QUOTE OF THE DAY
Chicago Tribune: A victory for charter freedom
In 2011 we told you about the high-profile legal fuss kicked up when some teachers at the Chicago Math and Science Academy, a North Side charter school, said they wanted to join a union.
Long story short: The school argued that the teachers were private employees who had to organize under stringent federal rules, which require a secret vote for teachers to join a union. Union officials said the teachers are public employees who can organize under more lenient Illinois rules.
The good news: The school prevailed before the National Labor Relations Board. In a decision last month, the board overturned its own regional director and ruled essentially that CMSA teachers are employees of a private entity that gets public education funds.
MSN: Mickelson plans 'drastic changes' over taxes
Phil Mickelson has hinted at a move away from California, perhaps the United States and maybe even away from golf as he seeks to escape punitive tax rates.
"It's been an interesting offseason," Mickelson said Sunday after the final round of the Humana Challenge. "And I'm going to have to make some drastic changes. I'm not going to jump the gun and do it right away, but I will be making some drastic changes."
The 42-year-old said he would talk in more detail about his plans before his hometown Farmers Insurance Open, the San Diego-area event that starts Thursday at Torrey Pines.
"I'm not sure what exactly I'm going to do yet," Mickelson said. "I'll probably talk about it more in depth next week. I'm not going to jump the gun, but there are going to be some. There are going to be some drastic changes for me because I happen to be in that zone that has been targeted both federally and by the state and it doesn't work for me right now."
The Daily Beast: Income Inequality: Rich Dad, Poor Son
Income inequality isn’t just bad for our economic health. It’s bad for our mental health. Working for decades as a psychotherapist has accustomed me to listening closely. And—in and outside the office—I’ve lately been hearing painful stories told about how families, friendship circles, and neighborhoods are being strained by ever greater wealth differences among their members. Yes, some folks have always earned more than others, and people have always had greater or lesser luck and success. The small town in Vermont where I grew up for awhile had its local millionaire, and his children owned a trampoline and we didn’t. But the situation now is different. As the rich have gotten massively richer, the emotional climate has deteriorated for all of us. People now routinely tell me about the impact on them of wealth gaps so yawning they threaten the bonds of affection and blood.
Reason: The Myth of Free Medicaid Money
To hear the advocates of expanding Medicaid tell the tale, Virginia and other states would be dumber than a sack of hammers to turn the idea down. It is, proponents say, a win-win situation: The state gets to increase insurance coverage for tens of thousands of people—and hand the bill to the federal government. Throw in the savings from the economic stimulus from all that new money, along with offsetting cuts elsewhere, and the state comes out a clear winner.
But it’s a rare coin indeed that has only one side. Flip this one over, and expanding Medicaid doesn’t look quite so wonderful. Here are three reasons why.
First, there’s the myth of free money. In Virginia, officials estimate expanding Medicaid would cost the state $137.5 million over nine years, while the state would receive $23 billion from Washington.
Other states report similar figures. California expects to enroll up to 910,000 residents for a cost beginning at only $46 million a year, while collecting $44 billion in federal funds over a six-year period. An Illinois study estimates that state would spend about $2 billion on expanded Medicaid over the next decade, while reaping $22 billion in federal funds. According to Danielle Holohan, who is in charge of New York’s insurance exchange, Medicaid expansion “actually works out to be an enormous savings” for the Empire State. And so on.
Bloomberg: Bargain Homes Lure Buyers Worldwide to Detroit
Peter Grosso of Long Island, New York, paid about $90,000 for 29 Detroit homes at an auction for tax-delinquent properties last October. He’s sure they’ll sell at a profit within 10 years, while he rents them for income.
Grosso is part of a Detroit land rush that’s drawn investors from around the U.S. and as far away as England, Cambodia, China and Australia seeking distressed homes for as little as $500. Local buyers -- and even a Dutch mink farmer -- scooped up hundreds of houses at Wayne County’s tax auctions, which last year put a record 21,350 tax-delinquent properties up for sale, 89 percent of them in Detroit, and sold 12,333.
“There’s going to be a big turnaround for Detroit and I want to be part of it,” said Grosso, 32, who left a job at Citi Field stadium after he was injured in a fall while erecting a rooftop sun screen. He said he paid as little as $600 for his Detroit homes and has driven from Long Island several times to check on them.
Reuters: Global jobless to hit record 200 million this year
The global jobless queue will stretch to more than 200 million people this year, the International Labour Organization said in its annual report on Tuesday, repeating a warning it has made at the start of each of the last six years.
The U.N. jobs watchdog estimates unemployment will rise by 5.1 million this year to more than 202 million, and by another 3 million in 2014, following a rise of 4.2 million in 2012.
If those predictions are right, global unemployment will hit a record. But the ILO has revised its jobless figures down each year as the number of those giving up the job hunt altogether swells, meaning they are no longer classed as unemployed.
A Reuters analysis of previous ILO reports shows that estimates of unemployment made in each of the last six years have subsequently been cut. The original 2007 joblessness figure of 189.9 million is now put at 169.0 million - 11 percent lower.
Figures for 2008-2010 have also fallen by 10-15 million from the original estimates.
Most of the drop is due to people giving up looking for work, said Jose Manuel Salazar-Xirinachs, head of director of labour market analysis at the Geneva-based ILO.
WSJ: We the Government
President Obama's second inaugural address won't be remembered for stirring lines, but then its purpose seemed to be more political than inspirational. Mr. Obama was laying down a marker that he has no intention of letting debt or deficits or lagging economic growth slow his plans for activist, expansive government.
Inaugurals usually include calls for national unity and appeals to our founding principles, which is part of their charm. With the election long over, swearing in a President is a moment for celebrating larger national purposes. But Mr. Obama's speech was notable for invoking the founding principles less to unify than to justify what he called "collective action." The President borrowed the Constitution's opening words of "we the people" numerous times, but his main theme was that the people are fundamentally defined through government action, and his government is here to help you.
On that theme, the speech was especially striking for including a specific defense of the federal entitlement programs that everyone knows must be reformed. Mr. Obama cited "Medicare, and Medicaid, and Social Security" by name as "the commitments we make to each other." Typically, such programmatic specificity is reserved for State of the Union speeches. Mr. Obama almost seemed to be elevating them to Constitutional rights.
CARTOON OF THE DAY