My Two Census

Formerly the non-partisan watchdog of the 2010 US Census, and currently an opinion blog that covers all things political, media, foreign policy, globalization, and culture…but sometimes returning to its census/demographics roots.

Archive for November, 2011

The “Near Poor” in America

Saturday, November 19th, 2011

Check out this solid piece from the New York Times that demonstrates a growing class of Americans, the “near poor.”

An open letter to Occupy London protesters: Demand limited bonuses for state-funded bankers

Friday, November 18th, 2011

Hey there Occupy London protesters. This is an open letter to you:

When I went past your encampment in Finsbury Square earlier today (just meters from the Bloomberg LP headquarters!) I noticed that your tents were empty and the only folks around were a kooky street preacher and a handful of his disciples. I understand, you were probably a few blocks away occupying those vacant UBS buildings, but I wanted to let you know that you’ve got the wrong guys. You should be going after RBS not UBS.

I know you’re part of a “leaderless movement” (let’s see how long that lasts!), but you’d better start listening to Mark Twain, Benjamin Franklin, and your very own former Prime Minister Benjamin D’Israeli. It’s unclear who said it first, but the gist of the quotation that all of these men are reputed to have coined is “The only two certainties in life are death and taxes.” Let’s focus on the latter.

What I’m saying is that you should encourage UK taxpayers to join in on your protest en masse. However, you should go beyond squatting in some old UBS offices: You should demand that Members of Parliament (MPs for you American readers) create legislation that limits the bonuses of state-funded bankers. Since 2008, there have been many state-funded bankers in the UK. Right now, it’s looking like the Christmas Party of the Royal Bank of Scotland will be quite the affair after some £500 million gets divied up among that regal 1%.  (And this goes for the folks over at Lloyd’s too!) The taxpayers are creating millionaire bankers while the social infrastructure of the UK goes down the toilet. It’s as pure example of the increasing income gap as one can possibly dream of.

(Oh yeah, and why haven’t you marched on Buckhingham Palace yet when your royal family further eats away a your tax payments?)

Yes, a small group of Britons who belong to the group UK Uncut have tried to protest against the payment of taxes toward funding the big banks, but their efforts have thus far been futile and unproductive. Why don’t you protesters use your power (derived from the inordinate amount of media attention that you have been receiving for a bunch of people who don’t have much of a mission or clear-cut goals) to take up the anti-taxpayer-funded-banker-bonus cause?

Outline your demands for your government, and force each of your MPs to sign a statement that state-funded bankers will receive no more than 40% of their salaries in bonuses this year (rather than the 300+% that most bankers are accustomed to). One cannot blame the bankers for accepting the bonuses that are given to them because regulators and politicians have failed to prevent this exchange from taking place. 

Sincerely,

Stephen Robert Morse

 

 

Revival, Revival: MyTwoCensus.com is coming back to life in a new form

Thursday, November 17th, 2011

I have decided to revive MyTwoCensus.com as an opinion blog. Originally born out of frustration with the 2010 US Census and the lack of media coverage about this important issue, I feel that society is being failed by our most popular and widely-read cultural commentators.

The journalism “crisis” of the Internet era is partly to blame, but I feel that herd mentality among news organizations and their employees who set the media agenda is preventing more substantial dialogues from taking place. One need only look to the Twittersphere: Rather than offering individual commentaries, the simple act of pressing the Re-Tweet button presents one view over and over again…and news organizations who derive income from per-hit advertising continue to live only when their Tweets spread like wildfire.

My targets for criticism will include politicians, media, society, pop culture, and more, in both the US and abroad. Having been based primarily in Europe since 2009, I have the unique ability to look at both America and Europe as from insider and outsider perspectives. Guest contributions and critiques of my writing are welcomed with open arms.

With Christopher Hitchens making his last hurrah, and Thomas Friedman’s words falling short when it comes to turning them into public policy, a new generation of thinkers – dare I say “public intellectuals” – must have their voices heard. Any topic is fair game, and I welcome your suggestions as to topics to cover.

Detroit News: Bribery probe targets former U.S. Census official (Dwight Dean)

Thursday, November 3rd, 2011

Since June 1, 2010, I have reported about problems in the Detroit office of the US Census Bureau involving Dwight Dean, who was booted from his once-stable perch in the Census Bureau hierarchy in August 2010. Today, I give a hearty thank you to Robert Snell and the Detroit News who have reported that the “former top-ranking U.S. Census Bureau official in Michigan and two other states is being investigated for allegedly accepting bribes and awarding an $857,000 no-bid contract.” MyTwoCensus.com urges federal, state, and local investigators to also investigate the many other Dwight Dean cronies who were very likely conspirators in his activities. Furthermore, as other MyTwoCensus.com pieces demonstrate, at the Detroit office of the Census Bureau, it oftentimes appeared like the inmates were running the asylum.

(Click here for a list of MyTwoCensus pieces involving the Detroit office that name many of the individuals I am referring to.)

Here’s the Detroit News piece (in full HERE):

A search warrant affidavit unsealed Monday in federal court indicates that in November 2010 a grand jury was investigating Plymouth resident Dwight Dean. He was the highest-ranking Census official in Michigan, Ohio and West Virginia until he was abruptly, and inexplicably, replaced in August 2010. No criminal charges have been filed.

This investigation involves a federal official in Detroit, which has been the focus of several ongoing corruption investigations involving City Hall and two Detroit pension funds.

Federal investigators did not put a value on the alleged bribes, which involve dinners at expensive restaurants and what appear to be free tickets to the North American International Auto Show charity preview.

The Detroit businessman named in the search warrant, who admitted giving Dean auto show tickets and paying for dinners, denied doing anything wrong.

“That’s not bribery,” Motor City International President Louis James told The News. “That’s a business meeting.”

Dean had served as Census regional director since 1987 and oversaw a crucial headcount last year that ended with Detroit Mayor Dave Bing vowing to appeal figures that showed a steep population drop. The census is used to determine the amount of federal funding cities receive.

Dean, 64, did not return phone messages seeking comment Wednesday.

The search warrants were executed a year ago and the current status of the investigation was unclear Wednesday.

There is no indication the allegations affected the 2010 census count.

“Over 39,000 people hired locally in the Detroit region worked on the 2010 census. At all times, we conducted extensive quality assessments of operations and census results,” Census Bureau spokesman Michael Cook said.”The assessments of the Detroit region are consistent and within the norms of what we found nationally.”

Federal agents raided Dean’s offices in Detroit one year ago, searching for evidence he accepted gifts, loans or money between August 2008 and August 2010, according to the search warrant affidavit unsealed Monday.