The Special Ed Epidemic: Burying Our Heads and Crippling Our Economy. Part 2 of 4.

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WMP Note: In this 4-part series, World Mercury Project partner, Focus For Health,  examines the special needs epidemic and its effects on schools, the US economy, life after age 21 and the many theories that point to potential causes of the explosion of chronic disease and disability in our children.

A recent survey of early childhood teachers asked “What is your greatest concern?” The majority of teachers reported “Managing challenging behaviors in our classroom,” according to Mary Ann Hansen, the director of First 5 Humboldt, a county-based commission in California which provides programs for children under age 5. She went on to say “We hear this over and over again, that teachers are struggling.” Sadly, many students are also struggling as their needs are unable to be met in a classroom environment that lacks support, proper teacher training, and the funding necessary to provide a quality education which addresses their varying needs.

With an increasing number of children requiring special education services in the schools, significant demands are being placed on both special and regular education teachers. Learners with differing educational, behavioral, and medical needs are both financially and emotionally challenging for both their school districts and teachers alike. School budgets are being depleted rapidly as districts attempt to provide a free and appropriate education (FAPE) for all, especially when Individualized Education Plans (IEP) require extensive special services including speech, physical, occupational therapy, nursing, counseling, behavioral services, in-class support, and personal aides.

Providing for the many needs of children classified in special education costs our nation an estimated $50 billion annually, and that number is likely outdated as it is based on data from the 1999-2000 SEED study, which doesn’t reflect the rise in students requiring special education since 2000.

The average annual cost for a general education student is $7,552, while the average cost per special education student is $16,921. However, approximately 330,000 students with exceptionally high-needs cost their districts $100,000 or more on an annual basis.

Students identified with one of 13 disabilities listed under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) are classified in school and provided with an IEP identifying learning goals, necessary accommodations,  and describes the special services to be provided by the school, free of charge to the families.  Students who do not qualify for an IEP may receive a 504 plan. This plan may provide specific accommodations, supports, or services for a child with any disability which can include learning or attention issues. It has a broader definition of a disability, but it does not have to be a written document.

The number of students ages 6-21 with disabilities rose to 5.83 million by fall 2014. Chronic health issues such as epilepsy, mental health disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and mobility impairments, classified in school as “other health impaired,” increased nearly 51%, between 2005-06 and 2014-15 school years. In the same age group, students classified with autism spectrum disorder had risen 165% nationwide. Children classified with “autism” or “other health impaired” account for more than 1 in 5 school-aged children covered under IDEA nationwide.

The least restrictive environment (LRE) mandate within IDEA requires that all students in special education be educated with typical peers to the greatest extent possible to prevent segregation, while still providing a free and appropriate education. This means children with IEP’s or 504 plans and their typical peers are integrated in one classroom with a general education teacher when possible. While some students receive in-class support with the help of an aid and sometimes a special education teacher, many general education teachers report they lack the support, training, and resources necessary to teach classified students appropriately.

In addition, some children presenting with emotional and behavioral issues, who have not been identified or classified at all, do not receive any accommodations for educational or behavioral support. As a result of limited funding and teacher shortages, general education teachers are often challenged to divide their time and attention teaching the curriculum to general education students while managing classified as well as unclassified students with attentional, emotional and behavioral issues at once. These issues affect the quality of education for all students.


Mental health problems often develop during childhood and adolescence and are treatable if recognized and diagnosed. Students with mental health issues present challenges to teachers and commonly have social-emotional issues affecting peer relationships. Studies show that mental health disorders are at the root of some bullying behavior occurring in schools. School nurses report frequent complaints of “stomach aches” and “headaches” because an individual’s mental health is intertwined with their physical being. Yet research shows most children who need a mental health evaluation do not receive services. Because schools are often understaffed with social workers, counselors, and school nurses, the burden is placed on the classroom teachers who are with the students throughout the school day.

