I don’t want this to get lost in the shuffle of a big news week: a new study from the DC-based Immigration Policy Center concluded yesterday that a path to legalization for undocumented workers would create jobs and boost the economy.

Not only do legalized workers earn more, spend more, and pay more in taxes, that increased consumer spending creates more American jobs. This is only the latest research to conclude that this is true — a 2009 study by the libertarian Cato Institute found the same thing.

The new research adds to another report from earlier in the month, which found that even less-skilled workers benefit from the presence of undocumented people. Without immigration, the study found, “less-skilled workers would also be forced to pay higher prices for food, medical care, and housing.”

We’ve talked a lot about the Dream Act as a small, common-sense reform that helps families. What we don’t often talk about is that creating a path to citizenship is also a jobs program for all Americans.


This morning, a coalition of more than 120 groups in North Carolina called on Gov. Beverly Perdue to preserve the state’s vital public investments. To do so requires addressing the state’s revenue crisis.

The Together NC coalition delivered a letter to governor urging her to show leadership by proposing a budget that takes a balanced approach, including revenue.

Read the letter here or in PDF format here. Read the news release here.


I have come to bury Sen. Tom Coburn (R – OK). I mean “bury” metaphorically, not the literal type of burial that happens to about 5,000 Americans a year due to food-borne illness.

Sen. Coburn doesn’t mind if those deaths — and the 76 million related illnesses — continue in America, because an outmoded ideology blinds him to facts.

This is a valuable cautionary tale, because it explains how that ideology creates the pro-salmonella faction in Congress.

See, on the U.S. Senate floor 2 weeks ago, Sen. Coburn said only 10 or 20 Americans a year die from a food-borne illness. This means, to him, that the government doesn’t need the power to recall the tainted food that poisons us because “not once in our history have we had to force anyone to do a recall.” (Both of these things are, of course, 100 percent false.)

New food safety policies that Coburn opposes, which would make us all safer, could come up for a vote tonight. The potential cost of preventing these illnesses — about $300 million — is prohibitively expensive, Coburn says.

This story interests me not just because of the facts, but because of what it says about far-right ideology more broadly.  Left unchecked, this anti-everything viewpoint can blind a person to lifesaving benefits of even the simplest and most common-sense policies.

It’s not just that the Centers for Disease Control, a bit more expert in the subject than Coburn, say 72 million Americans get sick a year, and thousands die, due to food-borne illness. It’s the productivity cost.

A study by Georgetown University found that the annual cost of food-borne illness in the United States is about $152 billion per year. Here in North Carolina, the cost is $4.5 billion. If there were an operational definition of cost-effective public investment, food safety would be the one.

The bottom line is this: making sure food is safe benefits everyone. We can do so in a cost-effective manner that saves considerable dollars every year. This is a perfect example of how we can promote the general welfare through wise policy choices — and its far from the only example.

Instead of burying 5,000 Americans per year, can we instead bury the ideology that says government can’t stop corporations from selling us tainted food?


Often lost in the foreclosure discussion is just how rife the system is with fraud and abuse by large financial institutions. Because a personal story is sometimes needed to bring that to light, I suggest everyone read this shocking tale from Florida.

All she wanted was $50,000 from the equity in her house to help pay the bills while looking for a job in nursing. What Imogene Hall got was a brutal lesson in the sometimes shady ways of the mortgage industry …

A review of court records found evidence of misconduct at nearly every stage of Hall’s experience. Consider:

• Johnson Cuffy, a former mortgage broker now serving an 11-year prison sentence for grand theft, handled Hall’s refinancing in early 2006, using a strategy a state investigator described as “outright mortgage fraud.” He faces up to 30 more years in prison if convicted of 16 other mortgage fraud charges he’s facing.

• The title agent who signed the crucial deed transfers that Hall’s fraud claim rests on operated an unlicensed title company that stole more than $1.5 million from South Florida home buyers during closing proceedings between 2005 and 2007, according to Florida Supreme Court records.

• A man who listed his employer as a nonexistent Blockbuster Video store in New York somehow used Hall’s home as collateral to secure a $230,000 loan from subprime lender Argent Mortgage.

• Hall’s foreclosure was processed by the Florida Default Law Group, one of four Florida law firms being investigated by the state attorney general for using flawed documents to repossess homes from thousands of owners.

Absolutely read the entire harrowing thing.

While you’re at it, you might want to re-read Matt Taibbi’s Rolling Stone piece on the same issue, which includes the following quote:

Virtually every case of foreclosure in this country involves some form of screwed-up paperwork. “I would say it’s pretty close to 100 percent,” says Kowalski. An attorney for Jacksonville Area Legal Aid tells me that out of the hundreds of cases she has handled, fewer than five involved no phony paperwork. “The fraud is the norm,” she says.

I thought this was poetic exaggeration at first. After some time looking into it, I’m not so sure any more.

Next time anyone tells you that the foreclosure crisis is mostly people who got into homes they couldn’t afford, remember stories like this. Remember, the fraud might just be the norm.


What kind of wealth distribution do Americans think is fair? You might be surprised. Or you might not, if you’ve been paying attention to American ideals of fairness.

You might have missed “How Obama saved capitalism and lost the midterms,” by the great Timothy Egan. If you did miss it, don’t.

OK, that’s it for the serious stuff today. Now, for some frivolity. I could use some. Couldn’t you?

Bloom County (and Opus and Outland) author Berkeley Breathed gives a candid, hilarious interview to Ain’t It Cool News. Be sure to watch the YouTube clip of Calvin & Hobbes’ Bill Watterson’s snarky comics about Breathed.

Rock has “‘Scuse Me While I Kiss This Guy”; rap music has other transcription errors.