Populist movements don't build themselves ...

... It doesn't matter what the "horse race" outcome of the campaign is, if we fight the campaign. Fighting it, we learn how to fight. Learning how to fight political battles, we become citizens again. Becoming citizens again, we reclaim the Republic that lies dormant beneath the bread and circuses of modern American society.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Sunday Train: The Texas Wishbone Regional High Speed Rail

Burning the Midnight Oil for Living Energy Independence

Back in the 90's, Texas tried to get an Express HSR system off the ground (that is, a bullet train system somewhere in the 125mph to 220mph range) with the "Texas Triangle" project. It was to be an entirely privately funded project. Not surprisingly, competing against the heavily publicly subsidized interstate highway and air travel systems, it did not get off the ground.

More recently, the Texas T-Bone was proposed, based on the Dallas to San Antonio leg of the Triangle and a route from Houston to Temple, then running north to Dallas with connections south to Austin and San Antonio.

While the Texas T-Bone seems to be the current plan of the Texas High Speed Rail and Transportation Corporation, this is more of an advocacy group than an official HSR Commission or Rail Development Commission.

Given that we are in between periods of substantial federal funding for High Speed Rail, I thought this might be a good time to take a look at the prospects for Regional HSR, in some of the existing rail corridors within the "Texas Triangle" region ... and so arrived at the Texas Wishbone.
The Stars Hollow Gazette
The European Tribune
and Agent Orange, aka Daily Kos

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Fusion Tickets: why US 3rd Parties once worked, and why they stopped.

Burning the Midnight Oil for Progressive Populism

We in the US take the two party system for granted, but a two party system is not normal among advanced industrial countries. And, in our history, we used to have a lot more third parties with a lot more impact on our political system in the US. What happened?

This diary is one of a series that was originally published as [http://thestarshollowgazette.com/diary/3679/the-insideroutsider-response-to-the-detb-ceiling-cavein single, long, sprawling diary].

For most of its political history to the late 1800's, the US was either dominated by one or two political parties. The (extra-constitutional) winner take all electoral college system and the winner take all nature of a state legislature selecting the state's Senator strongly pushed in that direction.

But alongside this was a political institution that allowed third parties to emerge and compete for influence ~ and indeed, the Great Re-Alignment from the Democrats and the Whigs to the Republicans and the Democrats occured in part thanks to the existence of third parties that were available to merge with the Anti-Slavery Whigs once they had been purged from the Whig Party.

How did this system work, and where did it go?

More text, comments, and the Midnight Oil Clip at:
The Stars Hollow Gazette
and Agent Orange.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Sunday Train: Pushing for a Rapid Rail HSR Station in Ravenna, Ohio

Burning the Midnight Oil for Living Energy Independence

OK, now, thanks to John Kasich, we are not going to get started on that Rapid Rail HSR network before 2015. Indeed, Democrats would probably have to take back one of the two Chambers of the State Legislature to be able to hit the ground running on getting that Rapid Rail HSR network going in 2015.

On the other hand, if you never lay the foundation, you always end up with an outcome you don't like.

And I don't like the way that the Ohio Hub connects to Summit and Portage Counties, so I want to work on how to get a station in Ravenna added to the Ohio Hub.

The reason its on the Sunday Train is threefold: maybe somebody can give me a great tip; maybe somebody can get an idea for something they can work on where they live; and its about making more sustainable transport options available to a medium city and a variety of inner and outer suburban landscapes.
The Stars Hollow Gazette
Docudharma, and
Agent Orange

Saturday, August 6, 2011

LQD: The AA+ rating is valid, but the S&P case is intellectually dishonest ~ Mosler

Burning the Midnight Oil for a Brawny Recovery

"LQD" is an abbreviation I first encountered at EuroTrib: it means "Lazy Quote Diary".

[http://moslereconomics.com/2011/08/06/sp-downgrades-us-on-ability-to-pay/ The quote from Warren Mosler]:
Credit ratings are based on ability to pay and willingness to pay.

David Beers of S&P knows this and has discussed this in the past.
So why then did David T. Beers decide to downgrade the US on ability to pay, and not explicitly on willingness to pay?

Sure looks like a case of intellectual dishonesty.
And I have no idea why.
So much for his legacy.

Well, its a very short post, so fair use restricts it to an even shorter quote.

But this is the gist of it: no issuer of its own currency is ever forced to default on debt issued in its own currency.

Think about it: if your family's IOU's were accepted by the bank to repay debts ... could you ever run short of the means to pay your debts?

What would an honest downgrade have said? Below the fold.

The argument for a downgrade is this:

The only credit risk is that the sovereign issuer of currency is unwilling to pay its debts, as Mosler says. An honest downgrade would be, "in voting down a clean extension of the credit ceiling, the majority in the House of Representatives of the United States demonstrated a willingness to consider defaulting on its debts as a bargaining ploy to get what it wants. This implies a risk of default greater than 0, and so US debt doesn't deserve the "absolutely no risk of default" rating of AAA.

The argument against a downgrade is this:

Even in the manufactured debt ceiling crisis, there was never any reason to believe that interest would not be paid on Treasury Debt nor that Treasury Debt that matured would be redeemed at its face value. What the Government would have done ~ for no good reason, since it has the legal authority to mint coinage with face values in the billions, which on deposit in the Fed would have allowed payment to have been cleared without requiring the issue of debt ~ would have been to miss appropriated payments which it was not legally bound to pay.

So as far as what S&P are rating, the actual payments on the actual Treasury bonds, bills and notes that Congress permitted the Treasury to issue ... there was no risk.

However, 10 years is a long time in politics, and 10 years of this bullshit, who can tell. So while its hard to make a case that bills and notes should be rated below AAA, AA+ for 10 year bonds may be a bit more plausible.


Bottom line, though, S&P is still lying to people when it pretends that the rating is about "ability to pay". Its only ever about willingness to pay for a government issuing debt in the currency it issues.

Midnight Oil ~ Read About It

Discussion at:
The Stars Hollow Gazzette
Agent Orange

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Geithner reveals exactly what is wrong with his view of the Economy

Burning the Midnight Oil for the Economics of Freedom

Quoted by digby:
TIM GEITHNER: Well, let's start with what this deal does. The most important thing is it creates more room for the private sector to grow because although it locks in some very substantial long term savings, the near term cuts are very modest. So that-- that was the really critical thing in making sure that this economy continue to grow and recover. Now, it locks in a very big down payment and it sets in motion what we think is going to be a very effective process for forcing congress to come together...

Now, for the ordinary person reading this carefully, the only reasonable response is, WTF?. However, as your insider correspondent from the quite bizarre Economist Tribe, my response is, "oh, yeah, that bullshit again."

Ah, well, economics is not the only science {*} where analyzing scat is a necessary research tool. Join me at one of the fine community blogs below.

The Stars Hollow Gazette, and
Agent Orange