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Cost/Benefit Analysis, BP and the Three Little Pigs

Shocking BP Memo, and The Oil Spill in the Gulf - The Daily Beast
Now The Daily Beast has obtained a document—displayed below—that goes to the heart of BP procedures, demonstrating that before the company’s previous major disaster—at a moment when the oil giant could choose between cost-savings and greater safety—it selected cost-savings. And BP chose to illustrate that choice, without irony, by invoking the classic Three Little Pigs fairy tale. EXCLUSIVE: This internal BP document shows how the company took deadly risks to save money by opting to build cheaper facilities for workers. The company estimated the value of a worker's life at $10 million.
bpshocking.jpg
A BP spokesman tells The Daily Beast that the company has “fundamentally changed the culture of BP” since the previous disaster, an explosion at a Texas refinery five years ago. But given that a $500,000 valve might have prevented the massive spill that is now threatening to devastate the Gulf of Mexico, one has to wonder.

May 25, 2010

California Democrats plan $5 billion in new taxes to close $19 billion gap

Calif. Democrats propose nearly $5B in new taxes This all seems very reasonable. And honestly I doubt it goes far enough. But until we get rid of Prop. 13 in this state, fair taxes will be nearly impossible.
Democrats in the state Senate on Monday countered Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's proposed budget cuts with a plan to raise taxes by nearly $5 billion, largely by extending temporary taxes and delaying corporate tax breaks for two years. During a Senate subcommittee hearing, Democrats said they want to delay the start of corporate tax credits demanded by Schwarzenegger and Republicans last year to secure enough budget votes. Their plan also would extend by two years the temporary increases in the income tax and vehicle license fee that were approved last year. Democrats proposed raising the tax on alcohol but would allow a temporary 1 cent increase in the state sales tax to expire at the end of the year. Schwarzenegger proposed no tax increases in his latest plan to close California's projected $19 billion budget deficit, relying mostly on spending cuts.

May 24, 2010

Krugman explains it all: Obama vs The Corporations

Op-Ed Columnist - Obama Versus the Corporations - NYTimes.com
If you really want to know what’s going on, watch the corporations. How can you do that? Follow the money — donations by corporate political action committees. Look, for example, at the campaign contributions of commercial banks — traditionally Republican-leaning, but only mildly so. So far this year, according to The Washington Post, 63 percent of spending by banks’ corporate PACs has gone to Republicans, up from 53 percent last year. Securities and investment firms, traditionally Democratic-leaning, are now giving more money to Republicans. And oil and gas companies, always Republican-leaning, have gone all out, bestowing 76 percent of their largess on the G.O.P. These are extraordinary numbers given the normal tendency of corporate money to flow to the party in power. Corporate America, however, really, truly hates the current administration. Wall Street, for example, is in “a state of bitter, seething, hysterical fury” toward the president, writes John Heilemann of New York magazine. What’s going on? One answer is taxes — not so much on corporations themselves as on the people who run them. The Obama administration plans to raise tax rates on upper brackets back to Clinton-era levels. Furthermore, health reform will in part be paid for with surtaxes on high-income individuals. All this will amount to a significant financial hit to C.E.O.’s, investment bankers and other masters of the universe. Now, don’t cry for these people: they’ll still be doing extremely well, and by and large they’ll be paying little more as a percentage of their income than they did in the 1990s. Yet the fact that the tax increases they’re facing are reasonable doesn’t stop them from being very, very angry. Nor are taxes the whole story.

Cuts in state child care driving many onto the welfare rolls

The New Poor - Lack of Aid for Child Care Pushes Some to Welfare - NYTimes.com
Last month, she lost her job as a hair stylist after her improvised network of baby sitters frequently failed her, forcing her to miss shifts. She qualifies for a state-run subsidized child care program. But like many other states, Arizona has slashed that program over the last year, relegating Ms. Wallace’s daughter, Alaya, to a waiting list of nearly 11,000 eligible children. Despite a substantial increase in federal support for subsidized child care, which has enabled some states to stave off cuts, others have trimmed support, and most have failed to keep pace with rising demand, according to poverty experts and federal officials. That has left swelling numbers of low-income families struggling to reconcile the demands of work and parenting, just as they confront one of the toughest job markets in decades. The cuts to subsidized child care challenge the central tenet of the welfare overhaul adopted in 1996, which imposed a five-year lifetime limit on cash assistance. Under the change, low-income parents were forced to give up welfare checks and instead seek paychecks, while being promised support — not least, subsidized child care — that would enable them to work.