Ravi Batra, Economics, 4 Steps That Can Help End Unemployment And Poverty Now

Daily Exchange

Economist Says Monopoly Capitalism Is The Main Cause Of Economic Doldrums

More than seven years after the Great Recession began in 2007, many Americans are still struggling to put their economic lives back together. Factors such as low wages, high interest rates on credit cards and a mediocre job market continue to make a lot of families feel like the recovery passed them by, says Dr. Ravi Batra, an economist and author of the new book “End Unemployment Now: How to Eliminate Joblessness, Debt and Poverty Despite Congress.”

It doesn’t have to be this way, he says.

“The main cause of our troubles is monopoly capitalism, which is a system dominated by giant companies that charge high prices, pay low wages and extract huge productivity from employees,” says Batra, an economics professor at Southern Methodist University.

“As a result, supply rises faster than demand and generates layoffs. So the solution lies in breaking up the behemoths and returning to free markets, where many firms engage in price and quality competition.”

That’s easier said than done, though, because of the political considerations, Batra says. He surmises that any attempt to move legislation through Congress would meet with failure. READ MORE

Texas GOP Immigration Crackdown Fizzled … What Gives?

San Antonio Current

Originally Posted: June 10, 2015

AUSTIN — The 2015 session of the Texas Legislature, which ended last week rather unceremoniously, was widely panned as a bust.

Immigrant advocates couldn’t be any happier. They’re claiming victory.

“We were very excited, but it kept us on our toes,” Chloe Sikes, a member of the Coalition to Save In-State Tuition, told the San Antonio Current.

A slew of proposals cracking down on undocumented immigrants — from repealing in-state tuition to targeting disadvantaged children in medical care programs — died on the vine as time expired on their proponents.

Post-battle, those in the political trenches described behind-the-scenes machinations that dealt the fatal blows to the anti-immigrant bills. Scenes of high drama — suffused with broken loyalties, clash of wills, moral indignation — that would’ve made Shakespeare raise an eyebrow.

Sikes’ group primarily focused on SB 1819. The proposed legislation by State Sen. Donna Campbell, R-New Braunfels, would have repealed a 2001 measure (signed by fellow Republican Rick Perry, former Texas governor now on his second presidential quest) allowing undocumented immigrants to pay in-state tuition at public colleges and universities.

After spurts surfaced threatening to advance Campbell’s bill, it finally died on May 20 after the deadline for discussion passed.

“It was extra concerning the repeal effort was put forth in this session,” Sikes said. “Texas was the first to pass that type of legislation,” she noted with palpable pride. Indeed, many other states followed in the Lone Star State’s footsteps.

Other anti-immigration measures died a slow death on the rotunda floor, most notably SB 1252, directing the governor to negotiate an interstate border security compact toward federal immigration law enforcement; SB 185 aimed at outlawing so-called sanctuary cities; HB 2835, which would’ve given lower priority to taking undocumented children off medical waiting lists.

The mainstream media attributed the mass death of bills to the GOP focus on gays and guns. But battle-worn lawmakers who fought the latest anti-immigration bills described a wholesale change in dynamics from past sessions, prompted by the upending of the two-thirds rule in the Senate. In January, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick ended the 70-year practice of requiring the support of two-thirds of senators to bring up a measure in favor of a three-fifths majority. The old rule was in place to protect minority interests, a less-than-opaque measure by Patrick to push his party’s priorities.

“While it was definitely a loss for the Senate, it has empowered the House,” said State Rep. Trey Martinez-Fischer, a San Antonio Democrat.

“The truth of the matter is there was no appetite for that kind of conversation in the state House, which is a more mature body,” Martinez-Fischer added. “Most of those bills originated in the Senate, but died a slow and painful death on the House floor.”

Indeed, SB 1819 and SB 185 never made it out of the Senate, while SB 1252 withered away in committee.

State Sen. José Menéndez, another SA Democrat, described a similar sense of empowerment in killing off bad bills — a rallying cry that even lured some Republicans to discreetly stray from party lines. The same three-fifths rule implanted this year now requires 12 senators to block a bill, prompting recruitment of dissenters across party lines.

“The Republicans who joined us think it’s not in the best interest of the state to be anti-Hispanic and anti-immigrant and don’t agree with those politics,” Menéndez told the Current.

The turncoats’ identities are being jealously guarded to shield them from potential backlash from their base in the next election cycle, Menéndez noted.

“We tried to provide them anonymity so they don’t get beat up in the next primary election,” he said.

The rise of the Tea Party and the intractable stance on social issues among its rank and file also increasingly complicates the way business gets done at the Legislature — prompting some Republicans dissenting from party ideology to quietly support Democrats with votes. “It’s caused so many moderate Republicans to be kicked out by these far-right Tea Party members,” Menéndez noted.

Cal Jillson, professor of political science at Southern Methodist University, said that anti-immigration bills largely failed — for the second consecutive legislative session — because they ran counter to the powerful businesses lobby.

Jillson invoked the trope of “campaigning in poetry and governing in prose” to further his argument.

“Texas has seen the value of a substantial supply of cheap labor. The anti-immigrant rhetoric and border security rhetoric is standard fare of elections, and that rhetoric is very effective,” he explained. “But when you get into governing, you have the lobbies pushing in a different direction.” READ MORE

Concerns over earthquakes spread to Texas

USA Today

Originally Posted: June 10, 2015

The connection between wastewater injection wells and an alarming increase in the frequency of earthquakes is getting a lot more scrutiny these days.

