When the CEO of Wells Fargo came by Raleigh last night to offer a few words of wisdom to students at NC State, the assembled wolfpack greeted him more as prey then as predator. Is it fair to blame one man for the financial mess of the entire world? Not really, but fairness is in short supply these days, and John Stumpf can afford it more than most, so I don’t feel too bad about it – and apparently he’s used to it. The more important question is figuring out what we can do to fix the mess we’re in and try to prevent it from happening again.
Aside from taxing the super-rich, we really haven’t seen much public debate about a sane, sustainable, long-term solution to plug holes in our federal budget, and the only solution thus far has been cuts to spending. Cuts do work to a certain extent, but they produce two major problems – they put people out of work, and they reduce the amount of money floating around the economy. Neither of these would be a particular problem if were weren’t sitting on sky-high unemployment or some nasty liquidity problems, not to mention that we’re cutting programs that people really need, so maybe it’s not the economic panacea the conservatives would like us to believe it is. Austerity has never been very American anyway, and we don’t seem to be particularly good at it.
When it comes to criminal convictions, which is more important: getting it done right, or getting it done fast? I think we would all choose the former, especially if we, or a member of our family, were a victim. We would also hope that the District Attorney, the person elected and charged with prosecuting those suspected of crimes, would feel the same way, especially when the death penalty is involved.
Apparently, they don’t.
A few weeks ago, District Attorneys sent a letter to leaders at the NCGA asking them to scrap a law called the Racial Justice Act, or RJA. The RJA gives death-row inmates the chance to have their sentences commuted to life without parole if they can prove racial bias played a part in their death sentences, and has been hailed as a landmark law throughout the country. The DA’s, however, seem to be a bit uncomfortable about allowing this type of evidence to be heard and have been unusually aggressive in trying to curb it.
Had I known nothing about economics or governance before watching last week’s Republican debates, I would have thought that destroying government was the only way to save it. I would, of course, be wrong. To quote Woodrow Wilson, “A conservative is a man who just sits and thinks - mostly sits.” While these particular conservatives were standing, it was clear that not much thinking was going on either.
Conservatives and business leaders are forever claiming that high taxes and over-regulation are killing the competiveness of American companies, thereby costing the nation much-needed jobs and diminishing our international stature. This is classic “trickle down” theory, which wasn’t true when it was put forth thirty years ago, and is not true today. In fact, according to a new numbers released by the Census Bureau, it was a drop in demand for goods and services, and not overregulation, which caused most lay-offs last year.
A few weeks ago, a curious thing appeared on the NCGA website: a House Select Committee with the name “Select Committee on the State's Role in Immigration Policy” appeared. Along with it, a least a dozen other committees, which do not have a sibling in the Senate, also appeared.
All of this raises more than a few questions.
Putting aside the actual committee creation process for a moment, what exactly is the point of having a committee in a state legislature to address federal immigration policy? I know we have our disagreements with the GA from time to time, but surely they understand the difference between federal and state law. It has been clearly stated over and over again that immigration is a federal issue, not a state issue.
To those following both the ongoing negotiations of the Congressional “Supercommittee” in Washington and the incredibly protracted session of the NC General Assembly, there is one tie that binds: secrecy.
No one, outside of the select few in power, have any idea what the heck is going on.
For example, the deficit reduction negations that have apparently been progressing for months in order to trim our national debt by over a trillion dollars haven’t been generating much press. Unless you’ve been looking really hard, you probably haven’t seen or heard much about their progress (or lack thereof) because all of negotiations have been done behind closed doors. This weekend, Congressional leaders met with members of the deadlocked committee in order to facilitate an ending, but guess how they did it? Behind closed doors.