Archive for category Equality

John Ellis (‘Jeb’) Bush: Blame the Victims For Bad Economy

What’s wrong with the American economy? If you ask presidential candidate John Ellis (“Jeb”) Bush, it has nothing to do with the Great Recession of 2008 during the most recent Bush administration — which put 8.7 million of us out of work. Nothing to do with Tea-GOP economic sabotage during the long, slow recovery that replaced many middle-class jobs with low-wage and part-time employment.

Our friend “Jeb! 2016″ says all that’s needed to fix the economy is for more people to work longer hours. Apparently he is not aware that productivity and worker compensation have been decoupled for about 40 years now. Working harder gets us nowhere, and makes CEOs and the 1 Percent richer.

The relationship between American workers’ industriousness and their economic security has eroded so severely in recent decades that the two concepts aren’t even on speaking terms these days.

Workers were a staggering 25 percent more productive in 2012 than they were in 2000. But over the same period that bosses started getting a full quarter more work out of their employees, the median wage grew exactly zero percent. Even those with college degrees saw their pay stagnate over the past decade. Over the five-year stretch encompassing the Great Recession and the first few years of the slow recovery Bush is criticizing, workers gave their bosses an 8 percent jump in productivity – and got back an outright decline in earnings.

Tea-GOP prescriptions like “work harder for less pay” don’t deserve to win any votes. Americans who work for a living are not at fault. We’re the victims of a financialized, de-unionized, 1 Percent economy that’s reaching Gilded Age levels of wealth inequality.

UPDATE:
Newsweek: Does Jeb Bush understand economics?

Bush’s full statement was: “My aspiration for the country and I believe we can achieve it, is 4% growth as far as the eye can see. Which means we have to be a lot more productive, workforce participation has to rise from its all-time modern lows. It means that people need to work longer hours and, through their productivity, gain more income for their families.”

This word salad mixes together different economic terms as if they mean the same thing and reaches for statistics that are, quite simply, ridiculous. Perhaps Bush was just sloppy in his language, but whatever aide is prepping him on economics needs to do a better job–maybe by working longer hours.

…When it comes to productivity, American workers have been doing a great job. Productivity, which is the economic output per worker, has grown relentlessly since 1947 in almost a straight upward line. Implying that Americans aren’t being productive enough is about the same as saying McDonald’s doesn’t sell enough hamburgers. How much is enough to Bush? If record productivity–with a cumulative growth of almost 300% since 1947–doesn’t cut it, what does?

There is no context where “we have to be more productive” means anything other than “push yourselves past record levels, workers!” That is, unless Bush doesn’t know what the word means.

But with this full statement, he has also demonstrated that he has no idea of the real problem facing American workers. No doubt, he is blaming them for their stagnant wages–all that’s needed is more hours of work, and wages will improve significantly.

As history proves, that’s hokum. America went through nearly a century where the profits generated by growth in worker productivity was shared–the more they produced, the more money everyone made. What Bush and far too many Republicans refuse to acknowledge is that wages and productivity became uncoupled around 1973: Productivity goes up, corporate profits go up, the rich get wealthier, but the financial benefits don’t trickle down to workers.

…American history’s most productive workers are not responsible for the fact that they aren’t paid enough. Do Bush and his GOP cohorts really believe that the wealthy are sitting in their offices, twiddling their thumbs, waiting for workers to demand more money that will then be handed over gladly? Wages are growing at their lowest level since World War II. In fact, income inequality is worse today than it was in 1774, even when slavery is included in the numbers, according to a study by the National Bureau of Economic Research.

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The Supreme Court Is On A Big Roll For The People!

It's just not right!

It’s just not right!

Thank goodness Obama got elected and was able to get two honest jurors on the supreme court. Everybody is stunned to see decision after decision coming down on the side of ordinary Americans for a change. Scalia is just beside himself and even mentioned “hippies” in his dissenting court opinion about gay marriage. Bizarre.

First came the ruling against segregation in housing. Then “Obamacare” was saved in a decisive vote. I can only remember one other such vote in over a decade, since we started to see all these 5 to 4 politically motivated votes coming out of the court. Then the stunning “marriage equality” decision.