Educating children with mental health issues is not the only challenge for general education teachers. More and more teachers are reporting explosive outbursts by students including hitting, scratching, and flipping desks, putting teachers at risk, while at the same time they are trying to protect other students in the classroom. Disciplinary actions including suspensions are on the rise across the nation. Classified students with behavior issues are frequently sent home from school when teaching assistants are not available to shadow them. For students with autism who have complex behavior issues, physical restraints have become commonplace and can occur daily. Add to it the significant rise in self-harm and teen suicides; schools are being forced to look at this epidemic and to provide solutions at all costs. Some schools are attempting to mitigate the issues by creating sensory rooms and calming stations, while others have even created new mental health clinics on site to help manage the behavioral issues.

Compared to the national average, only 40% of students with emotional, behavioral, and mental health disorders graduate.

Studies looking at teacher job stress in early childhood education show that teacher-child conflicts are more common where workplace stress is higher. Essentially, this reduces the ability of the teachers to work effectively with students with emotional and behavioral problems. These teachers also report they felt mentally, emotionally, or physically exhausted or overwhelmed by working with these children, ultimately leading to burnout and staff turnover.


Children with severe disabilities have even more difficulty getting their needs met in district as the school may not have the resources on site to accommodate their various educational and healthcare needs. In such cases, these high-needs students may be offered placements in private schools for the disabled outside of the local school district. Children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, cerebral palsy, and other medically complex disabilities require services beyond what most districts can afford to provide because they require specialized training and care. This can include nursing, advanced technologies for communication and learning, special transportation, and more. While providing out of district placement can cost an average of $10,000 more per student than placements within district for similar students, keeping them in-district may not be cost effective if they need to hire staff and purchase equipment for just a few high-needs individuals.


The number of children in the US with chronic health conditions has dramatically increased in the past 4 decades, doubling from 12.8 percent in 1994 to 26.6 percent in 2006.

With chronic health conditions on the rise, schools are faced with additional challenges of providing for the medical needs of children with severe health issues. Food allergies now affect 1 in 13 children, and asthma affects 1 in 10 children, requiring nursing staff on site to help care for these students. In addition, juvenile diabetes increased 23% between 2001 and 2009, while epilepsy/seizures affect 1 in 20 children. Some schools are opening health clinics on site to manage the medical needs of the student population. Unfortunately, the cost of building and staffing such clinics is prohibitive for most districts which already lack funding to meet the basic needs of special education students.


2015_10_14 iStock Chronic Illness square

You do. We all do. Federal, state and local governments all contribute to fund K-12 public special education. IDEA was established to provide the bulk of federal funding contribution for special education and governs how states and public agencies provide early intervention, special education, and related services. The states distribute funds to local agencies to be used in accordance with state and federal law, and allocation is based upon the local district’s tax structure. The local district budgets vary greatly and are dependent on local revenues resulting, however, in significant disparities.

Unfortunately, Congress historically fails to fully fund IDEA. While they have authorized special education funding equal to 40% of the national average per pupil expenditure (APPE), spending typically ranges between 10-20% per child.

This leaves the burden on the states to make up the difference. IDEA funding is based on FY 1999. This formula was derived from the number of children identified with disabilities in each state in relation to total state population. However, populations within states have increased or decreased, as have the number of children with disabilities within each state yet the base award has not changed. This creates a wide disparity in funding across the US. Additionally, when a state decides to accept federal funds, mandates apply in association with those programs. Despite this funding, many states find it insufficient to cover the local costs of meeting those program’s requirements. Consequently, districts are often compelled to tap into their general education funds to meet those requirements.

The number of students with disabilities and chronic health issues are rising across the nation while programs and services are being cut to save money. Currently, all taxpayers are bearing the financial burdens of the local school districts as property taxes help fund special education programsAlthough Medicaid helps to offset the gap by covering health-related expenses for students with disabilities, cuts in Medicaid funding are frequently threatened.  Without appropriate education, therapies, and medical services, these children will grow up to be adults who may not reach their full potential. In turn, employability will decrease, and without sustainable jobs, they may not become productive, self-sustaining adults. 1 in 36 children between 3-17 yrs. of age have ASD now; this means in the next 1-15 years, these individuals will become adults. Individuals with ASD have a normal life expectancy, and many will outlive their parents, requiring other family members to take care of them, if willing and able. And if not, tax-payers will be responsible for funding supportive housing and living costs, including health care, for those unable to live and care for themselves.

