Panhandle Progressive

The Framers Never Intended to Bind Us Forever to 1789

The essence of the doctrine of originalism is that the only proper way to interpret the Constitution is to determine the original intent of the Framers. But what if the original intent of the Framers was actually that the Constitution should live and breathe in each period of our history and not be limited to what it meant in 1789? There is considerable evidence that this is exactly what the Framers intended. They knew that without a supple Constitution, that very document risks creating the conditions for its own replacement, and how that happens may not be pretty.

Why Excessive CEO Pay Matters to the Rest of Us

Corporate Chief Executive Officers have done very well for themselves during and after the Great Recession. By 2015 the ratio of CEO annual compensation to that of a typical worker had risen to 276 to 1, a much higher ratio than in other developed countries. CEO compensation has gradually taken up a larger and larger share of all corporate revenues. But shouldn’t a corporation be totally free to establish the compensation of its chief executive? Actually, no. The reason is that the rest of us pay for excessive CEO compensation – literally. Two recent studies reveal how successful CEOs at the largest U.S. corporations have been in skimming the compensation cream. CEOs were spectacularly successful because of their power to direct compensation to themselves within their corporations, not because they were correspondingly more productive, more talented or better educated than other workers.

Del. Michael Folk: No Friend of Education

Del. Michael Folk (R – Berkeley, 63) professes to be interested in promoting quality education in West Virginia, but he has an odd way of showing it. In February 2016, Del. Folk was the lead sponsor of two bills that would have abolished key components of the education system in West Virginia. One of these, HB 4611, would have abolished the West Virginia Council for Community and Technical College Education. HB 4611 would not have abolished the colleges themselves, but instead would have transferred to each of them the power and duties of the Council. Perhaps Del. Folk believed that this would eliminate an unnecessary level of bureaucracy and cost. But that appears to be incorrect.

National Inequality by the Numbers

Inequality of both income and wealth is a serious problem in West Virginia and the nation. This post will present some statistics about inequality in the United States that will worry anyone concerned about the future of our society. Income inequality is different than wealth inequality. Income includes earned income like wages and salaries, as well as passive income from interest on a savings account, dividends from stock, rent, and profits from selling something for more than you paid for it. In essence, income is what a taxpayer reports on her tax return each year. Income inequality is the unequal distribution of income in the population.

West Virginia Community & Technical Colleges: Training for Real Jobs

In 2015, the West Virginia Center on Budget & Policy published its eighth annual report on the state’s economy. The report focused on West Virginia’s labor force participation rate (LFPR), the lowest in the nation -- where it has ranked since 1976. Using a regression analysis, the Center isolated several factors that are drivers of the low rate. One of the most important was inadequate education.

Repeal of Obamacare: A Disaster for West Virginia

In January 2016, Congress passed a budget reconciliation bill repealing much of the Affordable Care Act by simply removing the funding for it. President Obama vetoed the bill. Now congressional Republicans threaten to do the same in the upcoming new session. Most likely, Congress will not have a replacement for the ACA ready to go for quite some time. Republican leaders propose to make some provisions of the repeal effective immediately and defer the effectiveness of other provisions until a replacement bill can be passed.

Broadband in West Virginia

On December 4, 2016 the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Technology met to receive the report of the new Broadband Enhancement Council. Unfortunately, few legislators showed up but among those who did were Del. Paul Espinosa (R – Jefferson, 66) and Del. Sarah Blair (R – Berkeley, 59). Many Democrats were defeated in the election and new Delegates have not yet been assigned to committees.