Today we hear about a ruling which actually allows citizens to be included in redistricting discussions. This is really big! I hope something can be done in time for the next presidential vote, but I doubt it.

This should be a clarion call for people to get out and overwhelm the voting system by – you know – voting, so we can prevent a Republican president from stacking the court with partisan hacks again. If McCain and Romney had taken over the white house, none of these rulings would have been possible.

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Big News From Ben & Jerry’s

I Dough I Dough ice cream
Where is Glenden these days? Anyway, Ben & Jerry’s celebrated today’s history-making Supreme Court decision on marriage equality with ‘I Dough, I Dough’ ice cream.

The Court majority held that the Constitution requires a state to license a marriage between two people of the same sex, and to recognize a marriage between two people of the same sex when a marriage was lawfully licensed and performed out of state.

We’re reminded today that freedom isn’t free. Basic constitutional rights are hard-won after years of struggle. Plus, the Tea-GOP made a big mistake in 2004 by putting same-sex marriage bans on state ballots (it was a GOTV strategy by Karl Rove to boost George W. Bush’s re-election chances).

Utah was one of 11 states that enacted a redundant constitutional amendment (same-sex marriage was already illegal in Utah), thus running afoul of the Equal Protection Clause in the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Battles are often won by taking full advantage of an enemy blunder.

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An Argument For The History Books

Wile E Coyote off cliff

In my opinion, you shouldn’t make shit up!

Am I being too judgmental? Am I blowing things out of proportion?

You decide.

From The Washington Post:

Conservative scholars are saying that legalizing same-sex marriage will cause 900,000 abortions.

I hate getting news about Utah from national publications. I probably missed the coverage here, but I’m so tired of being made into a laughing stock when this stuff gets out. Would I be wrong to say that contortions of reality might be encouraged by trying to get the bible to say what you want it to say.

This guy is a lawyer. Maybe he’s tried to get one too many contracts to say what he wanted them to say for the sake of winning a case. My guess is that he used to work for supreme court justice Antonin Scalia, who can make any ruling conform to his political objectives. Even Scalia wouldn’t have come up with anything THIS stupid, but “Bush vs Gore” definitely made the history books as a landmark American slump in logic.

Who are these “100 scholars of marriage”? They can’t all be from Utah.

A video rebuke:

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The Middle Class Has Gotten Smaller In Every State Since 2000

Middle class shrinking

Via HuffPo:

A new analysis by the Pew Charitable Trusts’ Stateline blog, shows that the percentage of middle-class households — defined as those earning between 67 and 200 percent of a state’s median income — dropped in every U.S. state between 2000 and 2013. Median income also fell in most states during that period.

UPDATE:
14 Reasons Why House and Senate Republicans Have Declared Economic War On Average Americans

The GOP-controlled House and Senate budgets not only drastically cut spending on education, retirement, environment, road and bridges, climate change, immigration, job creation, Obamacare, food stamps, and other social welfare programs; but it gives the Pentagon a blank check, and includes tax cuts for the rich and corporations while raising taxes for lower-income Americans.

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Absurd and Hilarious


“We have serious problems to solve, and we need serious people to solve them. And whatever your particular problem is, I promise you, Bob Rumson is not the least bit interested in solving it. He is interested in two things, and two things only — making you afraid of it, and telling you who’s to blame for it. That, ladies and gentlemen, is how you win elections. You gather a group of middle age, middle class, middle income voters who remember with longing an easier time, and you talk to them about family, and American values and character…” — President Andrew Shepherd, “The American President” (1995)

See if you can guess whose website the following statement is taken from.

“Millions of our fellow citizens across the broad middle class feel as if the American Dream is now out of their reach; that our politics are petty and broken; that opportunities are elusive; and that the playing field is no longer fair or level. Too many of the poor have lost hope that a path to a better life is within their grasp. While the last eight years have been pretty good ones for top earners, they’ve been a lost decade for the rest of America. We are not leading – at home or abroad.”