This system is unsustainable, and it is spiraling out of control, yet few people are talking about it. More importantly, nobody is asking “What is happening to our children?” In fact, the latest report just released by The National Center for Health Statistics within the US Department of Health and Human Services, does the opposite. Authors of the 2017 report “Estimated Prevalence of Children with Diagnosed Developmental Disabilities in the United States, 2014-2016” point out the prevalence of children aged 3-17 years who had ever been diagnosed with a developmental disability has increased from 5.76% to 6.99%. This increase of 1.23% is STATISTICALLY SIGNIFICANT. The prevalence of autism spectrum disorder in the US reportedly increased from 2.24% to 2.76%, a difference of .52%. According to NCHS, this increase is not statistically significant. While the article failed to disclose the sample size, the fact is, both increases are alarming.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) “The mission of the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) is to provide statistical information that will guide actions and policies to improve the health of the American people. As the Nation’s principal health statistics agency, NCHS leads the way with accurate, relevant, and timely data.” The first step to making change is acknowledging we have a problem. A .52% rise in ASD indicates I in 36 children have autism, up from 1 in 45 in 2014; however, the CDC has not released a statement acknowledging this increase. The CDC must stop burying its head and work to address this problem first, by admitting we have one, and second, by identifying the causes with trustworthy science so that we may stop this epidemic. Until then, this and many other systems are destined to fail, affecting not only those individuals with special needs and their families, but every citizen in our nation.



This concludes Part Two: “The Special Ed Epidemic: Burying Our Heads and Crippling Our Economy.” Part Three, “What Happens When They Age Out of School?” will explore the exploding financial burdens to taxpayers as the children exit school and looks deeply into the options for individuals who have aged out of IDEA, which only mandates services be provided until age 21. So what happens next?

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Saudi Arabia boosts investment in Russian economy

“More and more Russian companies are investing in Saudi Arabia, and Saudi Arabia is investing in Russia. Saudi Arabia’s investment in Russia has already reached more than $2 billion,” Dmitriev said.

A Sovereign Fund of Saudi Arabia, Public Investment Fund (PIF), announced in 2015 its intention to invest $10 billion in the Russian economy through partnership with the Russian fund.

The funds have invested in petrochemicals, energy, transport infrastructure and retail. Saudi Arabia also expressed interest in working with Russia in the railway industry, space exploration and peaceful nuclear energy.

Russian banks and a joint Russia-China investment fund are eager to participate in Saudi company Aramco’s initial public offering (IPO). Riyadh plans to sell about a 5 percent stake in its national oil company in a record listing.

“We have a Russia-China investment fund, and through that Russia-China investment fund we see a major interest in the Aramco IPO from a number of leading Chinese institutions,” Dmitriev said.

“We see significant interest to invest in the Aramco IPO from Russia, from China, and we believe that this is very good for, once again, thinking jointly about oil.”

The RDIF and Aramco also plan to invest up to $1 billion in Russia’s largest independent driller, Eurasia Drilling.

For more stories on economy & finance visit RT’s business section

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Gaza’s Economy Close to Collapse

Gaza’s Economy Close to Collapse

by Stephen Lendman ( – Home – Stephen Lendman)

Israel’s suffocating blockade caused increasingly dire humanitarian conditions – grievously harming over two million Gazans, victims of ruthless persecution, worsened by Washington freezing half its aid for Palestinian refugees.

Major media ignore dire humanitarian conditions in the Strip, supporting Israeli viciousness instead of condemning it. 

Gazans are without electricity 18 or more hours daily, its water unsafe to drink. Lack of sanitation harms human health, sewage disposed of offshore.

Food supplies are inadequate, vital medicines in short supply or unavailable, unemployment around 50%. Most available jobs don’t pay a living wage because of blockade and other harsh conditions.

Three Israeli wars of aggression on Gaza since December 2008 devastated the Strip, another likely any time at Israel’s discretion.

The Gisha Legal Center for Free Movement discussed 10 repressive Israeli policies imposed on Gaza last year, making dire conditions worse.

