• Home page of novelist William S. Frankl, M.D.
  • About author William S. Frankl, M.D.
  • Books by novelist William S. Frankl, M.D.
  • Reviews of the writing of author William S. Frankl, M.D.
  • Blog of author William (Bill) S. Frankl, M.D.
  • Contact author William S. Frankl, M.D.
Title: Blog by Novelist William S. Frankl, MD

Archive for the ‘American Economy’ Category

Soros/Krasner/Philadelphia is the Victim

Wednesday, March 21st, 2018

Larry Krasner, Philadelphia’s new district attorney who was backed by billionaire George Soros, recently rolled out sweeping policy changes “to end mass incarceration and bring balance back to sentencing” in the City of Brotherly Love.

The progressive Democrat issued a memo to 300 assistant DAs last Tuesday outlining several bold reforms crafted to reduce the number of people in jail. The procedural shifts instruct prosecutors to stop charging people for possession of marijuana, seek lighter sentences with plea deals, and directs them to obtain approval from supervisors before requesting more punitive penalties.

As the Philadelphia Inquirer reports:

Krasner highlighted one element of the memo at a news conference Thursday: the requirement that prosecutors, when asking a judge to sentence a defendant to prison, specify how much it will cost taxpayers to keep the person behind bars.

Taken in full, the five-page document – which also addresses policies around plea offers, diversion programs, and some charging decisions – is likely to impact thousands of criminal cases in the state’s busiest prosecutor’s office and one of the nation’s most violent cities.

Criminal justice experts said some of the guidelines appeared to be unprecedented, a blend of research and practices touted by reform advocates but perhaps never made so explicit in writing by a top prosecutor.

The memo encourages prosecutors to consider several department talking points before making their sentencing recommendations, such as:

“The cost of one year of unnecessary incarceration (at $42,000.00 – $60,000.00) is in the range of the cost of one year’s salary for a beginning teacher, police officer, fire fighter, social worker, Assistant District Attorney, or addiction counselor.”

“Pennsylvania’s and Philadelphia’s over-incarceration have bankrupted investment in policing, public education, medical treatment of addiction, job training and economic development – which prevent crime more effectively than money invested in corrections,” wrote Krasner, who had never prosecuted a criminal case before taking office two months ago.

During his thirty years as a defense attorney, Krasner became known for filing 75 civil rights lawsuits against the city’s police department and representing radical activists from groups like Black Lives Matter and Occupy Philadelphia, pro bono. After making his lack of prosecutorial experience a focal point of his campaign, Krasner won in a landslide last November, capturing 75 percent of the vote.

“This is a story about a movement,” Krasner said after his victory. “And this is a movement that is tired of seeing the system that has systematically picked on poor people – primarily black and brown people.”

Black and brown residents constitute approximately 57 percent of Philadelphia’s population.

Soros had contributed more than $1.6 million to a political action committee that supported Krasner’s candidacy.The organization, called Philadelphia Justice & Public Safety, paid for people to walk neighborhoods campaigning on his behalf and also financed television commercials and other advertisements.

Krasner, who was sworn-in on January 2, fired 31 prosecutors who did not share his vision during his first week on the job. Last month, he eliminated cash bail for low-level offenses. His anti-incarceration platform is the latest of many Soros-backed reform efforts intended to reverse local sentencing laws throughout the nation.

In 2011, Soros’ international grantmaking network and other deep-pocketed foundations began funding multi-pronged drives demanding California change its policies on crime and imprisonment. Since then, Soros has spent millions convincing voters in the Golden State to approve ballot measures that reclassified many felonies to misdemeanors and revamped the state’s parole guidelines. Soros-funded political action committees – like the one that supported Krasner – started sprouting up around the country in 2015, established to elect progressive prosecutors on the local level.

As Politico previously reported:

Soros has spent on district attorney campaigns in Florida, Illinois, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico and Texas through a network of state-level super PACs and a national “527” unlimited-money group, each named a variation on “Safety and Justice.” (Soros has also funded a federal super PAC with the same name.) Each organization received most of its money directly from Soros, according to public state and federal financial records …

Some of these targeted, Soros-influenced races had been researched by progressive groups that identified potential regions and electorates which might be more receptive to transform its local criminal justice system fundamentally.