1. Elizabeth Warren
2. Robert Reich
3. John Ellis (“Jeb”) Bush

If you guessed #3, you’re right. Tea-GOPers considering a 2016 presidential run — including, incredibly, Willard (“Mitt”) Romney — are now claiming to care about fairness and equality for the struggling American middle class. Nothing could be funnier than right-wing politicians when they emerge from their country clubs and corporate boardrooms every four years, and try to pretend they’re on the side of the 99 Percent. What’s next, Guy Fawkes masks?

More info:
Steven Rosenfeld: The GOP’s Absurd, Hilarious Ploy to Pretend They Care About Poor People

UPDATE:
Matt Yglesias: Why Republicans are starting to sound like Elizabeth Warren

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Americans Rank 26th in Median Wealth

Inequality cycle
Source: Credit Suisse Global Wealth Databook 2014

Financialization of the economy is both a symptom and a major cause of inequality. Financialization is when making money from money becomes more important than providing real goods and services. It’s characterized by risky asset bubbles and periodic crashes that affect everyone in the 99 Percent because we’re not “too big to fail.” Les Leopold: “Wall Street is out of control. Once deregulation started 30 years ago, money has gushed to the top as Wall Street was free to find more and more unethical ways to fleece us.”

The result: Despite the fact we’re the richest country in the world, U.S. median wealth is just $53,352 according to the Credit Suisse Global Wealth Databook (PDF).

Les Leopold, again:

The U.S. continues to lead the world in billionaires (571 in 2014, with China a distant second at 190). But after decades of financial deregulation and attacks on employee rights, Americans rank 26th in median wealth (defined as assets owned, minus debts owed for the person on the middle rung of the wealth ladder).

The Gini index for the USA has risen to 84.6 (with 0 representing perfect equality and 100 representing perfect inequality). Very few countries can top that, and not by much.

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Ferguson Grand Jury – Unsurprising, Far too Typical and Despair Inducing

Martin Longman’s take at Washington Monthly is apt:

Officer Darren Wilson should have been given the opportunity to defend his actions in a court of law. He could well have won an acquittal. But what’s clear is that the moment after he ended Michael Brown’s life, the system went into overdrive to protect him and to justify what he had done. They made sure that killing Michael Brown was not a crime. It wasn’t even maybe a crime. It was just what police officers do in America without having to worry that they might have to answer for it in court.

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Nick Hanauer: Another Thing Obama Can Do Without Congress

Nick Hanauer

Seattle-based venture capitalist Nick Hanauer offers a smart policy proposal that President Obama could implement with a stroke of the pen. The President could raise wages and create jobs by directing the Department of Labor to expand the number of workers who can receive overtime pay. Sign the petition.

More from Democracy for America:

President Obama: Expand overtime pay!

We urge you to instruct the Department of Labor to significantly expand the number of workers eligible for federal overtime pay. By raising the salary threshold to $69,000, we would finally achieve the same eligibility for overtime pay that we had in 1975.

We also urge you to revise the rules in order to reduce the number of exemptions from overtime pay. Teachers, federal employees, doctors, computer professionals (anyone who uses a computer), and many more professional workers have been working overtime and increasing their productivity but aren’t seeing the benefits of their labor. They should also be eligible for overtime pay.

Revise the rules to expand overtime pay without delay.

More info:
Whatever Happened to Overtime?

Read the rest of this entry »

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How Fast Will YOU Be Able To Innovate?

Get Ready To Wait

Get Ready To Wait

No matter what political stripe you are, you are excited about Obama’s fierce defense of Net Neutrality lately. The problem is that he is standing up for something he can’t personally affect. It’s the FCC that will make that decision and the big downer is that the man Obama appointed to head the FCC , (Tom Wheeler), used to be a cable lobbyist.

Perfect. :(

Anyway, the best debate you’ll probably hear about the issue was on the Diane Rhem show from November 12th, since I don’t think there’s any way a public hearing will take place. The last time the FCC did that, it was an embarrassing spectacle for the commission as they faced an auditorium of very angry citizens back in the Bush days.

Diane likes to have a fair discussion, but I thought I could tell what side she was on. It’s not hard to be on the side of “Net Neutrality” because 4 million Americans have sent letters to the FCC about the issue, and I can guarantee you that a tiny fraction of the letters were for letting internet providers discriminate about the speed of the websites we choose.

