigarettes via more taxation so that more people quit.
“The price of a pack of cigarettes has skyrocketed to $14.50 at some New York City stores thanks to a hefty new tax, leaving even the most nicotine-addicted buttheads considering nixing their fix,” the New York Post reported last year after an extra $1.60 state sales tax was slapped on every pack.
The $1.60 hike raised the total taxes on a single pack to $4.35 at the state level in New York. Additionally, there’s a municipal cigarette tax in the city of $1.50 a pack, producing a combined state and local tax of $5.85 a pack.
Last week’s jobs report could spur further anxiety for President Obama’s 2012 reelection campaign, as the President’s core constituencies continue to struggle with high unemployment. The Labor Department reported dismal jobs numbers for August, with unemployment continuing to hover around 9 percent — a grave concern for Obama’s approval ratings. Young workers, aged 18 to 24, are now burdened with 16.4 percent unemployment, while many more are underemployed. Such affliction for America’s youth could prove fatal for Obama’s 2012 presidential aspirations, as he garnered nearly 70 percent of 18 to 29 aged voters in 2008.
Where has all of America’s labor gone? Following the announcement that the economy added no new jobs in the month of August, President Obama’s Labor Day politicking with GM workers in Detroit was an opportunity for the President to display his grasp of basic economics. And as usual, he failed miserably, blaming America’s economic stagnation on congressional Republican obstructionism.
But the President has a plan, which he coyly referenced without unveiling the particulars (to be revealed later this week, supposedly). Government, he told his audience, must do more to create jobs:
We’re going to see if congressional Republicans will put country before party. We’ll give them a plan, and then we’ll say, do you want to create jobs? Then put our construction workers back to work rebuilding America.
We’ve heard all this before: Spend government money on public works projects like roads and bridges, and the economy will grow. It was FDR’s strategy, and President Obama recycled it in his mammoth stimulus package. And in both instances, it failed miserably, as Americans are now discovering in the case of President Obama’s beloved TARP.
Post Offices through the country may be closed early next year unless Congress either makes an emergency appropriation or changes the laws governing the debt-ridden U.S. Postal Service, the New York Times reported Monday.
"Our situation is extremely serious," Postmaster General, Patrick R. Donahoe, told the Times. "If Congress doesn't act, we will default." Members of Congress, returning from their August recess are facing the second default crisis in as many months, having averted a threatened default of the federal government with bitterly fought over legislation authorizing an increase in the nation's debt ceiling on August 1.
The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee will hold a hearing on the agency's predicament on Tuesday. It may consider some of the proposals Donhoe has made in recent weeks for eliminating the $9.2 billion deficit for the current fiscal year, ending September 30.
Republican Governor Nikki Haley of South Carolina spoke on September 1 with reporters via a conference call. The Governor accused President Obama, who will give a “Jobs Speech” to a joint session of Congress next week, of being “cowardly” when it came to jobs for South Carolinians. The National Labor Relations Board in April filed a complaint against the Boeing Corporation for planning to transfer an airline production plant for the 787 Dreamliner to South Carolina.
Governor Haley pulled no punches with her remarks: “This president works for us. This president owes us an answer. This president owes Boeing an answer. This president owes every business in this country an answer on what he thinks of the NLRB. If he is supportive of them, say he is supportive of them. If he thinks what they are doing is wrong, say what you think is wrong. But to be silent is cowardly and is just something that is unacceptable for the president of our country.”
The Governor also said what she thought of the NLRB: “It’s a rogue agency that has a bully mentality that is absolutely un-American. I don’t know any other way to say it.”
With all six of its National Guard's Black Hawk helicopters still deployed in Iraq, flood-devastated Vermont received help from neighboring New Hampshire and distant Illinois this week in bringing relief to residents stranded in 13 communities after flooding caused by last weekend's Tropical Storm Irene washed out hundreds of the state's roads and bridges.
On Monday, the New Hampshire National Guard sent over two of its Black Hawk helicopters, which transported Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Craig Fugate and Vermont's Gov. Peter Shumlin, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, and U.S. Rep. Peter Welch on a survey of flood-damaged areas in the state. On Wednesday the first of eight helicopters on loan from the Illinois National Guard arrived to help with the distribution of food and other supplies as Vermonters continued to struggle with the after effects of the storm that flooded homes, business, and government offices. Illinois Governor Pat Quinn ordered the helicopters and 95 members of the Illinois Guard to Vermont from Rome, New York, where they had been sent to assist in flood relief efforts in that state.
About 200 National Guard members from Maine and 50 from West Virginia were also enroute to Vermont, the Boston Globe reported on Friday.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that the economy added no new jobs during the month of August in a September 2 release. "Nonfarm payroll employment was unchanged (0) in August, and the unemployment rate held at 9.1 percent," the BLS reported.
News of the lackluster numbers sent all of the major stock indexes tumbling, and gold and silver soared as a safe haven in early trading against the bearish market and expected inflation. Gold rose to more than $1,875 per ounce, and silver topped $43 per ounce in trading within hours of the BLS release.
Although the unemployment rate was unchanged, the report denotes upward pressure on the already high unemployment rate. Most economists estimate that the market must add about 100,000 new jobs per month just to keep up with population growth in order to keep unemployment levels stable. The economy has added fewer than 100,000 jobs in each of the last four months, and the August report was the first time the U.S. economy didn't add any jobs since September of 2010.
The White House announced Thursday that it is building a new webpage, entitled "We the People," designed to give Americans the ability to digitally create and sign petitions to propose various government actions, particularly regarding job creation.
This new government tool will be available at the White House website, and it is "a new way to petition your government to take action on a range of important issues," says the narrator in a White House video. "It’s a new way for your voice to be heard in our government," Macon Phillips, the White House director of digital strategy, suggested.
"When I ran for this office, I pledged to make government more open and accountable to its citizens," President Obama proclaimed in a taped announcement, and this new tool will provide Americans with "a direct line" to the White House for issues they are concerned about. Critics say the timing of the new project is not coincidental, as it comes at a time when the President and congressional Democrats are eagerly discussing how the federal government can promote job growth — through legislative action.
WhiteHouse.gov has the details on how the petitions will work:
The announcement by the Federal Reserve of an “enforcement action” against Goldman Sachs for engaging in “a pattern of misconduct and negligence” in its handling of home mortgage loans was entirely predictable. Charges of such misconduct go back for months when it was first discovered that mortgages and other mortgage-related documents had been “robo-signed” and foreclosure documents hadn’t been properly reviewed and that Goldman’s Litton Loan Servicing unit took actions “without always confirming that documentation of ownership was in order.”
The ruling requires Goldman to write down some mortgages that it holds, pay an unstated restitution, and provide “remediation” to homeowners who were hurt in the collapse. The ruling doesn’t preclude other enforcement actions from state banking regulators who are continuing their investigations into the matter, either, so additional sanctions may reasonably be expected soon.
Wisconsin public employees unions were not able to stop Governor Walker’s plan to remove benefits from the items subject to collective bargaining. The unions first persuaded Wisconsin state senators to flee to Illinois, so that a quorum could not be formed to conduct business on that issue in the Wisconsin legislature. Then these unions thronged Madison, trying to intimidate Republican state legislators; these legislators, however, refused to be intimidated. State Supreme Court elections, which once were pro forma referenda on the ethics and competence of justices, was transformed into an ideological policy issue in which Judge Prosser was targeted for elimination because it was felt that he would uphold the constitutionality of Walker’s reforms; that failed too. Finally, public employees unions tried to recall enough Republican state senators to tip control of the state senate back to Democrats; that failed too.