They corresponded with far fewer numbers of Gazans permitted to travel outside the Strip for urgently needed medical treatment, education and other reasons.

Below are Israeli restrictions imposed last year, maybe tougher ones coming:

1. “Security blocks restricting travel through Erez crossing:” They’ve been increasingly restrictive over the past few years.

2. “Trader permits cancelled and new approvals declined:” They’ve dropped by 85% since 2015, causing economic hardships, “undermining what little economic activity exists in the first place,” Gisha explained.

3. “Cancellation of quota for Friday prayers in Jerusalem:” Travel permission was cancelled in December 2016. 

4. “Making Gaza residents (permitted to travel abroad) sign a commitment not to return for a year:” Israeli obstacles imposed are part of an ethnic cleansing scheme, perhaps intending to prevent reentry at any time.

5. “Freeze on travel to the American consulate” in East Jerusalem: Last November, the ban was inadequately eased. The repressive policy remains largely in place.

6. “Introduction of shuttle services:” Gazans permitted to leave the Strip must travel between Erez crossing and the Allenby Bridge, connecting the West Bank with Jordan. 

The policy restricts, hampers and discourages movement. Shuttles operate once weekly, waiting times for permission to use them much longer.

7. “Permit applications left pending with no response:” Thousands of application go unanswered. As of last September, 16,000 requests were pending – rejection by other means.

8. “New directive prohibiting Palestinians from exiting Gaza with food, toiletries or electronic devices:” All travelers need them, important for Gazans because of long travel times going anywhere outside the Strip.

9. “Lengthening of processing times on applications for permits:” They take two months or longer, Israel obstructing a procedure easy to permit smoothly.

10. “Increase in frequency and severity of ‘security interviews’ at Erez” crossing: All Palestinians permitted to travel outside the Strip endure grueling interrogations, their harshness toughened in recent years, making it harder to leave Gaza for any reasons.

Other restrictions were imposed last year, Gisha explained, including “a prohibition…on visits to prisoners allegedly affiliated with Hamas, fewer permits given as ‘holiday gestures’ during Eid al Adha and Christmas, extended closures of the crossings during Jewish holidays, and the closure of Erez as a punitive measure in response to rocket fire.” 

“While not all these tactics are new, we are concerned by the overall trend pointing to a severe and inexplicable tightening of the closure.”

Israel imposed over 10 years of suffocating blockade for political, not security, reasons – the world community complicit for failing intervene responsibly to end it.

VISIT MY NEW WEB SITE: (Home – Stephen Lendman). Contact at

My newest book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”

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Death and taxes: In ruins of Greek economy unpaid debt more than half of GDP

Overdue debt to the state has reached nearly €100 billion with only €15 billion possible to be returned to the government’s coffers, as most are due to bankrupt businesses and deceased individuals.

The Greek tax authorities seized pensions, salaries, and assets of more than 180,000 taxpayers in 2017, expired debts to the state treasury continue to grow. The Independent Authority for Public Revenue confiscated nearly €4 billion in the first 10 months of this year with forced measures to be reportedly taken against 1.7 million defaulters in 2018.

Nearly 1,000 confiscations a day from people with debts of more than €500 were carried out in October alone. IAPR statistics show that in October the unpaid tax obligations of households and enterprises was another €1.2 billion.
Failed debts to the state in Greece have been growing at €1 billion a month since 2014. Nearly 4.17 million taxpayers currently owe money to the country, which means that every second Greek is indebted.

All in all, the economy has returned to modest growth with the international bailout program expected to end in August 2018. The country’s GDP rose for a third straight quarter for the first time in more than a decade, marking a 0.3 percent expansion in the three months through September, according to the latest data from the Hellenic Statistical Authority.

However, demonstrations throughout the country show that most Greeks do not feel the situation has improved. People are reportedly tired of the current political system as the threat of an early election might spark further economic turmoil.

