Wednesday, March 30, 2011


The crocuses are up in the patio and the pollen has completely clogged my poor head. That can only mean that Spring is here. So, without any further ado we present Kathleen Battle singing Johann Strauss' "Voices of Spring". I fell in love with this song when Curly sang it in 1945's short film "Micro-Phonies".

Wisconsin GOP Congressman "Struggles to get by" on $174,000 a year

You have to imagine that freshman Republican Congressman Sean Duffy was hoping a gaffe this bad would stay hidden. One month later, however, thanks to the DCCC and local media, Duffy's lucky streak has come to an end.
Sean Duffy, R-Douchenozzle
GOP House freshman Sean Duffy of Ashland found himself explaining his congressional salary and benefits to a struggling local builder at a town hall meeting in Polk County last month, saying, “I struggle to meet my bills right now.” 
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee highlighted the exchange in a press release Tuesday, accusing Duffy of complaining about a salary ($174,000) that is far higher than what the average Wisconsinite earns.

A Duffy aide said Tuesday the congressman was not complaining, but relating to the financial pressures that constituents are feeling.
For those scoring at home, the average teacher in Wisconsin make less than one-third that of Congressman Duffy. Less. Than. One. Third.

There is an old saw that when you've dug yourself into a hole, you should stop digging. Evidently, however, the former Real World celebrity-turned-Congressman was not aware of that maxim. After stating an obvious truth (that he had not voted for his salary, since he was just sworn in at the start of the year), he followed up with this:
“The benefits that were offered to me as a congressman don’t even compare to the benefits that you get as a state employee. I just experienced that myself. They’re not nearly as good.”
Which would be true, perhaps, were it not for the fact that Congress has a few perks that your average Wisconsin cop or teacher don't have. What, they don't have an Office of the Attending Physician in Marinette or Eau Claire?

The gaffe has led to a rather entertaining dance being perpetrated by Duffy's GOP allies in Wisconsin. With one breath, they are trying to minimize it as much ado about nothing, an attempt for the Congressman to empathize with his struggling constituents by laying out his own financial difficulties. With the next breath, however, they are trying to prevent the airing of any recordings of the town hall where this (em)pathetic moment took place.

It's not all bad news for Congressman Duffy, however. In the spirit of generosity, the Democratic Party in Wisconsin is willing to put aside partisan differences and aid their fellow man. They will be holding a food and clothing drive for Duffy this Friday.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Republican Job-Creating Idea: Lay off government workers; this will raise unemployment, putting downward pressure on wages; and lower wages will lead to higher employment

From Paul Krugman Nobel Prize-winning Economist, via NY Times:

Wow. The GOP prescription for higher employment is actually quite spectacular — it’s a thing of many levels, an ignorance wrapped in a fallacy. 

The idea is this: we’ll lay off government workers; this will raise unemployment, putting downward pressure on wages; and lower wages will lead to higher employment.

So, for this to work you first have to have a downward-sloping demand for labor as a function of the nominal wage rate. There’s no reason to believe that’s the case: in a liquidity trap, falling wages probably reduce the demand for labor, because they worsen the burden of debt.

And even if you somehow bypass this objection, the argument is still nonsense: it says that by reducing demand, you cut the price, which increases demand, which means that you end up selling more than before. Um, no — that’s the kind of answer that, in Econ 101, has you suggesting that the student get special tutoring.
Given all that, it’s hardly worth mentioning that they’re appealing to the thoroughly refuted doctrine of expansionary austerity.

As Wolfgang Pauli used to say, what we have here is an argument that isn’t even wrong.