First was Oklahoma, which has suddenly become the earthquake capital of the United States. The number of earthquakes with a magnitude of 3.0 or higher more than quadrupled between 2013 and 2014 in the state. The culprit? Scientists are becoming more confident that the injection of wastewater into disposal wells causes fault lines to “slip,” contributing to the likelihood of an earthquake. READ MORE

Matthew Hornbach, Earth Sciences, oil firms probed over Texas quakes

Wall Street Journal

Originally Posted: June 9, 2015

Oil Firms Probed Over Texas Quakes

Texas regulators are scrutinizing some of the biggest U.S. energy producers in the wake of several earthquakes that have rocked the Dallas-Fort Worth area this year.

An Exxon Mobil Corp. subsidiary and EOG Resources Inc., one of the biggest shale-oil and gas pumpers, are facing questions about their use of injection wells to dispose of wastewater from hydraulic fracturing operations. The state’s oil-and-gas regulator on Wednesday begins a series of hearings in Austin to assess some oil companies’ role in causing the temblors.

A growing body of scientific research from federal, state and academic researchers suggests that disposal wells, often used to get rid of the dirty water leftover from fracking and brine from oil-and-gas production, may be linked to increased seismic activity. READ MORE

 

Cal Jillson, Political Science, Former Gov. Perry to announce his second White House campaign

Texas Public Radio

Originally Posted: June 4, 2015

When the state’s longest serving governor announces his second presidential run Thursday, he is going to be surrounded by a star-studded group his campaign calls “patriots.”

At the Addison Airport just north of Dallas, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, 65, will be flanked by decorated soldiers, including former Navy Seal Marcus Luttrell, who wrote the book, Lone Survivor. Taya Kyle, the widow of the celebrated military sniper and author, Chris Kyle, will also be there.

In a growing field of more than a dozen Republican presidential candidates, Perry will try to remind voters he served six years in the Air Force during the Vietnam era.

Political Science Prof. Cal Jillson, from Southern Methodist University, thinks that message is a stretch for Perry. “He’s one of the few Republican candidates, other than Lindsey Graham, who has military service, but it was a very long time ago,” says Jillson. Jillson says Perry’s stronger message will be that he presided over the State of Texas during an economic boom that, on his watch, created more jobs in Texas than any other state.  LISTEN

Jeremy DuQuesnay Adams, History, No Mere “Boob,” This SMU Professor Was Immortalized in “Yellow Submarine”

Dallas Observer

Originally Posted: June 3, 2015

jeremy_duquesnay_adams_jeremy_hallock

A longtime professor at Southern Methodist University, Jeremy DuQuesnay Adams has dedicated his life to education and writing. By his own admission, he knows very little about music. He was only involved with something music related on one occasion, but it just happened to do with the Beatles. In 1968, the group released the animated film Yellow Submarine to great critical and commercial success. The film is now recognized as a widely influential classic. And a major character in it was based on Adams. READ MORE

Andrea L. Meltzer, Psychology, At peak fertility, women who desire to maintain body attractiveness report they eat less

Three independent studies find women near peak fertility who desire to maintain body attractiveness are motivated to eat less — unlike women who are not near ovulation, using hormonal birth control, or not motivated to maintain body attractiveness

Biology isn’t the only reason women eat less as they near ovulation, a time when they are at their peak fertility.

Three new independent studies found that another part of the equation is a woman’s desire to maintain her body’s attractiveness, says social psychologist and assistant professor Andrea L. Meltzer, Southern Methodist University, Dallas.

Women nearing ovulation who also reported an increase in their motivation to manage their body attractiveness reported eating fewer calories out of a desire to lose weight, said Meltzer, lead researcher on the study.

When women were not near peak fertility — regardless of whether they were motivated to manage their body attractiveness, near peak fertility but not motivated to manage their body attractiveness, or using hormonal birth control, they were less likely to want to lose weight and didn’t reduce their calories, Meltzer said. READ MORE

Learn more about Andrea L. Meltzer

SMU scientists will map faults in North Texas

Dallas Morning News

Originally Posted: May 30, 2015

Scientists at Southern Methodist University are embarking on an ambitious new project to map faults in North Texas.

The study, funded with $122,337 from the U.S. Geological Survey, would help answer key questions about recent earthquakes in Dallas-Fort Worth.

Those questions include: “How large of a quake can we have?” “Where are our most dangerous faults?” “How can we tell more quickly if a quake is natural or man-made?”

North Texas has had more than 160 earthquakes since 2008, including a record-breaking magnitude 4 tremor that struck near the town of Venus on May 7. Before 2008, quakes were virtually unheard of in the Dallas area.

Scientists at SMU, at the U.S. Geological Survey and at the University of Texas at Austin have linked many of the earthquakes with disposal wells, where companies bury wastewater from oil and gas operations. Geologists have known for decades that pressure from the fluid can build up near faults and cause them to slip, giving rise to quakes.

“In this area of the world, geologists and academics don’t know a lot about the deep faults associated with the recent earthquakes, because the faults don’t come to the surface,” said Heather DeShon, an SMU seismologist who will lead the new study with colleague Beatrice Magnani. READ MORE

Alan Brown, Psychology, great story, do you mind if I steal it?

New York Magazine

Originally Posted: May 29, 2015

So maybe you didn’t really get a glimpse of Drake during New Year’s in Vegas; that actually happened to your cousin. As it turns out, passing off someone else’s memories as your own is fairly common, at least among the undergraduate participants of a new study published in Applied Cognitive Psychology.

In it, Southern Methodist University psychology professor Alan S. Brown had 447 college students take an online survey about their story-stealing habits. First, a quick and obvious caveat: Researchers couldn’t verify that these students were answering truthfully. That in mind, here’s what he and the rest of the researchers found:

53 percent of participants have heard someone else telling a story that had been stolen from them.

46 percent admitted hearing someone’s story and later passing it off as their own.

32 percent have spiced up their own anecdotes with details stolen from someone else.

READ MORE