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Russia cleans house: ex-economy minister Ulyukayev sentenced to 8 years in prison in $2mn bribery case

Russian former economy minister Alexei Ulyukayev


Former Russian economy minister Aleksey Ulyukayev has been found guilty on charges of taking a $2 million bribe and sentenced to eight years in prison. He is now the highest-ranking Russian official to have been convicted on corruption charges.

Ulyukayev was detained in November 2016 on charges of allegedly receiving a $2 million bribe, in return for his ministry’s support of a positive assessment that would allow state oil company Rosneft to complete a deal to purchase the government’s stake in another Russian oil major, Bashneft.

The charges were based on the testimony of Rosneft CEO Igor Sechin, as well as a on the evidence of a sting operation, in which Sechin personally handed a bag containing $2 million in cash to Ulyukayev, the then-economy minister.

The proceeding caused controversy in Russia, as Sechin delivered his testimony in written form, rather than in person. He refused four times to testify in court, citing scheduling differences due to the taxing nature of his job.

The defense argued that he was dodging a personal appearance and violating due process, while critics accused him of being arrogant and considering his position to be above the law. The issue was raised at this week’s Q&A session with President Vladimir Putin, who refrained from criticizing Sechin for his conduct.

According to the court ruling, Ulyukayev extorted the bribe from Sechin, and in so-doing abused his position as member of the Russian cabinet. The felony carries a potential punishment of a heavy fine, a ban from offices of power for up to 15 years and a prison term between eight and 15 years.

In his remarks, the presiding judge said “Ulyukayev acted under a preconceived plan, motivated by personal gain and with full understanding that the process of the privatization of Bashneft depended on his decisions.”

The court later sentenced him to an eight-year prison term and a fine of over $2.2 million. He was arrested in the courtroom before the sentence hearing proceeded. Prosecutors asked for a sentence of ten years in a penal colony for Ulyukayev.

Ulyukayev pleaded not guilty at the start of the trial and continued to maintain his innocence up until the verdict announcement on Friday. In his last address, he said a ‘not guilty’ verdict would be the only just outcome for his case.

After hearing the sentence, Ulyukayev said he considered it unjust. His defense team confirmed that they would appeal the ruling.

Ulyukayev’s defense argued that the money did change hands between Sechin and Ulyukayev, but that it was an entrapment on the part of the Rosneft head. The then-economy minister was not aware of the cash being inside the bag, his lawyers told the court.

In his final plea, the ex-minister reiterated his position. “The case contains no proof of my complicity in bribe-taking whatsoever. Moreover, it testifies that I am a victim of a monstrous provocation,” Ulyukayev said in court earlier this month.

“I am guilty of a different thing. I have served Russian citizens for many years, and I have managed to achieve something, but not enough. Only when I myself got into trouble I started to understand how hard people’s lives are. People, forgive me for this. I am guilty before you,” he added.

After his arrest in mid-November last year, Ulyukayev spent around two days in a pre-trial detention facility before being placed under house arrest at his apartment, located in an elite housing complex in Moscow.

Ulyukayev is the first government minister in Russia’s modern history to be found guilty of corruption by a court.

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Churlish NY Times Refuses to Credit Trump for Strong Economy: ‘Tax Cuts May Burn’

The economy’s vital signs are stronger than they have been in years. Companies are posting jobs faster than they can find workers to fill them. Incomes are rising. The stock market sets records seemingly every month.

The latest evidence of the revival came Friday, when the Labor Department reported that American employers added 228,000 jobs in November. The unemployment rate held steady at 4.1 percent, the lowest since 2000. Job growth has slowed since its peak in 2014 but remains remarkably steady: For the first time on record, employers have added jobs every month for more than sevcen years – 86 months to be precise.


That strength could also pose challenges, particularly in light of the $1.5 trillion tax cut that Congress could pass as early as this month. Economists expect the tax bill to provide at least a modest lift to the economy — but they are not sure that’s a good idea.

With unemployment so low and the economy fundamentally healthy, a tax cut could lead the economy to grow too quickly, pushing up inflation and forcing the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates faster than planned.


For now, however, the figures present a political opportunity for President Trump, who ran for office on a promise to revive the American economy.

