HOPE FOR (EVEN) MORE AUDACITY

It won’t surprise you to know I am a huge fan of the President and proponent of his agenda – from more efficient health care delivery and an entirely revamped energy footprint to ramped up stem cell research and equality for people like Charles and me. (If I die tomorrow, the hundreds of thousands of dollars I’ve paid in Social Security tax over the years would yield Charles no survivor benefit. Why is that fair?)

Some think he’s trying to do too much. Leave it to Bill Maher to find a trenchant way to encourage the President to do more – and be tougher. If you missed it, here’s the clip.

Whether it’s politically practical for him to be tougher (i.e., whether it would achieve more, or actually wind up achieving less), I don’t know – and neither does Bill Maher. But it can’t hurt to ask.

Speaking of a little audacity . . .

MAYORS FOR EQUALITY

The nation’s mayors are bold enough to believe in equal rights for all. Yesterday the U.S. Conference of Mayors passed this resolution calling for passage of, well, everything:

Resolution No.46
Submitted by:
The Honorable Christopher Cabaldon
Mayor of West Sacramento
The Honorable David N. Cicilline
Mayor of Providence
The Honorable Sam Adams
Mayor of Portland, OR

EQUALITY AND CIVIL RIGHTS FOR GAY AND LESBIAN AMERICANS

1. WHEREAS, The U.S. Conference of Mayors adopted a resolution in 1984 calling for the legal protection of gay and lesbian rights at all levels of government, and within two years dozens of cities had adopted anti-discrimination policies or executive orders; and

2. WHEREAS, The U.S. Conference of Mayors has long supported granting the protection of federal hate crimes laws to all citizens, including lesbian and gay communities, and adopted its first resolution calling for increased vigilance in preventing hate crimes in 1991, citing statistics compiled by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force; and

3. WHEREAS, subsequent hates crimes resolutions were adopted by the Conference in 1992 and 1994, designed to strengthen protections for all communities; and

4. WHEREAS, the Conference of Mayors, in cooperation with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, has awarded nearly $12.6 million in HIV/AIDS prevention grants, and the Conference took the lead in issues affecting gay/bisexual men of color, conducting a national HIV prevention needs assessment as well as 48 local HIV prevention project; and

5. WHEREAS, hundreds of mayors have been at the forefront of the battle for marriage equality, from the historic leadership of Mayor Gavin Newsom of San Francisco in early 2004 granting marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples, to a paradigm-shifting news conference by Mayor Jerry Sanders of San Diego in 2008, to Mayor Adrian Fenty of Washington DC in 2009 signing legislation to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states; and

6. WHEREAS, then-Conference President Wellington Webb of Denver spoke on behalf of the nation’s mayors at the Millennium March for Gay and Lesbian Rights in 2000 calling for federal action on hate crimes, employment discrimination protection, repeal of don’t-ask-don’t-tell, and marriage equality; and

7. WHEREAS, current Conference President Manuel A. Diaz of Miami co-chaired the statewide campaign against marriage discrimination in 2008, and incoming President Greg Nickels of Seattle issued an executive order recognizing same-sex marriages; and

8. WHEREAS, The U.S. Conference of Mayors has a long record of leadership in advancing civil rights and equality for all, answering President Kennedy’s call for national mayoral action in support of the civil rights movement at the Honolulu annual meeting in 1963,

9. NOW, THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that The U.S. Conference of Mayors endorses the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, the Military Readiness Enhancement Act, the Uniting American Families Act, and the Matthew Shepard Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act; and

10. BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that The U.S. Conference of Mayors supports marriage equality for same-sex couples, and the recognition and extension of full equal rights to such unions, including family and medical leave, tax equity, and insurance and retirement benefits, and opposes the enshrinement of discrimination in the federal or state constitutions.

☞ Meanwhile, in a separate development, the long-time roadblock to marriage equality in New York State, former Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno, yesterday announced that his thinking had evolved, and we now have his support. Is this a great country, or what?

THE NEW FRUGALITY

From Gluskin Sheff chief economist David Rosenberg’s “Breakfast with Dave” daily letter:

The market may well have bottomed, and maybe the economy will soon too (though we are not necessarily convinced). Even so, remember that both bottomed in the summer of 1932 and the depression did not end for another eight years. Moreover, despite more than a half-decade of New Deal stimulus and government incursion in the capital market and the economy, we finished off the 1930s with a 15% unemployment rate, consumer prices deflating at a 2% annual rate, the equity market extremely volatile and the long bond yield heading below 2%. The equity market was volatile and pattern-less following the immediate aftermath of the post-lows surge in the summer and fall of 1932, and the enduring story was one of deflation, not inflation, and of income growth, not capital gains. It was not until 1954 that a new bull market began, and the economy never did manage to sustain above-trend growth until World War II.

What was a lingering theme during the 1930s, as is the case today, was frugality; living below one’s means after more than a decade of living above one’s means (the 1990s and early 2000’s were the new 1920s as the savings rate dipped into negative terrain during both go-go periods). Have a look at A New Spirit of Sobriety Takes Hold in the special insert section of the weekend Financial Times and the story behind why it is that consumer discretionary items like Swiss watches are down 24% on a YoY basis — the first time this has ever happened.

 

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