It was a sensible discussion except for one panel member who was obviously there to bolster a corporate controlled internet. he’s Rob Atkinson, the president of something called, “The Information Technology & Innovation Foundation”. I get weary when ever I see the word innovation these days, because it usually means something like ‘get out of the way little man; we’ll decide what’s best’.

Atkinson doesn’t waste much time using the fear of government meme so popular with liars these days.

ROB ATKINSON:

All the major carriers, Verizon, Comcast, all the rest of them have committed never to block legal content, never to degrade legal content.It’s a red herring that the other side is doing because what they want is they want a regulated utility model and ultimately they want a government-owned model. That’s their game.

MARVIN AMMORI, (attorney in private practice, affiliate scholar, Stanford Law School’s Center for Internet & Society):

… When you look at the people who have lined up against net neutrality, it’s just the big cable and phone companies and the organizations like Rob’s that got funding from them. That’s it.

I’ve never heard Diane Rhem prod all other panel members to give their opinion on whether another guest was lying before, but I was delighted to hear this part of the show:

ROB ATKINSON:

In the famous case that Marvin’s talking about with what’s called the Comcast BitTorrent Case, Comcast did not block anything

DIANE REHM:

Marvin.

MARVIN AMMORI:

So I think Rob is just trying to throw some fud out there. The FCC found that Comcast was blocking. We proved it.

ROB ATKINSON:

No, they did not.

MARVIN AMMORI:

They did. It’s in the order. I litigated that decision. I argued that decision. I wrote the complaint in that case. And the CE…

DIANE REHM:

Did they or did they not?

GIGI SOHN, (special counsel for external affairs, Federal Communications Commission):

Yes, they did.

ROB ATKINSON:

They were slowing up…

MARVIN AMMORI:

The CEO of BitTorrent is a friend of mine and we collaborated the entire time during that case, both CEOs then and now.

DIANE REHM:

Cecilia, did they or did they…

CECILIA KANG, (reporter, The Washington Post):

They did, they did.

Oops!

I also thought it was funny that Atkinson was trying to make the case that most people really don’t care that much about high speeds after a question from a caller:

ROB ATKINSON:

What is true is very, very few consumers will pay even 5 or $10 more a month for the next tier up. So there — I can get 100 megabits to my house where I live in Washington, D.C. I don’t get it because I don’t want to pay the extra. Most consumers are like that. They just won’t pay a few dollars more for high speeds.

CECILIA KANG:

…So the idea that people don’t want to upgrade, I mean, I would love, if I could afford, to get the fastest no matter what. Nobody would say no to that if possible.

Amen and amen Cecilia!

It’s an interesting debate and, as usual, the transcripts and audio can be found at Rehms site.

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WaPo/ABC Poll: 1 Percent Say U.S. Economy is ‘Excellent’

Washington Post-ABC News poll Oct. 23-26, 2014
The 1% says economy is excellent
Mr. Burns

1 Comment

Half of the Country Hasn’t Taken a Vacation Day Yet In 2014

The Go-Go’s – Vacation from Dan Hunter on Vimeo.

h/t Think Progress.

From the travel website Skift:

We asked Americans, using Google Consumer Surveys, “Heading into Fall, how many vacation days have you taken so far this year?” The majority, almost 51 percent, say they haven’t taken a single vacation day in 2014 so far.

About 15 percent of Americans say they have taken more than 10 vacation days this year, while the rest is split between those who took fewer than 5, and those who took between 5-10 vacation days this year.

The other topline result from the breakdown, as you will see in the charts below: Women, young, old,and the lower-income Americans are the ones taking the least amount of vacations.

Of course, nearly 1 in 4 US workers don’t get any paid vacation days.

Nearly a quarter of the American private-sector workforce, some 26 million workers, doesn’t get paid time off, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics — compared with less than one-fifth in the 1990s.The United States is the only advanced economy that doesn’t guarantee paid vacation and one of only 13 countries in the world not to do so, according to the World Policy Analysis Center at the University of California Los Angeles.

The American middle class was great, while it lasted.

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