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AP Blames ‘Booming Economy’ For Spike in West Coast Homelessness

You had to figure that the Associated Press would at some point finally recognize the existence of the nation’s “booming economy,” at least compared to the historically weak 7-1/2 years of post-recession malaise which preceded it.

Well, they’re finally doing it — and erroneously tagging it with sole blame for the fast-growing homelessness problem in the nation’s three West Coast states.

The wire service suddenly rediscovered homelessness in early November when it began a series on West Coast homelessness after a virtual national reporting blackout on the topic during the Obama era. Lo and behold, the “booming economy” put in its first appearance in an AP report in memory on November 8. The report by Janie Har featured a paragraph which directly and bitterly indicted certain of those who have shelter for the plight of those who don’t (bolds are mine throughout this post):

‘We still need to eat’: Tech boom creates working homeless

… Homeless advocates and city officials say it’s outrageous that in the shadow of a booming tech economy – where young millionaires dine on $15 wood-grilled avocado and think nothing of paying $1,000 for an iPhone X – thousands of families can’t afford a home. Many of the homeless work regular jobs, in some cases serving the very people whose sky-high net worth is the reason housing has become unaffordable for so many.

That’s an outrageous smear on the rich. The AP’s Har acknowledged the existence of another key factor in a later paragraph:

… along the West Coast … many cities and counties have seen a surge in the number of people living on the streets over the past two years. Counts taken earlier this year show 168,000 homeless people in California, Oregon and Washington – 20,000 more than were counted just two years ago.

The booming economy, fueled by the tech sector, and decades of under-building have led to an historic shortage of affordable housing. It has upended the stereotypical view of people out on the streets as unemployed: They are retail clerks, plumbers, janitors – even teachers – who go to work, sleep where they can and buy gym memberships for a place to shower.

Florida and Texas have booming economies too, and rich people there also live relatively luxurious lifestyles. Somehow, those states don’t have anything resembling the problem with homelessness seen in California, Oregon, and Washington. Why? Because homes and apartments are being built in those states. Har never explored why the three West Coast states have seen “decades of under-building.”

The “booming economy” put in another appearance in a November 9 AP item, again blaming it for homelessness:

Amid booming economy, homelessness soars on US West Coast

A homeless crisis of unprecedented proportions is rocking the West Coast, and its victims are being left behind by the very things that mark the region’s success: soaring housing costs, rock-bottom vacancy rates and a roaring economy that waits for no one. All along the coast, elected officials are scrambling for solutions.

Earlier this week, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development released its Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress. Naturally, AP reporters Christopher Weber and Geoff Mulvihill brought up the “booming economy” in their Monday coverage, and blamed it for the West Coast’s homelessness problem. They also engaged in a bit of statistical sleight-of-hand which blurred the contrast between the West Coast and the rest of the nation:

Report: West Coast homeless crisis pushes US count higher

The nation’s homeless population increased this year for the first time since 2010, driven by a surge in the number of people living on the streets in Los Angeles and other West Coast cities.

Let’s stop there for a moment. The bolded assertion is horribly misleading. The actual point-in-time homelessness counts were done during the last week in January 2017. The vast majority of the increase the reporters cited occurred last year, not “this year.” Additionally, except for a very few days, the period covered by the government’s report coincided with the final year of Barack Obama’s presidency.


The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development released its annual Point in Time count Wednesday, a report that showed nearly 554,000 homeless people across the country during local tallies conducted in January. That figure is up nearly 1 percent from 2016.

… Increases are higher in several West Coast cities, where the explosion in homelessness has prompted at least 10 city and county governments to declare states of emergency since 2015.

City officials, homeless advocates and those living on the streets point to a main culprit: the region’s booming economy.

Excluding the Los Angeles region, total homelessness nationwide would have been down by about 1.5 percent compared with 2016.

The AP pair certainly was justified in concentrating much of their work on the dreadful situation in LA. The city has a breathtaking 10 percent of the entire U.S. homeless population; its rate of homelessness is now higher than former longtime leader New York City. 80 percent of LA’s homeless are unsheltered; only about 5 percent are unsheltered in Gotham. They weren’t justified in using LA’s situation to guilt-shame the rest of the nation. But they did, with the help of LA’s mayor:

Since last year, voters in the city and Los Angeles County have passed a pair of tax-boosting ballot initiatives to raise an expected $4.7 billion over the next decade for affordable housing and services for the homeless. HUD Secretary Ben Carson praised the region for dealing with the issue and not relying solely on the federal government.