“There is without question a national movement toward having progressive prosecutors all over the country,” Krasner told HBO’s “Vice News Tonight” in an interview broadcast last Wednesday. “It’s in Chicago; it’s in San Francisco, Houston, it’s happening quickly. The rate of winning is high.”

Economic state of the States

Saturday, January 13th, 2018

A serious, little known problem could scuttle the great economy we are seeing now.

Washington Examiner

A Financial “bomb cyclone” is coming for the states in 20181/8/18
By Sheila Weinberg

January is traditionally the time to put the past behind us, turn over a new leaf, and make plans for what’s to come. Many indicators show the country’s economy has been pumping on all cylinders this past year. Stocks are at record highs and the unemployment rate is at its lowest point in 17 years. Many would agree that the economy is moving in the right direction, which is excellent news.

Unfortunately, this optimistic news is somewhat undercut by worsening financial trajectories at the state government level from coast to coast. The nation is not in as good a shape as it seems.

Recently updated government financial disclosures show alarming levels of red ink on statehouse ledger books across the country. A 2017 analysis shows $1.5 trillion in state debt, a 15 percent increase over the previous year and part of a long-term worsening trend. In the last year, only seven states reported improved financials, while three were unchanged, and 40 are on a troubling downward trajectory.

There is a significant variation in the fortunes of the 40 downward trending states, which include examples at both ends of the extreme, such as Alaska’s declining surplus and New Jersey’s skyrocketing $208 billion debt. However, when the data is taken as whole it is hard to understate the scale of the precarious fiscal situation at the state government level. Truth in Accounting, an organization I founded in 2002, analyzes the most recent Comprehensive Annual Financial Reports, and our data shows that the average state now carries a staggering $10,020 in debt for every one of its taxpayers.

TIA’s sister site, State Data Lab, is a statistical resource created to help citizens understand the complex relationship between inputs and outputs that has led to this fiscal tailspin. None of these data points can be interpreted in a vacuum, but a clear image emerges when they are considered as a whole. Across the most financially challenged states, you can find above average public-sector compensation, higher unionization, and more egregious gerrymandering.

These data points hint at some of the intangibles that challenge budgeters at the state government level. But the most illuminating examples are simple increases in public-sector spending that are paid for with the taxpayer’s credit card.

Across all 50 states, we have seen expenditures creep up over the last 10 years in every category. Average state spending on education has increased 31 percent over the decade, spending on health and human services has risen 68 percent, and interest payments on debt have jumped by 36 percent. This spike in public-sector spending far outpaces inflation, and has pushed the average individual taxpayer’s burden up from $8,900 in 2009 to $10,020 in 2016.

Increased government spending doesn’t necessarily foretell financial doom if it’s linked with corresponding revenue increases. But most states have opted to cover their spending sprees by unfairly shifting the burden onto future taxpayers, including our children and grandchildren. Vast amounts of money—mostly in public-sector pensions and other post-employment benefits such as retiree health care—have been promised on paper without sufficient funds to back them up.

This short-sighted accounting trick allows governments to claim they have balanced their budgets while artificially deflating their published debt numbers. However, the day will come when they have to decide whether to default on promises made to state workers, or hand the bill to surprised future taxpayers.

These accounting gimmicks amount to financial negligence, and undermine democratic checks and balances. Governors and state legislatures are saying one thing—in the form of bogus bookkeeping—and doing something else without scrutiny from constituents. If voters don’t have access to honest information, they can’t make informed choices at the ballot box. As we close out 2017, let’s set some goals about the nation’s financial trajectory. We deserve governments that live within their means, and above all else, we have a right to honest accounting disclosures from our elected officials.

Sheila Weinberg, CPA, is the founder and CEO of Truth in Accounting, a nonprofit organization that researches government financial data and promotes transparency for a better-informed citizenry.


William S. Frankl, MD, All Rights Reserved