Archive for category Economic Exploitation
A couple key passages:
The US elites, similarly, took the smooth functioning of the political-economic system for granted. The only problem, as they saw it, was that they weren’t being adequately compensated for their efforts. Feelings of dissatisfaction ran high during the Bear Market of 1973—82, when capital returns took a particular beating. The high inflation of that decade ate into inherited wealth. A fortune of $2 billion in 1982 was a third smaller, when expressed in inflation-adjusted dollars, than $1 billion in 1962, and only a sixth of $1 billion in 1912. All these factors contributed to the reversal of the late 1970s.
Three years ago I published a short article in the science journal Nature. I pointed out that several leading indicators of political instability look set to peak around 2020. In other words, we are rapidly approaching a historical cusp, at which the US will be particularly vulnerable to violent upheaval. This prediction is not a ‘prophecy’. I don’t believe that disaster is pre-ordained, no matter what we do. On the contrary, if we understand the causes, we have a chance to prevent it from happening. But the first thing we will have to do is reverse the trend of ever-growing inequality.
And finally this one:
How does growing economic inequality lead to political instability? Partly this correlation reflects a direct, causal connection. High inequality is corrosive of social cooperation and willingness to compromise, and waning cooperation means more discord and political infighting. Perhaps more important, economic inequality is also a symptom of deeper social changes, which have gone largely unnoticed.
The following retailers have killed Thanksgiving for their employees and families. Don’t let them kill your holiday, too.
- Old Navy
- Office Max
- Best Buy
- Toys R Us
- J.C. Penney
The good news is that Costco, Nordstrom, REI, Burlington Coat Factory, and other companies are refusing to ruin Thanksgiving.
And don’t forget: Friday, November 29 is “Black Friday,” aka Buy Nothing Day. A good day to take a day off from shopping, or visit a locally-owned business. Feel free to laugh at those idiots freezing on line in a parking lot to get an XBox.
Today is the anniversary of NOT raising the minimum wage. Again. Four years ago, the federal minimum wage topped out at $7.25 an hour as a result of a law signed by President George W. Bush. A full-time worker earning the minimum wage now pulls in a salary of about $15,000 per year, far below a living wage. If Congress doesn’t send President Obama legislation to sign by the end of his second term, he will be the first president since Ronald Reagan who didn’t raise the minimum wage at all.
Via Raw Story:
In a letter (PDF) sent to Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, Attorney General Eric Holder and SEC Chair Mary Jo White on Tuesday, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) demanded to know why the government keeps accepting financial settlements from criminal bankers when they could instead be taken to trial, convicted and locked up.
Senator Warren wrote (emphasis added):
The consequence can be insufficient compensation to those who are harmed by illegal activity and inadequate deterrence of future violations. If large financial institutions can break the law and accumulate millions in profits and, if they get caught, settle by paying out of those profits, they do not have much incentive to follow the law.
Tax time is coming in less than a month. Unless you’re with the 1 Percent, it will cost you. Paul Buchheit on AlterNet:
Corporations have simply stopped paying their taxes, perhaps using the 2008 recession as an excuse to plead hardship, but then never restoring their tax obligations when business got better. The facts are indisputable. For over 20 years, from 1987 to 2008, corporations paid an average of 22.5% in federal taxes. Since the recession, this has dropped to 10% — even though their profits have doubled in less than ten years.
We’re in “a golden age for corporate profits,” according to the New York Times. But not a golden age of job creation. In fact, some of the biggest and most profitable corporations are dodging taxes while cutting jobs. The list includes: General Electric, Boeing, Exxon Mobil, Verizon, Kraft Foods, Citigroup, Dow Chemical, IBM, Chevron, FedEx, Honeywell, Apple, Pfizer, Google, and Microsoft.
N.J. taxpayers protest corporate ‘dodgers’
Wealth Inequality in America
Infographics on the distribution of wealth in America, highlighting both the inequality and the difference between our perception of inequality and the actual numbers. The reality is often not what we think it is.
It’s the Inequality, Stupid
Wealth Inequality in America
How Unequal We Are: The Top 5 Facts You Should Know About The Wealthiest One Percent Of Americans
CEO pay is 380 times average worker’s
Recently we learned that real disposable income was down in January, partly due to the payroll tax hike that was part of the “fiscal cliff” deal. The federal government went over the so-called “cliff” anyway.
Today there was a party on Wall Street as the Dow Jones industrial average reached a record high shortly after the opening bell. It’s on track to close above the previous record of 14,164 reached on Oct. 9, 2007. It’s up 7.8 percent for the year. Some call it a “TINA market,” for “there is no alternative.” Interest on savings and bond yields are at rock bottom due to Fed policy, forcing investors to rely on stocks.
However, as Pat Garofalo points out on Think Progress, workers’ wages as a percentage of the economy are hovering near record lows.
Hey, check out what happened with wages during the Clinton administration (1993-2000). Only time since 1970 that wages recovered after a recession.
As Quartz’s Matt Phillips put it, “in many ways Americans are still sucking wind after the gut punch they suffered in 2008.” In fact, the richest 1 percent of Americans have captured 121 percent of the income gains achieved during the current recovery, meaning everyone else has actually lost ground in terms of income since the economy bottomed out.
Those jobs we lost in Bush’s Great Recession have either not come back, or they have been replaced by lower-paying jobs. Party on, Wall Street.
Robert Reich: Why There’s a Bull Market for Stocks and a Bear Market for Workers
Rarely before in American history have public policies so radically helped the most fortunate among us, so cruelly harmed the least fortunate, and exposed so many average working Americans to such widespread insecurity.
Source: Washington Post
President Obama’s proposed $9.00 minimum wage (by the end of 2015) would still not be a living wage, and would even leave families below the poverty line.
In other words, raising the current minimum of $7.25 an hour by so little does almost nothing to address the problem of rising income inequality in America. If you adjust for inflation (see graph), you see that the minimum was around $10 an hour in current dollars in the late 1960s. Dean Baker:
It is important to realize that this was not always the case. The federal minimum wage was first put in place in 1938. From that year until 1968 when its value peaked, the purchasing power of the minimum wage increased by more than 140 percent. As a result, minimum wage workers saw a sharp increase in their living standards. Over this 30 year period, low wage workers shared in the gains of the economy as a whole as the minimum wage rose in step with productivity growth.
If workers at the bottom had continued to share in the economy’s growth in the years since 1968 as they had in the three decades before 1968, we would be looking at a very different economy and society. If the minimum wage had risen in step with productivity growth it would be over $16.50 an hour today.That is higher than the hourly wages earned by 40 percent of men and half of women.
It’s important to remember that as long as the minimum wage is not a living wage, taxpayers make up some of the difference in terms of social safety net programs like SNAP (food stamps), and low-income rent subsidies. This is, in effect, a gift to employers who pay poverty wages.
The Minimum Wage: Myths & Facts
The latest Census Bureau data shows that one in two Americans currently falls into either the “low income” category or is living in poverty. Low-income is defined as those earning between 100 and 199 percent of the poverty level. Adjusted for inflation, the earnings for the bottom 20 percent of families have dropped from $16,788 in 1979 to just under $15,000. Earnings for the next 20 percent have been stuck at $37,000.