“We need to move a little bit away from the concept that only the government can solve the problem,” he said.

But Mayor Eric Garcetti said that insufficient federal funding for affordable housing and anti-homelessness programs are part of the reason for the city’s current crisis.

That’s rubbish. Unfortunately, the 1.5 percent “other than LA” nationwide reduction cited by Weber and Mulvihill masked how relatively well the country is doing in addressing homelessness. Here’s how things look when all of the trouble spots — California, Oregon, Washington State, and New York City — are subtracted from the nationwide totals for the January 2017 and January 2016 counts:


While the rest of the nation made decent headway in reducing homelessness last year, the three West Coast states and New York City, which has had a disproportionately high percentage of the nation’s homeless population for decades, saw significant increases.

The AP has very selective in when and where it will call the U.S. economy, or parts of it, “booming.”

On November 14, the wire service wouldn’t concede that Florida has a booming economy, even though employment in the state has increased by almost 200,000 in the past year and over 1.5 million (an increase of over 21 percent) since the Obama-era jobs recession ended in February 2010. When Governor Rick Scott made that reference to the Sunshine State’s economy in unveiling its next budget, reporter Gary Finest put the word “booming” in quotes.

As to why the three high-homelessness states have seen “decades of under-building”:

  • A look at the permitting process would almost certainly reveal that these states make it extraordinarily difficult to get permission to build.
  • All three have high degrees of taxation, regulation, over-strict building codes, and restrictive zoning.
  • The more recent under-building in California has another specific cause, as I noted in a column at another web site three years ago. Under Governor Jerry Brown, “the state in 2011 ‘ended special redevelopment assessments, which essentially brought affordable housing construction to a halt’ — with little apparent blowback from supposed “progressives” and the state’s media watchdogs — er, lapdogs.”

Finally, all three states have been indifferent or hostile to attracting and keeping the kind of middle-class jobs which used to be plentiful (think: logging in Washington and Oregon, and oil refineries in California).

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A column by Steve Lopez at the Los Angeles Times, of all places, which looked at why former Angelenos are migrating to Las Vegas, stated matters succinctly and in a manner which really applies to all three states: “Slowly, steadily, and somewhat indifferently, we are burdening, breaking and even exporting our middle class.”

Cross-posted at

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India’s economy back on track after year-long slowdown

Manufacturing was up seven percent compared to the same period in 2016, a sharp jump from the 1.2 percent growth the sector registered in the second quarter.

The stronger economic growth “indicates that perhaps the impact of two very significant structural reforms… is now behind us, and hopefully, in the coming quarters, we can look for an upwards trajectory,” India’s Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said after the data was released.

“I think the most significant aspect is the fact that this quarter’s positive result has been impacted significantly by the growth in manufacturing,” he added.

Three months ago the government revealed that economic expansion slid to just 5.7 percent from a high of 9.1 percent in the first three months of 2016.

READ MORE: Millions of Indians will have their taxes cut in half

The economic slowdown was blamed on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s sudden decision to ban the country’s two most valuable rupee notes accounting at the time for 86 percent of India’s cash.

India was the world’s fastest-growing major economy at the end of 2016, with GDP expanding by seven percent. Some economists express doubts the government will be able to hit its target of seven percent growth this year or next.

Others claim that while India’s national tax overhaul continues to drag on growth, the economy appears to have shrugged off the effects of the cash ban.

“Growth will continue to accelerate over the coming quarters,” Shilan Shah, India economist at Capital Economics told CNNMoney.

“Recovery is underway,” said Priyanka Kishore, lead Asia economist at Oxford Economics. “Next year we should be looking at these headwinds turning into tailwinds for the economy.”

The International Monetary Fund said it expects India’s economy to recover to 7.2 percent growth this year and accelerate to 7.7 percent in 2018.

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