Sunday, September 30, 2012

Election 2012: Props 30 and 38, School Funding

This election will include 11 propositions for California voters to decide on.  This week we will look at the two tax measures that are intended to fund public education.  As you probably know, California education has suffered over $18 billion in cut backs due to the "Great Recession" that started in 2008.  How can we recover some of those funds?  Which tax seems more far?  Which one would you vote for?

Proposition 30:

To raise funds for public education and public safety, Proposition 30 would increase income tax on top income earners for seven years by 1% on single filers making $250,000 or more; 2% on single filers making $300,000 or more and 3% on single filers making $1,000,000 or more.  Additionally, it would increase the sales tax by ¼ % for the next five years.  Proposition 30 would cost a person making $50,000 a year an extra $62.50 while a person making $100,000 a year would chip in only an extra $125 (based on average sales tax figures; neither would pay any Prop 30 income tax at that rate.)  The return on this investment would be three to four times in benefits in school and public safety services.  If Prop 30 fails, the state will initiate trigger cuts of more than $5 billion in education funding.

This initiative measure is directed at school funding as well.  However, if Prop 30 fails and Prop 38 passes, there still will be trigger cuts of $5 billion in education as outlined in Prop 30.  Here is the tax system set up under prop 38. 

If the taxable income is:The additional tax on taxable income is:
Not over $14,6420%
Over $14,642 but not over $34,6920.4% of the excess over $14,642
Over $34,692 but not over $44,721$80 plus 0.7% of the excess over $34,692
Over $44,721 but not over $55,348$150 plus 1.1% of the excess over $44,721
Over $55,348 but not over $65,376$267 plus 1.4% of the excess over $55,348
Over $65,376 but not over $136,118$408 plus 1.6% of the excess over $65,376
Over $136,118 but not over $340,294$1,540 plus 1.8% of the excess over $136,118
Over $340,294 but not over $680,589$5,215 plus 1.9% of the excess over $340,294
Over $680,589 but not over $1,361,178$11,680 plus 2.0% of the excess over $680,589
Over $1,361,178 but not over $3,402,944$25,292 plus 2.1% of the excess over $1,361,178
Over $3,402,944$68,169 plus 2.2% of the excess over $3,402,944

Friday, September 21, 2012

Immigration and Market Forces

We have read articles and seen film in class on how immigrants impact the labor market.  In the meatpacking industry, for example, immigrants are recruited by the industry to work under tough conditions for low pay all in an effort to maximize profits and keep the price of your food low.

On the other hand there are a substantial number of Americans who want the US border guarded more tightly and the stream of undocumented workers shut off.

Can we have it both ways?

Libertarians would argue that the government should play no role in the supply of immigrant workers into this country.  There is a demand for cheap labor and the workers, especially from Latin America, are willing to supply their labor. 

Would we be better off not worrying about the immigration of undocumented people into the United States?  Would we save money by cutting back on INS and other immigration  services?  Why don't we just allow the market forces to determine how many workers could enter the United States?  If there is demand for these workers, why not let them in?  When the demand tapers off, the flow of immigrants will also diminish.

Are you in favor of no immigration quotas and to let the forces of demand and supply determine how many immigrants will come in to this country?

(answer by September 30)

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Libya Attacks and Foreign Policy

This week there was an attack on the US Embassy in Libya where the US Ambassador, Chris Stevens, and three other Americans were killed along with a handful of Libyans.  The Embassy was attacked after an American made film that mocked the Islamic prophet Mohammed was released in Libya.

This event brings up the question of foreign policy into the presidential debate.  A president, as commander-in-chief, is the head of our foreign policy apparatus.  He uses the informal power of speeches and crisis manager to deal with these issues.  He also uses the formal powers of his office of appointing ambassadors, meeting with foreign dignitaries, and commanding the military to conduct foreign affairs. 

What should the president do about the attack on our embassy in Libya?
Is foreign policy an important issue to you as a voter?  Why?

(Please respond to this post by September 23.)

Thursday, September 6, 2012

President Obama made his plea to the American voter this evening, laying out his vision for America and attacking Mitt Romney's policies over the last four years.

How did he "sell" himself?  What was his vision and what were his criticisms?  Did you like the speech?  Would you vote for him?

Remember, you can respond to this speech or Mitt Romney's speech last week.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

College Costs Rising

The costs for attending college are increasing.  According to the Washington Post, "tuitions and fees for four-year public colleges grew by 72 percent above inflation over the past decade, averaging $8,244 last year, according to the College Board, which represents more than 6,000 schools. Student loan debt in the U.S. has hit $914 billion; the average borrower owes more than $24,000, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York says."

Not surprisingly, this topic is an issue in this year's presidential race.  Both Romney and Obama are trying to court young voters with their policy positions on curbing college costs.  There is no doubt that Obama has an advantage over Romney with young voters:  "In 2008, voters age 18 to 24 sided with Obama over GOP candidate John McCain by a 66-32 margin. A Gallup poll taken in July and August found that same age group preferring Obama over Romney by 56 percent to 36 percent, an edge that Republicans would love to erode further."

 Here is a site that compares the candidate's position on education.

With that said, what role should the government play in regulating escalating education costs?  (Think of chapter two and the concepts of tradition, command, and market economic systems.)  Would costs be reduced if all government subsidies were removed and a more "free market" approach were instituted?  Or should Pell Grants be extended as proposed by President Obama?  Since "private" colleges like Carrington College and Heald are very expensive, would turning colleges into a more free market system increase costs more or would competition bring the costs down?  Privatizing colleges would reduce costs for the taxpayer since colelges would not get public dollars anymore.

What is your solution for the increasing college costs?