Tuesday, April 23, 2013

TRICKLE DOWN | Stops after 7%

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA).
The May 2013 Harper's Index (prepared in March 2013) uses data from the Center for Equitable Growth at UC Berkeley to contrast the 11.2 percent growth in incomes of the top 1 percent of earners during the recovery with the -0.4 percent loss for the remaining 99 percent of earners.

Meanwhile, the Pew Research Center has reviewed the latest Census data to contrast the change in net worth for the top 7 percent of households and the remaining 93 percent.

Over the past two years, the net worth of the top 7 percent of households has grown 28 percent to an average (mean) of $3.2 million, whereas the remaining 93 percent has dropped 4 percent to an average of $134,000.

Same message as from UC Berkeley contrast.

To those who have much, more is given; to those who have little, some shall be taken away.

In this connection, Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) cross-examined Treasury and Federal Reserve representatives at a March 7 Senate Banking Committee hearing. She contrasted the handling of a repeated money-laundering case with a repeat drug offender:
[I]f you're caught with an ounce of cocaine, the chances are good you're going to go to jail. If it happens repeatedly, you may go to jail for th rest of your life. But evidently if you launder nearly a billion dollars for drug cartels and violate our international sanctions, your company pays a fine and you go home and sleep in your own bed at night. I think that's fundamentall wrong. (Harper's, May 2013, 23-24).

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

NJ Lt. Gov. Guadagno Speaks at Biggest-Ever NJISJ Graduation

Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno, graduation speaker, between
Cornell Brooks, President and CEO of the NJISJ (on her left)
and Al Williams, Director of Workforce Development (on
 her right), with graduating trainees and others.
The graduation ceremony for the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice trainees on April 15 was the biggest ever, with 16 graduating trainees and altogether more than 100 men, women and children (families of the graduates)  taking part in the program held at the PSE+G conference center at 80 Park Plaza in Newark.

The featured speaker was Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno, who since July 2009 has been Governor Christopher J. "Chris" Christie's running mate and is now his second in command and the 33rd New Jersey Secretary of State.

Lt. Gov. Guadagno began by noting some of the successes of New Jersey's economic development strategy, which she oversees as part of the work of the New Jersey Partnership for Action. The PFA includes a Business Action Center to respond to the business community; the New Jersey Economic Development Authority; and Choose New Jersey, a nonprofit created to nurture economic growth in the state. She noted that her office had helped get 17 building contracts under way, creating 5,400 construction jobs. She chairs the Red Tape Review Commission, which attempts to streamline the State's regulations. She said she is surely "the best Lt. Governor New Jersey has ever had," and she can say this with confidence because she is the first and only person to have had the office.

In her dual role as Secretary of State, she oversees economic development programs and streamlining of government regulations. Guadagno moved to New Jersey in 1991 and has been a resident of Monmouth Beach since marrying Michael Guadagno in 1991. He is a judge of the New Jersey Superior Court, Appellate Division. The Guadagnos have three children.

Born Kimberly Ann McFadden in Waterloo, Iowa, Lt. Gov. Guadagno earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Ursinus College in Pennsylvania and a law degree from the American University's Washington College of Law. Former Assistant United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York and the District of New Jersey, she was also Assistant New Jersey Attorney General.

Serving as deputy chief of the U.S. Attorney's office's corruption unit, Guadagno was responsible for the corruption prosecutions of former Essex County Executive Thomas D'Alessio (a Democrat) and of Somerset County Prosecutor Nicholas Bissell (a Republican).

She taught legal research and writing at Rutgers School of Law—Newark from 2003 until she was elected to state office and in 2005 she was elected to Monmouth Beach's governing body as one of its three Walsh Act commissioners.

She was elected the 75th sheriff of Monmouth County in 2007, the first woman sheriff. She managed  a staff of 650 and a $65 million budget that included operation of a 1,328-bed maximum security prison. She told the graduating seniors:
Don't let anyone ever tell you that you can't do something. Look, if I can be sheriff, you can be anything you want to be. 
She noted that Gov. Christie is a big supporter of the pre-apprenticeship training program and has also championed the "Helmets to Hardhats" program for returning veterans.

Other speakers at the graduation ceremony included Mr. Lash Green, who manages the Office of Diversity in the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. He described the NJISJ training program as
one of the most effective programs around.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Double Feature: Malpede and Hansen on April 8

Karen Malpede and James Hansen, April 8. The Science section of the New York Times has a recommendation that we see "Extreme Whether" by Karen Malpede, who is an advocacy playwright (my term). Her cause in this case is the continuance of Planet Earth. Personally, I am glad that the Earth has a strong advocate. A special treat on Monday, April 8, will be a talk afterwards by James Hansen.
Extreme Whether. A play by Karen Malpede. Theater for the New City. 155 First Avenue. Readings April 8 at 7 p.m. (withJames Hansen) and April 13 at 8 p.m. $5. A new “eco-drama” about climate change will have two readings this month. Set in upstate New York during the record-hot summers of 2004 and 2012, the play pits brother against sister in a bitter debate about the future of the planet. In one corner is John Bjornson, a composite of famous climatologists. In the other is his twin sister, Jeanne, an energy spokeswoman married to a skeptical lobbyist. “The play poses this most difficult question of whether we can act in our own defense” when faced with a global threat, says the playwright, Karen Malpede, a twin herself. After the reading on Monday, James Hansen, the NASA climate scientist who is retiring from the agency this week, will speak to the audience on how “we are nearly out of time, if we want to avoid creating a situation that will be out of control for today’s young people.”
Malcolm Bowman. Professor Malcolm Bowman was on Dan Rather's program in February. He is chair of the Marine and Atmospheric Department at Stony Brook University.  Chelsea civic leader Bob Trentlyon brought this to my attention, along with Prof. Bowman's prescriptions for post-Sandy action in NJ and NY, which I summarize next. A key point is that favoring storm-surge barriers does not necessarily mean being opposed to resilience. Both are essential.

1. Weather Is Getting More Extreme.  The New York Harbor is at serious risk from extreme weather events and it will get worse in the decades ahead, and NY City's doctrine of "resilience" is necessary but not sufficient to protect the city against future catastrophes. We can learn much from the European experience - we have the advantage of being 75-100 years behind Amsterdam and Rotterdam's situation of being located 6'-12' below sea level - so we can learn.

2. Storm Surge Barriers Are Needed. Long-term protection (up to 150 years) requires construction of storm surge barriers augmented by enhanced sand dunes along the ocean shorelines (up to 30 feet high and several hundred yards wide), similar to those already in operation in St Petersburg, Russia, and the Netherlands. Without barriers, rising sea levels will submerge New York City as we know it. Seawalls, levees, barriers, pumps and enhanced dunes could extend  protection to the City for perhaps 200-250 years more.

3. New Roads and Rails Make It Feasible. To help make the project economically and politically feasible, an Outer Harbor Gateway could be constructed to combine storm-surge protection with a multipurpose traffic addition:

  • a 6-lane interstate toll road-bypass from northern NJ to Long Island/JFK airport, and
  • a light rail connection between Newark and JFK airports.

4. The Army Corps Should Evaluate Needs. As a first step, the US Army Corps of Engineers should detail oceanographic, meteorological, geological and engineering aspects of storm surges, plus an investigation of suitable locations for storm surge protection. The study should evaluate the likely effects on ocean circulation and flushing, ecology, fisheries, transportation, legal issues, social justice issues, and economics.